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Russia - Expat Experiences
Just about the only way is through an agency - these tend to really expensive and charge a huge amount for all the extras, but is really important, especially as (unless the law has changed recently) you will need to attend a court hearing, where you have to provide proof of income, and that you have a visa to take the child home again with you.
I don't recommend any agencies (don't know St P too well anyway) because they come and go quite quickly, but ask at the Orphanage if they can recommend any. Bear in mind that it is illegal to adopt a child under 6 months (by law only native Russians, living in Russia can adopt children under that age) and if you are offered a younger child you may be in line to have to "buy" your way out of trouble.
You should also be aware that a lot of Russians are not very happy about the whole idea of foreigners adopting Russian children (even though they don't adopt themselves) so you might come across some (verbal) hostility.
On the other, positive, side - most orphanages are happy to help and see this as a very good way to ensure at least some children get a real life AND they need the cash.
I have interpreted at the court proceedings for 6 or 7 adoptions (late 90's) by foreigners and IF you get a good agency the process is usually quite smooth. But again, worth checking with the consulate to avoid visa problems as well, and they might have advice on the agencies too.
Many American men complain that they went to Russia and got taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous local women. They post articles on the Web warning other American men not to go there and are telling all sorts of horror stories. Here is my advice on what to do if you like Russian women and are planning to tie your destiny with them and consequently, their country. If you follow this advice, you will maximize your chances of having a normal relationship there which will grow into true love and which will last a lifetime. Please keep in mind the following points:
1) There are gold diggers there, but about as many as in the US or many other countries. However, if you are a money-oriented person, and think that you will impress people with your money- you will attract just that- a person who will use you for your money. Isn’t logical? Many Americans are money-driven, and they think that if they are successful businessmen and are into careers, Russian women will like them. In other words, they approach Russian women the way they would approach American women. I am this and that and I have this car and this house, do you like me now? Sure, a gold digger will be the one who likes you. Then, do not complain when you get taken for a ride.
In Russia, as a rule, a foreigner could not get by with just his native language and score with the local girls. It would be impossible. One has to speak Russian. You are in their country that is temporarily in a political/economical trouble. But they are developing awful fast and getting richer by the year. So, if you go there thinking you do not have to learn the language or the local culture because you are a big shot American, you will be taken for a ride. And then, who do you have to blame? Think about if a rich Arab or a rich Japanese would go to the US, and then not speak English and think that because he is rich he should not follow the local culture/learn the local language, and that he could date local girls and score with them. Good luck! He would probably just get a hooker that would take him to the cleaners. And who would be to blame? Or think about you being a rich New Yorker going to the South and trying to show off- “ I am a rich Yankee, Come on you miserable rednecks, give me your girls, I will save them from the horrors of the Appalachia!” See how long you will last before you get shot!
When you go to Russia, you need to speak Russian. Broken Russian will do. But speak the bloody language, please! Take some courses. Buy books, study their culture and go there to try to fit in. People there generally like foreigners from the West provided they try and adopt themselves to the local culture. Otherwise you will just attract a gold digger.
This is what the girls there are attracted to for the most part:
1) Your looks. I mean it. Do not be fat. If you are balding, think of a hair transplant or any kind of hair replacement. Do not dress in sneakers and jeans. It means you do not think appearances matter. Look good. Dress well, for heaven sake! Have some class in clothes and footwear. The more of a gentleman you look, the more they will like you.
