Saturday, July 31, 2010

a Jellema update from Russia!

Hello!!!! Yes, we are still alive! :-) As you can imagine...it's been a crazy journey these last few weeks. Having to deal with jet lag, 2 children (well 3 actually!), getting used to different food, bad stomaches, Trennon's bad cold, and a bunch of other things. Plus, figure out how to get Caate to want to be with us! LOL! Out of everything, that has been the toughest and most difficult challenge. Behind closed doors, Caate would tell her caregivers and friends how much she wanted to be with us and how she liked her new mama and papa and brothers. Yet, when push came to shove....Caate screamed in our presence. Slowly day by day we had to try different things. But, nothing was working. We spend the first week going to the orphanage, but no progress was being made. All her friends loved us! We had a great time interacting with them...but Caate wanted nothing to do with us. No treat or toy or forced alone time with her made a difference. The caregivers were beside themselves. We were too. Until, we(Terence and I) add the idea to have her come to our apartment for visits each day. The baby home agreed to this (to our amazement!) and we started just spending 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours each day just with Caate. Lilia our host was here to help with any translating. We started this on Sunday...and by Thursday this week we decided to do 2 visits a day with her...since things were starting to go better. Today, we even got to venture outside for our time...since Caate doesn't cry now with us. It was so nice to just be able to go somewhere with her...we finally felt like a family of 5 for the first time!!! Yes, each step is a baby step...but baby steps are so much better than no steps at all! We are very thankful that things are starting to get better. :-)

So, that is the short update. Monday is the last day before we "technically" can call Caate ours! But, because our court date was moved up and our friends was moved back...we won't get Caate til Wednesday, the day we leave Sterlitamak for Moscow. Which is fine. There's paperwork to do and stuff anyway. Kind of complicated...but, just know we are just excited about leaving with her on Wednesday!!!

Tomorrow we start to pack up. I think we may have just done our last load of wash. No dryers here...so everything is line dried. It's definitely been an experience living with a family. Especially with the boys with us! We've all had our upset stomaches...mine of course happened the night we decided to go out to our hosts' Dacha(summer home). Ya, nice. I spend half the time in their "outhouse". Now, I've been in many outhouses in my life...but none like this. Just a hole in the wood floor. Thankfully I made it home and by morning I was fine. I think it was the raw cabbage salad. Ya, I've avoided cabbage altogether ever since. LOL!!! The food hasn't been too bad though. Lilia is a great cook. It's just so different than how we eat...so the boys have had a hard time...but I forgot to pack peanut butter for Trennon. So, it's been a lot tougher on the boys than it could have been. :-)

We got to experience a Russian Orthodox church...a neat experience for the boys especially. And, we've been to a Russian amusement park with great rides. They had a lot of fun there! All in all we've done well. Just all ready to be home. And, to have Caate in our lives forever. It's not fun having to visit her 2-3 hours a day...we want her 24/7!!! But, we're sooo close now. In just a few days we won't have been be away from her ever again. I really think things will go better with her once we're together non stop. She won't be able to escape us any longer! :-) hee hee!

We know the road ahead will not be all roses...but we are excited to see the plans God has for our family. :-) Thank you all for continuing to journey with us. For praying for us and for encouraging us.

A few days ago I heard these words in my heart, spoken by God. "Good things are to come Carala, don't worry. Good things are to come!" He really has been the strength of my heart this week. There's a great song that says those words, "God is the strength of my heart"...and really, without Him leading us and guiding us this week...I don't know how we would have made it through. We had some rough days. But, we made it through and God helped us figure out a good way to make head way with Caate. Thanks for praying for us!!! The end of this part of the journey is almost finished....and the REAL journey with Caate and our family is about to begin!!! I've dreamed about this for soooo long...we all have! And now, we're just a few days away from being a family of 5...forever. We're sooo happy that Caate will have a "forever home"!!!!! And, we're so happy that SHE was chosen for us...cause we are the luckiest family around! She is soooo beautiful, so strong, and has such a caring passionate heart for others. We think she will fit into our family JUST fine! :-)

I don't know when I will post again. Gotcha day is Wednesday August 4th, but I don't think I will be able to until at least the 5th or 6th. On August 7 we jump on a plane at 7am Moscow time and we get home at 11:15am Calgary time on August 7th! So, we'll see if somewhere in there I can post a family pic!!!! :-)

With much love,

Carala (for Terence, Trennon, Ryden and Caate!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We're alive and well and through Court!!!!!

