October 19 2013

Trip 2 to Russia: The Unexpected Interrogation

Excitement levels were at an all time high on the morning of October 13, 2003, as we prepared for the potentially 4-week journey that should result in our bringing our new daughter home.  October 17th was the official court date, where a Russian judge would hear our adoption petition.   We had been praying since returning home from trip one that the Russian government’s 10-day waiting period between the judge’s approval of the adoption and being able to take custody of the child would be waived.   AWAA’s Leslie Johnston had called a week earlier to inform us that the Russian facilitator, Helen said there was no chance the ten-day waiting period would be waived.  The Saratov region had recently come under scrutiny for waiving the waiting period and was under strict orders to not do this.  We accepted the news and planned accordingly but we kept praying.  Being away from Hillary, Bennett and Hunter for 3-4 weeks was not easy – we would miss them a great deal and managing logistics for their care was very complicated.

The morning started early, as I had arranged to have a telephone conversation with the regional Human Resources Representative, Anita Holland, to express the concerns I had regarding the treatment from my immediate manager and his supervisor.  My fifteen years of experience with the company, 13 years in management, led me to believe that something strange was happening.  While I did not understand what I had done to cause my boss to be so unhappy with my performance, his displeasure was clear.  The work expectations and timeline had been made very clear to me, whether I was in Russia or Raleigh.  The clock was ticking.  I thought that it was important to at least register my concern before I departed for what could be a four-week absence.

Anita Holland answered my 7:00am call.  Since I initiated the call, I anticipated leading the conversation but Anita immediately let me know she had a separate agenda.  Without exchanging pleasantries, Anita abruptly told me that she was concerned that I had taken Zithromax samples to the orphanage where we were adopting a child.  She told me why this was against Pfizer policy and that my actions had put the company at risk.  Anita’s accusatory tone completely caught me off guard and she launched a brief interrogation; “Did you take the Zithromax to Russia?  Where did you get the samples?  Why did you think you could do this?” I certainly was not prepared for this.  When I tried to explain that I was not aware of the policies she was referring to, she simply would not consider that as a possibility. Anita was quick to end the conversation as soon as she had her questions answered.  I asked if I should attempt to retrieve the samples on our second trip and she told me not to do anything further regarding samples.

My mother and the children took us to the airport for an emotional send-off.  Ann and I left Raleigh on October 13th at 3:00pm.   As we waited at the gate in Raleigh, my phone rang and it was the representative who had transferred the Zithromax samples to me.  She told me Sample Administration was trying to reach her to discuss the Zithromax.  I told her to answer their questions fully and truthfully as we had done nothing wrong.

I left Raleigh for Russia to bring home our adopted daughter knowing that Pfizer was investigating the sample issue.  I refused to share this with Ann and dampen her excitement for the journey ahead.  A significant collision of corporate and personal values was in the work.  I remained confident, trusting that the truth would resolve this terrible misunderstanding.

Categories: Adoption

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