Tomorrow afternoon we leave for Kazakhstan. We start by flying through Frankfurt into Almaty where we stop for the night. The following morning we’ll take a flight to Karaganda (where Sam is currently living). Depending on the flight times, we may meet him as soon as Monday afternoon or as late as Tuesday morning.
The weather in Karaganda is pretty frigid right now. (Take a look at the live weather feed on the bottom right hand side of this page.) When the weather is particularly severe, the flights are grounded leaving us to take a 26-hour train ride across the Kazakh steppes. Obviously we’re hoping for more moderate conditions!
We’ll be getting a cell phone on the first morning in Almaty. Some very enterprising soul has come up with a fabulous business plan. For $100 you get a cell phone for the duration of your trip with unlimited incoming calls. This is convenient for a number of reasons – it certainly makes it easier for people to reach us without having to try and catch us in the apartment. However more importantly, it makes it easier to contact people in-country. Apparently in many areas you can’t call cell phones from landlines, so if you’re trying to call your driver and arrange a pickup, you’re pretty much stuck if you only have access to the apartment phone.
For the remaining one or two of you who haven’t heard the spiel, here’s how the whole thing works. I’ll make two trips. On the first one, Mom will be joining me. That’s the long one – 29 days. During that time we’ll be going to the Baby House twice a day to visit Sam and bond with him on his territory. About three weeks into the process, we’ll have a court date where, God willing, the adoption will be approved. Following court, there’s a mandatory two-week waiting period before we're allowed to take custody. During that time, almost all families return to the U.S., which is what I’m planning to do as well.
On the second trip, my sister Kelly will be going with me. She’s currently living in Munich, so we’ll meet in Frankfurt and travel to Almaty and then on to Karaganda. At that time we’ll pick Sam up from the Baby House and whisk him away to a very different world (for better and worse) than the one he’s known. This second visit in Karaganda will last only a day or two. From there, we’ll fly to Almaty where all the important stuff happens (interview at the Embassy, doctor appointments, souvenir shopping, etc.)
If everything goes according to plan, Sam and I should return to the states on April 20th.
I’ll be out of touch until late Monday (US time), but look for my first bulletin from the Baby House on Tuesday morning at the latest. Thanks to all of you for your good wishes and heartfelt prayers. Please know that they are much appreciated.