Second Trip

June 11, 2007 at 3:49 pm 4 comments

Day Two Together 

Ok so I’m still getting used to this whole having two kids gig.  It’s GOOD – but it’s a lot to get used to.  I find getting Zannie to school on time with both girls fed and wearing presentable clothes a challnege.  But, last week we managed to do just that and for the most part, things have gone quite smoothly.  We get to school and we are the new rock stars.  Isabel is mobbed and smothered in adoration.  She needs a bodyguard and maybe even an agent.  I think my role is merely sherpa/PR agent.  I just talk to everyone about how amazing and beautiful she is. 

Trip two.  Wow, where to begin?  I bypassed Aeroflot this time for the incredibly superior Lufthansa.  It went San Francisco to Frankfurt to Almaty.  I didn’t fly into Bishkek this time for logistical reasons.  On the two-trip adoption system in Kyrgyzstan, you end your adoption paperwork at the U.S. embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan.  This is where the closest adoption unit is.  So, I got a roundtrip ticket in and out of Almaty.  This meant that when I flew in, I had to be driven to Bishkek for the first part of the trip.  When I booked it, it was written up as Lufthansa’s official bus from the Almaty airport going directly to where you were staying in Bishkek.  I imagined a nice minibus, one that might even have bench seats where I could lie down and sleep on the way to my hotel as I was landing at midnight local time.  It was not to be.  I got out of customs and saw my driver guy holding a sign with my name on it.  We walked out to a tiny, ancient Nissan or Toyota and it was us and a Swiss guy heading out to Kyrgyzstan to climb the Tien Shen mountains.  It was absolutely pitch black and I couldn’t see much of anything that wasn’t lit up but already it seemed quite different to me than Kyrgyzstan.  We jammed our luggage in somehow and went on our way.  We were all talking and chatting a mile a minute and then we all zonked out.  Awhile later we were awakened by a bracing cold wind since the driver had opened our doors and was pointing to the border patrol.  I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone as it seemed as if time had stood still here in what felt like the middle of nowhere.  There were a few people coming from Kazakhstan going into Kyrgyzstan and most of them were on foot.  Some had cattle or sheep with them.  I think that this border and its guards with their military uniforms and huge-brimmed hats looked exactly the same even 40 years ago.  The only thing that I think has changed since then are the computers they use to check your entry visas.  Anyway, we were I’m sure a sight to behold with our weary faces crossing the border at 4ish am.  Everyone was openly staring at us.  So, with that done we drove about 50 yards to repeat the same thing so as to gain entry into Kyrgyzstan.  More livestock, more stares, more military guards.  It was eerie.  We sped away and were in Bishkek in less than an hour. 

We crashed at the nice, cushy Hyatt.  The coordinator was to meet us in the morning and go over the rest of our stay and to finish up more paperwork. 

The next morning was IT.  We were being picked up and taken to Tokmok to see Isabel for the first time in two months.  It seemed like the longest drive there.  In the time since the first trip, Bishkek had turned lush and green.  Trees lined the long road to Tokmok and had been bare and cold grey against the wintery landscape on our first trip.  This time, they were full and welcoming.  It was a bit like Dorothy opening the door from her world of black and white to a new, colorful place.  I couldn’t get over the beauty of the countryside and the massive mountainside in the distance.  My excitement was hard to contain. 

We arrived at Tokmok baby house bearing supplies, gifts and many cakes and chocolates from a bakery.  We met with the director for a bit and she told me that Isabel was a little bit sick with a slight fever and a runny nose.  Then, she asked me if she wanted them to keep her for “a few more days while she gets better?” I said a firm but polite, “No, thank you!”  There was nothing that could keep me from her!  So, they led me to her room and I looked into where they were pointing and I saw her, but almost didn’t recognize her.  There she was in a pink sweat suit, a hat and lots of hair poking out from under it.  She was being held by her special caretaker, Sonya.  I smiled and walked toward her letting her take me in.  Sonya grabbed the little book I had made with our pictures in it and she showed Isabel the picture and then pointed to me.  “Mama…Isabel….MA-MA!”  There was a long pause and then suddenly, a smile, a flash on her face.  I’d love to think that she really remembered me and knew I was her mama.  But, I think it was just a spark.  Nonetheless, there we were and we were together again and we spent some quiet time in her room with Sonya.  I had a special gift for Sonya and postcards from our town.  I thanked her over and over for the individual time she had spent with Isabel for the two months I was gone had been invaluable to her development.  She was stronger, more engaged and lively.  She had gained four pounds. 

