There will be a separate post of photos from all six parts.
The final adoption approval in Romania was scheduled for Friday, May 11. Three days after John-Adrian's 16th birthday. Somehow our agency in-country got that moved up, just to make sure. There was something about some relative(s) signing off, perhaps their aunt and uncle. Which in both cases, may imply bribery of someone, somewhere.
We thought we were flying TAROM from Bucharest to Oradea when we arrived in mid-May, but were immediately stuffed on the overnight train mentioned in Part One. It is part of the Orient Express, though clearly not the most elegant cars on that historic route.
Beius and picking up the boys is rather a blur. We took their friends out for dinner, we talked with the English tutors we had paid for, we walked around with them and took pictures. We wooshed up to Oradea, where they said goodbye to their aunt, uncle, and younger sister, Ina (they have kept contact with her). Then we popped on an early morning plane at a tiny airport and went to Bucharest to pass all the final government papers before leaving. We did some local touring, including a trip to Castle Peles, where a lioness played with one of their friends. Yes, really. A guy had a lioness on a leash and charged about a quarter for you to have your picture taken. Missionary kids who the boys had known were along with us and gave it a try. As the lioness affectionately wrapped her paws around the 12-year-old, who blanched at the feeling of her strength, I wondered "How do you tell parents that you let their kid get captured by a lion?" Pictures later.
There were hitches, sudden worries that everything might fall apart. Having to quickly arrange X-rays to prove J-A didn't have TB was likely the biggest panic - less than two hours to spare on that deadline. We made plans for Tracy to go on with Chris and me to stay behind with John-Adrian if anything went wrong. The final person at the embassy to approve our papers seemed to toy with us. We later found out this was not our fevered imaginations when we described him to those familiar with the embassy. But it happened. We got on a plane at Otopeni Airport and flew to Switzerland. We had a six-hour layover and used it to go into the city. In Zurich, the boys learned that western Europeans do not like Americans anywhere near as much as Romanians do, and Chris got to enter a wonderland of expensive automobiles to look at. For a boy who had seen mostly aged Dacias and Aros, with an occasional VW or old Mercedes, Zurich was frankly unbelievable.
Back in America, Jonathan and Heidi were picking Ben up from school to head down to Logan to pick us up. They still argue about that. Something about where the car was and who had told who what. Ben later wrote a remarkable reminiscence of that late afternoon, describing Heidi and Jon holding hands while he stood alone, waiting for brothers he had never met.
One last hitch with the papers at customs, and we were through the doors to international arrivals, and the boys just exploded in welcome, picking Chris up, comparing height with J-A, talking excitedly, and even sparing a moment to welcome us back. I think Heidi, good future daughter-in-law that she was, was the first to speak with Tracy and I. Jonathan announced, pointing to Heidi, "We are getting married, one year from today." "I know, I know," shrugged John-Adrian, an immediate display of how he pretends nothing surprises him and he is never wrong. It must have looked puzzling to bystanders if they stopped to notice. If you put the scene in a movie it would be sappy, but it was reality.
Then the five of them gave us the luggage and took the the keys to the better car and headed out. They honked as they passed us on Rte 93 exiting Boston. Tracy complained "They're having a party in there, and we're not at it," but it was really all relief. The next morning the two American sons started right in. "How do you say 'good brother?'" Frate bine. "Frate bine, said Jonathan, pointing to himself. "How do you say 'bad brother?'" Frate rau. "Frate rau," pointing to Ben. "How do you say 'fat father?'" Tata gras. "Yeah, tata gras, that sounds right." There was immediate instruction from Tracy about how boys in America always kiss their mother before they go out, which the older two demonstrated with a minimum of eye-rolling.
And then we were six.