My husband does not cry. Splinter? No tears. Sprained ankle? No tears. Compound fracture? No tears.
Sappy PMS movies? No tears. Not even for Nicholas Sparks’ flicks. Hallmark commercials? No tears? YouTube videos of soldiers surprise returns? No tears.
He didn’t tear up when he proposed or at our wedding. I’ve never even known him to cry at a funeral.
Which is why I was SHOCKED back on September 30, 2005 when I saw him weep. We were in a podunk courtroom in Rostov, Russia and had just given our statements to the judge about why we would be the world’s most fabulous parents. At that moment in time, I was incredibly cocky – hard to believe, I know – and waited with a smile plastered to my face for the judge to accept our plea for adoption. As she spoke and the interpreter whispered her statement in English, I looked directly into the judge’s eyes with a smile on my face. Once the Princess was officially our child, I hugged the interpreter, the social worker, and then hugged the judge. She spoke to me in Russian and I just smiled. Then she put her hand on my shoulder and pointed me toward my husband.
Prince Charming had his head on the shoulder of the doctor from Sophie’s orphanage and was sobbing. Red-faced weeping. I can’t tell you how stunned I was. I expected him to share my cocky glee not be brought to his knees with emotion at becoming a father. Sometimes I apparently don’t think things though very carefully. Or else I’m just selfish and oblivious to his emotional needs. A deep (and disturbing) thought.
This is why I knew to expect the tears this time. On February 14, 2012 at 3:02 a.m. EST, a judge in the Moscow City court pronounced us “parents” once again. This time, I turned to my husband first. And cried tears of joy with him.
My story DOES have a happy ending. Though it hasn’t ended yet!
We named sweet Ava Catherine Monday afternoon, said our teary farewells and boarded a plane for home Tuesday morning. Without our baby.
Fortunately, we have been through this process and understand the rules and regulations and red tape that are absolutely necessary to complete the adoption. It doesn’t make it easy to say goodbye to your precious child, but it does make it easier.
At this point in the story, we will wait some more. Luckily, we have almost perfected the art of waiting. Russians use a Julian calendar and celebrate their Christmas on January 7th. By celebrate, I mean SHUT DOWN for two weeks. Literally. With love, luck and a miracle, all the paperwork will be approved so that we can get our court date scheduled for the week of January 16.
Regardless, we will make a trip back to Moscow for court around two days prior to whatever court date we receive. After court there is a ten day waiting period – I don’t understand this, but have to accept on blind faith – where we can either stay in Russia for around 2 1/2 to 3 weeks total or return home and make a third trip which would last around 5 days.
Given the cost of staying in country and the fact that we have a first-grader at home, we will probably opt for three trips. The cost is about the same, but we wouldn’t have to leave Sophie for those extra in-between weeks. Her world is going to be ROCKED when her sister arrives so we might as well dote on her a little more.
And so. It IS quite a Merry Christmas here. Still missing the smallest of our clan, but it brings me so much joy to know that she will be here soon.
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!
I’ve lost a week of my life apparently. I’ve lost a night before – Purple Hooters were involved – but I’ve never lost a week. Wow. I’ll attribute THAT to a nine-hour time change to a country where the sun only shines five or six hours a day. And by the “sun shining” I mean this:
This was taken on Sunday 12/18 which was the nicest day weather-wise that we had in Moscow. Cold, clouds, and WHERE is the SUN?
I’ve just given the princess some crackers and a rice crispy treat and plugged her in to a Victorious Marathon so let me begin….
I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning. Prince Charming’s real name is John Smith. That’s right, folks. I have to check into hotels as Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. I also have to check through TSA and customs with “John Smith”. I will rant on those two federal
wastes of taxpayers money entities later, but suffice it to say that it adds an element of challenge to air travel. After two quickie flights to arrive in JFK for the nonstop flight to Moscow, we have already been “on the road” for eight hours by boarding time.
The flight is ONLY 10 hours due to the friendly tailwind and when we arrive in Moscow it is 11 a.m. This is lovely and keeps us from wasting a day there except that I CANNOT SLEEP ON A PLANE. I just can’t. I think it’s partly because I’m a control freak and a backseat driver (I don’t sleep in cars either) and partly because I am a “maximum comfort” kind of girl. I like my fluffy pillows and bedcovers and silky 400+ thread count sheets. And, yes, I do judge you if I’m at your house and you have cheap sheets. You might still be my friend at the end of the visit, but I don’t want to sleep at your place ever again.
