30 July 2007


Did you sing along, Giants' fans? (Well, they might be giants...you never know. Laughing at myself...)

On Saturday, I left the flat at noon to go pick up my friend Kat at the airport. You remember what happened after I picked her up. This is the story of before I picked her up. I had some groceries I wanted to stick in her 'fridge so that in her jetlagged state she's have something to eat at 4 a.m. I headed out the door and-yep-no car.

I dropped my bags inside my entryway and headed out to search. I checked the usual places...and didn't find my car. I asked a policeman (here--since you think it's so entertaining to have me struggle in Russian, I'll tell you what I said):

"Hello. Excuse me. I speak only a little Russian. Yesterday my car there, at my house on (address given). Now, I don't know where my car is. Is it possible to help please? (I often forget my formal "you" verb endings when I'm on the spot...so I just talk in infinitives.)

He told me at was on Moika 61--and pointed in the opposite direction. Thinking I mixed up 61 and 16, I confirmed the direction (There?) and walked on. I walked and walked and asked and asked and found my car an hour and a half later. It was, indeed, just past Moika 61--which is across Nevsky and almost to St. Isaac's...about a mile away.

Why was my car moved this time? Was there royalty visiting? Another rollerbalde rally/bike race/marathon taking place? No. The Rolling Stones were in town and were perfoming down the street in Palace Square. I've never been asked for my papers on the street until Saturday. I had to show them to get back to my house. Security for Mick was tight.

Here are pictures from the last time my car was towed. The princess of Thailand (or something...) was visiting. Her motorcade was going to drive down the street and so all the cars were towed. My neighbor knocked on my door to tell me they were towing it, but I was pajama-clad. So, instead, I leaned out the window and took pictures for you.

First, they drove up next to my car.

They attached the lift-thingy and picked up my car...

...and put it on the back of the truck...

...and drove it away.

Fortunately, this time they left it in a convenient spot--in the parking lot of the energy building about a block away (Yes, this camera has a good zoom.) AND I saw where they left it.

28 July 2007

another dream

Last week I dreamt that my friend Kat and I were at a Russian police station getting a background check for my homestudy. They wouldn't give it to us because we hadn't paid the electric bill.

I figured that this dream had to do with the fact that I most likely will need a police check here. And, my friend Dawn in Ukraine has had people telling her that her fans use too much electricity. I've had my fan on every day--sometimes TWO fans.

Today I picked up Kat at the airport. We got to her flat and discovered that she had no electricity because the school hadn't paid her electric bill!! (Poor, Kat had spoiled food, a defrosted freezer and no phone/stove/lights waiting for her. Welcome back to Russia!) We tried to go pay it, but the bank (where you pay your electric bill--based on a reading you take yourself) is closed because it's Saturday.

23 July 2007

pride and sense

If you know me at all, you know I had to take this quiz immediately when I saw it on chou-chou's blog. Okay, actually, I took it twice--but only because I lost the link the first time I took it. I thought I answered everything the same, but...

**Edited to add: Took the quiz a third time--in the interest of finding the real character--and scored as mostly Elizabeth with a lot of Elinor. My least-matching character is Marianne.

The first time I took it:

Jane Austen wrote about Elizabeth Bennet, "I must confess that I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print, and how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know".

Proof of compatibility from the text:

She told the story however with great spirit among her friends; for she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in any thing ridiculous.

...Lizzie has something more of quickness than her sisters.

Elizabeth was determined;

Elizabeth was distressed.

Elizabeth was delighted.

Elizabeth was in agonies.

Elizabeth was surprised, but agreed to it immediately.

Elizabeth was forced to go.

Elizabeth was eager with her thanks and assurances of happiness.

Against staying longer, however, Elizabeth was positively resolved --

Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in.

Elizabeth was determined to make no effort for conversation with a woman who was now more than usually insolent and disagreeable.

Elizabeth was forced to give into a little falsehood here; for to acknowledge the substance of their conversation was impossible.

"I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."

"Can I speak plainer? Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart."

Elizabeth felt that she had neither been seeing him before, nor thinking of him since, with the smallest degree of unreasonable admiration.

Between Elizabeth and Charlotte there was a restraint which kept them mutually silent on the subject; and Elizabeth felt persuaded that no real confidence could ever subsist between them again.

Elizabeth felt herself growing more angry every moment; yet she tried to the utmost to speak with composure when she said...

In the former were many good paintings; but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy's, in crayons, whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible.

Yes, especially when I went searching the text, I can certainly see myself in Elizabeth.

The second time I took it:

The text gives evidence here as well:

Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distresses, no less than in theirs; and all the comfort that could be given by assurances of her own composure of mind, and a very earnest vindication of Edward from every charge but of imprudence, was readily offered.

The insipidity of the meeting was exactly such as Elinor had expected; it produced not one novelty of thought or expression; and nothing could be less interesting than the whole of their discourse both in the dining parlour and drawing room.

Elinor was pleased that he had called; and still more pleased that she had missed him.

Elinor laughed.

...and Elinor was then at liberty to think and be wretched...

Elinor felt all the reasonableness of the idea, and it gave fresh misery to her reflections.

Elinor smiled, and shook her head.

