Oh My Gosh what a difference 1 day makes! So, we have a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed, 2 1/2 year old girl!
First, the obvious question: “What happened to the 4 year old boy?” We don't know. After 2 trips to the Minister of Education, and two interviews, they gave us a referral for this girl. It's been so difficult getting to this point, that we just didn't want to “rock the boat” by asking any questions. We think that after the Minister of Ed saw us and our pictures, they thought they'd match us with a child that looked more like us. It's just a theory, I really have no idea.
We got her medical today, there have not been any documented problems. A sore throat and bronchitis. That's about it. But, we are still consulting with the Vandy doc just in case there is a problem that we did not see. We questioned the bumps on her face and found out they are mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are really bad here. I had been warned about that, so we brought bug repellent. Her birth mom is in an institution for the mentally handicapped. So, of course, our big concern is that something that could be passed on to the little girl. The orphanage doctor does not think so, after many evaluations from multiple doctors and the orphanage director does not think that she has any signs of mental handicap. We spent several hours with her today, and she actually seems really smart. She talks, dances, plays ball (Bill thinks that he's still going to have a little soccer player). She knows her colors, animals, and understands everything we (via translator) asked of her.
She took to Bill very fast. She's still afraid of me. I think it's because Bill was able to talk to her in Russian a little (damn him and his natural ability to pick up different languages! ) But, at the end of the day she was playing and laughing with me. She shook my hand (and Bill's) and told us good night and to come back tomorrow. She let Bill hold her for a little bit, but not me at all. This is typical of children in orphanages, they will latch on to one parent at a time. So, I was prepared for that.
As soon as we get our consult from the Vandy doc we will complete the forms to petition the court for her adoption. We have to do this before Friday, because the court is closed on Friday for some reason.
We will spend tomorrow morning with her and then we must leave for the mid-day and afternoon and are allowed to return at about 4:30 to spend another couple of hours with her. We will do this Wed-Friday. We've been told that the orphanage will have “observers” in the room with us and the child on Thursday or Friday to document how well we interact with her. They will have to appear in court to support the adoption.
The process to get here has been nerve-racking. Today at the Minister of Ed, the department head had a whole new set of questions to ask us in addition to the ones that her assistant asked yesterday. She wanted to know how we got to Astrakhan. My first impulse was to say “by plane.” But I realized before saying that she meant how were we referred to Astrakhan. Then I had to do a little song and dance about how CHI-US (our agency) told us about Astrakhan. She quickly pointed out that CHI is not accredited in Russia right now. And I had to emphasize that we were adopting independently and the CHI in America is accredited and they did our home-study. Of course she knows that CHI led us to Astrakhan, and she knew that Galina, our CHI rep was sitting outside in the car (but could not come in with us for the reason of us being “independent”). It's just one more hoop that we have to jump through to get our child. The funniest thing about this whole experience is that the whole time she was sitting there, interviewing us, she was holding the referral information. Finally she was done with her questions, she laid the paperwork down and walked away. Vika, our translator picked up the paper and said “here it is” and starting reading it to us. That's when we found out that we had a girl. The director motioned us over to her desk a few minutes later to show us a picture of the little girl. I swear she looked just like Sandy when she was 2 years old.
After going to a notary to get the form requesting permission to see the child, and returning it to the Minister of Ed, we went straight to the orphanage. We met the orphanage director, a big woman who seems kind of gruff, but you can tell she loves the children. We met the orphanage doctor, their lawyer (a formality thing), and one of the caregivers. The orphanage director started going through her medical report about the little girl. They've kept very good records. I was impressed. They had medical reports on her since she was 2 months old and recorded her height, weight, head circumference, when each of her teeth came in. Every cold. They had a picture (head shot) of her as an infant that I hope I can get or at least make a copy of. And they had a picture of her birth mom (passport photo). They have no information on the father. The orphanage director pointed to the birth certificate and said that the father was not even listed on it. The birth mom was also an orphan raised entirely in an orphanage (although she was about 25 or 26 when she had the baby). So, unfortunately, we do not have much family history to share with [our daughter] when she is older.
I really feel like she's been taken care of in the orphanage. Much better than I was expecting. The orphanage seems to be in a bad part of town and you literally “cross the tracks” to get into their dirt parking lot. But inside, it's clean, but old. We were not allowed to go anywhere in the orphanage except to the play room where we hung out with her. We did walk around the complex where they have a big playground but there were no kids out. We could not see any other children while we were there (but I could hear them).
We'll know more tomorrow! Stay tuned!