Friday June 22, 2007A view from our room - Sunset over the Volga River
This morning we were off to the infants’ home with our coordinator and the other couple using our agency, Karen and Huibert. We went to the infants’ home to pick up our daughters and take them to get their passport photos. Keep in mind that both our daughter, Madeline, and their daughter, Milana, have spent their entire lives to date in the infant’s home. This was their first journey in a car (and maybe even outside of the infants’ home property). At Madeline’s 19 months and Milana’s 3 years, this was a fairly scary experience for them. Madeline was content to be snuggled by mom but she would cry when we hit a bumpy patch in the road (and in Russia there is no shortage of those). Like I mentioned it would be yesterday, this was a “Brittany Spears experience” for Madeline as they do not use car seats here so Madeline was simply held on my lap. When we returned from the photo place we had about a half hour to play and visit with her until it was time to leave. We only had one visit today.
We ate lunch in our room today. We made sandwiches from some chicken breast bought from the prepared meat section of our grocery store. I didn’t care for it because it tasted like smoked meat. I am not a fan of smoked meat but there is a lot of it around here. In fact, David and I decided that all of Astrakhan smells like a mixture of smoked meat and body odor……yum, appetizing! Today is actually very cool here. I actually pulled out my sweatshirt. The positive to that is the body odor smell has diminished. It has also been a good day for us to do more laundry. We washed another load in the bathtub and have our clothes hanging by clothes line from one side of our room to the other. We put the “dryer” on high by opening the window for today’s breeze.
Some of you asked for an update on the other couples here. Jonah and Andi from Illinois are leaving from their first visit today. They go home and await their court date. Karen and Huibert had a successful court date and are in their 10-day wait like we are, although they are a week behind us. Pat and Mary from Dublin, Ireland went home highly frustrated. They previously got a referral and were awaiting court when the grandmother of their referred child decided to take custody of her. They were here on a second “1st trip” to get another referral. They traveled “blind” each time and did not get their referral until arriving in Astrakhan. The child that was referred to them this time had fetal alcohol syndrome and a specialist from Moscow that visited the child was concerned with her development progress. Pat and Mary went back to Dublin to make a decision but were feeling very frustrated and were beginning to have doubts if they were meant to have children at all. Greg and Rebekah from PA are awaiting another court date on Tuesday. During their wait, they have had to visit more doctors and more and more it is appearing that they are fighting an uphill battle. For every question Greg and Rebekah answer, two more seem to come out. Please continue to offer your prayers for those couples struggling through a process that is stressful even when under the *best* of circumstances.
This evening we took another walk around Astrakhan….very exciting. We found a wine bar with what I call “bathtub vintage”. After coming back to the hotel we went to the shish kabob grill out in front of the hotel. The Russian phrase book is the only thing that helped us order our food. David and I decided that a lack of communication is like reverting back to ‘Pictionary” to communicate. However, after a couple Baltikas (Russian beers) we had fun with our Russian phrase book. We were trying to decide what completely out of context phrase we could point to for our waitress to read (who by the way looked like my niece, Julie). We were laughing so hard my stomach ached. Should we point to the phrase, “Where’s the dining car?” or “Call me at 7a.m.” We decided on…”I took the wrong train.” Luckily our waitress had a good sense of humor.
Well, it’s now 11pm and I am enjoying my last evening as a 36 year old. We are enjoying a Russian beer night cap in the hotel lobby while y’all are still at work! (Although our alarm will be waking us up as you are going to bed). I told David earlier today that typing these daily updates is like therapy for me as I am completely homesick. We hope all is well with you. Please keep us updated as your emails are our only contact with home.
David and Amy
A tradition in Astrakhan - Ribbons on tree are tired by groom - pink ribbons if they want girl & blue if they want boy. The higher the ribbon, the greater their love for their bride.