TTD and one of the facilitators started the day with even more paperwork. That morning they drove to the tax policy office to change the tax numbers for both Sara and Samuel. Sara very cheerfully staid with the other facilitator at the hotel. (No one wanted a repeat of the previous day's car sickness!) Sara is such a social butterfly that having one on one attention from an adult pleased her greatly. I'm sure the facilitator's ears were ringing by the end of the day.
Once that was done all four got into the car and drove across O-city to pick up the secretary of A-village. TTD didn't know why the secretary of A-village orphanage was in the big city. All five people squeezed into the facilitator's car for the 2-3 hour drive to A-village. And you guessed it, Sara was sick along the way.
Once in A-village the facilitators stopped at the local DAP office to turn in the new tax numbers. Finally, finally they drove to Samuel's orphanage. TTD brought Sara into the director's office and waited for quite some time. Sara was very excited yet strangely scared. She very much wanted to see her brother again. They'd been separated for two whole years. Sara had been Samuel's doting big sister and caregiver since he was nearly three and she nearly five.
Then Sara began to cry. When asked what was the matter it all came out. Poor sweet, brave Sara was excited to get to see her brother again, but thought she was being transferred in the process. The thought of going from a nice, clean, caring school environment to a tiny village and a poor, isolated mental institution frightened her. She had been bravely facing the 'transfer', determined to go through with it, just so she could be with her brother again. That is love!
The facilitator quickly explained away her fears and she calmed down.
Everyone exited the office and TTD assumed that the nurse's station was where everyone was headed so he and Sara walked in. There was Samuel, waiting with shining eyes and anticipation and joy. The siblings hugged and talked quietly and hugged some more. Then the facilitator came looking for TTD and Sara (she didn't know where they'd disappeared to) and informed them that they needed to leave to sign two more pieces of paper. Poor Sara was disappointed to have to leave her brother again so soon.
TTD and the facilitators had to wait for a while before the papers were ready to be signed. But finally they returned to the orphanage to pick up Samuel. Clothes were handed over to the nannies, Samuel was dressed in no time, and everyone said paka to the orphanage. It was a quick exit.
By this time Samuel was on sensory overload. He kept shaking his head back and forth, rubbing his chin on the neck of his coat. TTD reached over and gently rubbed Samuel's hair. He calmed down immediately and didn't stim again. The drive back down to O-city was rather uneventful. Sara laid down for most of the drive (this seemed to help calm her stomach) and Samuel, who didn't suffer any car sickness, talked to his sister while stroking her head.
In O-city they went straight to the hotel, tried to jerry rig the broken stroller (didn't work), so TTD carried Samuel to the restaurant. Sara understandably ate a large dinner. Poor girl had been running on empty for a few days. Samuel also ate very well and surprised TTD by drinking some juice and water from a cup. (All the other boys who left The Lost Boys' Institute refused to drink, some for quite a long time period, after leaving the orphanage. The fact that drinking did not scare Samuel, at least not much, was a huge blessing!)
Both kiddos not only tolerated their baths, but enjoyed them. Samuel knew just how to clean himself and Sara loved splashing in the water. That night they slept contentedly together on the pull out couch of the hotel room.
The siblings had been reunited.
Day 38 - TTM & Patience adoption journey
This day was a bit of a mess. First off, my body woke up after only four hours sleep and refused to rest again until 30 minutes before the alarm was scheduled to go off. Thankfully a pack of feral dogs yapping loudly startled me awake. 8:16. Yikes! Apparently the alarm didn't even go off! The facilitator was supposed to pick me up at 8:30 to start our day. No way was I going to be seen in public with greasy hair and bleary eyes, so I called the facilitator and asked for 20 more minutes to get ready. Feeling reminiscent of my college years I bathed in record time, bolted down some food, packed my rice bag with the iPad, a notebook, water bottle, a half loaf of salami, some bananas, and a bit of chocolate.
I tried to rush down stairs, but locking Fort Knox slowed me down.
Today we were scheduled to take Patience out of the orphanage for her passport picture, another picture for some other paper (too many papers!), and then empty her bank accounts in N-city.
We arrived at the orphanage and proceeded to the director's office. He welcomed us heartily and even made a few fleeting moments of eye contact with me. The facilitator had informed me that, for reasons unknown to her, the director was becoming much more positive towards international adoption. He was wanting to help us in any way possible.
I stayed outside the office while the facilitator arranged the permission to take Patience from the orphanage for the day. She emerged and informed me that Patience was in hospital. Before I could become alarmed she said it was for routine blood work and should only last 15-20 minutes max. The director left his office, and the orphanage, for some other appointment. We stood looking out the large windows hung in sheer, silky curtains covered in embroidery. We talked of our hope that many, many more children could be listed from this orphanage. We planned on how we would get Patience to help us by looking at the local database and telling us the full names of all the children she recognized.
After a bit more than a half hour my facilitator decided that our wait had been too long. She was suspicious that maybe the nannies or secretary were pulling a fast one and hiding Patience from us again. She went into the office and inquired after Patience. The sour, spiteful secretary said, "She's at the hospital doing blood work. You were told to wait, so go back into the hallway and wait!" And that was it. Because the director was not there to appeal to we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. I asked the facilitator if I should run down to the car and get my cards for a game of Rummy or Go Fish. I'd found that if I acted happy and carried on as if nothing was happening it bothered the nannies and they quit trying to annoy me. The facilitator was on the verge of agreeing to some cards when Patience showed up...almost two hours after we had originally been told to wait.
