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Russian Bureaucracy

by bill - 2007-12-05 07:48:35 ( in family, adoption, holmes, travel) [php version] rebuild

Oh... my... God. Do not EVER lose that document they have you fill out on the plane before you land! Stapling it to your forehead would be less painful than what Galina, Liena and I went through today. Vika was tending to the other couple, Nancy and Joel. Anyway, we just spent ALL afternoon standing and sitting in line at the Immigration department. I'm not the one who had to do the hard work, though. I hope CHI pays Galina well because she jumped through some hoops dealing with Russia's infamous bureaucracy, smiling the entire time. She knows how to get things done.

But first, some news about Elizabeth, the whole reason we're here. We saw her in the orphanage for the first time in two months. She actually looked a little taller, and her hair was a little longer. She immediately let me pick her up and we both kissed her. But then she was suddenly not very friendly. We think she remembered she was mad at us for leaving her the last time. She WAS very sad that last day. She warmed up to us by the end of this visit, though. Tara pushed her around on the three-wheeler as they tried to run me down, just like old times! :) Still, her not being terribly friendly until the end was a little tough for me. It didn't phase Tara. She said it was just a 2-year-old being a 2-year-old.

After the orphanage, we shopped for groceries, then dropped Tara off at the hotel. Liena and I picked up Galina at her apartment and got to the Immigration office just before 2. The office is only open from 2 to 6. We put our name on the list (WAY down the list), and ran some errands such as getting things notarized, etc. We returned to Immigration around 3:30 and spent the rest of the afternoon there. Thank God there's no smoking allowed. Not that anyone honors those signs elsewhere, they do when there are armed guards nearby, probably happy to shoot anyone who acts up, out of sheer boredom. They did actually escort an irate woman out shortly after we got there.

By the time we finally got in to see the "document minister" (or whatever she's called) at 5:55, she spoke for about 30 seconds, signed something and sent us down the hall to see some other guy. Galina went in there to see him, only to come out a second later, unhappy. I asked Liena what happened. Galina had just been told by this man that the only days he "accepts visitors" was on Fridays. Today's Wednesday. Galina marched down the hall to the original woman for a few minutes, returned to the second man's office, came back out a minute later and went into another office. Liena and I just stayed in the hall, out of the way. Liena guessed Galina must have made a call to someone important to get this man to agree to see her. She then went in and out of several more offices, trying to talk to people before they left at 6pm SHARP. She finally came out of one office, set all of her things down, and started to go out the front door. "What?" I asked Liena. Galina was told she had to go make a copy of my passport. Now, you know those people have photocopiers somewhere in those offices, they just wouldn't let Galina use one. Before she went outside, however, she turned back around and went into another office and talked them into letting her use the copy machine. She then returned to the previous office and came out a few minutes later with a sigh of relief. She set her things down with a smile on her face and handed me the passports, looked up and crossed herself, and we all laughed and got out of there.

I told Liena to tell Galina "please forgive me" for losing that stupid form in the first place. Galina just laughed and acted like it was nothing.

The moral of this story is, don't ever visit Russia! No, wait, I mean, don't ever lose your "papers." After today, the court appearance suddenly doesn't look so bad in comparison. Here's a screenshot of the entrance

UPDATE: Recently discovered this map showing the entrance of the orphanage on

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Here is the complete blog of the adoption experience in paperback form, Russian Adoption: From Nashville to Astrakhan and Back (PDF). And here is the fictionalized, future "homeland tour" (action adventure) version in various forms: on Kindle, various electronic formats, and in paperback.

This Time Next Week -- Preparation for Our First Trip to Russia -- Travel Day -- The Day Before -- Tuesday (10/2/2007) -- In the Air -- We're in Moscow -- Adoption Videos -- -- First Time in Moscow -- It's Only Monday? -- Check-Out Time -- We're in Astrakhan -- What a Day -- It's a Girl It's a Girl -- Great Visit -- Sights of Astrakhan -- Wednesday in Astrakhan -- Last Visit for a While -- Thursday in Astrakhan -- Another Great Visit -- We're Home -- Back in Atlanta -- Round Two -- Skora Mweh Tam Boojum -- Elizabeth's Room -- Internet Access -- Back in Moscow (11/26/2007) -- Tuesday (11/27/2007) -- Mweh Yeddum V Aeroport Eta Ootra -- In the Air Again -- Back in Astrakhan -- Comments Welcome -- Russian Adoption Consultant -- Russian Bureaucracy -- It's Showtime -- And the Judge Says -- Success -- Went for a Walk -- Much Better Visit Today -- The Day After -- Beet Salad -- Saturday Morning -- It's Going to Be a Good Week -- She's Warming Up to Us -- Light at the End of the Tunnel -- Picture of Us Before Court -- She's Ours -- The First Hours of Parenthood -- More Pictures (12-09-2007) -- Bowel Movement -- Nothing Much to Update About -- Sleep, What a Concept -- Here's Your Update -- 51-1/2 Hours -- Back in Moscow (12/18/2007) -- Pictures of Our Life in Astrakhan -- Just Another Week to Go -- Riding the Metro, Part Deux -- Update to the Update's Update -- Moscow Update Continued -- Can't Leave Early -- To the Embassy -- Still in Moscow -- Riding the Metro -- We're Home! (For Good, this Time) -- A Few Pictures -- Stay Tuned -- Summary of Our Russian Adoption Experience -- Baby Shower -- Doctors Say She's Normal -- Recent Photos of Elizabeth -- Holmes Russian Adoption Videos -- Elizabeth's First Video -- A Few More Videos -- Adoption Videos Updated -- Our Russian Adoption Story -- Our Adoption Story -- Gotcha Day and Merry Christmas

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