And so well was she able to answer her own expectations, that when she joined them at dinner, only two hours after she had first suffered the extinction of all her dearest hopes, no one would have supposed, from the appearance of the sisters, that Elinor was mourning in secret over obstacles which must divide her for ever from the object of her love

..and Elinor was obliged to assist...

But Elinor had more to do; and so anxious was she, for his sake and her own, to do it well, that she forced herself, after a moment's recollection, to welcome him, with a look and manner that were almost easy, and almost open; and another struggle, another effort still improved them.

Elinor had heard enough, if not to gratify her vanity and raise her self-importance, to agitate her nerves and fill her mind;

When Elinor had ceased to rejoice in the dryness of the season, a very awful pause took place.

I often feel Elinor-ish. This is a very wise quiz. ;> These are my two favorite Austen heroines...and they were long before I saw either book on film. This is extremely important information. Yes, there have been good films. But the books, the books! Actually, I was looking for graphics that didn't come from the films b/c I so didn't want to be identified with the films instead of the books. But, the only little "I am xyz" graphics I found were from the films. Sigh. What to do, what to do...

To this Elinor had no answer to make, and did not attempt any. (If only I could master that characteristic of Elinor's...but I fear I oftener have Lizzie's quick tongue.)

22 July 2007

something fishy

Life in St. P has been really quiet the last week. The streets are emptier of both cars and people. (Including my car. Yes, someone popped the defective handle which turned on the interior light which drained the battery. Again. Does a car really have to be driven regularly in order to keep the battery charged? Seems like an urban myth to me... If it's true, how regularly is regularly?) I thought I'd have a nice informative post on Russian ex-pat living for you, but I don't. Everyone is at their dachas. I don't have a dacha, so I painted my classroom. (It is now all a light green with different sizes of darker green, orange and white polka dots. Round mirrors are being added to bounce some light around that little closet of mine.)

But, I've been doing some interesting reading on Omega 3 fatty acids. I've been reading anecdotes about how it's helped pi kiddos. The theory is that the Omega 3's aid in neuro development. Often institutionalized children receive neither the stimulation nor the nutrition necessary for optimum brain development. Introducing Omega 3 (an essential fatty acid), and, to a lesser extent, Omegas 6 & 9 have aided in brain, eye and nervous system development.

What I find particularly interesting is the effect Omega 3 has on children with sensory disorders, ADHD and autism. Basically, Omega 3 helps the brain to self-regulate. Children and adults with the difficulties mentioned have brains that get overloaded. They have difficulty filtering out distractions. By increasing the amount of Omega 3 in a person's diet, the brain is able to regulate itself.

Here are a few powerful quotes from an article by Emily Cook. She was writing about a study in the UK. Students studying for their GCSE's (crazy-important exams given at age 16 or so...). Emphasis is mine:

The seven and eight-year-olds began with an average reading age of nine months above their actual age. But after three months on the fish oil supplement - containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids - they were reading at 18 months above their age.

Durham County Council has also pioneered several trials involving fish oils. In 2002 a trial of 12 primary schools with pupils aged 6-12 found the supplements significantly improved attention, hyperactivity and short-term memory as well as achievements in reading and spelling.

Another study showed that even toddlers whose communication skills were well below average could catch up in just months by taking essential fats. They also bonded better with their parents as they could concentrate on tasks and games.

This echos what ap's are saying. Their children are more focused and more verbal. I am going to start d2b on supplements when she comes home. And, I'm thinking about taking some myself! I know I don't eat enough fish. And, I've also found links between increased Omega 3 levels and decreased cortisol (that stress hormone that wreaks havoc--especially with my weight) levels.

Right now, my feeling is, it can't hurt. It's fish. How can that be harmful? Actually, it can. Here's my disclaimer: If you aren't careful about where your fish oil comes from, it can be harmful. Make sure you're using a reputable source. Otherwise you may have dangerous levels of mercury and other toxins in your fish oil.

Here's a link about Omega 3, if you're interested. It lists all sorts of things that it's purported to help.

I know this is a very rudimentary explanation. Anyone out there want to share their experiences with Omega 3? Please?

19 July 2007

guess work

Because I know you're enthralled by my unrelenting paperwork struggles...

DHS (USCIS) confirms that I do not need a new hs for them unless I'm not finished by 5 March 2008. Please, oh please, let me be finished by then.

V says to ask the US facilitators what exactly to do for the update. "Let the professionals do this. They know."

Said "professionals" won't tell me what to do for the update. They say they have never been in this exact position before. They say they won't know what I need until they have accreditation and the committee is accepting dossiers. [Note: I am unclear as to whether they mean the committee isn't answering questions until they have accreditation (which is not true) or whether they mean we will submit either my expired hs or something unspecified and wait to be told what to change (which is ridiculous).]

SO, sw #2 and I are going to guess. We're guessing that a thorough update but not a homevisit is in order. Seems like a good guess to me...

She's on vacation for the next week and a half, nach. Hopefully by the time she returns, rested, refreshed and ready to write, my FBI and child abuse clearances will be here. That's all we need. So that she can write it. And get it notarized. And send it to me. And I can get it apostilled. In the US. And then it can get back to me in Russia.

March 2008 is looming larger...