We grabbed her quickly, before any more excuses could be made, and hustled her to the car. Once in the car our facilitator questioned Patience as to where she'd been for so long. Turns out that she had been to the hospital...for x-rays. That's right, needless x-rays of her back. Oh, and while waiting the long hours to get those five minute x-rays done she'd had a 'coincidental' meeting with certain relatives that the court had ordered no contact with. Grrrrr! Yep, those sneaking nannies/secretary had pulled a fast one again. But they will never have the last laugh!
Our first stop with Patience was to a photographer's to get a picture done to attach to a paper (whose significance I don't remember). Patience handled that car ride decently, but I had an empty bag ready. Then we drove to the passport office. The office looked like all the rest of the nondescript buildings around. Faded grayish-blue paint, main door in the back alley, up cold flights of stairs, and into a narrow hallway already hot from the radiators but made stifling by the massive amounts of people waiting in line.
Just before we had reached this building, Patience was becoming a bit green around the gills from all the car travel. Our arrival at the passport building was just in time. Upon entering that sweltering, overcrowded hallway I knew we'd be in trouble. My mommy instincts kicked in and I informed the facilitator that she could wait in line but Patience and I would wait in the cool stairwell.
We stood in front of a large window eating apples, playing puzzle games on the iPad, and talking. The facilitator joined us after a while and told us that the lines were due to a new (politically motivated) policy from Russia about what kind of passports would be accepted for travel into that country. Folks were rushing to comply so that their travel plans would not be hindered. It was only because of the facilitator's friendship with a gal in the office that we were being allowed to process Patience's passport today. The gal in the office was letting us come in on her lunch break.
At lunch we entered the office and Patience sat down in front of a camera. I proofed, corrected, and signed yet more paper work, Patience's picture was taken, and then we left.
Because Patience had started to get a bit sick in the car, and because we didn't need her physical presence anymore, we dropped her back off at the orphanage before heading to the bank. Patience tried to wheedle a promise out of both of us to come get her tomorrow. She was done being ready for Gotcha Day.
The facilitator and I headed into the bank where Patience's governmental stipend was being held. We opened the door and were overwhelmed with the smell of sausage. I initially thought we'd come to a deli for a bit of snack (it was past lunch time) but apparently the bank workers had eaten some very strong sausage for lunch.
The facilitator looked over the five different teller windows to decipher which one she needed. I don't know how she did this because I saw no signs telling what each window was for. She found two windows which could be used for the kind of withdrawal she needed to make and headed towards them only to find identical signs announcing a lunch break until 2:00. One lady was sitting behind the glass and so the facilitator asked (demanded actually) that Patience's account be looked into. In the bank book we'd been given only one grivna was shown to be in the account. (Not surprising from the stories I've heard from other families who have adopted from here). We just wanted to see if there was enough money in the account to make it worth our while. The bank teller initially wouldn't even give us the time of day but kept pointing to the sign indicating lunch hours. The facilitator wouldn't take no for an answer but kept pushing until the teller gave in just a little. We were told that yes, there was money in the account but not how much.
The facilitator looked at her watch (1:00) and decided to not waste time here but go back up to the heart of N-city to the bank where Patience's baby house stipend was kept. Might as well be doing something while we waited.
Now you may be thinking, like I was, why we could just go to a different branch and remove the money. Over here it didn't work like that. First off, most banks were not large enough to have multiple branches. Second, for some reason you can only take money out of the actual bank you deposited it in. Not a lot of central banking here.
So we drove 30 minutes up to the baby house account bank, waited about 15 minutes for the teller to read the adoption papers authorizing me as the mother to withdraw Patience's money, signed the necessary papers, placed the wad of grivnas into a purse and hurried back to the car. Then back to the original bank and repeat the process, but with a little more flack from the bank teller. It turns out that Patience did have a decent amount of money in her present orphanage account.
After traveling all day I was ready for some home cooked dinner and a good sleep. But first I needed to buy some water. (Never, ever let the water here into your mouth!). Not wanting to walk all the way down to the grocery I asked the facilitator to drop me off at the small soviet era market just behind the local public bus stop. This market is right near my apartment complex and it wouldn't be too far to walk carrying a couple 6 liter water bottles.
The store is really quaint and rather intimidating if you don't know what you are doing. There are numerous counters displaying various foods or dry goods. Each counter is manned by a separate checker. I walked up to the refrigerated dairy counter and ordered (through a mixture if hand gestures and my limited Russian vocabulary) a couple of yogurts for Patience for the next day. I paid for those right there at that counter. Then I moved down to the drinks counter and was in the process of ordering a big water bottle (much to the amusement of a local mama and her baby) when my facilitator came up behind me. She and the driver did not want me to have to lug the heavy water bottles 'all the way' back to the apartment. They said that a lady shouldn't have to carry heavy things so far. I bit back a retort about not being a lady but a strapping farm girl, cut my shopping short (they needed to get home to their son and I didn't want to delay that any longer), paid for the water, and we drove one block to the apartment door.
My facilitator and her husband (the driver) are the kindest and most thoughtful of people.