I went to bed nervous, scared, upset and frustrated. After a midnight (here) phone call from Lorien at my agency, she talked me down off the cliff and emphasized the importance of one step at time. Every little thing was stressing me out this morning - hair, temperature in the room, etc. anything to avoid the giant elephant in the corner, staring me in the face of what could potentially be a really rough day.
We were off to the Department of Education. The first stop of the journey. The DOE gives you the permission to visit the baby home and that specific child. Imagine a very small, warm room at the top of 5 flights of stairs in an older building much like at a University. The woman was scary, and asked some questions and then explained the policies. No smiles. Hard to get used to because you don't realize until you don't get them how reassuring a simple smile is.
After the scary stop, we were off to the baby home in Artem (about 1 hour away). We made a quick stop at the local Department of Education to pick up a facilitator - this time not so scary, who came along with us. Another 20 minutes in the car and we arrived to a complex of apartments and old abandoned factories. Just as I am wondering where we are, we pulled into a cute, sparse, but nicely decorated baby home. Inside we went...
We waited about 2o minutes while the little guy and his group finished their lunch. Finally, it was time for the BIG moment. They brought the little guy in, and just as everyone said, I knew instantly that unfortunately, I was not the mom for this little guy. My dreams and hopes are that he finds a wonderful caring family to take care of him. We played with him a bit, and listened to the brief description from the doctors, not knowing when was the appropriate time to say "Nyet".
As we walked to the car, I really tried to be strong, but the tears did start to flow. Not the first time, however. I felt horrible leaving him behind, but knew in my heart that it was the right decision. We stood by the car while our driver went inside for a minute. One of the caretakers from inside, walked out with a little girl (dressed in boys clothes) who was walking around the adorably cute playground area smelling the flowers and playing with her caretaker. Rhonda made a quick joke about "don't bring her down here, we'll be tempted to stash her in the car" because she was so cute. Sergei, the driver, returns with news that they'd like to introduce me to a little girl - almost 2 yrs old. So back inside we went.
By now, you can probably guess what happened. The little girl who was outside smelling the flowers -- that's her. Rhonda started to tear up and I really had to hold it back, thinking what so many of the families who have traveled before have said "You Just Know". While I still have some questions about her background - we have an appointment to go back and visit her tomorrow. So while nothing is finalized, I am a very different frame of mind tonight vs. last night.
More from Russia tomorrow... it's late and to quote another adorable little girl... "The Sun Has Gone, To Bed and So Must I..."