This was the day, November 19, 2007, the day we had waited for since concluding it was time for us to start a family. We had arrived in Samara very late the night before and made our way to our hotel. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, read a book, wrote in a journal, probably utilized the mini bar once or twice, anything to help me relax and get some sleep before the big day.
None of that worked, so I was going on very little sleep once the morning rolled around. As the sun rose, we were greeted with plenty of snow on the ground (that's the only way we ever saw Samara. I hear it is really quite scenic during the summer months). We met the other family we were traveling with for breakfast and then we were off to meet with the Minister of Education so that we could get her blessing to see the boy that we had traveled thousands of miles to meet.
This lady, who I affectionately nicknamed "Coffee Talk Lady", due to her uncanny resemblance to Mike Myers character on Saturday Night Live, essentially is the gatekeeper for each of the children housed in Samaran orphanages.
As we sat on the other side of her desk, along with our new best friend and translator, Jane, Coffee Talk Lady gazed down at us over her glasses that had been perched ever so close to the edge of her nose, and she grilled us about our motives for wanting to adopt. She asked us why don't we have our "own" kids, why do we want a Russian child, how much money do we make, how will we discipline this child, what will we do if we get home and don't like him, why we so young and adopting, and on and on and on. It was quite intimidating. After all of the questions she slowly stood and made her way out of the office, as if to make it seem that she was going to go into another room to ponder whether we could be worthy parents to this child.
After a minute of Jane telling us we did great, CTL reentered the room and sat across from us and slid a small picture of this boy to us and said we were welcome to meet him. This was the first time we had ever seen Lleyton's picture. An unforgettable moment, to say the least.
I would be lying to you if I said our first meeting with Lleyton was everything we dreamt it would be. We eagerly waited in the visiting room to see and hold this little boy. He was brought to us shortly after we wrapped up a conversation with the orphanage doctor. Frankly, he looked pitiful. Not the bouncing baby boy we were expecting, more like the sick little boy that was yearning to be in his crib.
Even though he wasn't feeling very well, he took a quick liking to Sara.
We sat and played with Lleyton and were introduced to his patented rock back and forth move.
Our visit with him ended after about an hour and we headed back to the hotel to call our doctor in Cincinnati and to see what she thought of the pictures I had sent her. To our delight, she thought he looked great. That, and a couple Baltikas (a delicious Russian brew), made sleep much easier that night.
It's hard to imagine that this is two years to the day that we met Lleyton. Plenty has happened between now and then, but the memories from that day and the days and weeks following will always be cherished by Sara and I.
As I was driving the boys to school this morning, I was talking with Lleyton and Parker about Russia. Lleyton seemed very excited to hear about Russia and he even claimed he saw Russia out the window of the car. I was surprised, because I thought Sarah Palin was the only one that could see Russia from her house. Little did I know. As a matter of full disclosure, I am a big fan of Sarah Palin.
That was Lleyton then, this is him a few weeks ago. I can't tell if he likes the camera or not.