Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Visiting Elisabeth for the first time

Our 13th wedding anniversary – and what a way to celebrate by visiting our new daughter!

We didn’t sleep much on the train ride – a combination of being unfamiliar with the surroundings and excited about meeting Hannah Elisabeth. We were greeted at the Petravadosk Station by our driver, Dyotor, and immediately went to the Ministry of Education to accept the referral and received more information about the mother and father. We checked into the hotel and then went straight to the orphanage which was in the back of a large apartment complex. The building was very old surrounded by a 4 ft cement wall. Security was very lax. We walked right into the open gate and we found Hannah Elisabeth’s group in the far corner playing in a very basic, old playground with a sand box, a rusty slide, some trikes and a small jungle gym. There was an area of broken flooring (rotten 2x4 planks) under a roof, where the children played when it rained. This would never pass code in America!

Hannah was sitting on her tutor’s lap. The tutor cleaned her faced and placed her in a stroller and wheeled her over to us. We greeted her and touched her hand gently. She was very shy, at first just looking down, not making a sound. After a minute or 2, she looked up and studied us one at a time. She held our finger, but did not break her guarded expression. We walked her around the path, taking photos and video. She warmed us to us pretty quickly and we tickled her legs and shoulders to make her laugh. We went to another corner where there was a toy house. She loved the house and walked in and out repetitively, opening and closing the doors. After another 5 minutes, we were asked to return her to the group. We spent around 20-30 minutes with her in total before going inside to meet the pediatrician and the social worker.

We first went to the pediatrician who read through her medical record. Many of the issues stated on the initial medical report have gone away. Next we visited the social worker. She was very kind and provided a lot of information on Hannah’sfamily.

We left the orphanage and started our whirlwind medial tour of Petravadosk. The court requires Russian doctors to sign off on our general health. The driving was interesting. The main roads are paved, but all the side roads are full of pot holes and many are unpaved. It was an off-roading adventure. Also, there is little landscaping, so all the grass a weeds where at least waist high. The buildings were very old and in need of repair. Around 7 pm we returned to the hotel to a quiet evening to recover from the hectic day.

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