Adoption Trip (Part 2 of 2) (10/19/2007)
[This is part 2 of the day-by-day account of our trip to adopt Izabela. Most of it is gleaned from emails we sent during the trip so may sound familiar to some of you.]

Warsaw: Day 29

The boys are off to the US.

Izabela and I spent the day inside, mourning the loss of "Dada", which is applied almost equally to Dante and to Daddy. She very clearly started calling "Mama" today, so I think the separation of parents may have unforeseen positive effects. We played, we ate, we sat on the potty, lather, rinse, and repeat.

She also "discovered" that faces are made up of a lot more parts than just noses, eyes, ears, and hair, and spent a good part of the day "quizzing" me on what was what. I'm doing this in Polish since any English other than songs still pretty much generates blank stares.

To get out a little bit we went exploring in the hotel. We found the "wellness center" with its weight room, 5 "relaxation cots", and an amazing view of Warsaw from the 33rd floor. No one was becoming well, so we spent some time traversing the length of the entire window wall and Izabela pointed and ooh and aaahed like a monkey (literally) at all the people, cars, trolleys, and interesting traffic patterns of the city.

Back on our floor, Izabela was convinced we were in a different room. She pulled me by the finger to the end of the hallway, presumably to see the various fire alarms and exit signs, so I let go of her hand and stepped back. She followed! She took 50 steps all by herself (following me walking backwards in front of her) before I swooshed her up in a big hug. A second time she did 57, then of course fell. She didn't feel like repeating the performance for my camera by then. Later we went out into the hall again and she walked the entire length several times in bursts of 10-12 steps, falling on her bottom and then getting up all by herself without wall assistance! So we have some serious progress. Maybe she won't be teetering quite so much by the time we get home.

Izabela still loves "This little piggy". I'm tickled because Dante showed absolutely NO interest in it and usually just tried to squirm away when I did it. Izabela repeatedly wants to go from foot to foot. Today, I discovered that what she REALLY wanted, was SIMULTANEOUS piggies. Boy did THAT generate a good grin. And our last little piggy goes "WEE WEE WEE WEE WEE REALLY WANT TO GO HOME!"

Warsaw: Day 30

As some of you may know, my mother (Baba Yaga), was not supportive of our decision to adopt Izabela. Even after our 1st trip to Poland, she was still essentially hoping we would “come to our senses” and that the adoption wouldn’t actually transpire. We grew increasingly frustrated with her seeming refusal to be happy for us and she grew increasingly frustrated with our seeming refusal to take her concerns seriously. It boiled over to the point where we were simply not speaking with one another. Since we had minimal time from when we received our court date until we had to depart for Poland, we were in a mad scramble, leaving no time to resolve the issue. As such, Baba Yaga was left alone to explore her feelings and determine if she could somehow make peace with our decision (while we were left to worry what conclusions she would come to by the time we returned). Since she had no information as to our whereabouts or our status, by Day 30 her motherly concern finally surpassed her misgivings. Still reluctant to contact me directly, she asked her cousin, Grazyna, to try to find out anything about our situation in order to assuage her worries and to see if we needed any help. “Ciocia” Grazyna, who lives in Warsaw, thus sent me an email asking how we were doing just as we found ourselves packing the boys for their trip home.

Hesitant at first, and expecting Ciocia Grazyna to have foregone conclusions by virtue of her ongoing relationship with my mother, I decided to get in touch with her initially out of sheer politeness. She took Izabela and me to dinner today and although I had no memories of her from my childhood, we found that we got along very well. I found her incredibly open minded, diplomatic and fair, not to mention wonderfully entertaining.

As I was in theory going to be moving from the hotel the following morning, she offered to help by driving me to our new apartment so we wouldn’t have to take a taxi. She also wanted to take this opportunity to “check out the place” and make sure we were going to be safe.

Warsaw: Day 31 – 32

Apparently the Italian family that was staying in the apartment Izabela and I were going to move into did not get their passports and it was unclear when they would. I was told I could extend my stay at the Novotel until they left. I was not pleased with this arrangement. Ciocia Ewa arrived in Warsaw as she also wanted to help me get settled in the new place and to keep me company for at least some of the time I was going to be in Warsaw. After telling my two aunts my new predicament, Ciocia Grazyna instantly offered to have us stay at her spacious apartment in Zoliborz, one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Warsaw. Not wishing to impose, but extremely grateful for the offer, Izabela and I moved in.

