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Adoption Trip to Russia

Journey to Emily and Amanda

November 6, 1999

We all got up at 4 AM the next morning feeling very sleepy, but excited that we were finally going home. What was even more exciting is that we were going home WITH Emily & Amanda. We thought that at this point we would be going home only to return a week later for another week before we would bring them home.

Dottie and I got ourselves dressed and made sure that everything was packed and ready to go. When we woke the girls up, they were a little confused because it was 3 hours earlier

than they usually get up. They cooperated well and ate their breakfast hungrily. Stella had called us the night before and told us that a Blue Van would be picking us up in front of the hotel at 5 AM. We said goodbye to the ladies at the desk who had been very gracious to us. We lugged all of luggage down to the lobby and waited for our ride to the airport.

Our ride arrived a little after 5 AM. He was the same man who had transferred us from the Leningradskaya to this hotel. When we stepped outside to go to the van we found that it was SNOWING with about 6 inches of snow on the ground already! We started to worry that maybe our flight took off. What we didn’t consider is that it is very common for it to snow in Moscow and the airports have it all under control.

After our luggage was loaded, we piled into the van and we were off to the airport. It was a bittersweet moment because we had seen and done so much that had changed our lives forever, yet we were excited to go back home.

As we headed to the airport I think we all were reminiscing in our mind about the events of the past week. We arrived in Russia not knowing anyone and not knowing what to expect and we leave Russia with 2 little miracles named Emily & Amanda!

We had been driving for about a half an hour when the driver stopped. There was an old freight train going by. I started to worry that we might not get to the airport in time to get seats, but in about 10 minutes the train was on it’s way and so were we.

A few minutes later we arrived at the Shrematevo Airport. We assumed that the driver would be taking us up the “departures” area. The driver stopped in what looked to be the middle of the road and motioned that this was as far as he could take us. There was at least 6 inches of snow on the ground and we didn’t want to have to traipse through it with the babies, but we didn’t have a choice. We did find that their were luggage carts available to us, so John got one while Dottie and I put the girls in their strollers. We just followed the crowd into the terminal. There were signs in English so we didn’t have any trouble finding the check in counter we were supposed to be at.

We still had a half an hour before we could check in, so we just sat with our bags and waited. In the meantime John went to the ticketing counter to confirm our seats. A few minutes later John came back with our seats. He didn’t know how it happened, but we ended up with 3 seats together in the Business Class. (We found out later that the Aeroflot station manager at JFK called the Moscow manager and made sure that we had good seats! Talk about service!!)

A few minutes later the check in counter opened. We were the first in line. We put our luggage through and went on to the customs booths.

At the custom’s booth we ran into the couple with the triplets that we had met at the Embassy. We stood in line together for the customs booth. Come to find out, we were on the same flight, all going business class 2 rows apart from each other! Small World!

We got through customs without any problems and headed into the terminal. We wanted to buy some duty free items before we left Russia, so we went to a couple of the shops and bought a few things to bring back with us.

After we went to the duty free shop we went to the Delta/Aeroflot first class lounge and rested before we had to go to our gate.

It was soon time to go down to the boarding area so we left the lounge and headed down to the gate. We ended up sitting in the boarding area next to the couple with the triplets. We started to compare stories and experiences. That couple was very brave to have come to Russia to adopt 3 babies and it was only just the 2 of them!

It was time to board the plane, so we got up and got in the line to board. They didn’t board business class through a different door in this airport, so we did have to wait our turn.

We rolled the girls up the jet way and assumed that we would have to take them out of their strollers. The flight attendant motioned that we could leave them in the strollers until we got to our seat.

We walked aboard the 767 with great anticipation. It was still snowing outside and we were wondering if we would be delayed. We found our seats and sat down. Dottie and I were in the 2 middle seats and John was on the aisle seat across from us. I had never flown in the middle of a plane before, so I was nervous. I am an avid “window” person, so I didn’t know how I would make it without my window.

We all got settled and waited for the plane to push away from the gate. The girls were very good and we started to rock them so that they would go to sleep for take off. We noticed that the ground crew was busy deicing the plane, so that was a good sign that we would be taking off on time.

It was about 15 minutes after our scheduled departure time when the plane pushed back from the gate. Both of the girls were sleeping soundly! What luck!! We all prayed that we would get home safe and sound as we taxied to the runway. A few minutes late we were in the air, heading east towards home!!

