The Abraham Family’s Journey to Russia to Bring Home Their Daughter

July 31, 2008

Novokuznetsk Trip One, Days 1 and 2

We are at the end of Day One in Novokuznetsk. We met our little girl today and got to visit with her twice for about an hour and ½. Her orphanage is very close to our hotel. As it turns out she is not at summer camp. She is in a different orphanage than the one that goes to camp every summer. If there is anything Martin and I have learned about this process, it is to go with the flow. She is in Baby House No.1 which is a five minute (or less) drive from the Hotel Novokuznetskaya which is where we are staying. It is very nice, with air conditioning, restaurants, and a business center with internet. Our room is newly renovated and has all the conveniences of home, including a large refrigerator, King Size bed, nice bathroom, and built-in hair-dryer. So Martin and I came prepared to spend 3 days literally roughing it in Siberia (seriously, you should see what all I was able to cram into two small carry-on suitcases) only to find ourselves at a hotel as nice as many of those we’ve stayed in on vacations. We are thankful that, but don’t get me wrong, this trip has not been a “vacation”.

Our flights were long, but smooth and uneventful. My remote for the in-flight movie / entertainment system didn’t work. I could still pick out a movie or TV show to watch by touching the little TV screen in from of me, but the volume was controlled by the remote. It was really loud and I couldn’t change it. Okay, for watching movies, but not so good for relaxing to music (aka trying to fall asleep) so I didn’t sleep very much on the 9 ½ hour flight. Our cell phones stopped working as soon as we left Chicago and someone forgot to pack our Skype phone (hint, it wasn’t me.) I’m not sure that we could have used it anyway, because we haven’t been able to get our laptop to pick-up any internet connections along the way. It has been hard for me to not be in contact with the boys. I take comfort in knowing they are in good hands.
We were met at the Moscow airport by our agency and took a train into the city. We had a few hours to explore Red Square, the Kremlin, and St. Basils Church. Then we took the Metro to Old Arbat Street. We had a late lunch / early dinner at the Moscow Hard Rock Café before walking up and down Old Arbat Street. For most of the day, there were no crowds anywhere. The train and Metro were almost empty and we were the only people at Hard Rock Café. However, when it was time to go back to the airport, it was rush hour. What a different scene that was, especially riding the Metro. We had to cram in like sardines and find a poll to hang onto so as not to get pushed out with the sweep of people unloading at each stop. Most all the men had an arm up holding onto a railing, pole, or strap from the ceiling. Oh, the smell from all those armpits was lovely. NOT!

Our flight to Novokuznetsk was delayed for about an hour. In the airport, I met a retired Priest from CA that was going to Novosibirsk to photograph the total solar eclipse. He was fun to talk to and promised to email me some of his photos. We flew Siberia 7 (S7) on a plane we aptly named “The big Green Lizard”. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a brand new plane (no duct tape holding this plane together) and very comfortable. The sun started rising at 5:30 am and the sky had the most beautiful streak of orange across the horizon. We landed at 7:00 am, were met by our translator, and drove about 40 minutes to downtown Novokuznetsk.
We had about an hour to take showers, brush our teeth and freshen up before heading over to the BH1. Along the way, we stopped at a store for bottled water and cokes to stock the fridge. We didn’t need any food, because I packed lots of snacks from home and our hotel provides vouchers for one meal a day per person at the restaurants.

Now for the good stuff you’ve all been waiting for. We arrived at the orphanage, took off our shoes at the door and waited with our translator for the director and Social Worker. We were taken into a small office and the director went over all the baby’s files with us. I was furiously taking notes, trying not to miss a word the translator said when they brought her in. She sat in the director’s lap for about 5 minutes taking it all in. Her personality was described as being very quiet and observant and that was pretty obvious. Then someone needed the director’s attention and she stood up and said, here please hold her for minute and plopped her right into my lap. It was sooo sweet how she looked up at my face and made eye contact. She didn’t cry or seemed concerned at all. Martin took a couple of photos and then sat down beside us again. She looked at him with curiosity, but was not happy about sitting in his lap, so I took her back pretty quickly. She was dressed in a very cute little cream colored velour outfit with burgundy flowers and a cute hat.

We were told to take her outside to play and once we were out there, she went right to Martin and sat on his lap for a long time while I took tons of photos and videos of her. She kept trying to turn her head around to see his face. She is tiny, but has cute little cubby cheeks and legs. She loves to be holding something in her hands at all times. There were lots of other babies playing in a large square crib beside us and older children from 2-4) were on the playground behind us. She got a little excited a couple times when she heard a caregiver’s voice, but for the most part, she was very serious. I could not get her to smile for anything. Not even bubbles or tickles. We’re working on that.

