Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 5 in Moscow - 4th Day with the Kids

Mr. Beaver -

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.
Marina rushed both families up to a waiting room while she was 'interviewed' by Russian citizens working at the US Embassy. Her interview was to make sure all the paperwork was right so they could start the processing of the applications that we need to enter the US when we return with the kids. Within a matter of minutes, Marina came back and asked for both dads to accompany her. The speed of her return was a sign that Marina had done her homework in preparing our papers! Mike and I left the children in Amy's capable hands and took a labyrinth of passages from the waiting room to... the cashier! Mike and I had had the impression Marina needed just the dads because we were going to do some important thing that only dads can do. But, alas, our value as dads was to pay the bill. We did however get our appointment for Day 2 of the process when we got our receipt for payment (no deadbeats here - pay first, then pump your gas!).

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
We were finished with the Day 1 embassy process in about an hour. We exited through the only exit door, which initially left me quite puzzled because I hadn't had a chance to get my electronics back. But Marina knew what was on my mind and quickly ushered us around the outside of the building and back through the line we had initially used to enter the facility. We stood at a 'drive-through' style window to receive our electronics back from the clerk, never having to re-enter the actual building.

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
While we parents chatted with Marina about the process, the older kids had a good time socializing with each other, and Oksana had a good time chowing down. She's a good eater, and tucked away 2 full size blinis, a piece of pie and a glass of juice with no problem. This was after she had had about a 5 course breakfast!

Our Daria with the Foat's 15-year-old girl
We enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the apartment, basking in the fact that it wasn't raining today, and stopping for our daily stock-up at the Vesna food store. We spent the rest of the day cooking, eating meals, playing games and just enjoying each other's company.

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!


Natalie said...

You are doing a great job Mr. Beaver!
Praying for you all as you continue the tedious process!!!

The kids look so happy too!!!

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Congratulations Mr. Beaver.
I'm so glad that you're almost done.
I'll keep praying that your whole family can get home safely.

Sophie said...

Praying for you all! This is so exciting! Your new three children are beautiful, and we are praying for the rest as the travel! What blessings and responsibilities!

MacMeister said...

^^ What they said :-)

Continuing in prayer for you all!

The Nordstroms said...

Wow! Love to watch the story unfold!