Monday, September 7, 2009

Tuesday August 11th

We arrive at the hotel sometime around 8am. Much to our chagrin, we stayed at a different hotel. A much nicer hotel. We had traveling companions again, who happened to stay at this hotel on their first trip, and were more than happy to show us around. Since we were unsure what hotel we would be staying at, we prepared as if we were staying at the same hotel as the first trip. While we packed a ton of food, we also had to bring 16 nights hotel stay in cash, which was close to $3000, as the hotel from the first trip only accepted cash. Upon check in, the new hotel only accepted credit cards, even though I asked to pay in cash. The room was fantastic - 2 double beds, separate living room and work room, full bath tub (Steve was very happy). The room also included breakfast at the restaurant on site.

After we checked in, we were told to be ready by 9am to head to the hospital for our medical exams. In our region, we are required to complete a medical exam by a panel of Russian physician prior to our court appearance. Keep in mind, still no chance to sleep. It's quickly approaching 36 hours of travel with minimal sleep.

We arrive at the hospital, and place our bags in the office of the person in charge. The four of us (Steve, myself, and the other couple) all receive our forms, and are directed where to go. The guys head off in one direction, while I'm directed to see the dermatologist, followed by the phlebotomist. As I exit, I take a seat next to our translator on a small bench outside the office. I should note that all offices were set up like this. Each office had a small bench outside, and people came and went without really needing to check in with anyone.

As I sat, trying to relax, the translator was called into the room where the other woman was. She left her purse on the bench. As it appeared there was some commotion, several other hospital staff members also entered the same office. About that time, a man sat down next to me. He did not speak to me, and I didn't think anything of it. About a minute later, he got up and left. As I looked over, I noticed the purse was gone from the bench, and saw the handles tucked under the arm of the man who just left the bench.

I freaked. I'm in a foreign country and just witnessed a crime. I immediately ran into the office to tell the translator, the only other English speaking person there, what had happened. Once I alerted her, I started to head after the man, but was quickly pulled back in by the hospital staff and questioned about what happened. I explained everything that just happened and was questioned about why I didn't run after the man (Of which I had 2 responses in my head - 1, robbers in American carry weapons, and 2, I tried, but you stopped me). The translator, extremely pissed, went running outside to find the guy, while the physician we were working with took me all over the hospital to try and find him. After about 20 minutes of searching with no luck, I was lead back downstairs, and then lead upstairs with the other woman for more tests. We passed Steve and the other husband along the way. There was no time to talk, but Steve knew my facial expression meant good things did not just happen.

After another 45 minutes of visiting different offices, we finally met up with our husbands and explained what happened. In the meantime, I had learned that the translators passport was in her purse. In Russia, the passport is the national form of identification for all citizens, much like the drivers license in the US. She would need the passport in order to complete much of the paperwork to complete our adoption.

Around 11am, we headed back to the hotel, the mood very different at this point. The translator asked me to accompany her to the police station. I agreed and asked Steve to come with me (still no sleep for either of us). We arrived and finally found an officer to take our report. Steve and I sat in the hall on a very hard bench for about 2 hours. All the while, the clank of high heel shoes pounding on stone tiles echoed the halls. Steve curled up in the corner at one point, but was quickly reprimanded in Russian by a station employee. Russians do not appreciate shoes on furniture, even if it is a beat up old bench. About an hour into the sitting, a flurry of activity started happening via cell phone. Several officers were in and out of the office, but we remained in the dark. Finally they called me into the office for my statement, which was more of an interrogation. Yes, I was asked about what happened, and what the guy looked like, but the officer pushed pretty hard about why I didn't try to stop the guy. I stayed calm and explained that it wasn't until he was almost out that door that I noticed, and that I informed the one other person who spoke English because I was unsure if anyone else would even know what I was yelling about. The officer seem satisfied.

I was asked for a form of identification. The translator escorted me to the van to get my driver's license, as my passport was being registered at the hotel (required by Russian law). On the way out, she informed me that her purse had been located, and that her passport and cell phone were in the purse. I was relieved, and again, expressed that I was sorry and how horrible I felt about the whole situation. She acknowledged my sentiments, but was more relieved.

Soon after, we loaded into the van (which already included the driver, translator, Steve and myself) with 2 police officers and a forensics guy to go claim the purse. After a short ride, we arrived at the apartment of the woman who found it. Everyone went into the building but Steve and I, and after 15 minutes, they all emerged, including the finder, purse in hand. She was to join us back at the police station for her statement as well.

After a quick survey, the passport, cell phone, bank cards, jump drive, and anything of real value to the translator were all in the purse. The total of what was gone: 500 rubles (about 17 bucks), sunglasses, a small notebook she kept, and the battery charger to her digital camera. We both sat in amazement at the items both taken and not taken.

We then went back to the police station where I was asked to create a composite sketch of the thief. I told everyone I talked to that day that I did not get a good look at his face, only his clothing and the back of his head. After nearly an hour of viewing predrawn features, I completed the best image I could with about 50% certainty.

So, at around 4pm, we finally made it back to the hotel. That's right, about 44 hours with minimal sleep or food. Rough. We both crawled in bed, and woke up the next morning. Three days down, 21 more to go.


Michaela said...

This room is amazing! Love the theme!
My sister-in-law Tracie Loux left a comment on your blog as well.
My name is Renee' Loux. My husband Derek and I have adopted 8 children and have three bio kids as well (one who died at 2 and 1/2 years old).
Three of our adopted children are special need's boys from Ukraine. We brought them home in January. The rest of our adopted children are all girls from the Marshall Islands. Our bio children are girls as well.
I know you don't know me but I love meeting other families online who adopt. It's so amazing to see children being rescued! Congratulations and I trust your two little ones will be home in your arms soon!
God bless you guys! You can see our familiy online at