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Jacob's Journal
Continental flight from Houston to New York

Mark & Beth at JFK airport

We flew Aeroflot from New York to Moscow

Mama & son reunited after almost 6 months

June 2, 2002 - Sunday
Arrived Moscow June 3, 2002 - Monday
Entry by Mama

Here we go again…this time to bring you home, Jacob. Our day started bright and early, your sister got in bed with us at 3:30am. By 5:15am. I was up and Dad followed shortly after. We dropped Victoria off at Uncle Joe's and Aunt Laurie's. She will stay with them until daddy goes home on Friday. Victoria hugged and kissed us goodbye and wasn't upset at our leaving. We were able to fly Continental on non-rev thanks to Mimi (Mrs. Spates). We had no problem getting on the fight.

We arrived at New York LaGuardia airport. I had hoped Oppenheimer would have arraigned a car for us but that didn't happen. We got our bags and took a cab to JFK airport. It wasn't a bad deal - $25. Our first plane arrived at 2pm in New York and our Aeroflot flight to Moscow doesn't leave until 9pm. We met a couple, Mark and Beth from somewhere near Charlotte NC. They are also adopting. They have a daughter, Sophie in Vladivostok - where we stayed when we were here in January.

Dad's back is holding up so far. He threw it out again 2 weeks ago and has been doing physical therapy himself at home. We found some seats in the waiting area that back into a corner. It is just big enough for him to lie down, stretch and do his back exercises. He is not looking forward to sitting on a plane for another 9 hours! But you know what? When we got the call for your court date he did not hesitate. Daddy and I both would do anything for you and Victoria. I can't believe it has been 5 ½ months since we last saw you. Our court date is Wednesday June 5th and your first birthday is June 6th. So we get to celebrate with you and from here on we will actually have two celebrations, the day you became ours and the day you were born.

We arrived in Moscow at approximately 3:30pm. (Moscow time). By the time we cleared passport control, got our luggage and cleared customs it was about 5pm. We were met by Galina who was our Moscow translator in January, Konstantin our facilitator and Michael our driver. They surprised us by telling us we were going directly to see you! Daddy and I were exhausted. We had been up 24 hours or more but we still jumped at the chance to see you after such a long wait.

Everything looks so different without all of the snow we saw in January. We didn't ever recognize your baby home. You were just as happy as ever and had your photo album we left. The butterfly we left was also hung on the wall. We played and took pictures. Dinnertime came and daddy and I fed you. You are a very good eater. When you finished your bottle (some porridge mixture) you began to fuss and cry. The caregiver (who said you were her favorite) actually gave you another bottle even though the other children only got one. I am guessing that is only because we were there. I noticed right away that you had a rattling in your lungs and a runny nose. Apparently all the children have a cough/cold. Everyone else got shots but you didn't! We get to see you again from 12-3. On Wednesday the judge will officially make you part of our family but you really have been since we committed to you last December. We love you very much.

June 4, 2002 - Tuesday
Entry by Mama

We were picked up at 11:15am today. Before we left daddy exchanged some money. $100US = 3100 rubles, a little better than January when it was 30:1. We arrived at noon and spoke with the director, Dr. Svetlana. She verified your medical and legal file. Then we went to a large playroom (that only had one window open) and played with you for about 2 ½ more hours. They still had you dressed very warmly. You felt hot from the clothes. I can't wait to give you a good bath and dress you. I did manage to give you a dose of vitamins and Triaminic for your cold. We played for a long time. You love anything that makes noise. We had our first baby accident. You threw up just a little on daddy. You love to play "patty cake" with me. You also loved the bubbles I brought. When I changed your diaper I noticed 2 little bruises on your bottom from shots. I asked them to refrain from any more shots in an effort to save you and let the medicine go further since we will have you home shortly. When we had to take you back, there was some commotion going on. Apparently a baby was being removed from your group by 2 uniformed people with an ambulance waiting outside. We never got a very clear answer other than the child had a cold as you all do. Amrex told us there was a total of 3 families including us adopting at the same time. We all have court together at 9am. They are picking us up at 8:15am. We don't know who will go first. It seems that this court may be more formal than Victoria's. Guess we will find out what to expect tomorrow.

We are staying at the Marriott Renaissance. It is nice, but certainly not the Grand. The rooms and atmosphere are not as "grand," but then, neither are the prices. Everyone we have met has been very nice and they all speak English. There is a Lufthansa ticket office located inside the hotel lobby, as well as a money changing place. They even had an ATM inside the office. There are 4 restaurants in the hotel, The American Steakhouse, Olivia's, Vienna Café and German Bierstube and even a small bakery. The Renaissance is a little further from the center of town than the Grand and there is not as much within walking distance like there is at the Grand. Red square is too far to walk but a short taxi ride. The Renaissance has a business center and even an indoor pool.

When we returned to our room, daddy and I both took a nap. We are feeling better after some rest. That long flight takes a toll on our bodies. The cleaning lady did not come until 8pm; we just had her do the bathroom. Oh, I forgot to mention the grocery store we stopped at. It was a big 24 hour store like a small Kroger or Albertsons. They had everything including a guard/police type person who didn't want us to take our bag in with us. They wanted to check it at the counter. We of course couldn't do that because our money, passports, visas and camera were in the bag. They ended up sealing the bag with plastic. We bought 3 big bottles of Pepsi, 2 big bottles of water, 2 cans of Pringles, 4 large beers (for dad), 2 bottles of Russian Vodka for Comerica (souvenirs) and 2 small packages of cookies all for 400.80 rubles or about $16-17 US. I think it would have easily been $30 at home. Tonight we ordered pizza delivered to our hotel room from a local place. It was terrible, but another Russian experience. The pizza was 200.50 rubles about $6-7 US. We tried to tip the delivery guy. At first he wouldn't take it but eventually did, 50 rubles a little over $1.50 or so. Off to bed now - tomorrow is our big day : )

Lobby of Marriott Renaissance

June 5, 2002 - Wednesday
Entry by Papa

Court day today! Your mama was nervous last night, couldn't sleep and was up for hours reading. Her stirring kept me awake also. Galina and Michael (our driver) picked us up at 8:30am to go to the courthouse. It was about a 40 minute drive there. Galina reviewed what we would be going over in court as Michael drove through traffic, in and out of lanes, around traffic and trolleys, trying to get us to court. They drive CRAZY in Moscow, weaving in and out, squeezing 2 or 3 cars in 1 traffic lane and blowing horns if a car doesn't move right away.