17 July 2007

catching up on tags...

So, first Lauri's "4" tag:

Four new things I did last year:
1. I travelled to Nice, France in the fall. I'd been to France, but not to Nice. Nice was nice. (Second graders find that hilarious...) I had a nice Nice haircut.

2. I bought my own train tickets in Russia by myself. I negotiated the lines (I do not have the genetic disposition and years of practice that my fellow line-negotiators have to manage this well), held some other lady's place, defended her right to leave and come back (in Russian, mind), AND got my tickets on the fast train.

3. I learned new things about my city. I really like the fact that the man who repaired the angel on the top of Peter and Paul Fortress (Despite my efforts, many of my students think it is named for Peter the Great and that his middle name is Paul--Peter Paul Fortress.) was rewarded with the privilege of being able to eat in any restaurant/pub FREE for the rest of his life.

4. I met lots of adoptive families!

Four new things I'm hoping for in the next year:
1. a daughter
2. or two
3. 12 weeks of FMLA
4. coming home to the US

And, Rachael's long-ago tag about summer. Rach, I didn't forget. I just don't like summer in general and in the city in particular. The white nights are impressive for a day or two, but make it impossible to sleep. I like sleep. The heat and humidity... nope. Fall is my favourite season with spring and winter tied for second place. But, always one to play the glad game, I'll give it a shot. Here is my best effort at the top ten little joys of this season, here in St. P, in 2007:

1. NO SCHOOL! That one was easy.

2. I can hang around in scruffy clothes because there is no school.
3. I don't have to get up at six in the morning because there is no school.
4. I can eat breakfast at 10, lunch at 1 and dinner at 4 and be done with food...because there is no school.

5. I like to wear capris, but don't know if this can go on a strictly summer list b/c I wear them all spring, too...

6. I used to love summer camp, both as a camper and as a counselor, but I haven't been in years.

7. Fresher and more abundant fruit. Yummy fruity drinks that serve as a meal.

8. The sound of a fan and the breeze it generates. The bliss of remembering to turn the pillow over to the cool side.

9. Summer doesn't last forever. The heat will go away, the bugs will die, the tourists will leave and nighttime darkness will return.

10. Fall is coming next!

16 July 2007

fyi re: hs expiration

Here is the hard-earned information I've learned about expiring homestudies:

As far as the Russian government is concerned, no document--including a homestudy--is valid for more than one year. After 12 months, everything expires and needs to be either re-done or updated.

I found this on the USCIS website:

The USCIS will not accept a home study that is more than six months old unless it is accompanied by an update that is less than six months old. Once the home study has been submitted, updates must be made if something significant occurs, including changes in marital status, finances, change in residence, arrests, convictions, etc.

I called the Department of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Sercive in Moscow. They explained that your homestudy cannot be more than six months old when you submit your I-600a. However, once you have your I-171H, your homestudy does not need to be updated until the I-171H expires (18 months later--mine is good until early March). At that point, you would need a new homestudy--or perhaps an update--that is less than six months old.

So, it seems to me, all I need is an update that will satisfy the Russian government. I'm told by V that a simple, one-page, no-visit update will suffice. This may or may not be the final word. I'm hoping it is! He suggested that the professionals--my facilitators and my sw--discuss this without me being a go-between. How I wish! I let him know that the facilitators have refused to do that in the past. I also e-mailed boht sw and facilitators and asked them to sort it between themselves. Fingers crossed. Of course, new sw isn't returning e-mails or answering the phone. Might be time for #3...

15 July 2007

back from moscow

I'm back! I had a nice but exhausting trip to Moscow to see friends who have adopted baby number three. The doctor who (prophetically) told them that their daughter was strong-willed and their first son would be a heartbreaker told them that little E. should be taken straight to Hollywood. He is CUTE! (Well, E is--I didn't see the doctor...)

Not much to say right now. No news. And, I struggle as I always do with how much I want to share...Suffice to say that while there is no news about my homestudy or the need or a homevisit or accreditation , I am feeling very secure and very at peace about my tumultuous journey. It will happen. And, while I do feel a little like I do when my take-a-number reads 52 and the number being served is 833...I am not anxious in the least. Strange, but what a blessing! (Peace that passes understanding?)

Hoping to visit another friend (S this is YOU!) and her family in Moscow this week, but not sure my travel permission will be granted in time. My visa has been extended for another year, but they forgot to re-register me. They need my passport for that. I need my passport to face the lines at the train station and buy a ticket. I need a ticket to state the dates for travel permission. So...not sure. But, hoping!

I guess that about sums things up--unsure but hopeful. ;>

09 July 2007

update re: the update

Let's recap.

My homestudy was set to expire on 21 June. No one knew if I needed an entirely new hs or just a simple update. SW will not come and do a new hs b/c her f-i-l is ill. She cannot travel to Russia right now.

Today, I heard from V that all I need from Russia is a simple update.

I conveyed this news to my social worker who told me that since my hs has expired while we were waiting to be told what to do, the US government will require an entirely new hs.

I'm wondering if, since we starte inquiries before it expired, it can just be updated. Anyone else got straws? I'll grasp them.

Also, replacement sw is not answering e-mails and her partner has posted that they've stopped ex-pat hs. They will continue those in progress. Don't know if I'm in-progress or not. Have a third sw option...

