Friday, June 15, 2012

Poland Trip #1 Complete

We are back from our first trip to Poland to see our future daughter.  What an exciting journey that we have been on!  Here is a brief summary of our trip:

Saturday, June 9: We flew out to Poland.  Our flight sequence took us from Detroit to Amsterdam, with a 4 hour layover in Amsterdam.  We then flew to Warsaw and had a driver who took us to Lublin, which was a 2.5 hour drive from Warsaw.  Our adoption facilitor, Magda, drove with us.  By the time we got to the hotel, it was around 3 pm on Sunday, June 10.  We were very thankful that our flights went smoothly but were too exhausted to function very effectively!  So we crashed quick that night.

Monday, June 11: We had breakfast in the hotel with Magda and Iza, who works for the adoption center.  After breakfast, we went to the foster home to meet our future daughter.  To be protective of her name, I will refer to her as K.  We took a taxi from the hotel to the home and were there within 10 minutes.  When we were let in to the home, we went upstairs to find K looking out a window.  My heart jumped in my throat when I saw her.  She looked more beautiful than I could have imagined.  She was very shy at first, with 4 strange adults entering the room.  We sat on the couch and spent some time with Magda and Iza asking questions to the foster mom about K’s schedule, medical history, and likes and dislikes.  My knowledge of the Polish language was so great to have at this point because I understood all of the questions and answers.  At times Magda was translating to my husband and at other times I would.  K’s foster mom is absolutely amazing.  I cannot say enough nice things about her.  The home was clean and well kept.  The children she is fostering are very well cared for.  K is amazing too!  Eventually she warmed up and the first person she went to was my husband (Mike).  She only had eyes for him!  She was happy to hang out with us but also overstimulated from all the attention we were trying to give her.  It was overwhelming and understandably, she had a hard time handling it.  We all agreed that she was fighting exhaustion and excitement at the same time and didn’t know what to do with herself.  We left at bedtime and came back to the hotel.  

Tuesday, June 12: Magda and Iza left in the morning.  They wanted me and Mike to have our space to be able to bond with K.  It was a good idea.  K was much more comfortable with us and having more peace in the house.  Just like the previous day, we took a taxi in the morning to stay with K until naptime.  K’s foster mom let us take her in a stroller for walk in the morning.  After returning, K was a bit cranky so I laid her down, and within a few minutes she was asleep!  Mike and I had to fist bump each other over that one.  We left for the hotel and came back after nap and went on another walk.  I learned so much about K and also about her foster mom, who I think is the second generation Mother Theresa.  Once again, knowing Polish is a big help.  We had some great conversations and she is so nice and funny.  I wish I had time to write about all the funny interactions we had – suffice it to say, she treated us like we were family during our time in her home and I have come to love her like a “ciocia” (aunt).  She is constantly offering us food, drinks, and even the family dog, who has taken a liking to Mike.  I could not compliment her enough.  She is so hospitable to us and I am eternally grateful for how well she has taken care of K in this formative first year of her life.  She truly has a gift for what she does.  At bedtime, we left for the night.  We don’t have much down time but we did squeeze in time for some souvenirs today so that K will have some tangible memories of her birthplace.  

Wednesday, June 13: It was our last day to visit K.  We spent the day playing and went for another walk.  At naptime we went back to the hotel to check out and returned for our final set of time with K.  The time goes very fast in the home.  Besides talking about K’s routine, we talk about transition during the next trip.  We decided the best thing to do is buy diapers and bottles when we get here.  There is only a certain bottle that K likes so we don’t want to disrupt that.  Also, there is only a certain pacifier so we will buy that in town as well.  She likes to sleep in a sleep sack so we will buy those in the US and bring them over, along with clothes (we took note of measurements).  We took lots of pictures!  We also left some things we brought: several toys; a photo album with pictures of our family so K can get used to seeing our faces and the faces of her brother and sister; a puppy dog stuffed animal; and a Hallmark recordable storybook that we recorded our voices on, which she loves.  K is getting even more comfortable and giving us lots of smiles.  At 5 pm our driver came to the home to pick us up.  We had to say our goodbyes and I started crying.  K’s foster mom cried and so did her mom.  There’s 3 Polish women crying and my poor husband didn’t know what to do!  It was hard to leave and not know when exactly we’d be back.  We drove 2.5 hours back to Warsaw and stayed in the hotel by the airport since we had an early flight the next day.

Thursday, June 14: We took an early flight from Warsaw to Paris.  Then a short layover until flying from Paris to Detroit.  What a whirlwind.

Now, a reflection on things about Poland that I would want other travelers to know – this is my 4th trip to Poland but every time I learn something new. 
·       The food is, in my opinion, is amazing.  I think that the pizza is better than American pizza.  It is much less greasy.  We discovered kebabs on this trip, which are delicious.  Of course, there are the Polish favorites that you must try – pierogi, golabki, and nalesniki (crepes).  The best foods are the ones served in someone’s home – jump on that if you get the chance.  Try some ice cream!  Polish chocolate is not as good as Hershey but they have a type of fudge called krowki that is delicious and a great treat to bring home.  Polish beer is pretty good too.  My husband enjoyed several varieties.  Juice is very popular and so is tea and coffee.  If you are a Diet Coke addict…it is hard to find but there is Coca-Cola Zero and Pepsi Light.  You have to hunt it down because not every restaurant will have it.  Iced tea was a good substitute for me.
·       If you are in a big city and want to fit in, dress up.  Women wear skirts and not dress pants.  These days, if you wear jeans, wear them with heels or a cute pair of ballet flats.  Or you can wear a pair of leggings with a tunic.  If you are a woman, red hair is popular! 
·       Bring an umbrella with you.  A travel sized one can fit in your purse.  You never know when it may rain.  If you are from Michigan like me, weather changes on a dime.  The same goes in Poland.  Also if you are in the Midwest, the weather is very similar in Poland.  Usually a bit cooler than in Michigan, but pretty much the same.  Dressing in layers can help too, depending on what month it is when you are here.  For us even in June, I would layer on and off as it was cooler in the morning and evening.
·       Bring a Polish/English dictionary with you to Poland.  Though I know Polish, even I had my moments of unknown words.  It is helpful to have.
·       Relax.  The pace is much slower in Poland than in the US.  People take their time, whether it is eating, hanging out, or walking down the street.  I had a hard time slowing down, but I was glad that I did.  Enjoy it!  We loved our time in the city of Lublin.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back from trip #1

We just returned from our first trip to meet our daughter!  I will post more shortly!