At the courthouse we met up with Konstantin, another Amrex employee and 2 other couples that were also adopting. One of the couples was adopting an 18 month old girl from your "dom rebyonka" (baby home) #23. We saw this couple visiting their daughter on Monday when we visited you. The other couple was adopting an 18 month old girl from another orphanage in Moscow city. We were all standing in the hallway talking for about 15 minutes when they called your Russian last name "Nefyedov". I recognized your name because I had to practice saying it for court. Nefyodov, Dmitriy Yuriyevich (pronounced Knee-fuer-dof, Dimitry Your-a-vich). Quite a mouthful, I had to practice that a few times.

Courthouse where we had court

We were the first to be called into the courtroom. Mama and I sat together with Galina who was going to translate. Dr. Svetlana (the director of the baby home) and a representative from children's social services sat next to us, then Konstantin at the end on a long bench. The city prosecutor (in uniform) and a court clerk were to our left. The judge came in, we all stood up and in about 5 minutes the hearing began. I went first and had to tell the court why we were there and go through the basics. The judge asked a lot of questions like about our house, how we were going to take care of 2 children, why we wanted to adopt and about my retirement. After I was done it was mama's turn. She was asked a few questions then it was Dr. Svetlana's turn. It appeared she had done this many times and was well prepared in her testimony. After that the representative from children's social services testified. She did not seem as prepared and stumbled on the questions she was asked from the judge and prosecutor. We later learned this was her first time to testify and she was new on the job. We also presented to the judge pictures of you, mama and me together that we had taken yesterday. She enjoyed the pictures and the prosecutor, Dr. Svetlana and child social services worker all looked at them. The whole thing took about 35 minutes but it seemed longer. The judge went out for about 5 minutes, came back and read the final decree saying after all this you were finally, officially our son!! : ) !!

We went and waited in the hallway for the other cases to be done but the judge had to go and do something else for an hour and Galina told us to go back to the hotel with Michael. We went back and looked for something to eat but the only restaurant open at the hotel served some really off the wall items we wouldn't have liked. We ended up having room service and a not too good hamburger and sandwich. We relaxed in the room all day and will have a busy day tomorrow. Off to the embassy first thing for sure, some paperwork, souvenir shopping, then to see you to celebrate your 1st. birthday! Happy birthday Jacob! I then leave on Friday to care for Victoria but your mama has to stay for the 10 day waiting period and then a week to get your passport to bring you home. It will be a long 2 weeks for all until you are home.

Our room at the Marriott Renaissance

June 6, 2002 - Thursday
Entry by Mama

Happy 1st. birthday! We couldn't wait to see you today. Yesterday we didn't get to come because Galina had to stay in court to translate. Today was busy. Michael and Galina picked us up at 8:30am. We went straight to the American Embassy. We were ushered right in when we showed our US passports. We had to get another power of attorney from daddy to me notarized. We had one, I even brought a copy but they said it expired? We were charged $30US for a simple notary and that was from the Americans! We waited for about an hour before we were done.

Shopping on Arabat Street

Next we went shopping : ) on "Old Arabat Street". We bought 7 matrioshkas and a T-shirt for Uncle Phillip. We looked for a charm for my new bracelet daddy gave me for mother's day but we haven't found anything yet. Next we stopped at a big grocery store to buy you a birthday cake. On the way we saw a car get towed away. It was interesting how they do it. We took pictures of it. Daddy stayed outside while Galina and I shopped for your cake. While we were inside daddy saw a Moscow police officer and took pictures. He also noticed men who looked like our Secret Service. As we left to come see you we saw a presidential motorcade with President Putin.

Finally we got to your baby home. I changed your clothes to the police outfit your sister Heather gave you. We lit the candle on your cake, sang happy birthday and took pictures. You really wanted that cake but the caregiver said no. So we left the whole cake for the staff. They let us take you outside but only after we put a snowsuit on you. It was cool and pretty windy. You are still sick with a cold as are all the children. We came back and ended up in the music room. You devoured a bunch of Cheerios. Then we went back to the group and got to feed you another snack, some kind of banana and milk mixture. Then daddy and I put you down for your nap. You are so much like your sister. We thought you were asleep and started to leave. You immediately woke up and cried. We waited with you until you fell asleep.

Happy first birthday Jacob!

Hello everyone in the USA!

When we arrived back at the hotel daddy and I took a nap too! This evening we had dinner at the hotel restaurant, Olivia's. We had pizza and it was pretty good. Daddy had 2 big Baltikas on draft. The last one we brought back to the room. We asked if we could take it to the room and even keep the glass as a souvenir and they said yes. Tomorrow daddy leaves to go back to Texas and Victoria. I am really going to miss him. We haven't spent more than 2 days apart (business trip) since we got married. He seems worried about leaving us. We will be fine and home soon too.

June 7, 2002 - Friday
Entry by Mama

Today has been especially hard on me. Daddy left to return to the states. He and I had a difficult time saying goodbye. He is worried about leaving us alone in a foreign country some 10,000 miles apart from him. As I tried to put on a strong front to reassure him, I felt like a little child inside. I cried as we parted at customs and watched him go to gate 5 for Aeroflot. What makes things worse is I don't know how or when we are getting out of here. Aeroflot appears to be booked until 6-26! I don't know what we will do. Konstatine told us there is no way you and I will make our scheduled flight on Friday. I feel like a mess.

Wayne at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport leaving to go back to the US

Today you and I played alone. Daddy sent his love, hugs and kisses. I took you out for a walk and ran into the other couple adopting from #23. We all visited for awhile and then we all left together to pay 250 rubles fee for your Russian passport. They invited me to eat with them but you had spit up on me and my shirt was pretty stinky so I asked for a rain check. Michael stopped at McDonalds, but by the time we got to the hotel my food was cold. I am really glad I decided against going out.

Mama & Jacob in an outside play area at the orphanage

Once I got in our room the phone was ringing. It was Uncle Joe, Aunt Laurie, Dusty, Garrett, and your sister Victoria! It was so nice to hear all of them, especially Victoria. I was feeling pretty lonely. Today is Dusty's 12th. birthday. It was 7am. Houston time when they called. Oh, I forgot to tell you something. While Michael and I were driving we saw what appeared to be a very minor traffic accident between a SUV and a bus. The driver of the SUV got out and yelled at the driver of the bus through the driver's window. Then the oddest thing he reached up and tried to punch the bus driver then he ranted and raved before disappearing from our sight. I really like our driver, Michael. He is very attentive and seems to have taken on the role as our protector since daddy had to leave. I am very comfortable with him and enjoy his company. Well I am finally washing clothes so I better get to them so I will have something to wear to come see you tomorrow.

June 8, 2002 - Saturday
Entry by Mama

Daddy called at 1am. this morning. He had made it back to the states. The Aeroflot flight was full. He sat in the bulkhead so he had plenty of leg room but had people on either side. One was a young man that liked to flirt with the girls on the flight. The other was a 72 year old Russian man on his way to visit his daughter. Dad said things didn't look good for the Continental flight from New York to Houston. His back is holding up remarkably well. He is taking tons of Motrin so it must be working. Yesterday, all night too I prayed for daddy, his back and also that he made the non-rev flight. The next flight home wasn't until 6am the next day which would mean he would have to spend the night in the airport.

This morning I was up at 7am and worked out. When I returned, daddy called. It was about midnight at home. He did make the flight and got home about 10pm. I am so thankful God found a way to get him home as planed, now if he will only do the same for us. Right now it doesn't look good, as there are no flights available. Daddy again said he shouldn't have left us. He said we should have brought Victoria and all of us stayed to wait for you. As he said goodbye to me he said to tell his son (you : ) hello and to say how much he loves you. He can't wait to get us both home!

Outside of "Dom Rebyonka" #23, Moscow City

I arrived to see you shortly after you ate lunch. The caregiver was still feeding the other babies so I got to see what you had. It sure didn't look very appetizing. It was a bowl of something red/magenta in color, some sort of soup I suppose. You let me know very quickly that you did not like it. You did so by spitting up red stuff on me, not once but about 5 times. First on my black jeans, the rest on my white t-shirt, oh and once on my arm, yuk! Guess I am getting a quick lesson in babies before we even get home. You were pretty fussy all day. I couldn't tell for sure if it was your tummy or your teeth coming in that was bothering you. I took you to the music room where we played until you got real fussy again. I then sang to you for awhile as I held you. At 2:15 you were asleep in my arms. I knew your naptime wasn't until 3 but it was all I knew to comfort you. The caregiver walked in at 2:30 and wasn't pleased you were asleep. You woke up right away. We went back to your group and I gave you your snack, some concoction that looked like milk and who knows what else. I left you in the swing, you watched me leave. It was hard because I won't see you again until Monday. Tomorrow I am supposed to meet Beth and Mark (who we met on the flight here). After leaving you Michael took me to Fridays. I had a good dinner and brought some home for later, something however made me sick. Another APR couple just called. Her name is Noell Powell. They are staying at the Rossiya Hotel. Unfortunately she got voicemail because I wasn't home yet. I am going to call her this evening.

June 9, 2002 - Sunday
Entry by Mama

It is hard to believe it has been a week since I left Texas. Right now Texas and home seem so far away. I am here in Moscow and you are still in the baby home. I am unable to take you just yet. Daddy and Victoria are home with Jamie. I miss everyone. I didn't get to see you today : ( Remember the couple we met on the plane, Beth and Mark? They rented a car and driver and picked me up. We went to Red Square and as we stood in line to buy tickets a lady with a name tag approached us. She offered to be our guide for 800 rubles, we agreed. She pushed her way to the front of the line where I bought all 3 tickets for 900 rubles. We then had to check our bags which made us all nervous. I took out my passport, visa, envelopes of money and camera. Our guide, Alina was great but she talked way too fast. We only caught 20% of what she said but it was all fascinating. We walked and talked. It was all so cool as we listened to the history. We headed toward the cathedrals because it was raining. The church we went to was unbelievable. We toured it for a long time. As we left I bought you a book, "The Moscow Kremlin". I knew I would never be able to remember all that Alina said. We had only been there a short time, maybe an hour when Beth became ill. Unfortunately we had to leave. That's ok though I would rather see all this again with you, daddy and Victoria. We will do it someday.

Sightseeing with Mark, Beth & Sophie in front of the Tsar Cannon

A cathedral in Red Square

When the car picked us up we went straight to the Marriott Grand. After awhile Beth felt better and we all had dinner downstairs in the hotel. The big World Cup soccer game was going on and Russia was in the finals. Everyone was pumped up for it! At the restaurant they had a big projection screen TV set up and many smaller TVs too. Russia ended up losing. After dinner I hired a car and driver (for $20) and came back to our hotel. Boy there is a big difference between it and the grand but so is the price $125 vs. $300. Always conscious of cost we chose to stay here since we would be here for 3 weeks. It is fine but I had forgotten how lovely the Grand was. Mark said someone official is staying there. He saw lots of English speaking Secret Service agents. I finished reading my 3rd. book already all in 1 week. Two since daddy left. Maybe I will look at the gift shop tomorrow to see what they have. I really missed you today and I can't wait for tomorrow to hurry up and get here so I can hold you and play with you. Until then my love!

