Our Adoption Journey (Part 6)

I realize some of you probably assumed I had completed the memoir of “Our Adoption Journey” during the last post on September 24th. After all, we had picked up our little guy from the orphanage and were on our way back to Moscow. What else was left in this journey?

Well, there was one more very important detail that had to be completed before we could leave the country and take Ben home. A visit to the U.S. Embassy was required in order to obtain Ben’s visa. This would allow him to travel home with us and become a United States citizen at the moment our airplane touched down on American soil. (I have to say, that was so cool to me. Only a few years ago, adoptive parents had to go through a “waiting period” after bringing their child to the U.S. before the child could obtain citizenship. Now, because of paperwork that is processed ahead of time and new laws, the child becomes a citizen immediately upon arrival!)

Because we did not return to Moscow until late-afternoon on that Friday, September 24, we had to stay through the weekend to await our embassy appointment. (The embassy is closed on weekends AND on the last Monday of the month…translated: the earliest appointment we could get was on Tuesday. We would then fly home on Wednesday.)

Here is where I must confess I’ve never been one who exudes patience. But because I was so very thankful that Ben was finally with us for good, I did my best to be a trooper. Shannon and I knew how important it was for us to “take in” all the sights and sounds of this country, so that one day, as best we could, we would be able to share them with Ben.

We agree that we will make every effort to take him back one day, if he so desires, but we still wanted to have memories to share with him over the years as questions arise about his birth-country.

Our adoption agency was so gracious to keep us all busy as we waited those 3 days for the embassy appointment. They provided a tour guide who took us to Red Square and to a local flea market. Wouldn’t you know the flea market made the greatest impression! Although seeing the beautiful architecture of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral was impressive, I loved being able to shop among the “locals” and make deals with the vendors of the flea market. And, of course, anytime there is the option to shop versus the option to walk around historical buildings, I’m going to always choose the former.

And remember how I mentioned the Russians like for their little ones to be bundled in layers when outdoors? Well, it was actually a bit chilly during our flea market visit. Being the oh-so-protective-new-adoptive-parents to this child, we made certain he was clothed in long pants, an undershirt, a sweater, a hat, and a thick, hooded sweater jacket. However, as we were leisurely walking along with Ben sleeping on Shannon’s shoulder, an elderly Russian lady approached Shannon with finger pointing and waving. She was letting him have it! I realized she was pointing at Ben’s leg, where there was an area of “bare skin” between the top of his sock and the bottom of his pants’ leg. Fortunately, she quickly gave her sermon and walked away, drawing only minimal attention of onlookers to the scene. Shannon just looked at me, shrugging his shoulders, and I teasingly replied, “Honey, I do believe she’s a little upset with you! How dare you show your son’s leg in public! Especially when it’s a freezing 58 degrees!

Woops! Here, again…the exposed leg!

Also during this waiting time, we had a mandatory doctor’s appointment, which basically involved a physician coming to our hotel room, giving Ben a quick fifteen minute assessment, and then the exchange of an absurd amount of money for his services. I mean, it was very high tech. He picked Ben up under his arms, lifted him up and down a couple of times, and reported, “He’s about 19 pounds.”

To which we replied, “Thank you so much for your medical expertise.”

One thing that most impressed us with our adoption agency was their accommodations within our hotel. They had a “play room” and an office located down the hallway from our room which was exclusively for the use of adoptive parents and their children. It provided a great opportunity to meet other couples going through this same journey. While our little ones played together, we were able to visit and share similar feelings and concerns. We also had access to an agency employee at all times, which made us feel at ease, knowing we didn’t have to worry about any of the details of paperwork, appointments, transportation, etc.

Ben especially enjoyed just hanging out in our hotel room. (In fact, the first few times we all left the room together, he would start crying. I’m not sure if he thought he was being taken away or just what, but I soon learned to simply open the door and let him crawl out as we followed him.)

Ben soon learned the value of the remote control…like father, like son!

We realized the importance of “Americanizing” him as quickly as possible, so our first outing together to a restaurant is captured below. Ben was introduced to his new “BFF.”

As eager as we were to return home to see Anna Katherine and introduce Ben to all of our family members, we knew these days with him alone in Russia were ordained by God. It not only allowed us the opportunity to make some memories there for him, but it provided a special time for us to bond with our son and for him to bond with his new parents. It was definitely a memorable time!