Let's count to ten together... 1.2.3...

p.s. And what is with blogger being anti-titles these days? I don't need this right now.

Update on the update of the update: New sw (that's #2) did e-mail and says not only am I in-progress and she'll be happy to do my update, but also that we *might* be able to do this without a homevisit. I just have to make some inquiries...

This is a call to prayer! Please pray that I do not have to have another homevisit.

good news!

Just heard from longtime, good, good friends that after an hour in court and very thorough questioning by the judge, they are the proud new parents of their third blessing from Russia! Tomorrow they will have little E in their arms. What exciting news! I'm just thrilled for them. That makes three families I know that were granted custody of four, beautiful children (two boys, two girls all under two years) in one week! What good news for these happy families.

I'm off to Moscow tomorrow to meet up with these friends. You'll probably have to do without me until next Saturday... Check back then. I'm sure there will be stories to share. For now, rejoice!

08 July 2007

don't eat the baby

I have several thoughtful posts for you. Really. They're pretty good. I've even got a mildly entertaining one about the militsia's hobby of towing my car that has pictures.

But they've been pre-empted by this advice:

Don't play "eat your fingers" with a baby newly out of the baby home.

Yes, it's fun to make him giggle and smile. But, since he's probably slobbered on his own fingers in between rounds, and slobber is nearly indistinguishable when on toddler fingers, it is likely you'll be eating some of that toddler slobber and not just your own slobber left over from the last round of "eat your fingers". That toddler slobber just imbibed is, quite naturally, as it is the nature of slobber, germy. And, just like in the elementary school, daycare, and all other places children gather, those shared germs from the baby home are potent germs.

I've got a cold. Was this cold I caught from eating Bee's fingers completely worth the giggles and smiles that action elicited? A resounding YES. (And don't think AM is going to go all ballistic and Bronx on me for this. She and Zach have the same cold from the same adorable source.)

But for now, thoughtful posts will have to wait. I need orange juice and GH! (Big thanks to my forever friend, Nif, for providing the latter!)

Wow. Short-ish post. Some ridiculously long sentences, but short post.

07 July 2007

Kate and Jim explain the database

edited to add: I am happy to have you share this information. You are welcome to link it in your blogs. However, please do not publicly post the address of this blog on any forum or in any chat rooms or on the st. p yahoo group. My agency reads many of them (esp. FRUA) and I don't want them to be reading this blog. You can share it via pm, e-mail, etc. Many thanks for your help! -Катя

This is another l-o-n-g post. Sorry. I know I've had a lot of those lately...

I've had some off-blog questions about the database recently. I thought the best way to explain it would be...to take Jim's explanation off the FRUA website and paste it here. (Jim, let me know if you're opposed and I'll paraphrase. But, your graphic is so nice...and the translations will be helpful to those reading this who don't read Cyrillic.)

First off--this is a site meant for Russians who are planning to adopt. It has also been helpful for finding early photos of children who are already home. (I pulled Rachael's daughter's photo from here before it disappeared. It was funny--I recognized the photo b/c I'd only seen a photo of Katya at that point. To Rachael who'd seen the in-person changes in her daughter, it didn't look much like her.)

Some PAP's like to use this to get an idea of the number of children available in a region. Some like to guess who their referral might be. They have stronger hearts than I do! I am giving you these instructions with a very strong caution!

Okay, log onto the databank and click on the words Банк данных о детях-сиротах. They are right under the rainbow and the children holding hands.

This gives you your search page. You can now choose which criteria you will use to narrow your search.

The first choices are for the sex of the child
is boy and женский is girl.

The second criteria is eye color.

= brown
голубой = light blue
серый = grey
= green
черный = black

The next is hair color.
темные = dark
= light brown
черные = black
= blonde ("bright")
светло-русые = dark blonde ("bright light brown")
= medium brown ("dark light brown")

рыжие= red

Under that you can enter the year of birth.

On the right side of the form, the next choice is region. (Below is Jim's region list.)