June 10, 2002 - Monday
Entry by Mama

Aunt Laurie's birthday! You were on the floor in the play area crying when I arrived. The caregiver went to you when I asked where you were. She changed your clothes and I put a diaper on you. Next was lunch time. It was some sort of clear soup with bread inside. The caregiver fed 2 or 3 other children so I attempted to feed you. She then decided I was too slow and finished feeding you. Once we were done we were allowed to go outside. It was a beautiful day. We sat in the playground, me talking and you cooing and laughing. The other Amrex couple, Michael and Lisa, came up with their daughter. We hung out with them walking around the grounds. They had to leave so we went back upstairs.

Lisa & Andriana outside the baby home

I wanted to go to the music room but it was locked so we went back to the group. While I sat there playing and singing with you and the other children, two ladies I had never seen before had a child each at the changing table. It appeared they were massaging them but in the way an adult gets a massage. They were hitting them hard on the back, not in a mean way just a hard massage. As I saw them turn the babies over I could see big red spots on the babies' backs. Thank God I was there. As they took more children I held tightly to you determined you would not be put through that ordeal. After those ladies left it was snack time. I fed you again, slower than they do, changed your pants then put you down for nap. You weren't too happy after we finished snack, you wanted more. I can't wait to have you home so I can really feed you. As I was leaving I ran into Konstantin and we discussed our visa, passport, and flight problems. He said I could take you tomorrow for the passport and visa pictures. It looks like I will finally get you on Friday. Konstantin told me to call the US Embassy to see what they could do to help us. The chief immigration officer, Julie said they must have a copy of your passport. If we can get it midday on Thursday, they will process us Thursday evening. So the big question is when we can get your Russian passport. Remember I went to the Kremlin yesterday? As we were there we saw and heard lots of young people getting ready for the world cup soccer game. We left just before it was starting. I am so thankful we left when we did. A few hours later Russia lost and there was rioting fighting and killing on the streets by the Kremlin, right where we were earlier. I saved the newspaper article for you to read about it. Click here for USA Today article.

This news brief just came in on TV: "US foils bomb attack," Jose Padilla aka some Al Qaeda terrorist was arrested at O'Hare airport in Chicago. The announcement came from UA attorney General John Ashcroft from right here in Moscow! Mark told me he saw Secret Service at the Grand on Sunday and heard them say Ashcroft was in the hotel lobby. Mark was unable to see him clearly and didn't recognize him from a distance. It's just kind of cool the US Attorney General is here at the same time we are! If I could get close to him I would ask for a ride back to the states! Daddy has called twice this afternoon/evening. He has been trying real hard to find us a way home. If we can get on standby on Aeroflot for Saturday, that would work. Otherwise the cheapest flight is $700 on British Airways but we have to stay overnight in London. Guess we can only pray and put it in God's hands. That is the only place to put this worry.

Streets near the Marriott Renaissance

June 11, 2002 - Tuesday
Entry by Mama

Today started off well but ended up being very stressful. This morning I spoke to Aeroflot and they told me for $600 more we could change our flight and upgrade to business class. I called daddy and we were both very happy but I had to go downtown to Aeroflot's "agency" to make the change. It was just Michael (our driver) and me and Michael doesn't speak much English. At first they said ok but it would be $750 rather than $600, still no problem. Then they couldn't do it at all. I noticed 2 Americans with another man speaking English in the lobby and said hello. They were kind enough to offer their translator to help out. Come to find out the extra $750 was for Dulles on June 26th. Not for JFK on June 22nd. To fly to JFK would cost 49,715 rubles or approximately $1500.

By this time we had been there nearly 2 hours. I was so ready to have a ticket home I just said yes without really thinking about the cost and without asking about arrival times. After I figured it all out is was done. The only good thing is it is refundable. When I told daddy he seemed upset. Because of the time I still have to get us a hotel in New York and fly back non-rev. He had found British Airways to London for about $800 but we would still have to stay overnight. But it would be nearly $700 cheaper and would take us from London straight to Houston. The chances of us leaving on Friday are pretty slim. Maybe British Airways would be better and we could say we have been to London. We are also on standby on Lufthansa for Saturday but the flight to Frankfurt is packed and there are about 10 standbys waiting. That flight would only be $600 for both of us - coach. Guess we just sit tight for now. I think the British Airways flight might be better but honestly didn't think about it at the Aeroflot desk. They wouldn't tell me how much on the phone and what they did tell me was not true. I just let myself get overwhelmed and bought the ticket without thinking it through.

Area around the Marriott Renaissance

Daddy said your sister Erica called yesterday with big news. He talked to her today and she told him that she and Dillon got engaged. They are planning a fall 2003 wedding in Utah. He took her grandmother's wedding ring and had it redone for her engagement ring. I am so happy for both of them.
 

We finally got to you at 1:30pm. Today we were supposed to get your passport and visa pictures taken. Apparently we couldn't do it because it was too late? Because of the holiday tomorrow we have to wait until Thursday. Then on Friday I get to bring you back with me permanently! Just keep remembering there is no place like home…there is no place like home. I want us to hurry and go home.

