Monday, November 27, 2006

The Adoption Journey - A Journal to Lola

November 27, 2006
Hey, Pumpkin - -

I know you have no idea what Thanksgiving is, but by this time next year I hope you’ll be celebrating it with me !! Once you understand Thanksgiving and all the tradition that it represents, you’ll laugh about the play on words “pumpkin” name I just gave you ! Once you are home (yes, HOME) in Atlanta I’ll tell you all about what Thanksgiving is and what it means to all Americans.

I had a dream a couple weeks ago about Lera - - when I woke up I was so happy for her - - -in the dream she was adopted by Mike and Karen and she was happy there and had learned quite a bit of English in only ONE MONTH !! I was so excited about the dream I called the Corbins that evening to see how their adoption processes were going (I say processes because they are adopting a 14 year old boy from St Petersburg as well). I talked with Mike and found out that Lera decided she didn’t want to be adopted - - she said that she wanted to stay in St Petersburg because of an older sister (??)

Needless to say, my happiness faded quickly… and of course I did not tell him about my dream for Lera.

There is one question I have, and that is - - - did Lera make the decision to stay in Russia due to the sister, or did she decide she didn’t want new parents?

This has been a concern of mine ever since and I’m not sure if Lera understands the impact that decision has made on her future. I would love to talk to her to find out if she really wants to stay in Russia for her family, but of course it is not possible to discuss such things with her. I wonder if she has told you anything about this. I would like to know the real story behind her decision…..

I’m still filling out paperwork for your adoption. I just had my medical exam last week and all is running smoothly except for one thing, which I hope will be completed tomorrow…. I am praying for small setbacks if there have to be any setbacks at all.

Lola, there is nothing in this world that you and I cannot handle together !! 

Well, I made it home from my Christmas vacation. I missed Scooter and Boo Boo so much !! They were really happy to see me, even though Kimmi was taking care of them while I was gone.

Kim moved out around the first part of November and now lives in another townhome with a room-mate. It was recommended by the adoption agency that I be the only person living in my house, due to some issue about explaining it to the Russian government. At any rate, she really likes where she is living now, and now I can work on getting your room ready for when you finally come to Atlanta.

Boo Boo, who is 16 years old, is quite frail. He has the beginning stages of kidney failure, so he is required to eat special food. He seems to be doing well on it so far.

Scooter, who is now 12, has been having some problems with his eye. His right eye was bleeding inside due to an old injury which displaced the cornea, and I have been putting drops in his eye for the last few weeks. The doctor says that the eye may have to be removed if it starts to cause him pain. I have decided that I will do what ever is best for Scooter’s overall health, so that may be a very difficult decision that will need to be made in the future.

I know people, animals and everything age and eventually die, but it hurts so much to see them age and then lose them. I also know that death is part of life but it still hurts nonetheless.

It seems odd that you are younger than both Scooter and Boo Boo. Lately I have been referring to you as their “little sister” when I talk to them about you. I hope you don’t mind having two cats as your older brothers !! ha ha ha

Well, my home study was completed on December 13, and I just sent the paperwork to the Dept of Immigration and Homeland Security yesterday. They tell me they are 5 months behind in processing. I guess that just means I have to be more patient than ever! There is not much I can do to rush this along. Once they approve your adoption then the process will move much faster.

I have just heard that Dan and Mona have received word of a court date in Moscow in order to officially adopt Boris !! I know they are excited and I am very excited for them. I like Boris very much and will be so happy to see him on a more regular basis. I have not heard much yet about the status of the family who is adopting Nastya. I’m sure they are a couple steps ahead of me in the process… but that’s ok. As long as I know we are making progress with the paperwork and that I will hopefully see you in the next couple months, I will wait as long as it takes, but I’m so very much wanting this process to be as smooth as possible.

I wish you were able to write to me. It is unfortunate that I have no way to purchase Russian postage so you can write me a letter. I never realized how difficult it is to send anything to Russia - - - I just mailed out two large boxes of gifts for the children in your school (plus a package each for you, Natasha, Lera, Nastya and Boris) and they told me it will take a MONTH to reach Kolpino ! I guess you may see the package sometime around the end of January….

Please do not give up on me. The delay in all things makes it seem like I’m not trying to communicate to you, but trust me, if I could fly like the birds do, I would be there beside you in a heartbeat! I sometimes feel as if Russia is isolated from the rest of the world.
Or maybe the USA is isolated from Russia !!

January 2, 2007

Hello, Little Bubba - - -

I stayed up until midnight Atlanta time on New Year’s to watch all the celebration on TV. I was wondering if you and your friends were able to stay up to celebrate as well. You have no idea how much I miss you!! It’s overwhelming at times. I’m so ready to come to Kolpino to see you!!!

Scooter has had some problems with his eye, as I mentioned earlier, but I have been putting special drops prescribed by the veterinarian in the eye three times each day and it seems to help. He seems to be happy about the drops once they are in his eye, but hates when I have to put them in - - - sounds like you with your eardrops, doesn’t it?

I spent the whole weekend working on getting the basement made into a TV/Entertainment room. I think you’ll like it ! There are 2 sofas and 2 chairs down there now (since Kim has moved out) and it is quite comfortable! Your videos are down there now. I just need to make sure we have a DVD player and a video player so all types of movies can be viewed.

Well, the Immigration stuff was received at the Atlanta office last week. Now I need to work on the other paperwork to go to Russia.

I have to go for now. Just wanted to wish you a happy new year and to tell you I love you !!!

My dear little Lola-Pola,

I am getting all the documents prepared that I need to send over to Russia. There are two phases of documents. This is the first.

I’m also looking at schools that will be able to help you learn English and get caught up with whatever you need when you come over here. There are two wonderful possibilities, both which are not too far from home! You’ll go on the bus in the morning and come home in the afternoon. I went to visit one of the schools and was very impressed by how happy all the children seem to be!! I like a place where they make learning things FUN!! This one particular school has English as a second language course, and there are other Russian students as well, so maybe you’ll feel more comfortable learning. In addition, they have a wonderful mathematics program. They also have art and music, so if you wish to learn to play an instrument, you can - - if you love to sing, they have a choir.

