Monday, September 28, 2009

Court Trip - Return Home

Our return home this past Friday was way less eventful then the trip over to Russia. A highlight for me was riding in a newer style Boeing 767-300 ER jetliner. I have often wondered if these planes ever change in terms of looking new like cars and trucks do. All the jetliners we've ever been on were the boxy square older looking style and this one we had on the return trip had a new swooping roundish look to everything inside the cabin.

Then from Minneapolis Airport to Rochester we tried something new; instead of having someone drive all the way up to the Twin Cities to pick us up (1.5 hr drive one way) we jumped on a Shuttle service called Go Rochester Direct and got to Rochester in 1hr and 15min, where someone from home picked us up. The shuttle service is very economical in that you couldn't drive up to the Cities and back home again for what they charge you for fare for two people.

So we are currently waiting out the 10 day wait period, getting our house ready for the boys and tending to school matters that the substitute teachers have questions about.

Pictures from Court Trip

This post will just be a collection of pictures from the Court Trip we just returned from. So under each picture I will post a simple caption about the picture.

The view out our window from the 14 story of the Milan Hotel in Moscow.

Milan Hotel room service delivers; I can't decide if this is simply to look at or if we are suppose to dismantle this gorgeous display and eat it. In Russia portions of food are never "supersized". We should go back to that as well. Oh, by the way the food was scrumptious!

The impressive Milan Hotel from outside on a beautiful cool evening on our way back from the mall across the street where we had a Big & Tasty at McDonalds. There were five or more eatery's up on that floor of the mall including some American chains.

Arriving in Kemerovo Airport. A sign welcomes you to "Coal Miner's Capital". This is coal mining country. You don't see much evidence of this in Kemerovo City (population 700,000) except for some big rising exhaust stacks that smell of coal burning.

The Azot Hotel where we stayed in Kemerovo City. (We are staying there again upon our return next week.) The name of this hotel is nowhere on the building. We got the name of it from our hotel bill. Not sure if they are flying under the radar or just being discreet and letting their service speak for itself. The lady on the stairs is our coordinator/interpreter in this city. How well she did during this court case one can not know. I don't think anyone could have done better. She was all professional, knew the system, and perhaps a big reason for our success during the court case.

The closest place to our hotel with internet access was the Traveler's Coffee Cafe that offers FREE WIFI. This cafe is 5 blocks from our hotel and we didn't find such an environment with loud music, customers streaming in and out, as much of a place for going to do your email, phoning, and blog updates. So not much blogging was done during our stay in Kemerovo.

Many thanks to the Ethernet cable that we had along to connect our laptop to the hotels internet. It came in handy in Moscow where we never found the promised Wifi signal in the Milan Hotel but, we found a LAN port on the wall and were able to plug into the internet that way. (The internet service was one notch better then dial-up.) When we came to the Azot Hotel in Kemerovo, there was no internet at all but, we found that our Ethernet cable was still useful for fastening the shower head to the top of the shower stall. (the original plastic bracket was broken off.) Tip: when you go to Russia, take along a stretch of electrical wire, cable ties or even duct tape. There is often something annoying like this in these hotels and you'd give anything for something as simple as a piece of wire to jimmy-rig something like a showerhead.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Final Decision is...

That it would be in Drew Morgan Wipf and Demitri Nikolas Wipf's best interest to be granted officially ours. The other couple we are traveling with and staying with, also was granted custody of their baby girl.

The 10 days wait period is now in effect and is intended for the purpose of adoptive parents a grace period within which we may change our minds about the adoption.

Day 5 Court

And the decision after an unexpectedly prolonged, grueling court session is...

Day 4 Kemerovo

Leaving Moscow at 11:30pm the uneventful 4hr flight took us to Kemerovo City (time on arrival was 7:25am); A nice bustling city with a population of 700,000. Here at the Kemerovo Airport a sign welcomed us inside the terminal saying "Capital City of the Coal Miners." This is coal mining country, in the city you don't notice it except for the smell of businesses burning coal for heat.

The hotel we are staying in is one without a name. I tried taking a picture of its name but afterwards couldn't find a name in my pictures. Its a privately owned deal that appears newly renovated, looks quite nicely kept and has some nice frills such as air conditioning, in-house breakfast. Since we will be coming here with the two boys, (pending we gain custody of them) they have assigned us a room with a living room, bedroom and washroom. The living room is quite spacious and has a hide-a-bed sofa. There is however no wifi or internet in this joint to speak off. We will be depending on homing pigeons to deliver messages, a Traveler's Cafe not far from here for blog updates and communications.

