7 February 2005: On the plane out of Detroit

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Our journey starts. This is our second trip to Kazakhstan to adopt a child. The first went very well and we are so pleased with our daughter Carla that we have decided to do it again to complete our family with a boy. We took that trip about two and half years ago.

The preparation for this trip was more difficult than last time. It is taking place in the midst of the school year, and thus in the 12 days since we got our travel dates I had a bunch to do to prepare teaching a month in advance. Big thanks to my colleagues who are covering my class for me: Paul Karchin, Alexey Petrov, Sergei Voloshin, Sean Gavin, Claude Pruneau, Peter Hoffmann, and Rene Bellwied. Giovanni Bonvicini, Rob Harr, and Boris Nadgorny all offered to help too, but either had schedule conflicts or were fortunately out of their offices when I went around looking for volunteers. I really feel bad as tomorrow our department is having a review for which we have been preparing since last semester and I am missing it. Our chair JT Chen and assistant chair Jo Wadehra have also been understanding. They arranged that I had a TA for the lab part of my class. It would have been very difficult to find someone to cover the lab while I am away. Alan Sebastian is the TA and he is already doing well. Scott Payson is also helping out with the lab. In short I had a lot to do and much help at work to make sure all went smoothly for my students while I am away. Last time the trip was in the summer and I did not have this added headache.

Besides the stuff at work I also had the usual stuff of gathering large amounts of cash money. This I would label the most unpleasant aspect of the foreign adoption experience. It is very frightening dealing with such large amounts of cash.

My wife Rita deserves most of the credit for us being here. She pushed adoption when she was advised not to have children. She overcame my reluctance, and I have to say how happy I am that she did. She also did a huge amount of work getting ready for this one.

Another unpleasant aspect of the trip is having to leave our daughter behind for about three weeks. We already miss her terribly. Big thanks to Rita's parents, Fran and Romelle, for coming from their home in New Hampshire to our home in Detroit to take care of Carla when we are away. The pictures are of Carla and them at our home before we left on the trip.

Bucking up for the long trip. More after we have settled in Almaty. My memory is that the first day is exhausting and emotional thus I suspect I may not get back to this for a few days. At least we do not face the very daunting car ride from Samara, Russia to Uralsk, Kazakhstan. Fortunately it took place after the long plane ride and thus my memory of it is foggy except for the very grim border crossing and the unbelievably bad road.

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