Today was an important but fairly mellow day for us on this journey, made up primarily of taking the initial steps at the US Embassy for establishing our children's immigration and citizenship status.
We walked to the embassy (about a 30 minute trek) because the weather was beautiful and it saved us $100, which is what drivers charge for every trip, pretty much regardless of duration. Once again we met up with the Foat family and Marina (our facilitator) for our journey through this next step in the process... the start of the homeward journey through the US process.
Both we and the Foats separately tried to enter the embassy through incorrect doors and were descended upon by Russian security guards who seemingly came out of nowhere to redirect us to the correct door. Once we found the right entrance, Marina ushered us past an enormous line of Russians waiting to enter and apply for immigration or business visas to the US. The adoption entrance itself was relatively uncrowded with just the Foats, a few other families and us, but the entrance process was quite thorough:
- First, we had our passports checked... twice (maybe some sort of system to make sure errors get caught?)
- Then we had a pat down and electronic screening (like the wands they use at the airport for screening)
- Then we had to surrender all electronics. I had forgotten about this step, so I caused a major delay. Mike Foat accused me of carrying a portable Radio Shack store in my backpack... and to be honest he wasn't far off. I had all the kids cameras, my camera, my computer, my I-pods, charging cords for all my electronics, headphones (for use with Rosetta Stone) and probably a few other things too. Fortunately the guard thought it was rather funny so she didn't give us a hard time. She just warned me to make sure I had given her everything or I would be "sent back". Back where, I don't know, but it sounded ominous enough to avoid the issue so I checked my bag thoroughly.
- Then we all had to remove our belts before going through metal detectors and an airport-style x-ray process. I had only an empty bag and my coat by that time, so it was no issue.
This was the first confirmation I had that the process would indeed take 2 days. While the possibility had been mentioned I had seen nothing in writing about it and no one explained the process to us in advance. This was a disappointment because I had hoped to surprise Denise and the kids by greeting them at the airport (I can say this now because by the time I post, Denise and the kids will be on the flight to Moscow, praise God!).
Unfortunately, our day 2 appointment was for 2pm. And while you might think we could easily meet a 10am arrival and make it back to the embassy by 2pm, that is likely not the case in Moscow traffic... I wasn't about to take a chance on getting this far in the process and then miss the all-important embassy appointment! We would just have to scuttle the plans to meet the family at the airport.
|If I remember correctly, this is a photo of 'light' Sunday traffic|
From there both families accompanied Marina to a nearby restaurant called MyMy (pronounced, moo-moo) for a briefing on the remaining steps in the process. Marina took this step because we had both indicated some discomfort with not really knowing what steps remained or how and when to take them. She was surprised to find out how little we had been told before leaving the US and apologetically briefed us on the remaining steps.
|Oksana challenges a local restaurant to keep up with her appetite|
|Our Daria with the Foat's 15-year-old girl|
|Marina with the kids in front of one of Stalin's magnificent buildings|
|Keeping Vesta in business... I wonder what Hy-Vee is doing?|
|Afternoon snacks of yogurt|
|Followed by yet another beautiful creation by Daria|
|Daytime view from our apartment the afternoon before Mama arrives|
Tomorrow we go back to the embassy in time for our 2pm appointment. We are required to take this step without Marina's guidance. She estimates we'll be done by 2:45pm, at which time she'll meet us outside the embassy to take our paperwork for processing with the Russian consulate.
The following two days she will walk our paperwork through the Russian consulate. We praise God that we don't have to even be there, so we'll have family time all to ourselves.
Then she will deliver all our necessary traveling papers to our apartment and we'll be free to leave (which we won't do until Sunday, as we needed that Saturday night stay-over to save thousands on air fare!)
Now that we've finished dinner, cleaned up and played a few games, everyone is in the process of cleaning themselves up (showering) in anticipation of Mama's arrival tomorrow! WE can't wait for the reunion!