We arrived about 7:45 p.m. to the beautiful and historic home. We took these photos on our way out:
|The red carpet.|
As we waited we spoke with Mr. Haley about all that they had been doing at the Embassy for families like us. They had already processed 21 families with their children who were on their way home. I found out I was the only one of "the six" left in country who had passed court and the 30 day appeal period in 2012. What a kick in the gut. It wasn't supposed to be like this! Mr. Haley was very kind and told us that they were doing everything they could for us. The staff at the House brought us in fancy hors d'oeuvres made of small pieces of toasted bread with salmon and cheese on them and a variety of drinks.
Finally the Ambassador arrived and greeted us very warmly and after making introductions he first told us that our situation (meaning all of the adoptive families in the country) was his highest priority. He had just left meetings that day with his Russian government contacts and he will not stop working for us until this is resolved. He also assured us that the U.S.'s official position is to get all families processed who had begun the adoption process, whether they had passed court or not. There has been mention by officials here that those who haven't been to court yet would not get to bring their children home, even thought they had already met their children and signed official documents to adopt them. They have said that the orphans "call everyone they meet mama and papa" and wouldn't know the difference anyway. It is infuriating. I was so proud that the Ambassador was sticking to his guns on this issue and will not back down and only accept the adoptions of the kids whose parents had passed court. We have been blessed to stay here at our hotel with one of the families who are in this stage of the process. Their original court date was week before last, and so they came as planned, even knowing things would not go well. Their hearing was postponed until yesterday, and then at yesterday's hearing it was postponed again until after the Supreme Court makes a ruling. They flew home this morning to wait for news there, I'm sure you can only imagine their anxiety and emotions.
He also told us that last week he met with Hillary Clinton in Washington and that this issue was also one of her top priorities before she left her office as Secretary of State. He also has spoken with President Obama's staff and they assured him that the President is staying on top of this and that they would continue to keep it on his dek. This was all very comforting and it was good to feel that our government had our backs.
We had a good twenty minute talk with the Ambassador before we were all whisked away to watch the inauguration together. Since we had arrived early, it was a surprise when they opened the library doors and suddenly there were hundreds of people mingling about eating their hors d'oeuvres. We were led right into the viewing room with the Ambassador and Mr. Haley, who was sure to stay with us and make us feel welcome the entire time we were there.
|I loved that they served pizza. Just like home.|
|The crowd and one room of the beautiful Spaso House.|
|That's the Ambassador in the middle of the photo.|
|Walking in to the viewing room. That is Mr. Haley, from the Embassy, to the left.|
|People waiting for the live feed of the inauguration to begin. We were surprised that they had saved some seats for us.|
|There were people here from all over the world. I heard many languages spoken. Some shouted out with agreement when the President spoke on various issues. Others obviously didn't suport this particular president, but all were respectful.|
|Ambassador McFaul. His Russian is impressive!|
Mr. Haley found us again and told us to feel free to wander around and see things and he would escort us out when we were ready to leave. We took the opportunity to meet the Ambassador's wife, who was so kind and supportive and assured us again that her husband's top priority right now is this issue. (For my friends who are in process, please feel free to email me to get more details about what he told us that I don't feel comfortable posting on the blog). She took the time to visit with us and ask us about our children at home and our children here.
We walked around a bit and took some photos to remember the night.
|The architecture and detail in the residence was just amazing.|
|Jeana and I after the crowd left the viewing room.|
|They had photos and literature of Martin Luther King, Jr. all around. It was very neat to see and read his words. What an American hero.|
And so here we are, the beginning of the new day here. Today we are getting a call from the U.S. State Department at 3:00. It will be a conference call for those families who are in Russia right now. I can't imagine we'll hear anything we didn't hear last night already from Ambassador McFaul, but it is good they are keeping in touch.
Another day down in the history of this surreal story....