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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…!

Russian Spy Rings & Adopted Spy Kids

Just about the time the ten (make that eleven and counting) Russian undercover agents were being arrested for spying in America, our family invited five Russian students home for dinner. If they were planting microphones for information-gathering purposes, they’d get an earful at our house, that’s for sure.

“She took my pencil!”

“I don’t know vhere are my spelling vords!”

“His feet are touching me!”

“Tell her to stop reading out loud!”

Ah yes, such gems are bound to entertain the FSB (formerly known as the KGB). At least the eavesdropping agents would not require simultaneous translation on their direct feed, since our kids regularly resorted to Russian for all complaints, quarrels, and questions.

Many casual observers could not fathom that the suspected spies lived among them in surburbia, just outside major metro areas. Made absolute sense to me. Not everyone can afford the high-rent districts of the city. Plus, where else do you think they would live–in the Kremlin, or on Capitol Hill? Maybe. But these were the elusive “everyday folks”, couples, families that you’d never suspect. Probably kids like ours will be their next recruits–I mean, who would imagine that children with their never-ending questions might be involved in covert and clandestine operations? Perfect.

They say that most of those arrested did not have Russian names. Oh well, that disqualifies my kids. But many are the days when my kids become confused about their own names, addresses, and emergency phone numbers:  what city are we in, and what is our street number?

That might make them very attractive as spy recruits. They would be so deeply under cover that they would forget their own identity, which could prove advantageous in times of torture and interrogation, yet work against them when reporting-in to headquarters.

“Hello, this is Parrot–no Pelican–uh, Rhino?–no, Rubber Ducky!”

A Ph.D. counter-terrorism expert friend of ours once commented a year or two after we brought home Petya, that we should monitor his activities. He knew we were part of the Russian-American community and that Petya could be found at some official functions.

“They’re going to start recruiting him,” he informed me.

“For what? He’s nine years old,” I laughed.

“It begins with careful cultivation over years. E-mails, cellphone calls, sleep-overs….”

Little did the Rooskies know, Petya had a secret anti-agent weapon of his own: helicopter parents, aware of his every movement-! The boy’s conspiratorial career would be over before it ever began.

It is currently estimated that there are more Russian spies operating in the US and in the UK than were operating during the Cold War. At any given time, approximately 50 couples work under deep cover in America, “illegals”, while thousands of others engage in everyday secret snooping and surveillance, “legals”.

I’m not sure that the Russians would want to try recruiting any of my Russian-American, dual-passport kids. There would be no successful outcome for several reasons. First of all, they were adopted at older ages and take a very dim view of all that had befallen them in the homeland. Secondly, some of them have the attention span of a distracted ten-year-old waiting just before the school’s final dismissal bell sounds for summer break. Thirdly, they’re not the best blackmail candidates.

“We’ll spread it around that you don’t eat your broccoli,” comes the sneering, threatening voice over the crackling phone line.

“Go ahead, Big Nose, and I’ll tell your mom….”

On the other hand, doggies Misha and Grisha show some promise, having a lot to recommend them. They can often be spotted fake-sleeping, peering at my computer screen from behind their bushy brows, no doubt passing information to neighbor dogs feigning to lift a leg in our yard. Best to stay alert to the seemingly-benign.

As they say in America: “In God we trust.”

All others, we monitor.


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