Friday, January 25, 2013

Out and About

It's always nice to wake up to sunshine!
Our day today started out like most since Jeana and I have joined forces here in Moscow.  We get up, go to the small gym in the basement of our hotel and do some running on the treadmill, then throw in a bit of weight-lifting for good measure.  After getting dressed for the day, we head down to breakfast and then plan out the details of our day.

Todays schedule included interviews with a French news agency.  Yesterday we did interviews with the German equivalent of the BBC, and another French news corp.  The interviews make us both self-conscious, and we are nervous about possibly saying something that might come across as offensive, but I am getting to the point where I'm just waiting for them to ask me the questions I love to answer:

Why did you choose to adopt a child from Russia?
Why a child with special needs?
Are you encouraged to hide the adoption from your adopted son once you return home to America?
How much did you pay for this adoption?
Are there other families you know who are adopting or trying to adopt from Russia?
What are the conditions like in your son's orphanage?  What about other orphanages?
What do you say to the allegations made about American adoptive parents-that you will sell your child's organs, use them for "favors", or force them to join the military? (yes, believe it or not, we have been asked all of these ones many times).
How do you think your child will change once he joins your family?
Do you think the orphans really know what is going on after you visit them for the first time?
How do you communicate with your child, since you don't speak the same language?

These are just a few of the things we've been asked, and when they start asking me about conditions in America, and what the child's life will be like there, I love to tell them.  Today I showed the French reporter the following photos of my son Jake.  These were all taken at his school Christmas program.  He knew all of the words to the many songs they sang, and all of the actions.  He may have sang the words a bit slower, and not been as quick to do the actions, but there was no question he knew them all.  He decided to sit during most of the songs, I think just because he was sleepy as it was at night and, well, Jake just doesn't seem to put much weight into formalities and such.  He is much more concerned about just doing what feels natural.  I'm tired?  I'll sit down!  The best was when he put his fist up to use as a microphone. Jake's world is full of love, acceptance, and fun.  I can't wait for this to be Gabe's world too.
Just look at how proud his sisters are of him. Who wouldn't love to be this kid??!
And when they ask me about the families back home, watch out, because I have a whole lot to say about them.  Today the reporter asked if she thought these families might give up and just turn away from their kids in Russia.  I set this woman straight.  There are an army of mothers and fathers in America prepared to do whatever it takes to let officials know that they won't turn back.  I told her about our first trip to meet Gabe, and how at first, he only called us "woman" and "uncle".  But by the end of the week, after we had signed the formal papers showing our intent to adopt him, he called us "Mama" and "Papa," and that's what we've been ever since.  One particular official here has suggested that orphans are not smart enough to realize what is going on when parents have "only" made that first trip.  He says that they call everyone mama and papa, and don't realize they are being singled out.


Orphans are not stupid.  They may call every new woman who visits the orphanage "mother," but that is only because they know what a mother is and THEY WANT ONE!  Why is so difficult for these officials to see this?  I asked friends back home who are in this category of people to tell me about their experiences after that first trip.  I asked them if they felt their child knew they were about to become a son or daughter, that they would soon have a mama and a papa.  Without hesitation they all cried, "YES!"  I am just waiting for an official here to ask for proof of this.  I would love nothing more than to sit down with them and show them photo after photo, video after video, testimony after testimony that these children know.  They may be children, but they recognize love, and commitment, and they know that something different is going on when their mama and papa are there.  As you can tell, I am very passionate about this issue, and that is because there has been much talk by officials to only allow families who have passed court to finish their adoptions based on these very grounds.  But the families?  They are not giving up on their children.  They are fighting all the way to the European Court to get the Russian government to pay attention to them.  And I will be proud to help spread the word while I am here that these children, too, should not be forgotten.