Агинский Бурятский АО = Aginski Buryatski Autonomous Okrug (Aginskoe)
Алтайский край = Altaiski Krai (Barnaul)
Амурская область = Amurskaya Oblast (Blagoveshchensk)
Архангельская область = Archangelskaya Oblast (Archangelsk)
Астраханская область = Astrakhanskaya Oblast (Astrakhan)
Белгородская область = Belgorodskaya Oblast (Belgorod)
Брянская область = Bryanskaya Oblast (Bryansk)
Владимирская область = Vladimirskaya Oblast (Vladimir)
Волгоградская область = Volgogradskaya Oblast (Volgograd)
Вологодская область = Vologodskaya Oblast (Vologda)
Воронежская область = Voronezhskaya Oblast (Voronezh)
Еврейская АО = Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Birobidjan)
Ивановская область = Ivanovskaya Oblast (Ivanovo)
Иркутская область = Irkutskaya Oblast (Irkutsk)
Кабардино-Балкарская Республика = Kabardino-Balkarskaya Republic (Nalchik)
Калининградская область = Kaliningradskaya Oblast (Kaliningrad)
Калужская область = Kaluzhskaya Oblast (Kaluga)
Камчатская область = Kamchatkskaya Oblast (Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky)
Карачаево-Черкесская Республика = Karachaevo-Cherkesskaya Republic (Cherkessk)
Кемеровская область = Kemerovskaya Oblast (Kemerovo)
Кировская область = Kirovskaya Oblast (Kirov)
Коми-Пермяцкий АО = Komi-Permyatski Autonomous Okrug (Kudymkar)
Корякский АО = Koryakski Autonomous Okrug (Palana)
Костромская область = Kostromskaya Oblast (Kostroma)
Краснодарский край = Krasnodarski Krai (Krasnodar)
Красноярский край = Krasnoyarski Krai (Krasnoyarsk)
Курганская область = Kurganskaya Oblast (Kurgan)
Курская область = Kurskaya Oblast (Kursk)
Ленинградская область = Leningradskaya Oblast (St. Petersburg Region)
Липецкая область = Lipyetskaya Oblast (Lipetsk)
Магаданская область = Magadanskaya Oblast (Magadan)
Москва = Moscow (City)
Московская область = Moscow (Region)
Мурманская область = Murmanskaya Oblast (Murmansk)
Ненецкий АО = Nyenyetski Autonomous Okrug (Naryan-Mar)
Нижегородская область = Nizhegorodskaya Oblast (Nizhny Novgorod)
Новгородская область = Novgorodskaya Oblast (Novgorod)
Новосибирская область = Novosibirskaya Oblast (Novosibirsk)
Омская область = Omskaya Oblast (Omsk)
Оренбургская область = Orenburgskaya Oblast (Orenburg)
Орловская область = Orlovskaya Oblast (Orlov)
Пензенская область = Penzenskaya Oblast (Penza)
Пермская область = Permskaya Oblast (Perm)
Приморский край = Primorsky Krai (Vladivostok)
Псковская область = Pskovskaya Oblast (Pskov)
Республика Адыгея = Adigia Republic (Maikop)
Республика Алтай = Altai Republic (Gorno-Altaysk)
Республика Башкортостан = Bashkortostan Republic (Ufa)
Республика Бурятия = Buryatia Republic (Ulan-Ude)
Республика Дагестан = Dagestan Republic (Makhachkala)
Республика Ингушетия = Ingushetia Republic (Nazran)
Республика Калмыкия = Kalmykia Republic (Elista)
Республика Карелия = Karelia Republic (Petrozavodsk)
Республика Коми = Komi Republic (Syktyvkar)
Республика Марий Эл = Mari-El Republic (Yoshkar-Ola)
Республика Мордовия = Mordovia Republic (Saransk)
Республика Саха (Якутия) = Republic of Sakha-Yakutia (Yakutsk)
Республика Северная Осетия (Алания) = Republic of North Ossetia (Vladikavkaz)
Республика Татарстан = Republic of Tatarstan (Kazan)
Республика Тыва = Republic of Tuva (Kizil)
Республика Удмуртия = Republic of Udmurtia (Ishevsk, Glazov)
Республика Хакасия = Republic of Khakasia (Abakan, Beley Yar)
Республика Чувашия-Чаваш = Republic of Chuvashia-Chavash (Cheboksari)
Ростовская область = Rostovskaya Oblast (Rostov on Don)
Рязанская область = Ryazanskaya Oblast (Ryazan)
Самарская область = Samarskaya Oblast (Samara)
Санкт-Петербург = Saint Petersburg (City)
Саратовская область = Saratovskaya Oblast (Saratov)
Сахалинская область = Sakhalinskaya Oblast (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk)
Свердловская область = Sverdlovskaya Oblast (Ekaterinburg)
Смоленская область = Smolenskaya Oblast (Smolensk)
Ставропольский край = Stavropolski Krai (Stavropol)
Таймырский АО = Taimirski Autonomous Okrug (Norilsk)
Тамбовская область = Tambovskaya Oblast (Tambov)
Тверская область = Tverskaya Oblast (Tver)
Томская область = Tomskaya Oblast (Tomsk)
Тульская область = Tulskaya Oblast (Tula)
Тюменская область = Tyumenskaya Oblast (Tyumen)
Ульяновская область = Ulyanovskaya Oblast (Ulyanovsk)
Усть-Ордынский Бурятский АО = Ust-Ordinski Buryatski Autonomous Okrug (Ust-Ordinski)
Хабаровский край = Khabarovski Krai (Khabarovsk)
Ханты-Мансийский АО = Khanty-Mansiski Autonomous Okrug (Surgut, Nefteyugansk)
Челябинская область = Chelyabinskaya Oblast (Chelyabinsk)
Чеченская Республика = Chechenskaya Republic (Grozny)
Читинская область = Chitinskaya Oblast (Chita)
Чукотский АО = Chukotski Autonomous Okrug (Anadyr)
Эвенкийский АО = Evenkiski Autonomous Okrug (Tura)
Ямало-Ненецкий АО = Yamalo-Nenetski Autonomous Okrug (Salekhard)
Ярославская область = Yaroslavskaya Oblast (Yaroslavl)

The region list above is current for the selection list used on the usynovite.ru database search page. However, several regions in Russia have recently merged or are scheduled to merge in the near future.