Mama & Jacob outside the baby home

June 12, 2002 - Wednesday
Entry by Mama

Today we found out Uncle Joe and Aunt Laurie are having a boy! That is wonderful news for you because you will be just a little over a year older and have a built in cousin and best friend your age. Today you made my heart leap with joy! When I walked into you room you were way on the other side in a walker. Once you heard me you turned, looked me right in the eye and smiled. I wish I had it all on video because after seeing me your little legs went so fast the walker just flew across the room. I think you were glad to see me. We were allowed to go outside for an hour. They didn't bundle you up as much as before. We enjoyed the time together.

Jacob's new cousin Matthew on his 1st. birthday November - 2003

After I left Michael (our driver) stopped at the store for me. I bought 3 bottles of Pepsi, 1 water, 2 Baltikas, 1 vodka, 1 small cookie, 2 small chocolates and Mentos all for less than $15. Oh and a box of Huggies too! I thought that was pretty cheap. After the grocery store we went to Aeroflot and cancelled the tickets we bought yesterday. Daddy found us refundable tickets straight to Houston on Air France (via Paris plane change) leaving on Saturday. After getting back to the hotel, I called Grandmom. As usual she thinks I am crazy for calling and from Moscow no less. She is thrilled to have another Jacob in the family. She told me to be sure to give you a big hug and kiss tomorrow. She can't wait to meet you and Victoria in September. Daddy and Victoria called again tonight. I sure do miss them both. I can't wait until next Saturday when our family is finally reunited. I almost forgot something. There is an old German Shepard, one eyed dog that generally sits at the entrance to the baby home. Today as always I spoke to him but I was taking off my sunglasses at the same time the dog startled and scarred me and nipped at my right elbow. Hmmm and I was thinking of getting him some treats. I will definitely be watching him closer.

Baltica #3, daddy's favorite Russian beer!

June 13, 2002 - Thursday
Entry by Mama

It was nice to scoop you up and get away even for just a little while. The caregiver I like gave me some cute clothes and a hat for you. Then I took you to get your passport and visa pictures. The place was very close. I'm not sure how much it cost, no one spoke English so I just gave Michael (our driver) my money and he took what was necessary. You were so good and sat still for the camera. There was music playing and you kept clapping your hands and swinging your legs. The visa picture turned out great. We have to pick up the passport picture tomorrow because the photographer was out of black and white paper? Michael told me to give the photographer another 100 rubles as we left, not sure what this was for and I didn't ask.

Jacob's Russian passport photo

Once we got back to the baby home we walked around outside and met with Lisa, Michael and their new daughter Andreana. They are from New York. Andreana is 18 months old. Lisa had some sort of muffin and gave some to me for you. You loved it and didn't spit up. I have to get you some of those tomorrow. You were so happy (as usual) today. Hopefully Konstantin will get the news tomorrow of the court decision and we get to officially break you out of the baby home, never to return. Lisa and Michael have been in contact with another Amrex couple, the Robbins. They are due in today and are staying at our hotel. They are adopting 2 children, 1 from #23 and 1 from #2. They made arrangements to meet for dinner tonight here, and invited me to join them. It will be great to have another family here.

The Robbins family in the "music room" of baby home #23 Jason, Mary & their son Nicholas.

There are a lot of old apartments here in Moscow. Michael (our driver) said four families live in one apartment. Can you imagine living with Uncle Joe, Aunt Laurie, Dusty, Garrett, Uncle Ed, Aunt Ande, cousin Jacob, Julianna, grandmother and grandpa all in one apartment? Boy I love them all but couldn't live with them all 24/7, and I know your dad couldn't. Michael (our driver) and I have been looking everywhere for a charm for my bracelet but no luck yet. If I can find one I think I will get one for Aunt Laurie and Aunt Ande too. Michael said he will look for me next week and even check on the internet. He said he has a CD player and likes U2. We have to tell daddy so we can send him a CD back with another family.

A typical apartment building in Moscow

June 14, 2002 - Friday
Entry by Mama

I was supposed to get you today but apparently the judge has been busy, had court today and hasn't written her official "opinion". I wonder what she has been doing these last 10 days. It isn't like this was just sprung on her, maybe it's all part of some grand money making scheme. Each day we are delayed costs an extra $40 due to traveling to and from the baby home. Don't get me wrong, I love Michael. It is just these delays keep adding up financially and emotionally. Oh well it's only money, I would pay it up front if it meant getting you sooner. So anyway now it will be Monday. Lisa and Michael share my disappointment. We were all counting on taking our children home today.

Playground outside of baby home #23

I arrived a little before noon today. The caregiver I like had one child up for lunch, you were still sleeping. She brought in most of the kids, then told me I could go get you up. You were so sweet you looked like an angel sleeping. I talked to you and rubbed your back. You were still asleep but woke up shortly after I picked you up. At first you were still half asleep and didn't realize it was me, then you did and a huge smile came on your face. I fed you some soup it looked like chicken I think. The caregiver fed 3 or 4 kids while I fed you, finally we got through. I changed your pants and we went outside. We met the Robbins (the other Amrex couple staying at our hotel). They had court today along with Stacy Plumber. Stacy is another adoptive mom I met on the APR list. She is also adopting from #23. All went well with both of them, now they begin their 10 day wait.

We are all supposed to meet for dinner at the hotel tonight. Tomorrow I will join Lisa and Michael for another trip to Arabat street. I want to get you one more nice matrioshka set for Grace, Belinda's daughter. She has given us a lot of things for Victoria. The weather is kind of yucky today, rain a blah day. Probably a good thing though. My driver, Michael said Russia lost in the World Cup today. Hopefully the rain helped minimize any riots. He said some fights did break out at the metro, not sure if he meant like a metro station or the big metro store (like Sam's Club). I haven't heard how the USA did today. Daddy has been gone 1 week today. I sure do miss him and Victoria too.

