Thursday, April 22, 2010

I now pronounce and dad.

We did It! We stood in Russian court yesterday and explained to a judge why we would be good parents for Andre. Once I was able to breathe, it was not an unpleasant experience. Natasha, our Russian fairy godmother, practiced our speeches with us and stood beside us to translate everything to the judge.

Contrary to what most people seem to think about Russians, they are quite warm people. Natasha told us the more emotion we showed in our speeches the better, and that if we were nervous or cried it would be good, because the judge would see we are having the normal reaction to adopting a child.

Danny was charming and cute as always. Everyone in the courtroom cooed and smiled at the pictures of him and Andre together. Just like at the baby home, much ado is made about how much they look alike. Usually the man does most of the talking in court, but for some reason the majority of the questions were directed to me. Questions like: "What is your attitude about the woman who sent the boy back?" and "You are involved in women's liberation. What are you liberating the women from?"

We then talked a bit about my novel and the judge read through our thick file. She stopped at the picture of our dog. She seemed suspicious, "Is he friendly?" She asked. "Yes!" Danny and I quickly answered in unison.

Our hearts stopped briefly when the prosecutor talked about how it's a difficult decision given the current conditions, but in this case, she said, I can see these people really love this boy and this adoption is in his best interests.

We stood up for the judge to make her decision. My heart was pounding so hard and tears were brimming at my eyes. Natasha, an adoptive mother herself, squeezed my hand as the judge announced, "According to Russian law, you will hereby be considered mother and father to Andre Alexander."

So, in a few short weeks, he will finally, finally be home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lost and Found

The first two days of my trip were spent eating bocadillos and strolling by Spainish art masters at the Prado. Right now you may be saying to yourself, silly Steph, the Prado isn't in Moscow, it's in Madrid. Well, you would be correct. The Prado is in Madrid, just like we were for all of Saturday and Sunday (Monday too if you count the seven hours at the airport.)

Saturday morning we missed our connection due to a long comedy of errors mixed with the Madrid airport staff's "I don't care" shrugs that would put French "I don't care" shrugs to shame. At some point the flight was closed, and I collapsed in tears as I realized my ride to my baby boy was leaving. . .without me on it.

Thanks to volcano Kajagoogoo, there were no available flights until Monday. "Please. We're desperate." Danny said to the ticket agent. "Yes," she said, "So is everyone in Europe right now.Monday is the soonest."

Due to the ash cloud's south eastern travel path, we wondered if even the Monday flight would make it (and almost didn't.) Our bags however were on their way to Moscow, so on top of the creeping fear that we wouldn't make it in time for our court date, there was a "no clean underwear or toothbrush" situation.

Being stuck in Madrid would be a fortuitous event at any other time. I love Madrid. But it was heart clenching when we were desperately wanting to be somewhere else. I couldn't stop thinking that thousands of miles away over mountains and various border crossings, was the little boy we were supposed to be holding.

I did enjoy Spain a little after I stopped sobbing. And the Prado was a very distant second to visiting Andre at the baby home. But we finally made it to Moscow, miraculously got our bags, had a great day with little A, and all the planets are in alignment again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Breathe Deeply

So let's review shall we? What's been going on in Moscow in the four short weeks since we left there floating on a cloud of baby bliss?

First there were the bombs. Our hearts were heavy. We wondered what it must be like for a city to grieve something like that. What it must feel like to go to work everyday or send your children to school knowing that a man has promised more like it in the days to come? It's unimaginable really. We weren't terrified to go to Moscow. But flying in and out of its main airport and traipsing all over the city, well, the bombings weighed heavily on our hearts and minds.

Then, last week, a woman in Tennessee decided she could no longer handle the seven year old boy she adopted from Russia, so she sent him back to Moscow ALONE with a NOTE saying she no longer wished to parent him. A NOTE! She paid a man $200 to meet him at the airport and drop him off at the Ministry of Education. Russian officials of course went ballistic and threatened to halt all adoptions to America altogether. I first read the story on Friday morning. I read it, removed my computer from my lap and walked into Andre's room. I looked at the crib and the rocking chair and the pretty clouds on the wall and I fell to my knees. I prayed. PRAYED. The bars of the crib became an alter rail where I cried, begged and pleaded to the almighty universe. Please, please, PLEASE let us bring him home.

The cherry on top was the plane crash in Russia the next day. The one where an "aging Russian aircraft" killed 96 people including the president of Poland. I read one story describing how the daughter of the Polish president met the aircraft that carried home the caskets of both her parents. She walked out to the the tarmac, knelt before the coffins and wept. I wept with her.

The waiting alone was hard enough without two national disasters and the threat of closing the adoption program thrown in. I'm sure the Russians on our flight will be super excited to see a couple Americans on their way to adopt a baby. I can only hope that our little love seedling can push through the brambles and get through to the other side. I have to believe that it will.

Somehow I've found a place inside myself that trusts the timeline of my life. For instance, I first started trying to get pregnant four years ago, and I never did. But I wouldn't change one single thing about the past four years, not one. I wouldn't change one thing about any of the years of my life for that matter. So I will trust that this will work out, like everything else has. We are still on schedule to go, and can only do what we've always done, and will continue to do: wait and see what happens. It's the only way to live really, it makes things interesting.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Watched Pot WILL Boil

It's a scientific fact. (I checked it the other day when I was boiling eggs.) I've counted every day since our papers were officially filed in Russian court. Our translator said it would be 4-6 weeks until our court date, our agency said 6-8. I of course favored the translator's math. If you're wondering, this is day three of week four.

I've tried to not watch the pot. I tried to bury my head in my work. I had a party, cleaned the garage, planted herbs and flowers in my yard. But during each activity I'd wonder, when are they going to call?

Last week we woke up to the news that two suicide bombers killed 39 people in two Moscow subway stations. In Gainesville that would be the equivalent of bombing the football stadium or Satchel's, something lots of people use and are very proud of. Our first thought was for the people we know there, their families and friends. My heart ached and worried for them. A silent prayer floated from my mind hoping they were all okay. But then, I couldn't help but wonder how this would affect us. Would it keep us longer from Andre? Make it harder to get in and out of Moscow? Would they stall adoptions altogether?

So Danny and I held our breath and continued to distract ourselves. We washed baby sheets and baby towels. We bought a new camera. We saw a cheesy movie. We impulse bought a magnolia tree. And yesterday, while I was out, Danny got "the call."

I won't say here exactly when we're going in case any of you are inclined to come to my house and steal things (like our $75 fat box TV). I won't make the same mistake I made before our last trip, when a woman came to the house selling meat out of her van and I said, "No thanks, Ms. Stranger-Selling-Meat-Out-of-Your-Van, we're about to leave the country for a week."

We'll have to make one more trip after this to finally bring him home, but we've rounded the corner and I can see the finish line. This time when we leave Moscow, we'll know exactly when we're coming back.