Ciocia Grazyna is an excellent hostess and companion and we’ve been having a lot of fun getting to know one another. I also spent some time with Ciocia Ewa, who was staying at another relative’s apartment. Izabela and I visited her there, and met up with more distant family on my father’s side, including Malgorzata, who is about my age, and her mother, Ciocia Ania.

Warsaw-Krynica-Grybow-Muszyna-Zlockie-Grybow-Krynica-Warsaw: Day 33 – 35

The timing of the court dates couldn’t have been worse and Dante and Chris were deprived of spending time in Poland “free” to travel. But I had no idea when I would be in Poland again, so seeing my almost 90 year old last remaining grandparent was important to me. Ciocia Grazyna was incredibly kind in helping to make this dream a reality. The drive to Krynica took 10 hours, 2 of which were spent trapped in traffic just outside of Kielce. We had to stop along the route several times to accommodate Izabela, who didn’t seem to mind riding in a car when it was going fast, but who protested rather loudly in stop and go traffic. Once in Krynica, we stayed in Ciocia Grazyna’s family home. From there I took a taxi to Grybow, while Ciocia Grazyna stayed with Izabela, to see my grandfather. He was thrilled to see me and in due course I told him all about Izabela. He reacted very favorably to the news that we had chosen to enlarge our family via adoption. I left it up to him if he would like to see her or not and he indicated that it would make him very happy to meet her. So when Ciocia Grazyna called that Izabela was done with her nap, we arranged to have her bring Izabela to meet her new great grandfather.

We left after a while to let my grandfather rest and to drive to Muszyna and then on to Zlockie. There, we went to the church where I was baptized and had my first communion, and where most of my mother’s side of the family is buried. I weeded some of the family graves in memory of my grandmother; it was the first time I had visited her grave as she died in 1994 while I was in graduate school. We then drove to the place where I had spent almost every memorable summer of my childhood. My mother’s youngest sister, Ciocia Malgosia, was there. She was very surprised to see us, but allowed us a visit. She showed me how the land had been divided after my grandmother’s death, and where my portion was located. The postage-stamp-sized parcel has a gorgeous view and would benefit from having a house on it one of these days. An access road would help, too.

After seeing all the changes to the gardens and the houses, and mourning the loss of the giant pear tree that once could be seen for miles and which had clearly marked our family property, Ciocia Grazyna, Izabela and I headed out. We decided it was still early enough to visit my grandfather one more time in Grybow. He enjoyed the visit even more than the last one. He found Izabela remarkably curious and immediately nicknamed her “little mouse” as she was determined to commandeer all of his remotes and telephones and open all his cupboards in typical toddler fashion.

The drive back to Warsaw only took 8 hours this direction. This evening, Ciocia Marysia called (my mother had told her about the adoption and that we were currently staying with Ciocia Grazyna). She was extremely happy to hear about Izabela and we decided that we would get together after I got back from Lodz, where I was going to spend a week with Ciocia Ewa.

Magda called to say that she will come to visit tomorrow morning. Apparently I still needed to sign something that says the lawyer can pick up 5 copies of Izabela's birth certificate in Torun. Unfortunately, this means I need to forge Chris’ signature!! Magda reassured me that "this is always done" and the family before us just did this as well, but I just don't understand why she didn't have him do this when he was here.

Lodz: Day 36 – 40

My cousin Tomek picked us up in Warsaw, drove us to Lodz, and deposited us in Ciocia Ewa’s apartment. Izabela and I began a week of wonderful long walks with Ciocia Ewa and her puppy, Knot (pronounced K-Not). Between our visits to various parks, the cemetery (to visit my father’s side of the family), shopping, and visiting with friends Dorota and her daughter, I even had time to learn about the recent discovery that my great grandfather, Jan Checinski, had been among those murdered in Ostaszkow.

