A shower or a blog while Polina is sleeping snuggly? I think there's a lot of people waiting for a blog, so the shower will have to wait.
Adoptive families celebrate the day they are awarded custody of their child as "Gotcha Day." It's like having a second birthday and something we always celebrate. For us, that day is Jan. 29th, 2013. We never would have imagined the way it would go when we started this process, or even the day before, really. And honestly, there's so much about it that I can't tell you yet. I will try here to sum it up the best I can ...to even give you a glimmer into the emotion of the day ...telling you what I can & using pictures. If you read closely and pay attention, you'll catch some things I intend to not blatantly point out.
Our alarms went off at 5:30am. We had some "guests" arrive at 6:30 and the caravan began at 7am. We stopped to pick up a passenger in the minivan about half an hour later. I filled out some embassy paperwork before the pretty part of the drive. Then came the beauty of the forrest on a Russian snowy winter day. It's beauty made up for my freezing feet! We stopped at our regular stop just before town where we met up with the others in the caravan. Such a thing is difficult to keep together in the Moscow traffic!
At 9:15, we headed to the local Ministry of Education. It was a nasty building inside on the first floor. You never would think it was a government building except maybe a prison. I can't imagine at this point what they look like. We were directed upstairs where it was at least a little cleaner and into the office of four women. We were warmly greeted by smiles as they all knew why we were there - the last Americans to adopt their child from this region. We knew that the lady we were here to meet would help us get our daughter from the orphanage where the director had been less than friendly to us on our previous visits. We showed our passports and signed some papers. We adjusted the seating arrangements in the caravan so that she could ride with us and headed to the orphanage.
I felt like I was going to throw up. I had such a mix of emotions. Anticipation and excitement at one end and apprehensive on the other. I was going to meet my daughter for the first time & it was not a day I wanted to experienc the conflict of the past when visiting her. Most importantly, I didn't want her to have to experience that. On top of that, I had been told upon arrival in Moscow that Polina had chicken pox and I wanted to be able to comfort her during this treacherous feeling.
The unknown is hard for in general, but as a Momma who has had to fight for her daughter and would do everything in my power to protect her, not knowing is nearly unbearable. I didn't know if anyone had told her about the ban, and if they had, did they tell her that we werent coming after we had told her we were? This was the nightmare that had run through my head everyday since the adoption ban was signed. I was very saddened on the way back to Moscow when Polina told us (unsolicited and out of the blue) she had cried just the day before when a couple of the caregivers had told her that her parents were not coming for her and she was not going to America. She told us who they were by name & I recognized one of them. I can not express the anger I felt that my child was unnecessarily caused so much anguish and despair. It's just pure emotional & mental torture to do such a thing!
The lady from the Ministry of Ed went in, leaving us outside. We went on a little walk to have our translator tell us about some of the buildings we had always wondered about when visiting the orphanage. The city was founded in 1154 - seven years after Moscow. This could partially explain why the MOE building was so nasty. In 1941 (sorry for the incorrect date the first time, give a tired girl a break!), the Germans were stopped there on their way to Moscow. Russia lost more souls to WWII than any other nation. There was someone at the gates of what we assumed was a school because there were always children nearby. He told us that this was one of the best schools in Russia based on some "contest" they had a few years back and that they had only the best teachers. Sound like American Standardized testing to me. Just think...one of the best schools in Russia with the best teachers...on the same street where my daughter lived...
I thought it was going to be time to go in and get my daughter. My emotions were high, but it turned out we had some more business to take care of. So back in the car we went to do that. It took us hours filled with stress, conflict, a security guard and an escorted trip to the "chief's" office for some. But in the end, it was all resolved and we had what we needed. Now the question was if we were going to make it back before Polina went down for her nap and the director had another reason not to let her leave immediately. we were all pretty hungry at that point - but it didn't matter. We were going to get our girl!