The brick of the Ussuriysk Baby Hospital was off white. The building accents and security metalwork over the windows were sky blue. It was a reversal of pattern from the Partizansk Baby Hospital. Even though the colors were the same this place couldn’t be confused with heaven. The first half-meter of the building above ground was crumbling concrete. Smooth portions and craters alike were painted in barn-red. Weatherworn pock marked concrete roof sections hung over the top of the two-storied walls. The several steps downward required to enter the building also set this place apart from the sister-establishment in Luba’s city. For Luba we ascended, here we descended.
Inside the building and halfway up the staircase to the second level I froze in my steps on the landing. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe.
“Who would have thought there would be a stained glass window in an orphanage?” Amy said in surprise. “Aren’t those butterflies beautiful, John?”
“Yeah,” I choked. That was all I got out. I shook the image from my head. Then I turned and continued up the stairs. Butterflies.
Dr. Tatiana’s office was more than twice as deep as it was wide. I could have dragged my hands on opposing walls while walking back to her desk. Her workspace was crowded and over utilized. While not necessarily neat, it was obvious that their organizer understood the stacks. It was so much like my own desk.
The doctor—like her counterpart, Olga, in Partizansk—was also director of the orphanage. She was a large woman without being flabby. Her salt and pepper hair was styled in a butch. She wore lipstick and a reasonable amount of makeup. I thought she appeared to be in her forties. I think all Russian women are in their twenties or in their forties—except for the babushkas. They are all in their eighties.
Dr. Tatiana launched herself from the chair at the far end of her office to rush around the desk and offer her hand. Stass introduced us. Dr. Tatiana says that she apologizes for not knowing more about you,” Stass translated. “She says it was kind of last minute when Anya thought you might be interested in Kirrill. She says that she received the fax from Anya so she has your file and she will review it as soon as she possibly can.”
“That’s great,” I responded. “Tell her don’t worry about it. I give us our best recommendation.” It was actually somewhat comforting knowing that at least someone in Russia hadn’t reviewed our file. Dr. Tatiana smiled when Stass told her what I said. Then she pointed at a stack of files on her desk and assured him that she’d accomplish the review later in the day.
“Tatiana asks if you will please make yourselves welcome and sit down while she goes to have someone bring Kirrill.”
Amy and Stass visited while we waited. I purposefully excluded myself from conversation. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes while I remembered how I felt when Amy told me I was going to be a dad. We planned for it. We anticipated it. I was more than excited and happy for the event. I remembered how I felt during the ultrasound when they asked us if we wanted to know whether we were having a boy or a girl. We couldn’t resist. I thought about how we planned for another. I remembered how I felt when I met Cory and the wonderful experience our little family had when we brought him home. During those first minutes Amy helped him to present his two-year-old big brother with a gift. I thought about Stephen and the time his brothers met him. I remembered their anxiousness to help him, to teach him, and to include him. Then I thought about Jack. Nobody else had blown their meeting with him. They were all as excited to bring him home as I had been with the others.
I imagined what might happen with Kirrill. I could see Jack rushing to the forefront crowding out his older siblings and demanding to be the first to hold his little brother. Jack had wanted to be a big brother for a long time. I could see myself fishing with my five sons, oldest to youngest, biggest to smallest. I pictured the little guy learning to ride a bike, playing catch, and riding horses seated on the saddle in front of me. The more I thought the more right it seemed. Not morally right—just right. I wanted to show him America. I wanted to take him to his home. More than anything I wanted to be his dad.
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