We finished up all of our good-byes and gave the children fresh fruiut and the cakes to all the caregivers there.  Sonya kept coming out and hugging us.  Then, we were being scooted back to our car.  We were gone.  I was happy, worried, sad, anxious and exhausted all at once.  Isabel seemed to be taking everything in.  She was quiet.  She stopped looking at me.  By the time we got to the hotel, she was clearly confused and worn out.  Her cry wasn’t hunger or pain or tired.  It was grief.  It sounded so, so sad.  Comforting her by holding her didn’t help.  All I could do was stay close by,but not in her face and feed her and keep her dry and in soft clothes.  She finally slept that night and didn’t wake up until morning.  She awoke happy and she seemed curious about the room we were in, her new crib, her clothes with bright and happy colors.  She was loving the baby food I brought.  She LOVED her bath and having lotion put on her.  Over the next few days, we were basically in lockdown.  We showed her stuff, read to her, sung to her, bathed her, changed her into different cute outfits and held her while she napped.  When she cried we responded and tried to figure out what she needed.  After a few days, I had cracked her code and knew all her different cries.  That girl found her voice too!  She figured out that if she cried, that new girl always comes and helps!  She was staying awake for longer periods and giving big belly laughs.  I was pulling out all of my baby flirting techniques and they began to pay off.  It was pure falling in love. 

Then, just when we were really feeling settled, it was time to head for Almaty and wind up the trip.  It was incredible to me that we would be leaving Bishkek.  But, away we went again, to cross over the borders and to see the countryside by day.  It’s pretty much a four hour trip and we made it in good time.  The next few days were an absolute blurr.  We were tired and M. was getting sick.  On Tuesday we visited an International clinic to have Isabel go through a few blood tests and a general examination.  She was pronounced healthy that night.  The next day we went to the adoption unit at the American Embassy where we had our exit interview.  A brown envelope containing all of our immigration documents and some adoption papers were sealed and were given to me to give to customs upon arrival in San Francisco.  It was quick and friendly.  We were set and all clear to come home.  It was so hard to believe. 

We boarded our plane that night and the journey home began.  20 hours later, we landed in San Francisco.  We were messy with spit up and probably didn’t smell very good but once we got through immigration and customs, even with all the luggage on the cart and carrying Isabel, I galloped through the exit knowing the next thing I would see would be the rest of my family.  I saw them and Zannie ran to me and hugged me and Isabel tight.  I kept saying, “I missed you so much!”  After hugging me, she just wanted to see Isabel and hug her.  Then, the four of us were all together and I felt the most enormous relief to be home and with the people I loved the most. 

So, that is the second trip condensed.  It was long and parts of it were hard.  But, as with so much in life, anything that is worth doing – is hard. 

I realized the other day that we have been trying to create a family since early 1999.  While adoption absolutely never solves or erases any of the difficult feelings that come with infertility, it does squarely put it where I want it to be – in the past. 

I will be posting more pictures soon.  I know I said that before but you have to forgive me.  I’m artsy/crafty – NOT techie. 


Entry filed under: Adoption, Children, Daughters, infertility, International Adoption, Isabel, Kyrgyzstan, Motherhood, Travel, Zannie.

Long Journey Home Totally Cute Things About Isabel

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. imhelendt  |  June 11, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    I am crying. IT’s all come full circle. Did we really meet 8 years ago? When we lived and died by OPKs and HPTs? I really am so very happy you and Isabel found each other. Now send me what size she is and what you need. 😉

  • 2. lara  |  June 12, 2007 at 6:07 am

    what an amazing journey you have all had.

  • 3. Michelle  |  June 12, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Finally some delicious baby prose to sink my teeth into!

  • 4. Denise :o)  |  June 19, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Love the story!!! So glad you are home with your little girl. She’s beautiful!


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