Jennifer's Kazakhstan Adoption Journey
The Gift of Katelyn Jean
This webpage is to document Jennifer's adoption of Katelyn Jean from Kazakhstan. The pictures above are from when I first met Katelyn in the orphanage in September 2006. Please scroll all the way down to see other beginning pictures. They are in chronological order with the ones at the top being the most recent.
Katelyn is now 2 years and 9 months. She continues to be happy, healthy, and very active. She is always planning her next move.
She is using 3 to 5 word sentences such as "I want candy now, mommy!" In March, we went to Texas to celebrate Grandma Jean's 80th birthday. Katelyn loved playing with cousins Susanna and Thomas.
For Easter, Katelyn wore a bonnet, at least for a minute, while we stood in the backyard!
Katelyn loves gymnastics and seems to have a natural talent for it.
In May, we enjoyed the local Russian/Kazakh adoption picnic. Katelyn loves playing with her friend Jillian who was adopted from the same Umit babyhouse in Taraz, Kazakhstan.
Fall Fun: September - December 2007
Katelyn is now 2 years and 4 months old and her vocabulary has exploded this Fall, thanks to her speech therapist, preschool, and mom who repeats new words about 20 times each. She is starting to say 3 and 4 word sentences. Her favorites are "I shut it" (the door) and "airplane in the sky." However, three sentences that she says that describe her personality best are "I'm running," "I'm funny," and "I'm happy!" Katelyn's teacher at her new preschool reported that "she is very independent, self movitvated, social and loves to initiate play."
In October, Katelyn, my mom, and I went to Hollywood California for a conference and stayed near Grauman's Chinese theatre. During Halloween, I proudly wore a traditional Kazak dancing costume and Katelyn was a fairy princess. She went trick-or-treating three times! Another Fall highlight was our visit to Disney World with our Umit orphanage friend Elena, now 20 months, and her mother Maria, who live in Miami. Katelyn loved the Merry-Go-Round, feeding ducks, and seeing Micky Mouse. For Thanksgiving, we had a quiet day with friends in Tampa and visited the animals and rode rides at Busch Gardens later that weekend. For Christmas, we will go to Palm Springs, California to explore mountains and visit family.
Katelyn in August 2007
Katelyn's 2007 Summer Fun in Florida Katelyn had a fun-filled summer with trips to the aquarium, pool, Fourth of July Parade, and Bahamas. Grandma Jean came to celebrate her 2nd birthday and baptism. We had 10 children and 20 parents at her 2nd birthday party, in which we set up a moonwalk bounce castle, slide, and cars in the living room! It was so loud that Katelyn covered her ears. During the summer, Katelyn had outpatient surgery to put tubes in her ears and another one to correct her crossed eyes. Both surgeries went very well and she is hearing and seeing better than ever! She has gained weight and height and is very healthy. Katelyn is now attending a stimulating preschool where she is learning lots and making friends.
Katelyn at the Florida Aquarium (above) and fun in the pool and parade (below)
Katelyn's 2nd Birthday Party
Katelyn's Baptism: Grandmother Jean, Godfather Mike, Godmother Joan, Godfather John
Katelyn strolling on the beach in the Bahamas (August 2007)
Katelyn with Grandma Jean in August 2007
My Best Mother's Day Ever! May 13, 2007 Katelyn gave me the best mother's day ever this year just by being in my life and calling me "moma!" Please see smiles below!
Katelyn's Adventures in Florida April 2007 In the last three and a half months, Katelyn has had many adventures in her new home in Florida. While riding on our boat in the Hillsborough river, she saw her first alligator. However, I did not let her pet it. She also enjoyed her first trip to the beach where she played in the sand (after she tried eating it) and waded in the water briefly. Katelyn loved seeing the animals at Busch Gardens and riding the Skyride. She was fascinated with the fish and was face to face with a lion.