Well, we're finally getting over jet lag....so I think I can write without getting too exhausted. :-)

Here's how the journey has gone so far...I'm sure you've been anxiously waiting.

July 17 we left Calgary. We hopped on a plane and landed in Ufa, Russia on July 18 at almost midnight. Our driver picked us up and we started the almost 2 hour drive to Sterlitamak, Caate's hometown of almost 300,000 people. En route we got a phone call from our translator that our court date was moved and now we are too be in court in 10 hours, instead of the following day. Oh my goodness. So, we got to Sterlitamak at 1:30am and we quickly put the boys to bed and ironed our clothes for court. We slept from 2:00am – 5:30am and the got up, showered and ate breakfast before jumping in the car again at 8am on our way back to Ufa...where court was being held. Don't ask me why we didn't just get a hotel in Ufa that night and skip the car commute. But, I think they just wanted to keep us safe with our host family. Anyway, we got to Sterlitamak just before 10am for our court proceedings. This all felt quite surreal. I sat in court, almost wanting to pinch myself. I just got off a plane from a 25 + hour journey and now we're in court? This is just insane!!!! I was happy to get court over with. While at the same time I wanted to take in this moment as it was the moment Caate would enter our family for life. A very special moment that I know I will never forget. Court went just fine. Our speeches were great (according to our translator) and I didn't cry. Which I was told was the best thing I could have done. I figured crying in a Russian court wouldn't be too highly looked upon. :-) And, I was right. It was hard to keep my emotions on the level as it was an emotional time. Caate would be apart of our family for the rest of our lives...and if I would have let myself I could have just balled. At 11:30am we became official parents of Caate. :-) Now, we wait out the 10 days period. Well, actually 14 days...not including weekends. :-) So, on August 4th we will be official, OFFICIAL parents of Caate. We get to pick her up at the baby home and take her to Moscow to get her visa for coming home. We will spend 3 days there...and leave on August 7 for the big trip from Moscow to Canada!!! We arrive home at 11:15am and hope a bunch of our friends and family will show up at the airport to welcome our daughter home!!!! It will be the icing on the cake to have all who supported us these last 3 ½ years there to greet us! So, if you are one of them...please come and meet us!!! :-)

Our first visit with Caate was on July 19th at 5pm. Of course she cried. Poor girl. She's having a hard time with us. But, we know each day it will get better. Our 2nd day was July 20th and we had 2 visits. One at 10am and one at 4:30pm. These will be our regular visiting times for the entire time we are here. We play outside during this time. It's about 1 ½ – 2 hours of visiting. Since she doesn't accept us very well at this point...we just end up playing with her, with her group of about 12 kids ages 3-4. We could tell right away the kids really missed us! And, remembered us!!! We were happy to see them all. What a great group she is a part of and such well behaved children. :-) I think we make this a little wild and out of control at times...but that's fine too ( at least in our minds!)...they are kids afterall. :-)