Anyway. I can’t sleep and stay up all night watching movies and pacing as much as humanly possible. I have to walk around because I am totally phobic about DVT. I was raised by a nurse who tossed around phrases like “throw a clot” so I KNOW that is probably how I will die. Every twinge in my leg or arm or neck or back is “OMG. That’s probably a clot.” I self medicate with daily aspirin even though no doctor has ever recommended it. If 81 mg is good, then 250 must be better, right? This is why I can fill a pint bag with blood in 3 minutes flat when I donate at the Red Cross. It’s also why it takes 30 minutes and triple bandages for the bleeding to stop, but NO ANEURYSMS FOR ME thank you very much.
Upon arrival in Moscow, we finally get our luggage and clear customs. Customs in Russia is nerve-wracking because I can never remember if I’m supposed to claim the big stacks of crispy (now sweaty after 18 hours strapped to my body) one hundred-dollar bills we brought over.
Our driver Vlad picks us up and drives the 60 miles to the city. Luckily for us there was minimal traffic so it only takes about 2 1/2 hours. Arriving at the hotel we check in and go for a walk. My southern bred body is in shock by the 35 degree weather but we make do and find a great burger joint a few blocks away.
Insert plug here for Corner Burger in Moscow. Excellent food, service and prices. I’ll share more later.
Exhausted and ready for a good night’s sleep, we find our way back to our hotel and discover that it is only 5 p.m. John and I rally around our new mantra, “We HAVE to stay up until 9. We HAVE to stay up until 9.” At 5:30, I am sound asleep, fully dressed flopped on the bed sideways with Prince Charming takes a shower.
When he finds me sleeping, he wakes me with a NEW mantra, “We HAVE to stay awake until 8.” I head to the bathroom hoping to be revived by a cold shower. Upon exit, I find the Prince happily snoring and wake him with yet ANOTHER mantra. “Get your ass up.” And that’s pretty much the last thing I remember until 1 a.m. when I pop out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
This is going to be (another) long day.
This weekend, we celebrated the Princess’ seventh birthday and the sixth anniversary of her adoption. We watched her “Coming Home” video yesterday with our extended family and I was reminded of an affliction I suffered with at that time. Prince Charming calls it “Shoe Pride”.
Chalk it up to a lifetime spent believing that happiness was the result of an exquisite glass slipper.
When we left Moscow six years ago with the baby Princess in tow, I wore a pair of black boots with three and 1/2 inch heels. For the eleven hour flight. Not the most intelligent decision I’ve ever made, but I DID look pretty hot.
Before you think I’m an idiot, let me say that on our first trip to Russia about three months earlier, I noticed that the people there clearly treated me with utter disdain because of my choice of shoes. I sported my oh-so-practical-and-comfortable Dansko’s. The Russians all wore beautiful, designer high heels and, frankly, I felt more than a little frumpy. I swore to Prince Charming that I would be wearing MY nice shoes on our second trip.
We arrived at the airport four hours prior to our flight as instructed by our interpreters, went through customs without a hitch and finally boarded the plane and headed home.
After 11 hours in flight, we arrived at JFK, completed customs and immigration then stepped out of line to meet our friend Judi who came to meet the Princess. As our three hour layover neared an end, we returned to line only to be greeted by TSA.
By “greeted” I mean ass-raped.
An elderly woman in a wheelchair and I were randomly selected for a thorough frisking. Because clearly paraplegics and new mothers are VERY risky business.
Remember that I have a child strapped to my chest in a carrier and have had on these crazy heels for over 15 hours at this point when TSA decides I should remove my boots and the carrier so they can be x-rayed.
I am so thankful for Prince Charming. Usually, I am the one who talks him off the ledge when he is fighting mad which he usually is where TSA is concerned. On this occasion, he totally stepped up. He unzipped my boots for me, unstrapped the Princesses and pretty well managed to keep his mouth shut the entire time.
By the time we FINALLY arrive home – another 2 hour flight followed by another 3 hour layover followed by another 2 hour flight THEN a grand reception with dozens of friends and family at the airport – I have been wearing these boots for nearly 20 hours straight. Thank God for the fresh blush of motherhood because I didn’t actually recognize my pain. Until the boots came off for the final time.
My feet and legs looked like overstuffed sausages and were completely numb. “Shoe Pride” he calls it. “Stupid” may be more like it.
Which is why I feel a little daft today zipping into those same boots for a long day volunteering at the Princess’ school.
What an idiot. ME I mean.
Props Target for the boot pic : http://www.target.com/p/Women-s-Journey-Collection-Heeled-Slouchy-Boots/-/A-12952123