Thursday, October 11, 2012

His New Name & More Photos from Trip 1

Yes, we are still here!!  Things have been moving along since we've gotten home from visiting our boy.  We immediately set to work getting our court documents ready for submission.  We mailed those off and they are now in Arnold's country being translated.  We are just waiting for our new background checks to come back and that will finalize what we need to get a court date.  I am crossing my fingers that we will have a date in the next three weeks, but as you already know by now, there are no certainties in the international adoption world :-)

One of the forms we had to fill out and submit required we give them his new legal name.  We have had a name in mind for a while, but we wanted to meet him first to make sure it would fit.  It did.  Our boy's first name will be Gabriel, Gabe for short.  I can't reveal his middle name yet because we chose to keep his true given name, which I can't publicly post until he is legally ours.  Gabriel seemed fitting for our little guy because it means "My strength is in God."  From what we learned about him on our first trip, we know that he is a survivor, and we know that God has been with him preserving him for a great purpose on this earth.  Anyway, don't get too confused if I start calling him Gabriel or Gabe on the blog from now on!  I know that may be hard on those who have followed him since he was first listed on Reece's Rainbow as "Arnold."  It is still weird for me to say it, we're so used to calling him by his given name.  

One of the neatest things about adopting in this day and age is technology.  I belong to a Facebook group for moms (and a few dads) who are adopting from our same country through Reece's Rainbow.  There are families there who range from just beginning to already home for years.  As you can imagine, the advice, support, camaraderie, empathy, and love are incredible.  There are women there I just connect with, and their stories just reach into the center of my heart.  One of these mama's is in country right now, having just finished their court hearing where they were thrilled to be named the parents of two beautiful children, a 10-year-old girl and a baby boy.  I'd love for you to read her post about their court experience, and you MUST read the post below it called Joy in the Little Things, about the joy that small little blankets brought both babies and grown kids alike.  It just makes your heart hurt in a good way, a way that makes  you feel connected to these children and want to appreciate what you have a little more.  The pictures alone will move you in a big way.  Check it out here at (don't you love her blog name?).

I wanted to share some photos from our trip that I wasn't able to before because I didn't have my laptop.  Get ready because there are a lot of them.  

Such a neat place!!!

The detail and architecture of this city is just amazing.  

Not sure what this was (have to look it up still), but people were trying to throw coins in it. We gave it a shot and missed :-(  I hope that doesn't mean our wish won't come true!

Another impressive building. 

The tomb of the unknown soldier.

It is tradition for a married couple to lay flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier after they wed. I thought that was really touching, to focus on those who have gone before you on your wedding day.

More beautiful landscaping.

Impressive fountains dot the city.

A fountain you can walk under.  I volunteered Brian to check it out...

This incredible building was historically a center of local commerce. It was once an open -air center, but has since had a roof added on.  This place was more upscale than anything I've ever seen.  All the runway brands and finest jewelry/accessories.  Yep, Brian and I didn't go in one of the stores (and I think they would have kicked us out in our jeans anyway.  Reminded me of Pretty Woman!  There were security guards at the entrances to the stores, like Versace).

These bicycles dotted the balconies on the second level. There were three levels, with three main halls in each level.

A bike store!  Now we're talkin'!

The architecture was so incredibly beautiful, it was no surprise to see two wedding parties there for photos.

Exhausted, we sat at a cafe and ordered dessert.  It was delicious , but we should have checked the price of that water more closely!  $9.00 for water "bottled at the source in Tuscany".  Yikes!  I made Brian bring the bottle home because it seemed crazy to throw away a $9.00 bottle of water!

Also on the aphrodisiac coctail, or a hormone of happiness coctail. Ha!

The details of the building were just beautiful.  

See the cute girl standing on the gold circle thing? I guess it's a tradition to throw a coin over your shoulder at this spot.  What's funny is that woman behind the cute girl, in the red & black jacket.  She was there with her bag promptly picking up every coin that was tossed  :-)

Anyone want us to bring home one of these extremely warm fur hats?  One of the street vendors came at me and put one on my head and told me how great I looked.  When he saw my face that I wasn't convinced, he tried another beautiful white one on me.  He was disappointed we didn't buy it.

At the entrance to a famous and very large park in the city.  To get to the entrance you walk underground, where the whole walkway is crowded with local artists' paintings for sale.
A beautiful water fountain and flowers in the park.
Check out these fun huge bean bags scattered around the park.  Looks way more fun than a traditional park bench!
River tours through the city.  We tried to take one but it was too late.
Space shuttle in the park.  Not something you see everyday.
More cool seating.  Very artistic.
This is the sweet woman who showed us around this day.  Her name is Julia and she was so generous with her time. It was so great to talk with her about the orphan issues and get a native perspective on things.
I still have to look this one up!
Yet another sweet set of swings/seating.
One of the Seven Sisters in the city.
Waving at small children peeking out the window of the orphanage at us.  He had to wave and talk to everyone who was around.  Such a social little bug!
Okay, this is the photo where he made Siri talk for teh first time. He was SO THRILLED that someone was calling HIM!  The funniest part was that each time he pushed the button and made her talk, he looked just as surprised and rattled off the same story, "woman!  Man!  Car (beep beep!)"
Teasing papa-he did NOT want to give the phone back!
The University.  Another of the Seven Sisters.  Absolutely beautiful.
Turning around from the University, there is a beautiful overlook of the city. Of course, there are street vendors selling everything from Matryoshka dolls to old military wares.  All part of the charm!

Standing in the same spot Napoleon Bonaparte once stood!  What a history.
More of the city.
A few of the t-shirts for sale.  Look closely, there are some pretty funny/entertaining ones.
The view from our apartment, overlooking part of the zoo.  The people had no problems throwing food to the bears. It was interesting to wake up to the sound of bears growling or camels...doing whatever you call that noise they do :-)
On another day, we were dropped of at famous shopping district. We were determined to find some authentic local cuisine, but then.....

We walked past the Hard Rock Cafe and smelled hamburgers and fries, and our stomachs made the decision for us! We had really enjoyed all of the local food we had eaten, and the portion sizes were much smaller than here in the States, but still just right.  But I guess our stomachs recognized something from home and we couldn't resist!

Recognize this establishment?

The thumbs-up was an accident, but goes so well with the sunglasses!
Olga surprised us and he was obviously so happy to see her.  It is comforting to know that he has bonded with an adult in such a strong way.

We were really lucky to be able to see so much of the city.  Olga took us to dinner our first night, and we enjoyed lunch together on another day.  She had friends lined up to show us around.  She hates for me to praise her, but she deserves every word!  We were told we wouldn't have much spare time on our second trip because one of our days will be spent doing our medical exams (we will see 8 different doctors in the same day!), and another day will be spent at court.  Our third trip we get to pick him up from the orphanage and then stay in our apartment while we're getting his travel documents ready at the embassy, so we probably won't have much time for sightseeing then either.  So it really was great to be able to do some touristy things and see the city.  It made me have a greater appreciation for our son's birthplace and culture.  I look forward to getting to know more about it and making it a part of our new life too.