We had the opportunity to spend a Saturday with one of the little boys from Russia that was here with the hosting program for the Christmas season. His host parents needed a break so Chris and I said we’d be happy to take him for the day. He’s 8 years old and a bundle of energy (actually, a bit too energetic for me….). But he was fun to spend the afternoon with and we had a lovely time at the park and other places. Then a few days later we went to the farewell party for the hosting program. I helped prepare the food and Chris helped set up tables and chairs. I got to see Sasha again!! It was also fun to see all the new kids for this hosting program, and I actually got to see some of the host parents again from the summer program you attended, since they were hosting other children for the Christmas season. I decided against hosting again for the winter program, because since I have found the BEST, why look any further??? The best, of course meaning YOU !!You are my one and only!

Well, I’m on my lunch break at the office, and have to go back to work soon. I think of you at least a million times a day, and am so anxious to receive the long-awaited phone call telling me that I can go to Russia to visit you and tell you I want to be your MAMA FOREVER !!!

Love you multitudes,

Mama Jill
Well, I did the fingerprints for the Dept of Immigration, which is just another step in the long process to make sure you have a permanent MAMA who loves the stuffing out of you!! It was amazing, sitting there. It was like being part of the United Nations!! So many people from so many different places - - so many different languages ! It is while sitting there that one imagines the world is capable of obtaining peace in all countries… I truly hope that happens one day soon.

I sent my rough draft of the first set of Russian documents to Justin and Phyllis at the adoption agency last Friday. Haven’t heard a peep out of them yet, and I’ve called to leave a message almost every day. I’m anxious to get this ball rolling!! I want to see you soooooooooooo much !

I sometimes wonder what goes through your mind when you are there in Russia, so far away from me, going to school, or eating your breakfast - - -do you think of me and hope that I’m working hard to make sure we are together forever, or has the way of life in Detsky Dom forced you not to even dare that such a thing could happen? When Boris and Nastya are taken away by their new parents, which could be very soon, please please please don’t think that I have abandoned you. It kills me to think that you would be sad about it not being YOU that is going home to a new mama. Don’t give up, Lola - - I’m coming, I just don’t know when. But I’m coming, for sure….

5 February 2007
Hello, my little one!!

I have just finished getting your gift bag together to send along with the interview team for next summer’s hosting program! There are things from Chris and Kim in the bag as well as from me. They wanted so much to put some fun (and useful) things in the bag for you.

I hope you like the pajamas. I saw them and couldn’t resist -- - thinking about how adorable you will look in them- - HELLO KITTY!!! 

I had a dream about you a few nights ago. It was a great dream! We were together exploring all the fun tourist things to do in Moscow!!

I had faxed over the rough draft of my 1st set of Russian dossier documents to Justin and Phyllis two weeks ago - - they told me there were several people ahead of me, so they would call me when they are ready. I guess the Russian government pulls up the children in a database and clears them for adoption, and we are all at the mercy of when they pull up a specific child. Please remind me I have to stay patient…….

It’s not easy, you know……to be patient….

It snowed here a little bit the other day, and I wanted so much to take a photo of it, but when I looked out the window, it had melted the second it hit the ground! I know you are too familiar with snow, but here in Atlanta it’s not a common occurrence. It may snow one day a year, and that’s pushing it. One time about five years ago we had a horrible ice storm. Trees were downing power lines, they fell on cars, houses, people, you name it. No one could leave for work because the streets were thick with ice and our city had no advance warning, really, so trucks with sand were not ready.

When it snowed here most recently I thought about you - - - they had called off school in some parts of Atlanta, but not all the schools. I thought about how you would be laughing, thinking how funny it is that they would call off school because of a light dusting of snow, when you have spent your whole life going to school and going about your business in several feet of snow without a second thought ! It was the same where I grew up - - we had snow for about 4 months out of every year, and it was no big deal. Gosh, if it rains here in Atlanta people have a hard time driving - - and if the weather forecaster says it may snow, the lines at the supermarket are hugely loooooooooooooong because people truly think they will be snowed in for days!!! They stock up on milk and bread and all the staple foods because they don’t want to be caught without food in the house. I think that is hilariously funny!

Well, I put a whole lot of love in that baggie I’m sending over to you with the interview group. In fact, if I could have squeezed myself into that baggie with some air holes I would have shipped myself over there to Kolpino to see you!!! Anyway, I’m taking the baggie over to Lee Ann this afternoon to hand deliver it. They also ask for a cash donation to help defray the cost of the interviewers traveling over to Russia and Latvia. I’m happy to help out, although I think fifty dollars’ gift to send a gallon –sized baggie is a little over the top….. but my dear, you are well worth it - - I’m just so happy I get to send you gifts !! I do wish your teachers and the director would allow you to write to me, though. I would like to know how your everyday life is and what your thoughts and dreams are.

Much love and kisses forever,
Mama Jill

PS – Boo Boo had his 17th birthday in January !!!

Hi, Sweetie - -

Still waiting to hear from Justin and Phyllis about the adoption documents. If this whole thing were up to me I’d pull a James Bond and smuggle you out of your country, but of course I don’t want to be in any legal trouble, either. So I guess waiting is the best thing to do….

I was sitting here at work and suddenly, out of nowhere, thought about the yummy hamburgers at Fuddruckers (the ding-ding place, as you call it). I haven’t had one of those for a long time!! I think Chris and I went one evening in October or November and had a burger to remember you by, and even rang the bell, but I haven’t been in there since then. It is just not the same without you kissing your cheeseburger and concocting those lovely suicide soft drinks!

I think of you so often every day - - I wonder if you think about me too. I will be so happy to finally get to see you again - - - maybe that is why I’m so anxious for the documents to be finalized. At least then I can visit with you and ask you if you want to come be Scooter and Boo Boo’s little sister ( ha ha ha). I miss you so much it hurts!!
I also wonder how your friends from the hosting program are doing. I think about Lera, Boris, Nastya and Natasha often, but not as often as I do about you!

