Sunday, June 24, 2012

Da Svidaniya!

Day 6 -6/23-  Our final day in country before starting the long travel home. We woke up this morning around our usual time to meet Ilya out front of the hotel. But something was different this morning. We had said our goodbye's to Vita the night before as there were no more trips to the orphanage and no more visits with Sweet Girl. Instead, we would be traveling back to the city where the airport was located in preparation for departure... a day of mild sight seeing in attempts to take in some of Sweet Girl's culture as the orphanage doesn't permit visitors over the weekend. It was a somber feeling leaving her hometown, being so close to her knowing that tonight, when we laid our heads down, we'd once again be in different cities and the distance between us growing.

The drive to the airport was 3 hours. We had somehow gotten accustomed to the driving... bumpy, narrow pothole filled roads, aggressive driving, mounds of traffic... but we were in good hands with Ilya, who we have grown to admire.. and the drive went surprisingly fast. Even without Vita present and though Ilya spoke little English, we had reached a comfort level. Before we knew it, we were pulling up at our hotel smack in the city centre and quickly unloaded. We presented Ilya with the gift we had brought him. He seemed geuinely surprised and motioned for us to wait while he ran back to his glovebox. He returned and presented us with two coat pins... propoganda from his nation's past... muttering in broken english "very old" and "history".  We were touched by this gesture, he will be missed, and we hope he is our driver in the future.

After saying our goodbyes, we were alone once again. It was noon, but we went to try and check into our hotel anyway. We were pleasantly surprised to find the staff speaking english. We were told no rooms were ready yet, so we asked that our bags be held as we set our on an adventure... a few hours of light sight seeing in the city centre. Our first mission, navigate the local subway system to get there. Luckily, Jessica had done a little research ahead of time and I had a tourism book that already came with a local subway map and translations of the stops. We found a station not far from our hotel and mapped out a route to get there, now to execute. Buying tickets proved far less challenging than initially expected. We found our line, only challenge was to make sure we're heading in the right direction. We made our choice and hopped on a train. Unlike NYC, the subways lacked any sort of helpful hints for foreign travelers. No maps of the stops, no LED boards showing the next stop, stations were barely marked. The driver would simply come over the intercom and verbally announce the stop. Luckily we were able to correlate with our map, make sure we were on course, and count the number of stops to our destination. When we surfaced from the train, we find ourselves in the middle of a mall, albeit generally where we intended.

The Great Wall surrounding their nation's "white house".

Where we surfaced from the subway. Seemed as though some festival/concert was either setting up/tearing down as there was lots of mobile fencing diverting the flow of people and coordinating off certain areas.

We decided to walk around not knowing exactly where we were going. Most of the streets seemed to be closed to traffic. Not sure if this was due the event, normal for the weekend, or what. Pictured on the right turned out to be a very large and extravagent mall we discovered.

One of the most fameous Cathedrals in all the world. Of course the crowd control barriers prevented us from approaching at all angles, so we simply had to admire from afar.

The barriers prevented us from entering a square that would be normally teaming with thousands of people, but today was only filled with empty sound stages and crew techs.

The great mall from the front and an empty beautiful square.

To enter the subway, you had to swipe your paper card in front of these scanners. We had only purchased 4 trips, 1 for each of us out and back, so we were careful to make sure to enter the right station/line. We bought ourselves no second chances.

The subway arriving. Not much different than NYC subway in terms of comfort, though I did miss the little LED navigational boards that lit up as the train hit each stop.

Our hotel for one night, a much different experience than the hotel we had been in all week in Sweet Girl's hometown. This hotel is from their countries history, and is very large, extravagent and somewhat Americanized by comparison to where we came from.

Grand entrance way where we were greeted by multiple English speaking staff.

View of the city from our room on the 9th floor.

As we had such little time here and our thoughts were still with Sweet Girl back in her hometown, we had little time to enjoy it. For tomorrow we would be waking up early to start our journey home. In place of Vita and Ilya, we had Boris and Irina who would be picking us up from the hotel and escorting us to the airport. We had yet to meet them, but they would be our guides in the big city. That night, we recieved a call from Boris to the next morning. We would meet him at 7:00am to head to the airport. Even though we were in the city, the drive to the airport would take 45mins - 1hr due to horrendous traffic. We look forward to returning home and seeing Audrey and Harper, but can't stop wondering when will we see Sweet Girl again and will she remember us and our short journey. Until then, Sweet Girl....


