About Me

I have written this page only because I get so many requests for it; I really don't like to talk about myself. I don't consider this site to be a "personal" site because it is not about my adoption and is really designed to assist and educate adoptive families.

OK, about me and my family. I am an RN (neonatal ICU), my husband is a physician, and we live in Texas. We have one biological son (I hate that term, but use it because adoptive families understand what it means) who was 10 at the time, and we wanted a daughter. After much soul-searching and reading on numerous e-mail lists for a year, we decided to adopt from Kazakhstan. Ironically, we eliminated Ukraine because we did not want to do a three week trip; I ended up being gone 41 days to Kazakhstan!

We used an independent facilitator, who no longer does this. The process back then was much simpler; within three weeks of finding out that there was a baby waiting for us, we were in Kazakhstan. We did have to mail our dossier (which was only in the Kazakhstan Embassy long enough to be registered) a week before we left.

Our daughter was born in a small town in northern Kazakhstan. Three months before our trip, a law requiring a court order for an international adoption became effective; prior to that time, the akim (mayor) was responsible for granting adoptions. The Kazakhstan facilitators did not feel that there was an adequte place for us to stay there long-term, and arranged with the akim for us to get temporary custody. So we lived in Almaty, making trips to the adoption city for court. We got custody of her on April 1, 1999, and yes, they celebrate April Fool's Day in Kazakhstan. She was 3 months and 1 week old the day we met her; at that time the children only had to be on the registry for 3 months. My husband was able to get a court date after one week, and he left a few days after that to go back to work. My mother came over when I had been there for two weeks, and traveled home with me; I was so relieved when she offered to come, and she treasured the time that she was able to spend with her daughter and granddaughter. Because of unforseen and uncontrollable complications, I ended up flying back for 2 court dates; the adoption became official on April 29. It took 4 days (over a weekend) to get all the necessary papers; after getting the paperwork cleared by the Embassy in Almaty, we traveled to Moscow to obtain the immigrant visa from the Embassy there.

Parents adopting now don't have to go through Moscow, and while it would have been nice to get home a few days sooner, I am grateful that we had the opportunity to go there. It is an amazing feeling to stand in Red Square, particularly for those of us that grew up with the Cold War. Inbetween the medical exam and the Embassy visit, we did lots of driving around and a little shopping on Arabat Street. Since we flew KLM, we had to spend the night in Amsterdam, which was actually a nice way to break up the trip home. We arrived home the day before Mother's Day, and our kids finally got to meet; what a great present!

I have to thank MJ & D, my facilitators, for without them we would not have our precious daughter. I would also like to thank the adoptive parents who went before us, for blazing the trail and answering my numerous questions. To D & P, who were the other adoptive couple on our trip, I value the bond and friendship that we will always share. And to all the adoptive parents on the e-mail lists, thank you for sharing your stories, answering questions, giving advise, and listening. I hope that we can all meet sometime, and I enjoy "watching" your kids grow up.

Susan

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About the Site

As many of my readers are on dial-up connections and have older browsers, I have tried to keep the site very basic, with few graphics and no fancy "flash" programs. I hope you find it easy and logical to navigate. I have tried to make accommodations for Internet Explorer, but if the navigation bar doesn't work properly or the pages just don't look quite right, you might want to try using a different browser; please let me know if you have any problems by telling me the operating system and browser that you are using. The side navigation menu contains links to the major pages of the site. The top border of the background represents all of the countries in which children adopted from Kazakhstan are living; if you know of a country that is not represented, please let me know and I will add them. The buttons were created with DeWitt Industries Bionic Buttons [external link], using the colors of the Kazakhstan flag. I searched for a hosting company for a long time before going with lunarpages: great price, prompt customer service, and helpful user forums. The entire site was hand-coded with skEdit [external link], a great Macintosh text editor. The guestbook is a CGI script courtesy of Active Scripts (no longer available): easy to configure and customize. My small mailing list is done through Dada Mail [external link], also very easy to set up. Unless otherwise noted, all links open in the same window; I personally don't like having multiple windows open unless I chose to open them and it can create accessibility issues. If you want to keep my site in one window, and open up links in a new window, every browser has a way to do it.

While my site has lots of links, I hope you also find useful information. I use links, rather than copying the information, so that you will always have access to the most current data. I run a link check program several times a month to try and find broken links. If you ever encounter a broken link that I haven't noted, or one that no longer goes to what it should, please e-mail me [e-mail link] so that I can get it corrected. I do monitor broken links for about 3 months, as I have had some of them come back to life; you can see which sites I am monitoring by visiting http://kazakhadoptivefamilies.com/badlinks.html.

I thought it might be nice to explain what all the logos mean on the Home and individual pages.

  • Valid XHTML 1.0! indicates that the page is valid XHTML 1.0 (strict on almost all pages, transitional on a few pages with affiliate links that I can't change), verified through the World Wide Web Consortium MarkUp Validation Service. It applies to individual pages.

  • W3C valid CSS Similar to the XHTML validator, except this is for my Cascading Style Sheet, which affects the whole site.

  • Level Double-A conformance icon, W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Level Double-A Conformance to Web Content Accessiblity Guidelines 1.0. Indicates that all Priority 1 and 2 checkpoints are satisfied. It applies to individual pages. All of my coding is correct and all pages do conform except for those containing some of the Affiliates coding: I am unable to modify that code. All of my pages also conform to Level Triple-A, except for the Priority 3 checkpoint requiring accesskeys; until the usage of accesskeys becomes standardized, I will not use them. To evaluate conformance, I utilize one or more of the following free online evaluation tools: WebAIM [external link], Cynthia Says [external link], and Site Valet [external link]. Accessibility is another reason that the external links do not open in a new window.

  • The other logos on the Home page (SafeSurf, ICRA, iWatchDog, family friendly, TOTW, iClassAA) indicate that this site does not contain nudity, profanity, adult themes, violence, intolerance, gambling, etc. These are either linked to a filtering code or listed in a directory for "child safe sites". The UWSAG logo relates to applying for site awards.

Inline images: I use the following images, courtesy of Matterform Media QBullets [external link] (1/2016 site not working), for special links

  • mailto gif creates an e-mail message.
  • external gif is an external link (not on my website) which opens in the same window.
  • form gif links to a form.
  • PDF gif links to an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.
  • [word document] links to a word document.
  • new window gif opens the link in a new window, mostly used for shopping/bookstore links.
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Page last updated on 2 January 2016.

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