Our first appointment in Almaty was for the SOS clinic where they would check JJ for any obvious issues we may need to deal with before heading home. JJ’s appointment was at the same time as the other two babies in our group and we all made the short drive together along with our in-country adoption facilitator. After checking in we made our way to the waiting room where we met two other American families who had adopted from Kazakhstan. One mother was from Washington DC and reported that she had been waiting to go home with her child for seven weeks!
We didn’t really know what was going to happen during this check-up, only that it is required by immigration before we could leave the country, so I think it is fair to say we didn’t have any expectations here. I was holding JJ in my arms when a nurse entered the room and called out “Jack Hartman” and Jerret and I quickly jumped up to follow her. The nurse turned to us and said “This is for the test HIV,” and instructed us to sit down. I knew that it would be a blood test and began getting very nervous at how JJ would do and even wondered how Jerret and I would do watching our new baby being poked with needles.
I sat down in the chair next to the nurse and held JJ in my lap. Jerret sat directly across from us and pulled out a rattle, shaking it like crazy in order to distract JJ. The nurse said she could take the blood from his finger, which made me feel a little better about the impending pain we would be putting this poor boy through. She grabbed his hand and JJ quickly lost interest in whatever ruckus Jerret was making with the rattle. He sat and watched as the nurse pricked his finger and milked it until there was enough blood to fill two tiny vials. He never once cried and never made a sound, just watched.
After the blood test we were ushered into another exam room where they checked JJ’s height and weight. I was a little surprised to hear that he weighed only 17 pounds, as my forearms would say that number should be much higher. He was measured as 27 inches long. Our final stop at the clinic required a more thorough exam of the baby, who checked out just fine except for a minor ear infection in one ear and a rash, which the doctor provided medicine for.
Once the medical exams were over, all three couples returned to our hotel and were instructed to meet in the lobby at 6:00 to have dinner together where we would all fill out the paperwork required by the Immigration Police. We ate dinner at the SOHO Café, which is a local “American” restaurant with wall-to-wall New York City décor. We sat and picked at our food as we tried to fill out paperwork and take care of the baby all at the same time. This was one of our last required duties and we would have the next three days free before our meeting at the US Embassy on Monday.