Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy at home

We love our new home!

Merry Christmas To All

Thanks for all of the prayers and gifts.

God Bless!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Special Thanks

We'd like to thank our coordinators and homeside organizers. We’d also like to thank all of those who filled our house for our arrival. We walked into a home filled with gifts for the kids; Christmas decorations for the adults. Plus, there were kids clothes to last the winter and beyond, and food for a week, for all. Please thank Grace and Michael’s cousins who had to sacrifice their favorite toys and clothes for children they have not yet met. To have used items that we know worked for your kids was exactly what we were hoping for. . God is Good and you guys prove it.

Worst enemy ideas

If you have an enemy that you would like to punish, have them take two children on a 20 hour plane trip. 6 hours on one plane, 4 hours in an airport and 8 1/2 hours on the 2nd plane. No, no, please don't; it is too cruel. I am sorry I even suggested it. I was going to describe our painful trip from Kazakhstan to JFK in NYC but similar to what we hear mothers tell about giving birth, the pain subsides and it becomes a memory. Well the pain is subsiding for us but for the people on the plane, I am sure they will be talking about their experience for a long time. They will tell of screaming children and parents who couldn't prevent their kids from running up and down the isles. They will also tell of a girl who spoke Russian too many of the passengers and laughed infectiously when she wasn't screaming. They will tell of a little boy who screamed less and with less volume and who walked around for hours preventing his parents from getting any sleep. What they don't know is that the parents hadn't slept in days anyway.
Using EST
Wednesday 8:00pm - new parents wake up with kids
Thursday 11:00am – Parents get a power nap; kids get 5 hours sleep
Thursday 1:00pm - Left for the airport
Thursday 5:00 pm - 1st plane takes off – small naps
Friday 12:01 am - land in Frankfurt GMY. no naps
Friday 4:00am - 2nd airplane takes off – no naps
Friday 12:49pm EST - land in JFK.
Friday 12:50pm EST - Passengers ask if they can vote to let the kids become US citizens, luckily for Michael and Grace, it happens automatically. We weren’t able to get a full sleep until Sunday night. A beginning just like all parents, some have the stork come to them, we flew in the stork. We just wanted to get this documented to show the kids in the future. They owe us big time.
Final pictures are on the way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

There is no place like home

Two of the newest US citizens arrived at JFK on Friday 12/9/05 at 12:49pm EST. They did not enjoy their trip. I will tell you about the trip in a separate segment. We were greeted by Uncle Michael and Aunt Brigid. Grace was introduced to Brigid and she was not too sure about this stranger. Then Brigid handed her a bouquet of Balloons and suddenly she was the favorite Aunt. And since Michael was the driver he is the front runner as favorite Uncle. We know others want the title too. We say let the competition begin. The Aunt and Uncles can spoil our kids any time. As a matter of fact if you can pay for their college we will grant you the title outright.
The ride in the van was exciting for Grace and Michael, they both slept. Chris and Barbara were too wound up to sleep. When we got home we ran in to greet the dogs. They missed us and we missed them. They were a little out of sorts with the commotion the first day but they have settled down. Then we greeted the Barbara’s parents. They were jumping out of their skin to meet their first Grandchildren. Barbara carried in Michael. Michael was happy to see them. It was very emotional. Then Chris brought Grace in. As he took her from the car, the emotion over powered him. It is difficult to put into words. We are sure every parent has felt the same surge of energy when you are carrying your child to begin life in their own home. Your life passes in front of your eyes. Your entire heritage, all of your dreams for the child swell up. This is the moment you waited for, worked for and were groomed for all of your life. To take your child into their home, You feel the power of God. Chris walked with a tear in his eyes. Whispering “Welcome to your home, Grace Tanya”, “Ya tee bya Lu Blu” I Love you. Then Chris looked up to see his big sister Brigid looking at him with a knowing look, asking “how are you doing?” She gave them both a big welcome home hug. As Chris and Grace approached the door the grandparents were looking with wide grins and a sparkle in their eyes. Chris turned Grace’s face to them, their was as gasp, as if they said “this is our granddaughter, she is so beautiful”.
On Sunday Chris’ parents came to the home to visit. Grace was out playing in the snow with her father. Chris brought her to the car where the parents had that same wide smile and sparkle in their eyes. Even though there are more then 20 grandchildren it was obvious that these two are as special as each other one. A grandparent’s love has no limits. Their smiles lasted through the whole meeting. Grace and Michael behaved in a way that seemed to suggest “Yes, we are a family” Grace sang and danced with her new Snoopy doll from the grand parents. It was nice to watch her Grandfather’s eyes when her sang her song in Russian and she enjoyed her gift. At one she gave an unsolicited hug to Chris as if to say to the grandparents “don’t worry about us; I love my Mama and Papa.” As the Curran grandparents were putting their coats on to leave, Chris hugged his mother while holding Grace. Grace wanted nothing to do with that, she pushed Grandma away saying something in Russian including Papa, She was obviously saying this is my papa, you get your own. WE ARE HOME. THANK GOD.

