John:

Woooooow! What a long day! Up at 415am, out the door by 515am to the airport, through security check, check in at Air Astana, go to the cashier to pay for excess baggage, much more than we expected, luckily we changed enough cash, go back to check in again, now with our receipt, told we had to check one of our carry ons, run into two other couples on their way out, chat, hop in the plane, and off to Astana where we will meet Inna our interpreter and Oleg our driver (who we later found out left Kokshetau at midnight to drive to Astana and pick us up!) These folks are sooo nice! Pleasant as can be, especially in light of their lack of sleep and long day! Four hour drive to Kokshetau - the steppes are very flat! Not much around but lots of grass and some farmland and electric poles and lines. But it was cool to see the country by car. We check in at the hotel - pleasant enough, but no elevators, so we carried our luggage up four flights of stairs. We paid extra for a/c. Thirty bucks well spent, I think.

We are just dumping our luggage and freshening up because we are going to the baby hospital where Daniel and Maya are! Oh, so nervous! What if they freak out and cry just from looking at me? What if I don't like them or just feel nothing? What if I drop one of them on their head in front of all the staff and get sent home packing? Well, not much time to worry, because we're there in 10 minutes! Step inside the hospital, and whew!, that chemical disinfectant smell is strong! Upstairs to find Dr. Natalia, sent back downstairs, into a tiny little room filled with more disinfectant odor, and oh my god! There they are! Just the two of them, put there just for us! The director of Education Ministry is there to observe, but who cares ... look at those two cuties! They look just like in the picture! And they're smiley and playful, and oh, Daniel's letting me hold him! Ok, these guys are awesome! Everyone left to let us be alone for a few minutes, we had a great time with them, but boy, it's hot in those rooms! What a tease, though! Fifteen minutes, and out we go, we'll be back tomorrow! Bummer. I can't let go. Sad. Well, off to buy a bunch of diapers and some basic necessities for us. And we could sure use the rest!

 

Anne:

These two are just amazing!  They are cuter than their pictures because in just fifteen minutes we already got such a sense of their personalities!  I expected maybe a little hesitancy or just outright crying on their part, but they didn't stop smiling and laughing the entire time that we held them and played with them.  Fifteen minutes wasn't nearly enough-- just a teaser-- but we get to come back tomorrow morning.  We will meet with them for two hours every morning, unfortunately not in the afternoon.  Looks like we'll have some time on our hands in the next couple of weeks until our court date.

We found out yesterday at our meeting that in this region the babies do not go to a "baby house" or orphanage until they are older.  They stay at the maternity hospital where they were born for the first few months, then are transferred here to the children's hospital.  We just had a brief glimpse of it today, but the sights and smells took me back immediately to hospitals and clinics in other countries where I have worked or visited.  It will be interesting to have a chance to talk more to Dr. Natalia in the upcoming days.

In the meantime, we are getting settled in to our hotel where we will be staying until one of the apartments is available here.  It's been a LONG two days, so we'll probably have some dinner and make it an early night.  Love to all!

 

 

Astana as we drive by on the way to Kokshetau

First family pic ever! Maya is with John, Daniel with Anne

Got Maya to Smile!

Daniel loooves to pull on Mommy's Hair!

Anne and Maya Cheek to Cheek. And there's lots of cheek between the two!

John and Daniel and pacifier. Pacifier on floor two seconds later.

Hey! He's ticklish!

John and Maya. Hmmm, I don't know about this guy!