Under that you have the options for child placement. Choose this box, Возможные формы устройства and choose the first choice, усыновление, when you search. That way you will be searching only children available for adoption. (note: This is not foreign adoption. It is children available for adoption to Russian families. Children are only available for foreign adoption after 9 months on the database. There is no way to tell how long a child has been on the database.)

The last choice Наличие братьев и сестер is about the presence of siblings. (*note: this is not always reliable)
Есть братья или сестры
= has brothers or sisters
Братьев и сестер нет
= no brothers or sisters

Hit the grey искать button and you're off and searching.

You can run the results through a search engine like Language Tools or you can use the guidelines below. I hope this has helped. (And I hope Jim doesn't mind being the special guest star...without any prior notice. I could just link you to the FRUA post, but...I don't really think he'll mind.)

So now, to read the entry, over to Jim--

numbered database result example

Here's what each numbered item represents:

1. This is a database record number. I think it's probably specific to the usynovite.ru database and may not have meaning in any other context.

2. This is the name of the Russian region in which this child is located.

3. This is the name of the child. First name followed by family (last name) initial. No patronymic information appears to be provided.

4. This identifies whether there are any known siblings in the system. Possible answers include:

Есть братья или сестры = Has brothers or sisters.
Братьев и сестер нет = No brothers or sisters.
NOTE: This field has been known to be an inaccurate indicator of whether or not a child has siblings.
5. Возможные формы устройства = Possible arrangements. This item refers to the possible forms of arrangement for each child. Possible values are:
усыновление = Adoption
опека (попечительство) = Guardianship (Trusteeship)
приемная семья = Receiving family
патронатное воспитание = Patronage training
6. Дата рождения = Birth Date. Only the month and year are shown.

7. Пол = Sex (Gender). This item is sometimes mistranslated as "floor," since the Russian word for "floor" is also Пол. It could also be incorrectly rendered as "half" by an automated translator. Possible values are:
мужской = male
женский = female
8. Глаза = Eyes (Eye Color) Possible values include:
карий = brown; hazel
голубой = light blue
серый = gray
зеленый = green
черный = dark; black
9. Волосы = Hair (Hair Color). Possible values include:
темные = dark
русые = light brown
черные = black
светлые = blonde
светло-русые = very light brown
темно-русые = medium brown
10. Характер = Character. This field is a brief attempt to describe the child's character. Some possible answers include:
спокойный = calm, easygoing
беспокойный = uneasy, anxious
общительный = sociable, amiable
замкнутый = reserved, unsociable
капризный = capricious, playful
веселый = cheerful, jovial
доброжелательная = good-natured
упрямая = stubborn
заботливая = concerned for others
NOTE: There are a large number of descriptive words possible. This is not a complete list.
11. Куда обращаться = Where to inquire. This is a link to the contact page for the regional databank operator for this specific child. Note that they probably aren't expecting foreign adopters to contact them directly using the information included here. This contact information is intended for Russian citizens living in Russia. (emphasis by Kate)

06 July 2007

danger, danger, will robinson

I just did what I purposely don't do. I went on the Russian database.

I know others browse there, but I also know myself. I've been on a couple of times (Remember those three sisters in Perm that Alliance mentioned? They tempted me in...). This time I was just wondering how the accreditation delay has impacted the number of available children in my age range and region.

I was hit really, really hard. Blindsided. I know that it's nearly impossible for a foreigner to identify and adopt a child from the database. It just doesn't work that way. But, this little girl...

Please would you pray for her if you're a pray-er? Her name starts with "F". There are at least two others that made me smile and my heart ache. But there's just something about "F"...

05 July 2007

rumour mongering

I try not to monger. But, this seems to be pretty accurate... It has been unoffically reported that the first batch of agencies, seven US and one French, have been given non-expiring accreditation. The list of agencies is:

• Children's Home Society & Family Services
• International Assistance Group (IAG)
• Cradle of Hope Adoption Center
• Frank Adoption Center
• Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Charlotte
• Family & Children's Agency
• Cradle Society
• L'Agence Francaise d'Adoption (France)

Wow! While mine is not included, I wanted to offer congratulations to those whose agencies are on the list. My agency reported that these are all agencies who submitted their documents on 20 December 2006. My agency submitted documents on 25 December. To monger further, it seems that more agencies will be accredited shortly--perhaps as soon as next week. (But, that is complete speculation.)

And, so as to overshadow the fact that international adoption is starting up again, Sochi has been announced as the site of the 2014 winter Olympics. I think everyone here will be celebrating.

04 July 2007

sing along!

God, bless America
Land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above
From the mountains (my fav)
To the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God, bless America
My home, sweet home
God, bless America
My home, sweet home

Happy 4th, everyone! I'm calling on all US citizens (and kindred spirits in any land) to celebrate Independence Day with exuberance and gratitude. Squash those for me who approach this day with cynicism or rancor. I'm wearing red, white (well, a light khaki--but I think khakis are the true sign of an American) and blue. Are you?

Leave your favourite patriotic song title in my comments. I've got a vast repertoire, but am always looking for more. Cheers!

