Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec 8 - Embassy Day

Today was our day at the American Embassy.  Tanya picked us up around 10:30 and we were off.  The embassy interview is much ado about nothing but fun nonetheless.  I think there were 5-6 other families there.  I met 3 of them.  One family was from Smyrna, TN if you can believe that (small world) and was adopting a beautiful 3-yr old girl, another family from DC with a handsome little boy, and a 3rd couple from Florida who adopted sibling girls, ages 2 and 1.  We were all so excited as you can imagine.  So, when we get there, the first thing we do is pay at Window #4 and get a receipt.  Then you wait for Window #1 to open.  Once Window #1 opens, you give them your invitation and your receipt, then you wait again.  Eventually, a nice guy, today named Michael, comes out and talks to the entire group, explaining what will happen next, what will happen when we depart at the airport, and what will happen when we reach immigration in the USA.  I had gone through the same process with Clare from Kazakhstan so was pretty familiar.  No real differences.  We waited again after Michael's speech.  Eventually they called my name, up to Window #2.  Asked me a few questions, gave me Audrey's birth certificate, adoption certificate, and a few other official papers then waiting again.  About 15 minutes later, back up to Window #1 to receive Audrey's passport, with visa included this time and a sealed envelope, to be opened by US Immigration.  Done!  Once we land on US soil, Audrey will be an American citizen.  USA! USA!  Go red, white and blue!

After the embassy, we had intended to go to Red Square and take some pictures. Well...  not sure what you are hearing back in the states, but Sunday's election has caused quite a mess here.  Lots of protests!  Putin and his party won with about 50% of the vote, but people believe the results were rigged - thus the protests in all public squares.  One family I met at the embassy was barred from leaving their hotel yesterday because of the riots.  Thankfully, on New/Old Arbat, where I am staying, there are no major public squares right nearby so no protests and no police.  All that being said - we didn't go to Red Square today.  SHOOT!  Instead,  we quickly jumped out of the car, near Red Square and took a picture (with a sleeping Audrey and snow starting to fall) on the sidewalk in front of St. Basil's. Tanya should stick to being a translator, not a photographer.  Not the best pictures but a great memory nonetheless!  All the quirks of the adoption journey are a small part of what makes it so special.

Then we were off to the office to get some paperwork Tanya needs for tomorrow to register Audrey at the Russian consulate.  She will be a citizen of Russia (and now the USA) until she is 18 (unless she decides to renounce it) so they want all Russian citizens, living abroad to be registered.  Finally, it was time to say goodbye to Irina and Svetlana.  Being the human water faucet that I am, of course I cried.  Saying goodbye to women who helped find your child, knowing you will most likely never see them or probably even speak to them again, is difficult.  They have played such a pivotal role in giving me one of life's greatest treasures and I have no way to repay them.  These beautiful, caring, smart, brave, pioneering Russian women are forever a part of my life story and a piece of my heart will always be with them.  There are just no words for it.

Now, we are back at the apartment.  Audrey is settling down for her afternoon nap before we Skype with family back home.  Later, we will probably venture down to Old Arbat for dinner.  Maybe Hard Rock Cafe.  We will see.

Hope all is well back home.  Thanks for following along.  Enjoy the few pictures from today.


Snow falling, Audrey Sleeping,
in front of St Basil's on the side of the road.  Ha!

A shot (sort of) of Red Square

The KGB Building

My Russian Friends - From left to right:
 Irina holding Audrey, Ludmilla, Tanya and Svetlana

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