Nicholas, Jacob, Adriana & Lisa in the playroom

June 15, 2002 - Saturday
Entry by Mama

Today was rain all day but it didn't stop us. Lisa, Michael, Jenna (their translator) and Irina (their driver) picked me up for shopping. We went to old Arabat street. I bought one more matrioshka, a couple of little dolls and 5 army beret hats full of interesting pins, one for you and each of your male cousins. We got the hats for 200 rubles each, down from 300 rubes. After shopping we had lunch at a Russian restaurant. Then we went to a newly rebuilt cathedral, it was beautiful! Everyone else lit candles, I just got lost in the beauty of it all. Next we stopped at a baby store. I bought a bunch of clothes and 3 soft washcloths. I was looking for cloth diapers or burp rags but all they had were the washcloths. I know these will be better and softer than what they currently use. Finally we got to the baby home. You were in the jumper and were crying. One look at me and the tears stopped. I quickly got you out of the jumper and into my arms. We only had about 2 hours tonight. I found out the caregivers names. The lady with the dark hair is Helen, she is nice enough but I really like the other lady best. Her name is Olga. Some of the children are: Artum, Sasha, Masha and Konstantin, none of them have been chosen yet. It hurts my heart to leave these children without parents. Everyday I try to sing to them, and love on each of them. I am so happy for us but sad for the rest. There is a beautiful little girl, Sasha for Uncle Joe and Aunt Laurie. Several little boys for friends at church…

Sasha and Artur, both in Jacob's group, waiting to be adopted

June 16, 2002 - Sunday - Father's Day
Entry by Mama

I've written so much my pen ran out of ink. Today was my very last day to visit you at the baby home. Tomorrow there is no way they can keep me from taking you with me. We were told to bring all our gifts, a bottle of champagne for Konstantin and also a bottle for the caregivers. We were also told to bring 2 cakes, 1 for the caregivers and one for the director Dr. Svetlana. My driver Michael is taking me to the airport tomorrow morning to change and pickup my tickets that daddy bought for us. After that, a quick stop at the grocery store and off to get you. Apparently they have some sort of going away celebration party when a child leaves. Lisa and Michael have been kind enough to pick up the champagne and cakes since I will be at the airport.

This evening Konstantin called and told me Tuesday will be very busy. Normally only 1 parent goes for the birth certificate and passport and the other stays at the hotel with the baby. Well since daddy is at home, it's only me. Konstantin asked if I would be taking you with me and I said yes. I had the option to pick you up on Tuesday after we did all the stuff, I said no way! You are not staying 1 minute longer than absolutely necessary. Mary (another adopting parent) volunteered to watch you but they will be going to visit children. I think it will be ok to take you. I just need to remember to take a bottle and food, not sure how long we will be gone.

June 18, 2002 - Tuesday
Entry by Mama

I was so upset yesterday I couldn't even write. We were supposed to get the judge's decision early and get to bring you home but it wasn't ready until 8:00pm last night. This morning the plan was to meet Konstantin at the bureau of vital statistics, then go to the passport office. Michael (my driver) picked me up at the hotel at 9:20 and we were there around 10:00. At 10:30 Konstantin called and said there was a problem (again). This particular office would not allow the parent (me) to sign off on the birth certificate. He needed the power of attorney which was at his house. So Konstantin told me to go back to the hotel and wait. He said it would take about 3 hours for him to go to his house and back for the birth certificate. We would then meet at the passport office. I waited and waited and just as I was about to call the phone rand. It was Jenna (translator) and she said Michael would pick me up in 10 minutes (1:50pm.). He did and off to the passport office we went. Konstantin did show up and we got everything done. He assures me the late afternoon application will not delay us in getting the passport on Thursday. He gave me the Russian version of the court's decision for us and Lisa and Michael.

So off to the baby home we went. We got to the baby home a little after 3:00. I gave our gifts, cake and champagne although Helen was too busy to share any with me so I left it. I also showed Helen which bags were for Olga and Galina. We changed your clothes real quick and joined Lisa and Michael for their farewell celebration. At 4:00 I told them we were leaving and said our goodbyes. Michael walked me out so that crazy dog with one eye wouldn't attack me.

Director of the baby home saying goodbye to Jacob

Our driver, Michael brought us back to the hotel. Finally I am alone with you! No one around watching us, just you and me, officially mama and son. You didn't want anything to do with a nap, so I waited awhile and fed you dinner. We tried some stuff that looked a little like spaghetti but you didn't like so we tried something that looked like carrots and tomatoes. You ate it all except what you left on your body and mine, lol. Just like your daddy you went poop after dinner. I made you a bottle and you had no trouble sucking from the nipple. Next was our first trouble together, your first bath. Unlike your sister, who loved it, you screamed the whole time. So it was as quick as I could make it and get you clean. Then lotion and powder and you smell so clean like a baby is supposed to smell. Once we settled in, and you were playing we called daddy. He sure was glad I have you now and can't wait to get us home. Saturday can't come quick enough for any of us. I gave you another bottle before bed. You fell asleep drinking it but awoke as soon as I laid you down. I gave you the rest in bed thinking you would go to sleep…no! You played and just looked around, watched me a lot and smiled at me every time our eyes met. Finally you are out for the night at 9:45pm an hour and ¾ past your bedtime. Guess I will get a shower tomorrow during your nap. I thank God everyday for you and Victoria. Daddy and I are truly blessed!

June 19, 2002 - Wednesday
Entry by Mama

Our first whole day alone! You slept well although I was awake every time you moved and I finally got up at 5:00am. Nothing seems to bother you once you are asleep which is good since you will share a room with your sister. We had nothing to do today so we walked around the lobby this morning and outside this afternoon. You didn't eat well at all today and I was getting worried but you finally ate a good dinner. We met Lisa, Michael, Mary and Jason downstairs and had a nice visit, you were very well behaved. Tomorrow we have the doctor's visit and pick up your passport. Embassy on Friday!

