Wow, where do I start? It's been the most remarkable week of our lives, 2 days specifically.
The flight to Kotlas was a little scary. We were on Aeroflot North on this plane: (Note the dark clouds in the background).
We flew through a horrible thunderstorm that wiped out many trees in Kotlas - it looked like a small tornado had hit.
AAI put us in a very nice suite in a Kotlas hotel. The day after we arrived, our driver, Dimitry (AAI Rep) and another couple went to the orphanage which was about 10 minutes away. We were in a large play area that had a lot of toys for the children.
When it was our turn to see our two little angels (Miss Priss and Mr. Heart-throb) they came in very slowly and tentatively. Miss Priss was smiling the whole time but Mr. Heart-throb was very shy...at first. He wouldn't even look at us but neither of them cried. We played for awhile and after about 2 hours or so, Miss Priss was calling Jim Papa and Mr. Heart-throb was happily building a structure with us and laughing a lot. The baby home was immaculate, organized, had many toys for the children and they obviously care for them very much. It was an amazing place considering there are over 80 children there.
We were able to play with the kids from 9am-12pm and then from 3pm-5pm. When it was time for us to go, Mr. Heart-throb got very serious again and was gripping me tightly as I held him. It was quite sad and we promised that we would be back tomorrow (It's good to know some basic phrases in Russian for reassuring toddlers). The Priss pranced out with that never-ending smile of hers. (She had on some squeaky shoes that squeaked when she walked - it was hilarious!).
Day 2: We got to the baby home at 9am. This time when there were brought in, the Heart-throb ran up to Jim and hugged him and laughed - it was such a touching moment (and we got it on video!). We played again for awhile and the Heart-throb came completely out of his shell. We had him laughing so hard! We played an impromptu game of counting to 3 and then he would run into my arms and I would scoop him up and hug and kiss him + twirl him around. He'd get down and run to the other side of the room and do it over and over. The Priss just layed down on her Papa's lap and laughed at us - she is an extremely happy and content baby.
It was time for the Doc we hired from St. Petersburg (Dr. Sofia) to examine them. She had been watching us play and asked the Heart-throb some questions (like where's the big truck, where's the small truck, etc. to see how much he knew). He answered and obviously understands Russian very well. She said they are both "very clever" - we were so proud of them! They were visibly unhappy about being examined but still no tears were shed.
After lunch/naptime, we visited with the baby home director and the babyhome doctor and our Dr. Sofia to discuss the medical and social history of the kids. The kids were little champs, they sat still in our laps and played quietly the entire visit (about 1 hour) in a VERY HOT office.
It was then time to make our decision and we said YES! We feel extremely lucky to have these two in our lives. We signed all of our paperwork and then it was time for the hard part - saying goodbye for awhile.
Our last vision of them is the Baby Home Director holding the Heart-throb's hand and he is holding the Little Priss' hand walking away from us. They kept looking back at us smiling.
I'm so sad just typing this. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long for court.
We flew back to Moscow through Arkhangel'sk for 2 days of R+R. We did the usual touristy things, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, Lenin's tomb, Red Square and of course TGI Fridays!
All of the restaurants, hotels and the apartment we stayed in were absolutely wonderful.
AAI took COMPLETE care of us while we were in Russia. We never felt anything other than cared for the entire visit.
We took 6 flights in 7 days (and 2 of them 11+ hours) - we're ready to stay on the ground for a few days - oh, an shop for the munchkins!!!
Here's the inevitable 'teaser' picture of brother and sister holding hands: