Alan and I woke up at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and tried to finish up last-minute packing while Colin slept. We put off dressing him until the last minute and then took him down to the van to travel to the airport with our facilitator, driver, and an American couple who just had court on Tuesday and are having to go home due to the holiday closings interfering with the timeline of their adoption. Let me tell you that while we hate that they had to wait even longer to gain custody of their daughters we truly believe they were a God-send for us as we tried to navigate the airport and waited to board the plane. I had to juggle Colin and was no help to Alan with luggage and tickets so he got stressed, I know. Our facilitator and driver “strongly encouraged” us to check bags we had not planned on checking (we had our bag weights figured out so we didn’t have to pay for over the weight limit last time we flew on Aeroflot so we knew we’d be over the limit if we checked the bags they wanted checked). Sure enough we were about 7-8 kilos over so we got to pay extra. At this point, we did not want to argue with our facilitator about checking our carry-on bags so we just paid the fee and moved on to the next obstacle. The security folks did not seem very helpful and that wasn’t the most thrilling experience either. We were SO relieved when we finally got through check-in, security and got to the waiting area for the flight.
The airline did not allow boarding at the time they’d printed on our tickets so the wait seemed to drag on forever. Finally, we got to board the dreaded bus that carries passengers out to the plane. I prayed every step of the way as I climbed a steep stairway (with no cover–outside) to board the plane. I did not feel like we were treated any differently for having a baby with us and honestly we didn’t feel like this improved once we’d been on the plane (I’d been looking forward to some of the positive treatment I’d heard folks with children seem to get from strangers but it just didn’t seem to happen). (Alan adds: Colin’s left boot, which was too big for his foot, fell off during the bus trip to the airplane. I had to ask the flight attendant to find it, and someone did thank goodness!)
Once on the plane, we were very hopeful Colin would be good for the 5 hour flight because he has been so good in our car rides. Our flight was a marathon prayer time (almost a time of fasting, too) for me. Colin did not like it one bit. He didn’t like his toys or his airplane book I’d saved for the trip. We gave him drinks with take off and tried so hard to keep him happy. He even had some warm milk from his bottle which he loves. He was asleep during meal time so we had the flight attendant heat up a Gerber meal for him to eat when he woke up. He didn’t eat much of it at all. He cried and Mama rocked him back to sleep with more humming of hymns, especially “Amazing Grace.” We did have an older lady give us quite a going over when I was having trouble calming Colin down when the lights went down so folks could sleep on the plane. Mama’s back and sides ache from holding him tightly and rocking for such a long flight. Colin would sleep for a while and then wake up crying/squealing and then I’d get him back to sleep. He was only happy looking when we changed his diaper mid-flight and when he woke up from his final nap before landing. I prayed that God would give me strength to make it through the flight and God was faithful. We made it through!
We tried to let every one else off the plane ahead of us and it took forever to get Colin bundled back up in his snowsuit and snow boots. The flight attendant came up to us and told us that they were holding up the bus for us and that we were causing every one else to wait. We had to rush off as best we could so that we could get on the bus ( I had to hold Colin with Alan bracing me because no one would give me a seat.) Once we were there, I wondered what the big rush was because it took quite a while for the luggage to arrive. Oh well! We survived!
The rest of the day was easy compared to the flight! Once we had our luggage, our driver (an older gentleman who shares the same Colin’s Russian first name). He was tickled to learn Colin’s name. By the way, we mostly call Colin by his Russian name’s diminutive because we are trying to make this transition easy for him. We are trying to call him Colin V____ more and more to get him used to his added name.
We were thrilled to be back in Moscow though the traffic is always awful. We had an 11:00 a.m. appointment with Dr. Boris for Colin’s medicals. We forgot or somehow were not told (Mama is not sure) that we needed to have rubles ready to immediately pay for his medicals; we thought we’d have time to exchange some more money before the appointment. We didn’t so we had to exchange money immediately after the medicals. When we got to the medicals, we were happy to see a couple we’d met on our our flight into our region back on November 30th. Their little boy looks like he is doing well with them. We were the parents with the screaming child during the medicals with Dr. Boris. I had already predicted that Dr. Boris would call Colin a little drama king (he has called many girls drama queens through his years as a doctor for children being adopted). Sure enough, Dr. Boris pronounced Colin a drama king and he gave some of his usual advice on how we should be firm with him and not give him his way, etc. Colin did not stop squealing/screaming until it was over and he was dressed.
Once we went to take his photo again (not sure why we didn’t just make multiple copies back in our region). This time it was for his visa into America. He was fine and the process went quickly. When we got back in the van, the driver had a tangerine for our little one who shares his name. Colin was so fascinated by the fruit! Papa opened it up and helped him to try it. Yummy!
Our Moscow facilitator was terrific. He took us to a great grocery near our apartment and he’d already talked to the apartment company. We were ready to check in on time and give them our visa registration info. (for Alan and me). Alan completed some paperwork with our facilitator to be submitted to the American Embassy today. (by the way, please pray for adoptive families who are returning to adopt children from Russia after the first of the year. The U.S. Embassy is making it take approximately 4 more business days to process children’s paperwork so that they can leave the country with their new parents. This is going to add to the time it takes families to complete adoptions. Also, parents usually only have 30 day visas for Russia so I’m not sure how it will work when some of us are already staying almost 30 days without the added Embassy processing time. Please pray the U.S. Embassy will not make it harder for their citizens who are adopting children from other countries.)
Once in the apartment, Colin was fed and had no nap time. The 4 hour time change thoroughly threw us all off so we just went to bed around 7 or so after a very early dinner (mama was sooo hungry after missing her meal on the plane!)
Alan adds: Heather makes last night seem so simple. Au contraire! Colin awoke at 4 am and was ready to start his day. Heather held him for a half an hour then I took over. After some protestations, Colin calmed down a bit. This was a thrill for me because it was only the second time he has let me hold him. 90 MINUTES LATER he fell asleep. I now have a good idea of what Heather had to endure during the flight. But when he fell asleep and as I was holding the now quiet bundle I felt a great feeling of joy. I’m honored to be responsible for this unique little person. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip!
Here is Colin in a lovely outfit after being stripped of his pants (I think following a diaper change). He is wearing a onesie with baby leg warmers over his socks. We found out the apartment floor is a little dirtier than we thought when we saw the bottoms of his socks! He is scooting around with his Papa’s ukulele. (Not shown: Alan cringing off-camera)
Thanks for your continued prayers!
Heather, Alan & Colin