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October 23, 2006

Our Official “Happily Ever After Day”

It’s real!!  At 9:15 this morning Assel and Sergey picked us up for our last
trip to Tschuchinsk.  Assel and Dave were chattering and blabbery the whole way,
but I couldn’t concentrate enough to even complete a sentence – much less
contribute to any kind of conversation.  I was so nervous!  That surprised me. 
I knew I was excited, but I didn’t expect to be so nervous.  What if Maggie was
furious with me for leaving her?  What if Ryn had been happier while we were
gone?  What if we were going to have to start all over – helping them learn to
trust me again, convincing them that they could believe that I would always come
back to them, reminding them that they wanted to come home with me – to our

So with all that tension already in the air, we still had to make at least one
stop before we could go to the baby house.  Before we could get the girls, we
had to go to the Office of Civil Affairs in Tschuchinsk to get copies of all the
official adoption paperwork.  I had no idea how emotional that was going to be. 
I figured it was just picking up some documents and signing a half dozen more
pieces of paper.  Considering how many papers I’ve signed up to this point and
how many documents I’ve carried from point A to point B, I didn’t expect this to
be too very different.  Of course, these documents were special… these were
their new birth certificates.  Now we have birth certificates that officially
identify Cynthia Dianne Hunter as the mother of Maggie VeraFae Hunter and
Cathryn Alina Hunter.  Wow… I guess it’s not all that surprising that I was
sitting there with tears running down my face.  The officer there was so very
sweet.  She kept saying “congratulations Mama” – and then handed me a tissue.  I
guess she’s used to getting that kind of a reaction in her office.

Then it was time to go get my girls!!  Of course, after all the sentimentality
of that moment the timing of getting to the baby house was pretty lousy.  We got
there just in time for lunch, so things were a little more disorganized than I
had expected.  We went to Maggie’s room first, and I was relieved that she
really was excited to see us.  Gulnada (her favorite caregiver – and ours) told
us that she had been watching for us every day but that today she had been
totally convinced that this was the day that we’d be back for sure. 
The children in Ryn’s class were already settling in for lunch, so we weren’t
able to get any pictures of them.  That breaks my heart because I miss those
little ones already!  Still, it was wonderful to see my little Ryn and get to
feed her lunch.  She was happy to see Mommy and Dae Dae, but mostly she was just
ready for lunch!

               Mommy and mashed potatoes – it doesn’t get any better than this!

By the time the girls were through with their lunch another family had come to
the music room for their visiting time with their new little one, so we had to
hurry to get the girls dressed and leave.  Unfortunately, in all the rush to get
the girls dressed and loaded into the car, we didn’t have a chance to get one of
those classic “dressed in their Sunday School best – leaving the baby house – on
our way to America” sentimental photos.  Still, we did get one last shot of
Maggie with Gulnada.  Since we were trying to hurry, she dressed Maggie in her
new outfit and that wonderful leopard coat while I was dressing Ryn.

    One last good-bye

She was so happy for Maggie and kept trying to tell us (through Assel) how
wonderful she thought we were and what a good life she believed Maggie would
have with me.  I was most touched by the fact that she had tears in her eyes the
whole time she was saying good-bye.  There was never a doubt in my mind that my
little girls were truly loved and cared for by the dear teachers at the baby
house, but I hadn’t allowed myself to think much about how hard it must be for
them to say good-bye.  Considering how excited Maggie and Ryn both were to see
us and how prepared they were for our trip today, I have to believe the teachers
were reminding them of us every day and helping them get ready for their new
lives.  I will treasure these people for the rest of my life for the wonderful
loving care they provided to my girls while they were waiting for everything to
be in place for us to become a family.

We did finally get a few pictures of them after we got back to our suite, but
they were so excited that trying to get a decent shot of either of them was a
little like trying to catch lightning in a bottle.  Still, here are a few last
pictures of our first day together.

                                          Maggie & her good friend, Croc

  Maggie being so silly!

Ryn & Leap

Now where did I put that?