Adopting from Russia (2003)
Flights to Russia
Ekaterinburg, Aug 12, Tuesday Morning, 5:30am
Mistake #2. Don't try to take a picture of your commercial airliner while on the tarmac at the airport. It will cause the military security to really get agitated and in your face!!! Luckily, I still have my camera (and the picture), but I won't be doing that again. A short 200 meter bus ride across the tarmac, and we were in the run-down terminal.
We were met by a full entourage. Slave (translator), Sergei (driver), Lena (Rep) and Vlad (Rep/driver).
Our last piece of luggage was the last off the plane, but all 4 pieces arrived safely, to snickers from Slava and Vlad as they carried a tricycle box through the luggage tag check.
A quick jaunt down the Chiraq highway, through early morning mist and fog brought us to our hotel opposite the home of the Ekaterinburg circus.
We were allowed to check in, and got about 2 hours of much needed shuteye.
We were picked up at 8:45 am to go to the Ministry of Education. Our arrival was announced, and we waited in the hallway for about 3 minutes before going upstairs to see the Assistant Minister of Education for the region. In a very formal procedure, the proposal of the child "Venera Samikova Nikolaiev" who met with our request for a child was read out in Russian. Slava translated, sentence for sentence, and we then signed our acceptance of the proposal.
While we went directly to the orphanage across town, Lena and Vlad went to the Child Care Office, to present, and have copied our acceptance of the proposal, and in turn they were given the permission to visit the Orphanage.
I have to say that our first impression of Ekaterinburg was that is was a very run down looking city. Many unfinished building projects. For instance our hotel is next to an incomplete radio tower. It stands about 200 metres tall (maybe more) and is just sitting there unused (and not even a beacon to warn planes away!) and apparently a favourite spot of base-jumpers and suicides!) We passed at least 2 huge apartment building sized building projects, where the building was complete, but halted before windows, doors etc could be installed. Our impressions changed a bit when we had our tour of the city.
Driving was pretty wild. Most roads have no lines, and drivers just make their own lanes, passing where possible and creating extra lanes if the standard 2 are not enough!!!
We arrived at the orphanage before Lena and waited outside. It is not a building to write home about. Very run-down looking. The driveway we took was a by a side entrance, but the main entrance was no better looking. There were some children outside in their play areas, and more were being brought out, carried under the caretakers arms, There did seem to be quite a few caregivers and the children are regularly taken outside. Some are handicapped, and others appear to be normal. The immediate impression of the place is not a good one, but the comings and going of staff with children, makes you feel a little more positive.
With the arrival of Lena, we were escorted into the "music" room to await the director, or if she was too busy, Venera would be brought down for our first visit.
After a short wait, Venera was brought in and handed over to Maureen, along with a little bonnet to put on her when we went outside. Slava told us, that he would leave us alone for awhile, and when we felt like it, we could take Venera outside. We spent about 15 minutes alone with Venera in the music room, holding her, hugging her, talking to her, and taking photos and video.
She is totally sweet, and happy and alert. We were quickly able to make her giggle and smile.
After putting on the bonnet, we went outside, and walked and sat along the main path, flanked on one side by the Orphanage, and on the other by the children's play areas. We were left totally alone. No one hovering to tell us what to do, no one breathing down our backs to shadow us. It was a very comfortable, restful visit. Venera is beautiful and happy. She didn't complain at all when given from caregiver to us. She was very accommodating, and peaceful. Our visit lasted about 45 minutes, at which point she was taken back upstairs, and we went to see the Chief Doctor and Director of the Orphanage.
The Director of the Orphanage presented to us, verbally, Venera's complete medical history, and record of her stay at the orphanage. The information included arrival date, information on the mother and father, vaccinations, illnesses etc. We were encouraged to ask any questions, and we did, and received answers to all our questions. We were in turn were asked for the reason we were adopting from Russia, and we hope we gave an acceptable response.
We were taken back to the hotel for a much needed afternoon rest, and returned to the orphanage for an hour visit with Venera in the late afternoon.
We were totally beat, given the lack of sleep on the air flights, so we crashed at 6pm and ate a snack of cheese and bread in our room.
Our schedule for Wednesday was much the same, with a visit to the orphanage in the morning and a visit from the Canadian doctor to give Venera her physical, and a visit by ourselves with Venera in the afternoon.
...to Ekat Doctor's Visit