Tomorrow is the big day for us, the biggest day of this trip in fact; the court appearance which determines our custody of the boys. Our coordinator already briefed us on our case and that we should plead guilty to receive a lesser charge (just kidding). We will be making our case, answering questions through an interpretter. We will have two of our coordinators there representing the boys social worker while the other will be our interpretter to the judge. Should be interesting, nervous and stressful all at the same time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 3 in Moscow

Just a short post that I will delete upon my official entry for this day. We are scheduled to head on over to the Domodedovo Airport from the Milan Hotel within the next hour. We are flying out of here 11:30pm Moscow Time to kemerovo City which is a 4hr flight into Siberia. We slept most of the day so we wont be too jet lagged after the 4hr flight of leaving Moscow in the evening and arriving in Kemerovo at breakfast time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 2: Moscow & the Magic Hammer

Hard to believe but today was Day 2 in Moscow for this trip. We flew into Moscow on the 20th and arriving in the afternoon (2:27pm) and just mosied off to bed in the Milan Hotel.

Today, was the big, dreaded medical exam by eight or nine Russian doctors. We rode to our appointment (1hr drive) with a very nice taxi company called Total Taxi (nice new Hyundai Sonata cars) I've never heard of a medical exam done in this fashion so it was definitely interesting, at times, even humorous. You would wait in the waiting room with 4 or 5 other adopting couples and every few minutes they would call you or one of the other couples into an exam room with a doctor specializing in a particular field of study. These sessions lasted from 2 to 5 minutes each. The entire exam took 3 hrs. In between exams we would return to the same waiting room and visit with the other adopting couples, waiting to get called to your next exam with yet another doctor.

My favorite exam was the neurologist, who bonked you on numerous spots on your arm and legs with a small metal mallet. I didn't know you had this many reflex points. My worst exam part was the young dermatologist who got three of us in the adoption couples, including me with an old, minor skin lesion that we may have had since we were a  kid in grade school, to think we are at risk of dying of skin cancer this week or for sure next week if we don't go see a dermatologist when we get back home. So us guys had some fun with that out in the waiting room afterwards.

At 7:15pm we were back in our hotel after the exam, riding with Total Taxi, this time another driver with same model car. Driving in the heavy downtown Moscow traffic today, I noticed that the exhaust of many cars  and trucks doesn't smell like real gasoline, I'd be curious to know if it's gasoline like we use at home, it smells more like kerosene.

Another aspect of the Milan Hotel that makes it better over the Marriot hotel we had last time, is that breakfast is included here in your room price. At the Marriot it was extra. So this morning we ambled down to have breakfast. Talk about fancy shnancy breakfast of all types of everything. Breakfast like high ranking officials would eat, where they would enjoy three bites of this and three bites of that and leave the rest. We decided to stay middle class and eat a hearty breakfast and not eat again till supper time.

Since breakfast was so serene, outlandishly well done, included in our room cost, we decided upon our return after the medical exams to the Milan to head for supper at our nice, quiet, serene restaurant in the lobby of the hotel. To our dismay the restaurant that we knew had closed at 6pm and was now in “nightlife” mode till midnight. So now supper would be in “nightlife” mode setting and all. The lights were turned low, the music was hard and loud, the big screen TVs were showing two local hockey teams playing. They asked us if we wanted smoking or nonsmoking which was okay in first 45 minutes, until the nonsmoking section turned into smoking as the grey haze overcame the clean air.

Ordering the food was pretty easy, getting our salad and soup was quick but after that, someone must have lost our order, or went for lunch break themselves, or gotten fired because an hours wait passed before we got so fatigued from the hard wooden benches and the acrid smoke that Jen decided to ask the waitress when our food would be  arriving. This prompted the waitress to hurry off into the back from where she promptly returned with our platters of already cold food. Either these guys were understaffed, mismanaged or overly zealous on the minor details that they seemed endlessly busy with but, serving promptly wasn't one of them. The nice, quiet, prompt meal that we envisioned ourselves having turned into a 2hr smoke filled, hard-seated ordeal.

