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Adoption Trip to Russia

Journey to Emily and Amanda

Thursday November 4, 1999

Today we all awoke with light hearts and feeling on top of the world. John and I would be going to pick up our daughters and make them part of our forever family. We were told that Dottie could not come with us, but we were not told why. It really didn’t matter, though. Dottie said she would hang out in the hotel and do some crocheting. She had been working on sweaters for the girls and had hoped to finish them.

Boris would be picking us up at 7:30 AM to take us to Moscow to get the girls Birth Certificates issued in their new names with

our names listed as the girl’s parents. Mark and Andra would meet us there at 9 AM and we would travel to the orphanage together.

Boris arrived right on time and we were off. We got quite a scenic tour of Moscow city this morning. There was no traffic at all and we saw quite a few of the major architectural landmarks. We saw the famous Hotel Russia…it was VERY big! We also saw a lot of the Cathedrals of the Kremlin.

We arrived at the Birth Certificate office a few minutes before 8. We waited in the car and at 8:00 we went in. I’m not sure why we had to be there except to sign a form. We got the new birth certificates within about 15 minutes and then we went back out to the car to wait for Boris.

9:00 came and went, 9:15 came and went, the Stoller’s driver still had not arrived. Finally at 9:30 Boris got a call on his Cell Phone that we would now be meeting the Stoller’s & Yefim in front of their host apartment, which from what we could gather was also Boris’ apartment building.

We thought we would be going straight to the orphanage to get the kid’s but it turns out we had a few more paperwork things to do before we could go to the orphanage.

We had to go to a birth Certificate office in Lobnia to get the children’s place of birth changed on the kid’s birth certificates. John & Mark went to have that done while Yefim went with us to a bakery to buy some cakes, champagne, and chocolates for a good bye present for the caretakers at the orphanage.

I picked out two lovely looking cakes and also bought a few pastries to take back to our hotel. I wish I would have had more time to examine the other things in the market, but we were in a hurry to get everything done.

After we went to the bakery, Andra and I had to go to the Local Ministry of Education to get the release letters that would release the children into our custody. When we got to the office building, Tatiana, the local representative was not there and no one knew when she would return. We had our gifts for her and wanted to present them to her personally, so we decided to wait in her office. After waiting for about a half an hour we decided that we would go to the orphanage and dress the children, hand out our gifts, and wait for Boris to pick up the letter of release.

Andra & Mark’s driver took us to the orphanage, while Mark & John were still at the local birth certificate office.

Andra and I got to the orphanage and we were told to put the cake, champagne, & chocolates on the table in the visitor’s room. We unpacked the clothes that we had brought to take the kid’s in and waited for the caretakers to bring us the babies.

The caretakers expressed that they would change the children, but Andra and I both said that we would do it. Now that I look back, I should have let them dress the girls. After all, they had taken care of them for most of their life and it was probably very hard for them to see the kid’s go, even though it was for the best.

A few minutes later 2 women came in the room with 2 naked children in blankets, one with Nikolas for Andra and one with Amanda for me. I assumed they would be bringing Emily down soon after. I began to dress Amanda as my daughter for the first time. Amanda cried, I think she had just woken up from a nap. She seemed confused, rightly so! I dressed Amanda quickly and gently while one of the caretaker’s who looked to be in her twenties spoke softly to Amanda, the only thing I understood was “Ma Ma”. I finished dressing Amanda and the caretaker took her while another caretaker handed me Emily, who seemed to be in a pretty good mood today. At about this time, John & Mark had returned from the Birth Certificate office with Boris carrying the release letter.

I dressed Emily pretty quickly because Yefim was rushing us so that we could get as much of the final paperwork done that day as possible. We would not be able have the cake and champagne celebration with the orphanage staff as is the custom when you adopt a child.

Before we knew it, it was time to bid farewell to the Krasnaya Polyana baby Home. We handed out our gifts to the care worker’s and the orphanage nurse. The girls were bundled in their snowsuits and hats and we were ready to leave. The care worker’s each kissed the girls goodbye, a few with tears in their eyes, said something to the girls in Russian, and we walked out of the door. I had Emily, & Yefim was carrying Amanda because John had our video camera bag & the bag with the leftover gifts.

We got into Boris’ car, John sat in the front with Amanda and I sat in the back with Emily. Boris then gestures that Amanda cannot sit up front. John is a big guy and would never be able to squeeze into the back seat of the small hatchback, so I ended up holding both girls.

I sat them each straddling one of my legs facing me. I looked at their sweet faces realizing that they were actually my daughters forever! They had no idea of the change that would come to their little lives from this day on. They both looked confused as to what was going on but seemed to be content. Who knows if they had ever ridden in a car? They probably didn’t remember it even if they had.

Within Minutes, Emily was asleep leaning against the car window. Amanda studied everything about me. She wanted to touch my face, but her little hands were bundled in the snowsuit. A few minutes later, Amanda too, was asleep on my shoulder.

We were driving to the passport picture office in Moscow. We also had a 2:45 appointment at the Filatov clinic for the girls to have a physical in order to enter the USA. My mind was whirling with all kinds of thoughts and feelings. I looked at the two sleeping angels on my lap and knew that they would hold a very big piece of my heart forever.