03 July 2007

the name game (very long)

In junior high, I started keeping a notebook full of names. They were names I liked, with middle names and their meanings. There were pages and pages full of names in there just waiting for the day when I would name a child. That red notebook is gone now. And, along with it, the names I'd chosen and wedding ideas (there were some great bridal keds in there...). But, I've kept it going mentally for years.

I know what I'd like to name both of my d2b. I've got the names all picked out. I'm just not going to tell you what the names are until I know if they'll be kept.

Because, since they will be older, my d2b will already have names they know. A name is part of your sense of self. I've got a couple of choices. I could keep the given name (or nickname) and add a middle name. I could keep the given name (or nickname) as a middle name and add a first name. I could give new first and middle names.

Some of what I do will depend on the child and her history, and some will depend on the Russian name itself. We all connect names with people we know. Remember that girl in college who was after your boyfriend? Would you really name your daughter her name? Having lived here, I've run into a few people whose names I wouldn't want d2b to share. There are a couple of people (with the same name) here who drive me crazy. (Actually, I suspect they may be a little crazy.) And, there are some names that may simply be difficult for an American child to have. I think I want d2b to have a name that lets her/them be invisible if she/they want to be and not always be stamped (notarized and apostilled) "adopted from Russia". I taught a triplet. While the rest of the class thought it was very cool, it was the *last* thing she wanted as an identifier. I think it's cool that d2b was born in Russia, but I want to be sensitive to the fact that she may not always want that fact broadcast.

Right now I'm thinking that an English name that has a Russian nickname would be a good choice. (ie: her given name is Larissa, she's called Lasha, I name her Laura but keep calling her Lasha--but that's not one of the two I really have in mind. ;> ) Or, any English name that ends with -a will help the transition between Russian and English. (That's the other name I have in mind.)

Naming adopted children is a hot-button issue amongst ap/pap's! Some people feel that a name is all their child brings from their life prior to adoption and it should be kept.

Some people find that the child was not named by his/her parents. If their child was named without a great deal of thought, perhaps by a hospital worker, they may want to give their child a name full of love and thought and significance. I've heard stories about children being named alphabetically or all being named after the person doing the naming.

Some people think that adoption is time for a fresh start with a fresh name--especially if there is a history of abuse or neglect. Caretakers often explain to children that along with a new Mama there is a new language and a new name. I think giving a child a family name falls into this camp.

Some people think that it is important to keep a cultural tie even if the name is changed (That's the only side of the argument I, personally, can't make. I think you either keep the name or you don't. Whether you choose a different Russian name or a different American name or any other name it will still be a different name to the child. I think choosing a different Russian name may be even more confusing to a child than choosing a name that is not Russian. After all, they may already know a Kolya and be looking for him whenever you call out that name. But, I only am responsible for naming my child/ren. I never okayed Apple for Gwyneth. You can name your child whatever and why-ever you like. ;> It's fine with me--and it wouldn't matter if it wasn't.)

Some people have other ideas about naming that they're going to leave in my comments because I haven't thought of or heard them yet.

My child/ren may be old enough to weigh in on this matter. If so, I will put great store in their preferences. For now, I'm hoping for either:

1. one of my favourite Russian names, or
2. a Russian name/nickname close to one of my favourite English names, or
3. one of my least favourite Russian names (really--no qualms then about changing it)

Any of those options will make the name game so much easier to play!

For those of you who want to play along at home, here are some common names for Russian girls with their meaning and nicknames. I didn't include the -eshka, -itchka, -ooshka, -oola, etc. "sweet names" that inevitably and endearingly follow. (As far as teachers at school go, we have three Marinas, two Mashas, three Irinas, two Tatyana/Tanyas, Nastia, Galina, Natasha, Nadya, Oksana, Elena, Olga, Inna and Aisha. Zhenya, Sveta, Ira, Ludmilla, Larissa and Valentina--among others--are friends outside of school. Just fyi...straw poll by Katya.)

ALEKSANDRA: Feminine form of Russian Aleksandr, meaning "defender of mankind." (SASHA, SHURA)

ALISA: Russian form of English Alice, meaning "noble sort." (ALYSA)

ALYONA: Variant of Russian Yelena, meaning "torch" or "moon" or more likely "to elope." (YELENA)

ANASTASIYA: Russian and Ukrainian form of Latin Anastasia, meaning "resurrection." (NASTIA)

ANYA: Russian form of Latin Anna, meaning "favor; grace."

DARYA: Russian form of Roman Daria, meaning "possesses a lot; wealthy." (DASHA)

EKATERINA: Russian form of Greek Katherine, meaning "pure." (KATYA, YEKATERINA)

ELIZAVETA: Variant of Russian Yelizaveta, meaning "God is my oath." (YELIZAVETA, LIZA, LIZAVETA)

EVGENIYA: Variant of Russian Yevgeniya, meaning "well born." (YEVGENIYA, ZHENYA)

GALINA: Russian feminine form of English Galen, meaning "calm, tranquil." (GALA)

INNA: Russian unisex name meaning "strong water." The name was originally a male name, but became somewhat popular as a religious girl's name due the misidentification of the sex of the Russian martyr Inna, a male student of the Apostle Andrei.

IRINA: Russian form of Greek Eirene, meaning "peace." variant is (ARINA, ARISHA, IRA)

IVANNA: Feminine form of Russian Ivann, meaning "God is gracious."

