March 11, 2011 We Are Close To the End

Posted in Rodger's Russia Book | Posted by rodger |

We are getting close to the end of our adoption odyssey, and every official who has worked on our case had done her or his absolute best to help us – and no one has asked for or accepted a single kopek in bribes.
Anna, our social worker arranged for a great child, wrote a very favorable report for the court, and after the court, has continued to provide unofficial but very valuable support. She never gave a hint that she wanted a bribe. In fact, after she filed her final report and we thought her role was over, Larisa gave Anna’s office a pair of I-phone clones that we had bought just in case a small gift was needed to grease a wheel. It was not needed, but we were so happy with the service that we received, that we wanted to give a little thank you gift anyway. Anna was very upset at any hint of a bribe. Her boss had to calm her down by explaining the gift was for the office and very public, legal and NOT a bribe. She did calm down and has continued to treat us very well to this day.
We thought that the judge was holding out for a bribe because he delayed the hearing twice, demanding additional information from me. However, we read up on the law and found out that he was just protecting himself by following the law exactly. With an American in his court, he was not going to allow any lapses, but as soon as I appeared in person, he granted the adoption immediately and offered Larisa good, if ignored, advice. He did put on a good show of following the law exactly including reading out loud the entire four page single spaced in small print verdict while we stood attentively in the courtroom.
The next person, a lady who had to fill out the request for a new birth certificate, did it in one day rather than the usual three and helped us hand deliver a copy to the central office and save five days of mailing time.
At the central office, the processor had never heard of a one person adoption where the father’s name was left blank and, at first, refused to believe that it could be done. Rather than just refuse, however, she made the effort to contact her supervisor and found out that it was not a problem.
We are almost done, and the only person who has been a problem has been our contact at the American Embassy, She was very slow to respond, secretive, evasive and downright damned useless – but she worked for the American government.
But just as you start to think that things are getting better, The Letter arrives. In this case, a letter from the Russian Income Tax department demanding that Larisa file a tax return for last year. Larisa went to the local office and was told that because we had sold two cars last year, Larisa had to file a return – in spite of the fact that it was only one car, we lost money, and Larisa had no taxable income.
So, Larisa asked for the form. The worker told Larisa that they didn’t have any, but that she could purchase one from the bribe paying, fee splitting merchant across the street, or, she said, Larisa could try to download one from their web site, but would probably fail.
We failed. The web site was almost incomprehensible, but didn’t allow you to download the form.
Larisa went back and demanded to see the workers boss. The boss claimed astonishment that no one gave Larisa the form and instructed her worker to download a copy to Larisa’s hard drive.
The form turned out to be a 16 page Excel spreadsheet that Einstein could not have navigated – and the instructions were worse.
Back to the tax office. Larisa surrendered and asked the worker if there were any paid advisors in town that would do the form for her, and was told, “Nope”. She demanded, again, to see the boss. The boss said that there were three people in Prochlodney, one just down the street, who could help her, and said that one of the problems was that the worker had downloaded the wrong form to Larisa’s flash drive. Larisa suggested that the boss inform her workers better and headed down the street.
20 minutes and 200 rubles ($7.50) later, Larisa had her form done and the tax accountant even put it on a floppy drive so that Larisa could hand it in electronically – in a format that no one has seen on a modern computer in 10 years.
There are some good people here, but some things never change.

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