Boris’ parents (Dan and Mona) are so anxious to go on their 2nd Russian trip to finally make the adoption final. They think the world of him. So do I. He’s a sweetie, especially for a boy!! I like that he enjoys the company of both girls and boys his age. That’s rare for a child 9 years old! Trust me, I do remember being that age. I could tell you stories about the fist fights in the schoolyard I have had in grade school with boys that tried to push us girls around. I was not a violent person and I don’t condone fist fights or physical violence at all, but I had to stick up for myself and my friends!!

Well, my break time is over, so I need to get back to work. Always remember you are my little BUBBA!!!

Dearest Little Baby Bear - -

I am trying so hard to be patient, but I still have not heard anything from Justin and Phyllis regarding the paperwork I need to send. They told me they would let me know what they need and when they need it, but THIS IS TAKING WAAAAAAAY TOOOOO LOOOOONG!!!

I have a zillion photos of you posted up on my cabinets at work and every time I look at them (which is about every minute of every day I’m at work) I get so sad thinking that you are literally growing up more and more every day and I’m missing it !!

I took the liberty to buy some clothes for you when you finally are here to stay and I’m so glad I’ve gotten things a size bigger that what you wear now - - it’s going to be necessary!

…I told you patience was not one of my virtues…..

You are now part of me and I can’t bear to be away from you for this length of time. I will be so happy to see your sweet little smiling face again!! Funny thing, I find myself talking to you at home like you are already there. I think it’s a comfort mechanism, like having a security blanket….

Scooter is trying to be patient, too, and Boo Boo sleeps in your room to make it seem like it’s occupied…..

I’m eating cream of mushroom soup - - it’s lunchtime. Of course, I remember how much you love mushrooms.

I’ve heard stories about people sending in their documentation for adoption and the referrals take a long time - - this is for people who have not yet chosen a child to adopt. In most cases, a child is chosen for them, based upon the information they give about the type of child they wish to adopt. These families talk about how emotionally difficult and stressful the wait is to finally get a referral. I think in terms of stress and difficulty level, the worst is to be in love with the child you have already met and be subjected to the waiting…..

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day!! I hope you finally get your goodie bag I sent over with the interview ladies…

I was told by Lee Ann that your school/home will not be participating in the hosting program anymore. Apparently there were some political issues with the local Russian Orthodox Church publishing ‘stories’ about what really happens with the hosting programs…. They make it out to sound like the children are subjected to horrible things while they are here visiting. I’m sure you can tell them the only horrible thing you were subjected to was having to stay out of the swimming pool due to your swimmer’s ear problem….oh, and the visit to the dentist’s office to make sure all the decay in your teeth was eliminated.

It amazes me how a church, a HOUSE OF GOD, can blasphemize a truly wonderful organization and its intentions, all of which are God-centered and for the best interest of the children. I guess there are some things in this world that will truly always be a paradox.

Oh, one more thing about the dentist visit. I’ll never forget that day. I think I cried as much as you tried not to. It killed me to see my baby girl in such pain. I’m sure you felt betrayed. It’s normal when you don’t understand the language. I hope that forever you will know that all I do for you is with your health and best interest at heart. I would never ever hurt you intentionally. But I hope now you understand that your teeth are VERY important and it was necessary to put fillings in the ones with cavities and pull the one that was so far gone with decay that there was no other choice. I just am so thankful that those were all baby teeth and your adult teeth are wonderful !! (All six of them - - but I’m sure by now you have a couple more adult teeth - - eeeek, you are growing fast!)

I know Boris’ new parents are so anxious to make the trip over there to bring him home. I pray when you find out he’s been adopted you are not sad because your friend is gone, but also sad that you haven’t been adopted. I want so much to have God’s love stand by you at that time, so you are comforted in Boris having a wonderful new home with truly awesome parents, and the hope (yes, dear Lola, HOPE) that you will be one of the next to follow. Because I’m on my way, it’s just such a waiting game!!!

Dan and Mona (Boris’ parents) are thinking about changing his first name to Alexander (which I guess is his middle name in Russian anyway). They wish to call him Alex. If he agrees, that will be his legal name. But you know, to me he will always be Borya…

Well, I’ve got to go. Lunchtime is over. I love you with all my heart - - and will think of you especially when making brownies tonight for Valentine’s Day tomorrow!!

Well, I’m getting a bit antsy about hearing from Justin and Phyllis about when I can finally send in this paperwork!! I am so hoping it will be soon…. I don’t want to wait so long that you have already done most of your growing up by the time you finally get here. I’d really like to be part of that process and witness the wonderful changes you go through while you are here !!!!

I am beginning to get quite irritated because this stuff has been ready for the last six weeks and I’m wondering if they forgot about me!!! I may need to call them and leave a message or speak to them in person just to make sure they know you are very important to me and I want you home with me so I won’t have to miss you so much!

I know, I need to be patient. I’m trying - - really I am!

There are now very large bookshelves on the landing between the main floor and basement of our home. I thought it would be good to have all the books, CD’s and DVD’s closer to the basement area, since that will be our recreation room. I am trying to come up with a good furniture arrangement, but haven’t found the perfect one yet.

Oh, I meant to tell you that Vachik (my wonderful handyman – Chris used to call him Mr. Odd Job, because he does all kinds of repairs and installations – he has quite a talent for that sort of thing) has put a ceiling fan in your bedroom, as well as new faucets/fixtures on the sink in your bathroom. I think you’ll like them a lot.

I have a plan for your room and the bed situation, but I want to wait until you are here to show you. If you like it we’ll do it!!

Scooter and BooBoo have been waking me up at all kinds of odd hours lately to be fed. I’m not sure why their stomachs think they should be fed at 3am, but I’ve got to put that to a stop soon! I like my sleep too much to have them interrupt it in the middle of the night. BooBoo has decided he loves his canned food so much he should be fed all the time. I certainly don’t want TWO roly-poly kitties - - one is enough!

