Last night we landed in Kaliningrad and we were happy to be greeted by Natasha and Sasha. Big hugs were given all around! Our last goodbye at the airport was tearful, not knowing if we would have an opportunity to return. Saying “good to see you” just didn’t quite express what we were feeling. Our agency representative met us at the hotel lobby and big hugs were given to her as well. She has worked on our case for months now. We are so thankful for her and we know that she truly cares about the girls and our family.
There are certain situations in life where planning is key, organization trumps, or attention to detail wins out. In the adoption process, planning, organization, and attention to detail are critical. But once you arrive in a foreign land, Flexibility Rules.
We headed to Lil Sis’ orphanage first. This is where our day of flexibility began. At the gate we were told that she had been taken to the hospital for an illness. Brett and I both were immediately hurting for our little girl at the hospital by herself. We know that going to the hospital is not as big of a deal in Russia, but still we hated being so close and yet unable to help her. We were told that she would return after 4:00 p.m. (Side note…when we came back to her orphanage later in the day, we found out that she was not sick. It was just a regular check-up).
So…we headed out to Big Sis’ orphanage. It is usually a 45 minute drive, but due to traffic it took us almost two hours. This put us close to her lunch time, but after a brief time inside with her and her group in their regular playroom, we were invited to sit in on her lunch. We were quite the novelty and a distraction for the kids, but they all did really well and still ate their lunches. She had a simple borscht soup and some kind of meat over buckwheat. She ate really well and I was invited over to help her finish her clean up. All of the kids were drinking “compote.” We found out this is dried or fresh fruit boiled in water for 10 – 15 minutes. Sugar is added and it is a very popular drink for children. We will have to remember this. At this point it was nap time and she headed to her bed to get ready for nap time, but her caregiver gave us some extra time so we headed back to her regular playroom and had some time alone with her. Earlier with the other children we shared stickers and played with Play-Doh we brought. With her alone, we mostly had her on our lap and read books, looked at picture books, etc. She was pretty open with us today. Once on our laps, she was very comfortable and relaxed. Our interpreter even commented on this. It was like her breathing changed and everything. Trust and security do not come easy to our Big Sis. Much of the time, we struggle to get direct eye contact with her and she is always scanning the room and quick to notice change. We really believe all of this comes from times in her past that were unsafe and she felt in danger. We really pray that God uses us to bring healing, hope and security into her life. When it was time to go, we took her to her bed and she got ready for her nap. We left her in bed, smiling with a Hello Kitty doll we brought her and a photo album with pictures of us, her and Lil Sis. I hope someday soon, we will get to tuck her in bed and be there when she wakes us too.
Holding, hugging, and playing with the girls…all of it was so significant to us, but to them it was just another visit, so we tried to focus on that.
We had a quick lunch break. We ate at our hotel’s cafe and tried to order the business lunch.The menu doesn’t come in English so we basically played some lunch “Russian Roulette” and each ordered two different salads, soups and main courses.
At Lil Sis’ orphanage, we were greeted by a big hug and smile from Lil Sis. We were also happy to see the Italian couple that we met on our first trip. They are adopting three children and their youngest is in Lil Sis’ group. Today was their court day. It went okay, but they do have one issue that they are hoping to get resolved in a couple of days. Also, our interpreter told us about another American couple that she translated for at the court since our hearing. That couple ran into an issue with their medical reports not having the right seal and they had to make a trip to St. Petersburg and their hearing was delayed from a Monday to a Friday. All that to say…our judge doesn’t seem to be easy!
Anyway, back to Lil Sis. We went outside for our visit with her. Thankfully, the storm had passed and it was actually sunny and warm (very humid too). We had fun reading books, playing with stickers, ball and chasing her around on foot and tricycle. We had some good time cuddling with her and a good visit overall. She laughs very easily and is very observant about her surroundings as well. She had the green medicine all over her and the doctor told us it was for mosquito bites. I think she got a couple more while we were out with her.
We noticed that both girls had haircuts. I was a little sad, but we had been warned about this. No biggie.
This evening we are taking it easy and hoping to catch up on some sleep. Our room is stifling hot (you know it is bad when I am hot). We have no air conditioning and are facing the side that gets sun all day (and evening too).
Our court hearing is at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning. Everyone still seems a little nervous about court and not much has been said. We have peace and confidence, knowing God has brought us thus far. We know that He is bigger than all obstacles, but our hearts are also so invested in these two girls and we continue to plead for favor and smooth proceedings from here. Thank you all for your continued prayers! Much love from Kaliningrad!