Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bringing Ella Home - Part 1

We did it!  Ella is home!  But before I get into how she is doing here, I want to go back and tell you the whole story.

My good friend Julie and I left for Russia on May 19. We had 3 big suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and an umbrella stroller. I called Julie my sherpa because she was constantly wrangling luggage.  I was very thankful she had been doing CrossFit.  And in our defense, not all the luggage was for us. About a suitcase and a half were full of orphanage donations and gifts for Russian friends.

We got to the Vlad Motor Inn on May 21st.

 Julie in front of the hotel.

We were incredibly exhausted, but Julie talked me into going for a walk so that we wouldn't go to sleep too early and could get on the Russian time schedule.  I am sooo glad she did because, wow!  Russia is so incredibly beautiful in springtime!  The other two trips were drab and gray, but everywhere we looked were flowers in bloom.  I am a girl who likes flowers, so I took a lot of pictures.

We stopped at a convenience store to pick up pickles, sausage, cheese, and milk.  Ya know, the essentials.  And then we headed back for a quick bite at the Vlad Motor Inn Restaurant and then went to bed early.  The next day was a big one - running tons of errands and picking up Miss Ella from the orphanage!


We woke up early and couldn't go back to sleep.  I'm not sure if it was the time change or if we were just excited for the day, but we were ready to go!  Sveta and Dasha arrived at 8:30 to pick us up.  Here's me and Dasha:

We hit a snag our first stop of the day.  The notary we were going to use was out sick, which not only meant we needed another notary, but it also meant we had to redo the paperwork because it had that specific notary's name on it.  But never fear, Sveta to the rescue.  We made a detour to her friend's apartment to reprint the paperwork.  This was a huge apartment complex with a great view of Vladivostok.

Woman hanging her clothes to dry.  We were afraid she was going to fall out the window!

View of Vladivostok

Then we were on our way to what must have been 6-8 more appointments.  I lost count.  Every time we thought we were done, Julie would ask Sveta if we were on our way to the orphanage to pick up Ella, and Dasha would say, 'No, more errands.'

Julie couldn't resist taking a picture of this woman's pants.

More lovely blooms

Here I am registering our adoption.  Marriages are also registered here. 

Sveta is a woman who knows where she's going! I'm glad someone did!

On our last stop, we went to the passport office to submit Ella's passport forms.  We got there before it opened, and there were only a few people ahead of us.  But as time went on, more and more people showed up and just walked right in front of us.  We thought we were going to spend the rest of the afternoon waiting in that line.  Sveta, on the other hand, seemed totally unconcerned and made a few phone calls.

Soon we found out why.  As soon as the door opened, everyone rushed in ahead of us.  Sveta hung back and then walked right up to the desk and handed over our paperwork, not bothering to stand in line.  The woman waived us right back.  We couldn't believe it.  Sveta obviously has connections, which makes sense considering all of the adoptions she assists with.  So we waited only 2-3 minutes.

And then... it was off to the orphanage to get our girl!


Here I am unloading all the orphanage donations.  In all, we left them 3 gallon ziploc bags of desitin, 1 gallon ziploc of toothbrushes, 1 gallon ziploc of baby wash and lotion, and 1 gallon ziploc of hairbows.  Plus, I brought scarves and Reece's peanut butter cups as gifts for all of Ella's nurses.  It was nice to get rid of all that extra weight!

And then the moment we had waited and prayed so long for... they brought our daughter down the hall.  And she was really ours!

She had just woken up from her nap, so she was a little cranky.

I started putting on her new duds.

Her sister wore an identical dress on resurrection Sunday.  I thought it was fitting since it was the start of her new life.

While I was putting her new clothes on, she kept saying, 'Oy! Oy!', which is the Russian equivalent of, 'Oh! Oh!'  She was surprised and confused about what was happening.  It would be days before we would hear her make another sound other than crying.

And then we walked out the door for the last time... She was all mine, an orphan no more.

As soon as we got in the car, Ella started crying.  She had never been in a car before.  But she quieted down and let me hold her the whole way.

Back at the hotel, we had some dinner.  Don't let the crib in the background fool you. She slept next to her mama that night.

And then a bath.  It was at this point we discovered that Ella is petrified of having her clothes off.  And we realized why.  She had 3 nasty bite marks in various stages of healing on her back.  One of the other children at the orphanage was using her for target practice.  Poor baby girl.  She was not happy about the bath, squatted the whole time, but I think her main aversion was the fact that she was naked.

After the bath, we were all exhausted and went to sleep right away. She slept pretty well for her first night away from the orphanage, snuggled up next to me. She was a little fitful but nothing too horrible.  It was an end to a long and satisfying day, the day we had been waiting for.  I couldn't believe she was mine and kept checking next to me throughout the night to make sure she was there.

Tune in for my next blog post where we fly to Moscow!


  1. Oh, I sat and cried while I read your post. I am soo glad she is finally in your arms and home. She is such an amazing brave little girl!

    I can't believe the difference at the VMI from a month and a half ago. I am looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip. It is also exciting to know you got to pick her up on your first full day in country.

  2. Glad I read the first post well, first, as I can't read another post through the tears! I'm so happy for you all and Ella!!! No more an orphan indeed!!!!! Praise the Lord!!!!

  3. Yay! How exciting! Thanks for sharing!


  4. This is such an amazing journey. I can't wait to meet her!

  5. So excited to hear that she is home! Thank you for sharing!!