I was taking the trash out on Saturday and when I walked out through the garage I was startled by a big yellow cat sitting in on the floor right by my car. I startled him, too, and for a few seconds we just stared at each other. Then finally I remembered my manners and introduced myself. He came up to me and rubbed on my leg then rolled over and showed me his tummy. He’s as big as Scooter and just as sweet. He had a collar on with a name tag. He is known as Mr. Max. I hope I see more of him - - he’s adorable!

Well, sweetie, I need to say goodbye for now. I’ll write again soon. I promise.
All my love,
Your MAMA BUBBA !!!!

21 Feb 2007
How’s my little Russian princess?
Well, Justin and Phyllis tell me that you and I are on a list, but we have to wait until the Russian government is ready to process the papers. It doesn’t rush things along any faster, but at least I feel a little better about the fact we haven’t gotten lost in the shuffle.

I am on my lunch break (as usual when I write to you) here at work, and today is Wednesday - - every Wednesday the cafeteria serves chicken tortilla soup - - -oh, it is pure HEAVEN!! I don’t eat the tortillas (they are just fried corn chips - -yuk!!), but the soup itself is a culinary work of art!! Full of shredded chicken, lots of spice and sooooooooo good. You may like it, if you like spicy!! Actually, this cafeteria here serves the best soups - - they are all good! I have soup every day for lunch during the work days.

Hmmmmm, what else can I tell you about life in Atlanta? Oh, I heard from Boris’ soon-to-be parents that they have done his room in a Spiderman theme. I’m sure he will love it!

Your room is slightly different than when you were here, but for the most part it’s about the same. I may try to re-arrange the furniture to make it more spacious, or change out the dresser that is in there for one that is in my room, but I figure if you like your wall color or theme of the room the way it is we can leave it, or if you want to paint the walls a different color we can do that too. I’m open to suggestions; after all, it’s your personal space - - your little haven for sleep and relaxation. We can work together to make it just the way you like !!

Well, sweetie - - my lunch break is over. I’ll sign off for now. I’m sending you all my love telepathically - - hope you can feel it!!

Hi, Baby Girl - -

There has been so much happening lately - - both good news and bad news !! Dan and Mona (who wish to have Boris as their son) have found out their adoption process was stopped cold for an indeterminate period of time. Apparently this is due to Boris’ biological grandmother wanting to dispute their intention to adopt. She does not want Boris to leave Russia.

I really do see her side of things, but I also know that Boris will have a better life with Dan and Mona, and I’m certain they will make sure he visits his grandmother from time to time, even if he moves here to America …

I just want what’s best for Boris at this time. He needs a family, and it seems that his grandmother cannot care for him herself. He wouldn’t be on the adoption database unless he has had no contact with family members for at least a year, so I’m not sure of the complete details there. But I do know that Dan and Mona love him very much and will make sure he has a wonderful environment in which to grow up.

The good news is that my document came from the Dept of Immigration, and only about six weeks after I submitted all the documents and had my fingerprints done! They had been about five months behind, but apparently either God is looking out for me (as he always does) or the INS has finally been able to get caught up with their paperwork. Well, HEY - - I’m ready to get this paperwork in to bring my Little Bubba home - - are you READY???

I joined a new gym last week, and of course made the consideration of it being a family-friendly gym so that you will have a wonderful time there as much as I will. It has two FABULOUS swimming pools – indoor and outdoor, a rock climbing wall and the most fantastic environment. I think you will find it to be the most fun place on earth aside from Chastain Park stables!

I took last Monday off work to go see your new school - - it’s quite nice - - I think you’ll like it very much. The parents get involved in what the teachers and children are doing, and I think that is important. It’s called Dunwoody Springs School and is really quite diverse in the nationalities of people that work there as well as the children who attend.

Well, dearest Lola, I have to go now. I miss you always and love you even more!!

March 1, 2007
Wow, happy 1st day of March!! I cannot believe it has been NINE months since you stepped off the airplane in Atlanta! That is amazing!

I miss you so much, it sometimes HURTS….

Some of us who are adopting you cute little sweeties are getting together on Sunday to help each other be patient with this adoption process and also show off our multitudes of photos we have taken of all of you. So far it’s all we have right now in order to keep the faith….

And speaking of faith, maybe I will be finally requested to send in my first set of documents. I hope for this every day. That will mean we will be all that much closer to seeing each other again. I hope you are as happy to see me as I am to see you!!!

Well, not much news here. It’s raining, so it’s quite dreary out today. We have been blessed with fabulous weather for this time of year. It’s been in the 60’s (Fahrenheit) for the past week or so - - not warm enough to swim yet but warm enough to lay out in the sun and feel comfy!!

Scoo and Boo send their love. So does Chris and Kimmi. I haven’t seen much of Kimmi lately. She hasn’t called me very often since she moved out. But I know she’s busy with work and going to the gym. We keep telling each other we should go have dinner together some night, but it never materializes. I’m just as guilty as she is - - I’ve got lots of projects at home to do and as you know there is NEVER enough time to do them.

I made muffins a couple nights ago for the ladies in my Bible study group. I thought of you and was SAD that you weren’t there to lick the bowl!!! I had to do it all by myself!

Lola-Bear, you are my little sunshine and I pray for you every day that you are happy and healthy and never give up hope that there are people here halfway across the world who love you very much.

Your Mama

3 March, 2007
Hi, Sweetie !

I have just a couple of minutes left at lunch and just wanted to tell you I LOVE YOU !!!

I still haven’t heard from Meest South (the shipping company I used to send two HUGE boxes of stuff for your friends and your home) to see if the boxes I shipped back in December made it to your location. Guess I’ll have to call them today to have the packages tracked. I certainly can’t get any information from the website - - they told me that it’s updated every 2 months if they are lucky…. Yikes!!

