They spent the first day of their return to Tomsk exploring the city. “The next day was the source of all the buildup,” Liles said. “We went to the hospital where Emily was being cared for when I adopted her.”
The doctors and nurses offered tea on nice china along with the best Tomsk chocolates and were as full of welcome as they were of questions. A crew from the local television station followed Emily around.
“They were delighted to see Emily,” Liles said. “Emily said she was a bit overwhelmed by the end, with all the hugs and kisses. They embraced her figuratively and physically.”
The staff wanted to know if the U.S. government had sent them. They wanted to know about Emily’s health, about her school, her activities. The doctor was surprised that Emily had always known she was adopted — Russian children were not told, he said.
Russians, he said, were concerned about the fate of their adopted children.
“I acknowledged the concern,” Liles said. “Clearly they were surprised that I knew about it.”
The doctor was surprised again when told that deaths and abuse of some Russian adoptees in the United States had been reported in newspapers and on television. “He probably asked me several times in different ways if I got the full story,” she said.
“They seemed to be genuinely interested and very curious about this 10-year-old-girl who had returned,” Liles said. “It was what I hoped for — for my daughter to be embraced by the people who cared for her long ago.
“I think it settled her in some way, not that she was unsettled,” Liles said. “But when she describes her visit to Tomsk, there’s this certainty. She loves to tell people she was back to see where she was born.”
Emily had her picture taken at the maternity hospital — in front of a statue of a baby emerging from a cabbage. They visited the courthouse where Emily likes to say Liles had pledged to be her mother forever.
When Nicky left his brothers, the eldest one took an Orthodox cross from around his neck and put it on Nicky. Back home in Oklahoma, he is wearing it still.
“I want the people of Russia to know we’ve taken good care of their children,” Bacher said. “They’ve been a gift to us — such good children.”