Friday, June 22, 2012

Bitter and Sweet

This morning Vita was supposed to pick us up at 9:45. She was a few minutes late and when she got us  she told us that she had successfully presented our approval to adopt to the Department of Education. Once they get a paper back from the capital and get it to Vita we can present our court stuff to the judge. Yay! 

When we got to the orphanage, Sweet Girl bounded out of her groupa to us. Lots of giggles and smiles today. We went upstairs and took out her new surprise of the day, painting suncatchers. We underestimated the mess possible with a paintbrush and 4 colors. 

She tried to pick the paint up to show Vita and oops, spilled it all over herself. We managed to only get a little blob on her dress, but that was the second new outfit we ruined. Sorry nice orphanage. We'll bring tons more back when we come!

The we changed tactics. Paper and one color at a time with Papa holding on to the container. I showed her how to rinse the brush in the water bottle and that became more fun than painting.

She had to use the restoom and while she was gone we took the paint. No need to have her be punished over making a mess when it was our fault. 

When she came back we played with stickers and colored for a few minutes. I think this is something she gets to do pretty often so she wasn't interested for long.

Soon enough she found and remembered her favorite toy from yesterday, our camera. Today we were smart enough to bring the big camera too to capture her sweet face when she saw us all in the viewfinder.

All too fast our visit was over. Here's Vita and I walking back out the gates to the car.

It is very evident that the director and caretakers really try to make the place feel bright and cheerful. Lots of flowers are planted around and lots of colors for the kids.

While on break today Rob and I went to McDonald's and got lunch. So far our ordering has been close to accurate. Today my attempt at "Da Ketchup and nyet the rest" translated to no ketchup. Oops. It's what I get for being picky on my burger. Or not just ordering nuggets like Rob.

We came back to the room for some decent downtime and researched a few things. Then we got to skype with Audrey and Harper. When it's mid afternoon for us it's very early morning for them so they are still sleepy. This morning they were very sweet. They make it about 10 minutes and then Harper usually gets a little upset so we let them be. Makes me happy to see them even if it's just a few minutes though.

3:30 took us back to Sweet Girl. She had pigtails this time. Very adorable. She went right for the camera.

"Who do you see?" I would ask.  "Papa!" she'd always reply.

She needed a quick reminder where to put her hands so they weren't in front of the lens.

The battery died and to avoid trouble we redirected her outside. We convinced her to walk her laps backwards. More cat chasing, more bubbles. This time, Ilya was parked inside the gates so everytime we passed him she'd give him weird looks and he'd wave. Then we convinced her to try to play in one of the quadrants in the back (there are 4 little separate play spaces) that didn't have other kids near. She reluctantly agreed. She found a favorite trike and let me push her. Fast and slow around and around. Chasing Papa, being chased by Papa. Much fun.

Papa got a turn pushing, but Mama was taking a rest so no pictures.

We had tried the sandbox Tuesday and she wasn't interested, but today she initiated.

 Throwing sand. I was telling her "Nyet, we don't throw sand," here.

This is her "Papa, Mama told me Nyet" face.

It was almost time to go so we convinced her to go back inside. One quick family picture in front of the doors. I can't wait until we walk out and don't walk back in.

I wanted to have time in the quiet to talk to her. We told her that Mama and Papa had to go away for a few weeks, but we'd come back and see her again. We told her to be a good girl while we were gone. We showed her the pictures again of our family and said if you miss us look at our pictures. We gave her a little security blanket we got for her and told her she could keep it in her bed with her (hopefully the caretakers will show her the pictures and let her keep the blanket. We think she understood what was going on because she started stalling. She went over to a puzzle we brought her and showed her every day. She hadn't ever been interested before but today she had to put it together. Mama would tell her where the pieces went and she'd rotate them and put them in.

Finally it was time. One last picture on the way down the stairs. She's holding the bag of toys we left to donate to her Groupa. She's still got the necklace she beaded on. I hope they let her keep it.

And lastly. I think this will work, a short video so you can see her sweet smile and hear her sweet voice.

I always knew this would be hard to see her and then leave her. Part of me wants the system to be different so we didn't have to leave so much. I am afraid since we will leave her 2 more times before we get her for good that she won't understand when it's the forever time. Vita asked her today, "Do you want Mama and Papa to come back?" "Da!" she said. "Will you miss Mama and Papa?" "Da!" When Mama and Papa come to take you home will you go with them?" "Da!"

