Russian Hats

September 15th, 2011

elliottWhen I think of the Russians and what they wear on their heads, I think of furry military hats or colorful babushkas (head scarves) tied around the babushka’s (grandmother’s) heads. Before I adopted Elle, I rarely thought of baby beanies we put on our infants heads. But, I learned differently when I travelled to Russia to adopt my daughter. It was June when I started my journey to meet and adopt Elle.  Since it was summer time I had been told to wear cool clothes, but be prepared for cooler nights.  There was no way the adoption agency could have warned me about the heat wave Russia was under at the time. Living in the Midwest, I am used to days in the summer that… [more]

Gulag Bunny

September 8th, 2011
Categories: Culture, Russia

photoI have a very odd sense of humor.  I love nothing more than embarrassing my children by car dancing at stop lights, or driving a white VW Beetle convertible covered with colorful daisy decals, or driving around in the same car, top down, with a stuffed deer head in the backseat. So, it isn’t really surprising that before I adopted Elle from Russia, I bought her an odd present. We had requested a baby girl when we started our Russian adoption, so I knew it was safe to buy something pink and girly.  Before I ever laid eyes on Elle, I had already bought her something that I hoped she would love. I bought her a bunny.  A soft, cushy, sleepy-time rabbit dressed in footed… [more]

New Russian Adoption Agreement

July 14th, 2011
Categories: Adoption Laws, News, Russia

iStock_000016990022XSmallAdopting from Russia has never been an easy adventure.  When I adopted Elle 12 years ago, it was still a fairly straightforward process.  An average Russian adoption in 1998 took between 9 and 11 months, if there were no major problems.  Elle's adoption required two trips of six days apiece, one week apart.  Once the paperwork was complete, the time between my court date and coming home was less than a month. But as the times changed, so did the process.  With the ratification of the Hague Adoption Convention, the requirements of the US changed, and as the spotlight fell on the problems with international adoption, more specifically with Russian adoptions, Russia tightened their already tight process.  More time was required in country… [more]

Clickety Clack

June 29th, 2011

iStock_000003721719XSmallClickety clack.  Clickety clack. That is the sound the train makes as we pull out of the Moscow train station.  Two hundred and eighty miles away from Kursk and my daughter, Elle. Clickety clack. My mother is traveling with me and we share a sleeper compartment, our translator tucked away next door.  As the train picks up speed and we watch the lights of Moscow fade in the night sky, there is a sense of surrealness.  After years of waiting, Tomorrow, I will see my daughter for the first time. Clickety clack. I don’t sleep much that night on the train.  There are too many emotions and thoughts swirling through my head.  Near dawn, I give up trying to sleep and sit silently with my mother as… [more]

The Boy From Baby House 10

May 19th, 2011

SCAN0007-e1286292271937-300x193Forgive me for my book report like post today.  I always hated writing book reports in school.  I never quite understood the need for them.  I read the book…it was good or bad…what else did they really need to know? Anyway, this book report is about a book I think all parents adopting from Russia should read.  The Boy from Baby House 10, by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky. The story is about Vanya, a young Russian boy, who by the grace of God and his own perseverance somehow managed to survive years living in a baby house, then a mental asylum, overcoming physical adversities, and then beating the Russian bureaucracy to find a home in the United States. This story was particularly poignant to… [more]

A Babushka in the Courtroom

April 13th, 2011

babushkaWhen I started my adoption journey, I always imagined traveling with my husband to bring our daughter home.  He would have been a pillar of strength as the miles flew by and a source of comfort in a foreign land.  But, when I adopted Elle from Russia, I didn’t have my husband because he died 10 months earlier in a plane crash. Six months after his death, I was ready to adopt my daughter, and with a green light from my adoption agency, I was ready to buy my tickets.  I seriously considered traveling to Russia by myself.  At first I thought of it as a symbolic decision, continuing my journey alone without my soul mate, but that seems a bit melodramatic.  The… [more]

The Colors and Styles of Russia

March 9th, 2011

RussiaWhen I adopted my daughter from Russia, two trips were required…six days each and one week apart.  While I was preparing for my first trip, I was a little stumped on how to pack.  My adoption agency provided me with the essentials I would need to take, like money, gifts, and supplies for the orphanage, but I still had to figure out how to pack most efficiently and with the least amount of luggage. It was summer time in Russia so the clothes I would need to pack would be significantly less than had it been winter.  My adoption agency did give me some guidelines on what to wear during my visit.  Besides packing minimally, they suggested wearing neutral and dark colors, because… [more]

Orphanages and Fairytales

February 25th, 2011

fairytalesLike most Americans, I remember the images of Romanian orphanages under Ceausescu’s rule.  I was appalled by the pictures of starved children, rocking, sitting, and lying in wooden cribs.  At the time, I could only imagine how these children had survived…or had they? When we made the decision to adopt internationally, I remember thinking I didn’t want to adopt from a former iron-curtain country, because I wasn’t sure if I could handle the problems these children would face.  Fate played her cards, and in the end, I did end up adopting a child from a former iron-curtain country…Russia. My preconceived ideas of a Russian orphanage went with me when I boarded a plane for Moscow.  I imagined Elle’s “home” would be dark, dank, colorless… [more]

The Gestures of A Nation

February 14th, 2011

RussiaBefore I adopted Elle from Russia, I had a preconceived idea of what Russians were like.  I remember the high stepping soldiers of the Soviet Army marching in Red Square behind the tanks and missiles, the Soviet gymnasts who seemed more like robots than young girls, and let’s not forget Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev, the famous figure skating couple.  If it weren’t for Olga Korbut and her enchanting smile and bubbly personality, I would have assumed Russians were devoid of personalities all together. Oh, how wrong I was.  Rather than being the expressionless automatons I naturally assumed them to be, I found Russians to be extremely expressive people.  From the moment I landed in Moscow on my first trip to visit Elle… [more]

The Medical Black Hole

January 19th, 2011

479746_58732023My father is in the hospital today for a heart issue.  They just wheeled him into the catheter lab to perform an angiogram. He was in the same hospital 10 years ago for a triple by-pass. After his surgery, my brother and I both made an appointment to see a cardiologist to see if the same issue flowed through our veins.  I shared a cardiologist with my father, and as I walked on the treadmill for my stress test, they were comparing my results to Daddy's. It was comforting to know we shared the same DNA, but not the same defective heart. When I adopted Elle from Russia, her medical history was sketchy.  Her medical file consisted of a single page document with… [more]