June 19, 2002 - Wednesday
Entry by Mama

Our first whole day alone! You slept well although I was awake every time you moved and I finally got up at 5:00am. Nothing seems to bother you once you are asleep which is good since you will share a room with your sister. We had nothing to do today so we walked around the lobby this morning and outside this afternoon. You didn't eat well at all today and I was getting worried but you finally ate a good dinner. We met Lisa, Michael, Mary and Jason downstairs and had a nice visit, you were very well behaved. Tomorrow we have the doctor's visit and pick up your passport. Embassy on Friday!

Mama & Jacob together at last!

June 20, 2002 - Thursday
Entry by Mama

Michael picked us up this morning for your physical at the American Clinic. We met the other families that had court with us. The building was old and the driveway reminded me of an alleyway at home. The weather was beautiful. We had to wait our turn and finally we were called. We were escorted back to a small waiting area. There was a receptionist desk and a lady who took our money ($100 US) and reviewed your papers. Then we were called back to another room where you were weighed and measured, 17.7 lbs and 21" tall! After measuring you, we went to an exam room. The doctor spoke English and asked me to take your clothes off. After looking at you and listening to your heart and lungs, he pronounced you healthy and gave us our favorable medical form. Later this afternoon we all went to TGIFs for one last dinner together. While there, a lady overheard us talking about Amrex and it turned out she was Karen Day from Genesis and she was also adopting!

July 21, 2002 - Friday
Entry by Mama

This morning we walked downstairs for coffee in the hotel lobby. I heard people speaking English and found out they were NASA employees from Houston! They are here working on the space station with the Russians. I met a couple of really nice men. One man's wife is pregnant with their first child. His wife is at home in Clear Lake. Later today we had our Embassy visit. It was just like Victoria's was in January. Galina reminded me what to expect. Speaking of Galina, she is a very nice person and very striking. She reminds me of Jackie Kennedy. I have enjoyed getting to know her. She is truly an asset to Amrex. Back to the Embassy; it was just a little different since daddy wasn't with us. The clerk asked me a few questions and had me swear to something and handed me our envelope. This envelope is very important and must be kept sealed until we reach Houston INS.

Galina our translator. Konstantin our facilitator & one of the children in Jacob's group

July 22, 2002 - Saturday
Entry by Mama

While waiting for Michael to pick us up (at 4 am), we noticed the same NASA people checking out too. God certainly was watching over us. The very nice man we met yesterday offered to carry our bags at the airport and help us to our seats. He said he was honored to do so and hoped that if his wife and child ever needed something, someone would do the same for them. I wish I had written his name down. I had no idea how much his help would mean later on in our journey home. Anyway, Michael picked us up and shortly after, we were pulled over by the police! Once they saw you and I in the back seat, they waived us on without any problems. Michael was really happy with his gifts (especially the vodka!) we gave him at the airport. He has been so wonderful to us. I will miss him. Michael went as far as he could with us then gave me good directions as to what to do and expect next. We stood in a very long line at passport control. You slept a little in the snuggle thing Christy loaned us. Then you got a bit fussy. I wish we would have thought to do that Fast Track thing I read about. Oh well, too late this time. Finally, we got through and found our gate. The nice NASA man carried our big duffle bag and helped us get seated. He sat many rows behind us and said to wait for us when we land so he could help us again.

When we arrived in Paris, our new NASA friend helped us RACE through the airport. Our flight from Moscow arrived within about 15 minutes of the flight departing Paris to Houston. None of us wanted to miss that flight. Our friend carried our big duffle bag and I had you on my chest with our passports in hand as we literally ran following an Air France employee holding a sign. By the time we got to the gate, I was out of breath and you had been bounced every which way possible. Finally, we are on the last leg of our journey and homeward bound!

Nancy & Jacob with Michael, our WONDERFUL driver in Moscow

After we were seated in the bulk head, two large men sat down beside us. We were on the far left of the middle section with the men next to us, one in the middle then the other on his right. I mentioned they might want to move since it was such a long flight and this only your second flight (the first from Moscow to Paris). They checked with the flight attendant and were told there were no more bulk heat seats (the ones with extra leg room and bassinets for little ones like you), so they decided to stay. As we were taking off, I gave you a bottle to help with the air pressure in your little ears. You drank the whole bottle and even burped-but all of the sudden (and as you faced the man in the center) you spit up the entire bottle of formula! I very quickly put my hand up to block the man in the middle and all the formula landed on me! So, for the whole flight I smelled like spit up baby formula.

Sleep for me was out of the question and for the most part, for you as well. Jacob, everywhere we were, I know God was watching over us and protecting us. Even on the plane. The flight attendants were all nice and there was a very kind older lady that sat behind us. She would watch you for a minute while I went to the restroom. It was very weird just leaving you even for a moment. But it had to be done since I was by myself. There certainly hardly enough room for one person in an airport bathroom and not for me and you! I waited until shortly before landing to dress you in your USA outfit. I think you had about four changes of clothes during the trip. We left the hotel with you in your pajamas and then changed on the first plane, and I think twice more on the last plane. You are a messy eater.

Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris France

Once we landed in Houston, you officially became a United States Citizen! Well, actually as soon as we stepped off of the plane. Our first stop was INS. We had no trouble getting in the right line and did not wait very long. The INS agent was pleasant. Our next stop was for our luggage. We waited and waited and waited some more. Some drug dog with customs even came and sniffed our duffle bag. I had to open it, but it wasn't really searched. Our NASA friend brought us a luggage cart. It was perfect because I could sit our duffle bag down and let you sit in the top part like a grocery cart. Finally, after waiting an eternity, an Air France employee told us our bags did not make the connection. Although we had no bags, we still had to stand in line for customs and claim whatever was in our bags…then we went to the Air France counter to file for lost bags. This was all such an inconvenience and waste of time. All I wanted was to get to daddy and Victoria. I can't tell you how much I missed them….but I promise daddy missed us just as much. Every night when we would hang up the phone he would tell me to kiss his son and tell him how much he loves him and misses him, and that we would all be together soon.