KIRA: Russian form of English Kyra, meaning "like the sun."

KLAVA: Pet form of Russian Klavdiya, meaning "lame." (*old-fashioned name, but I just had a friend who got a referral of a little girl with this name.)

KSENIYA: Russian form of Greek Xenia, meaning "hospitable." (AKSINYA)

LARISSA: Russian name derived from a city in Ancient Greece, probably meaning "fortified town." (LARA, LASHA)

LUDMILA: "People's favor." Czech and Russian name composed of the Slavic elements lud "people, tribe" and mil "favor, grace." (LUDA)

LYUBOV: Russian name derived from the Slavic word lub, meaning "love." (LYUBA)

MARINA: meaning "of the sea" (MASHA, MARISHA)

MARYANA: meaning "beloved." (MASHA, MARYA, MARIYA)

NADEZHDA: Russian name meaning "hope." (NADYA, NADA)

NATALIYA: Ukrainian and Russian form of Natalia, meaning "birthday," or in Church Latin "Christmas day." (NATASHA, TALYA, TASHA)

OKSANA: Russian and Ukrainian form of Greek Xenia, meaning "hospitable, esp. to foreigners/strangers."

OLGA: Feminine form of Russian Oleg, meaning "prosperous, successful." (OLYA)

SOFIYA: Russian and Ukrainian form of Greek Sophia, meaning "wisdom." (SOFYA, SONIA)

SVETLANA: Russian name derived from the Slavic element svet, meaning "light." (SVETA, LANA)

TAMARA: Russian form of Hebrew Tamar, meaning "palm tree."

TATYANA: Russian form of Latin Tatiana, which is probably related to Latin tata, meaning "father." (TANYA)

VARVARA: Russian form of Barbara, meaning "foreign; strange." (VARYA)

VERA: Russian name, meaning "faith; truth."

VIKTORIYA: Russian and Ukrainian form of Roman Victoria, meaning "to conquer; victory."

YULIA: Variant of Russian Yuliya, possibly meaning "youth." (YULIYA, YULIANA)

ZHANNA: Russian form of French Jeanne, meaning "God is gracious."

ZINAIDA: Russian form of Greek Zenais, possibly meaning "of Zeus." (ZINA, ZINOVIYA)

ZOYA: Russian form of Greek Zoe, meaning "life."

02 July 2007


This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • shoot (1x)
(This will make Ann Marie laugh. She's a little jetlagged and has court tomorrow, so I figured she could use a laugh.)

01 July 2007

little appreciation

My first brush with ex-pat life came when I visited my friend Dawn (do you want to be linked?) shortly after she arrived in Kiev. One of her MTW team members there was talking about simple pleasures. She said her children appreciated little things like peanut butter cookies with kisses in them.

I was thinking about her remark the other day. The ex-pat world is one of good-byes. It's a part of life in the diplomatic community. Many families I've gotten close to left at the end of the school year. It's hard to see them leave. I've taught their children, eaten in their homes, shared the first part of my adoption journey with them.

One family who left yesterday just adopted a gorgeous, happy, healthy three-and-a-half-year-old boy. They started just before I did. We shared a sw but not an agency. (Hmmmm...they're finished....) It was so nice to have them one step ahead of me. While we had very different issues arise, I am so grateful to have a precedent. They adopted from Leningrad Oblast. And, it's been a privilege to see M.'s initial adjustment to family life. He's going great! Having visited with his family twice a week for two months and having a family who speaks some Russian (Papa is fluent) has been a great help. My favourite mixed language expression of M's is "spacoini night-night". And, his mommy thinks that having three big sisters has made things much easier. She's given the thumbs up to my adopting 2 d2b. (That's the great thing about that moniker--it can be daughter-to-be or daughters-to-be. No slashes. No and/or's. I've never been accused of not thinking things through...)

Pam, Mommy to M, invited me to rummage through her pantry before she left. There was so much she wasn't able to pack! And, electronics are just not practical to take back. You should've heard our delighted chatter. Some of the very things I've been longing for (a Russian version of a George Foreman and a paper shredder) are now in my flat. But, the joy went beyond electronics...

Pam: Let's see...what do I still have... Oh, look! Pumpkin! I sent out an sos and everyone sent me pumpkin. There are a couple cans left.

Me: Pumpkin? Great! I've been baking my own pumpkin the last two years. Pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread...

I've got a great recipe for pumpkin apple muffins. Oh! Here's a hot ticket item--ground mustard.

Great! Real mustard? I can't find that anywhere.

I know. Oh--do you want this balsamic vinegar? These spices?

That's fantastic! I was running out of basil. And is that really cream of tartar!?

Yep. Definite hot ticket item there. What else....oh--would you use this?

(Gasp of joy) Stain remover? To pretreat? I was just going to ask my sister to send me some! Thank you, thank you!

And on and on it went. We were giddy as we rummaged through her kitchen discovering things that we take for granted at home that are just not available here. Simple pleasures. Little things. Then, yesterday, Ann Marie brought me even more little bits of happiness--method cleaners, vitamins, aveeno lotion and Veggietales! I am a happy and appreciative girl indeed.