Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Moscow: A Perspective on Angels

Perspective is valuable. Getting to Moscow and becoming part of an amazing group that hopes to resurrect the East-West Accord, and do what we can to preserve a semblance of civil discourse between the east and the west, was not an easy thing. There will come the matter of what to call this thing and how to agree on how it will operate, and where, but for now, it is enough that we find places to agree.

This journey would not have been possible without a lot of help...as well as angels...along the entire path. After my passport and visa application got hung up in the San Francisco Russian Visa Issuing Center, the strong endorsement of Deb Palmari, the Honorary Consulate of Denver, as well as a few key people at the Russian Embassy in DC, shook loose my Russian visa. The day before my planned departure, it was rescued and issued by a wonderful Consul, named Alexey Kovalenko-Narochnitskiy, at the Russian Consulate of San Francisco.“This meeting is important,” said Kovalenko. “We will make sure that we help you to get to Moscow and appreciate what you are trying to do.”

While the Russian Embassy did their part, a certain international overnight carrier did not; loosing the envelope with the precious passport and visa somewhere in Memphis. Not being a shy retiring thing, I did the only sensible thing and called the CEO's office and demanded answers. Turns out that when you do that (well, his email and phone number ARE on their website) things begin to happen. I would not call them angels, but many calls and twenty four hours late, I did end up going to their distribution center here in Denver to retrieve the documents, without which, I could not travel. Their fumble resulted in a day's trip delay and nearly nine hundred dollars in flight changes for FRUA, which I am determined we will recover. As a tiny member group, that money will make a big difference to our work...for them, it will be merely public relations...or it will be if they don't make us whole.

Having ordered rubles at my bank's foreign exchange desk over a week prior, I went to pick them up a few days before leaving, only to discover that they had never arrived and would not, although no one chose to inform the customer. The result; a higher exchange rate at the airport, but a pleasant experience while in Moscow dealing with a Russian bank. Thank heavens for their wonderful bank representative, because, unlike my children, my Russian is quite horrible. 

While in Russia, my friend Daria, a young Russian journalist who has been my guest here in America, tried very hard to help me with my appointment at the Moscow department of Social Welfare.  We didn't succeed, but we tried together, and that is important. She represents millions like her, who carry the true spirit of the Russian people, and who understands our mission, as I hope that we do, regardless of what our governments do.

Most of all, I thank another true Angel and friend, Bea Evans, President of Ties Adoptive Homeland Journey program for facilitating my trip arrangements from flights to hotel to drivers, and translators. FRUA has a long-standing, mutually respectful, relationship with Ties Adoptive Homeland Journey. Had I attempted the usual web travel resources, and not asked them to facilitate my travel arrangements, when the delay happened, I doubt I would have had options. Bea re-arranged all my departure arrangements, and managed to make it happen while on vacation in northern Wisconsin!

While I was in Russia, the rest of the FRUA National Board, angels to all of us in FRUA, kept our other initiatives moving – the new Family Focus Digital Edition, the membership drive, the new educational initiatives, the 20th anniversary winter edition of Family Focus to celebrate our big anniversary. And wonderful FRUA Regional Chapter volunteers for Mid-Atlantic, Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest put together three amazing events to honor our guests from Ukraine, Latvia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Armenia, which helped us maintain our balance among our children's birth countries.

The critical contacts we have made will play out over the coming months and years, as FRUA continues this effort to raise awareness and extend the reach of our important mission. Our efforts are focused on offering hope, help and community to adoptive families. “Actions,” for which we have been commended just recently by no less than Sergey Chumarev, Senior Consul at the Russian Embassy, "which are in full compliance with the principle of the best interest of the child."