You know you are in the middle of an international adoption when..."
...you hand your driver an envelope full of cash and don't get a receipt.
...you set your alarm for 5 a.m. every morning so you can read the news out of Russia since Moscow is 9 hours ahead, hoping the two countries are still getting along.
...you worry about volcanoes erupting or fires burning, or wars breaking out or more cases of adopted Russian children being hurt and praying it doesn't affect your child and your court date.
...your emotional highs are so high, and the lows are oh so low
...you spend your nights reading about FAS, FAE and ADHD
...you believe everything you read on FRUA and it can make or break your day
...when you stare at your phone willing it to ring.
...eat ramen noodles for the 4th time this week because you are saving money.
...you get excited when you get mail from the Immigration office, even though you are a citizen
...the people at your local police department know you by name even though you've never committed a crime.
...you've had more medical exams in the months leading up to the adoption than you have in the last 5 years.
....you've never had HIV, TB, Hep, or Syph but have endured 3 or more tests for it just in case you caught it in the months between trip one and two! (maybe you caught it on the train in Siberia???)
...you actually WANT to travel more for business so you can earn some more Marriott points.
...when you can sign your name on official documents in a foreign language, in a foreign country, without understanding a word, and feel good about it.
...you know the definition of Apostille.
...the Fedex guy knows more about your day to day life than your Mother.
...You hyperventilate when you see a Fedex, Puroletter or UPS truck because now you are accustomed to NEEDING a document to arrive somewhere and FAST (and when they don't... see the one about highs and lows)
...you can recognize the regional / provincial IA office on caller I.D.
...when you have a new-found sense of patriotism and it's not for the USA.
...when you scan the google news reader for headlines with the word "Russia" or "Russian" in them.
...when you park in the "expectant mother" parking space at the mall and, while not pregnant, don't feel completely guilty!
...when you research flights to your region, just to get a feel for the trip that will take place only God-knows-when.
...you check your email every five minutes looking for an update.
...walking to the mail box gives you butterflies in your stomach, then when you don't find mail from anyone adoption related, you hop in the car and head out for some retail therapy.
...a blurry picture of a child in strange clothing becomes your most prized possession.
...you sew hidden pockets on an undershirt for you husband, so he can carry 15 grand in cash through 19 hours of flights and a 12 hour layover. (I know this one doesn't apply to most countries but it sure did us since wiring money to third world country is foolish at best)
...when you get left alone in the middle of Russia in a car with 10,000 dollars while your driver is taken away by the police. Then you are relieved to see he left the keys then realize you have no idea where you are. When your driver is returned about an hour later you could kiss him even though he is married.
...you know you are in the middle of an International Adoption in the Siberian wintertime when you can't figure out why there are people lined up on the side of the road in the middle of the night only to find out that it is 9:00 am and they are waiting to catch the bus for work!
...you exchange thousands of dollars with some random guy on the street and don't blink an eye.
...being in Siberia for 5 weeks becomes your new normal and it doesn't seem nearly as backwards or archaic until you walk through the automatic doors at the Mariott in Moscow and suddenly you've never wanted a Starbucks coffee so badly.
... savoring your Starbucks coffee after 5 weeks in Siberia, you feel more than a little guilty for being so lucky and so privileged knowing most of the world isn't as "well off" as you but you still can't believe you made it through
...you are so anxious to give someone you barely know your hard earned cash just because you don't want to carry it and risk losing it.
...you are in Siberia and you feel like you are the only person not drinking outside at 5pm on a Tuesday.
...you sign a contract that says you will do pretty much whatever someone tells you to do.
...you constantly check the time and then count backwards in your head to see what time it is where your child is.
...you are fingerprinted continuously....and have never committed a crime.
...people you have never met AND in some cases do not speak the same language know more about you then some of your family and friends.
Fingerprinting...I can't even talk about it!
...you are in a vehicle your husband refers to as the "terrorist van," holding (no car seat) your new baby while giving him milk (at least they said it was milk) from a glass bottle with a nipple stuck on the top, breathing in disgusting exhaust fumes while driving on terrible roads for 3 hours and thinking this is the best day of my life!
…when you go to your bank and ask for brand new $100 bills in sequential order and swear you are not doing anything illegal with them.
…when you know how to pronounce the words dossier and apostille
…when you notice every time the word adopt is used (adopt a road; adopt an animal; adopt a new law
...when - you have hundreds of people who don't even know you follow every tweet, peep and update you post about your situation! :)
...you've worn the same three outfits for twenty-two days in a row and have to do the laundry in the bathtub.
...it takes everything you have to NOT climb over the Marriott check-in desk to give the English speaking receptionist a hug.
...your flight from JFK to Moscow is cancelled, so you somehow end up flying to Rome, Italy with no promise of getting on a flight to Russia. You'll figure it out once you get to Italy. And you do.
...you stop counting at the $42,000 mark because you can't stand the thought of how much this is costing.
...you know what it's like to give your heart away to a child they just brought in the room 30 seconds prior.
...you walk by a picture on the refrigerator each day and stroke a little cheek and whisper, I'll be back soon and pray they aren't missing you as bad as you miss them.
...when you hold your breath as you hoist your suitcase packed for 5 weeks for the two of you and pray to the suitcase Gods "Please let this be under the limit - I promise not to ever over pack again if you could just let this one be under... just this once"
...When you find yourself in an airport on Christmas eve without your passport, not knowing what is wrong but holding your breath and holding back tears because "there's no crying in Russia" and clinging to strangers as they help patch together your life and trip all without knowing a little boy is waiting across their HUGE country.
... when it's all over, finally exhaling and reflecting on how much endurance, strength and courage it took just to make it through... and knowing you'd do it all agian if it meant you got to have your child sleeping in the next room.
...when you never stop caring about the people still waiting for their children or the children waiting for their families. When your heart breaks for a stranger because there are jut more and more delays but you are so thankful it wasn't you
...when the eyes and smiles of that one special little one from your child's groupa haunt you from home and you hope that they find their family because you couldn't just shove them in your suitcase to bring them along too.
When the journey finally ends and life begins... you know you've adopted from Russia.