By Steve Freiman
My wife and I were down to our last two days in Bucharest. All we had left were two appointments at the United States Embassy, to have our embassy interview and complete the process for our daughter’s visa. At this time we had been in Romania for nine days and were praying to God that there would be no problems at the embassy. We had heard horror stories about long waits and paperwork problems. We would not stop trusting the Lord now.
On the first day, we were asked to turn our paperwork in. With our foundation representative and adoption agency translator and facilitator, we entered the embassy grounds through a wrought iron side gate that was guarded by Romanian soldiers. The soldiers were dressed in battle fatigues, special service berets, and black, shiny combat boots. They were carrying the standard AK-47 assault rifles. We each presented our papers and were allowed into the compound. The soldiers were all smiles, which surprised me, as they made a fuss over our new daughter. The soldiers were also very young. Our translator told us that the berets they were wearing meant those soldiers were just out of basic training and actually belonged to the Air Force.
As we walked across the short compound to the building, we could not help notice how beautiful and full of character the embassy building was. The real treat came inside when we saw the beautiful, ornate woodwork that was on every wall, window, and doorpost. By now we had grown accustomed to viewing woodwork of superior quality. There was a solid wood staircase inside that was massive and made from a type of dark-colored wood. The floors were covered with the amazing oriental rugs that are commonplace, but far from ordinary.
Once inside, there was another security check. At the security check, I had to surrender the camcorder I carried, and my wife had her purse and baby bag searched. To prevent the filming of the embassy interior, the camera bag had to be left at the security station. From the security station we went up a short flight of stairs to a large waiting room; enclosed service windows lined one wall. There were at least six windows with seals four feet from the floor. I looked around the room and saw it was filled with adoptive families going through the same process. It was hot in the room and children were crying. Our little daughter sat in her seat and played with a toy we had brought along. Our foundation representative and I went to one of the windows and handed our paperwork in. The lady behind the glass informed our representative that a particular document could not be accepted because it was a copy. Our foundation representative was not alarmed. He just smiled and asked if he could mail it. To my great surprise, the lady at the window agreed that it would be acceptable to receive the copy as long as the original was mailed promptly. The representative and I were then directed to another window for the payment of the visa. Once the visa was paid for, we were given a time to come back the next day. With that, we proceeded back through the interior security check and outside gate. I asked about the families still waiting inside the embassy and why we had only been in there less than an hour. We were told that our paperwork was in order and fully accepted upon receipt. At that time, the advantage of working with an adoption agency and foundation really hit home. It was explained to me that those families would most likely spend the whole day in the waiting room of the embassy. We, however, embarked on a wonderful afternoon of sightseeing and shopping in downtown Bucharest. No one expected to have that much time, and the day produced many wonderful memories which will be greatly cherished.
The second day arrived and we proceeded from the hotel to the embassy. Again, we went through both sets of security and took our places in the chairs of the waiting room. The foundation representative went to one of the windows and gave our names. Then we waited to be called for our interview. Not more than five minutes went by and we were called.
My wife and I went to the window we were called to. The glass was thick and had a round circle cut in it about four inches from the bottom. I was expecting to be taken to another room but the interview was conducted right at the window. The American Embassy official started the interview by asking what we had thought of the previous Monday night’s football game. We were unaware of the teams that had played and said so. He stated that the Minnesota Vikings had played our Dallas Cowboys and had beat them soundly. He was from Minnesota and we were from Dallas. We all had a good laugh. He asked us some questions about our daughter and home in Dallas. Then he congratulated us on our adoption and the interview was over. Not more than ten minutes had passed. We expected a lengthy interview. We were astounded by how quickly it went. We were informed our daughter’s visa would be ready in the afternoon, when the embassy reopened, and that we would have to wait for it.
We exited the embassy and went sightseeing and shopping until the appointed time in the afternoon. About thirty minutes before the embassy was to reopen, we found ourselves back in front of the embassy. At this time, our foundation rep wanted to enter the embassy and see if the visa was ready. He instructed my wife, daughter, and our translator to wait while the two of us went inside the embassy to check. We proceeded through the two sets of security once again. In the main waiting room we noticed a large stack of folders sitting on a table. These folders were the completed visas. To the amazement of both of us, our visa was on the very top! The rep then asked an official who was standing nearby if we could take our visa. The official readily agreed and handed me the visa. We then exited the embassy and surprised my wife and daughter with our fast return. Both our translator and rep thought that we would spend the entire afternoon waiting for the visa. We were very delighted that the process went so smoothly. The rep and I were only in the embassy for ten minutes.
The miracle of our embassy experience is an example of the amazing way God guides the process. As you can see, we did not have to wait for anything and had no problems with our paperwork. I know that this is not the case for many, and may not even be close to the standard embassy experience. God was so good to us while we were in Romania. Words cannot describe the experience fully and the joy that it has brought to us through the adoption of our daughter. We cannot imagine life without her now.
Steve and Michelle Freiman (fry-man) adopted Larisa from Piatra Neamt, Romania, in November of 1999. They currently reside in the Dallas Metroplex area.