It was getting hot outside and we were all starting to perspire a bit. The caregivers brought out a tray of little tin cups full of water. They gave me a napkin to hold under our little girl’s chin while drank from the cup. She didn’t spill a drop. Then it was time for her lunch so we packed up and left.

We went back to the hotel and slept for two hours until it was time to go back to the orphanage. This time, we waited outside until they brought her out. She was dressed in another cute little velour outfit. This one was green and matched the green dots on her face and hands. We saw the red marks from mosquito bites on her face and hands this morning and could tell that she has very sensitive skin. This afternoon, for every bite she has a green dot. This is just the color of the medicine they use here. We sat outside again under a large gazebo and Martin and I took turns holding her. That’s really all she wants to do, just sit in our laps and snuggle. But she wants to see us both at all times. Martin walked away to stretch his legs and she started to cry a tiny bit. She was fine as long as she could she us both.

Martin took her shoes and socks off so I could measure her feet. He played with her toes and she seemed to really like that. In fact, we got a smile, albeit a tiny one!
I put her on a blanket so I could see how well she can sit up. I rolled the little softball size beach ball to her. She picked it up and tried to eat it. That’s what she does with all the toys we brought. Developmentally, she is much like a 6 month old. I broke out the stacking/nesting cups not expecting her to have any notion what to do with them. She went right for the pink and purple cups and held on to them until it was time to go again. We discovered that she really likes pink. I showed her a pink My Little Pony and she immediately grabbed it. Of course, the long mane kept going into her mouth so we had to take it away. This little girl has a strong grip. I really didn’t want to pry her little fingers open and cause her to cry in front of the Social Worker on our first day. The only thing she would trade the pink pony for was the pink stacking cup. YES! Finally, an Abraham child who loves pink! We walked around the little playground with her for a few minutes and once again it was time to go.

We crashed as soon as we were back in the room. Martin is exhausted. So am I, but I guess I’m more used to functioning with less sleep. We were just going to lay down and nap for a couple of hours and then go to dinner. Of course it turned out to be more like a five hour nap. Martin jumped up, checked the time, and announced “It’s 9:30.” I’m like “Yeah, I knew that would happen.” He said, “We’ve got to get ready to go back to the orphanage. We only have 30 minutes!” I told him go back to see if it was 9:30 AM or PM. {You really can’t tell from looking outside because it doesn’t get dark until around 11:00 at night.). It was PM! Martin thought we had slept all night but it was still the same day! Adjusting to the time changes has been difficult to say the least.

We purchased a couple of phone cards for calling from our room, but are still trying to figure out how to use them. I miss my boys terribly and can’t wait to hear their voices again. Tomorrow is Friday and we’ll get to visit our little girl twice again and then once on Saturday. We’ll head back home on Sunday morning.

***Carrie, can you post your phone number or email in the comments. I have a quick question for you! Thanks a bunch! Kim


Amy said...

She sounds wonderful!!! Congratulations!! Being home not even a week, reading your blog is like deja vu. We too stayed in Hotel Novo and our twins are in Baby Home 1. When you get closer to trip 2, I'll tell you how to use Skype. For me it was my saving grace in seeing Bubby and PPAL everday. Enjoy your next few days with your daughter and safe travels home.

The Horners said...

You description brings back memories for me! We also stayed at the Novokuznetskaya and adopted Zac from Baby Home #1. I wanted to tell you that they have Skype in the business center so you can talk and see your boys. It costs to use it, but is great to have. Also, we ate at the Fork and Spoon OFTEN on our trip. It is the restaurant directly to the right as you walk out the front doors. We felt like the food was pretty good there. The manager even sat down with us and practiced his English on us. I'm so glad you finally met your sweet daughter. What a blessing! If you have any questions just e-mail us at By the way, if Lena and Olga are your translators please tell them the Horners say Hi and that Zac is doing wonderfully! I will stay glued to hear more of your updates. Katie

Erica Huber said...

Yeah! I am glad to hear that everything is going so well!

Old DAN AND Little ANN said...

I'm so glad that your first meeting went alright and that you made it to Russia all in one piece.

Joy said...

I am so happy that you were able to hold your little one. When I was in Europe a couple of years ago I had the same experience. It is a little freaky.
Enjoy your time with your little one.