We got to sleep in today and take our time getting ready. Seems like we have everything we need and most of the comforts of home. Our apartment is modest but clean and an added bonus-Hot Water. We were told to anticipate that hot water may be scarce so we are so thankful. We learned the hard way how to use our shower after we flooded the bathroom the first day. Seems we have a "small" leak which would explain the dozen or so shirts wadded up on the floor underneath to soak up the water. It appears between the not so great seal around the tub and the porous shower curtain, we make quite the mess each day. We're trying to figure something out. Good thing I brought that duct tape. It might come in handy! Bryan had to use a dust pan and broom to get the water cleaned up because we don't have any towels other than the one we each brought with us to use for our showers. Thank goodness we did that or we would still be drip drying. Dina said the owners will be bringing some by. We got sheets today so we'll hope for towels tomorrow. Not complaining-this is all very humbling.
We are sitting around waiting for Dina to pick us up. We have a 2:15 appointment at the Ministry of Education and then we get to go to the Baby House to meet Asat! Can't wait.
Dina picked us up as scheduled and drove us to the bank to exchange some money for Tenge. We are still trying to figure out the exchange rate. Kind of confusing. I think the exchange rate was 1.21 so we exchanged $500 dollars for 60,500 Tenge. Feels like you are spending a lot when you buy something. We don't know if we are getting taken or not. The banks are very interesting. Very stark, quiet and private. Very institutional-not what we are used to in the states. It reminds me of what you would think of the IRS looking like. Not a lot of propaganda or marketing-just desks behind a 3/4 wall that you walk around to see anyone. Dina told us that to borrow money they do it at a rate of 20-25%. The average income is only $150/month and rent is $1,200 a month for a one bedroom apartment. That doesn't compute in my brain but somehow they manage. We were also told they work 6 days a week and they work from 8 am to 8 pm. every day except Saturday's where they get a short day-9-5. Not many places are air conditioned but they don't seem to mind. We have decided we are very spoiled but thankful for America.
After the bank, we went to meet with the Minister of Education. She asked us(in Russian of course) why we wanted to adopt from her country, what we did for a living and how long we have been married. She also wanted to know what Rachael thought of the whole idea. We assured her that our whole family is very supportive and she seemed pleased with that answer. Lots of fast speaking people bustling about. Dina translated for us but the translation never took as long as the conversations we couldn't understand. Not that we are paranoid or anything....... Bryan said it was weird listening to it all and knowing we were at the center of the discussion. We then were asked to wait in the hallway which we did for about a 1/2 hour for our MOE representative to join us for our first trip to the baby house. Five people, 90 degrees in the shade all packed into an Audi with no air. Very chummy.
We arrived at the baby house at the same time another family did. Their names are Ross and Karen Brown from Chicago so we made friends with them right away. They went in first to Dr. Alma's office so we waited patiently for our turn as we watched children go in and out. Finally it was our turn and we met with Dr. Alma, the MOE rep and Dina. Dr. Alma-who only speaks Russian, asked us about ourselves, what we do back home and whether we wanted a boy or girl. She enjoyed our photo album and the fact that we had the picture captions translated in Russian so she could read it herself. Thanks Joy!!!! She loved the fact that we had large families and lots of people to love Jonathan(Asat)
Finally.....after lots of talking, Dr. Alma made a phone call and pretty soon, our new little beauty was brought in to us. I cried-surprise, surprise. He is so sweet. He came right to me and grabbed on to my hair and wouldn't let go for anything. That's ok-I have plenty. He caught a look at Bryan and started to cry. Poor Bryan. Not uncommon. The babies don't see a lot of men so they are afraid. It didn't take long and Bryan had him and he was happy as could be. They allowed us to spend some time with him so we took him outside and had some pictures taken. It was a lot of fun. He smells like a soft little baby. Ok-get this. Asat is 8 months old and supposedly potty trained and not drinking from a bottle. They start training them at 5 months old and every hour or so put them on the pot to do their business. What do you think of that?? We'll see if that is true. Doesn't matter if he is or isn't. No need to rush those things in our opinion.
We did discover he is very ticklish and laughs very very hard if you tickle his belly softly. It makes us laugh too. He is so cute.! The time came and we had to take him back to his group. There is a decent area for the children to play, a small kitchen where there food is prepared and a seperate room where their beds are. It was hard even after one day to give him back but you can tell they take wonderful care of them and they all adore him. Can't wait to see him tomorrow.
We left the baby house and went to eat with Dina. Fortunately, it was a place with an American menu so I could see what I wasn't going to eat. I ended up with Chicken Ceasar salad and soup topped off by their version of pancakes which were quite tasty. Bryan had some sort of beef and said it was good but he is a lot braver than I.
We ended up at the grocery store-they call it the Ramstore-which is very close to our apartment. We got some food and a few basics for the apartment-Best purchase-ice cube tray!
The traffic here is WILD. I may have mentioned that earlier but it is worth repeating. No lines or lanes and if you want a lane you just make your own. Hairpin U-turns are very common right in the middle of the street, intersection or where ever you need to do it. I don't ever want to cross the street. The interesting thing is no one seems to get road rage. There is a lot of honking going on but no one getting mad that you just turned in front of them. Bryan has been sitting in the front seat so I'm afraid one of these times I'm going to have to recesitate him, but other than that-what an adventure!
We watched a movie last night but both feel asleep. That's ok we'll get used to the time change eventually. Still no sheets for our bed. We are hoping for some tomorrow. Luckily I brought pillow cases. They don't fit but we can at least lay them on top of the pillow.