Thursday, October 18, 2007

Asher is ready to travel home

Dad and Asher up in the mountains in Almaty

Asher waiting in the Dr.'s office.....

Asher's first camel ride...There are painted camels all over the city.....

It has been a few good days in Almaty and all the paper work is done so Asher can travel home with us. Yesterday we went to medical clinic so they could validate his health for the U.S. Embassy. He was a very good boy for the doctor and nurses; he didn’t even cry when they drew blood. Today we went to the U.S. Embassy to get his immigration documents and an entrance visa to the U.S. Once through immigrations in the U.S. he will officially be an American. So we are all set to travel home and Asher can not wait to see his sisters and brother. Actually we are all looking forward to be back home as one big happy family.

Jen and I are just amazed at how content he is with us; it’s like he has always known us. He is also really showing a true two year old nature. He is hearing “no” from us more than we would like, but some things he just can’t do… like digging through the garbage, touching the hot stove, or playing in the toilet. He has been sleeping pretty good and only got up at 4:40am once. He east almost anything we feed him without complaining, which is more than we can say about our other three darlings. The only issue we are having is how much energy a 2 year old has…. He is wearing us out since we are not spring chickens anymore.

Tomorrow we are going to visit Gorky Park, one of Almatys Cathedrals then out for our last Kaz meal then home to pack. Flight leaves at 3 AM Saturday. We are SO looking forward to getting home. Well… I better sign off… busy day tomorrow…we are pooped!!!!

Blessing from Kaz

J & J

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Breaking Asher out of the Baby House…

Like much of our worries in life, our worries about Asher not remembering us was just that, worries, because he remembered his mama and papa and came running to see us. He also remembered everything we have taught him such as high five, tickle tickle, and Jen’s favorite… kisses. God is soooo good!

Before leaving Astana, we took him to his first restaurant and went to the Biterek (Tree of Life), which is their national monument (like our Washington Monument). From the top of the Biterek the city doesn’t seem as big, as you can see the city boundaries and beyond the city all you seen was fields of wheat and corn.

We also wonder how he would react to car rides and his first airplane flight, but no problems except he doesn’t like wearing the seat belt on the airplane. Which of course made him cry, something we have never heard him do either. I think we can all relate to this as no one likes to be trapped or not free to roam around and do what we like. But with some reassurance and a few smarties we were able to get him to calm down and deal with it.

In the few short hours we have had him, he has talked more than we heard him talk in the whole month we had spent bonding with him. He is speaking Kaz so we have no idea what he is saying, but he seems to be very content with us. During the plane flight he was singing, which was absolutely adorable to see and hear. And like most toddler boys, everything is an adventure for him. He wants to touch and see everything and we mean everything. His whole world has just expanded way beyond anything he has ever known and this is where we know God is going to bless us. We will be reminded of all the simple blessings around us that we take for granted everyday.

After a great first day of many new and exciting first for Asher it was time to get ready for bed and why not try the big potty, which he had no problem sitting on, but no luck going. Since we haven’t had a toddler in a while, we forgot not to let him run around with out a diaper… as he was waiting for his bath, he pooped and peed on the floor, but hey that’s what little kids do sometimes. After a nice bath and one of our favorite books, Goodnight Moon, it was off to bed with no complaints or crying and that was for all of us as Jen and I exhausted.
God is soooo good!
Signing off from Almaty.....
Jay, Jen and Asher

Monday, October 15, 2007

Back in Kazakhstan

Well after about 24 hours of travel plus the 10 hour time zone difference we have made it safely back to Kazakhstan and with no travel issues. Yep... no canceled flights, no delayed flights, and no lost luggage! This is a very nice blessing. Although the travel isn't fun, we are very excited to see Asher. The three weeks back in the states went very fast, but it seems like we left him months ago. We did get a very nice update last week when we were told that he has been talking to his friends about his mama and papa. He also was very excited to hear that we would be coming back soon. God is soooo good! That's the update for now... we are off to pick our new son up and fly to Almaty this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Rest & Relaxation!!!

The kids with the dunes in the back Zoe with her Daddy!!!

Our first weekend home we decided to take the kids up north for a family get away!! We ended up in Ludington for a nice fall weekend. We hiked in the state park to the light house. Then we went up 100 steep stairs to the top.. what a nice view.. We played football with the kids, went swimming and just had some great family time. It was hard being away from them but the end result of bringing Asher home will be well worth it. The kids are excited but I do not think Zoe understands that this will be a big change. I keep telling her she will now be a big sister...

We leave in 11 days which getting on the plane for another 14 hours is not appealing to me... but this will be the last long trip for a while. We have left the suitcases out and have started to fill them..... this time though I will need more toddler things... I am going shopping this weekend for the necessary items to get me through...
Friday night my friends Toni, Carrie and Stephanine are throwing a toddler shower for Asher... it will be fun and Zoe and Shelby can feel involved.

