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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…!

Ways to Spend Your 10-Day Wait

When it comes to international adoption, there is often a 10-day wait after going to court, which is meant for any appeals of the decision.  More of a formality than anything, it leaves adoptive families in the precarious position of having to jet back home, check the mail and water the plants, and jet right back again… or wait out the 10 days in region, which could be even more precarious.

Let’s just say that these areas of the globe are generally not the tourism capitals of the world.  I remember meeting another very sweet family from New Orleans while in my last Russian region, waiting out the 10 days.  They could not find food that was spicy enough for them, plus there was nothing to do.

“What’s up?” I asked one day when they motioned to me outside the hotel.

“Shhh… it’s going down-!” they whispered, as we took our perch on a short wall by the side of the hotel.  “The police pull cars over, then the driver gets into the cruiser if you could call it that, some rubles exchange hands, and it’s all over in under three minutes.”

“I see….  Don’t try to videotape them or anything,” I cautioned, shaking my head.

This was our amusement during long days and longer nights.  Our paths kept crisscrossing in region, and in Moscow.  I was able to help them communicate with their new pre-teen daughter (can you say “pajama party” in Russian-?), while they left pastries and fruit outside our door when departing on their early-morning flight to the capital.  (Bless them.)   But that was at the end of the wait, after we each had our daughters.  Prior to that, it wasn’t all fun and games.

Consider:  Counting dead flies on the windowsill.  Estimating the heel height of hotel employees.  Wondering what was the decibel range of the music pulsating from the disco downstairs that operated from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am.  Seeing how they swept the streets with the old-fashioned twig brooms. Winding up in trouble on a back alley because you’re photographing someone’s picturesque bloomers hanging on a clothesline.

I’ve written before about my ten days which consisted mostly of walking and writing.  Out of four Russian adoptions, only our last two had the ten day wait imposed.  During the days of the first adoption, there was no waiting period back then, and when we got to the second adoption, there was the mandatory wait, but so few adoptions in our region that the judge did not know about it.

So, when I was finally stuck there, I talked with children painting pictures of flowers in the town square, shmoozed with babushkas selling sunflower seeds on the street, and watched old folks ballroom dancing under the stars at the park in the forest.  Anyone with a dog or puppy was fair game for me getting to know them—I could rehearse the names and breeds of half the city’s hounds.  Naturally, speaking a bit of Russian helped.  Plus, I got a lot of computer work accomplished.

Some adoptive parents travel during the 10 day wait if they can’t see their child during that time period.  They go to other cities in the same country, or even nearby countries.  I mean, you’re already in the area, what a great idea….

I heard of world-famous spas that were in the mountains nearby.  How to get there and back?  I already had my experiences by myself on rickety buses in China with chickens in the aisles….  What if I got stuck somewhere and couldn’t return in time to collect my girls?  That would be a problem.  And what were these world-famous spas (that I had never heard of before in my life…)?  A Russian spa might be more on the spartan side than any five-star luxury—hard beds, boiling or freezing therapeutic waters, bringing your own food with you….  That already sounded like my budget hotel in the city.

In honor of Ivanka, currently experiencing her own solitary confinement of sorts in Ukraine, who is halfway through the wait and whose spouse has already left, here are 25 suggestions for those undergoing the 10-day wait.

1.  Read “War and Peace”.  Twice.  You probably have the time.  Read the Bible through cover to cover.

2.  Enjoy leisurely breakfasts.  When the child comes home, there may be no more leisure.  Ever.

3.  Travel if you can.  Then again, you’ve probably been impoverished by the adoption.  No travel.  Sit in your hotel or apartment.

4.  Visit any local point of interest.  I saved up visiting the regional museum, knowing that my new daughters would be fascinated to have an opportunity to see the early history of their area.  Upon taking custody and suggesting such an excursion, they informed me, “We don’t do museums.”  (That would change, but for now, I didn’t press the point, and I felt sorry that I hadn’t gone on my own earlier.)

5.  Check out the local supermarket or corner grocery for any healthy snack items you may want when your child arrives.  Generally, you do not want to take the child shopping… unless you have a spare 12 or 14 hours for them to touch and handle every. single. item. in the store.

6.  Plot out the rest of your life.  What are your goals and dreams?  Write them down.  You probably will never have an uninterrupted 5 minutes again.

7.  Attend a local church or synagogue.  Be sure to dress appropriately, you may need a headcovering (scarf for women).

8.  Photograph what the locals do in their spare time:  splash in a fountain on a hot day, rollerblade through the town square, fish on the riverbank, shop in the open-air market.

