Chapter Five

Brian in Russia

Welcome To the Wonderful World of Amrex, Inc.


    On April 17, Brian and Mrs. Towell arrived, jet-lagged and excited, at Sheremetyevo. They were met by Amrex’s team of Val and Galina Zakharova who took them to do some paperwork in Moscow. 

    A few hours later Brian and his mother were driven to the internal airport Domodevo and awaited their flight to Krasnoyarsk where they would have a lengthy layover on their trip to Amur.

    The financial slaps and secrecy tactics began at Domodevo. Brian had been told by BBAS that the plane fare to Amur would only cost $400 roundtrip. They neglected to tell him this fare was only if the fare had been booked ahead of time. 

    Instead, their fare ended up costing $1,100 for round trip tickets.  This put a small dent in their finances.

    The Moscow Amrex team gave Brian and Mrs. Towell something odd to take with them on their trip to Amur: clean, sterile medical vials and needles for a blood sample. It seems an adoptive family, already in Amur, needed these things to get a blood test done; their medicals had expired while they were in Russia and “the judge” wanted their medicals to be totally updated before he would hear their adoption hearing.

    Since it is questionable how sterile the instruments were for drawing blood in the Russian Federation, the couple requested sterile vials and needles for the procedure. Brian and his mother were happy to oblige this unusual request.

    In Krasnoyarsk, their layover was 13 hours. While they were waiting, they became acquainted with another Amrex family who, as it turned out, were also adopting from Blagoveshchensk!  

    The Americans were all happy to have found one another; they spoke in joyful anticipation of their new children. One family was a Beacon House family, the other was from another unaccredited agency.  

Tatyana Dmitreeva with a little miracle:

How much did she get for this one?

(Photo found on the Internet)

    After 13 hours they boarded the plane to Amur.  All six were met at the airport in Amur by Tatyana Vladimirovna Dmitriyeva, Amrex’s head facilitator in Amur. She came with two private taxi cabs to chauffer them to their hotel.

    Tatyana is a slight, odd-looking woman standing all of five foot three. She greeted them in a professional Russian manner or, as Alysha later described — “Total Amrex.”  

    Her voice was sharp and could have a cruel edge to it when it wasn’t twinged with faux-kindness for her newest paying customers. Her hair was covered in a green-gray beret to keep her head warm in the cold Siberian spring.

    Brian immediately noticed her squinty eyes behind her John Lennon, Tears for Fears-style circular glasses.

    Once at their hotel, she took off her “poor man’s coat” of gray-black curly Merino wool and removed her green-gray wool beret. Her badly-dyed auburn hair emerged, almost to the point of looking like brown rust. 

    Indoors, her face appeared wrinkled as if she had been smoking for a long time (and, incidentally, she does smoke, but only when nervous and never in front of her American/Amrex clients).

    She was wearing the plain-clothes of most common to Russian female facilitators – plain slacks and a plain wool sweater.

    Ms. Dmitriyeva had been coordinating adoptions from the Amur regions since at least 1999. Prior to becoming Amrex’s head facilitator, she taught English at the university level in Russia.

    I want to add here that she had been the one to coordinate for the Mattheys, the New Jersey Adoption Alliance clients charged with murdering their adopted son in October 2000.  

    That child had been adopted in December 1999, along with his twin brothers.   This child had been from the orphanage in Svobodny (“Free”) roughly 85 km (45 miles) outside of Blagoveshchensk. 

    Ms. Dmitriyeva had a tight hold on the Amrex adoption monopoly in Blagoveshchensk. It was she who called the shots, handled the paperwork, the courtcases, the referrals and most importantly, the cash. Ms. Dmitriyeva lived well from her three careers, but the best paying one by far was her role as Amrex’s child locator.

    Brian and the other unaccredited Amrex agency family were told, by Ms. Dmitriyeva, to not mention any videos or medicals they had received on their children. Under the new Russian adoption regulations, these things were now taboo. To mention them would be illegal. 

    What also should have disturbed Brian and this family the most was that they were strongly forbidden to even mention the name of their “real” agencies in court. Only the accredited Beacon House clients were able to do that.

    The Towells learned that Tatyana was representing all unaccredited Amrex agency clients as independent adoptions during their court cases, in an attempt to umbrella off of Beacon House’s accreditation.

    Indeed, Brian noticed his paperwork had “Beacon House” written all over it. The name Building Blocks Adoption Service, Inc. did not appear anywhere on documents presented to the court.  Was this how BBAS was now operating in Russia?  Hiding under the table like the true slime they were?

    For three days Alysha was not able to reach Brian. Here her husband was, halfway around the world, and BBAS hadn’t even bothered to give them the contact information for his hotel! 

    How did this organization run? One would have thought after our experience in Perm that the professional adoption associates who ran this operation could have gotten it together after nearly two years. Especially since the Towells were the fourth or fifth BBAS/Amrex family to travel to Blagoveshchensk.

    Then again, we are dealing with liars, conartists and the untrustworthy, so why should we expect anything different?

    Alysha called Wendy Stamper and left a message. In desperation she also placed a call to one of the two families that BBAS had given her to contact in January.  

    The wife was happy to help her, and said that she would contact another person who had the telephone number to the hotel since she no longer had that information. 

    Before she could get back to Alysha, Wendy Stamper, who had also been contacted by this lady, emailed her the telephone number and name of the hotel in Blagoveshchensk, along with a with a photo of the hotel. Wendy the whiz in action.

    It was time to implement her recently acquired Russian skills. Alysha was able to get through to the Hotel and ask for her husband. She called 7 a.m. Amur time and got the hotel clerk who located Brian by walking down the hall and knocking on his door.  

    Brian, confused, came to the telephone, not really understanding who or what was on the other end. He was pleasantly relieved at the sound of his wife’s voice.

    He told Alysha that he and his mother would be traveling to the orphanage in exactly three hours to see Oleg and Elena. They were very excited. 

    Brian and his mother were going to have six visits to the orphanage, and during each visit, they would witness things they would never forget, and the faces of the children left behind would linger a lifetime.

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