Katelyn Adjusts to Florida January 2007 Katelyn loves her life in Florida. She enjoys the warm outdoors as she sits in her swing on the dock in the backyard and goes down the park slide across the street. Her favorite toys are Dora the Explorer scoot car and Learning Playground. She warms up to people, like her Godfather Mike, but is definitely attached to her mommy. Although Katelyn has had diarrhea, a mild case of chicken pox from the immunization, and ear infections, she is receiving good medical care from an attentive doctor and lots of specialists. Soon she will be receiving physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy as well as starting daycare on at the USF Family Center. We couldn't be happier! She is my joy and is loved by many friends and relatives.
Katelyn Shares the Christmas Joy Dec. 24, 2006 Katelyn and I enjoyed Christmas Eve service with grandma, Joan, and Stephen. Here's hats off to a wonderful Christmas for you!
Home Safe and Sound Dec. 17, 2006 - Happily Forever After Yes, we arrived home safe and sound Sunday night. Katelyn is a proud American citizen and I am a proud and relieved mommy! We almost missed all three flights back but God was on our side. Katelyn did very well on the plane, sleeping half of the time and playing the other half. However, she did have diarrhea due to too much apple juice. Grandma Jean is now here in Tampa to help us adjust. Katelyn is enjoying all her new toys and exploring everything in the house. She has a cute personality and likes to laugh, especially when I take her down the slide in the park across the street. We are still adjusting to the time change - she wakes up at 3 am and wants to play! Overall, she is a happy, lovable baby girl! Even Santa thinks so!
Stuck in Kazakhstan Dec. 14-15, 2005 Yes, we are stuck in Kazakhstan until December 17 because our passport did not arrive in time. We will have the embassy visit Friday afternoon and take the 3am flight out on Sunday morning, arriving home Sunday night. We are making the best of it. Last night we took Katelyn to "King Burger" at the City Center where she had her first fast food of pizza and french fries. She liked it! She loved driving the shopping cart kiddy car in the store. Katelyn is a very happy baby and loves to giggle with Grandma Carole. We have lots of time to practice her walking. She still needs help but should be walking by the new year!
Safe, sound, and waiting in Almaty. Dec. 12 - 13, 2006 Boarding the train with 14 bags with Katelyn at 11pm was challenging. However, Katelyn was a champ and did very well on the train ride, sleeping most of the way. We arrived safe and sound in Almaty apartment. At the International Medical clinic, Katelyn received a clean bill of health but the doctor said she is 2 standard deviations below the norm in weight and height. I'll take her to the doctor immediately when we return home. We are waiting for the passport to return from Astana so we can have our embassy visit. Unfortunately, it may not return on time and we may miss our Dec. 15 flight. If so, we will take the next available flight, which are hard to come by this time of year. We should make it home by Dec. 19. We spent some time at the Russian Orthodox church today to keep our focus on the beautiful, spiritual things of life!
Katelyn is free at last! Dec. 11, 2006 We have Katelyn finally! We left Umit about 4:30pm. Katelyn immediately started exploring things in the apartment including the TV. We are leaving on the train to Almaty tonight about 10pm. We have train tickets, her passport, and an appointment at the SOS International Clinic on Tuesday. It looks like we may be able to make the flight on Dec. 15! Thanks to the Interlink Resources staff for their help. Praise to our great God from whom all blessings flow!
Grandpa Leo and Grandma Carole Dec. 7-8, 2006 On Thursday, Katelyn met her Grandpa Leo and Grandma Carole. After her bottle, she dazzled them with her tricks of walking with help and pulling balls out of the plastic boat. She enjoyed sitting on their laps. On Friday, she was even more interactive, delighting them with her monkey noises and moves. Grandpa Leo delighted some university English teachers with his storytelling skills during a seminaar that our translator arranged. One teacher was so impressed that she took us on a private tour of the Taraz museum and mosuleum.
Katelyn Bounces Back Dec. 5-6, 2006 Katelyn's seems to be recovering from her cold. She insists on having her bottle of formula with chocolate first. Then she will eat some baby food and lots of cookie. She has a sweet tooth like her mother! She also enjoys playing ball like her mother. She will grab a ball and hand it to me. After I roll it back to her, she will give it back to me. On Wednesday the sun was shining so we went outside for some fresh air. Grandpa Leo and grandma Carole arrived last night and will meet Katelyn tomorrow!