Well, I have to go. SMOOOOOOOOCHIE !!! xxxoooxxxooo

WOW, I feel awful - - had some bad stomach virus or food poisoning or SOMETHING!! – Came in to work today for ½ day even though I feel horrible - - but can’t stand to stay in bed when I’m sick - -

Good news - - MEEST has confirmed that the two large boxes were delivered to your school on January 17th!!! Hooray!!!

Phyllis called me last night to ask for a copy of my passport. I HOPE that is a good thing!! Like maybe they are in process with the paperwork??? HOPE SO!!!

Love you!!

8 March, 2007
WOO-HOO!!! Guess what??? Mona called me to say that they have a court date in Russia with Boris on March 21!!! He is going to be their son!!!! We are so excited for all of them!

Now, here’s the flip side. You may be disappointed to find out Boris is leaving to come to the USA for good… please don’t be sad - - - because if I have anything to do with it, you will be over here too, in a matter of months. It really bothers me to think that you may be fully aware that Boris is going to America, and you have NO CLUE that LOLA is following the same path. I am trying to get this done FAST, but it’s not all in my control. There are many other people I must depend on, both here and in Russia.

I got my passport copy e-mailed off to Justin and Phyllis. I’m just waiting to see what comes next. Hopefully they will contact me within the next week or so.
I would LOVE to get you home by the end of JULY!!!!

Little Bubba, you are my sunshine, my little sweetie, and quite soon I hope you will be my daughter.

I told Chris the other day that the most appropriate way for me to tell you I’m adopting you is to do it in the form of a marriage proposal, of sorts. You know, like they do it in the movies - - - I could get down on one knee in front of you, and hand you a little box with a ribbon tied around it. When you open the box you would find a note that says ( IN RUSSIAN, of course) “Lolita - - I love you with all my heart! Will you be my daughter forever???” I think you and I would both love and appreciate the dramatic effect and the hilarity of it, but most likely the women from the Ministry of Education will not think it so humorous…

But this is how I feel!!! It’s FOREVER and should be given all the pomp and drama and Hollywood effect that a marriage proposal does! True?? TRUE!!

Well, I have to get back to work now. I miss you tons, and for now, I’m hoping that Dan and Mona will be kind enough to let me give them a little package for you, just so you know I’m always, always, always thinking of you!

Love, your DRAMA MAMA

My precious daughter - -

Sometimes I love you so much I think my heart will break from the sheer magnitude of it! I have some very happy news!! Dan and Mona are going to Russia to appear in court on the 21st of this month - - and once court is done (as well as the 10-day waiting period), they will be bringing Boris home with them to America!!!!
I wish so much that this will happen soon for you and me! I am still trying to be patient, but it is NOT easy.

I pray you will not be sad when Boris leaves (as I know that you will be seeing him soon, if all goes well). I also wish you to be strong when Nastya leaves for America as well.

I wish so much someone there at your school could send me photos of you!! I’m sure you have gotten a bit taller, and your hair is longer, and you are growing up without me even being witness to it! Baby girl, I don’t think there are words in any language to tell you how much you mean to me. It would not be hard to believe that we are truly biologically related, because we sometimes act so much alike! Lola, you ARE my child. It took a few years for us to find each other, but it is like we are connected invisibly. I hope you can feel the love that comes from my little spot here in Atlanta, Georgia, USA - - it travels with the speed of light to you every day, every moment…

Oh, I have always meant to tell you that I wear the cross you gave me all the time. I never take it off. I guess it’s the one tangible thing that I have to remember you are still a part of me. It’s the little beacon reminding me that we will be a family soon, if you are willing to take such a big step. New country, new language, new friends and family - -- it’s really quite scary. But if you are willing to take the chance, I’m here with open arms.

The weather here is fabulous - - almost warm enough to go swimming!! I thought you would like that!

Kimmi told me that she has now decided to get her own apartment. She has paid off some of her expenses so she now has extra money to use for her own place. She is hoping to move into an apartment that is just about 3 miles down the street from our house - - - apparently the lady she is living with currently has three very noisy dogs. In addition, this lady is about my age, but prefers to stay home all the time rather than going out much, so Kimmi is not really that compatible with her socially. I told Kimmi she can have a few things of mine that I would normally have given away to Goodwill to help her start out life in her own ‘digs’.

Well, dear, I must go - - lunchtime is over and I’ve got to get back to work!!

13 March, 2007
WOO-HOO!!! Phyllis called me yesterday afternoon and said I need to get the 1st set of documents done, notarized, apostilled and ready to go to Russia with Dan and Mona before this weekend!!! I may actually be seeing you face-to-face before EASTER!!!

Here we go, little one - - are you ready for the wild ride?  This is just the beginning of the part where you get (knowingly) brought into the equation.
Then it becomes US, not just YOU and ME. I think that is awesome!!

I’m just so excited there is really nothing else to say where I won’t be jumping up and down for joy and I think you already get the drift of that…..

Maybe you WILL be here by your birthday, after all!! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Love you indescribably!!!! Your soon-to-be-MAMA (if you’ll have me - Hollywood style!!)

15 March, 2007
Wow, it’s been crazy to get this paperwork letter-perfect and I have had to do some re-works and a lot of running around to get the notarization and apostilles done, but I think the finished product is ready to go with Dan and Mona this weekend to St Petersburg !!! WOO-HOO!!

Now I need to start working on the 2nd set of documents. Sweetie, for all the frustrations and road blocks I have encountered with this paperwork, I must stress to you - - YOU ARE WORTH IT ALL!!!

I am going to try harder to make sure the next set of documents don’t drive me nuts, which means I’ll need to get them started this weekend!!

I love you so much - - -I can hardly wait to see you, whenever that will be.
Well, that’s all for now - - oh, but I also wanted to tell you that having your paperwork done and knowing that it’s going to Russia is the most wonderful birthday gift (today is my birthday!!!)for me. Nothing can compare. Ever!!

Smooches - - your MAMA

16 March, 2007
Hi, sweetie - -
Well, the documents are now at Dan and Mona’s and will be hopping on a plane with them tomorrow to go to Russia!! WOO HOO!! Are you in for a surprise when you find out I’m coming to visit!!!

