News from our agency today that there is still not a clear and definitive view of the documents needed for accreditation and how they (the MOE) want them. As I've mentioned before, although the "what" for accreditation is spelled out officially within decree 654, the real way the Russian government wants that "what" has not yet be communicated to adoption agencies.
However, our agency said they are pretty sure they know what is needed and how they wanted it. So on the hotline, they said they are going to send those off to Moscow today. Their feeling is worst case they have to redo a few documents but at least they'll get the ball rolling.
This was the same approach they took with the NGO registration and it seemed to work out quite well as our agency was one of the first 15 or so to get NGO. As a result of that history, I'm very pleased they are again doing it this way. And they seemed more upbeat (but as always cautious) that accreditation will happen within several weeks (rather than months).
Also there was a story out of Russia that the Duma had voted nearly unanimously to send a resolution to the Prime Minister saying that decree #654 was violating Russian law. Well, needless to say this sent people into a tizzy.
But I had read someone's insightful comment on the FRUA site (yes, occasionally I still read the forums) that this move by the Duma appeared to be very much like our own Congress when they do a "Non Binding Resolution". Meaning they just get to communicate something that really does nothing. And since it does nothing, most members of Congress vote for it because...
A) They get to move passed the topic and onto something they feel is more important
B) Since it's not binding, it does nothing so even if they don't really support it, they know it doesn't do any harm voting for it
C) They get the author of the resolution (who usually has a bug up their ass) to shut up
Well, the author of this Duma thing is a real piece of work. It's some stupid deputy who is totally against foreign adoptions. Of course this person doesn't try to get additional money or resources devoted to the Russian orphanages, no that would make too much sense. No, they just don't want Russian orphans adopted by foreigners. How nice.
It's the saddest part of being involved in an international adoption, the fact that politics are being played with little children don't have enough food, or health care, or 1 on 1 interaction to help them reach their potential. Anyway, our agency basically discounted that Duma action as being even less of an impact than our Congress' "Non Binding Resolution" so all in all it was a hopeful and upbeat hotline today.
Let's call it a "non update update". Our agency's hotline was updated just to let us know that unfortunately there wasn't any news from last week. It's unfortunate because the head of the Russian program for our agency was in Moscow before Thanksgiving.
But, them's the breaks. She said the main issue right now is just getting the MOE to give the details of the required documents in Government Decree #654. Although the actual list of documents is in the decree as with just about every law in every country there's a big difference from what the law "says" it requires and how those requirements are dealt with in practice.
It's a little troubling that these details are not yet conveyed to the various adoption agencies since even after documents are submitted, it could take a month or longer for the actual accreditation to be given. So we'll just have to continue to wait.
The Holiday Season is underway...for better or worse
Monday, November 27, 2006
Hopefully everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. The holidays are sort of double edge swords for us right now I'm afraid. Although they do provide some much needed diversion from the nerve racking experience of the adoption, they also slow down the process at a time when we would like things to be moving swiftly.
With the western world's holiday season now gearing up and with the Russian Orthodox Christmas being in January (I believe it's Jan 7th), the next six weeks may see little if any news happening. But we're still optimistic that we might actually see a few agencies get accredited towards the end of this six week period.
There was no update on the hotline last week (due to Thanksgiving of course) but I'm very interested to hear what's on there this week since if you recall from my posts a few days ago, I mentioned that the head of our agency's Russian program was in Moscow before the holiday and is now back.
So I have some more funny things about the naming of the child that Melissa's comment on the last post got me thinking about.
But first I also forgot to mention that sometimes the adopted child is a bit older and already has an identity with a name. I sort of had a brain freeze on that one by not mentioning it. We're adopting a very young child and I have to apologize because I didn't even think about the age factor.
So for parents adopting older children, this is certainly a MAJOR consideration in your decision.
But back to some humor.
Melissa mentioned in her comment about that episode in Friends when Phoebe was going to change her last name (because she got married). But when she learned she could actually change it to anything she wanted, she decided on Princess Consuela Bananahammock. Her new husband was pissed and in retaliation changed his last name to Crap Bag if you recall.
Of course this marriage wasn't legal because Phoebe mentioned that she was already married in Las Vegas. But she thought if you were married in Las Vegas then it was only valid within the city limits and you were actually single everywhere else.
Man I loved that show.
