By Mark & Carolyn Bocheff
No amount of warning, advice, or stories of past experiences can truly prepare you for the adoption journey. I find it near impossible to describe the entire experience in a few short paragraphs. Until you undergo it yourself, it is difficult to understand everything behind each anecdote.
During the adoption process, the political climate in Russia changed such that the adoption process had slowed down to the point that we wavered on staying with the Russian program. Ultimately, we did continue with the program. As a result, within nine months (a little ironic) from the time we applied with Adoption Pros, we received news from the agency that an orphanage in Salekhard (northwestern Siberia) had a referral for us. As part of the political changes that had occurred, we were now required to visit the country twice. For various reasons, we decided that Mark would make the first trip alone. We knew nothing at all about our future son, Nikita, until he came through the door at the orphanage. We had initially requested a boy under the age of 12 months. However, Nikita, at the age of 17 months, was impossible to turn away. Of course Mark fell in love immediately, but since I had not traveled with him, we could not make a final decision until he came back home. Upon Mark’s return, as soon as he exited the jet way, we found a private spot and cued the videotape he had recorded of Nikita. One hour later, we also had developed photos in hand.
Two months after accepting the referral, we were both headed for Salekhard. The week prior to departure was full of anticipation but extremely hectic as we frantically tried to collect additional documents, just in case they were needed for the court hearing. Finally the day came! We arrived in Moscow, less one piece of luggage. (Heed the warning to pack half of your own items in your spouse’s suitcase.) The next evening, we took the one and only flight to Salekhard.
It was truly a blessing that we had the pleasure of traveling with three other couples to Salehard; Kevin and Nancy, who were adopting two children, and Chris and Jill , who were adopting a son. It was a relief to have other couples to converse, compare and complain with. Given the -30°C weather in Salekhard, there wasn’t much else to do. I am also very grateful to each couple, as they were generous enough to lend us clothes and necessities while our luggage was lost in Moscow for ten days.
Tuesday morning was the day I met our son and that evening, after our court hearing, it became official. The videotape and photos did not do justice to Nikita. He was adorable; so full of excitement and very good-natured. He laughed at everything and loved to be held by everyone. The best moments there with him came when he fell asleep in my arms.
The judge Mark and I had was different than the judge for the other three couples. After the initial hearing, Judge Kallash adjourned court for about 45 minutes to write her 20-page summary, both substantially longer compared to the other judge. Mark and I were both a little anxious, due to the language barrier and the long wait for the summary. But as soon as our interpreter, Irena, turned to us and said everything was okay, Mark and I could barely restrain our excitement.
The whole trip lasted two weeks. Fortunately, the judges waved the 10-day waiting period, but we did have to travel unexpectedly to Tyumen to obtain the children’s passports. Through the entire trip, there was a lot of confusion and frustration, but we just kept concentrating on the end result, bringing our little boy home. It was amazing and gratifying to see how each of the six children just blossomed a few short days with their new parents. Each one of them seemed to fit so well with his and her new mom and dad.
It was one year from the time we first applied with Adoption Pros to the time of our court date in Salekhard. All of the waiting, paperwork, and feelings of helplessness were all well worth it. The son we brought into our home is the light of our lives.