Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family of Four - Finally!

I'm not quite sure what to write anymore ... We arrived home Saturday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. with our son, Tyler.  We left Moscow at 11:30 a.m. Moscow time and arrived in Toronto at 1:30 p.m. Toronto time and made our way through customs and immigration without any real difficulties.  Tyler slept for an hour and a bit at the start of the flight and almost two hours at the end of the flight.  The rest of the time he was playing and talking and looking all around.  By the time we arrived home, he was absolutely exhausted because it was almost midnight Moscow/Volgograd time. 

We were greeted by Megan, Grandpa and Bernice, Aunt Sherry, Uncle Robbie, Riley, Tanner, and Kaden.  It was so nice to be home and to have everyone awaiting his/our arrival.  Tyler was up for a few photos but then the time change/excitement got the better of him.  After everyone left, we put Tyler to bed.  He slept from 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 a.m. without making a peep. 

We spent Sunday morning hanging out as a family of four!  Tyler's eyes were as big as saucers and all he wanted to do was explore everything around him.  Meg was so excited to have her baby brother home and all she wanted to do was hold him and carry him around.  Tyler didn't quite go for that!  Aunt Joanne, Uncle Kevin, and Alyssa came to visit Sunday afternoon.  Everyone went to watch Meg play hockey and then we took in our first Santa Claus parade.  In typical Shep fashion, we have to do as many things as possible as soon as possible!

Tyler seems to be fitting in just fine!  It still brings tears to my eyes thinking that in such a short period of time he has been a part of our lives that we have changed his life so much.  There is a whole new world for him to explore and a ton of opportunities available to him.  We are so lucky to have him.

There are so many pictures to choose from but here are some of them ...

a) Here is the view from our apartment.  It was so nice to stay here as opposed to a hotel.  There was lots of room, a full kitchen, and a washing machine!

b) Because it was so hot in the summer, we saved all of our sightseeing for this trip.  The first picture is of Mother Russia and the second picture is of the memorial/eternal flame that recognizes the thousands/millions of Russians that were killed in the war.  It was breathtaking.

 c) This is Tyler's Gotcha Day - Tuesday, November 23, 2010.  He was sitting waiting for us to arrive.

d) There were so many tears this day... Although he is officially our son, it was sad to think that we were taking him from the only place he ever knew and the people that cared for him.  The caregivers are really wonderful.  The first picture is of us that we took in the summer and gave to the caregivers.  They place all kinds of family photos on a wall in the room.  The next two pictures are of Tyler's bedroom.  He slept in crib #5.  The final picture is of us and the caregivers.  Everyone was crying ...

e) Leaving the orphanage for the last time ... It was such a balmy day but Tyler was still bundled up!

f) The caregivers had left Tyler's hair long so that we could get it cut and styled the way we wanted it to look.  Well, within 24 hours of leaving the orphanage we took Tyler for a haircut!

g) Spending time in Volgograd with our son ...

The Market - we had to walk through here each day to get to the subway

King of the Stroller

Our Last Day in Volgograd

Our Last Day in Volgograd

What a Job! - 10 rubles to use the john!
h) Saying goodbye to Marianna, our translator

i) Hanging out in Moscow - Thank goodness we left Moscow when we did because it is freezing cold there now.  When we left it was 3 degrees Celsisus and now it is -15 degrees Celsisus!

St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square

j) We are only a couple of hours away now!

k) YYZ - Pearson International Airport

l) Heading for home - remember, Tyler has never been in a carseat before!

m) Home Sweet Home

We sure did miss Meg!

Daddy and his kiddies!

Big Sister and Little Brother with Ovie - Tyler's new build-a-bear!

Our first family of four shot!
We began this journey in July of 2009, received our proposal on July 9, 2010, made our first trip to Russia on August 9, 2010, had our court hearing on November 10, 2010, got our son on November 23, 2010 and arrived home on November 27, 2010.  Although it seemed to take forever, we wouldn't change it for the world.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Getting Closer To Home

We arrived in Moscow last night after an extremely tearful goodbye to our translators, Marianna and her mom. Marianna was so much help and told me that it is okay to be sad now because it will be short-lived. She was right! Tyler was such an angel on the plane ride. He only cried for a couple of minutes as we were making our descent. I'm not sure if his ears were bothering him or he was just tired because he ended up falling asleep in my arms as the plane was landing. He managed to wake up for the drive from the airport to the hotel but then quickly fell asleep for the night. This morning, we walked around Red Square and the Kremlin. Now he is having a nap while I get a chance to update the blog. We leave for the airport at 7:30 a.m. Moscow time (Saturday morning) and will arrive in Toronto at 1:30 p.m. (Saturday afternoon). We hope he is as good as he was last night on this final ten hour journey. We can't wait to get him home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What a Good Little Boy

