April 24th, 2007
The smile entered his face on the right side and traversed the full length is moments. Then the laugh began. Nikolai approved of our room at the National Hotel in Moscow. It was spacious compared to the room at the Park Inn. There was plenty of area for the children to run, play, and fall without injury. It sits directly across the street from the Red Square.
Our task was simple: to acquire visas for the children to travel to the United States. We had done most of the paperwork before we even met the children. All we were required to do in Moscow was have a medical exam for the children on Thursday and apply for the visa on Friday. We were scheduled to return to the United States on Saturday.
Bedtimes were still the most difficult time. On the advice of the doctor, we simply let the children cry (wail) to sleep — no matter how bad the tantrum got. When first placed in the crib, Dascha would jump up and down and shake it so violently that it moved and nearly tipped. It was difficult to watch this and not comfort her, but we saw quickly that if we did approach her, she would use the stimulus of the comfort to keep herself awake. The only way Dascha slept was by exhausting her self with her tantrum until she could no longer stand.
Nikolai was more obedient. But his wail wrapped around our hearts. It was difficult not to go and pick him up. However, if we did, there would be an instant smile and it would be another hour before he would sleep for his cycle of hysteria would reset. We realized that much of the tantrum were an act designed for attention. And that that attention was used by the children as stimulus to keep themselves up. I think they were terrified of what the next day would bring. They were fearful that if they slept, we would vanish; that as long as they stayed awake, they knew we would be there.
Sitting here some 11 days from that one, it is already difficult for me to remember with clarity the emotions we felt in those days in Moscow. We were ready for the entire process to be over. We were a long way away from home. Our lives, our children’s lives were going through massive changes. We were all in shock, I think. At the National, Tanya and I took turns going to dinner. For each, it was an hour of peace to reflect and renew.
On Friday we were told by our American Embassy that we would not be able to return home on Saturday as we had planned. Apparently, the State Department in Washington decided that their convenience on a Friday was more important than the welfare of adoptive children. There is no way for me to convey the level of stress the children experience with each day in between Baby House and Home. And because people in Washington didn’t want to extend any real effort on a Friday, eight families in Moscow were forced to subject that stress upon their children at least two more days.
Due to the expense, we needed to switch hotels to one of the Mariot’s in town (Trevloskaya I think). This turned out to be a disastrous room for toddlers. It was very toddler unsafe and the children were hurting themselves every hour. Upon entering the room, Nikolai turned to us with an expression that said “this better not be home.” He ended up disliking the room so much that he would scream at the floor and walls. There was one upside and that was the playground across the street. For the first time, we saw Nikolai actually walk outside. He even began to enjoy it. This may not seem much, but at the Baby House, going outside was always a traumatic moment for he would scream getting dressed and cry outside. Tanya was able to keep him calm in those days. But for us to see him enjoy being outside was sun on our hearts. So, there is one thing to be said for being in such a miserable room — it got him to want to leave it for outside
Finally Monday came.
It was time to go home. The flight was 13 hours and the children only slept for the last 4 hours. With regards to the flight we look at is this way: on the bright side, there were no blow-outs. We endured the flight and vowed not to go on another plane for a long time. Two hours later, immigration processed the children’s paperwork and we were greeted by Grandpa Rein who drove us the two hour ride home.
At last, at long last, our adoption was done.