Well, the boys and I had a great time at the lake with my parents. We rode go-karts and played arcade games on the strip, and we rode the boat and went tubing. It was nice to get away for awhile, but poor Steve got dumped with everything that happened.
We weren't supposed to hear anything until Wednesday, which is why we decided to go ahead and go to the lake. Instead, Steve got an email Monday from Olga stating that Andrei had gone here, there, and yonder on Monday and discovered that Moscow City no longer requires adoption visas; a regular tourist visa is all they need. Therefore, we don't need any letter and nothing has to be processed through migration services. We can leave for Moscow whenever we want to. This was good news, but we were a little irritated at the fact that we lost a week -- not because we had to wait 7 more days, but because of the timing of everything. We had wanted to travel Aug 2-9 because it just fit perfectly in our schedule even down to the fact that it was a bye week in Steve's softball league. I would have had to change one doctor's appointment, but that would have been fine. Instead, we will miss seeing my aunt and cousin from Texas, who are coming for a visit (haven't seen them in months/years), and they won't be able to see Katie. My parents' church is having a 50th anniversary celebration for the church, and many people who used to attend will be coming back for that. We planned on going and taking Katie, but now we won't be back in time for it. We should return home on a Sunday, Derek starts school on Monday, and Alex starts school on Tuesday. We were hoping for some nice family bonding time before the boys went back to school, but instead we're going to hit the ground running. Fortunately, Steve will be taking a few days off after we get home so we can try and establish some sort of routine with all the craziness. I'm thrilled that we have our travel dates, but I wish there hadn't been all this confusion with the visas so that we could be leaving this Saturday. I know God's timing is perfect and mine is not, but I gotta tell ya -- I'm just not seeing it right now. However, all griping aside, we are thrilled to be bringing Katie home, and we'll do whatever it takes to make this work. Big Picture!
Soooo, we leave on August 9, and we will return on August 17. We would return on the 16th, but the rates were ridiculously high, so we'll stay in Moscow one more day and come home on Sunday. If all goes according to plan (which it rarely does, but it's always nice to pretend that it will), we will arrive in Moscow Sunday afternoon, and go pick up Katie from the orphanage. That will be her last day in the orphanage forever! Then on Monday, we will go to the Department of Education and get a letter (which is in lieu of the adoption visa) that we will take to the passport office and apply for her passport. This takes 3 days to process, and we do not know of any work that needs to be done during that time, so we plan on going sight-seeing with Katie around Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Thursday, the passport should be ready, but there's no guarantee. Assuming it's ready, we'll go throught the U.S. Embassy on Friday, get her visa, and register her with the Russian Consulate. Then Saturday will be another free day before we fly home on Sunday. Yea! However, if the passport is NOT ready on Thursday, then we won't be able to fly home on Sunday. We'll have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to fly home.
So while I was tubing, go-karting, and boating with my boys, Steve was on the phone and the computer getting everything squared away. Getting the visas started was no problem because we sent the passports and the visa application last week. Getting the apartment wasn't a problem either; the one Albina recommended sounded great. Getting the plane tickets was a nightmare, which included more phone calls and hold time than I can remember, and 2 trips to the airport. He couldn't get Katie's ticket over the phone like he could ours; he had to purchase it from the ticket counter at the airport. We could have just gone through Albina, but Delta gave us a better rate than they gave her so we went through Delta. Steve told me today that as soon as I got home from my vacation, he wanted to take a break. He was TIRED! I joked that he should try doing all that while taking care of two boys. He didn't find the humor in that. :-)
Now that all the particulars are taken care of, we have 10 days before we leave. We have alot to do, but we should have enough time to get everything done. We are excited to be going, but also a little overwhelmed at all that needs to be done. All we can say is that we have the BEST parents in the world who have put their lives on hold the same way we have so that they are available to watch our boys whenever we need them. We could not be going through this process if it weren't for them. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, in this case, it's taking a village just to GET our child. This has been one of the most emotionally draining processes we have ever been through, but it will all be worth it once we get her home. Hold on, Katie. We're coming!