9.  Speaking of shopping… check out any souvenirs!  (I knew you could think of that on your own.)

10.  If adventuresome, get your hair cut or colored.  Pointing to a magazine picture should help.  Might help.  Well, at least in theory….  I had quite the experience in Italy once (well, make that more than once), and I thought I was communicating pretty well.

11.  Do your own spa treatment.  Just about the time that you have your toes punctuated with cotton balls, and your face slathered with a mud mask, I’m sure the maid will come knocking at your door, or there will be a fire drill.  That’s how I know that there are cameras in the hotel rooms.  They plan these things.

12.  Do water taste tests.  Write an article for a travel magazine with your findings and ratings.  Remember that fizzy water in Eastern Europe (vada s’gazom) for some reason tastes like drinking a rusty nail.  Go for the natural water without gas (vada bez gaza).

13.  Film street signs for your scrapbook.

14.  Take pictures of your shoes for Alexandra.  Take pictures of others’ shoes and what’s in style there.  It will hit America in another year.

15.  Go to an outdoor café and try not to cause an international incident.

16.  If adopting a baby or toddler, practice opening a diaper with one hand, while wearing the diaper bag crosswise on the body, and lifting a 20-pound weight.  And lift, 2, 3, 4.

17.  If adopting a school-aged child, practice saying, “Nyet” to every request for sugar.

18.  If adopting a teen, practice pitching out their contraband cigarettes, alcohol, and makeup, while they are sleeping.  When vaguely asked about it the next morning, try to be just as vague, “Are you missing something?  Here’s let’s look together…” while checking every drawer and bag, and thanking the Lord that it’s already down in the dumpster being found by a homeless person whose day you just made.

19.  Go shopping.  Beware of adult clothing that only goes up to size 2 or so.

20.  Visit a local college.  See if you can find a language tutor for yourself, or see if you might speak to students in need of English tutoring.  You might be the kind soul helping someone pass their exam.

21.  Play a sport:  tennis, squash, swimming… there are bound to be places where you can go for a few kopeks.  Some will have equipment to rent.

22.  Venture outside for at least a short walk every day.  The sunshine, the rain, the snow all may prove challenging, but this is the rhythm of their life and climate.

23.  Take a bus or tram ride.  I still kick myself for not leading our family on a tram adventure when we were adopting our second son.  We stayed in a remote hotel that required a very long walk to the supermarket.  The ladies at the front desk described to me in detail how to take the tram, but all I could envision was that I wouldn’t have the exact change, or would overshoot our stop and end up in Kazakhstan….  If the line goes straight up a main road, there should not be too much of a margin for error.

24.  Try to get some work done if you can telecommute.  If the internet connection is spotty, do all of the data entry or typing part, then use the internet for just 10 minutes or so to upload the files.

25.  Be nice to yourself.  I know it feels like a major waste of time, but so is bedrest during pregnancy.  If your spouse is there, enjoy your time together.  If you’re on your own, be thankful.

26.  Practice washing out your clothes in the sink or bathtub, or locate a laundromat.  There will soon be plenty more items to join yours!  The wait will be over before you know it.

 

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10 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar matryoshka wendy says:

    We watched Russian TV (determining that we could only indentify Da, Nyet, and Spasiba every time we heard them) and went for a walk every day (which drove our translator nuts), searching for the internet cafe that everyone told us about but we never did locate. journaled and played gameboy games. Fortunatly the orphanage director let me take custody of Jupiter about 4 days into the ten day wait, so while it was ten days before we could get the passport and everything, we had good bonding time in between. I kind of miss that time now. With our normal busy hectic life, I feel like days pass and I don’t even notice. Being forced to slow down for ten days was a gift. I can see that now, though as I recall I didn’t feel that way at the time!!

    • avatar admin says:

      Wow, that’s amazing, Wendy, that they let you take custody during the wait! Mine was also unusual in that they shaved a day or two off the end of the wait… I had no objections…. Now I wonder if the whole region wanted to get rid of me…. Thanks for sharing what you did, that’s cool to hear how everyone spends this rather unusual enforced holding pattern.

      What did the rest of you doooo??? (or not do, lol?)

