GOTCHA DAY! (Aka: Tales of the Fast and Furious - Gotcha Day!)
We stayed up way too late trying to get things packed, finishing up paperwork for the US Embassy. We finished thing up and were waiting for our facilitator and driver to get us at 2:30pm.
We're supposed to drop off our suitcases to the train station and then head to the orphanage to sign paperwork and pick up the girls. Then we had to drive back to town and catch the train at 4:30pm. That was the plan.....
But, sometimes plans don't work so well, so you have to adjust a little. We told the driver that we had the 3 large suitcases and a large box, and two strollers that we bought here. I think it may have missed in translation, because he showed up in the regular car, and about had a heart failure when he saw our huge pile of stuff. And a sense of hurried craziness began. We couldn't get it all in the car, and all of us. So Lee and Valen took the car and stuff, and T and I went to flag down a taxi to take us over and meet them at the train station. T had him drop us at a bus stop and we waited on a street corner and waited for the guys to drive by and get us. Now we are off to the orphanage at a hot and heavy pace!
Just before we pulled away from the corner, T turns around and hands me a package of paperwork that we will need at the Embassy. And lo and behold..... THERE ARE THE PASSPORTS! Right on top... a full day earlier than expected! PRAYERS ANSWERED!!! I almost started crying.
As we zoom out to the orphanage we're watching the clock. Lee calls Nate to see if we can get some help schlepping the bags to the train carriage. Time is going to be short. Nate is taking another friend (Steve) to the train station to ride the same train. They will already be there so it should work.
We get to the orphanage about 3:15pm and run the clothes into the little pink house and ask the nannies to get the girls dressed. I brought them two matching pink outfits. We head over to the administration office to sign several documents acknowledging that we are taking full custody of the children. Wow! This is it! It's finally and completely official! Our new daughters are fully in our care now!
We walk quickly back to the pink house and the girls are dressed and waiting. Now it's time to start stuffing them into their snowsuits and boots. Many of the staff was busy with other things, so it seemed rather unceremonious. No big fuss. Not much of anything, really. Two ladies helped me get the girls into the winter duds. About that time, T comes in and indicates that we need to get going. We wave our goodbyes and say "paka, paka!" to everyone. Only one of the nannies looked like she was about to get teary about them leaving.
I was busy getting the girls dressed and didn't realize that I put the camera in my pocket. I thought Lee had it again. Well, I didn't get any ceremonial pictures at the orphanage - dang it!
We got back in the car by 3:40pm and begin flying back to town to catch our train. Watching the clock... feeling a little nervous... we're thinking there might be a possibility we could end up taking the overnight train instead. We'll see. Wouldn't be the first road bump we've hit.
We make it to the train station parking lot at 4:10pm. T and I take the girls to the carriage. Lee and Valen go to get the bags. It's a mad rush. Our friends are waiting at another place and I have the phone so Lee can't call them. Nate calls me, but I tell them to go ahead and get Steve on board. We'll make it. Valen finds a porter and gets help for us. We meet up at the carriage and there is only 12 minutes until the train leaves. We have so much stuff we can't get it on fast enough and trying to get around other passengers who are also boarding. What a frenzy! We finally get it all in our compartment, including all of us. We now have 2 minutes to spare! And our train begins to move.... BIG SIGH! We made it!
We could finally rest for a bit. We took off all the coats and gear and tried to settle in.
So here are our first pictures for Gotch Day once we got onto the train.
|Daddy and Lindsay (now Hannah)|
|Shawna (now Naomi)|
About 2 hours later, we make it to the first stop. Our friend Steve, who was in another carriage, came by to visit for a little bit and make sure that we were OK. Since he can speak and understand some Russian, he helped Lee get some food for us from the dining car. Thanks, Steve!
We arrived safely in the capital city around 10:20pm and Niko, our driver, met us on the platform. We were surprised when a small mob of people started to board our carriage as we are trying to get off. We weren't sure what was going on. Come to find out, this particular car is the one that carries the special delivery packages and envelopes each trip. All these folks were here to collect their important packages and envelopes.
Steve showed up and checked on us and made sure that we were OK again. With Niko here, we knew that we were. We said goodbye to him as he was connecting to another train, headed home to his family. We filled Niko's van to the brim! He got us situated in the apartment, and got our internet up and running so we could reach the folks we needed back home. Plane tickets are very, very important business!
|Hannah and Naomi - In our first apartment!|
The girls did wonderfully well on the train. Of course, we had the benefit of a compartment to ourselves so we didn't disturb any other passengers. We settled in and got them dressed into their new pajamas that fit! They are both wearing 4T footed pj's comfortably! The girls slept well and through the night. So did we!