We have survived the first 24 hours! Yesterday morning we started out at the registrar's office to sign all the official documents needed to take to the orphanage and to the passport office. From there we had to stop at a bakery to buy cakes and wine for the doctors, the caregivers, and the social worker. Next stop, Volgograd City Orphanage #4 to pick up our son. Once at the orphanage there were more things to sign and a meeting held with the doctor to learn more about Tyler's routine and what he eats. Basically he gets up at 7:00 a.m. and goes to bed at 8:00 p.m. and has three naps in between. His diet consists of cereal, sour milk, coffee, tea (with some lemon and sugar), cocoa, yogurt, fruit purée, borsch, omelettes, and a bit of meat. It is no wonder he only weighs 19 pounds soaking wet! After leaving the orphanage, we spent the afternoon playing in the apartment and exploring everything around him. He couldn't stop smiling. In typical Shepley fashion we ventured out for supper to our favourite restaurant. He was such a good boy. He sat and ate a plate of mashed potatoes and didn't make a sound. Day one ended with Tyler falling asleep at 7:30 p.m. Day two started at 8:00 a.m. when Tyler woke up - that's right, he slept right through the night. A hair cut went down, a two hour nap, and another trip to the restaurant. So far so good! Tomorrow we get to pick up his passport and fly to Moscow. Only three more sleeps until we are home. We can't wait to see Meg and introduce her to her brother.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Only Seven More Days

In seven days, we finally get to take Tyler from the orphanage and start the journey home.  Before we do that, we do have to get a Russian passport and a Canadian visa for him.  The end is definitely in sight!

The first picture was taken on our first day back.  He is still the gentle, loving little boy.  In no time, he was smiling, giggling, and imitating lots of sounds and actions.  The next picture shows him enjoying a Nutrigrain bar.  The third picture was taken the day we returned to the orphanage after our court hearing.  The caregivers got him all dressed up for us!  You have to love the yellow tights and the hoodie done up - you never know if it is going to be cold in the play room!  The next picture is Tyler sporting a fleece outfit we plan on dressing him in when we get to leave the orphanage.  Thanks Kim and Dave!  I'm sure the caregivers will think that he is underdressed for the weather but we think he looks pretty cute!  The final picture was taken the last day - he was so tired, he fell asleep!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Official!

The judge approved our adoption but declined waiving the ten day waiting period a few hours ago. We were quite nervous walking in to court this morning given that we spent almost three hours preparing for court with our lawyer last night. I was quite intimidated by him as he told us to prepare a speech and to memorize the various requests to be made of the court. Although Dave won't admit it, he was a little nervous too. Our lawyer told us the last family's hearing lasted six hours. Fortunately, our hearing only lasted one hour. We were extremely well prepared. After the judge announced his verdict, our lawyer treated us to cigarettes and coffee! We stuck to pop and beer instead. We are returning home to wait out the ten business days. We will return to Canada on November 13 and journey back to Russia on November 20. On November 22nd we will take Tyler from the orphanage with a worker to have his passport photo taken. On November 23 we will pick up all the necessary documents and then take him from the orphanage for good. We are definitely counting down the days!

Here are some of Dave's comments for you to read ...

For those of you at Manulife I have found a bunch of jobs we can use for transferable skill analyses:

Esacalator Watcher - a person who sits all day long at the bottom of a 20 step escalator and watches it go all day from her booth. Sometimes she watches not one but two escalators and cleans the handrails.
Port-A-Potty Attendant - yes someone actually has the job of selling you a few pieces of toilet paper for your moment of need on the toilet. The bonus to this job she actually has an office -yep it's blue and has a door - it's a port a potty - ah the perks.
Leaf sweeper - really old babushkas are assigned to various parts of the city with a broom the size of paintbrush, dustpan and a box. We leave in the morning and they have moved about 20 feet in a 4 hour period.
Subway ticket puncher(s) - 2 yacking women who punch holes in your 30 cent subway ticket after all we would not want anyone ride for 30 cents less.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Privet, Tyler!

There are only a few words that we actually know in Russian, and "privet" is one of them. For those of you that haven't brushed up on your Russian, it means "hi". After waiting almost three months we finally got to see Tyler today. We arrived at the orphanage this morning to be told that visiting hours had changed and to return this afternoon. Needless to say, we were so disappointed. Oh well, what is a couple more hours? We returned to the orphanage this afternoon and were so excited to see him. He was a little uncertain as to what was going on but within five minutes he was smiling and giggling. He has a few more teeth, walks on his own, and has lots of hair. They purposely left his hair long so we can get it cut the way we want it to be cut. Despite the temperature outside being 16 degrees Celsius, he was all bundled up with an undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, some girls' tights, and a pair of jeans. He won't know what hit him when he returns to "Chez Shepley" given we like to keep our house nice and cool ( aka an icebox according to D. Hall). He hasn't gotten much bigger since we left. We brought some clothes to try on him and all the 18 month clothes are still pretty big on him. We were allowed to play in the "sensory room" today so we were able to be down on the floor and really play today. He loves the little "Chuck" truck we brought with us. Oh, he also seems to love the Goldfish crackers we brought in - he was double-fisting and stored lots in his cheeks, too. Tomorrow, we have our visit and then we have to prepare for court. The last Canadian couple's hearing lasted six hours. We're hoping our hearing will only last the typical two hours! Apparently we have a so-so judge, so keep your fingers crossed for us!

Friday, October 15, 2010

We're Heading Back To Russia

We leave November 6th and will arrive in Volgograd on November 7th, Dave's birthday!  Our court date is on November 10th.  We're hoping the judge will be kind and will waive the ten day waiting period but we have been told not to be optimistic, so please cross your fingers for us!  This waiting game has been the most difficult part of the entire journey.  We just want to go over there and bring him home!