Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Amazing Race - Adoption Day

The object of today's race is to pick up Hannah. The train arrived in Petrozavodsk at 8:50am and Team Crosier found their driver, Fyodor (or “Frodo” as he has become affectionately known). First we raced to the bank to transfer money for her passport. It was then onto the court to pick up copies of the Judge's adoption decree. The next stop was the Office of Vital Statistics for Hannah's new birth and adoption certificates. Here we met a Detour. Because the judge used abbreviations in the documents, the clerk would not accept the paperwork and we needed to get it redone which would take about an hour.

To pass time, we stopped for breakfast and much needed caffeine to keep us going. We visited the Ministry of Education to return some paperwork, thank them for all they have done, and offer a gift (which the clerk was too shy to accept). Our revised court documents were ready on time and we were back in the race. With lunchtime approaching, the new papers satisfied the clerk at the Office of Vital Statistics and thought she asked us to return after lunch, we pressed her for the documents right away. While Team Crosier was with the clerk, “Frodo” raced to the orphanage to collect Hannah's passport photos and rejoined the team.

Office of Vital Statistics

Next was a quick stop for photocopies then into the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Here we hit a Road Block – one of us had to face this challenge alone. Natalie was “volunteered” because Russian law requires children's passports to be linked to the mother, so Natalie needed to sign the papers. Inside the office building (which looked like the Department of Motor Vehicles) we tried to enter Office # 12, but it was locked, as were all the other offices. In order to get into the offices, someone had to swipe their badge to turn the red light green. When someone entered Office 12, we darted over to the door. I had already closed, but when we knocked someone let us in. We gave the lady the papers and left for an office on the 2nd floor. This office was open and we gave the lady more papers and were told to return on Friday to pick up here passport. Since we completed all the steps in the Road Block we could continue the race.

Court House

At this point, Team Crosier was feeling pretty confident, so we had lunch and checked into the hotel. About an hour later, at 3pm, “Frodo” took us to the supermarket to buy gifts for the orphanage, diapers, and food for the week and it was onto the final stop – the orphanage. When we arrived, all the children were getting ready to go outside to play, so they kept Hannah inside. We played for 10 minutes while Irina did “official” business, and the children and caregivers said their farewells – a few even cried. It was very sad to see their faces and say goodbye to the women who had taken such great care of Hannah. We changed Hannah into her new clothes and shoes and left her old ones neatly folded on the table. This upset me because she was leaving without even the clothes on her back, but at the same time, it was a fresh start and everything would be new and exciting for her. She had a bright future ahead of her. We left 12 gift bags in the room, extended our thanks and said our goodbyes to the Orphanage Director and got into the care and left. Unlike the Amazing Race, there was no sprint to the finish, no wondering if we were in first place, we simply picked her up and started our lives together.

Hannah and Dad leaving the orphanage

OK, so comparing our day with the Amazing Race is a tad corny, but we are little stir crazy and needed to change things up a bit.

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