New writer

We need to apologize for the grammatical errors on the previous two blogs. Grace wanted to participate, so we let her. We thought it would be cute to leave the mistakes in the final write up. Considering that fact that she only speaks Russian we are happy with her typing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Embassy doctor

Grace is as smart as she looks. We went to the embassy doctor and Grace asked to interpreter if there will be neddles. She was told no. Grace said she will not be afraid, she will not cry. They both had gppd physicals. Grace is 33 pounds and Michael is 22 pounds. Both are groing by leaps and bounds. Michael does what every his sister does and Mama and Papa too. He is not the quiet slow moving kid we met 3 weeks ago. Grace is is pure test mode. "Let me see what the parents will give me" Let's put it this way Barbara is not planmning to fail the test. We are having a lot of fun. We are learning that Grace will do a lot of the little work around and Michael can now hold the sippy cup on his own. This parenting is getting easy. That first day was not easy.

Almaty at last

Folks we made it. It was an emotional trip to Almaty on Monday. We went to pickup Michael and Grace and every one was felling good Grace was happy and the fairwell was lively. Grace had been prepared to Go to a new houes and go on a plain ride. Then to pick up michaelk down the hall. It started out happy but became sad for the careworkers. We are sure they had a few tears in both rooms after we left. Even Graces friends seemed to know something was different. The we as parents were brought back to Earth when 10 minutes into the ride to the airport we were told what Grace said. She said. I want to go back. I don't want to live in a house. The car ride was sad after that. Grace was sold a 'bill of goods' She didn't want it. Michael was OK until the airport and the open spaces in the building. Grace was OK in the airport. Then the plane arived and she ran to the plane. How exciting to see a real plan and actually get on it. She lasted an hour then had trouble because she wanted more juice then we were willing to give. The screams and tears. We are officially parents. I used to laugh a people with screaming kids knowing full well that I would be one someday. Everything was OK until the car ride to the hotel when grace sobbed over and over Dome moi, dome moi, my home, I want my home. More scary open space at the hotel. The elevator ride was not fun either. Today Tuesday all is well and a lot less tears.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

