I want to start off by telling you guys a story I forgot to tell you yesterday. On Monday, in Volgograd, our translator, lawyer, and their driver, came to pick us up to go to the orphanage to get Jonah. We headed over there, processed everything, said a tearful goodbye to his care takers, and hit the road. A little explanation first. In Russia, traffic is really bad. There are traffic laws, but they are extremely loose. For instance, there is a yellow line down the middle of the road that seperates the different directions of traffic, but there are no lines indicating driving lanes on either side of that yellow seperation line. Now remember on our first blog from Volgograd that I mentioned that a scary man in a black Audi picked us up, and I was convinced that he was going to kill us? The driver we had on Monday was this same guy. His name is Dimitry, and he is quite nice. We have had him drive us around on every trip we have taken over here, and this situation was no different. Dimitry is a scary looking dude. If Vladamir Putin and Jason Statham had a baby, it would look like Dimitry. So, back to Monday. We had just picked Jonah up and hit the road. Traffic was bad, as usual, and we were in a jam headed back to the hotel. We weren't in the Audi, but in some other kind of SUV. We were traveling down the road, slowly, when an old man in a fiat cut Dimitry off. Since there is no lane seperation, there was no turn signal, no indication he was coming, just 6 inches between the fiat and Dimitry's SUV. Dimitry got visibly angry and blew his horn. He began to mumble under his breath in Russian. He followed closely to the Fiat and would not let it get away. Soon after, we came upon a red light, and Dimitry pulled up next to the Fiat. He blew his horn and rolled his windown down. At this point, I was waiting for him to stick a potato on the end of a revolver and blow this guy's head off! With his menacing voice and terrifying demeanor, he willed the old man to roll his windown down! Literally, the guy had no intention of engaging in conversation, but he did anyway. That's how you know your the boss. You make people talk to you even when they are in another vehicle and do not have to do so. The old man timidly rolled his window down and Dimitry said something to him in a very low bass that sounded awful. The old man kind of withered and slowly rolled his window up. The interesting thing is that our translator and lawyer acted as if this was completly normal. They never acknowledged the situation at all! It was amazing. We were all impressed with his clout and I was justified in the fear I felt on the first night. He may have willed that I fear him, who knows! Anyway, I didn't want to leave that out. It is fighting a close battle with hearing Jonah say "da-da" as my second favorite moment of this trip! That's how great it was.
On to today. I was complaining last night about not getting any sleep. Well, that has been fixed. We got back to the room last night about 8:30, and after a bottle, Jonah was sacked out. We took the opportunity to go to sleep also. We all slept until about 4:30 this morning before he woke us up. 8 hours of sleep was blissful. It was the first 8 Leah and I had gotten since mid week last week! I appreciated it so much. We have learned to sleep when he sleeps. Nap time, car rides, plane rides, whenever he sleeps, we sleep. He is in control. He has been running a low grade fever all week due to teething. You can tell it really starts to bother him in the early afternoon. He chews on anything he can get his hands on. We have been rotating tylenol and ibuprofen with him to make him a little more confortable. Teething makes him very fussy during the day. Just whining and complaining with no way to satisfy him. We were at the end of our rope today until we discovered that all he wanted was apple juice. Not sure why, but he has been killing apple juice all day and it seems to help with the fussyness. I'm going to own stock in J7 yablica juice before I leave Moscow!
We went to the US embassy to get his Visa and immigration papers today! That was an experience. Because we were US citizens we were allowed to skip the lines and get out business done quickly. Jonah now has a Visa to travel back to the United States. HIs immigration status is approved and final. He is, pretty much, considered a US citizen. We must complete the re adoption process when we get home to finalize his citizenship. They told us today that the Russian Federation will always considerer Jonah a Russian citizen unless he flys back to Russia and denounces his citizenship. This means that if he travels here between the ages of 18-27 he will probably be drafted into the military. Lots of people have asked us if we would be traveling back to Russia with him to visit. I guess that will depend on how bad he wants to fight for Russia in their military! We will ask him in a few years!
Overall he has done great today. Lots of playing, lots of napping, lots of eating, and most of all lots of loving. He gives us kisses and calls Leah Mama. He says DaDa, but he doesn't direct it at me. He will point at Leah and scream MAMA!!! He is an amazing little boy. We just finished dinner in the hotel restaurant, and he was putting on a show for all of the women in the restaruant. They were gathered around talking to him and he was just dancing and talking back. Spitting game as well as I have seen in a long time. He is going to be a mess. He is a performer! For us, for strangers, for Dimitry! He just performs. We love it.
Only two more days left for us in Russia. It's kind of bittersweet. Of course we are ready to be home, but I have grown to love this counrty. Their way of doing things, their food, their architecture, I love it all. I will always have a special spot in my heart for Russia and for their people. You have a certain expectation, due to stereotypes you hear at home, but when you get here, you realize that it is far different than what you thought. I've read a lot in the news saying that there is a lot of anti american sentiment in Russia, especially concerning adoption. That couldn't be farther from the truth. We have been stopped in the street, or in the supermarket by Russians who will tell us, in Russia, that they are so thankful that we are there giving Jonah a home. Our translator will tell us what they are saying and it is very moving. I guess they can tell we are American and he is Russian (for now). We have heard nothing negative and we are thankful for that. I think my entire outlook on our country's foreign relations has changed. Sitting in the US it's easy to forget that there are actual humans over here and in other countries that are having to endure the hardships and other challenges that come with life outside of the United States. Think what you want about our country, it is the best in the world. No question. Our translator told us yesterday that even though things were better than they were during communism, that they still were not free. He told us that we were lucky and all the Russian people wanted was a life like the one we had in America. That is why he helps Americans adopt Russian children, so they can have that life. It was very eye opening. We have been blessed beyond measure. I hope we all realize that.
We are almost home! We cannot wait. Please continue to pray for us and for Jonah. God has been so good to us through this whole experience. He has brought us on this amazing journey to bring Jonah home and he has taught us so much about Himself. I understand the cross so much more than I did a year ago. The gospel is so much clearer. We'd like to think that God brought us on this journey to teach us a lot about ourself and to give Jonah a home, and he has, but even bigger than that, he brought us on this journey to teach us about himself, and about his sacrafice in order to adopt us. We have no claim to the birthright, it was freely given. Just as Jonah was born with no hope, we were born with no hope. Hope is found in the cross. We knew that before, but it is crystal clear now. We love Him because he loves us. And we love you guys too! Later.