Anyway, one of the other issues we're thinking about are the initials and what they actually spell out. For example, our last name starts with "G" so we're probably going to avoid (if we have a girl) naming the child Hailey Ashley (get it, HAG). Or maybe Danielle Olivia (which will certainly make her hate us forever for giving her "DOG"). Or even pork out something like Harriet Olivia.
Nor would we want a boy to face some pretty vicious jokes about Francis Anthony (side note here, I despise people who discriminate against the gay community and if you do so, I really wish you wouldn't).
But back to some humor.
We're probably also going to avoid George Arthur or Paul Issac or even Bobby Ulysses.
Just to shift away from the jokes, there is a very cool website that has this Java app that you type in the name and it shows how many babies per 1,000 were born with that name from the 1880's to 2005. Extremely cool, check it out.
One of the other things that keeps popping in our minds as we wait for things to get going is naming the adopted child. It's a big decision that really has no right or wrong answer, or more accurately no wrong choice since I think whatever the parents decide is the right answer. Unless of course you choose something like Ulysses Ernest in which case the kid is going to get an ass kicking at school for at least the next 10 years.
But no, I actually was talking about should you rename the child or stick with their given name. There are a number of factors that may impact your decision.
First, depending on the country you are adopting from the given name may be very difficult to pronounce in English (again think "ass kicking" factor). However, it may also be a very pretty sounding name so you may wish to keep it.
Or you may have a special family name that you may want to pass down to your child. Or want to honor a grandparent or someone else special in your life. Another factor may be your desire to honor the birth country, so you may pick for example a Russian name but not their birth name due to the birth name being hard to pronounce.
And of course maybe it's just that there's a name you really like. Maybe it's part of your dream for a family that keeps you going through all the ups and downs of international adoption. Whatever your choice or your reasons they're the right ones.
As for me, if it's a boy I do want to rename him. I was thinking "Napoleon Alexander Caesar" but I got voted down. Actually it was more like Stef telling me to shut up, don't give the kid a reason to hate you before he's even seen you, and go write the blog story.
There seems to be some pretty wide ranges of guesstimates as to when the first accreditations will happen. Most people (who of course are pre-adoption parents and therefore want things to move fast) have a favorable outlook hoping we'll see the first few accredited agencies by the end of the calendar year. While others (citing what happened in 2005) think it could take many months.
For me, I feel the absolute best case scenario (and all the planets have to align for this to happen) would be for the first accreditations to appear before year end. But I think a more likely scenario is sometime in early January. Now the Russian Orthodox Christmas is actually January 8th. But I do think that the MOE may actually try to get something done before their holidays. Of course even trying to be conservative in my guess, I am going to be naturally bias so keep that in mind.
But there are some signs that things may happen. If you read Stef's very funny Top 10 List of why the decree needed for accreditation to begin had not yet been signed (it has now as you may know), you'll notice the #1 reason had something to do about the weather not yet being cold enough in Siberia.
Well, Omsk just got hit with it's first big storm and the high temperature this week is going to be about 10 DEGREES with heavy snow.
But we should remember that even if accreditation comes quickly, we still have a few months wait until we get a referral and then travel. Course you have to learn to walk before you can run so as soon as accreditation can happen the better.
Of course with plenty of waiting time we have had many opportunities to research all the stuff we will need to either get or do as first time parents. First there was the NGO wait, now the accreditation wait, soon to be followed by the referral wait and then the court date wait.
During the NGO wait we were able to put Lil' G's room together and now during the accreditation wait we're researching car seats and planning out our baby proofing needs.
The car seat research is just another example of my usual overt frugalness that somehow always leads me back to what Stefanie had decided on (and usually that means spending a bit more than I'd like).
There are a couple of very good sites that give out some good reviews and the myriad of car seats out there. Carseatdata is a very good place to both find information on which car seat to buy and also (which is kinda cool) which one works in your car. Carseat.org is another good one for basic info. We're very into "Value" in all our purchases. This means sometimes we buy the top-of-the-line models and sometimes we don't. It depends more on what you get for the dollar. And one of the best resources for value is consumer reports.
We also relied on our friend's input and we got quite a bit of very strong opinions on a particular manufacturer--Britax. Now, they're pretty darn expensive but they are known as one of the best car seats in the market. Both my sister and one of our friends (who just returned from Russia a few months ago) felt ever so strongly that Britax was the one to get, feeling they are like Porsche in that..."There is no substitute." But like Porsche, the Britax seats are pricey (like $200-$300 depending on model) and of course we have a few cars so Stef says we need two of them.