Katelyn's Cold Dec. 2 - 4, 2006 On Saturday, Katelyn had a bad cold with congestion in her chest. However, this did not hinder her eating or playing. She still crawled and cruised around the room to play with toys and go down the slide, with mom's help. In the picture below, you can see her sly look as she looked for other places to cruise. On Monday, she still had a cold. Consequently, the baby house director said I could not take her to my apartment, even though she is legally mine and I am well passed the appeal period. Now the coordinator is going out of town and will not be back to sign the papers for me to take Katelyn to my apartment until next Monday, which may delay our return date. I will do everything I can to get her ASAP. Although I am very sad and frustrated about this, Katelyn still makes me smile. Please pray that I can get physical custody of her this week and get her home by Dec. 15. My dad and stepmother arrive this Wednesday so they may be able to help persuade the director.
Buddha Belly Nov. 30 - Dec. 1, 2006 On Thursday, I signed the paperwork for Katelyn's birth certificate and passport application, a sure sign that we are getting closer. This took so much time that I only had a 10 minute visit with Katelyn in the baby house but she was so happy to see me. On Friday, she was all smiles again. The pictures below show her cute Buddha belly. The formula I give her seems to be making her big and strong!
Having a ball Nov. 28-29, 2006 On Tuesday, Katelyn was so excited to see me at the baby house that she smiled, giggled, and raised her arms up and down! She was in a good mood because she just had a snack and was getting another one from me. She had a ball in one hand and a cookie in the other. On Wednesday, we took a walk outside for some fresh air. She kept pulling her hat off and throwing it on the ground even though it was a little cold. Consequently, we had to end the walk early because the caregivers get mad when she doesn't have her hat on outside. We visited the other adopting families' babies in the music room. Katelyn is very social and likes to be near them. She'll even offer her cookie to the other babies but she won't let them have it! She sat by her friend Samot who was being fed baby food by his mother. Katelyn opened her mouth like a little bird to get some as well! She was so cute that the other mom couldn't resist feeding her. Katelyn's Buddha belly is growing!
Cookies for the Camera Nov. 27, 2006 Monday was a trying experience as we had to take passport pictures of Katelyn. She did very well in the car ride because I gave her a cookie. However, the photographer was very slow. When we took the cookie from Katelyn so she could take a picture, Katelyn cried and cried. After 30 minutes, the we finally had a good picture. We gave Katelyn another cookie and she was happy again. She has gained weight and now has an official Buddha belly!
Baby Pictures of My Baby Nov. 26,2006 On Sunday, I received a wonderful gift from another adopting family who happened to have baby pictures of my baby. This other family is now adopting a boy but had considered Katelyn. The picture below is of Katelyn when she was just 7 months old. The description of her is amazingly accurate: "This fabulous beauty with big brown eyes and brown hair is fantastic she was born the beginning of August 2005. She is very healthy and strong. She is a baby-girl with outgoing and sweet personality. She is playful, engaging, loves to be with people and laughs all the time when you have contact with him. When adults play with her, she is completely happy. She loves rattles and is very attentive to the different sounds of them. She loves to listen to baby songs and is very responsive to them. She is attentive to everyone and everything. She is very affectionate and visibly appreciates when her caregivers give her a hug or a kiss. The girl is active, lively. On the view (examination) she laughs and plays. She can take toys from the play -pen, from adults, puts into a mouth." Yes, that's my baby!!
Beyond Freezing in Kazakhstan Nov. 25, 2006 On Saturday, some other adopting families and I braved the outdoor bazaar in 20 degree weather. Snow and ice covered the ground. It was so cold, my toes were in constant pain. My mommy love helped me persevere as I had to buy Katelyn a cute outfit for her passport pictures, which we will take on Monday. The outfit fit her perfectly and made it easier for her to practice walking since the pants' legs weren't causing her to trip as usual. Fortunately, the baby house is nice and warm, unlike mommy's apartment which is cold!