For those emailing asking about pictures, our main camera's battery is bad but the backup camera is working. Tomorrow we don't have any appointments so we will have time to go outside and take pictures of some of the places we go to here. Will post some tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hello from Moscow

Just a quick hello for those checking in to see if we safely made it to Russia. This by far, has to have been the most eventful flight over here so far. Everything from the Boeing 767 planes computers needing to having their operating system and database uploaded (in Chicago O'Hare) before we could take off to a passenger seizing/convulsing in the isle right next to our seat. We found all our luggage in quick fashion all in good condition upon landing in Domodedovo Airport. Our driver from previous trips, Vladimir was waiting for us, always a welcome to see a familiar face.
I will post more info and pictures after we've gotten some sleep. It is 11:28pm Sunday night right now here in Moscow so we are heading off the sleep. We have a hotel that is $80 a night cheaper then the one we had last time and much much nicer. In fact, the American Airlines flight attendants couple we met coming up to our room, told us this hotel just opened after a year of remodeling. There is a mall with KFC, McDonalds, Kabob Eatery, and every other kind of eatery all in one level of the mall so we wont go hungry here. Very modern mall right outside our hotel. We have our medical exam tomorrow so need to be rested up.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day

Tomorrow, Saturday Sept. 19th we are heading off to Russia. Our next posts will come from the other side of the world. Today we got some very important steps done in the process for the upcoming trip. We really hope all turns out well as we have put forth our best effort to meet the requirements for a successful trip but as we found out today, you can never be too sure. Its been a roller coaster of a day finding out some of our provisions aren't up to the specs of our programs specs and then having one business day to get it all straightened out.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Original Haven Herald RELAUNCHED in digital form!

Hello All: If  you have been invited, you may head on over to the brand new place called "Haven Herald" which is a old title I decided to resurrect from way back in 2001. Back in that day it was a paper based publication about local events, projects and ideas about our community in southeastern Minnesota. Its address is and requires you to login just like you do on the Adoption Blog.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Local Events, Projects and Ideas

The questions been raised "why I don't post local happenings like the current project we have underway here called "Operation Water Buffalo". As those of you know whom I've been texting we had the well pump that pumps the whole communities water go down and hence no running water since Friday morning (Sept 11). So a big project is underway since that seemingly doomed day of Sept 11 this year 2009 to supply running water to all residents in our community. I have decided to not post local events in this blog as this is devoted to our family. So a new blog will spring to life which I will call "Haven Herald" and it will be open to invited readers only and be devoted to local topics like "Project Water Buffalo".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Details about Court Date

Preparations and travel arrangements are underway to go to Russia where we undergo an "inside and outside and through your nose" physical exam with 8 Russian doctors in Moscow, (it's mostly formality). After we pass this test, we move on to the court appearance in Kemerovo region of Russia. After the court appearance, there is a scheduled 10 days of dead air time during which we have chosen to return to the US of A and prepare our house and our surroundings. Will our lives change or what? I have a sneaky hunch we have no idea what awaits our calm, relaxed life of two in our comfy trailer home.

To summarize:

Flying on Sept. 19.
Court on Sept. 24 in Kemerovo.
Coming back home in Sept. 25.
Going back on Oct. 3.
Picking up the boys on Oct. 6.
Paperwork in Kemerovo Oct. 6, 7.
Paperwork in Moscow Oct. 9-14.
Hoping to come home on Oct. 15.

The reason for the longer stay and all the paperwork is - as soon the boys hit American soil, they will be US citizens, and this will occur at JFK in NY, that's where we're landing. We could do it here as well, but our agency insists on doing it this way, which is probably a wise idea, since I'm sure most of us wouldn't really know how to go about making them citizens. There, you just follow instructions, and sign where they ask you to.

Court Date Established!!!

Its happened!!! We have received an established date for appearing in court to claim our boys. The date is Sept. 24th. More Details to follow....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Welcome Back All!

Welcome back to our blog! It has been a tremendously busy summer, so much so that I have to say its been my best summer in years. Lots of technology projects at our school as well as taking on some of the communities technology. If you like tech stuff, you know that it can be just as exciting as the adoption and family side of life. This is me defending my love for tech stuff; it gives you unique opportunities to meet new people, learn new things, concepts and ways of using technology. About our adoption: We just reaching the next milestone in our adoption which brings us right up to the point of receiving a court date in Russia! This means that traveling to claim the boys is oh so close. Stay tuned, as the blog will once again come to life with news, facts and friction.