Frequently Asked Questions, Page 3

What holidays are celebrated in Kazakhstan?
January 1-2 New Year's Holiday
March 8 International Women's Day
March 22 Nauryz (Traditional Spring Holiday; first day of new year according to Muslim calendar)
May 1 Kazakhstan People's Unity Day (Day of Inter-Ethnic Accordance of Kazakhstan's People)
May 9 Victory Day (commemoration of victory in WW II)
August 30 Constitution Day
October 25 Republic Day
December 16 Independence Day

How quickly do the children acquire English? The best place for research in this area is Language Development in Internationally Adopted Children [external link]: orphanage care and its impact on language development; language in older adopted children; norms based on research regarding typical language development in internationally adopted infants and toddlers; questions to ask orphanage staff about language and cognition; resources and references; and more. Also of interest is Language Development in Internationally Adopted Children [external link] by Boris Gindis, Ph.D.; Language-related issues for international adoptees and adoptive families [external link] also from Gindis, and Study of Language Development in Internatinally Adopted Children [external link] from the Department of Psychology, Laboratory for Developmental Studies, at Harvard University.

I want to mail something to Kazakhstan. If you are trying to send something to your potential child, you are better off sending it with another adoptive family. Mailing packages to Kazakhstan is expensive, involves customs fees from the recipient, and may be pilfered. The following can be used: United States Postal Service [external link], DHL [external link] and FedEx [external link].

What kind of souvenirs and gifts can I buy in Kazakhstan? Some parents pick up a few items for special future events (baptism, first communion, graduation, sweet 16, marriage) and some have purchased enough to give one gift every year up to 18 or 21 years old. Before you travel, make a list of people that you would like to bring back gifts for, so you don't forget someone like I did.

  • Places to shop in Almaty: RAM department store, TSUM department store (actually a collection of individual shops on 3 floors, best souvenir shop is on the 3rd floor), Central State Museum, Hotels Kazakhstan and Dostyk gift shops. You can also look at Handicraft Shopping [external link] from the Almaty Expat site. You can contact the people at Silk Road Painting [external link] for help in shopping.
  • Jewelry: amber (earrings, necklaces), leather (My mother bought a leather cross for my daughter when she is older), bracelet with rings attached, silver.
  • Christmas ornaments: camels, matrioshkas, yurt.
  • Books: children's books, coffee table books about Kazakhstan, cookbooks
  • Toys: stacking matrioshkas, stacking yurts, stacking Kazakh matrioshkas, small yurt models, leather horses, dolls in traditional dress, toy camels and horses.
  • From orphanage city and/or Almaty: pictures of people, stores, streets, orphanage/hospital; rocks/dirt from town, flower to be pressed and dried, map, postcards, newspaper (dated on the first day you meet the child, court date, etc.).
  • Clothing: traditional outfits in several sizes (for as they grow up), fur hats, vests, purses, hats.
  • Other: dombras (traditional Kazakh stringed instrument, can find in different sizes), Kazakh vodka (beautiful frosted bottle with clear window on front of bottle; looking through it you can see a scene with a man on a horse), rugs, "dream quilt" (traditional hanging for wall of yurt), ceramic horsemen, oil paintings and drawings by street artists (in front of TSUM in Almaty), lacquerware (boxes, dishes), Kazakh flag/banner (I got a small banner and framed it for my daughter's room).
  • Small journal to give to caregivers: ask them to write a note to the child for when they are older, have translator translate it. Can also take a small tape recorder and tape messages, songs, etc.
  • Go to a bank and buy commemorative and collection coins. Or you can just collect coins and paper money that you get. Put these in checked bags or they may be taken away when you leave Kazakhstan.

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What do I need to know about the court appearance? For an excellent overview, see The Foreign Court Appearance [external link] on the FRUA website. Experiences vary greatly; see if you can find someone who has appeared before the same judge to get a better idea of what to expect. Think about how you would dress when appearing in a US court. It would probably not make any difference in the court decision, but it would not hurt to be dressed up. Business casual should do it: dark suit or sport coat, tie, dark pants for men; nice pants/blouse, dress, skirt for women.
- look at the judge, not the translator, as you are answering questions and addressing the court
- don't cross your legs, it is considered rude.

Questions that you might be asked:

  • Why did you choose Kazakhstan? Ask your coordinator what the court would consider an acceptable answer. Possibilities: know someone who has already adopted from Kazakhstan, have relatives from the area (more likely an answer for those adopting from Russia, but you never know), did lots of research and impressed with the care given the children; do not say because the children are so healthy or young.
  • Why aren't you adopting in your home country? The judge may or may not have an understanding of the foster care system where you live.
  • Basic information about you: What's your name, Date of birth, Address, Describe your home.
  • Financial: Place of employment, How much do you make?, Is this enough?, How much do you have saved?, How do you plan to save for college?, Can you financially afford to raise a child?, Where and by who would your child be taken care ofİif you both work?, If one spouse will quit work to stay at home, does the remaining spouse make enough?
  • When did you meet the child? When/how did you find out about him/her? Did you know about the child before you came to Kazakhstan? (answer this one very carefully; ask your facilitator if you received a referral. One suggestion that I have seen is "We saw XX's picture, we did not know if she would be available to adopt when we got here. Her picture drew us to Kaz to find our child.")
  • How do you plan to care for him as you get older or if you are in an accident? (definitely expect this question if you are single or an older parent)
  • Where will the child sleep? (expect this question if you have a large family or small home)
  • How are you going to raise your child?
  • How will you discipline your child?
  • How do you plan to care for the child?
  • Do you plan to adopt other children?
  • Family: Describe other family members, Does your family support this adoption?
  • If you have other children, are they aware of the adoption and how do they feel about it? Will you feel differently towards this child than your bio child/ren? Why do you want another child? If you have a large family, can you take care of lots of children?
  • How will your feelings towards this child change if you later have biological children? (assuming you are now childless)
  • What medical issues does the child have? How can you care for these medical issues? Do you have health insurance?
  • How do you plan to keep the child's culture? Will you ever bring him/her back to Kazakhstan? What will you tell them about Kazakhstan?
  • If the child is talking, how do you plan to communicate?
  • What plans do you have for schooling (particularly if the child is school-age)? Ask your facilitator how to answer this question if you plan on homeschooling, as some judges don't understand how it works, and may not approve of it.
  • Will you tell your child he is adopted? How?
  • They may ask you about anything that is covered in the home study or dossier.