The boys have made a great connection with Caate. They can be beside her and she doesn't feel threatened by them. Us, on the other hand. Well, she cries when we hold her. But, we know the time it will take for her to allow us into her heart. Each visit, we make baby steps. So, if you are the praying kind, can I ask you to pray for our little Caate? That somehow she will be able to let her defences down and allow us a little each day to break down the walls between us. :-) When she lets a smile out...it is the most beautiful thing in the world. She shines a light that is just gorgeous!!!! She like the bubbles today and did jump around a bit for them and smiled as she caught them. She brings out Hope Bear ever time too. And, you can tell it has been well loved by her already. :-) I'd love to see her sleep at night with |Hope in her arms. I know, she is trying her best to love us in her way. A little bit at a time. God has been so good to us. Giving us the patience we need to move a little closer to her each day. We know we have been given 13 more days to visit her...in total 26 more visits...the get closer to our daughter. So, by the time we take her for good...she will be willing to go with us. I look foward to that day...as does the the boys. The boys miss home...yet love going to spend time with her. The boys are such a great gift to us. They are bridging the gap between her and us. We are thankful that they are here and I love the experience they are getting in a foreign country and in a new culture. They are both great traveller and have done well with the food. Especially Trennon. Ryden is a homebody so I'm especially proud of him for doing so well here. He's not keen on the food, but is trying things he would have not wanted to at home. Our host is a very good cook and makes him balini for breakast (pancakes). He LOVES that. Trennon loves her soups for lunch and eats way more stuff than I could have imagined him eating!!! We think he will be a traveller one day....well, I guess he already is , actually!!! He just goes with the flow. And, he's also the one fighting a cold during all of this. What a trooper! Thankfully we got medicine before we left so he's been taking that twice a day. So far he's doing ok. Hopefully by the end of the week it gets a lot better. Now, that the boys are sleeping through the night...I think he will start to get better. It sure didn't help that he was getting absolutely no sleep as he can't sleep during the day time. Ryden, has no problems with that! :-) I think he gets that from me! I could sleep all the time!

Ter and I are doing great. Now that I'm getting over jet lag...I'm feeling like I have a little more energy. I only woke at 6:30am this morning after going to bed at 10:30. Not bad. Each day will get better. Not bad for a 12 hour time change!!!

Well, that's it for now. We go in 1 ½ for our 5th visit with her. This visit is always the worst one as she is tired from her day and it's almost supper time for her. I hope it will be a good visit and we make more of a connection with her. During this visit our friends will almost be there with their new daughter. We have loved getting to know them and we know we have made friends for life. They live a long ways away in Toronto...but I know we will always stayed connected because of our girls. :-) It would be fun to get together one day when our lives are more settled.

That's the update I'm sure you've all been waiting for. We are feeling a lot settled in to our routine now. We hope to do a few more adventures during our free time with the boys. We saw there is an amusement park right here in Sterlitamak!!! The boys were excited about that. So, one day our driver will take us! We can't wait!!! Our own little Calaway park!!!! (just like the one in Calgary!) Our driver took us to a “pet store” today....and we saw a monkey. Not, what we typically have in a pet store....so the boys loved that!!! I'm sure we'll go back and visit it again. They are different animals and reptiles that we don't normally have in our stores. So, it's kind of fun. We are finding more things to do for fun than I thought. :-)

Anyway, must run. Hope all is well with everyone. I don't get on to check blogs at all but will one day.... I promise! :-)

with love,

Carala

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Note for Caate

Dear Caate,

Tomorrow we fly to Russia! We are so excited this journey TO you is about to end, and a life WITH you is about to start. You are our sunshine, you are our daughter and sister. And, we all anxious to start our life with you.

We know these next few weeks are going to be tough on you. We don't know what your reaction will be to us. We know you are scared..but at the same time we know your desire to hug us and love us. And, to have a mama and papa...and 2 brothers. We will take it one day at a time. Know, we love you soo much (I think you'll figure that out pretty quick!).

I can't wait to have you home. To show you your new world. To introduce you to our friends, and your new friends. And, I can't wait for you to get to know a little about Jesus...the one who lead us along this long road, who guided us all the way, and gave us the strength we needed to be patient for 3 1/2 long years. It was sooo worth it though, and God made it all possible for each little thing to fall into place...in his perfect timing. I long for so many things Caate. I long to hold you and rock you and sing you to sleep. I long to kiss you all over and make you laugh a big giant giggle. I can't wait to be your mama. The one you go to for kisses for all your hurts. To walk beside you, hold your hand, and watch you ride a bike for the first time. To continue playing soccer like we did at the baby home. :-)

Soon Caate, the day is coming when we can do all of this. :-) And, that makes me truly happy inside. Knowing all my dreams are coming true.