Sliding into Laughter Nov. 24, 2006 Katelyn enjoyed sliding into laughter today. I helped her down the slide, lifted her over my head, and heard her adorable laughter. She also laughs when I hold her hands so she can walk. She is so proud of herself that she smiles and giggles. I'm glad Katelyn is in the warm baby house because it is so cold tonight in Taraz that it makes me cough when I go outside. However, pictures and thoughts of Katelyn warm my heart.
Happy Thanksgiving Nov.23, 2006 This was my happiest Thanksgiving ever. I am so thankful to God for bringing me Katelyn! While most Americans were eating turkey today, Katelyn decided to eat a stick! (See picture below). I told you I am fattening her up! After lots of food (most of it was baby food), Katelyn and I played basketball. She giggles when she makes a slam dunk. In the evening, I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner with some other adopting families. We opted for chicken, rather than horse meat. I am thankful for all my friends and family who will be welcoming Katelyn home soon!
Fattening up Katelyn Nov. 22, 2006 Katelyn is now eating a jar and a half of baby food and several cookies as well as drinking some baby formula during our two hour visit. As I fatten her up she seems to be getting colic because she whines a lot for no apparent reason. I’ll have to spend more time burping her. Despite her colic, she crawled around the room and climbed on the slide, ball boat, and benches. I even helped her play basketball. I gave her the ball and she dropped it through the hoop and giggled. It was snowing again today so we gazed at the pretty snow flakes. In the second picture, you can see Katelyn's long beautiful eye lashes.
Snuggling in the Snow Nov. 21, 2006 Today it snowed in Taraz for the first time this winter. Snow was on the trees and grass but not on the streets. I took Katelyn outside to admire the snow. She liked looking at it but did not like touching it. It was too cold for her! Inside the warm physical therapy room she had a ball playing in the balls again. It is difficult to get Katelyn to smile in my pictures because my camera has a long flash that hurts her eyes so she turns away from it or closes her eyes. Grandma's camera was much better!
Bells and Balls Nov. 18-20, 2006 On Saturday, when Katelyn first saw me she smiled and clapped her hands, which warmed mommy's heart. Then Katelyn rang some bells with her friend Kian Samot. She liked making music with him. On Sunday, I went to a small house church and visited some Russian friends in their homes. On Monday, Katelyn and I were in the physical therapy room where she played with a boatload of balls. She had fun throwing them all out of the plastic boat and watching mommy put them all back in.
Weigh In Nov. 17, 2006 Katelyn was weighed today and she is a whopping 7 kgs, which is 15.4 lbs. According to standard charts, she is underweight by about 6 or 7 lbs. I'm going to have to stuff her like a turkey! Tomorrow I will try putting chocolate mix in her formula. In today's first picture, she is using her engineering skills to realize a square block will not fit in a round hole. The second picture shows 4 of her 12 teeth.
Cookies and Caregivers Nov. 16, 2006 Katelyn enjoyed several cookies today. One reason may have been that she is cutting more teeth. She now has 12 teeth! While walking Katelyn outside, one of her Kazak caregivers (pictured below) insisted that she wear her hat and button up her coat despite the fact that it was only about 65 degrees, the sun was shining, and she was already wearing three layers of clothes. The Kazaks say they are warm people - I suppose they mean this in more than one way!
Tickles and Giggles Nov. 15, 2006 Katelyn and I are still beaming from the adoption approval. After feeding her today, we had tickles and giggles. I tickled her stomache and she would giggle. I lift and fly her over my head and she smiles. She still crawls all around the room looking at the other adoptive families' toys and items despite the fact that I have many toys for her. Although it is getting colder, we enjoyed a walk in the sunshine today.
