What an amazing day! Today began with great anticipation. For Daria, Alexander and Oksana, the day was to be a day of happy reunion. They were both excited and a little nervious at the thought of seeing Momma again. I knew it would be an even sweeter day than they imagined, as they were actually going to meet their new brothers and sisters as well!
|While Daria, Alexander and Oksana were shopping...|
|Mrs. Beaver and the rest of the crew were on their way!|
|First group picture standing just outside our apartment building in Moscow|
I did the best I could to explain that we had enough apartments for all the family and promised to bring back the paperwork to prove it. Then, I just did what I have frequently observed since arriving here... I did the Russian thing -- I went ahead and led the family up to our apartment over his mild protests. It seems the assumption here is that someone will object to just about anything you do and you need to just push ahead and let them stop you if they really mean it. At least that how it seems to work amongst Russians themselves... from an outsider's perspective.
Momma and I quickly "settled" the troops in our apartment, gathered the three newest Beavers and headed off to the embassy. There was no time to check in to rooms and spread people out before we left, so we left this jet-lagged group as comfortable as possible considering that we had 9 jet-lagged people occupying a single apartment with only 3 beds.
|It was a bit tight before we were able to check in to our other apartments|
|An amazing quiverful and blessing from the Lord!|
|Lissie and Jaynie with their new sister, Oksana|
|Tessa with her new brother, Alexander|
|Cassandra with her new sister Oksana|
|Natasha and Princess Bink with their new sister, Daria|
As our appointment time approached we walked the short distance back to the embassy, arriving just before the Foats. Together we re-entered the embassy for our final visit there, where the screening process was much easier since I had not brought a lot of electronics this time (see Day 5 blog).
The Day 2 embassy process was mostly similar to what we remembered from the past. First, we were ushered into a packed waiting room with several other American families and their Russian adoptees. After a few minutes of waiting, one of the embassy workers came out and addressed all the families to let us know what was going to happen. She had us all raise our right hand and swear that the information in our paperwork was truthful. Then she provided a very helpful briefing about the process we would go through that day, and the process we would go through on the trip home.
There was one important addition to this briefing versus what we remembered from prior adoptions - critical information about citizenship. We learned something here that we had only stumbled onto when we tried to get visas for our Russian children a couple of weeks before this trip - namely that our adopted Russian children would be dual citizens unless and until they chose, as adults, to renounce their Russian citizenship. They also told us it would be impossible for our Russian children to return to Russia on an American passport (once again, our experiences provided more evidence that God is sovereign over even the most powerful nations in the world as He provided IMPOSSIBLE visas for our Russian kids for this trip! Praise be to our sovereign God!).
Finally, the embassy worker told us that the young men being adopted were subject to mandatory military service if they entered Russia between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. We have much to research to understand the pros and cons of our children retaining dual citizenship, but in the mean time we'll be keeping Speedy and Alexander clear of Russia from about age 15 on! They could literally be conscripted on the spot... it has happened! Hmmm... come to think of it... this does give us some leverage as parents... hmmm...
Next, we were called as a family to a little cashier-style booth where the embassy worker went through all our paperwork, checking names, spelling, etc. for accuracy. The person helping us was the one who had provided the briefing for the group, so we took the time to say a BIG thank you for the citizenship information, and explained that it was news to us who had adopted twice from Russia over the past 9 years. After our paperwork was processed the embassy workers spent about another 25 minutes issuing the US visas for our kids (in their Russian passports), and then we were free to go. We went outside where we met Marina and waited for the Foats to finish the process themselves. It was a VERY happy gathering at this point.
Now we were anxious to get back to our other kids and start being a family of 14. Off we went to be reunited with the jet-lagged crew in our apartment! I also needed to check into the other apartments and then move the troops so people could settle in. The check-in process itself took about 45 minutes as the apartment manager had to take me around to all 4 other apartments, two of which were in a building about a block away, making sure all the keys worked and making sure I didn't have any questions. This was important because every single apartment is different, especially the key/security aspects of the apartments.
Finally, it was time to feed this enormous crew. Even at home that task will always be at least a bit challenging, but on foreign turf, particularly in a large city not especially open to children and large families it was daunting. We prayed and God led us to a "Coffee Haus" on the first floor of our own apartment building. Amazingly, God went before us and the staff not only allowed the 14 of us to sit in their very busy restaurant, they actually helped pull together tables for us! It was crowded but sweet! We did the best we could to keep the orders simple for the server who had a sweet, patient countenance and had a glorious first meal together!
|Our first real meal as a family of 14! Coffee Haus on the first floor of our apartment building in Moscow|
|Did I mention that Oksana LOVES bubbles?|
|Alexander LOVES drawing and other forms of artwork|
|Cassandra was a hit reading English language children's books|