Now I need to concentrate on getting the second set of documents together. I LOVE YOU!!!! Gotta go - - - my lunch break is over!

20 March, 2007
Hello, sweetie!!

Well, the paperwork should be safely in Russia by now with Dan and Mona (they left on Saturday) and I’m working on getting the second phase of documents ready to take on my trip over there to see you (whenever that will be)!! Once all that is done I think the rest should be fairly smooth. At least I hope so.

When I hear about the situation with Boris and his grandmother, Lera and her sister and Katya & Natasha with their grandmother…..I fear that some long-lost relative of yours will suddenly come forward and refuse to let you be adopted. I have no idea how long you have been in the children’s homes, but from the photos you showed me my guess is since you were about 5 years old. I’m guessing that if you have been there that long the possibility of someone in your family coming forward after all these years is fairly remote.

I am not sure about your situation - - - if your family had no money to care for you, or if there were other issues - - but you are a wonderful, intelligent, funny and beautiful little girl and you have been able to see the good in life in spite of all you have been through. I am so fortunate to have found you and the greatest thing is that I value you and your talents and opinions very much!! You are a huge SOMEBODY in this world and now you’ll have the chance to prove it - - - you can be anything you want to be!!! You are my little treasure and I want you to know how much I love you just because you are YOU!
Lola, you can be an engineer, a teacher, a news reporter, an actress, anything that is appealing to you for a career. You just need to decide what you want to do and work to achieve it - - whatever it is you know you’ll have my support and your own personal little cheering section. But for now, I’m cool with you just being LOLA. 

Well, Little Bubba, I must go for now. I love you limitlessly!!!

22 March, 2007
Hello there - - - IT IS OFFICIAL - - BORIS NOW HAS A MOM AND DAD !!!! Woo-HOO!!!! I just found out yesterday. Mona’s sister e-mailed us all and here is a copy of the announcement :


I am Mona's sister and I wanted to let you know that we just received word that she and Dan(ny) are the proud parents of a 60#, 52 inch BOY.........Boris Alexander!!! Can you believe...he looks just like them!

Anyway, it has been a long journey to this point!!! The adventures are just beginning....stay tuned for the next chapter.

The entire Huffman famiy hope to be back in the US around April 12th or so!! They will be able to pick Boris up on April 8th.

Thank you for all the prayers and support!!

Dan, Mona, Boris, Scarlet and the angel Savannah

So, Lola, Boris is now BORIS ALEXANDER HUFFMAN. I’m sure he’s excited about starting a new life in Atlanta. I know all of us are so happy to have him here, as we will when you come here to live, too!

I have been looking at new townhomes, of course thinking that since there will be two of us sharing the same home we may need more space. I’m also thinking of the future, as it may be a possibility that my mom may someday come and live with us, so I’m sure she would like her own space along with the ability to get in and out of the house without a huge number of stairs. I have been looking at townhomes with elevators, but they are so out of my price range (sigh)……..I know it’s not good to want lots of money, that is greed and greed is bad, but is it really greed when you want the money to provide for your family? That’s something I’ll need some quiet time to get my mind around and ponder….but for now, I guess we can make it work in the place I’m at now. I love my townhome. It’s just that sometimes I feel as though there’s not a lot of space. I suppose if I get rid of some of the clutter I have it would make an enormous difference.

We will make it work. I just need to upgrade some things, like the windows and we can get an extension on the garage and a DOOR so it will look just like all the others. The courtyards are unique and I really love all the windows.

I suppose for now I just need to concentrate on having you make the big trip to live in America, in getting used to life in a new country.
That for now is MOST important.

I love you - - - in fact, this morning on my way to work I was sort of daydreaming about you and missed my exit. OOPS!! I had to drive up to the next exit and turn around!!
I miss you in amounts I can’t even describe. I miss your happy little face and your smile and your hugs and your flair for drama and “ya Scooter” kisses and giving you a back massage in the evenings and cooking you breakfast and taking you to your horseback riding lessons and watching you sleep in your booster seat in the car on long road trips (or even short ones - - and you DO snore!!!!). I miss everything about you. I hope I see you soon. REALLY SOON!!!!

All my love,

23 March, 2007
Dan and Mona are home - - and they are going back to get Boris on April 8th. WOO -HOO!! I hope the trip to come get you is not too long from now.

10 April, 2007
Little Bubba,
It has been so long since I have written - - well, actually, I wrote you a letter to send along with Dan and Mona when they come get Boris from your school. I’m guessing you have received my little care package. Hope you like the items I included. I am running out of imagination when it comes to sending little gifts to remind you I’m still here hoping and waiting.

The first set of docs went with Dan and Mona on their second trip to see Boris in March, but apparently there was a document that was missing. So I got that one prepared (as well as the same document for two other families who are adopting) and it was sent off to Russia with a lady named Brandi Rickman a couple weeks ago.

Then on April 2 Chris and I went to the Masters’ tournament at Augusta National. WOW!! That is something really amazing. It was a practice round, but that is good as we were allowed to take pictures. During the last four days of the tournament no cameras are allowed. So I got photos of Tiger Woods!!! YAAAAAY!

This morning on my way to work I was walking through the parking lot and heard “Uh-uh!! Uh-uh!!” Remember that? The crows we heard at Hilton Head Island? I was so homesick for you right then I wasn’t sure how to react!! But then I thought - - what IF - - what IF - - what if that was a sign that Phyllis and Justin are ready for me to come see you in Kolpino?? What if I get that phone call telling me that I’m going in two weeks??? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?? I just hope I can get my 2nd set of documents done. I guess I need to make sure the ones I have are in order so they can just be notarized and apostilled and I’ll be ready for the trip!

I have been working on your bedroom. I think you will LOVE it!! The colors are yellow, turquoise, pink and lavender. I changed the curtains and painted a small set of drawers and put your name on the door with painted wooden letters and Velcro. It is definitely Lola’s Room!!!