And then there are even those families who haven't made one single trip.  What about them?  They have completed months of paperwork, 80 hours of adoption education, countless trips to notaries, secretaries of state, banks, doctor's offices, and on and on, just so they can gather all the required documents to send to Russia.  They have a child in their heart and they were committed the moment they said "yes" in their hearts to a child they have yet to meet.  What about them?  Is it right for them to just be turned away?  A dear new friend that is hoping with all her heart to adopt in our very region here has been hoping for months, on the verge of registering her dossier here in country.  She and her husband are doctors and are hoping to adopt an older boy with medical special needs.  There just couldn't be more fit parents for a child like this!  And how amazing is it that this young couple, with no biological children of their own, are willing to step out and take an older child with medical needs like this?  There are not many people who would be willing to start their families this way.  That in itself says so much about this couple.  My heart will just break if they are not allowed to give this boy a home!
Here is my friend with their dogs in their beautiful home state in the Northeast.

On her blog, she captioned this photo, "hurry home!"  Look at this family, just waiting to  welcome their son!

All of this heartbreak because politicians have a bruised ego, it is shameful.

Okay, off of the soapbox and on to the rest of our day:

After the interview we decided to head to Red Square because the sun was finally shining today!  We wanted to check out a place to eat that is in the GUM mall on Red Square that we had heard was good and inexpensive.  On the way we stopped to take photos of the gorgeous square in the setting sun.  What a beautiful city this is!  And the people are just as beautiful and kind.  Do you know we have not encountered one person who has given us any grief about our adoptions?  Not one person has acted disgusted with us the way some government officials are.  Everyone who has asked why we are here has only been kind in their response, and many have expressed their dismay and shame for what has happened with the onset of this new adoption ban.  The people here are wonderful.  I would love nothing more than to bring my whole family here one day, to see this big, historical city, to meet Olga and Julia and the many wonderful people here, and to taste the rich culture that has existed here for centuries.

Beautiful!  Look at that blue sky!!  Haven't seen that for a while.
Jeana making a snow angel on Red Square-not everyone can say they've done that!

Trying out the panorama feature on my phone camera.  Kind of cool!
Took this same photo in September, with the water fountain all filled up and spraying rainbows of water across the pathway.  What a difference a few months makes.
The tomb of the unknown soldier.

 After taking some photos, we headed to the underground mall first to do some window shopping.  Okay, so we didn't just window shop.  Right now all of their winter gear is on clearance, so I did buy a cute little sweater vest for a bargain of $12.00!  Nice!  I've been looking for just some simple t-shirts for Jake and Gabe that have some kind of Russian on them, but all of the clothes here have English words on them!

And speaking of English of the best parts of shopping here is reading the translations of item descriptions.  This one was for a little zippered bag:

Just awesome.
We finished up at the mall and headed over to the GUM.  This mall is only for the high-end shopper, and I have yet to step foot in any of the clothes stores here.   But it is a beautiful place in which to get out of the cold, and we did find a bargain of a meal for dinner.

Some random items for sale.
It's no wonder many brides have their bridal photos taken here.
Pancakes, anyone?  They are really just like a crepe, but they call them pancakes here.
An almost-photo-bomb by Jeana.
Oh, there you are, Jeana.  How's that yummy pancake?

This was a chicken caesar pancake-delicious!
A bargain in this city-$5.00!
Of course, at this great price, we had to order dessert pancakes too, but I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a "before" photo.  Sorry :-)
When we went to Izmaylovo market last week I bought Kennedy & Leah some cute little traditional dresses.  Then when we went to the mall I found the perfect matching shoes for only a couple of dollars each.  I also bought them matching purses because they were also marked down to only a few dollars, and I knew they would love them.  Anyway, Kennedy has been asking for a picture of her souvenirs, so here you go, Kennedy!

Are these cute, or what???  Can't wait to see the girls in them!
I have always wanted to buy my girls red patent shoes!  What a bargain!
Finally, I leave you with the best photo of the day.  Poor Jeana was only trying to take a cute photo of herself at Red Square, and I had to ruin it by turning to ask her a question at just the wrong moment.  Sorry for the photo bomb, Jeana :-)

Me and Old Man River had to ruin her cute pic!  Dang!


  1. I'm dying about old man river!! haha! Those purses are sooo cute!! They are going to be adorable in those dresses and shoes. I love to see you guys enjoying yourselves, because I imagine you are terribly homesick. I hope you can feel our love and virtual hugs and prayers. Love you guys!

  2. Fun day and keep up the advocacy for these kids! You guys are heros!