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Alison's Journey Home: An Adoption Story - Part 9
 by: Nicole Sandler


Congratulations are in order! Today, my 15-day waiting period required after court ended, so it was time to go all over Almaty to get new documents.

We had to drive back out to Karakastek, the village where Alison's orphanage is located, to get her adoption certificate, and to the Almaty registration office to get her new birth certificate listing me as her mother. Galiya is now getting copies of those documents and taking them to the passport office and police department, to get the paperwork started on Alison's passport so we can come home.

A few interesting observations about 21st century life in Kazakhstan: The office in Karakastek that handles all certificates (birth, marriage, adoption, etc.) has had no phone service for a few weeks. Apparently, they have an unpaid bill of 120,000 tenge (about $80). The woman who handles these duties was going to take "sick leave". Luckily, Galiya had her home phone number and when Galiya called her last night to tell her we'd be coming today, she said she would not be in. Galiya told her that the families needing adoption certificates wanted to settle her phone debt, so she decided to come in just for us (and our money). This same woman kept the last group of adopting families waiting four hours before she helped them.

There are no computers there, so all the paperwork was done by hand and took two and a half hours to complete for three children (mine and two others). There was also no heat and it was freezing! People were lined up in the hallway to see this woman, who told them she was not working today, she was only there to take care of us.

We then drove back into Almaty to get the new birth certificates. Although this building did have heat, they too didn't have computers! They had all the birth records in archive books ... pink for girls and blue for boys, filed by year. They looked up Alison's original record, complete with made up names for the mother and father (as she was abandoned on someone's doorstep). The woman making her new birth certificate crossed out the false information on Alison's permanent record and wrote in my name and address, as well as Alison's new name.

Galiya is now rushing around trying to get a passport processed for Alison in time for us to leave Monday night. I was supposed to leave Almaty Tuesday night, go to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday, and fly home to the U.S. Thursday morning(leaving at 7:00 AM). However, Amy (my friend from Houston who left the night before last) was delayed in Moscow. She didn't get into Moscow in time to get to the Embassy that day. The Embassy must receive your paperwork, including a medical report on the child done by an Embassy certified doctor in Moscow, between 9:30 and 11:30 AM in order to get an appointment that afternoon. She missed it. Unfortunately, if I miss that window, I'm in trouble. All the flights home after the one I currently have reserved are completely booked ... for days. So, I'm frantic, trying to get out of here a day earlier than planned.

Even though Amy already left, she's still a bad spending influence on me. She demanded that I visit the national museum ... not to see the displays, but because they sell the most beautiful hand made rugs. Yes, I admit it, I bought a rug. But it's beautiful and I paid a fraction of what it would cost at home. I guess these are considered real art pieces, since I have to have an official certificate to take it out of the country. Don't ask how I'm going to get it home, with the jacket, dombro (national instrument), all the gifts, and all the souvenirs (including three old Soviet-era radios). Oh yeah, and a daughter! It is a good thing I brought over so many orphanage donations that I have an empty duffle bag. I'm sure it's full by now.

Speaking of that daughter, my skinny little Alison is now a chubbette. Remember how I said I thought I'd lose weight over here? No way! I'm fattening up this little girl with lots of butter, pasta, cheese, etc. All the food in this country is fried and the bread is fresh and delicious.

Aside from a really bad night last night, Alison wouldn't sleep and cried continuously unless I was holding her walking around, she's doing great. I, however, am exhausted. Hope to be on U.S. soil soon.

About The Author

Nicole Sandler is the owner/producer of Legacy Video Productions, specializing in producing adoption stories. You can see Alison's Journey Home, the video at

This article was posted on December 05, 2005


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