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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Eight Years Ago…

We met our first son, Petya, in Russia, eight years ago this week.  Silently falling snow wrapped Moscow like a blanket.  We sipped steaming borsch on a high hotel floor overlooking Red Square.

St. Basil’s, jewel-like and picturesque, created the magical scenery outside our suite.  What a contrast when we arrived to our region, hours away by air, and traversed the muddy village lanes laden with ice and geese almost the size of a grown person.

This was the village setting of my Russian-American childhood, whether from memories or from imaginations, I know not which. We had a wood carving of these exact geese in our home, growing up.  They were leading me from my childhood… to my child… full circle.

Our son was situated just beyond the iron fence surrounding the perimeter.  As we left our driver and car, striding toward the orphanage, a hand pulled aside a lace curtain from an upstair’s window.

The meeting was all it was meant to be, each side enthralled with the other, each side observing the other.  Our son revelled in being the center of attention and having us all to himself.  He was school-aged, yet had never been to school.

We read to him in Russian, and played with him, and took him on a stroll outdoors.  I asked the director about his character.

She told of how he was kind, helpful, a good friend to others, summing it up for us.

“Ohn silnee, kak mooshee’nah,” (He’s strong like a man).

Strong in body, strong in mind, strong in character.  That’s my son, Petya, a Russian jewel better than any Faberge’ bauble.  He shines brighter and brighter with every passing day.

Do you remember your first meeting?



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13 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Oh yes. Serov. Thanksgiving week. 2004. A five hour car ride from the apartment in Ekat. Gala had just turned 13 months. I remember about an hour and a half into the visit, when she finally really let me cuddle her, and just lay in my arms and looked at me out of one big blue eye, and I was trying so hard not to cry so I wouldn’t scare her. And failing completely at trying not to cry. Nothing in life will ever compare to that moment.

    Hard to believe it’s been that long…

    • avatar admin says:

      Wow, what a beautiful moment, Wendy! And 13 months old, amazing. I remember getting on the plane back to Moscow and trying not to cry, thinking, “We just left our son-!” So unreal. The next three kids took some getting used to, lol, as they adjusted to us and vice-versa, and the trust developed.

  2. avatar Linda says:

    It’s only been 1,5years since we met our son for the first time… He was so brave, at just under four, he knew why we came to see him, he just looked at us with his big big eyes, didn’t say more then 5 words the first day… We thought he couldn’t speak, we were wrong… He could speak, he just choose not to. When he finally 4 Months later became legally our son, he decided to stop talking to strangers and for the next 8 Months he wouldn’t talk hardly anything to anybody else, except his papa and mama.
    I was afraid to touch him, used two fingers to stroke his back as he sat in my lap, just so he wouldn’t cry… Now he finds that little fact so funny, mama was afraid when we met…

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s an fabulous story, Linda. How special to treat him so delicately-! The trust that they have in us, even when we’re virtual strangers…. I recall thinking, “I must kiss him on the cheek before we leave”. He had never been kissed before.

  3. avatar AP says:

    We had just spent over an hour listening to the girls history. And then the girls walked in the room. They were smiling and yet nervous. They were just two beautiful sweet innocent little girls who God led us to.

    Thank you for stirring up the memories.

  4. avatar Sybil says:

    We waited anxiously in the director’s office not knowing how we were going to be introduced to our daughter. We and another couple were the first to adopt in our orphanage in Birobidzhan in February of 1998 and we wanted to leave a good impression so that the director would let other adoptive parents come to get children. Finally, the door opened and a tiny little girl who looked no more than almost 3 years old, but was 5 1/2 came in with a huge smile on her face. I thought, “this is my child and I want her to know I want her” so I stood up, walked toward her offering her my arms to come into and she flew into them. I picked her up (she weighed 30 lbs) and it felt as though her heart would beat out of her chest ; it was beating so hard. An hour and a half later, just before we had to leave her for the day, I asked our translator to ask our daughter if she knew that we had a new name for her as the other couple there was already calling the two children they were adopting by their new names. We hadn’t planned to rush into the new name, but we wanted her to know that she wasn’t being slighted in any way in case she thought that. When she said she knew we had a new name for her and we asked if she wanted to hear it, she said, “da”. We told her but I proceeded to call her Sveta, her Russian name again. She held up her finger as if to stop me and said, “nyet Sveta….McKenna” and we were blown away. She wanted to be called by her new name. When we left for the day (court was the next day), Papa and I had separation anxiety. We were very lucky, they only required one trip in 1998. It would have been beyond hard to have to leave her once we met her. Now she is in college and working – how is that possible, we were just in Russia!

    • avatar admin says:

      One trip… court on the second day… hard to believe it used to be like that in Russia, now that some are experiencing FOUR trips! And she knew her new name within a couple of hours? Of course she’s in college, Sybil, she’s a genius! What a story, with her running into your arms–wow! 🙂

  5. avatar Greg says:

    Our first meeting was one year ago….Dec. 2nd, 2010. Our then 14 year old daughter was hiding behind the asst. orphanage director as we stepped out of the directors office. You could see how she wanted desperately to look us over but was too timid to do so. They took us to a private “conference room” where there was no heat. We sat shivering in the cold looking over a photo album that we had brought trying desperately to show her we were “normal”. About 5 minutes into this, she turned to my wife and said “da”. My wife turned to our facilitator and said, “did she just say yes to the adoption?” The facilitator asked her and responded back to us “yes she did!” My normally understated wife leapt out of her chair and gave her a big hug. I had the camera out and snapped a picture of the moment. It is one of those shots that completely encapsulates the pure joy of the moment. I still can’t believe how desperate our daughter’s situation was that within 5 minutes of meeting us she agreed to the adoption. The court granted our request on Dec. 10th, 2010 and she was home February 9, 2011. The delay due to a Russian birth certificate that had to get modified since we were adopting from Ukraine.

    • avatar admin says:

      Congratulations on one year ago meeting your daughter, Greg! From my (multiple) experiences, lol, and all of the other stories I’ve heard over the years, that’s a very unusual response: DA! That is so huge. It’s as though she was waiting for you, and then gave it her seal of approval. How beautiful!

  6. avatar Sybil says:

    Just adding another congratulations Greg. We are so happy you were able to adopt your then 14 year old daughter.

    • avatar admin says:

      I don’t know if it’s me and the circles in which I move, or the availability of children, etc., but I’m hearing of more and more older children being adopted. Parents are needed for all ages, but how wonderful when both an adoptive family and an older adoptee feel that they can trust each other enough to start a new life together-!

    • avatar Greg says:

      Thank you Sybil! I loved reading your story as well. As one of the readers commented, “nothing in life will ever compare to that moment”. How true!

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