The babies both slept for the first half hour of the flight. The triplets were all screaming loudly. Their parents were trying their best to console 3 babies with only 2 adults. I felt kind of sorry for them. Had Emily not been sleeping in my arms I would have offered to help.

The flight attendants came around offering beverages, but it would be difficult for me to drink something and hold the baby, so I declined. We all kept our eyes on the map on the big screen in front of us.

The flight was going very smoothly. The girls slept on and off for the whole flight and didn’t even cry once, except toward the end of the flight when we wanted to change them into their “meet your new family” clothes for the airport. We knew that there would be a crowd meeting us.

About 10 hours later the plane touched down at JFK. That moment was VERY Emotional for us all. We all let out HUGE sighs of relief and we all started crying because we were SO HAPPY to be back home WITH our daughters.

I whispered to my daughters “welcome to America” and then got a grip on my emotions as the plane taxied to the gate. I don’t think I had ever been so glad to see NY in my life!

The plane got to the gate and we gathered the girls and our carrion’s and walked out of the plane. We all were silently praying and thanking God for a safe journey.

We walked down to customs and got on the short line for American citizens. We got through customs quickly, but we had to go to the INS office to finish up the final entry paperwork for the girls so that they could get green cards.

It took about 25 minutes to finish up the paperwork. There were several other adoptive families in with us. The couple with the triplets was ahead of us and the INS rushed them speedily through. We wished them good luck with the triplets and they were off. We never did catch their names!

We finished up at the INS office and went to the baggage claim where the luggage had already started coming out. Our luggage came out quickly and we loaded it on to a cart. I made sure that the girls looked great because I knew that beyond the next door the family was waiting to meet them.

We walked out of the automatic sliding doors and there stood everyone holding flowers, balloons, video camera’s etc. John’s entire office staff came to meet us and they were the first ones we saw. They ran up to us hugging us all and looking at the babies. I think everyone was crying.

The next group of people we saw was John’s family. John’s Dad, his brother Chris, His sister Kristine, Sister in law Lisa, Aunt Janet, Cousin Jessica were all there waiting to meet the new additions. Everyone cried and cooed over the babies. I’m sure the girls had no idea what was going on.

I hadn’t planned on letting everyone hold the babies at the airport, but I was so tired and everyone was so anxious that I gave in.

After we all hugged, talked, and greeted, Johns Brother brought our truck around with the car seats installed. We strapped the girls in. I thought that they might put up a fuss with being confined to a car seat, but they were just fine.

We were going to John’s parent’s house for a small celebration. There were still a few more people who were planning to come meet the girls (Uncle Albie and Aunt Joelene, Johns other brother and sister who had to work that day).

Within 2 minutes (we hadn’t even left the airport yet), both of the girls were fast asleep in their seats. Five minutes after that we had to wake them up because we were at Grandma & Grandpa’s house. Emily woke up, Amanda didn’t. We took Amanda into Joelene’s room and surrounded her with pillows.

We sat around the kitchen table and talked about our adventures. I was so tired that everyone tells me I fell asleep sitting at the table.

Everyone had decided that we would order Pizza’s for dinner, which suited us just fine!! Albie and Joelene got home and both of them immediately fell in love with the girls.

By this time, Emily was getting fussy because she was exhausted. I rocked her to sleep and put her in Joelene’s bed. Amanda was awake now. The poor girls were so confused.

The living room was full of Pink and White helium balloon’s that Lisa had bought. She wanted us all to take the balloons and release them outside. This would resemble the fact that our girls were now free from the orphanage and now in their whole new world of love, family, & friends. It was very sentimental.

After we released the balloons, John and I thought it was best to head home. We put the girls in the car seats and drove away for the first time as a family of four.

We got home 20 minutes later and both girls were fast asleep in their seats. We gently lifted them out and went into the house. We tiptoed upstairs and went into their new nursery and laid them in their new cribs for the first time. We kissed them on their little heads, and again whispered to them that they were “home” now; neither one heard us or even stirred. They slept peacefully in their new room without even a sigh all night!

That’s the end of our Journey to Emily and Amanda…but really it was just the beginning. We will be forever grateful to the Lord for allowing us to take such a wonderful journey in our lives. Emily & Amanda are 18 months old now and are doing wonderful. They are both a picture of health and vitality. We hope and pray that someday we will be able to go back to Russia and start a new journey for another child who is waiting for arms to hold him. Thank you for reading about our journey. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed reliving the experience by writing it.

Emily and Amanda, Disney World 2004

Page 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

See more pictures of Emily and Amanda at: www.geocities.com/iluvdisnee/journey.html


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