Ciocia Ewa managed to get me hooked on several Polish television soap opera/dramas and we watched these together amidst looking through stacks of old pictures and reminiscing about our lives. Before going to sleep I normally sit down at her ancient win 98 computer and attempt to access my email, which frequently requires multiple reboots. The Internet connection at 32 Kbps is reminiscent of our old dial-up days before we had the satellite connection and has been frustrating me to no end, so I end up staying up far past my bedtime.

During my stay, Ciocia Ewa and I were tasked with getting Izabela’s picture taken for her passport. This turned into quite an excursion, involving trolleys, buses, and a long walk, as the initial place Ciocia knew about turned out to have a broken camera and we were directed to someplace very far away. We managed to find a different place en route and obtained some really nice pictures for a modest fee of 25 Zl (just about $10).

Lodz: Day 41

Malgorzata, whom I had met in Warsaw, was back in Lodz today and offered to give me a “Girl’s Day Out” tour of Lodz. Izabela stayed with Ciocia Ewa while we went out on the town. We visited the Elementary Music School at which I attended the first half of 1st grade, the Ksiezy Mlyn Residence Museum where we were amused by an exhibit of old tableware settings and kitchen accessories as well as art in the form of perfectly cut and arranged bread loaves, and the new Lodz mall called Manufaktura where we ate delicious baked pierogi at the Pierrogeria, were enchanted by an Egyptian exhibit complete with a ritual mummification enactment, and wallowed in complete decadence at the Wedel Chocolate Café.

Since Lodz has made a large impact on the world of cinema, having produced directors such as Wajda, Polański and Kieślowski and sparking the interest of others, most recently David Lynch, it is also nicknamed HollyLodz (pronounced “Holly Wooj”). I was tickled pink to find a HollyLodz sign to photograph for your viewing pleasure.

Whenever Izabela inquired as to my whereabouts, Ciocia Ewa called me on the cell phone and put the phone up to Izabela’s ear. Apparently she was awestruck by my disembodied voice. And at one point when she got her hands on the phone in between calls, she brought it to Ciocia Ewa and morosely told her “nie ma Mama” (“all gone Mommy”).

Sokolniki: Day 42

Ciocia Ewa, her two sons and their families, as well as Tomek’s wife’s parents spent the day with us in Sokolniki, where Tomek is putting the finishing touches on his new house. It has been 3 years in the making, but it is a beautiful home, complete with skylights, a corner jetted tub in the master bath, gorgeous floors, an amazing kitchen, and a beautiful slanted-roof room for Julka decorated with green wallpaper accented with ducks and lady bugs.

I remember that getting to Sokolniki used to take “a whole day”. We would get there in Ciocia Ewa’s car, which her husband, Wujek Rysiek, drove, and under which he spent the entire time we were in Sokolniki in a hole in the ground “fixing it up”. This decade the drive takes less than half an hour. The entire town has grown tremendously and while still rural and charming, it now has stores, better roads, and an actual church (which used to consist of benches out in the open by a make-shift altar).

The old house is still there, with the same 30+ year old green curtains, but the out house is gone and there is now a functional bathroom. The bedroom wall remains a record of Tomek, Marek, and my heights as we stayed there each year as children.

Izabela and Julka played together as much as could be expected given their ages. I entertained them both with books, songs and rhymes and after a while Izabela started becoming jealous of Julka, who wanted to monopolize my other lap. It was obvious that amidst all the traveling, changes of sleeping arrangements and flux of people surrounding us, I was the one constant in Izabela’s life. She had become very attached to me and I could foresee that reincorporating Dante and Daddy into her idea of nuclear family would be challenging.

Warsaw: Day 43

Traffic back to Ciocia Grazyna’s home in Warsaw was abysmal as it took 4 hours to get there instead of 2. Poor Tomek didn’t even want to stay and rest a bit as he was eager to get back home to Lodz.

Somewhere during our stay in Lodz I managed to catch something and I began to feel quite miserable. I am coughing constantly and starting to feel congested. My worry is that Izabela might catch it too, which could be quite bad due to her heart condition. Hopefully, we won’t get Ciocia Grazyna sick as well.

