This post is very long, but it is my way of journaling our trip. I typed it while it was still fresh in my memory. I don't want to forget the details and I'm not good at editing so sorry if it gets boring.
Saturday morning we woke up to much cooler weather. It wasn't cold, it was more like a crisp fall day in Tennessee. The first two days in the region were probably around 85 degrees and this day was more like 75. It was really nice in the sun and a little chilly in the shade, but the sky was so blue it was the kind of day that you just want to spread out on a picnic blanket and soak in the view.
I'm so glad that we stayed in the region for one more day instead of going to Moscow for the night. Our agency arranged for us to have one more visit even though it was Saturday. We arrived at the Baby House at 10:00 am. We went outside to play again and were instructed to stay in the sun and not to let her sit on the cold ground. That was fine because all she really wanted to do was sit in our laps anyway. We had to make sure her hat stayed on, but at least it was a cute loose fitting hat and not the tight cotton bonnets that all the other children had tied under their chins so tight that I don't know how they could even open their mouths. The caregivers are sticklers about keeping the babies' heads warm and not letting them get cold or sick. I'm sure it is necessary and they were all still very cute. It was hard to tell the little girls from the boys because when it comes to clothes, gender doesn't matter. It is not unusual to see boys wearing bright pink.
Our little girl was dressed in her green velour again. She really started to warm up to us during this visit. Our translator noticed it too and said "She's melting." We got a few more smiles and another slight giggle or two. She held on to us as we walked around the playground area and seemed to enjoy making eye contact. I could have just stared into her beautiful eyes for hours. We didn't take very many photos this day because we knew the time to hand her back would come all too soon. We did get a few photos of the three of us to take to court when we come back.
It was very hard leaving her. It helps knowing that she is being well taken care of by the care-givers. Now, I'm praying for a quick court date. The average time between the first and second trips in Kemerovo has been 6-8 weeks. However, adoptions have been slowing down in the region for a number of reasons so it could be 12 weeks or more before we can go back to get her. That puts us into November or possibly December. Brrrrrrr!
I left her a little diaper bag with her name on photo on it. Inside the bag were disposable cameras for the caregivers to take photos of her while we wait for Trip Two. I also left a blanket that we've all been sleeping with and photo frames with our family, home, and pets. I also went ahead and left the toys that we brought to play with her. I know we'll never see the toys again, but it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. Her caregiver assured us that she will take photos and show the photo albums to our little girl and that we'll get all those personal items back.
As soon as we left the Baby House, we drove across town to visit Fort Kuznetsk. At the top of the fort there were replicas of old cannons and an amazing panoramic view of Novokuznetsk which was founded as outpost on the Tom River. The city is 390 years old. The weather was so beautiful that many people were sprawled out on the grassy hill relaxing in the sun. Our translator said they must be foreign tourists because Russians do NOT lie on the ground! On the way out, we passed a beautiful cathedral but didn't stop because it looked like there was a wedding there.
Then, we stopped at a grocery store similar to Wal-mart. I looked for some little t-shirts with Russian writing to bring back for the boys. The funny thing is that ALL the clothing had writing in ENGLISH. Our translator said that's because clothes mostly come from China. Okay, we are in Russia, looking for clothing with the native language, but everything is in English because they come from China. How ironic is that? I finally ended up getting the boys some chocolate eggs with toys hidden inside (and actually made it home with them in one piece.) There is a Russian chocolate bar with a picture of a little girl that bears an amazing resemblance to our sweetie. You know I wanted to buy the store out, but I showed great restraint. I had seen it earlier at the Moscow airport, but it was very expensive there. It was pretty cheap at the regional Wal-mart (not the store's real name) but I was worried about it melting on the trip home. Thankfully, it didn't. It is really TASTY chocolate.
After that, Martin and I set out on our own. We walked and walked and walked. There were several nice parks with monuments covered with flowers. We saw or heard at least fifteen weddings during the day and it is a Russian tradition for the bride and groom to ride around town honking horns and putting flowers on all the monuments and tributes to fallen soldiers. We wandered into a small amusement park and enjoyed people watching. This is when I wished the boys were with us. It had many of their of favorite rides and even a small roller coaster, bungee jumping, and pony rides. We walked around the town square past the Drama Theatre that looks like Nashville's Parthenon. It is currently under renovation, but still very beautiful. We passed through another park with gorgeous fountains and a tribute to the steel and coal workers.
We walked back to a restaurant close to the hotel to have dinner and decided to turn in early since we were being picked up at 5:30 am the next morning to head back to TN. We knew from experience that we'd get very little sleep for the next 20 hours. This is when we made our first major mistake. Since the breeze was so nice that day, we turned off the air-conditioner and opened the windows in our room. Nothing like a little fresh air right? Wrong! Along with fresh air come mosquitoes! Neither of us could sleep because of all the buzzing around our ears. We closed the windows around mid-night, but it was too late. The next day we discovered how the mosquitoes had been feasting on us all night. I'm still itching and US mosquitoes don't bother me at all. Hopefully when we go back the flying pests will be gone!
If you made it this far... you are a true adoption blog junkie (or someone in our family). But don't worry, photos are coming soon!