final Semey notes

Folks the time has come to begin closing down the blog. We wrote this Blog for a number of reasons. We wanted to keep our family and friends informed of our adventures in Kazakhstan. Imagine the communications problems we would have without the internet. We also wanted to keep a day to day log so our children will get an idea of our raw thoughts at the time of their early days and as they joined our family. As it turns out, including the comments from all of you, this blog will show how much they have been loved even before their parents came to get them. And how much God has been protecting them for all of their days. Plus, This will help tell them about the interesting heratige they have.
We also wrote as an educational book about the adoption process in general. We wanted to write to people who are in the adoption process or are thinking about joining the ranks of parenthood through adoption. We wanted to show that adoption is hard work and that the rewards are great. (As we all know ”Hard work is never easy”). We know they are reading and we are glad to help. Be prepared for an adventure of your children's life.
Since Monday 11/28 our title has changed from adoptive parents to just parents. And the children have changed from ‘children to be adopted’ to the Curran kids. When we first started this process we were told that there is a term that people in the adoption process hear inappropriately all of the time. The kids are often asked “where are your real parents” Or the parents are asked “imagine if you had real children”. And these are adults who ask these questions. Of course they are really talking about “birth” parents and “birth” children. Our kids will know that they are adopted. We will discuss it at different stages of their lives. There probably won't be opportunies for the readers of the blog to mention adoption. We are real parents and they are our real kids. We think the only evidence that people outside the family will know that our kids are adopted, is that they will have straight hair, and their parents have naturally curly hair.
We will celebrate our “Family Day” on the day everything became official on Nov. 28th . It could be the 1st day in Semey of the Nov 13th also. We will see when the anniversary comes in 1 year. Many people call that day “Gotcha Day” We think ‘Family Day’ is a more fitting day to celebrate. Our children will know they are from Kazakhstan. We will celebrate that heritage as much as we do our Lithuanian, German/English/Native American and Irish heritage. Of course on all college applications they will be listed as Native Americans(joke). They will be US citizens on the day they land in New York and we hand in our immigration papers. They will be proud to be Americans. They will know that a kid from the Steppes of Southern Siberia can grow to be anything they put their mind to be. Thank you for being here for us and our children. We love all of you. God Bless!

PS We have booked our flight to Almaty for Monday morning. We may be out of communications during our travels from Semey to Almaty to home. We will post agina when we can. We will definitely post an epilogue when we get home.

It is time to leave Semey

There are certain signs that it is time for us to go home.
The street light on the corner seen in the picture of Semey has been broken since our second day here. Today it was fixed.
The resturant in the hotel that we have eaten in at least once per day just started construction. We now have to eat in a different part of resturant.
The people in the internet cafe have a reserved seat for us. They are starting to speak English.
The caregivers have the kids ready before we get to the orphanage.
We started signing papers on Friday.
We met with our coordinator on Saturday. Only the second time since we have been here. She gave us the completed documents and we have them to bring to the embassy.
We booked a Flight to Almaty - Hooray. We fly on Monday. We still have work to do in Almaty but at least we will be moving.
A couple of more prayers that the paperwork is not delayed.
It looks like it is time to move on to our next adventure - Traveling with kids. We will carry a new sign - HELP!

Friday, December 02, 2005

The paperwork is starting to move.

Today, Friday, we signed a bunch of papers. We know the passports are created. We still don't know when we are going to Almaty. The earliest will be on Monday. Once there we can expect a communications blackout until we can find a new cafe.
We will let you know on Saturday or Sunday if we booked the flight for Monday.
It is so close we can taste it.
Well at least still have time to see the couple of museums that we haven't seen, plus the Steppes and ski area in the forest.
Signed: Still having fun in Beautiful Semey.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

What we will miss

Our time is winding down here in Semey. We still don’t know when. Here are some things we will miss:
Our time together – 3 weeks without Chris or Barbara leaving for work. With the language problem we pretty much have been in-separatable during this whole time, shopping eating and visiting. We have enjoyed this time.
We will miss the city life. It has been great being able to walk to a store or a park or even the internet café. We will miss writing our life story to the world. This will be a good kick start to our journaling days.
We will miss our buddies at the café. They will miss us.
We will miss our movie night. 8:00 every night we set up the theater in our room and enjoy our wine and Pringles and our quiet time together. We will see if maybe we can keep this in the future…Something tells me this is not reality.
We will miss going to the orphanage. Picking up Michael with his big smile for a greeting; Picking Grace as she bops/hops down the hall leading to her big greeting for her little brother.
We will miss our little family room, although we know the kids are ready to bust out of that room. When the time comes for us to reminisce about the quiet and simple times with the kids, we will fondly remember our time in the family room.
We will miss Raushan, our friend and protector. It is nice to know there is someone in town worrying about us. We will miss our great conversations.
We will miss our driver Almas. How great is it to have a driver take you around the city every day. Almas was more then that, it was fun hearing about his tests for his law degree and stories about his girlfriend. We will miss his big smile.
We will miss our daily tea.
We will miss our dinner in the same restarant in the hotel every night. Those people know us well and we enjoy eating in their company.
We will miss the few times where were heard people in town speaking English. At the same time we will miss trying to speak Russian or trying to communicate to Russian speaking people. It is always a great achievement to get what you want without using words.
We will is our daily snow. So far we are up to a total 3 inches after some snow-globe type snow every day. There is not much at a time but it is slowly accumulating. I predict a white Christmas.
We will miss talking to the video camera every day. I hope 21 days of looking out the same window giving a morning commentary is not too monotonous. (My sister Tara you will kill me if when see these videos, bad technique)
We will miss trying to be creative for you, our reading public. Trying to figure out what you would be interested in and what you would think is humorous. We have really enjoyed talking to you. I must admit the pictures of the kids really helped.
We still have a couple of more segments for your reading pleasure, but we are running out of material. We can see by your comments and emails that you have enjoyed this as much as we have. God Bless.

