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Adoption Update

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This is an update to my adoption blog. You can read that blog here:

When I left off I mentioned we had a call to travel to Astana, Kazakhstanís capital, and that there would be two infant boys to choose from. We really built a lot of dreams on those pieces of information. Either of those two boys sounded wonderful, and being in the capital, a relatively cosmopolitan place, I thought the experience would be less intimidating. We had to wait for formal letter of invitation from the ministry of something in Kazakhstan, so we can then take that letter to the Kazak embassy for a visa to travel. We had expected to be in the air traveling in three weeks, which would have been a few days ago.

I had made plans to leave off work by the Tuesday of this past week, giving me time to finalize my home arrangements before I left, had coordinated the transitioning of my work responsibilities (despite the several crises that came up in these past two weeks), and had established means for checking on my mother, for bill paying and home management while away, and established means of communication back to key people here in mother land. It seemed things would be under control.

After a week went by and we still hadnít heard, we began to get antsy. Our agency had not heard from their contact in Kazakhstan, the person that originally matched us with those boys, and, given it was over the Easter and Passover week and weekend, people were I guess on vacation or just out, and ok, not much we could do. Somewhere mid week my agency heard we were no longer to go to Astana. What? What about those two boys? She had no answer. Something in Astana caused that regionís adoptions to be put on hold Ė at least thatís as far as she knew. Frankly I think we lost out to some other agency. There are so many agencies vying for placing infants that Iím sure there are all sorts of under the table payoffs and bribes that go on. While I donít know for a fact, Iím sure those boys were claimed by others elbowing their way in.

We were given a new destination of Shymkent in Southern Kazakhstan. Shymkent? Where the heck is that? And this time she could not tell us what children are available. So they replaced a cosmopolitan city and two specific children with some place I never heard of and no specifics. That was not pleasing to say the least. And then I looked up Shymkent in my Kazakhstan travel book and it introduced the city with this:
The capital of South Kazakhstan Region and the largest city in the south, with a population well over half a million, Shymkent is considered by urban Kazakhstanis in Astana or Almaty as a wild and lawless place. The pavements are uneven, and the driving manic. It often hits the Kazakhstani headlines for the wrong reasons, as for example with a health scandal emerging in 2006, involving the HIV infection of local children during blood transfusions. (p. 364, Kazakhstan, Paul Brummell, Bradt travel guides)
Wonderful. Thatís not exactly what I wanted to hear. At that point I was definitely angry. A cursory search came up with drug trafficking and organized crime and other social problems. And when I found a youtube video of two men in Shymkent fighting, one shooting the other, I began to worry whether this was a smart thing to do.

In the mean time we had another form (donít ask me what it was - I just sign the papers) to notarize and whatever, and still we were waiting for that formal invitation. Iíve now restructured my schedule again at work. I really donít know when weíre leaving. People ask me when Iím leaving. I just throw up my hands. I play it week by week. My wife keeps expecting it every day. I keep feeling like a carpet keeps being pulled from under my feet and Iím trying to maintain my balance while itís sliding. News keeps throwing fear into my heart. Neighboring Kyrgyzstan has a coup that over throws the government, an American womanís stupidity shuts down neighboring Russiaís adoption program with the U.S., and an Icelandic volcano shuts down air travel to Europe, which is our flight stepping stone (we should be connecting in Frankfurt, Germany) to Kazakhstan. As a side note, the delay actually saved us some aggravation. Our original estimate was to travel two days ago, Friday, and that was right in the middle of the volcanic ash airline shut down. We would have been one of those travelers who had to turn around, and if you think weíre frustrated now, can you imagine after that?

In the meanwhile Iíve been researching Shymkent. Perhaps I was hasty in my fears. Every city has some criminal element to it. Weíve found a number of blogs by people who have adopted from there and from young people serving in the Peace Corps there. If you Google ďShymkent BlogsĒ you can peruse a few. And you can see some pictures and city information here: The travel guide goes on to say that it has a long history, back to the 12th century where it was a resting stop along the Silk Route across Asia. Under Soviet rule it became an industrial city (lead processing and petrochemicals), and it still is, and it seems to pride itself on its beer, apparently the best in Kazakhstan. Hereís how the travel guide moderates its harsh opening characterization:
But Shymkent is also vibrant and lively city, with the most colorful bazaar in Kazakhstan, and offers a good range of accommodations and eating options. The cityís parks throng with people until late into the evening in summer.
Here are a couple of videos set to rap and local music of driving around the city, and a third video is of a shopping mall that they are really proud of. And rightly so, itís quite impressive.
The Mega Mall:

Now I donít mind a rough edged city and people. Hey I grew up in Brooklyn and Iíd rather be around earthy and folksy people, even if theyíre a bit coarse, than the elitist types. (Just no crime please.) What I think Iím really going to like about this region is the Kazakh culture. This is probably the heart of Kazakh ethnic culture. They are horse people, or used to be, and though I doubt there will be horses in the city, Iím hoping to catch some of their local sports. We just missed a big festival they have called Nariyz. You can see some highlights of their Nariyz games in this video, which includes Kokpar, a sort of polo game with a goat carcass, and wrestling on horseback. Really cool.
And here is a clip of images of Kazakh culture.

