February 13, 2008


Hi and welcome! We are Bob and Jodi Mechem. As we were working through the adoption process and during the long months of waiting, reading other families' journals really lifted our hearts and helped us prepare for the time we would make our own trip.

In that spirit we'd like to offer you the chance to follow along with our journey to our son Owen, starting with our posts from January 2007. We hope you enjoy reading of our adventure and we wish you the best of luck on your own adoption experience.

Some thoughts and travel tips:

Embark on this journey with an open heart and open mind. Of course there will be cultural differences and times when the way things are done in Kaz is frustrating; but as our agency says "Go with the flow". You can't change things and your life will be much easier if you relax and remember that the people in country are doing their best to help you realize your dream.

Pack light! The majority of apartments do not have elevators and if you are going to Kokshetau you will most likely be flying that most beloved of Soviet era planes, the Yak 40, on which you will be loading your own luggage. You really do not need many outfits - the washers there have a way of aging clothes quickly anyway (don't take all your favorites) and all your intrepreters, drivers, etc. will be wearing the same couple of outfits over and over as well. Plenty of nice toiletries (Dove, Pantene, etc.) are available - as is "American" toilet paper - and we suggest buying a hair dryer there as well (saves your converter for something else too).

Be open to new things. Whether it's food or music, remember that this is an opportunity to learn about your child's culture. Take full advantage. Not only will it make your stay more memorable but it will enrich your understanding of Kaz.

Take the time to get to know your Kaz "connections" and your travel partners. We feel like we now have friends for life in both cases and meeting such amazing people really enhanced our trip.

Believe us when we say all the paperwork, disappointments, fears, anxieties, and waiting disappear the moment you finally hold your child. It is so worth it! Good luck!

February 12, 2008

Gotcha Day Anniversary

Then ...

Now ...

Today is another milestone for us, as it's our offical "Gotcha Day"! One year ago a stern looking judge listened to Bob and I profess our love for this little boy then known as Adil, and after a few questions and some nervous moments in the hall (for us, not her), she called us back into the courtroom to officially - and forever - declare that Owen Edward Mechem was our son.

It was a dizzying moment, a bit unbelieveable but ultimately one of relief and joy. We rushed back to our apartment to change from our court clothes, gathered our gifts of appreciation for the doctors and caregivers, and made the journey one final time to the Kokshetau children's hospital. We shared a tradional piece of cake and tea with Dr. Victoria, Rada and the representative from the Ministry of Education, then buddled Owen in his snowsuit, wrapped a scarf around (and around) his little face, and carried him outside to Oleg's waiting van.

I remember the bliss of having him - really having him - all to ourselves. I remember calling my mom and smiling ear to ear when I told her he was finally ours. Bob and I held him, played with him, feed him, changed him, and for the first of many times to come - tucked him in bed for the night with a kiss and a soft "I love you Owen".

A whole year has passed; that's hard for me to believe. But I'm grateful for these milestones because they make me pause in the hustle bustle of everyday life and remember how incredible our journey has been. When Owen is older we'll ask him how he wants to celebrate this day - some families do elaborate dinners with Kazakh recipes and presents; some mark it in a more low key fashion - but for Bob and I it will always be a very special day, along with (of course) his birthday, the day we met him, and the day we brought him home to Maryland.

Then and now. Yes, in one year Owen has grown so much, and our love for him has grown even more. Thanks for celebrating with us!