A short while later we arrived at the passport picture office. It was raining lightly outside and I hated to wake the girls up from their peaceful slumber.

We hurried inside the building and down a flight of steps into a small photography studio. We waited while the Stoller’s had Nikolas’ picture taken. The girls were refreshed from their nap, and were in pretty good spirits, we even saw a smile or two.

It was our turn to for passport pictures. We sat Amanda on the stool, while Boris held her back and I went by the camera so she would look at me. 1-2-3 Snap…all done! Emily was a little more scared and it took a little doing to get her to look at the camera. Within a few minutes we were finished and we were told we could pick the pictures up in an hour.

We all hurried back to our respective vehicles and zoomed away trying our best to get to the Filatov Clinic on time. We arrived at the clinic about 20 minutes later only to find out that we had missed our appointment and that the clinic was closed. We would have to go in the morning.

We were off again; this time to pick up the girls passport pictures. Just when I thought we were done for the day, we have to go to yet another stop! The girls were getting a little cranky and hungry, not to mention I was getting carsick! I had brought bottles for the girls, but I really didn’t know how I would manage it in the moving vehicle with 2 of them on my lap.

We didn’t know where we were going this time, but about a half an hour later we pulled up to another building. We saw Eugene and Stella standing in the parking lot. It turns out that we were at the passport office and had to deliver the pictures to Eugene so that he could get the girls passports.

Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel and call it a day! It was rush hour so it seemed to take forever. John asked Boris if he would take us to McDonald’s (AGAIN!!) and he would run in and pick up dinner. The girls were getting cranky and very hungry. While John was in McDonald’s Boris offered to hold Emily and I gladly accepted. I tried to give Amanda a bottle but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it. I gave a bottle to Boris to try with Emily, and Emily drank down about half of the formula. I had brought every nipple known to man, so I knew eventually one of them would work with Amanda.

John came out of the McDonald’s with our Dinner and we were off to the Hotel. Boris dropped us off and told us that we should be ready by 8:30 tomorrow morning. We asked if Dottie could come along and he said “Da” (yes)!

John had to pay Boris for the day of driving and he said he would handle the 2 strollers that we had brought, and the 2 bags. I took the girls, holding one tightly in each arm and headed up the stairs into the hotel lobby. I got a few stairs, and a few smiles. I managed to make it to the elevator holding both babies and up to the 14th floor. By this time I was praying that I didn’t drop one of them. Just as I got of the elevator, the floor attendant became excited and motioned for someone to come over. Dottie had been sitting there waiting for us. She took one of the babies from me and the women who ran the hotel came over and oooed and aahed at the babies and one of them said in broken English “Beautiful”.

Dottie and I took the girls into our room and John came up with the strollers, bags, and dinner. Dottie said she had already eaten dinner. She decided to go up to the small café on the 15th floor. She had roast chicken, chunked potato’s with butter, some steamed cabbage and a few pieces of cheese. She said it was delicious! John and I decided to forget about the McDonalds we had just bought, we wanted a home cooked meal.

First we had to feed the girls. We didn’t know how either one of them would handle baby food, but we tried them with some cereal and they ate it like it was going out of style. They both ate and ate and ate. They were very hungry little babies!

The girls finished their dinner and then we wanted to get them “smelling” like a baby. We put Emily in the bathroom sink and she handled it pretty well, but was scared. Amanda freaked out and screamed terrible. After we had them all smelling like babies we put them in their pajamas.

They were getting cranky because they were tired, so Dottie and I put them in the strollers and “rolled” them to sleep.

After the girls were asleep, we put them in the Bedroom surrounded by pillows and John said he would watch them while Dottie and I went up to the Café to get myself and John dinner.

We got up to the café and we had a nice game of charades and pointing. I had the roast chicken that Dottie had had. I decided to go ahead and eat it there and I would bring John’s to the room on a tray. I ordered him what looked like chunked beef with gravy and noodles.

Dottie and I stayed in the café while I ate and they had a Russian version of Home Shopping Network on the television. It was actually pretty interesting! The roast chicken was mouth watering and tender and we could have kicked ourselves for not trying the small café sooner.

I finished up my dinner, we got John’s tray, promising to return it later, and went back down to our room. The girls were still sleeping, so we didn’t bother them.

John ate his dinner, which he said was pretty good. At this point almost anything other than McDonald’s was GREAT!

The babies woke up from their nap and we played with them for a little while. Emily was perfectly contented to sit on a blanket on the floor and examine her new toys, while Amanda DID NOT want to be put down.

We all knew we had a busy day ahead tomorrow, so we had to try to get the little one’s to sleep. John took Amanda in the bedroom and she fell asleep playing with his whiskers. I took my shower while Dottie watched Emily and then while Dottie took her shower I pushed the two armchairs together to make a bed in the living room for Emily.
Once Dottie went to bed and turned out the lights, Emily fell fast asleep! I went to bed with Amanda out like a light in between us. What a wonderful day it had been, I now had two of the most beautiful little girls a mother could ask for. (more...)

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