On a positive note, Izabela has a new word. She can now say “up”, which sounds more like “ap”, but is at least intelligible.

Warsaw: Day 44

As always, "things have changed". That seems to be the one consistent response I get from everyone. We were supposed to go fill out some paperwork to begin the process for getting a passport for Izabela today. I was told it "wouldn't take more than a few minutes" and that we didn't need Izabela to be there. That was last night.

But NOOOO.

This morning I was told that first we had to get Izabela a Pesel number (kind of like an SSN) and then go fill out forms for the passport. Apparently nowadays, after everyone in the Ministry of Whatever was laid off and a whole new team showed up, the whole Pesel thing is in theory supposed to be done at least a few days beforehand!

Well, Magda, our coordinator, now had another family in Poland that just arrived last night for another 18 month old little girl whose only fault was that she was born to an alcoholic mother, and although she currently shows no signs of FAS, no one in Poland will adopt her. She is cute as a button. Magda was supposed to drive them to Plock today. Anyhow, first she wanted to get me from Ciocia Grazyna’s house, drive to the ministry, drive back, then get Izabela, and drive back at 2, which is when our passport appointment was. I told her we might as well go in one trip with Izabela, because between the Warsaw traffic and whatever else might go wrong, we'd run out of time. I was, of course, correct.

Magda basically begged the lady at the Ministry to get the Pesel done right away. Maybe it was Izabela's adorableness, maybe it was my coughing, or perhaps it was Magda's amazing schmoozing for which she should win an Oscar, but for whatever reason the administrator "bent the rules a little" and told us to come back before 2 and that everything would be done.

So we took a taxi to the Holiday Inn, where the other couple was staying, and Magda told me to go and wait for her in the lobby, while she "talked to a friend on the phone for a minute". While we were waiting, Izabela managed to eat an entire banana all by herself and toddle all over the lobby a zillion times. Eventually, Magda returned and introduced me to the other couple (who had also been waiting in the lobby the entire time but they had baggage so it didn’t occur to me it was them), and announced she desperately needed to eat something. Nervous about the time, I reminded her that we needed to be back at the Ministry at 2:00. So she ate quickly, treated us all to some tea, and we rushed off to the Ministry in yet another taxi where amazingly enough, we discovered that Izabela did in fact have a Pesel number! We submitted the necessary piles of paperwork for the passport and were told it may be done by Friday. Or maybe Monday. Possibly Tuesday at the latest. Probably. So now we wait.

In the meantime, I’ve been getting sicker by the hour. Izabela hasn't napped or eaten a real dinner. Ciocia Grazyna was appalled at the sound of my cough and made an appointment for me to see the doctor at some clinic this afternoon. For 70 Zl, I saw a nice doctor who actually did in fact examine me (I'm so used to American doctors who listen to symptoms and rarely actually do much of an exam) and concluded that my viral infection of whatever kind had very quickly (2 days) managed to attract a bacterial infection in my chest and that I had full blown bronchitis. I then went and bought up half the pharmacy for 86 Zl (one prescription antibiotic and a bunch of other stuff he told me to get). Izabela ate dinner for supper, in true American style.

The doctor also said that Izabela should sleep in a separate room, and that we should air out the rooms I am in all the time, that she should drink lots of fluid and juice, and that I should "try to stay away from her". Like that was possible at this point…

Ciocia Grazyna opened up another bed for me in a different room, though I worried that Izabela would fall off the bed in the other room in the middle of the night.

Warsaw: Day 45 – 47

Polish antibiotics apparently work lightning fast on me, and I feel much better. Izabela has remained sleeping in a separate room, after we figured out how to “pin her in” so that she wouldn’t fall out of the king sized bed during her nighttime travels under the covers. I’ve actually enjoyed the freedom as well, especially since Ciocia Grazyna has Skype installed and I can talk with Chris almost every evening to give him an account of our adventures.

By this time Izabela is spending most of her awake time on her feet following me around. She seems fully cognizant of her bodily functions and either literally drags her potty over to me or points at her crotch to indicate it is time to use the bathroom. I’m dumbfounded by this ability at this age. We still manage to go through at least 3 or 4 wet diapers a day, however, most likely due to the fact that she is finally actually drinking a whole 300 ml of juice a day.