  2. avatar Ivanka says:

    Now that my wait has been extended by A FEW DAYS, I am starting to reconsider what to do AGAIN. Many of your suggestions I have already participated. My Internet is really good some days and non on others. So I am just getting to read your blog tonight. I am seriously thinking about a haircut and I am desperate for pedicure, but not sure that my communication skills will land me where and with what I want to achieve. I am staying pretty busy and getting some reading done along with some other work items. My tutor (very challenging to obtain) must be the only soft-spoken man in all of Ukraine. I have since abandoned our sessions, since I could not hear anything he was saying? I do not think that he understand English enough to really be a tutor… Museums, monastery, monuments have been well visited even multiple times. I walk a good bit everyday. Gave up jogging since it seemed to be offensive to onlookers. Not sure if it was my attire or just the movement? Non-the-less I retired from that activity. These super-model types have no need for such heinous activities.
    And sometimes…I just sleep. I hat to say it here, while you all are in the fray from morning to night, but it is true and insult to injury I read…”WATER FOR ELEPHANTS” .
    But inspite of all, I am ready to be home.

  3. avatar Ivanka says:

    I meant to say that my clothing is soaking in the sink as I am standing on tip-toes to send this message along. LOL
    And I have ridden the trolley-car and to my embarrassment found that I do not know the appropriate conduct…still not sure why I was being yelled at the second time, but earlier in the ride I sat in the wrong seat, but my second offense is still a mystery. I was really glad to be off of this transport! Walking is good.
    You are not joking about clothing, and even my feet are too large a size for most shoes. I am trying not to be completely offended, but whoa.

    • avatar admin says:

      Well, Ivanka is back!!! My wait felt like it was extended by a FEW MONTHS… but enough about me… I think you’re in a bigger region than I was in. We had one museum and then there was one church that was closed for renovations. Period. The market. A forest. Another market. A mall with perfume testers calling out to me from their shelves. I made my entire circuit twice a day walking the entire “city”. There was always the post office, good for stamps for scrapbooks, not that I’ve ever made a scrapbook in my life, despite good intentions, but standing in line for a stamp, or an envelope took up a good hour or so. Did you know that these countries usually don’t sell envelopes with greeting cards for b-days, etc.?

      Ah, the non-English-speaking tutor is always fun. Did you expect him to teach you English? 🙂

      The trolley-car system is different everywhere in the world–sometimes you enter in the back and exit from the front. Sometimes you need to turn in or punch a ticket, otherwise you’re not legal to be onboard, on and on it goes. For all we know, they did not like your pedicure. The possibilities for being yelled at in a foreign country are endless. That would make a good blog… maybe I should start a list… “I Was Yelled at When I…”

      Okay, everybody, what should Ivanka do with the rest of her time? I actually renovated a guest room in a remote place where I was once staying–plastered and painted in my spare time in an old, historic building, walking under a ladder to get to the bathroom, but then I tend to get myself into very unusual situations….

  4. avatar Heather says:

    Love this post
    I have just returned from Trip One and preparing for trip 2. I had my sister for the first trip and we had each other for entertainment and we are pretty darn entertaining (if I do say so myself) Next trip I am going solo so your tips are perfect timing.
    One tip you could add—- start a blog 🙂

    Heather

    • avatar admin says:

      Hey Heather–congratulations on Trip 1-! It’s great you had your sister along for the ride, there are days that we all need some entertainment…. Keep us posted….

  5. avatar Don says:

    I just came across this blog, and these are some great ideas. We adopted through Vladivostok, and our experience there was both similar and quite different. We also had our ten-day waived, so we really appreciated the bonding time. On our first trip, we stayed in downtown Vladivostok, so we had easy access to the downtown area and all its attractions, the forts, the cathedral, and especially the seashore at Sportivnaya Harbor. Also, Vladivostok is the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is actually a beautiful building with surprisingly elegant ceiling frescoes and tile-work mosaics. Just wandering around spent most of our days during the short first visit.

    Most stay during their second visit at the Vlad Inn as much as possible. It’s an American style motel with a decent restaurant, and some rooms have small kitchens. They allow guests access to their water filtration, which makes many things quite a bit easier. There’s a small playground in the back of the property, too.

    The Vlad is outside of the downtown area, a few minutes from the Amursky Gulf. The shore of the gulf is great and easy to walk down to, and there’s a small park on the gulf. There’s also a walking path along the railway. Between the Vlad the park and gulf is the Sanatornaya rail stop, allowing easy access to downtown should the mood strike and you feel brave. Otherwise, one afternoon we asked our facilitator/translator/all-around fixer if during her travels we could be taken downtown for the afternoon. No problemo.

    So, for those traveling the Primorsky Krai route, between downtown meandering and attractions, and if you find yourself at the Vlad Inn, the playground, park, and walking trail would keep one and their small ones busy.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Don, for joining in and adding your great tips about Vladivostok! I wouldn’t mind heading there on the Trans-Siberian Railway, whisked away to Russia’s largest port city on the Pacific. Talk about magical….

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