Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Remembering our first trip to Russia (11/17/07 - 11/22/07)

As we wait for word on our travel plans to Ethiopia, I can't help but reflect back on our trips to Russia. The Russia program requires that you make at least two trips over, one to meet the child and the second trip is to go through the court process. We also had to make a 3rd trip to bring Lleyton home, as the 10 day waiting period between court and the Embassy appointment was not waived.

Our trips to Russia will certainly go down as some of the best times we have ever had. The experience of leaving the land that you are used to and so accustomed to and heading to a completely unfamiliar place to meet a child that you have dreamt of for years is quite surreal.

We were told from the beginning to expect the worst yet hope for the best. We did just that. We were told that the moment your child is handed to you, although incredibly joyful, may also be quite sobering, as many of the children are malnourished, or constantly sick, or just not able to interact the way they have in your dreams. That insight from others that have been through the process proved to be very valuable.

After the long trip that led us from Cincinnati to NYC to Moscow, and then from Moscow to Samara on plane that seemed unfit for the skies, we were welcomed into the orphanage that housed the son we knew so little about. Thank goodness we weren't expecting a bouncing baby boy, because instead poor little Gorsha (Lleyton's name in Russia) was quite sick and sad looking.

After playing with him and getting to know him as much as possible, we retired to our hotel for the evening to soak in the fact that we just met our son. We ventured back to the orphanage the following day to find our little man was feeling much better. What a difference a day makes. (This is my favorite picture of all time.)

Following our second play date/get to know you session with our little Gorsha, we had to say goodbye to the little man and we set off on a journey back to Moscow. Since we chose to stay at the orphanage a bit longer, we were only able to get back to Moscow via train. It was an experience unto itself. 15 hours on a train is bad, but 15 hours on a train in Russia is something I don't need to do again. I am still trying to figure out what they served us for dinner, other than the Baltika #5, which, although warm, was a rather enjoyable beer.

I could recap every detail of this trip. From not being able to figure out how to cross the street in Moscow, to each of the sleepless nights, and to the interview/interrogation we were subjected to by the lady known only as "Coffee Talk Lady" due to her uncanny resemblance to Mike Myers' Coffee Talk character on Saturday Night Live. But I will spare you all of the details.

More reminiscing to come...

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