2) Your personality.
a) In America you need to blow your horn and act independent and arrogant to show you are somebody. Not there. You need to be humble. This is what they like. Polite and friendly, too.
b) Be a humorist. I mean it. Joke, act like a clown sometimes. They love clowns (in moderation, of course). They absolutely go crazy if you have a sense of humour, are witty and can crack a few jokes here and there.
c) Have some talent. If you play a musical instrument, and sing songs, that will awe them. If when you go out you can play the piano or the guitar and sing songs, particularly Russian songs, you will conquer the girls in a heartbeat. They will be yours! I mean it. If you are an artist, show them your art. They will be awe-struck!
d) Be a happy and positive guy, and jovial as well, Create parties there. Take them to restaurants. Be romantic. Take walks by the river or in the woods with them. Buy them some little things. Flowers and all. Write some cute notes and send them those. They will melt!
e) Be intelligent/intellectual. Try and have conversations on all sorts of different topics. Politics ( Russian politics in particular, arts, literature, etc) Take them to a museum and show them you enjoy arts and all. Study about Russian artists, poets, quote them (in Russian, please).
3) Only after that comes your career. And please talk sparingly about it. Show them that you work to live and not live to work.
The Russians are not a Germanic civilization. They are Slavs. In a way, they are closer to Latins than Anglo- Saxons. Soul is what matters to them, not the anal behaviour that so many people of Anglo- Saxon countries display. Some Russian girls who marry Brits complain that they (the Brits) are as cold as dead fish and just work. They are anally retentive just like “Nazis”. If the women get no warmth or humanity out of a husband, but just business and money and anal-ism- being overly punctual, being a cleanliness freak, a stickler to details and all that, your relationship may fall apart. Please read up on their culture before you go and try and act their way, not your way. If you think you can get something without giving up something, you are dead wrong. You may have to give up some of the American habits and behaviour if you want to accommodate them, and want them to fall in love with you.
When you act like them (displaying the good aspects of them- soulfulness, humour, friendliness and communality, romanticism, artistry, aestheticism, culture, refinement, depth of thinking, poetic dreaminess), you will attract the good in them and find a very nice woman among them with whom you will chime. And who will love you eternally. However, if you go there and do not make adjustments, are always in a hurry, always talking about business and money, do not respect their ways, and do not learn Russian, you will only find the woman that is interested in a money-making man- in other words, “an American woman from Russia” so to speak. And then, don’t start posting on the Internet about how you got taken to the cleaners.
I will challenge you to find even one American man who went to Russia, learned the language, met the girls the natural way in their environment, speaking their language and following their social rules, who got taken to the cleaners by a gold digger. Impossible!. But arrogant fat (oftentimes, nor figuratively) cats, who were throwing money around, speaking English only and acting like they were God’s gift to Russia went down big time. Their country. Their rules. Don’t ever think you will be an exception to that principle.
If you are, however, a lupine businessman type whose only interest is making big bucks and who has no time for soulfulness, humour, culture and romantic aestheticism, don’t go to Russia. Your choice should be Chinese girls. From China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Or the Vietnamese ones. Even the Japanese. These do not like jokers or funny, friendly guys, as a rule. These are seen as not worthy of respect. They like sullen-looking, glum and busy fat cats. These will be running business with you, working hard and being happy with you the way you are. You will find no gold diggers among those as a rule- mostly good business partners and good wives. Just make sure you are really successful and are making good money. And working your rear off for 12-15 hours a day.
So, look at your personality and see if you really fit in with the Russian women’s predilections of a man. If not, do yourself a favour- do not waste your time with them. Or waste their time with you, for that matter.
I'm a middle-aged Aussie male and have lived in SPb for 2.5 years and have found it fascinating, enjoyable, stimulating, pleasant......all of the adjectives.
It can be cheap to live or expensive, but never as expensive as Moscow. I go to Moscow on business a fair amount and I am ALWAYS anxious to get back to SPb.
You get accustomed to the cold in winter and the buildings are generally heated well. The summer is glorious.
About the buildings -- be prepared for some brilliant architectures, but also some really poorly deteriorated buildings and apartement lobbies -- they're incredibly diverse.
It's easy to travel in the surrounding countryside and visit many old cities and villages, especially if you have a car and license (bring an International Driver's ID with you -- the local licence is a pain to get, at first).
Approach Russia with an open mind and a smile on your dial and you'll have no problems. If you come looking for problems, they are here to be had, but are easy to avoid with the right approach.
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