We've been married for 13 years and you'd think by now I would have learned that when she strongly believes in something, she's almost always right. But no, I go out and canvas the field to see if we can just get by with one car seat moving it from car to car. Well, I got back a slew of comments like, "You HAVE to be joking" and "Don't be so cheap and stupid".
Needless to say, we're getting two car seats.
Hopefully (shameless plug) one of our family members will buy us one so we only have to buy one ourselves.
I forgot to mention we got our camcorder yesterday. I went with the Panasonic PV-GS300 which is a good mid priced model ($475-$500). After a very long research period, I selected it over it's bigger brother the PV-GS500 (which goes for $675-$700). At some point I'm sure we'll go high def so I didn't want to spend too much on this camcorder. I mentioned before this terrific site that does some really in depth reviews on camcorders.
In our limited use we really love it. We took some quick footage of our Yorkshire Terrier who is the King of Slackers. Here's his first starring role and our first movie attempt. It's a little rough but we'll keep practicing with the dog so that we'll be alright when Lil' G comes along.
The hotline just went over the fact that the new government decree #654 has been signed, sealed and delivered thus the accreditation process can now commence (actually I think they said they weren't 100% sure it was delivered but it was on the MOE website which is good enough). The director of our agencies Russia program is right now in Moscow and should be able to get a good sense for how long their reaccreditation will take. They mentioned on the hotline that the process in the past has taken a little over a month, but that the MOE has said they will expedite the process.
For all the folks out there who are farther ahead in the process than we are, I certainly hope that happens. However, I'm going to guess that it will take over a month to get done. That means our agency will get accredited either just before the end of the year or maybe that first week into January.
Even if it takes into mid January, we're still feeling that we'll get a referral fairly quickly (although this is a big unknown and could actually stretch into a few months). Of course once we get a referral and accept it we will be traveling to balmy Siberia right away.
So my updated timing estimate still has us pegged for a fun loving February trip to Omsk (today's high in Omsk is forecasted to be 32 degrees) under the most likely scenario. Worst case I would say would be an April trip as our first visit.
By the way, we're currently researching car seats so I'm writing up a post which I should have done by tomorrow.
We starting our adoption process six months ago so I thought I'd just give a recap on where we've been and where we are going. Six months is not very long at all and we've accomplished a great deal during that time which is a chief reason both of us are not really stressing right now. If fact, compared to other adoptions we're moving at light speed.
But anyway, my recap...
On May 9th we started our adoption process by having an intro/interview meeting with what turned out to be the Home-Study agency we went with. That was actually the day we really decided to "go for it" so that's what we call our official starting date even though we had been discussing adoption for many many months. Anyway, over the next couple of months we went through the home-study process (for details on what that entailed look at the posts during May and June).
In June we nailed down which placement agency we wanted and in July we started getting things done for our dossier. There is a whole bunch of stuff one needs for the dossier and it took us until September to get it all done (some of the documents you have to wait for so the timing isn't always in your hands). Again, for the gory details check out the archives.
We also started to fix up a bedroom for Lil' G at that time. We're not completely done with it (more decorations and such are needed) but we do have a crib, dresser, and of course a theme (Winnie the Pooh).
During this time (actually it had been going on even before we started with the process) the Russian government was working out the means to implement some special legislation that required adoption agencies to register for something called NGO (Non Government Organization). It is a new requirement that the agencies must have in order to carry on business in Russia. Our agency (and most others) had to first get this NGO and then apply for what was in the past yearly accreditation.
Our agency got it's NGO in mid September and about that same time our dossier was completed and sent to Moscow to be translated. Throughout October we just waited for some news on the process for reaccreditation since our agency had the coveted NGO. However, the Russian government needed to rewrite a key part of the accreditation process (essentially the "recipe" for how one applies for accreditation).
That key document (known now as decree #654) was just completed last week. So now our agency needs to review the new requirements (fortunately there are very few new ones) and then they can submit their request for accreditation. If you've been follow my blog you know I have great admiration for our agency and believe they will be one of the first (if not the first) agencies to get reaccreditation.
Of course once that happens things will really start to move for us. We're hopeful our agency gets through the accreditation process by the end of the calendar year. And if that happens we're hopeful that we'll get a referral soon thereafter and may be "lucky" and get to travel to Siberia in February.
Some final notes on the new decree #654. Jim did a much deeper analysis on 654 and gives his usual "in english" interpretation to Russian legalese.
Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup.
I bought a camcorder which is scheduled for delivery next Tuesday. One of the things that most people say is that if you are buying a new camera or camcorder you should get it several weeks if not months before you need it to learn how to use it.
Although we're both pretty proficient on tech toys (between the two of us we have 5 computers at home, 4 iPods, 2 Tivos, among various other crap), any new tech toy does require a little time to learn how to use it effectively.
For those looking at camcorders I found what has to be the greatest review site on the planet (only wish they did digital cameras as well, but I'm fine with the one we've got). Anyway the site is camcorderinfo.com. I ending up going with a mid range model. Didn't want to spend the $2,000+ for a high definition camera at this point (I'm hoping in a few years the prices will come down).
I'm a Mac guy and have one of the new Intel based iMacs. All Apple computers come pre installed with software you use to make movies and produce DVDs (and why Macs are actually not more expensive than PCs but actually cheaper since they contain a lot more software for free that you'd end up buying for your PC).
But as usual I digress.
I do a lot of processing now of TV shows and movies off my Tivo into the Mac and onto DVDs. Don't worry, this is perfectly legal. It's just like recording a show onto a VCR, I just end up with a DVD (which lasts longer and is a better video quality).
So Stef has been sending me videos by Elle and Jen and wants to make sure we can do cool stuff like they've done. Which again, with a Mac is incredibly easy to do. For those Mac users out there that have used iMovie and iDVD you know what I mean. I actually have the more techie software Final Cut Studio which is probably an overkill for most home movie stuff but I like the added flexibility.
Anyway, next week I'll be playing with the new camcorder and maybe do some test movies using our academy award winner in residence (seen here as Shakespeare's Richard III, "A Horse, a horse, my dogbone for a horse").
In addition to our weekly hotline our agency has just started a weekly online chat (another reason I love them is they are always on the cutting edge). I wasn't on last week which was the first one but was on today.
Anyway, in the chat they mentioned that they believe the duration (keep in mind they have had a limited time to look over the document) for accreditation is going to be five years. Which is still great news. They also believe that accreditations will proceed quickly but just don't have enough information at this point to hazard a guess on when that might be.
Hopefully we should have more news next week. By coincidence, the director of the Russian program for our agency will be in Moscow next week (the trip just happens to be at the right time with 654 being signed).
This is actually going to be a 2-fer post today. I didn't get a chance to post about (as Stef calls it) my Ladies Lunch and I wanted to highlight info about 268 (which by the way is now no longer called 268 since it was completely rewritten).
But first my Ladies Lunch.
I believe I had mention that we have a number of good friends who have recently gone through international adoption (some from Russia and some from Guatemala). Two of them I use to work with when I was at Sun Microsystems back in B.B.S. (Before Becoming a Slacker). Well the three of us had lunch the other day and I was mentioning to Stef that it was really great because we discussed a lot of parenting issues.
Since I was the only male in the group, Stef is calling it My Ladies Lunch. And that's just fine with me. Being a typical male, I'm perfectly happy sitting around talking with beautiful and intelligent women. We're actually going to try to do this every month which is going to great for my currently non-existent parenting skills.
Now some more detail on 268.
Firstly it is no longer 268 and now Government Decision #654. It was suppose to be officially announced next week but shock of shocks it was posted on the MOE's website today. Here's the full thing (in Russian of course). You can use one of the many online translators, if you have a Mac here's a great widget that when you type in a site's url it automatically kicks out translations using two of the top online sites (Babel Fish and Google).
One of the two Great Jim's (it was Jim not to be confused with Jim_in_PA the other great Jim) wrote up a summary on FRUA of the changes this new 654 has in it. The most interesting is a lack of a duration for accreditation. In 268 it clearly stated that accreditations were valid for a one year period; however, in 654 there is no duration mentioned. And from an amateur's knowledge of legal principles, no duration specified means unlimited duration.
This of course is fantastic news. First it means accreditation or reaccreditation will not become an annual hurdle that (as it has done so often in the past) added long delays to adoptions (many of which were just waiting for the final okay). Additionally, it should also lower the expenses agencies have had to incur every year and that may actually lower the costs of adoption. Of course Stef and I are very well off and the costs are relatively inconsequential to us. But I'm very disappointed that the expense of adoption keeps a lot of potentially great parents from having the opportunity to adopt.