And as hard as it is to leave her, I'm an adult. I understand. I underestimated how hard it would be on her for us to leave. I thought we'd just be visitors, playmates to her, but I think she gets it. She knows what Mama and Papa means. She had it for a week. Now she doesn't know if she should trust that we're coming back. So heartbreaking.

Counting the days Sweet Baby Girl....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bubbles and Beads

Vita and Ilya picked us up at 9am this morning and we went straight to last doctor we had to see. We got our sheet signed with no problem. We went back to another doctor's office and picked up the results of a test. Last signature on the sheet! Vita then took our completed medicals (8 different doctors in 6 different state run hospital type buildings) to the main doctor in town. He then signed off on the whole sheet - Medicals done!!

We did all that in record time and made it to the orphanage right around 10am. This time we stopped and picked up Sweet Girl from her groupa on the way in. Vita can walk in and get her, but it doesn't seem like we are allowed to so we wait in the hall. She came bounding out to us very excited and with hugs. She practically ran up the stairs to the room we hang out in. She went straight for the bag of toys and picked out the new item, a beading set. Stubborn miss didn't want me to tie a knot in the end of the string. Soon enough she agreed to a knot :) She strung an entire string all by herself from one end to the very other. She was very good at this! Better than we expected!

Wearing the necklace Mama made for her.

In the middle of all this Vita presented us with the paper for the orphanage to keep that stated that after meeting her, we still desired to adopt her. Vita asked if we were sure. YES!

Soon you'll be all ours sweet girl!

She kept asking to go outside, but Vita has to come with us and she was doing paperwork so we distracted sweet girl with another new toy. A glider. I'm a big happy meal girl and I've been saving all my happy meal toys for months now. When Sweet Girl points and says "Airplane" at them I knew this one would be a winner. Let me clarify. She says something that sounds like gibberish. Vita promises it's airplane.

As soon as we got outside, Mama spotted a bug. Sweet Girl has been all about squashing the ants so I was curious what she'd do to a big beetle thing. She smashed it with her foot and it was still moving so she smashed it again. Then she told us "I broke it!". Rob might have a house full of girls, but I have someone else to call for spiders now!

The orphanage has some stray cats that hang around. I guess the kids and the cats aren't friends. Sweet Girl says that she wants to catch them and then when they run away she says "Shoo cat, get away!"

 She had no interest in actually flying the glider so we went back on laps and bubbles. We are usually outside when the other kids are and Sweet Girl wants them to see her with us, but she doesn't like to stop at them or let us talk to them. So we walk around the orphanage, over and over, in circles and blow bubbles the whole way. Papa is her bubble blowing buddy.

We had to go back in so she could get lunch and snack. Another family picture! I can't wait until she comes home and we can get one with all 5 of us.

While on our break, we took some of the paperwork Vita did to the internet cafe to print. Then we took it to the notary. Very interesting. While at the notary we met a babushka who has 2 children. One lives in Boulder, CO so she moved there 2 years ago to help with her children - triplet boys! The other lives in this town so she was back to visit. Very neat to find someone else who sort of spoke english.

After this, we took a trip to the other side of town and saw a local "landmark" - the Globus store. It's larger than walmart, but is the same concept. Everything you could need all in one place.

They had like 50-60 check out lanes. I'm standing in about the middle here.

Back to the orphanage and Sweet Girl got a snack. Now that she saw us open her juice box, we're not allowed to do it anymore. Now she has to do it on her own. And don't you dare touch or help or get to close.

Sweet Girl got brave after snack and picked up the camera. It took her a minute to figure out how to not cover the lens, but after that she took about 100 pictures. Lots of Papa. She'd giggle the cutest giggle every time he made faces and she saw him in the digital screen.

Here's Vita for everyone who was curious :) Couldn't and wouldn't want to do this without her. This sweet woman sacrifices every week away from her 2 girls to help other people bring their children home. (Sweet Girl took the picture)

No pictures of this cause she had the camera.
Back outside. More laps. More bubbles. These pictures start to look the same since we kept her clean yesterday and she's in the same outfit, but notice her bow. It changes every am and pm. Slay me :)

Already dreading tomorrow. Only two more visits with this sweet face. I am dreading the minute when she says "When are you coming back?"and instead of saying in a few hours or in the morning we will have to say several weeks. We are going as fast as we can to bring you home sweet baby girl!