Sunday, July 19, 2009

Moscow City Trip #2 Summary

Sorry not to have written for so long! To be honest, waiting for OLG to come home takes away some of my motivation for writing. Now that we are less than a week from the third and FINAL trip, I've mustered the resolve to give you a summary of our trip.

The main purpose of trip #2 was the court appearance. We arrived in cool, rainy Moscow on Sunday and were scheduled to leave Thursday (more on that soon). On Monday we got to see OLG twice and he warmed-up to us after just 15 minutes. He started making the raspberry sound we shared on the first visit and clearly recognized us. Oh, and he walks now very steadily after taking his first steps on the previous visit. We brought a couple toys, but his favorite thing was the lens cap to Tracy's camera - he carried it all the time and it apparently tasted great! One of the other toys made noises and was shaped like a phone. Somehow he knew to hold it up to his ear! Like a true father, I think he is an exceptionally bright kid:)

During the afternoon visit, we were taking his sweater off (because he seemed hot) and the collar/zipper got stuck for a bit around his ears. He started to cry (the first and only time) and Tracy immediately grabbed and hugged him tightly. His crying quickly stopped and enjoyed a kind of hug he apparently didn't get ever or often. After that he started going up to Tracy periodically and putting his hands on her shoulders and then letting her hug him. It was a great day!

Tuesday was court day, which means we get up three hours early to meet our driver, get to the courthouse an hour early, and then wait until the last minute for our coordinator to arrive (she was also our translator and paperwork courier). Tracy was a little stressed plus the waiting area was very hot since we had to dress-up. Our coordinator prepped us the day before when we were waiting for OLG to wake-up. Everything went according to plan. Tracy took the podium and got the typical questions from the judge (in Russian of course) about why we were adopting and our home situation. After maybe ten minutes she was done and I had a my shorter turn getting some similar questions. The director of the orphanage was then questioned about OLG and our interaction with him. Then the prosecutor (a government representative who has to research the child's background and possible family ties) spoke very briefly. Finally, the judge adjourned to chambers to review the paperwork and returned for her decision. In less then 40 minutes, OLG was offically ours!! Well almost... In Russia, there is a mandatory 10-day waiting period after court. This is the last chance for a Russian relative or other person to ask for the child. Once this period ends, no person in Russia can attempt to gain custody of the child. Thus the need for trip #3. So we were of course very excited and yet we couldn't really celebrate. Our only reward was going to the orphanage directly after court!

(Warning: heart-melting moment coming!)

When we got to the orphanage, our coordinator was told about OLG's activity the previous night. Apparently after the hugfest the day before, OLG would not go to sleep until all of the caregivers gave him a satisfactory hug. It took them much longer than usual to get him to sleep and he had never done anything like it before! We had a nice-but-too-short visit and had to leave him for the second-to-last time.

Because our flight left Thursday, Wednesday was our last day at the orphanage until Trip #3. This time the staff was sympathetic and gave us a good two hours to visit! OLG was not used to staying for so long and he started walking toward the door about halfway through our session. I think we wore him out and he gave us some memorable moments. I started exploring the playroom and picking out more interesting toys. I brought out a xylophone and he was very interested when we made music. He quickly figured out how to use the stick but eventually preferred the taste of it. However, the highlight of the visit came when I brought out the rocking zebra (yes, a rocking horse with zebra striped fur). OLG rode the zebra on the first day but didn't seem too interested. This time I took the tail and rubbed it on his noise, which he really liked. After a little of this, he suddenly started rubbing his face into the zebra's backside and cracking himself up! We have the video, which I promise to post here when I can. Overall, it was a great visit and he really felt like he was ours. Sadly, we had to say "goodbye" and begrudgingly went back to the hotel.

Thursday was horrible - and not just because we had to leave OLG! Things started badly when our driver was over an hour late to meet us - this is a guy who was usually 15 minutes early. He explained in his minimal English that there was a bad accident making the traffic from the rain even worse. This didn't bode well for trip to the airport! We arrived at the airport still close to two hours before the flight and strangely there was no line to get to the check-in area. This was due to the fact that the flight had been cancelled (Tracy checked the flight online that morning and it was supposedly on-time). We were informed that the flight had techincal problems coming to Russia and had to divert to Iceland, where it was stranded. The driver stayed with us although he couldn't really translate. Luckily, we met a young woman from our flight who was American but spoke Russian because her family was from the Ukraine. We stood in a long line waiting for Delta to figure out what to do with us. After an hour, we tried getting re-routed but there was no good option. So, we were told the airport hotel would let us stay there and a plane would come special for us early the next morning. The hotel was kind of a nightmare! Our room smelled badly of smoke, had two tiny single beds, and there was no hot water. We'd been told the hotel would take care of food but no one knew anything. The highlight was the okay dinner we ate in the restaurant - although our server disappeared for 30 minutes after taking our order. Oh, I forgot to mention there was construction at the airport right outside our window. I'm normally a light sleeper, but I slept easily because we were exhausted from the stress! We just wanted to get out of there, so we awoke at 3:00am and went to the airport to wait until 6:00 when we could check-in. Fortunately, all went well from that point and we got home on-time (a day late).

Next post: Tracy's Passport ordeal and prep for Trip #3

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