The dictionary calls a rumor, "a circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth." And I've always leaned more towards the latter in terms of validity. And what I have to say about decree 268 is not (in my opinion) a rumor. I'd say more like hearsay or even a speculation. In other words, information that is currently unconfirmed or not yet official.
Thank you professor, can you get to your rumor...er...hearsay...ah...speculation...oh just get on with it.
Government Decision #268 is done.
Really? Are you sure?
Although the "official" announcement by the MOE will not be done until next week, a large number of agencies have been told that 268 was completed and signed by all those needing to sign it. The official announcement (which will also be posted on the Russian government's website) is scheduled for next week.
This of course means that the rules for (or steps to get) accreditation are done and thus agencies now can officially apply for accreditation. And it is a common belief by most agencies that the accreditation process will be relatively short (meaning more like just a few weeks rather than several months).
So my own speculation is that our agency will get reaccredited by the end of November.
So of course mid-term elections are being held today and yes I voted, and no I didn't vote for one party or the other but instead (as I have learned to do) made a conscience effort to vote for the person I thought could make good decisions (regardless of whether or not they shared my belief on war, taxes, a woman's right to choose, etc.).
The real problem we have today is that the voters are not making good decisions themselves. Instead of what they should be doing (and that is voting for people they feel are intelligent, honest, basically those who make good decisions) they are instead voting for people that share their same beliefs (whether those are religious or non-religious beliefs, pro-this or anti-that). And they fail to realize that the two parties are merely two halves of the same coin.
Both parties are NOT interested in getting things done (i.e., governing the country), instead they want to insure that their candidates get into office since it is more common for an incumbent to win, thus they (the party) does not need to spend as much money for that particular seat in future elections.
So instead of saying, "The government sucks" just look into a mirror and say it. The voters who elected these folks in (regardless of party) did so as their representatives. And sure enough, they do represent who you are (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse). The people I vote for rarely win by the way, but I like to think of that as a compliment to my own intelligence (whether that's true or not).
Since Steve keeps posting about taxes and other non-fun stuff, here's my top ten list of reasons why 268 hasn't been signed yet...
10. The adoption gods want me to have the lifebook started (have all the stuff, just haven’t done anything yet)
9. Traveling now would fit in well with my work schedule
8. We don’t have enough winter clothes so will need to spend more money on stuff we probably won’t use more than once
7. Our ballet season tickets came in and we have great seats, so we’ll probably need to change at least one date and get not as great seats 6. Our football team (go Niners) is playing so bad right now we wish we could be far, far away so we wouldn’t have to watch them loose so badly
5. We’re missing out on buying cool toys for Christmas (of course at Costco and more shopping)
4. We should be learning more Russian (yep, still on lesson 5)
3. It gives me an opportunity to irritate Steve by sending links to all the Disney stuff we could buy for Lil’ G’s room
2. Chianti really wants to continue to monopolize our lives so has been calling the Russian authorities (and running up a huge phone bill)
And the number one reason is ...
1. It’s not cold enough in Siberia (yet)
I really believe number 1 - realize I've seen snow maybe a total of 20 days my entire live, I really, really don't do well in cold weather (or hot weather either) and am living in California for a reason.
I thought I'd just summarize some of the current rumors for when Government Decision 268 will be complete. Again, 268 is basically the rules the adoption agencies need to follow to get accredited in Russia. As I've mention before, the reason 268 needed to be changed in the first place was due to the new NGO requirement (for more info on the NGO thing take a look back at my posts in July and August).
So here's some of the rumors currently flying around the forums and my personal take.
1) Several ministries had signed off on 268 and that the MOE was waiting for it to be delivered.
I doubt it. This one has been out on the forums for almost two weeks. Not even our own postal service is that slow. Not to mention there isn't any information about the need for other ministries to sign a decree.
2) Everyone that needed to sign it has done that except for two ministers who had resigned their positions at the MOE and we have to wait until their replacements are hired.
This one just doesn't hold any water. First if there were two high ranking officials that resigned at the same time, that would be big news. It should be all over the Russian news websites and there's not been a peep about this anywhere.
3) Everyone has signed it and it's just awaiting the prime minister's signature.
This one is actually possible since the prime minister's or president's signature is required on decrees (since decrees come from the executive branch). Not to mention that he probably has a lot more important things to do than help out a bunch of Americans who want to adoption Russian children.
4) That the reason for waiting for the 268 was that someone whose signiture is required was very ill, but that this person is now back at work. So 268 should be done soon.
