Jun 18, 2004… Our adoption facilitator has come to us with one more baby boy to consider. This baby is in the same region and orphanage. As you can imagine, We are very apprehensive. We requested not to meet the child until we could get a preliminary medical report reviewed by our Doctors. While in country this is not the normal process because there are medical privacy issues protecting the child. However, due to our circumstances, we got a peek. Our Doctors reviewed the report and discussed some risk factors associated with premature births, they recommended visiting with the child to gather additional information. Having been in the country for a week, we now have a better understanding of the Russian medical-adoption process and are continuing to evaluate this child. This afternoon we sent pictures and data to both our Doctors for review. We are now in waiting.
June 19, 2004...We have taken the opportunity to meet Maxim. Byron and I were so "detached and guarded" during this first meeting with him. You see, we are not allowed to photograph the children and Byron and I desperately needed to take photos to send to our pediatricians. So we would take turns posing Max for photos while the orphanage workers would come in and out of the room. It was so nerve racking! In the end, we took pictures and filled out a developmental assessment. After spending only about an hour with Max we headed back to our hotel room to email all the information to the Doctors and wait. Here are some of our first pictures taken with Max. Yea, totally terrible. No smiles, just clinical faces of worry and heartache.
(These pictures are just terrible! I am glad we can laugh about them now but looking back, it was such a stressful time. Poor Max, he had no idea what God had in store for him!)
June 20, 2004...Today, we had our second meeting. And enjoyed every minute. Maxim is a healthy looking baby boy who was born Nov 27, 2003. He was premature at approximately 32-35 weeks, but weighed 4.5 lbs at birth. The medical data supports the diagnosis of prematurity and with that in mind, he is in the 25% on growth charts. Maxim has continually showed great growth numbers each month. Because of his “prematurity label,” he has not had the developmental attention needed for infants (What we mean is that because he was preemie, the caretakers look at him as more fragile and don’t handle him as often). Maxim’s developmental stage is about 1 month delayed for preemies. He is very strong in some skills, but weak in others. All of which we hope can be easily corrected with proper care.
Maxim is a very serious baby. He was a little unsure about us at first. You had to be really goofy to get him to smile. He "took" to me pretty well, but he is still unsure of Byron. He has never seen a man before. So this adds to his uneasiness. We will be visiting him several times a day over the next couple of days. We will use this time to strengthen our bond with him.
(Some of our first days with Max: getting him to smile, holding him and bonding.)
Jun 22, 2004… We have spent the last two days visiting with Max. Each day we are noticing new personality characteristics. He is starting to recognize us and be more comfortable around us. At the orphanage, they are on very strict schedules. We are only allowed to see him from 10:00 - 11:30, 2:00- 4:00 and then again from 6:00 to 8:00. We have to drive over an hour each way to see him, so we generally just see him once (or twice) a day. The drive is an experience in and of itself. The roads are very rough with lots of potholes (more like craters). There are no centerlines or road markings on the road, so it is a free for all when it comes to traffic. There are a lot of slow trucks with thick exhaust fumes. The car is very small with 5 of us packed in it. No A/C and No seatbelts. Christy gets carsick, so this is quite fun to watch. The next two days, Max must go to the doctor to be checked out and released from the orphanage. We will hire a driver so he can make this same scary trip (with no car seat!). We may not be able to see him during these two days of doctor trips, it just depends on the schedule.
An additional big hurdle is feeding Max. We must be able to show that we can feed Max before they will allow us to leave with him. This may sound easy, but feeding a 6 month old premie solid foods is an experience. It is hard to describe. They eat a puree of vegetables and potatoes (and sometimes meat). Along with this mixture they get a bottle of brownish liquid. This liquid is made from boiling dried fruits. They way it works is that you SHOVEL a spoonful of food into one side of the mouth and then popped the nipple of the bottle into the other side. The bottle causes Max to suck and then the food goes down with the drink. If you don’t time it PERFECTLY, then he chokes and spits out the food. It is the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen!! The caretakers can single-handily feed an entire bowl of food in under 2 minutes and not waste a drop. We have yet to master this skill.
Still no real news on how long we have to wait here. We think it will happen soon and to be real honest, these people are sick of us and all the drama! This could work to our advantage on leaving early.
Jun 23, 2004… Today Max went to the cardiologist for a follow up. They said everything was normal. But he was completely worn out from his trip to the doctor. When we got to the orphanage, he had not had a nap, so he was exhausted. We then had to take him to get a passport photo in town. The weather here has been extremely hot, it turned into summer overnight. Getting Max bundled up for the car ride was not a happy experience for him (or us). He fell asleep during the car ride, and he was so precious. When we got to the passport office, we were able to completely undress him and put him in white clothes without waking him. He is an extremely hard sleeper (thank heavens). He woke just long enough for the photos and was a precious angel. The rest of the time he pretty much stayed Mad Max.
(Max did not want to ride in the stroller! The next picture is me caring him to the passport office. The orphanage made us bundle him up and keep his head covered. It was over 90 degrees that day!)
Tomorrow we have a long day. We have a preliminary meeting with the judge, so we hope to get some information on what our future schedule looks like. And we want to go do some shopping for the orphanage. They literally have nothing, so we don’t even really know where to start. They have not asked for anything, but we just feel like maybe we can do a few small things to help. They have a very difficult job. Max also has to go back to the doctor to get his medical clearance so that we may proceed with the adoption. Oh yeah, Christy still has to pass the feeding test. Because of the schedule we haven’t had a chance to try again.
(The orphanage would not take cash from us, so we went to town and bought cribs, tables & chairs and all kinds of stuff they needed).
Jun 24, 2004… We got word that Max passed is medical evaluation with flying colors. They actually seemed surprised that he was so healthy. We are still worried about his developmental delays, but hopefully once we are home we can help him catch up. We also met with the judge for a few minutes yesterday. She just went over our rights and the procedures to expect in court. So, Today we go to court! The session starts at 1:30 and I have been told it will last until 5pm. This is a long time to be on the “hot seat”. During the court session we will find out if the judge will waive our 10-day wait period. I can’t imagine staying in this country 10 more days. Our journal entries will not be updated until we get to Moscow (unless we don’t get the waiver). If all goes well, Byron, Max and I will be in Moscow Friday evening (yes, we have to ride that awful Russian airliner again). Max will need to have a check-up from an American Embassy Doctor in Moscow and Monday & Tuesday we will spend the days getting all his documents. HOPEFULLY, we will start to head home mid next week. So, if you don’t see a journal update for a couple of days…smile…we are on our way. We love you…
(I will try to post each chapter of our adoption story every friday during the Hooked on Fridays blog party, celebrating things that make us happy. Because ultimately this story makes me happy and has helped define who I am today.)
To read from the beginning...click here.