Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bringing Ella Home - Part 2

This is the Sea of Japan within walking distance of our hotel in Vladivostok.  It is absolutely beautiful with green rocks that wash up with the tide.

We were sad to leave Vlad, but we were also ready to move on with our journey because it meant Ella was one more step closer to home.

So we boarded the plane to Moscow! Ella did amazingly well on the flight.  She slept about 4 hours on me and then played with her magnadoodle and reusable My Little Pony stickers for the rest of the time.

Marina met us at the airport, and we took a taxi to the hotel.

We stayed at the Hilton, which was free thanks to Ryan's Hilton points.  We also got free food and drinks in the executive lounge.  Score!  This was definitely the cheapest leg of all 3 trips, but it was also the nicest.  The Hilton Leningradskaya is a gorgeous hotel.

Those stairs lead to the elevators.  See that steep, little ramp on the stairs?  You're supposed to push your stroller/luggage up that.  Um... yeah, that didn't work out too well for us.  These little ramps are as close to handicap accessible as you're going to get in Russia.

The fancy schmancy executive lounge

Ella was very quiet in Moscow, except at night when she would cry piteously for an hour or so while I rocked her and sang to her.  She had a really hard time getting to sleep.  We would pretend she was just going to play with toys on the bed, and then she would get so tired she would start to nod and then would finally lean so far forward that she was laying down.  If you tried to move her over or if she woke up in the middle of the night, the crying would start.  I think it was a mixture of not knowing where she was, fear of abandonment, and fear of the unknown.  So basically, fear.  But once she got to sleep, she slept for large blocks of time, which was a huge blessing.

Our first morning in Moscow, we went downstairs to meet with Marina, and she collected our documents to submit to the U.S. Embassy.  Then Julie and I did some sightseeing.  We wanted to find a flea market and decided to take the Metro (subway).  The Metro was ridiculously crowded.  We were the only people with a child in a stroller, and everyone looked annoyed that we were there.  Or maybe it was just annoyed in general. 

We made an accidental stop in Europe's largest park, which was lovely with its long avenues of trees and blooming flowers.

Do you speak English?  Can you tell me how to get to the flea market?

Then we went 2 stops back on the Metro and found what we were looking for, a flea market. Because what do 2 women on an adoption trip to Russia want to do most? Shop!

We found some great souvenirs at the flea market, and Ella got a couple freebies by screaming at the top of her lungs until we figured out she hated the carrier and wanted to be back in the stroller. Two vendors tried to distract her by giving her little key chains and figures. We considered putting her back in the carrier to get some more free stuff but decided that was inhumane to her and everyone else in the general vicinity.

Right next to the flea market was a touristy area that kind of looked like a mini Disneyland, only no rides, and it was free to get in. Apparently people get married there a lot, and there are some nice shops.

Wishing Ryan was here!

After this, we decided we were all tired and made our way back to the hotel.  I'm sure this was to Marina's relief because she was afraid we would get lost or mugged on the Metro even though I assured her I knew self defense and was not afraid to use it.  Plus I had CrossFit Julie and God on my side.  Look out, Moscow!

Back at the hotel, Ella brought her puppy for a walk on the way to dinner in the Executive Lounge.

And she ate a cookie!  It probably doesn't seem like much, but so far she had only eaten mushy/soupy foods and refused all solids.  I think the chocolate chips looked too good to refuse!

That night I did FaceTime with Ryan, and as soon as Ella saw his face, she said her first word in two and a half days, 'Papa'.  You can't hear her in the video because she's saying it so quietly.  But you can see it. 'Pa-pa, pa-pa, pa-pa'.  And you can also see me crying.

Next up, the U.S. Embassy appointment and Red Square!


  1. Oh, my! She is one smart little girl!

  2. That video... That moment captured, forever to be shared... What a blessing! Totally had me in tears!! So glad she's home!!!

  3. So many tears of joy!!!! So glad you are home with your darling Ella!