Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 3. October 7, 2009

Today started a little earlier than most days here. A typical day has us leaving the hotel around 11:15 for the ride to Artem, but today we had to go to downtown Vladivostok to have some paperwork notarized. We ran into Ken and Gloria Duda in the hotel restaurant and had some coffee, then headed downtown to see the notary. We got to the notary office before they were open for business so Ken and I went down to the bank to exchange money while Michelle and Gloria held our places in the notary line. Our driver/interpreter, Sergei went to the bank with Ken and I, but was not allowed to enter the teller stalls with us. Ken seemed to have no problem with this, however I am a chicken and to be honest I felt a little intimidated to be doing a bank transaction in a foreign land. When Ken was finished, the armed guard (a young man of about 18 or 19 years old) motioned for me to enter the stall. I went in, and handed over the amount that we wanted to exchange as well as my passport, Migration Card, and hotel registration. The woman didn’t speak any English. She carefully examined the money I gave her under a little microscope, and then called her supervisor over to closely inspect one particular bill which resulted in a discussion, presumably whether they were going to call the police or just have the guard take care of me in the alley behind the bank. I tried not to make it look like I was scared, but mentally I was wondering what kind of Home Study addendum we would have to do if I was thrown in a Russian prison for 10-20 years for trying to pass a fake American bill. Finally though the supervisor must have said the bill was fine because the teller counted all of the bills, then showed me a calculator total for what she totaled up. Her total was $100 less than what I gave her, so I said “no” and proceeded to try to explain that she was wrong. She then recounted the money twice and came up with my figure twice so she gave the correct amount and Ken and I left the bank. I think the teller made an honest mistake with the counting error, but I am still claiming that as a victory!

Okay, now onto the important stuff, our visit! Day 3 started the same was as Days 1 and 2, with our little guy crying as soon as his caretaker brought him out to us. We were told ahead of time that today would be the day the Social Worker would be observing us and our interactions. We were hoping the little guy was going to warm up to us a little easier than the first two days, but it didn’t appear to be the case from the start. We immediately took him out to the playground where we took turns walking him around or sitting and rocking with him. Nothing really seemed to work outside, so we headed inside to the gym. Inside, he calmed down a little but cried again when the SW arrived. This is when we put Operation Rocking Horse into effect. During our visit yesterday, Michelle put our little guy on a little rocking horse (actually a rocking zebra) in an effort to find something that would calm him. This move hit the jackpot. The tears stopped, and he really loved it. When we realized that Michelle had found something he enjoyed, we knew we had a secret weapon for when the SW showed up. So, when the SW did show up today, I took him over to the rocking horse (actually a rocking tiger today), and he immediately shut off the tears and was a perfect little angel for the entire duration of the SW’s visit. Michelle immediately struck up a rapport with the SW, and we really feel like we had a good visit with her. Our little guy laid his head down on the tiger head and just looked around the room perfectly content with having me rock him a little. When the lights came on and it was time to perform for the SW, our little guy was the star of the show. We feel like the tables are starting to turn and he is starting to warm up to us. We hope this trend continues tomorrow. All 3 visits so far have been special, and it’s so good to be with our little guy again!

Tomorrow we really begin court preparations when we have a mock court session with Tanya from our agency. We’ll be going over the Home Study a lot between now and court…


  1. I remember that bank. On our last trip, they rejected some of my bills. No explanation given, I still have no idea what was wrong with them.

    Glad your visit with the social worker went well!

  2. YEAH! Sweats and T-shirts now! So happy it went well! The secret weapon worked!!!!

  3. Thanks for the chuckle, love the recount of the banking experience. I needed that today. This all gets to be so serious. Hmmm, so they might not like the bills I've been ironing? Too funny about the homestudy addendum!

    Woo hoo on the sw visit! Great news and hopes for continued smooth sailing. Those really are cute rocking "horses" they have in the gym.

  4. Court is the easy part!!! Its all down hill from here.