Yesterday was one of the craziest days in my life. Running around started at 8am. First to the court house to get the decree. I thought this would be a quick thing… what, maybe a half hour at the most? We waited. And waited. One hour. After another half hour, Sasha finally came out and had us sign something. She said that the judge did not want to come into today because the weather was bad and that was what took him so long. But, he did come in, finally.
Then, to do some dossier prep, as Sasha called it. That took another couple of hours. At this point I was getting nervous. It was nearly noon and we hadn’t even started with the birth certificates, passports or bank. Soon we were done and off to get Lena’s passport. That did not take long at all, and then off to get Ilya’s. He was born in a town a little ways away and so we had to drive for about a half hour. His birth certificate took awhile. Around 2:30, we left and headed to the notary to copy the birth certificates. Around 3:30, we went to get the passports. I think it was about 4:30 when they were done. Cutting it close, because we still had to go to the bank and then pick up the kids. And the train was at 7. It was about 5:30 by the time we left the bank to get the kids and go. Around 6, we had them. Now an hour to get home which always takes about half an hour in good weather and yesterday was slick and icy. So, drop Sasha off so she can take a taxi to get us train tickets, a half hour home, run upstairs, grab everything and go. We got to the train station MINUTES before 7. It was like 6:50 and the driver told us to stay in the car. What?
Sasha came out and told us that the train was not until 7:50. Oh, wow. So, she translated a bunch of important stuff that we needed and then took me to get food for everyone. This was literally the first food that Aaron and I had eaten all day. Back to the car for a few minutes, Sasha says it is time to go. The ground was just inches of slush, so we had to carry the kids. Two kids, two BIG suitcases, my purse (stuffed completely full), our diaper bag, a grocery bag stuffed full of food, the two bags of food we had gotten at the cafe, a 6 liter jug of water and a duffel bag with some other things for the kids. It was A LOT of stuff. Four adults to carry all of that and two kids. Well, we all just loaded up. Aaron, Sasha and I got inside and where was the driver? Was he struggling to get our two heavy bags? So, we sent Aaron out to help him and then the driver called. He was already by our train and now Aaron was missing. Sasha ran out to get Aaron, and then we had to run to the train. Literally across the snow covered train tracks. If you know how train tracks at a train station are typically set, they are a few feet deep, down from the platform. Ugh. That was hard, meanwhile, Sasha was constantly yelling at us to run. We got to where the lady would take our tickets. I had them in my purse and set Lena down to get them out. The snow was not deep there at all, but we quickly learned that Lena needs to be held in an unfamiliar situation. She instantly started crying and only calmed down when I got her in the train cabin and held her. Sasha ran off the train, quickly. Hardly a goodbye, but she was afraid of getting stuck on the train.
My mom will give me a hard time again, for not getting a single photo of yesterday before our train ride, but Sasha was exhausted and just refused to let us get a photo of her. We were in the orphanage for such a short period of time. No opportunity to take photos or long goodbyes.
The orphanage staff was really wonderful. I am a huge fan of all of them. They lectured us saying that the kids should really have tights and scarves on. I can’t say that I agree with that, but I love that they care. One of the ladies looked like she was near tears. She said bye to Lena, paused and came over and kissed her on top of her head.
The clothes we brought fit the kids well. Lena’s 18 month pants are big. They are from Children’s Place… anyone know if their clothes run big? Ilya has on a 3T shirt and 4T pants. Lena is OBSESSED with her boots. I am not sure if this because she is used to wearing shoes all the time or if she just really likes them. Obviously, we love both of them and can’t imagine leaving either of them behind. But, I am SO glad that they have each other. In the car, just after leaving the orphanage, Ilya was obviously upset. Lena reached over and started stroking his face. The two of them were a riot in the train cabin together. Going back and forth, teasing each other with food. Most of the time, they play very well together and seem to enjoy each others’ company. We are convinced that they are going to be the kind of siblings who are best friends.
The train ride was not so fun. The first couple of hours were good. Food and just hanging out. Around 10, we decided to try to get the kids to sleep. Dressed them in pjs and turned almost all of the lights out. They refused. We put on some music and eventually Ilya fell asleep. Well, Lena was wired. WIDE AWAKE. Doing flips on the bed, etc. We were taking turns with her– Aaron walking her around in the train and me trying to get her to sleep. Finally, around 1:30, we decided to just make her sit there. I could tell she was getting tired. So, I held her on my lap and let her cry and scream. Eventually, I set her down next to me and she started rocking. If you have researched how children in an orphanage may behave, you know what I mean. I knew this was normal, so I just rubbed her back while she did it. She put her head on the pillow, gave her a sippy cup with some water and she was done. She let me keep one of my hands on her while she fell asleep, which I consider a good thing. We are trying to get her slowly used to physical affection without totally overwhelming her. It was 2am when she fell asleep. At 7:30, she woke up on her own. She had a sharp intake of breathe like she was a bit surprised about where she was (no kidding!) but she took my hand when I offered it to her and sat on my lap for a bit. She certainly displays some of the behaviors of a child who has been in an orphanage, but she also seems to be okay if we try to soothe her in some way. She loves to press buttons and she went to press the ones which light the gas stove today. She got a sharp “NYET” (“NO!”) and started to slowly rock herself. But, she let me pick her up and she just put her head on my shoulder and all was fine.
We have learned that both of them are totally potty trained. Lena was okay with wearing the diaper at night. Ilya looked at us like we were the stupidest people in the world and told us something like “HEY, I’M A BIG BOY. NO DIAPERS!” But, he did fine and only got Aaron up once to take him to the bathroom. By the way, I think you should get an automatic parenting award for spending your first night with a potty trained child on the train, using the train bathrooms. In disgusting things I’ve done, train bathrooms rank right up there with gutting moldy houses and cleaning the house after a sick dog has been alone for a few hours. Combine that with two 3 year olds who touch everything and are way too big to sit on the grown up seat. Yes. Wonderful.
Sorry for this very long blog post. This is the short version of the last 30 hours. So much has happened and it is hard to really comprehend it all. I can’t imagine how many “new” things these two have experienced since we picked them up. They’re both doing so well.
I’ll leave you with the cute picture of them looking at the train window this morning, taking it all in.