I have to go. I love you with all my heart. Take care, little one - - there is an angel watching over you - - - I have asked God to send her to you….


–It’s FRIDAY the 13th! Are you superstitious? I’m not!

Little Bubba, I miss you so much and I don’t want to be without you for another minute!!!! I have tried to be patient, but it’s getting harder all the time……I have a feeling there may be some major political things happening in Russia quite soon which will adversely affect adoptions and I would like to get you home first before all that happens….

Chris and I were at Wal-Mart last night and we talked to a young man working there who was from Albania. He said that he learned English in about 6 months when he came to the USA. That’s pretty awesome - -and he was 19 when he moved here. I think you’ll learn quickly and once you have a fairly basic understanding of English you will find the rest will be very easy!

Well, I am guessing that Boris is on his way home to the USA with his new mom and dad. I hope you don’t miss him too much because in a matter of months you will be here too!!! I just would love for us to be able to convince Lera that she should come as well. I know that her host parents love her very much and would like for her to change her mind. Karen was quite brokenhearted when Lera made the decision that she didn’t want to be adopted…..she and Mike are still hoping Lera will decide otherwise.

I’m still waiting to hear from Justin & Phyllis about when my first trip to Russia will be. I’m trying to get the second set of paperwork done and have most of it completed. I have to get the statement of my finances done (which should be completed on Monday next week), then the medical and the letter of good conduct (those must wait until I hear about my trip since they have to be less than 3 months old when I go over to Russia on all trips).

LOLA -- - you are my daughter, whether it is legal or not!! You are my daughter in my heart.

I have to tell you this - - - -I was working on the décor in your room a couple nights ago and Scooter came in, jumped up on your bed and just sat there for the longest time. He then turned around to me and meowed as if to say “Mama, is Lola coming back anytime soon?” He is really missing you very much! BooBoo misses you too, but I think Boo is more worried about you allowing him share your bed (as that bedroom was his room when we first moved in). I’m sure you’ll be happy to share with him, especially since he likes to sleep in there during the day when no one is home.

Dearest, I want you to keep your first name LOLITA, but I would like for us to cooperatively determine your middle name. I personally like “Michelle”, because for a very long time I made the decision if I ever had a baby girl I would name her Michelle Mirielle (pronounced Mee-RAY, since it’s French). But since you are now my baby girl (and not really a baby at all) I think Lolita Michelle sounds wonderful !! However, there is the issue my unusual last name – OLBERTZ. I guess Lolita Michelle Olbertz doesn’t sound so bad, and your initials will be LMO, which is cool (it doesn’t spell anything rude or weird). I guess we can determine that once we get back together. Ultimately the decision is up to you - - - I just wanted you to know my idea and how it came to be.

Well, my little angel, I’ve got to go for now. We will continue the saga later !!
Smooches & hugs - - your Mama

16 April, 2007
Hi, Sweetie - -
Boris made it here just fine - - he’s so tired but he’s happy to have parents who love him (and I think his new babushka loves him so much , she can’t stop hugging and kissing him!!!).

I was at the airport to see them when they arrived, along with their family and other friends. It was so good to see Boris again! He remembered me, so that’s cool!

I just heard that the Russian government has suspended all foreign adoptions until the agencies get accredited again…. (that is me adopting you - - the “foreign adoption” part).

Here is the article I read:
Russian Authorities Suspend All Foreign Adoptions

Created: 13.04.2007 12:01 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 12:13 MSK

Authorities said Thursday they have halted the work of all foreign adoption agencies in Russia for several months, The Associated Press news agency reports.

Russia is the third most important source for U.S. adoptions. But Russian adoptions slowed to a trickle in 2005 after the commission responsible for accrediting adoption agencies was shut down in the midst of an overhaul of ministries.

About 7,000 U.S. families waiting to adopt Russian children took out a newspaper ad appealing to the government to end the bottleneck, and the accreditation process was resumed. Although some 260,000 Russian children are listed as orphans and potentially eligible for adoption, only about 15,000 find families each year. About half of those children go abroad.

The licensing delay in Russia is caused by a law that took effect last year that imposed strict new rules on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including more complicated registration procedures. The rules were imposed after Russian officials complained that Western-funded groups were meddling in politics across the former Soviet Union.

Sergei Vitelis, an official at the Education Ministry's department in charge of adoptions, said the licenses of dozens of agencies working in Russia expired Wednesday and it will take officials about two months to consider applications for new ones.

That leaves only one alternative for foreign families - to adopt without using an agency. But adoption agencies say such adoptions are rare.

Vitelis said the delay was caused solely by technical reasons. "There are no political or other motives here," he said.

The suspension of most adoptions comes amid heightened political tensions between Russia and the United States, and Russia's strengthened sense of national pride under President Vladimir Putin. Some here say the crisis has a political dimension.

"All they [lawmakers] care about is waging a Cold War with America and their argument is literally that Russian children must live in Russian land," said Boris Altshuller, head of a Moscow-based nonprofit group, Right of the Child. Vitelis said 76 foreign adoption agencies have applied to operate in Russia, and their applications must be reviewed by the Education Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Health Ministry's oversight agency.

Justin Herscovici, president of the New York-based Children of the World Adoption agency, said his group filed all the application documents in January to have their license renewed.

"We don't consider this suspension. We consider this reorganization ...
and we expect to be reaccredited in due course."

Justin in this article is the man whose agency I have to help me adopt you . He is Russian, and a lawyer, so he should hopefully have one of the first re-accreditations given. He’s very respected in Russia as far as American adoption agencies go. This is one of the times I’m so glad to have he and Phyllis representing me.

I wonder if they will allow me to see you (first visit) even though all this political stuff is going on. Oh, I HOPE SO!!! I miss you so much and want to hug you and kiss you a million times and promise you that no matter what, I will be your mama!

You will flip out when you see your bedroom! It is so awesome!! Well, I think so, anyway. I hope you like it as much as I do. If you don’t, we can trade rooms - - I’ll sleep in yours with all the Crayola colors and you can have my green and purple room.