Adoption Approval Granted!!! Nov. 14, 2006 Praise God from whom all blessings flow. On November 14, 2006 at 11:33 am, the Taraz judge gave official approval for me to adopt Katelyn Jean! I am elated. The baby is mine! This is the happiest day of my life! I celebrated by bringing a red rose to Katelyn to symbolize my commitment to trying to create a beautiful, sweet smelling life for her with as few thorns as possible. We also gave cookies to the other adoptive families. Katelyn and I are very happy! During the 15 day appeal period, Katelyn will remain at the baby house. Then I will bring her to my apartment while we finish processing the paperwork. My dad and stepmother will arrive on December 5 and will help me take her home on December 15. Dreams do come true and miracles do happen. Nothing is impossible with God!
Jennifer and Katelyn safe and smiling in Taraz Nov. 10-13 I arrived safely in Almaty on Nov. 10 and took the plane to Taraz on Nov. 11 in the morning. I went to the baby house Saturday afternoon. When Katelyn first saw me, she smiled. She brings a big smile to my face too! I fed her and kissed her many times. In the evening, I had dinner with 5 other adopting families here. They are a great support group for me. My apartment is near the center of town so I can walk to visit the other families. On Sunday, I went to the bazaar to buy a warm hat and a baby walker. Then two friends who are also single adopting moms came to my apartment to watch a movie. On Monday I was supposed to have my court hearing but the judge was out of town so I will have it on Tuesday at 10:00am. When I visited Katelyn Monday afternoon she smiled and giggled when she saw me. She is a wonderful, beautiful baby who brings me so much joy! The first picture below is my translator, Mira, bringing Katelyn to see me on my first day back. The second picture shows the joy my beautiful baby brings me!
Jennifer will return Nov. 10 My court date hearing is 11/13/2006 in Taraz. I will stay during the 2 week appeal period and the 2 week paperwork period. I hope to bring Katelyn home on December 15. My dad and stepmother will come to Kaz about a week before I leave to help me bring her home! What a wonderful Christmas present Katelyn will be! She will be 16 months old but is very small for her age so she wears 12 month size clothing.
Jennifer home safe but missing Katelyn 10/13/2006 I made it home safe and sound after an 8 hour train ride and 3 long airplane rides. I am so thankful for the comfort of home but I am missing Katelyn. I'll return to see her around Nobember 10.
Guardianship Council Approval! 10/9/2006 Hooray! Today we had our guardianship council meeting. They decide if they approve for me to go to court to pursue adoption of Katelyn. Praise God we were approved! After I nervously answered questions for 10 minutes, they said "Yes, we approve. Please take good care of this child and give her a good education." Then they wished my mother good health and that she lives to be 100 years old! Now the coordinator will file the papers and a court date will be set 30 days from now. We will depart Taraz tomorrow (Tuesday), visit friends in Almaty on Wednesday, and fly home Thursday at 1:50 am! Sometime in December, I’ll bring home this beautiful, healthy baby girl!< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">
Getting Around 10/8/2006 On Saturday, Katelyn was on the move again - crawling everywhere or being pushed on her scoot car. The child really knows how to get around! On Sunday, grandma (Jean) and mom (Jennifer) were getting around Taraz as we visited two Mausoleums, a Russian Orthodox Church, and a Yurt restaurant that served us "five fingers" horse meat and fermented horse milk! On Tuesday we fly back to Almaty. On Wednesday night around 11:30pm we go to the airport to fly home! Then I'll have to return two more times before Katelyn can come home with me.
An active, hungry girl 10/6/2006 Yesterday, Katelyn has very fussy after I gave her yogurt and a cookie. I finally figured out that she was still hungry! She calmed down when I gave her another cookie. Today, I was prepared with lots of food. After eating, she crawled all over the room and put everything in her mouth. She is a curious, persistent, and stubborn child. Someone said, "oh, she is just like you!" Katelyn is also a giving child as she shares her cookies with me and is a touching child as she brings a smile to my face.
Teething Tears 10/4/2006 Today, Katelyn was a bit fussy and had tears, probably because she is teething. I wish I had something to give her for the pain but I haven’t been able to find anything here. I just give her a cookie to chew on. Then she looks for plastic things to chew on. For example, she discovered the pull part of the zipper on her coat is plastic and started chewing on that. Despite her teething tears, she still was engaging and smiled a few times. I love her through her tears.