Yep, this one speaks for itself. Also it goes to show that on most of these forums everyone gets so excited about every little comment when some of these are just too illogical to be possible.
However, all of these (and others not mentioned here) point to something happening over the next several weeks. And I think this is actually plausible. Based on how long it took for the NGO process to get going, it is possible that 268 and accreditation both could happen this month although a more likely scenario is they both get done before the end of the year (with the worst case being they stretch on till February).
I should point out I don't actually read the forums anymore and got this info from Stef who still checks them out now and then. If you're new to the process I highly recommend checking them out since they can provide some good information for you to get up to speed, but after awhile they tend to have the same folks going on and on about the same subjects. And some of these people adopted like 5 years ago or more! Russian adoption is like buying a new iPod. The minute you open the box it's already replaced by a new even smaller model.
For me, I suspect that when our adoption process ends so too will this blog. At that point, I'll have to spend most of my time just learning how to be a good parent. And as I said, the landscape of international adoption changes just so fast. Hopefully this blog will become an interesting story to read even if the information about adopting from Russia becomes a little outdated.
Ryan posted a comment about the Hague Treaty and what impact it will have on international adoptions. I know this is the latest buzz on adoption forums so I thought I would toss out my 2 cents on the subject.
First we should understand what the treaty is all about, it's part of the Hague Convention and it covers may other areas beyond adoption (the whole Apostile thing is another part of the Convention). The other important thing is it's an international treaty and it's pretty rare for the U.S. to sign one of those, but surprise of surprises we actually did (albeit a bit later than most).
For the adoption part of the Convention, back in 2000 Congress enacted the Intercountry Adoption Act, our (the United States’) implementing legislation for the Hague Convention on International Adoption. But somehow it took Bush six years to actually get it implemented. Even communist China got it done before we did!
So while everyone is all upset that the Russian government took a few months to get NGO's figured out (not to mention the current 268 issues), our government appears like a group of low grade morons by comparison. And if you've ever met your congressperson or senator (or president for that matter) you probably agree.
But I digress.
The key contents of the adoption part of the treaty insure that all adoption agencies who operate in other Hague Convention countries are accredited under the guidelines of the Convention. This accreditation occurs within the agency's home country and Dept. of State is using Colorado's Dept. of Human Services to do all the accreditations.
When I asked Stef what her feeling were she astutely pointed out that most of the larger agencies probably won't see this as a big issue since they have the resources and manpower to get whatever documentation is required. Some smaller agencies may have to pass those costs on to the adopting parents but again, I really doubt it's going to be a big deal.
And in some cases the accreditation doesn't even matter at all. For example, in our situation. Since Russia has not yet implemented it, there's no need for agencies doing adoptions in Russia to have this new accreditation. Of course our agency is very large and works in many many countries (some of which are "Hague Countries" ) so they'll most likely be working on getting this done anyway. And Russia, like the U.S., will get around to implementing it at some point.
The hotline update from our agency's Russia program director did not shed any new information about decree 268 but you could tell from her voice that she was getting quite frustrated. As I've said many times before they are pretty conservative in all their communication in terms of timing of just about everything. And I think all the upbeat information they were getting (from MOE officials, from the JCICS visit, other agencies, etc.) led her to become more optimistic than normal.
The consensus does point to an imminent finalization of 268 which would mean reaccreditation would start flowing very soon. However, that has not come to pass and it's causing some obvious frustration for them (and I'm sure others).
For me I'm not all that worried about it. Much like the NGO situation it was just a matter of time until everything fell into line and got rolling. The proof is all the adoption agencies that now have NGO registration. For a good month or two all the agencies kept submitting documents and waiting and then resubmitting documents and waiting. Then once a few of them started to get "passed" as NGOs, you had the dam break and a plethora of agencies shot past that hurdle.
It's certain that 268 will get fixed and I'm about 100% sure it's not going to take six months for it to occur. So it may take a few more days or weeks but all of the sudden it will be done. We had only thought that under the best case scenario we might be traveling during this calendar year and that would have required literally all the planets to align. I'm fairly certain that sometime in the first part of 2007 we'll get the call to head to Omsk. And most likely (since Stef and I are not cold weather people) it will happen early in '07 when it's very very very cold.
We would be just fine traveling in April or even May thank you very much. And since that's what we want, I'm pretty sure we'll be there in February.
"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it."