Victoria at airport with gift waiting patiently for her new brother to arrive

Anyway, we completed our paperwork and were free at last. We rolled right out of the secure area with me holding you. There was a whole bunch of people waiting for us. It was so good to see daddy and Victoria again. After being in the middle of a huge bear hug between me and daddy, you were quickly in your sister's arms. I wanted to give Victoria a big hug and kiss too, but she just wanted to hold her baby brother! Finally, grandmother talked Victoria into letting her hold you. You were crying the entire time you were out of my arms and your eyes were locked onto me, not wanting to loose site of mommy. Grandmother, Grandpa (or Pawpaw as you call him now), Dusty, and Garrett were all there with daddy and Victoria to meet you. They had balloons and flowers. At last, were on our way home. You did ok with your first car seat ride, although you did cry for awhile. Then you just looked out the window and watched everything.

When we got home we must have had 30 people at the house to meet you. Grandmother, Grandpa, Dusty and Garrett followed us home. Then Aunt Karen and Kelli, Aunt Laura and Brittany, Winnie, Mimi and Grandpa Spates all met us at the house too. Uncle Joe and Aunt Laurie were on their way and called to check on us. They were on their way back from a business trip, and couldn't wait to meet you. They were nice enough to stop and buy food and drinks for our company. Before Uncle Joe and Aunt Laurie arrived, Aunt Karen and I walked to my bedroom. Away from everyone else I just collapsed in her arms and we both sobbed. I can't believe this is over and you are finally home. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life to leave you for six months. Not a day went by that I did not ache for you and want you with me. I was so exhausted from the flights home.

Jacob & mama finally clear INS & customs

Victoria giving her little brother a gift

Aunt Karen told me to take a quick shower and come out and enjoy my family as they were getting to know you. So, I did just that. A shower and change of clothes made a world of difference. We had company for a very long time. I think I was running on pure adrenaline. I think you and I were up for well over 30 hours straight! You quickly got comfortable with everyone wanting to hold you and love you. However, it may have been just a little too much after drinking a bottle because you spit up on Brittany. Aunt Laura took over the feeding and wanted to make sure you were getting enough baby food. I don't think she was too happy with what you had eaten today! After she fed you, Aunt Laura and Aunt Karen volunteered to give you a bath. I told them they did not know what they were getting themselves into because you did not like the bath. Aunt Karen put a towel down in the tub so you wouldn't slip. Believe it or now you actually did ok for them. This was a very different experience than your first one in Moscow! At last everyone left and our little family was at long last together forever!

Mama & Papa reunited after 22 long days in Moscow

Nancy, Victoria, Grandmother & Jacob at the airport

Jacob's referral picture, our first look at our son - November 2002

Two weeks after being home in the USA - July 2002

January 11, 2004 - Sunday
Entry by Mama

It is hard to believe you have been home for a year and a half now! You have grown so much, daddy said over six inches in the last year alone. I wanted to tell you about a few special days. As I type this journal, I am looking at a very sweet picture of you and Victoria taken on July 4, 2002 just a few weeks after you arrived home. It is absolutely remarkable how you changed. We have another picture of you and Victoria on August 12, 2002 (grandmother's birthday) and your little face has really filled out and your hair looks so much better. You were baptized in our church on Uncle Joe's birthday, August 4, 2002. Your godparents are Uncle Joe & Aunt Laurie, Uncle Ed & Aunt Andrea, Aunt Donna & Uncle Howard and Aunt Karen & Uncle Tommy. Wow, you are so loved! After your baptism, we all had lasagna for dinner in the family life center at church. Then after dinner you had what has become one of your favorite things…CAKE! Aunt Laura sat you down on a table and put the cake between your legs and you went to town, eating the cake with your fingers and making a huge mess!

In September 2002, we visited your grandmom. Oh, how she loves you. You must remind her of your daddy, because in her eyes, you can do no wrong! We have a sweet picture of you and grandmom sitting at her kitchen table reading the paper. Then we have a nearly identical picture a year later, July 2003 and you have changed so much.

You started trying to walk in August 2002, and actually started walking on Sunday, August 25, 2002 at our Sunday School Rally day. You took about a dozen steps from me to our friend (and DCE at our church), Mark Sperry and his wife Cindy. (They also adopted in 2002. Their daughter, Yana, was born in Tomsk and came home in November 2002.)

Your first Christmas (2002) you weren't really sure what was happening, but fast forward to this past Christmas and you were in control! After Christmas 2002, we saw Dr. Shoss, and ENT who put tubes in your ears at the end of January 2003 and started Project Tyke at the same time.

In March 2003, we traveled to Tampa and met your sister Erica as well her sisters, Jackie and Emily. You had fun with all of them. After leaving Tampa, we drove to Orlando to Disney! We were only there for one day, but you loved it! You love Winnie the Pooh and Tigger and even picked out a Tigger pillow to bring home.

It seemed only natural to have your birthday party have a Winnie the Pooh theme, so that is what we did for your second birthday. One of your presents was a Kubota tractor with front loader and a trailer too…just like daddy's.

You had a part in the children's Christmas program in December 2003 and did great! In January you graduated from Project Tyke. It was a bittersweet day for all of us. We love your teacher, Miss Kristen, and she loves you too. You have made such amazing progress in the past year. Miss Kristen and another lady came out and did a full evaluation on you and you passed with flying colors. You are testing at or ahead of your age in all categories!

Jacob there is a popular song with the following phrase…"I don't care if you're 80, you'll always be my baby!" Daddy says you are a mama's boy and I take it as a compliment. You and Victoria are my very heart. Mommy, daddy and Victoria love you very much!