Will post before we depart...I better continue to pack!!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We are Home!!!

Yes we are home and it does feel good and also surreal.. That is the word Jay & I are using. We have no pictures of our return trip home unless you like to see the inside of a plane... 28 hours of travel is not fun
We were gone 30 days and the journey was indescribable!!! We were greeted by 3 eager kids ready to see their parents and once we got home a tub of mail to go through.. We still have suitcases all over since in 3 short weeks we will be leaving again to pick up Asher. The time will fly by as we are getting things ready for his homecoming and keeping up with our 3 kids activities.
While we are gone I am hoping Asher does not miss us too much.. A mom who is still visiting her baby for another week has been sending us pictures of him. Also we have the 1,500 pictures from our trip to go through and have printed...I think we will be putting a power point together so when he gets older something from his country.
We will continue to blog on our return trip... Grand Rapids to Astana leaving October 14th....

Jay & Jen

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Special Anniversary!

Well today is our 28th day in Astana and our last… at least for this trip… and it is also our sixteenth wedding anniversary. Although we didn’t celebrate our anniversary in the usually way, it has been an anniversary that we will never forget and we have received many blessings…

We received an early anniversary surprise last night when our travel agent e-mailed us that he was able to get us on an earlier flight than Monday. Jen was ecstatic about this news…

…but also sad as it meant that we only had one visit left with our new son.

We started off the day with our usual call to talk with our children back home which has been a blessing to hear their voices! The time away from them can never be replaced, but we know once they meat Asher that they will realize it was worth it.

We had a very special visit with Asher and an emotional one. Like usual we were greeted by a very excited little boy that pushes through all the other children to make to us with a big smile and gave us hugs.

We spent most of the time inside today, as the weather is very cold, playing with blocks, reading books, giving high fives, kisses, tickles, and a few new sounds…

Our last visit was also with some of the other adoptive parents, so Asher spent some time with his new friend Sabina…

The little time we spent outside was spent looking for birds that Asher just loves to chase around...

...and when they fly away he lifts his little arms and gives us a look like… where did they go?

Asher’s amazing transformation from his first day with us till now is truly the most precious blessing we have received...

After playing a little more inside it was that time that Jen and I was dreading… time to take him back to his room and say good bye.

Fortunately he did not really understand what was going on, but Jen and I had tears in our eyes as we hugged him and kissed him goodbye. We have left him a taggy blanket, a photo book, and his Pooh bear to remember us. We also taped pictures inside his cubby and the care takes will tell him each day that we will return.

Thank you so much for following along with us on the first phase of our journey! We will update the blog when we get home and periodically as we get updates on Asher.

Jay & Jen

Thursday, September 20, 2007

There’s always a silver lining…

Well it has been a few stressful days with court being delayed, rescheduling flights, and missing our children in Michigan, but even in stressful times you can find blessings from God…

On the day we were supposed to fly out we had a great visit with Asher. He is starting to imitate us more by doing things like, saying “Hi” and waving, give a high five, say “tickle – tickle” while trying to tickle you, and the best thing he is doing is giving kisses! These milestones might seem small to a parent who has had a child since birth but for our little guy, who has been in the baby house for 2 years plus, this is huge. These kids do not get individual attention and adding all the time we have spent with him it adds up to less than 2 full days. If we would have gone home on Wednesday we would have not seen these milestones, but we were blessed in spite of the disappointment of not going home… We cannot wait to get him home and see how much he grows with his siblings.
Today we had our court hearing and it went very well. Their court sessions are held in small rooms with 3 desks in them; one for the judge, one for the prosecutor, and one for the secretary. In our session we did not have a prosecutor which is a good thing, which means fewer questions. Jay spoke on behalf of us and did a great job giving the judge our family history, why we chose Kazakhstan, and the reasons we want to adopt. The judge’s main questions were you have 3 kids why do you want another??? Families here are quite small and she probably thinks we are nuts!!!! We explained that our family is not complete and we feel strongly a little 2yr old guy is missing. After we said our part she dismissed us to go over the documents and make a decision. She approved the adoption, but did not wave the fifteen day waiting period for any potential family to object, so as of October 8th Asher Douglas Straw is legally our new son. He has been in the baby house since birth and no relative has surfaced so we think we are safe. After the court session we had our picture taken with the judge and he asked for a hug, she was taken back a little, but if you know Jay he is a hugger and she obliged. Jay and I did get emotional knowing that we have finally got to this point in the process after a year long paper trail and a month in country our family will be complete when we get Asher home on October 20th.

We could have never gotten this far without everyone’s prayers, support from friends and family, patience from our children, and God’s grace!

On another side not we will be home 2 days earlier as we were on stand by for Saturday…Yes Blessing seems to be all around us and we are so Thankful!!!
So we are looking forward to seeing our children in Michigan, sleeping in our bed and if you know me a starbucks coffee…


Jay and Jen