I searched through my travel stuff and found the actual paper I took to Grandma's. Some of these questions I was too chicken to ask, but wish now that I had.
Here's that list:
- Parents Names and what their names meant.
- How old were their parents when they died.
- How did they die? Where and When? Burial sites? Were the kids present? I wish I would gotten more details about this, but the kids were there and I didn't want to upset them. Jameson asked me why her mother was not buried in a cemetary here in Springfield and I hate that I don't have an answer as to where her mother is buried. When we asked Grandma about their deaths, she was very vague and we could tell we weren't going to get much info. "They got sick and died." That was all she would tell us. Their father died 7 years before and their mother 4 years before. We don't know how they died. And who knows, it could have been a million different treatable illnesses. And it doesn't really matter.
- Where were the kids born - information about their birth - didn't get a lot of info about that
- Grandma's name and address - OK to write - This shows how much I didn't understand - there are no addresses, so we figured out how to get pictures and letters to her through Rahel at Hope.
- What were the kids like as babies? as kids? childhood stories.
- Who were they named after? What do their names mean?
- Who named them?
- How old were their parents when they had them?
- Anything special she wants us to know about parents or kids?
- Any other living relatives? This was answered as there were uncles and cousins there when we went to visit.
- Do the kids have a close relationship with grandma - again, this was obvious once we saw them together.
- Medical background of kids - "they very good..." That's about it.
- What did parents do for a living
- What were their parents like?
- Religious background of parents/kids
- What have kids been told about parents deaths?
- What have they been told about adoption
- Do the kids look like their parents?
- relationship of kids with parents?
- special needs of kids
- what do kids and grandma think of them being adopted
- family traditions
To be perfectly honest, I was so overwhelmed with emotion when I saw grandma, that I just cried and cried and had a hard time even talking or asking a lot of questions. As we got more comfortable - we asked more questions. As first I asked if they had any pictures of the kids parents and she said, no,no, no. Then as time went on, she started pulling out old pictures out of a chest which held EVERYTHING the woman owned and there were pictures of Josh as a baby, their parents, cousins. I laid out the pictures on my lap and took pictures of each and every picture so that the kids would have those later. I am SO thankful that I had the presence of mind to do that. Our driver Alazar was there with us and did most of the translating for us. Even he was getting teary eyed from my blubbering. We went back 2 times and spent time with Grandma. I was not prepared for the emotion of it. Grandma just hugged me and comforted ME, while she was giving us these children. I felt like such a schmuck!
I hope this list helps those of you who are soon to travel. You will never get as much information as you want... you will leave there thinking, "Oh, I should have asked that..." and "Why didn't I ask that..." But at least this gives you something to go on when you are all emotional and crazy in the moment.