I found you a boogie board at the Goodwill store for only TWO DOLLARS!! You and I can go catch the waves at Hilton Head while Chris takes pictures of us hamming it up!

Gotta go - - I love you, Little Bubba!!

Your MAMA!!

18 April, 2007
Hello, it’s me again.

I had another dream about Lera a couple nights ago - - - in the dream she changed her mind about being adopted and decided she did want to come to the USA after all.

I hope Boris is adapting well here so far. I haven’t talked much with his parents since Saturday. I’m sure they are all still trying to catch up on their sleep!

I have heard from Boris’ parents that Natasha (who works for the adoption agency) had requested that Boris ask you if you still have a dream of coming to America to live. I guess that was supposed to be a hint to you that things are in the works, but I can tell you that this process is painfully slow. Now that Russia has put a hold on re-accreditation of all adoption agencies that operate outside your country who knows how long this may take. If your dream was coming to live in America, MY dream was to get you here by your birthday in June. It may be later, but I’ll just be so happy to have you here it doesn’t matter what time of year it happens. I was just hoping we would have some quality time together during the summer before you go to school. But don’t worry, we will figure it out. We’ll make sure we have plenty of quality time as well as you getting some more English in your vocabulary (and me getting more Russian in mine). We will be just fine. Both of our dreams will come true, but we have to be very patient.

I hope the weather there is getting warmer. I could not even imagine what it’s like to live somewhere that only has summer a month out of the year! I grew up in Iowa, and we had snow in December, January and February, spring with chilly weather in March, April and May, summers that were hot in June, July and August, and crisp autumn days in September, October and November. I have no idea what it’s like to have winter in October thru April, spring in May and June, summer in July and August and who knows what in September!!! You’ll have to tell me about it. I wonder if your school is heated well enough that all of you are warm while indoors, or if you have to dress in layers to avoid the chill. I guess instead of you being my little Russian princess, you are actually my little POLAR BEAR!!!

Well, I have to go, my dear. I think of you a billion times a day and Scooter is now hanging out in your room quite often. I think he knows you are coming home, but he just doesn’t know when. Let’s hope it’s VERY SOON!

I love you multitudes!!!

Your not-so-patient Mama


I went to see Boris a couple nights ago. Apparently he thinks now that he is in America he doesn’t have to go to school or learn English. Right now it’s a bit of a power struggle between him and his parents.

I know he had good grades in Russian school. We think perhaps he’s afraid of failure since all of this is so new. I also know once he learns some of the English language he will feel much more confident about everything and I envision him having tons of new friends at school.

I don’t want you to be afraid of anything here. Yes, you will learn English, but I hope to learn some more Russian so maybe we can finally communicate in some way without the gestures and picture-drawing. …..although I think that’s kind of fun, too…..
I want to make learning English fun for you. No pressure, just the anticipation of learning more new words. I will be here for you no matter what. School will be just fine for you. Don’t be afraid of being a little behind. That is NORMAL, especially when you have come halfway across the world to what probably seems to you like a NEW PLANET…. Gosh, imagine if I were ten years old and was adopted by a Russian family….I would be in the same situation as you are!!! But knowing that you and I are both very positive thinkers, we’ll make it fun and make the best of what we can do.

It will be all right. Really! I’ll be right there with you to help you learn.

Scooter is still hanging out in your room. He is anxious, as I am….

Chris and Kimmi are wanting to see you again. I call Kimmi “Aunt Kimmi”, and she seems to like that. Chris is willing to be patient so that you can finally feel comfortable being around him. I realize that you haven’t had much exposure to men (in a positive way), so it will take some time. But I want to tell you that Chris loves you already like you are his best friend (and I know he wants to be a papa to you but he’s not really sure how) and he is looking forward to bonding more with you.

Well, Pumpkin, I have to go. I think of you just about every moment of every day…..

WOO-HOO!!! Phyllis just called me to say that I am to plan my first trip to see you!!!! I will be leaving on the 18th of May and returning to the US on 23 May.

I was so excited I couldn’t stop shaking!

She faxed me over the medical form and told me not to scream when I saw it. Needless to say, it’s requiring me to go to 9 different specialists to be checked for who knows what - - - and this will take quite awhile to set up. But you are soooooooooooo worth it - - - I’m setting up appointments already for when I get back from Russia.

From what I understand I’ll be seeing you on May 21st, as well as the people from the Ministry of Education.


All right, I have the flight booked and after a few turndowns and juggling of scheduling, I finally have a hotel as well. Booking a hotel in Russia is much different than booking one here in America. In Russia, I had to place a request for a room at a specific hotel, then wait 3 to 4 days for the hotel or the company who is renting the rooms to respond. In America, the confirmation of the hotel room is instant. By the time the decision is made to book a room at the hotel of our choice, we are already aware of whether or not there are available rooms to book.

Now I’m waiting on my Visa. It should be here this week. I do have the letter of invitation, but need the Visa to get in and out of Russia. I must come back to the USA to do more paperwork for the adoption!

After having understood all the paperwork required for everything that pertains to Russia (not just adoption, but everything), I must say that I feel very deeply for the government workers. I’m certain their eyes are falling out by the end of each day after having to review all that paperwork for everything that is done!!

I went to the dentist yesterday to get my teeth cleaned and I met the hygienist there (I had to change dentists due to the convenience of stopping by there on my way home from work, since I work in the same building where Kimmi is now). Her name is Anna and she is from RUSSIA!! She lived in Moscow, but we had a wonderful time talking about you - - - she saw your picture (the one taken of you with Scooter) and she cannot wait to meet you. She also said that if ever we need some help in translating Russian to English and vice-versa she would be happy to help out!

Well, Pumpkin, I’ve got to go. I am so happy that I will finally get to see you again! I hope you are as happy! I love you with all my heart, Little Bubba!

Your Mama

It has been awhile since I wrote last, but it’s all due to the preparation needed for my trip to pay you a visit !!

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