"Our 'Back to Russia' trip was fantastic! We adopted our son Alex six years ago from Baby Home No. 6 in St. Petersburg. He is now 7 1/2 and thoroughly enjoyed this trip. That may seem young to travel such a distance, but we felt that it was important to show Alex his birth culture and allow him to create his own memories of Russia rather than rely on what we have told him. We feel that this will help him cope with the inevitable questions that will arise as he gets older. We spent a week in St. Petersburg with an experienced, patient tour guide who took us to the usual tourist spots (the Hermitage, Peterhoff, etc.), but this time we learned so much more about the city because we had time and were not distracted by the adoption process. We also spent two days with Natasha and met Galina again. It was wonderful to see their familiar faces again. Natasha even called Victor to tell him that we were in town and he met us at our hotel and talked to us for a long time even though he no longer works in the adoption business. He was very relaxed this time around and quite candid with us. He answered lots of questions about adoption laws and practices in Russia. We even learned that his daughter and our son were born in the
same hospital! Natasha showed us that very place, so now we have photographs of where Alex was born.
We also visited No. 6 and peeked inside even though all of the babies were at the summer home north of
the city. On another day, Natasha took us to No. 6's summer baby home and this turned out to be our
favorite day of the trip. We adopted our son in April, so we had never visited this property. It was like
camp--full of trees, birds, bugs, flowers and most importantly, fresh air. And it was only 200 yards from the
Gulf of Finland. These children get to go to the beach! We had no idea they had such an opportunity. The
caregivers remembered Alex and one of them greeted him by his first and last Russian name with no
prompting from anyone, which triggered lots of tears. This same caregiver kissed him twice and was
overjoyed to have the photobook of his life that we left with them. It was apparent to us that those women
have little to no idea what happens to these children once they leave. Giving them peace about just one
child was worth all the travel, jet lag and expense of this trip. We firmly believe that our son will remember
that day as well.
"We highly recommend taking your children back to Russia at any age. To hear the language, eat the
food, walk the streets, experience the scale and magnificence of St. Petersburg, see where they lived
and meet the people who helped them into their life in America is priceless. We now finally have photos
of those people and learned much more about our child's early life. It is a trip that is almost as important
for the parent as the child. We had lots of questions answered and know so much more. Make the
sacrifice and go. You will not regret it."
Jay, Jennifer and Alex Langdale
Return Trip to Russia with other New Hope families, Summer 2012