She can sign "please more food" or "please more drink" (she actually still uses the sign for milk for drink) though she frequently prefers either "please food" or "more food" but doesn’t like to use all three signs. I started teaching her "thank you", but she doesn’t really understand what it is for yet. She knows the sign for “all done”, which sort of looks like drink, but when her mouth is empty and she is ready for another bite, she’ll sign "all done" and say "nie ma" (empty/no more) simultaneously! She can say "pa pa" and wave goodbye very consistently, though with the usual toddler delay. She wants to know what everything is, and constantly points at things saying "to to" (instead of "co to" – “what’s that”).

I’ve begun asking her to identify objects in books, and she actually seems to have acquired some vocabulary as a result of this. When she doesn’t know the answer, she coquettishly tries to change the subject but when I stand firm and continue asking, she will sometimes get mad and try to throw the book (at which point it gets taken away and then she wants it back, of course). With intense patience, she is able to insert all 10 shapes into her sorter, though she still has trouble turning some of them. She still has no interest in stacking blocks, but has discovered that the most interesting part of the silly plastic blocks we bought in Ciechocinek is the alphabet! But since I showed her the letter "S" first, and said "sssssssssssssssss", then as far as she is concerned, all the letters were "ssssssssssssss". I’ve introduced her to the joys of pouring water from yogurt cup to yogurt cup in the bathtub, and our normal 20 minute bath has turned into an hour long activity.

Warsaw: Day 48

Today, Ciocia Grazyna took us to visit Rafal (her nephew) and Kasia Niekowal and their children, Kuba (9) and Gabriela (7). Izabela observed and tried to emulate as the older children played Twister. We adults chatted over tea and cheesecake. It was nice to meet another Polish mother who had the means and stamina to devote her time and energy to being with her children full time. We compared our hectic schedules and laughed together at how “staying at home” really meant being gone from the house most of the day. I was sad that Dante wasn’t there to play with the kids.

Warsaw: Day 49

Ciocia Grazyna drove us to yet another suburb of Warsaw today, to visit Ciocia Marysia, whom I haven’t seen in over 10 years. Ciocia Marysia is a very dear, sweet, and caring woman, who introduced me to Catholicism, took me to St. Patrick’s cathedral for mass almost every Sunday when I was little, took me ice skating at Rockefeller Center in the winter, bought me balloons at the park and the best NY pretzels in the subway. She taught me French and several Polish songs which I sang to Dante when he was a baby. She took care of me at times when my mother needed a break and would allow me to escape to her home in Brooklyn. When I was rebaptized at the age of 8, she became my American God Mother (I was blessed with two pairs of God Parents, one for each country). She was also the reason I chose my secondary baptismal name to be Maria.

Our lives had completely diverged over the years, but I frequently found myself thinking of her, of the times we spent together, of the creativity she inspired in me, of the lessons learned. So seeing her in Warsaw brought back many memories and strong emotions to my heart. She had settled in a small apartment surrounded by a beautiful garden. As always, her dinner was a literal heaven in the belly and Izabela gobbled up everything in front of her, to Ciocia Marysia’s great satisfaction. We spoke at length about Izabela, her past and her future, and my heart was much lighter knowing that she approved of our decision to adopt her.

Warsaw: Day 51

We picked up Izabela’s European Union Passport today!

Apparently we also need pictures for the Visa (which, had I known, I could’ve gotten in Lodz at the same time as the pictures for the passport).

We also went for Izabela’s medical examination. She was weighed and measured and “observed”. When I mentioned the heart defects, the doctor listened to her heart and said “what heart defects”? The doctor pocketed 230 Zl, wrote everything Magda told him to, and stamped everything in the right place.

Warsaw: Day 52

We went in for the Visa today. Magda sent her taxi guy to pick us up and he dropped us off at the Embassy right before 10 (and waited for us for 2 hours). Magda was in court so I had to do everything by myself. Everything went fast fast fast until after I gave them their $380, and then we got to wait for an hour before our "interview". Thankfully another American couple from Long Beach, CA was there with 4 kids from Latvia (the US Embassy in Latvia is just opening now and up to this point all Latvian adoptions had been going through Poland, apparently). We had an amusing time talking about our experiences while Izabela did laps around the room.