And so we wait for this letter of invitation. One lucky circumstance is that the Kazakh embassy from which we get our visa to travel is located here in New York City. Once we get the letter we can go in person, just a hop into Manhattan, and save a couple of days of mailing time. It feels like ages since we got that original call. I suspect we will be traveling in ten to fourteen days. Either that or Iíll be an old man before we finally go.


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  1. Niamh's Avatar
    Fingers crossed you get going soon! Hopefully Europe will open its flightpaths again pretty soon!
  2. TheFifthElement's Avatar
    It's quite a journey Virgil. I hope for you that the volcanic ash cloud doesn't further hamper your plans. It doesn't look like any flights will be leaving UK any time soon, or the ash cloud for that matter. I really hope it comes off for you both, and that you'll soon be looking back on this time with your son or daughter, telling them the story of what you went through to be together. It'll be a wonderful story worth telling and your child will probably never tire of hearing it.
    Updated 04-18-2010 at 04:33 PM by TheFifthElement
  3. Paulclem's Avatar
    Good luck with all that. It sounds frustrating!
  4. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you Niamh, Fifth, and Paul. It's frustrating. Now they're saying this ash could last for weeks. I hope not. Do you guys see it over your skies?
  5. mtpspur's Avatar
    The volcano ash has effected my future daughter-in-law getting to come home from Iraq to see my son for a couple of weeks. She's stuck in a warehouse in Kuwait past couple of days waiting for a flight.

    Still convinced the RIGHT child is out there for you. This will be a grand story to share as they grow up and will enhance the joy and pleasure he/she will give you. Still in hopes of brighter things.
  6. Shalot's Avatar
    when you finally get your child you should write a book about all this.
  7. Lulim's Avatar
    I do hope that all your hopes and anxiety turn our for the best eventually

    We can see nothing of the ash cloud here (I'm living relatively close to Frankfurt, about 124 miles). I believe they opened some airports this late afternoon, provisionally.
  8. qimissung's Avatar
    Wow, Virgil, I'm glad your spirits are better than they were a few days ago. I'm very proud of how you and Pussnboots handle the constant stressful worry.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you guys, and I hope that things start to happen soon. It isn't right to keep you all waiting so needlessly, but what are you gonna do?

    Take care.

  9. Janine's Avatar
    Yes, hope for the best. It might not be as long as they predicted. With these type natural things anything could happen; I hope it happens for you soon for the best. The obstacles you have faced have been incredible and Shalot is right - maybe someday you should write a book about it. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you.
  10. Lynne50's Avatar
    I'm so sorry Virgil for all the delays and such. Waiting can be so hard. Hopefully, the volcanic ash situation will settle down and flights in Europe will resume. Amazing that something like that affects the economy in so many countries.
    I'm praying for you and your wife that your wait will soon be over and you'll be flying high to reach your adopted child. Waiting sometimes brings the best results. God bless.
  11. Virgil's Avatar
    First of all, thank you all for your well wishes.

    Lulum - That's great to hear. I hoping things resume soon.

    Rich - I'm sorry for your daughter-in-law. That's tough.

    Shal - It would probably be like a Tolstoy novel.

    Qimi & Janine - We're hanging in there. Not much else we can do.

    Lynn - Special thank you to you. Blessings are special. God bless you too.
  12. Maryd.'s Avatar
    Oh my dear, I wish you and the Mrs, all the luck and love in the world. I shall say a few prayers. (And keep the fingers crossed)

    Sorry it takes so long to chat these days, our computer is still out and we are using the library and internet cafe's to catch up. But I still love everyone. I promise.
  13. *Classic*Charm*'s Avatar
    Fingers crossed for you and PnB, Virgil. If there's a couple out there who are strong enough to handle all this frustration, it's you. The time and devotion you've shown to this child is amazing, and it will be a special child to have you both as parents. Don't forget to take care of yourselves
  14. Virgil's Avatar
    Thank you Mary and Classic. This has been trying. I can't wait until it's over and it has a happy ending of course.
  15. skib's Avatar
    Good grief. I don't even have anything legitimate to say. Good grief! It'll work out soon, I'm sure!
  16. Heathcliff's Avatar
    Good luck Virg!

    Remember, good things come to those who wait.
  17. Lote-Tree's Avatar
    Virgil I did not realise Adopting can be such a difficult experience! It's like giving birth (though I wouldn't know what giving birth feel likes but it sure does look traumatic!)

    I am wishing you and hoping for you all the best.

    Keep the spirits up :-)
  18. Lacra's Avatar
    My dear friends, Mrs. and Mr. Virgil! My motto in this life is: "Do not despair when you face a difficult situation." I hope the things will finish in the best way possible, when you will expect less. You need to be patient and you will be rewarded, I am sure of it. I am with you, future parents...
  19. pussnboots's Avatar
    I keep telling him "we are leaving this weekend" but he refuses to believe me!!! I'll have the last laugh when he is scrambling around like a chicken without a head trying to get all his things together. HAHA!!
  20. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    HAHAHAHA!! I can see it now Puss!

    I read this to my husband and was yelling between paragraphs. We have been following this story for sometime and we are very invested in the story and hope for a positive outcome.

    I think MTPSUR has a good outlook- when the right child appears. Who can say in these matters? All I know is that it must be so incredibly frustrating.

    I know they are trying to gather data to see if they can get those planes moving. Hopefully the ash and clouds will have moved passed the UK and Iceland when it is time for you to get going.

    Much luck and hope you can both keep the faith!
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