Thursday, February 3, 2011

One Year Ago....

I remember being in St. Petersburg, it was beautiful.  We went first to the Ministry of Education building.  It was a very non descript building...we walked in and we took off our coats and handed them to the coat check lady.  The building was very old, we walked down a very narrow hallway and had a seat in some chairs outside of an office.  We sat there for just a few minutes, and then a lady in a suit called our translator and we walked in the office.  The office seemed very cramped, a desk, her chair, lots and lots of paperwork and boxes all around, and then 3 chairs.  We sat in the chairs and the MOE lady started to talk to us...in Russian....we had no clue what she was saying, and then our translator Svetlana started to talk in English.  It was a little confusing for us (who have never gone outside of the US before, well Mexico dosen't really count).  We looked at Svetlana while she was talking so that we could understand what was going on, the MOE lady opened up a large binder and turned to a picture of our referral...her database picture.  She then went over all of the medicals of our referral...no surprises...and then she asked us if we wanted to go meet this referral...DA/YES we said...we would be most honored to go and meet this little girl.  We left the office and then we drove straigt away to the orphanage, Number 16, which wasn't to far from the office.  About an half hour drive with traffic.

It has been a year, but I can still remember in detail everything about the way the Orphanage sounded, smelled, and felt.  We walked in, gave our coats to the attendant and then we were told to put on those blue shoe protectors.  They are very cautious about outside germs, they want to protect the orpanage and the orpans from diseases we can pick up.  We were told to sit in the waiting area on a couch...there was a fish tank close by that looked like it needed a cleaning.  The smell was something of a bleach and lysol mix, the sounds were earilly quiet.  There really wasn't sounds of children that we could hear at all.  We were called to enter the Directors office and she was also a Doctor.  Svetlana told us this time, to look directly at the Director when she was speaking to us and not to Svetlana.  She went over the medicals again with us and then there was another lady in the office a very babuska looking lady and she then started to tell us about how our daughter happened to be in the orphanage.  I really wasn't expecting all of this information, and was really overwhelmed, but I tried to take as many notes as possible so that I could look at it again and ask more questions when I was more prepared.  Svetlana then told us to go into another room and we waited...we unpacked the blanket and toys that we had brought...and then a lady was walking our daughter into the room, she was being carried, and she looked really scared...


This is the very first moment I held my daughter.  I noticed her rigidness, her tightly clenched fists and her not wanting to look directly at me.  She had a rash on her cheek that "they" say came from some yogart, but we noticed that it is because she sucks her thumb and rubs it with her finger.  We noticed that within minutes of her with us, and it makes me sad that no one noticed why she had a rash.  She was beautiful and she was scared but I held her and loved her and read to her and I finally got her to look at me!



Ava Grace loved my necklace...I wore it EVERY time we saw her, she remembered that necklace and would instantly grab for it....guess what she still loves that necklace today!

After I got to hold her and love onher, Tom finally had the opportunity to hold her.  He waited a good half hour before holding her...we have heard that the orphans do not see a lot of men, so Tom would just talk to her from the chair and she would look at him (see picture above).  Finally after 30 minutes he held his daughter for the first time...

He looked at her like I have never seen him look at the boys before...His first comment was...ok lets go home with her NOW!  It was so exciting to see him fall in love with her. 


We are so blessed to be the parents of this wonderful, amazing, sweet, beautiful, fun loving girl.  The boys are over the moon in love with her and even Samson is learning to love her!



One Year ago we met
now look how you have grown
how happy you are
scared no more!



Thank you Russia for giving us a wonderful gift.  We are forever grateful!

11 comments:

Tracey and Chuck said...

Isn't it amazing what a year, a family and lots and lots of love do for these wonderful children! We too are celebrating very special memories this week! It is so exciting!!! Wish we could go back and bring lots more home!! :) Your little girl is absolutely beatuiful!

Jeanette said...

It was great to read your story since I didn't know about you until we met at the embassy!!! Ava has grown so much and has such a light about her!

Wendi and Terry said...

Shelly, I remember your story so well because your adoption timeline was so close to ours and you went to court a few weeks before us!! Isn't it amazing to look back at the past year and see the light in your beautiful daugther's eyes and marvel at how much she has grown and changed since she joined your family! Ava is so beautiful (just like her mommy) and is so loved...what a true blessing.

Mary Winterfield said...

Your story made me cry! Beautiful little girl and wonderful parents! I love how she is smiling in that last picture of you guys in Russia. I'm so glad you were able to bring this beautiful soul home with you, and give her everything that she deserves! :) God Bless you and your family!

Amy...who wanted 4. said...

Awww...this was a beautiful post!! Reading your story brought back many memories of mine.
Happy Anniversary!!

Kacey said...

Beautiful! (And I can still vividly remember the smells of our orphanage, too.)

Eric and Kathryn said...

Sally,
What a beautiful story of your first meeting with your daughter, Ava Grace.

Our daughter is also from Baby Home #16! In fact, we played with her in that same room, with all the tiny red & gold chairs, and the tv on the wall; it is where we all fell in love with each other!
And those red boots Ava Grace wore in the picture . . . our girl wore the exact same boots! In fact, if you look at the picture of the cake from our baby shower (on my blog), you will see it has a pair of small red boots on it; meant to be those very red boots that your daughter, Ava wore one year ago our daughter wore 1 1/2 months ago!

How incredible that we travel down such similar paths . . . life is amazing!

Kathryn

p.s. please e-mail me privately at katlinn@centurylink.net to discuss your experience at court.

Shelly and Steve said...

She was precious and beautiful when you met her and is just even more so today. I know for us that first meeting was just magical too...amazing isn't it? I'm still in awe of the whole thing!!! What an amazing family you have.

Kim Abraham said...

That was such a beautiful and touching story. It brought back so many memories from 2 years ago for us. You have a beautiful girl! I love the sweet little beginning of a smile in the photo with all three of you. Lexi wouldn't smile at all until we finally left the baby home on trip 2. I too am very thankful to Russia for our precious gift.

Kelly said...

It really is God shedding his blessings on more than just your family. Ava Grace has already touched our family's hearts! She is so happy! It's amazing to look at that first picture of her and to look at her today. You can see how happy and secure she is in your family. You have given that litte girl a chance to come to know Jesus my friend! I look forward to seeing her grow up in the ways of the Lord. My heart just melts when she calls my name and that she realizes that we are good friends. I look forward to being a part of her life! I thank God for our friendship and the opportunity to share in the joy of Ava Grace.

The Journey to our Daughter said...

What a beautiful little girl! Our daughter is in Luga which is in Lenningrad Region. It is about 2 hours from St Petersburg. I really think her care is good for being in an orphanage. We are very excited to go get her. We get to pick her up on Valentines Day!