I love you. I can't WAIT to be with you...forever.

Love,
your forever mama

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

4 days to go!!!

So, 4 days until we are off to Russia to be with our girl! We leave Saturday at 1pm and we're back at 11:30am on Saturday August 7th!!! 3 weeks exactly! If you are in town and would like to meet us at the airport...you are certainly welcome! The bigger the crowd the better!!!! :-)
We are on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt(international arrivals) at about 11:30am. Don't remember the flight number! :-) Hope we see some of you there!

We figure it's a great time for people to see us and Caate before we go into succlustion for a bit. We don't know how Caate is going to react to her new "world". So, we probably will be just hanging out exploring her world with her, getting to know her and her, us! That may be for a month or so. All depending on her. So, if we don't call, or write and return your phone calls...it's because we're just taking time to get our life figured out, quietly. :-) I'm sure you understand. :-)

I can't promise how much I'll write when I get home. I know some people promise they will, and then don't. I don't want to disappoint people. I hope I will again, when a little some time...whenever that will be!! LOL! I hope to give some updates in Russia...and will post pics when we get home at the end of this all! :-) She is a sweet sweet girl and soooo beautiful!

Thank you all once again...for being there for us, for loving us, and for getting us through a difficult but exciting 3 1/2 years! God was amazing through it all and we give Him all the glory for bringing her into our lives. We are so thankful for all we've been through and all we're about to go through. The adventure is only beginning!!! We are so excited to start our life with her. And to give her the love she deserves. :-) And, we can't wait for her to love us back. And, we have dreamed of sharing our lives with her for sooo long...we can't wait to start! :-)

With love and hope in our hearts...
Carala

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Introducing... :-)

Introducing……Caate Rae Jellema

The darling little girl we’ve dreamed of for 3 ½ years…is coming home. Caate was born February 9, 2007…just 1 month after Terence said to me…maybe we should adopt! Who would have thought that our adventure would only start there? And almost 3 ½ years later we are almost to completion. On July 17th, we head to Russia, and our plane arrives back home August 7th; as a family of 5! So exciting.

Now, about the name. :-)

Ekaterina is her Russian name. Which, translates to Catherine in English. Now, let’s back the story up to when I was pregnant with Trennon in 2002. If Trennon was going to be a girl, his name was going to be Makenna Catherine Rae. Catherine, after my grandmother, who past away just over a year ago…and was very special to me. And Rae…my grandfathers name and one of my middle names, who was also very special to me. But, then we had Trennon John (middle name after Terence’s dad) and Ryden Terence. So, my hope for Makenna Catherine Rae was over. Well, until we started talking about our little girl to be. When we got the proposal of Ekaterina….you can only imagine how fast my heart was racing inside. After dreaming so long of my little girl and what her name would be…and then to see her name was Catherine all along and we just never knew it. I could hardly believe it!

So, we decided to shorten it to Caate (pronounced KATE)…with a little different spelling. Cause, we wanted to make her unique…just like her brothers! And Rae, for my amazing grandfather who was a very special man in my life.

I can't post pictures until "Gotcha Day". (that's the very special day when she's ours for life, in the adoption world!). Our Gotcha Day, will be August 4th. That is also the day we leave Sterlitamak, Bashkortostan with her....her home and birth place. We will spend 3 days in Moscow getting her visa and passport for Canada...and arrive home August 7th! We hope you will join us for a celebration at the airport on our arrival. I will post flight arrival times as soon as we have them!

Thanks again for joining us so far on our very special and incredible journey. We couldn't have made it this far without you! And, this is really only the beginning. We know we have a lot to learn over the next months as we get to know Caate and she gets to know us. It's going to be a crazy ride but we're soooo ready for it!

love,
Carala, Terence, Trennon, Ryden...and now Caate. :-)