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…my true love gave to me:

  • 4 bucks a minute phone calls
  • 3 bulging suitcases
  • 2 tickets to Russia
  • and a picture of our new baby

For those of you in my real-life time zone, by the time you read this I will have already paid a visit to the DOE in Moscow and have already met our newest little darling.  The entry below continues the story of our first trip to meet our [now] first grader.  By the time I finish recanting her tale, I will no doubt have plenty of blog fodder about our current adventure.  Flash back to June 2005.

Going to Russia – Trip 1, Part 2

I’m like a really rotten kid at Christmas.  Hoping beyond hope that Santa will come, but half expecting a lump of coal.

We wake early and have breakfast with our friends.  By 8 a.m., I am showered, dressed, and mostly packed.  I have visited the hotel’s business office and emailed friends and family about our distressing situation.  I am struggling not to cry.  We sit on the bed and watch Austin Powers – Goldmember on Russian TV.  All we understand is “Dah, Baaaybee!”  It’s actually pretty amusing.

At 8:30, I’m beyond anxious.

At 8:40, I’m beyond crazy.

At 8:45, I tell Prince Charming to grab our bags so we can go ahead, check out and meet the others for the return flight to Moscow.  He very calmly tells me to sit and wait.  “Alla said she would call by nine.  It’s not yet nine.”  So I sit on the edge of the bed literally within inches of the telephone.

At 8:50, the phone rings!  I grab it before the first ring is even complete.  Alla asks, “Are you packed?”  My heart sinks.  “Yes,” I say.  “Come down now and check out.  We have a baby to go see!”  I am in tears again, only happy tears this time.  Really??  A baby?? For us??   We are out the door, checked out of the hotel, and loaded in the car within minutes.  Alla has already rescheduled us to a late afternoon flight to Moscow.  We only have a few hours and the orphanage is about 90 miles away.

We pile in the car and speed (very literally) to Novoshaktinsk Children’s Hospital.  During the long ride, I am surprisingly calm.  My God brought me here, and He would not torment me further.  I KNOW that we will are going to see the child who will become our daughter.  HRH, ever cool at 8:45 this morning, is now a wreck.  He’s afraid that this will end in disaster.  He keeps his thoughts mostly to himself – probably to keep me from jumping under a train.

We enter the “hospital” through the front door which oddly opens to a tiny foyer about 3′x3′.  We turn left and walk between two desks in someone’s office, go down a long hallway, then up three flights of stairs.  There is an open doorway with several toddlers eating weiners and macaroni.  Larissa leads us further down the hall to the nursery.  There are three separate rooms with glass partitions between them.  Each room has four cribs, two along each wall, and a window.  We enter the middle room.  There, in the first crib on the left, is Baby “Natalya” (pronounced NEE-tash-eea) the only child in this room.  A baby girl with brown eyes, a ready smile, and of all things red hair.

As soon as I laid eyes on her, my heart lifted.  I scooped her out of the crib, kissed her and announced, “This is my baby.”  Larissa cautioned, “Let’s talk to the pediatrician first.”  I am not swayed.  “THIS is my baby.”  Larissa reiterates, “You will want to know her medical history, of course.”  I know she means well, especially after our first referral, but she is starting to get on my nerves.  “This is MY baby.  Bring the papers so I can sign them now.  I don’t CARE what her medical issues might be.  She is MY baby.”  I hand her to John, and she smiles at him.  We’re hooked!

We meet with the pediatrician on staff and sign on intention paperwork.

Prince Charming runs back to the car to get our camcorder while I head back to the nursery to love on my daughter for a bit longer before we have to leave.  When I get back to her room, there are three older Russian ladies there holding my baby and talking to her.  She is smiling and laughing.  When I enter, one of the women begins speaking to me in rapid-fire Russian.  My feeble mind cannot comprehend.  I say my most oft used Russian expression meaning, “I do not understand.  I am sorry.”  She smiles and takes Baby Natalya from the others and hands her to me then asks, “Mama?”  I cry AGAIN.  “Dah, Mama!”  They all laugh and hug me.

We play with and videotape Baby Natalya for another half hour.  I learn during this time that my husband is a baby hog.  I hardly get to love on her at all!

We return to the hotel lobby with an hour to spare before our flight.  Alla meets us there and orders champagne.  I rush to email my friends and family with the good news then return to the same table where my world crumbled just yesterday.  Today, I am toasting my good fortune and God’s blessing!

We arrive in Moscow late.  Too late to meet up with our friends and share our happy news, so we decide to eat in the hotel bar.  We are sitting at the bar, rehashing the events of the last 48 hours for the hundredth time when I excuse myself to call home and make sure my parents got my email about Baby Natalya.  I return dejected because our international calling card does not work on the hotel phones, and we do not have international access on our cell phones.  While I’m gone, Mr. I Have Never Met A Stranger has met the gentleman sitting beside him.  He’s in town on business but is from the U.S.  Overhearing our conversation, he asks my husband, “What is her mother’s phone number?”  As I am reciting the number, he is entering it into his cell.  He hands me the phone, “This is more important than any other call I’ll make this week.”  I’m crying again at the kindness of this stranger.  I call Mama who has not seen my email.  She has been so worried for me and is elated by the news.  We share a good, happy cry over the phone.

The next morning we board our plane for the U.S.  I am sleep deprived and jet lagged and have haggard, puffy eyes from all my crying.  But my smile is real and true down to my toenails!  My heart is singing with joy.  My prayers have, at long last, been answered.  I look at my ticket stub.  It’s June 30.  Happy Anniversary, John.

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