Smiles and Vocals 10/3/2006 Katelyn's adorable smiles captured our hearts today. She flirted behind a curtain and flashed her 8 baby white teeth. She also vocalized more today saying "ah dada." I tried to get her to say "mama" but she is still working on that. Today she seemed sad when I left her, which is a good sign of bonding. Check out this cute smile!
Food, Cars, and Boys 10/2/2006 Katelyn was really into food, cars, and boys today. She's starting early! After eating yogurt and cookies, I pushed her on the new scoot car I bought a the bazaar. She even tried to walk behind it. When we were visiting with other adopting moms outside, she put her fingers in a baby boys mouth! What social skills?! After visiting Katelyn, we went with our new friend Irene to the house of our friends Helen, Sasha, and Ilena. They served us wonderful pancakes with tea.
On the Silk Road 10/1/2006 On Sunday, we went to the green bazaar, which is 2,000 years old as it was on the < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">Silk Road that Ganges Khan paved. It was an outdoor market with booths selling many different items including shoes, baby clothes, men's suites, jewelry, food, etc. I bought some baby clothes and toys. We also visited a Muslim mausoleum of Karehun, a Kazakhstan general. Mira, our translator, and I are standing in front of it.
Dirty Diapers and Dimples 9/30/2006 While visiting Katelyn today, we found dirty diapers and dimples! I put a diaper on her at the beginning of the visit and within 30 minutes she filled it with smelly poop! Fortunately, Sherry, a Canadian mom, was in the same room with us and loaned me another diaper. Katelyn’s diaper smelled so bad, I asked my mom if she wanted to change it and she said "No" so I had to do the dirty deed. Afterwards we were playing and discovered that Katelyn has dimples when she smiles! She is so cute. I love her more and more each day despite the dirty diapers.
A Wet Induction into Motherhood 9/29/2006 Katelyn smiled when she first saw me today! Studying my face paid off. She also knows I give her yogurt and apple juice. I had a wet induction into parenthood today when she wet (pottied) on my shirt. (I didn't realize I was supposed to bring her a diaper but I have them now!) Katelyn likes being outside in the fresh air. It was about 75 degrees today. She likes going on the "chair-go-round" and then going to the music room for apple juice.
Baby Bonding 9/28/2006 Today we had a good visit with Katelyn Jean. She is warming up to me, studying my face, and putting her fingers in my mouth. She smiled a couple of times today. We both enjoyed the visit. I need to get new toys as she seems to be teething! She puts everything in her mouth. She was so cute when she crawled around with a Disney princess plate in her mouth. She looked like a puppy carrying a toy! I am loving her more and more!
Taraz, Kazakhstan 9/27/2006 My mother and I are now safe in Taraz. It has been an incredibly difficult 3 days. First, I lost my computer on the train. Fortunately, they found it later but it was very discouraging being out of contact. Then, we had to stay in a broken down hotel for 2 days. Finally, I went through a very heart wrenching decision on which child to choose. I decided to choose a 1 year old Russian girl with brown eyes and reddish brown hair. She is very active and engaged in her world. Although she does not smile much, she is warming up to me. Now, my mom and I are in a nice apartment and I finally have internet access back. Things are looking up. Here are some pictures of my new baby girl! I will name her Katelyn Jean.
Almaty, Kazakhstan 9/22/2006 My mother and I arrived safely in Almaty. We will take the train to Taraz on Sunday night and arrive Monday morning. This is the apartment we are staying in until we leave for Taraz.
On Saturday, we visited a beautiful Russian Orthodox church.
ADOPTION PLANS: I am adopting a baby girl from Kazakhstan. I hope to bring the baby home in December 2006.
PREPARATION: I have a beautiful home for the baby.
There is a park across the street from the house.
I have decorated the baby's room with lavendar walls and a "Disney Princess" theme.
I have toys and clothes ready for the baby!
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!