Sally and Steve dropped us off at the Metro and we made our way to downtown Moscow. I am still so impressed with the Metro here. It is so efficient and (once you learn it) easy to ride.
We trudged through the buttery snow, the kind that is dry and slippery, up the small hill to the hotel entrance where we would meet our driver. Alla was waiting for us and we all just looked at each other and smiled and gave a great big sigh! She asked, "are we breathing a little easier this morning?!" Oh yes. Our grins lasted a while as Alla told us how happy she was for us. If she only knew how much she was responsible for our happiness, this humble woman. How will we ever thank her enough?
Alla and I climbed into the car together and we were off. While we drove she told me of her visit to the courthouse yesterday. When she first arrived, she went to the division where we filed our appeals. She gave them our case numbers and asked when the hearings would be. She said the clerk disappeared for about 20 minutes, and when he finally returned he told her it would be about TWO MONTHS!!! Alla said she nearly fainted. I can only imagine. It's probably a very good thing we weren't there with her or there may have been quite a scene!
Devastated, she walked to the courthouse where the judges were so that she could speak to our judge herself. As she walked in she heard our judge call to her from a side hallway, asking her, "why do you look so sad? I have news for you!" Soon enough the judge told her that the panel of judges had just finished meeting and had made the decision already to issue our decrees!! At this point I think Alla was ready to faint again! This poor woman and the roller coaster she endured yesterday! The judge told Alla that it would take a day or two to issue the decree and proper paperwork we would need to pick up our children. Soon, Alla relayed the information to us, and here we are!
When we arrived at Gabe's orphanage, I was so excited. I wondered what he would think about me being here without Brian. Brian is always the "fun" one who likes to get down and wrestle with the kids. They all love that about him. But I was hoping this would be a special "mom & son" day, where we could do some quieter but still fun things together.
Alla hadn't informed the Director of the orphanage about the good news yet, so she sent me up to Gabe's groupa while she went to tell her. I made my way up the stone steps, for what will be the last time as his "visitor." I walked a little slower, looking around me and carefully taking it all in. This clean but institutional environment has been my child's home for four and a half years. I tried to imagine what it must feel like to have never known the warmth of a home. We all take for granted that feeling of walking into our homes, the smell, the warmth, the comfort, the routine, the welcoming that the simple act of walking through the front door brings to us each day. I thought to myself, "it is time for my son to know this feeling, once and for all!' I hurried up the rest of the stairs to the cloakroom, quickly took off my big coat, hat and gloves, and walked down the short hall to his groupa room.
I found the kids sitting around their little tables playing blocks together. One of the teachers got his attention and he looked up. As soon as he saw me, he scooted his chair out so quickly and ran right to me shouting, "Mama! Mama!" I bent down and scooped him up in the tightest hug and kissed his cheeks and told him, "yes! Mama is here!" It was my favorite greeting yet. My boy!
I took him back to the cloakroom with me, and as we approached the corner he peeked around it looking for Brian. When he saw the room was empty, he looked at me with a questioning look and said, "Papa?" Then he patted the little bench where Brian usually sits with him and said hopefully, "Papa?" I told him that he would see Papa very soon, but today it would just be Mama.
He seemed to understand because he went straight for my bag after that and began to see what new things I had brought this time. He immediately found a large toy truck that a dear man had given me for him. I met this man, Furkat, soon after we arrived here. He is a friend of Brian's cousin's wife, who he had spent a year with at school in the U.S. When she had told him about our story, he told her he wanted to meet us. We had such a good conversation together in the lobby of our hotel late one night. And he was so kind as to bring some treats and this fun truck for Gabe! Just another example of the great people here!
|"What did you bring today, mom?"|
|Stuffing the water bottle into the bag his new hat came in. The bag was one of his favorite "toys" today.|
|Putting his things into his new bag.|
Anyway, we sat down across the room from each other and took turns rolling the truck to each other. Then, when he tired of that he found my bottle of water in my bag and asked me to open it for him so he could have a drink. I opened it and helped him get a drink, then we screwed the cap back on. He shook the bottle back and forth, very interested in the swishing sound and bubbles it created. Then he asked again for a drink from the bottle so I opened it again, but this time he took the bottle to the little bench and sat down, determined to do it himself. I had a little hesitation, but decided to let him try it. He did just fine tipping it up and getting a drink, but when he finished, he looked down into the water bottle, them promptly turned it upside down and began watering the floor! I jumped over to him and grabbed the bottle out of his hands, which only let him see that his feet were now in a small puddle perfect for splashing in! I set the water bottle down and lifted him up and over the puddle, to his great disappointment! Alla went and brought us a washcloth to soak up the water, and of course, he wanted to be the one to clean it up (saying "ochistit"-"clean" in Russian). This boy LOVES to clean things. Every time I come he wants me to give him a wet wipe so he can scrub something. It is so fun. He has such a great imagination.
After the water clean-up he gave me this sweet little look and asked for the water bottle again. I gave him a "look" and he giggled at me. I screwed the lid on tightly so that he couldn't get it off and I handed it back to him. He really enjoyed putting the water bottle into the gift bag I had brought his new hat in.
Speaking of the new hat, he loved it! And he looked so cute in it, like a proper little Russian boy! By the time I remembered to take a photo of him in it, however, he had moved on to something else and wouldn't put it back on. He kept handing it back to me and pointing to my head saying, "Mama," wanting ME to put it on. Funny kid.
He had fun putting Brian's sunglasses on while we colored in a little notebook with some crayons. The little notebook had a small pocket in the front where you can put papers in, and he really liked putting his "lists" in it as we colored. We made a grocery list together, and a list of things we'd do that day together.
Soon enough it was time for his lunch, and time to say goodbye. OH how my heart is weary of saying goodbye. Enough goodbye's!! As we walked out I prayed over and over that this would truly be the last goodbye we'd ever have to say.
We drove back to the hotel and Alla dropped me off, promising to call as soon as she gets word from the judge to come pick up the decrees. We told her the name of the hotel we planned on checking in to on Monday morning, Excited, we parted ways.
I picked up Jeana and we headed out to find the restaurant in which we planned to meet our new friend Sarah for lunch. We couldn't find it, so we had to call Sarah and have her meet us on the main road, Tverskaya, and go there together. It was a Georgian restaurant, and it was so delicious! I ordered a sweet red pepper soup, that was creamy and slightly spicy, with some type of ricotta-ish cheese in it. I also got some heavenly khachapuri bread that was hot and crusty with another delicious white cheese inside. Jeana and Sarah both got these really good eggplant walnut rolls and the same bread. What a great lunch! Sarah is here with her husband while he works in the mining industry in an outer region of Russia. This means she's alone for weeks at a time while he's gone. Yet she has volunteered her time with various organizations and I'm so impressed with how she's immersed herself into Russian culture. She likes it here and it's fun to listen to her stories of day-to-day life in Moscow. Thanks for a great lunch Sarah!
|My delicious red pepper soup and Jeana's eggplant nut rolls. Yum Yum!|
|Khachapuri bread-sooooo good!|
After that we headed back on the Metro to Red Square, did some obligatory wandering and resting, and broke into a delicious dark chocolate bar Alla had given us that morning to celebrate our good news with!
|Something I love here: when they're doing construction on a building downtown, they put up these false fronts so the aesthetic isn't disturbed in the area!|
|How could chocolate wrapped this pretty not be good?|
|That's right, it can't. This "black" chocolate, as Alla called it, was full of airy little bubbles in it, making it light and melty in your hands. Delicious!|