The "interview" occurred at the window, with Izabela perched on top of the counter, extremely agitated because it was way past her naptime by this point. While she pointed at everything in her little books, I told her what everything was (in Polish) while the consular rep simultaneously asked me questions (in English). It took quite a while to get through everything.

The questions they asked were all things they had to fill out on some archaic form. So for example, they wanted to know whether she was in an orphanage or foster home, how the birth mother gave her away (was she orphaned, abandoned, taken away from her parents as a result of abuse, etc). Apparently an unknown father is categorized as "Lost". I found that sort of funny. They wanted to know all about her medical condition and the seriousness of the heart problem. There was the usual "does she look normal" question. They were dumbfounded by the whole "short upper frenulum" thing because the agent had been asking me all these questions and never bothered to look at Izabela. So I finally pointed at Izabela and asked her to see if she thought she "looked normal" and if she could tell there was anything wrong with her upper lip. She ascertained normalcy and couldn't tell a thing. She wanted to know the address of the foster family, which I dug up from my memory amazingly enough. She wanted to know if she had been in contact with any diseased individuals or some such within the last month. The answer was no, and I didn't bother to mention that Izabela had lived by a child with Hep C for most of her life (but who was very carefully monitored and did not even use the same cups, towels, dishes, etc) as I am sure that may have raised some flags. They wanted to know how much time my husband had spent with her, how much time my son had spent with her and what date we began bonding. The heart thing required some dancing around as the doctor didn't mention it in his paperwork because Magda told him it seemed unnecessary to mention for this purpose (whereas in the court proceedings for the adoption we were told to make it clear we understood how serious the heart condition could be). But Chris had filled out a form indicating he knew about the heart problem at the Embassy. So the discrepancy there caused some consternation. I explained that in most cases the heart problem closes up on its own and that the doctor did check her heart and couldn't hear anything that would indicate the condition still exists (though it very well might, but there was no murmur).

We were told to come back at 3:00. Magda was supposed to come pick us up at 2:15-2:30. I called her at 1:45 to confirm this. As usual, something important had come up, and I was told to take my own taxi. Thankfully my aunt drove us to the Embassy. Despite the fact that at first we were told the Visa should be ready for pickup at the front window, after waiting in line for 20 minutes behind the swarm of people that materialized seconds after the window opened, I was told that I actually need to enter the Embassy to pick up the Visa inside. Once inside, however, things went smoothly and we emerged in about 10 minutes, victorious with Visa in hand.

We have two more days left to figure out how to turn my suitcase into a Tardis.

Warsaw: Day 53-54

Janina (a friend of Ciocia Grazyna’s from Vienna) came to visit and is staying for a couple days in Ciocia Grazyna’s apartment. We’ve been having a great time together as she loves bling and she talked Ciocia Grazyna into taking us shopping for jewelry and clothing. I also managed to get some Dr. Irena Eris face cream, which had been on my list of things to do forever.

Janina is quite a character and at times I’ve found myself feeling like I’m back in high school amidst giggling girls exchanging horribly vulgar secrets. On the other hand we also have had many serious discussions, and as Janina is certified in Montessori teaching and has a great deal of knowledge concerning child development, we discussed some of the differences in approaches between methods in the US vs Vienna and compared various enrichment programs. She was taken with Izabela and both Ciocia Grazyna and Janina vie for her attention.

Warsaw: Day 55

Ciocia Marysia called once more in the morning to wish us well. As did my grandfather. We said goodbye to Janina and then Ciocia Grazyna took Izabela and me to the airport. Ciocia Ewa, Tomek, Malgosia, and Julka met us there for a last cup of tea and to see us off. We were happy to be going home, yet sad to leave, and happy to see so many friendly faces that had made that last month so pleasant for us, when it could have been unbearable. I will always be extremely grateful for their help and emotional support as they were a huge part of the success of our adoption story.