Investors needed.

This is a picture of a rightside view of Semey from our hotel window. That 2nd tiny looking smokestack in the upper center of photo, is accross the street from the orphanage. The closest building used to be a bread factory plus other semi used and abandoned apartment buildings. We had Thanksgiving in the tallest building in the picture. 16 stories is as tall as they get here.
I promised you I would talk about the economics of Semey and Kazakhstan. Have you heard of the pioneers? Kazakhstan became a country in 1993 since then there has been a tremendous amount of people moving. In Semey the Russian military, Russian nationals, Germans and Ukrainians have gone back to their respective countries. This has left a city of about 500,000 people with a current reading up to about 300,000. There is investment opportunity if you are willing to take the risk. What can you get cheap? Food, drink and cigarettes. We eat dinner of two small salads, 2soups, 2 small entrées and 2 beers for 1300 tenge (ten-gay). That is $10. We went to one place for the same price we fed 4 people. You can get 2 beers for $1. A pack of cigarettes cost .35 cents. We would fill our suitcases with cigarettes if we thought we could get past customs. What does the city need? Steel, road repair works, fleece sweatshirts, postcards and cash and much. Semey was a major producer in Soviet times. They had the biggest meat packing plant in the Empire they had bread factories, shoes and clothing factories. All of that is gone. Now all anyone wants to do is import cheap clothes and shoes and sell them in small crowded booths. Everyone sells the same stuff. Every 3rd booth is for kids clothes or toys. Then there are women’s cloths and bags. There are some electronics booths and cell phone booths. The all look the same. What they are missing is manufacturing. In our hotel we see the bread factory that used to employ about 500 people. Now the roof is collapsed. People work a number of jobs, like teach English and then interpret for adopting families. During the transition from the Soviet times there was a time of land grabbing. The people in power took everything. But they didn’t know how to run it. Every time there was a conflict the owners just shut the factories down. Now there are empty buildings every where. The people of the city are very proud of what they have and things are improving. That is why it is time to act. You can get an apartment building for a song. You can get workers to maintain it. You just need renters. If you are willing to lose some rent money early you will make it back in the long run. If you can restart a factory that will hire workers that rent in your buildings things will move faster…It’s a whole economic theory. You need to be in an MBA program to understand it. My brother Michael can explain it if you need helpJ(sorry, inside joke to half of the readers.) Anyway, the city is growing again and they are looking for investors.

Day 4 of parenthood - thursday

On Tuesday we told the kids that they had parents. They weren't impressed. Grace smiled and asked for her juice. Michael asked for his cereal treat. Maybe they didn't understand us. We thought it was good news. We will we tell then again in the future. We are trying to prepare the kids for travel. We have pictures of the house and their rooms so they will recognize it when they see it. We are also starting to walk through the halls with little commands like "walk' and "stop" so they know them when they hear them. Whoever said that our skills we learned while working with the dogs will used for kids, was right. 'Walk' and 'stop' are universal.
Still no word on leaving. It seems that with new laws come new paper work. Our interpreter and coordinator or working overtime with new forms and additional copies. We will keep you informed.