What do I need to use my electrical appliances? This information is from Magellan's link in new window, and linked to their products. I recommend that you purchase dual-voltage appliances whenever possible, so that you do not need a converter/transformer. Many modern electrical appliances (computer, PDAs, etc.) are capable of handling any current; check with your owners's manual or the company. You may be able to purchase items (hair dryer, hot pot, etc.) over there, eliminating the need for either a plug adaptor or voltage converter. Everything that I took (hair dryer, computer) was dual-voltage, so I only needed the plug adaptor. Magellan's Electrical Wizard link in new window walks you through taking and using electrical appliances, and recommends products based upon your needs and where you are traveling to.

In the US the standard wall current is 100-125 volt, in Kazakhstan it is 220. If your appliance is not dual-voltage, you will need a transformer or converter to use it. There are two types, depending upon the wattage of the appliance. For long-term use, grounded appliances, or those with a higher wattage, you will need a heavy duty transformer; these are designed to work continuously; Magellans has some for Heavy-Duty Transformer 100 watt link in new window to Heavy-Duty Transformer 2000 Watt link in new window and everything inbetween. Converter for Motorized Appliances link in new window is for non-heating appliances up to 40 watts such as, razors, radios, camcorder rechargers, tape recorders, and CD players. Converter for Heating Appliances link in new window is for heating applicances used for a short time, such as irons, hand-held dryers, hot plates, etc., up to 2000 watts. Auto Combination Converter link in new window combines the functions of the Converter for Motorized Appliances and the Converter for Heating Appliances above, automatically switching itself based on the appliance being used, 50 to 2000 watts.

The second number in the electrical listing is the frequency, or number of cycles per second in the alternating current (AC), measured in hertz. For the US this is 60 and Kazakhstan it is 50. Voltage converters do not alter the frequency; most modern appliances except for gear-driven (electric clocks) and those using timers (microwaves) can operate at either frequency.

Plug adaptors allow you to plug your dual-voltage appliance with the flat prongs (standard US plug) into electrical sockets found in other countries. In purchasing a plug adaptor, you will need one that will fit the recessed sockets that are common, will accept polarized (one prong is wider than the other) and non-polarized plugs, and must be grounded (third prong) if the appliance that you will be using it with is. The plug adaptor needed for Kazakhstan has two round prongs: Non-grounding Adaptor Plug D link in new window and Grounding Adaptor Plug D link in new window. This size is the most common style of adaptor and is used throughout most of Europe. These are cheap enough that you should buy more than one, just in case one fails.

If you plan on plugging anything in that is expensive or would have a problem with surges like a laptop, a surge protector such as the EuroSurge link in new window would be a necessary purchase, and yes, I have one.

A power strip will allow you to plug in multiple electronic items; I recently bought a dual voltage power strip with surge protector with a European plug from East West International; you have to e-mail to get a price, they aren't the best at communicating, but I did receive the correct item promptly.

If you are taking a laptop and planning on using dial up, take an extra long phone cord in case the telephone outlet is not in a convenient location. Make sure that your laptop has an internal modem or puchase one.

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How do I find a pediatrician?

  • Ask neighbors and friends, especially those with children the same age as your's will be, or those with much older children (who have seen the doctor with their children through many stages of development).
  • Ask your OB/GYN or family doctor.
  • Ask your OB/GYN or family doctor's nurses.
  • Ask the nurses that work in the following hospital areas: nursery, NICU (newborn ICU), labor and delivery, pediatric floor. It may seem odd, but you can call these areas and just ask to talk to one of the nurses, but don't call near shift change.
  • Once you have narrowed down your choices, ask the doctor the following questions:
    • How long does it take to get an appointment for a check-up? You will want an appointment soon after arriving home, and may not be able to make it much in advance.
    • How quickly will your child be seen if they are sick? You should be able to get in the day that you call. A larger practice makes this a little easier.
    • What are their office hours? It is nice to find one that is at least open on Saturday morning, and of course someone should be available 24 hours a day on call.
    • What happens if your child is sick after-hours? What hospital do they use?
    • What are their billing procedures (mail a bill, pay at time of appointment) and do they accept your medical insurance?
    • For the international adoption aspect, aks if they have any experience with it. Are they willing to follow published guidelines (in the pediatric "Red Boook") or international adoption medical specialist's recommendations for tests and treatments? Are they willing to write you prescriptions (antibiotics, etc.) for your child for the adoption trip, and give you guidelines on when to use them?
    • A question to ask the appointment person or doctor's nurse: does the doctor see appointments on schedule? It is great that a doctor is willing to take as much time as necessary for each patient, but appointments should be scheduled at appropriate intervals so that you are not in the waiting room forever. Keep in mind that there will be emergencies that can throw even the best scheduled office off.

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Page last updated on 1 January 2008.

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