Reunion with our Coordinators
The Frank Foundation held its 10-year anniversary party in the Washington, D.C. area, on Saturday, November 9, 2002. Living nearby, we were lucky enough to be able to attend the gathering.
It was incredible to walk into the hotel ballroom and see 1,300 adoptive families there. But what was even more incredible was for us to walk in and find our coordinators, each of whom had traveled thousands of miles across the world in order to attend.
Robbie was born in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, and during the anniversary, we were fortunate enough to see the coordinator from his hometown, Leila. She hosted three families for 11 days in September 2001, arranging everything from our meals, to trips to the orphanage, to guiding us through the local mall for souvenirs.
She hadnít seen Robbie in the 14 months since we'd returned home, and she remembered a seven-month old who wasnít very strong physically.
But what she saw in November was a strapping youngster who is 90 percentile height and weight, and moves at warp speed with a mischievious and omnipresent grin. When we saw her interacting with him, we realized this is the culmination of her work. She could finally see the end result of what she does. Watching the coordinators talk and giggle with the kids they'd helped brought smiles to all the parents in attendance, but especially to us.
Leila and Robbie reunite at the agency reunion.
The reunion was set in a large hotel ballroom with signs representing each city and region. We saw the sign signifying "Aktube" on the right side of the room, and walked over towards it. We saw Leila right away, standing next to a collage Frank Foundation had put together, showing an assortment of the kids adopted from that region.
She saw us and greeted us with hugs and kisses, then grabbed Robbie in a big bearhug. I didn't think she was going to let go. We looked up and noticed our other coordinators and greeted them, Yuri from Almaty, and Alla, who met us when we originally landed in Moscow and oversaw the coordination of the entire trip.
We also gave them photos of Robbie so that they could share them with the others who had worked so hard in our behalf - Zophia, our translater, the orphanage director, the caregivers, and Sasha, our driver.
We had gave Leila photos of the two girls who Robbie was adopted with - Indira and Maddie. Sadly, neither family was able to come into DC and attend, but we collected some photos of the two girls so that the folks back in Aktobe could see them and how much they'd progressed as well.
Cub Scouts carry in the Kazakhstan flag
When the official ceremonies began, the Frank Foundation had arranged for Washington-area scouts to carry in the flags of their native country. It was a very nice touch in opening the program.
Following the opening ceremonies, performers from the Big Apple Circus entertained everyone, but especially the children. (It was an amazing site to see 1,300 children sitting on the floor watching the circus performers, and realizing most of them came from halfway across the world. You realize just how widespread international adoption is becoming.) After the circus performers finished, we all went into the lobby of the ballroom to feast on a giant buffet.
Alla (center) joins Leila for
a reunion photo with Robbie, Wendy, and Marjorie.
Robbie scarfed down a few fries and some juice, but he wasn't ready to sit down for long periods of time. So we got an impromptu game of peek-a-boo going for a few minutes between him, his sister Wendy, and Dad.
Leila poses beside the collage
But time went quickly, and what seemed like minutes had actually been several hours. We realized that the reunion was winding down and we only had a few moments left to visit with Leila and Alla. We made two quick phone calls to Indira's and Maddie's houses so that Leila could say hello to them.
Till we meet again.
Then it was time to leave. When we said goodbye, Robbie gave Leila a goodbye kiss, and took one more photo. Who knows when we'll see Leila or Alla again, but it was incredible to see them, this time on our turf.
Hopefully, the Frank Foundation will have reunions again in the next couple of years. And hopefully, our coordinators will again attend. We're already looking forward to Frank Foundation's next anniversary party.