We arrived in Moscow safe and sound. I was too exhausted and drained to write a blog entry yesterday. This morning, we woke up at 3:30am and were wide awake. We went back to sleep at 4:30am, and slept until the alarm went off at 7:30am. We are sharing the apartment with Marty and Lisa, and they were already up. We all had showers, coffee, and oatmeal. At 9:00am, the courier came to pick up the copies of our passports and visas and our immigration cards to take them to be registered. That cost $100 per couple. Right before we all went downstairs to meet our drivers, we had Marty and Lisa take the last photo of us before we became parents! At 10:10am, we went all went downstairs. They met their driver, and we met Anton and Katia.
We drove in the extremely heavy traffic to S’s office. We went inside. She and I. share an office. I gave the dossiers and paperwork that I had carried for other families to I. I. greeted us very warmly, and I liked them both immediately. Marty and Lisa were in the office with us. S. gave us all some information about the referral process, asked us to keep an open mind, and was happy to answer any questions. After about 15 minutes, we all left and went to the Ministry of Education.
When we arrived at the MOE, we went down 2 flights of stairs to check our coats. Then we went upstairs to the 4th floor. The elevator is tiny, and only holds 2 people, so we decided to walk up to the 4th floor office. Climbing the old marble stairs was a good way to burn off all our nervous energy. We all waited in the hallway for about 15 minutes, and then both couples went inside with S. We were not as nervous as I thought we would be. We felt calm and happy. We all sat around a round table. The MOE official talked to us while S. translated. Marty and Lisa received their referral first. Then it was our turn. A little boy 8 1/2 months old. Normally the photo on the referral is many moths old and not very good, but this photo was of a sleeping baby with a sweet face and chubby cheeks. When I looked down at the sheet, I realized his birthday is the same day as our wedding anniversary. Instantly my eyes flooded with tears, and I knew it was a sign from God. This is our son! I felt such joy and peace in that moment. Before we left, we walked upstairs to the 5th floor to use the restroom,. As we were walking up the stairs, R and I agreed that we would be accepting his referral, before we even met him. We knew in our hearts that he is our son.
Then we left to drive to the orphanage. He is in Kolumna, 100km from Moscow city. On the way, we saw small houses near the main road, and birch trees, and then lots of open spaces covered with snow. About halfway there, we ate lunch in the car, of Russian cheese and mild sausage. It was very good. Not long after that, we were on a 4 lane highway. The police pulled all the cars over, for a routine document check. Anton got out and gave them the papers for the car. After a few minutes, we were back on our way. Katia told us that Kolumna is a tourist destination in the summer. They have several rivers and a lake, and people come there for water sports and recreation. The orphanage in Kolumna has a very good reputation. The children are well-cared for. She said that even local parents will bring their children to that orphanage just for medical care, because it is so good.
After about 1 1/2 hours, we arrived at the orphanage, and Marty and Lisa and S. had just arrived as well. We went inside and upstairs to the orphanage doctors’ office. She gave us his medical information, while Katia translated, and we both took notes as fast as we could. He came to the orphanage on R’s birthday! There was no information given today that gave us any cause for concern. Everything sounded good. While we were writing, the caregiver brought him into the office, with no warning. All of sudden, he was just there in the doorway. His brown eyes were wide, just taking everything in. She gave him to me, and he sat on my lap for a minute. They asked us to wash our hands, so I handed him back to the caregiver. He watched as I washed my hands, and then I held him again. The social worker came in to give the family history, and R wrote furiously while I held him in my lap. He watched R very intently, and then he reached behind me and tried to take a stack of papers off the counter!
Then it was time to go downstairs to the music room. We waited for a minute in the hallway before going downstairs, and he looked down at the ceiling and then up at the floor. He’s very curious! Once we went downstairs, the 3 of us were alone for some playtime. We sat on the floor, and he played with some toys while we got some cute pictures. We had the Fisher-Price stacking rings, the “Moo Baa La” board book, plastic keys on a ring, and a purple Tonka car. His favorite thing was the book. Hopefully he will love to read as much as we do!
After about an hour, he started to wind down. First he put my finger in his mouth and started teething on it! Then he put his thumb in his mouth, and his eyes started to close. He slept in my arms for about 45 minutes. He woke up and looked around and was content just to sit in my lap. Then the caregiver came in to officially put him down for his nap. I kissed him good-bye. As she was carrying him out of the room, his eyes were wide and he looked at us like “what is going on?” We all had already bonded.
We are so in love with him already! God answered my prayers and blessed us beyond all my hopes. We are so grateful. As we were leaving, the orphanage doctors told us they thought he was special and amazing, and of course, we agreed. They were pleased that we were so happy and that we already love him.
Tonight, we have to make a decision about his name. We’re still not sure! Tomorrow we’ll arrive at noon, and we’ll get to see him eat lunch before our playtime. Thanks to everyone for all their support and prayers. We wish we could share photos so everyone could see just how adorable he is. God has given us a great gift, and we are very happy!