Our flight began with an hour delay. By the time we got on the plane all the little children were way past their naptime. Izabela fell asleep the instant we sat down in the plane, only to be awakened 15 minutes later by the captain’s booming voice announcing our flight itinerary. Unfortunately, that was the end of her nap. She stayed awake for the next 10 hours. She was calm and very well behaved, unlike some of the other toddlers on the plane, who were frequently visibly distressed. We read many books many many times, sang songs, scribbled, and took some walks in the aisles. Izabela only used two diapers the entire time (an accident caused by a long wait in line by the bathroom) and managed even to poo in the toilet on the plane. The elderly Polish lady sitting next to us declared that “this child is golden” as she watched her. Unfortunately, even though I had paid for a separate seat for Izabela, since she was in the “under 2” age range, the airline had no meal for her! I was quite disgruntled by this, as were a number of parents with similar situations, who promptly began complaining rather loudly, and on paper, about this treatment of their children. As a result, the LOT flight attendants sacrificed their own meals and gave them to the children who were interested. Since we were sitting right next to the flight attendants’ section, I overheard their grumpy discussion about how “what’s the point, those kids won’t even eat one fourth of what is in that meal, and I’m actually hungry!” That may very well be true in most cases, but not in Izabela’s. Apparently the lady sitting next to us had also overheard that comment; when the flight attendant came to pick up the tray our neighbor enthusiastically pointed out that she had personally watched Izabela eat every single bite off the tray.

Once in Chicago, I played the helpless female and a fellow male passenger offered to help me carry the car seat as I carried Izabela and my very heavy backpack to passport control. Everything went smoothly there, but then we had to get our baggage through customs and go through immigration for Izabela. At this point I found a young sky captain, who turned out to be Polish, very helpful and he helped us with all our baggage.

Now, while I was still in Warsaw, I had only been handed 3 boarding passes. For some reason, they never gave me a boarding pass for Izabela for the flight from Chicago to Seattle, and when I asked about it, they told me it would be handled in Chicago. So when in Chicago, I began to ask about the missing boarding pass. Of course United had nothing to do with LOT, and LOT had somehow messed up the reservation and had decided that Izabela was going to be sitting on my lap instead of in her own seat, despite the fact that I had paid for a seat. Since United and LOT’s computers didn’t feel like talking with one another, and the representatives couldn’t seem to understand each other over the phone, the matter had to be handled in person. Upon hearing this, I unashamedly sat down with all our baggage in front of a nice gentleman’s station and proceeded to unnecessarily change Izabela’s dry diaper on the floor in front of him, calmly letting him know I wasn’t moving from the spot until someone figured this all out. It took over half an hour, but someone finally did run down from LOT and I was handed two new boarding passes with adjoining seats.

Once we had boarding passes, we checked our baggage and made our way to the food court where we found Dziadzi waiting for us. I had the best tasting Big Mac of all time. Izabela was exhausted, as she hadn’t slept and was quite wary of Dziadzi. She did, however, adore the stuffed white kitty he had brought her. We spent some time talking until it was time to get on our final flight. Thankfully the captain’s voice was not too loud this time, and Izabela slept for the duration.

Dante, Chris, Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Chuck were waiting for us with balloons and lots of hugs and kisses. We arrived home very very late, everyone went to bed, and began our new life in the morning.

Even with all of the waiting and the delays and the changes in plans, our adoption journey was still amazingly short compared to most. In case you’re curious, here’s the distilled list of dates:

Decision to Adopt: 05/2006
Home Study Completed: 12/2006
Paperwork sent to Agency: 1/19/2007
I600A sent to USCIS: 1/19/2007
Referral: 2/18/2007
Fingerprinting: 3/13/2007
1st Visit (Pre-Bonding): 4/17/2007-4/23/2007
I-171H received: 05/05/2007
Court Date Received: 08/06/2007
Bonding: 08/20/2007 - 09/14/2007
Final (changed!) Court Date: 09/14/2007
New Birth Certificate Issued: 10/01/2007
Passport Obtained: 10/09/2007
Visa Obtained: 10/10/2007
Home in the US: 10/13/2007