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rough and tumble

Monday, January 28, 2008

I promised myself three things when I started this blog. I vowed I would try to blog every day, write actively and with a strong voice...and I swore I would always be honest. Honesty is the only defense pre-adoptive parents have in the crazy world of international adoption. It is the only thing that really prepares them for what they're about to go through. I knew if I sugar coated the process I wouldn't do anyone any favors. Besides, I wanted this blog to act as a journal for Maddie...to show her what we went through to find her.
Today is the first day I have ever regretted that decision.
I was so tempted to skip today's blog or to gloss over what happened..but in the end decided to share it for one simple reason.
I know I'm not alone.
The truth is what happened to me today happens, in one degree or another, to almost all adoptive parents early on in the process...especially the ones who are adopting children who have been in the system their whole life.
As you are reading this, please keep in mind the orphanage is the only home Maddie has ever known. The workers are her only family. The children her only siblings. Of course she prefers them.
Then read on.
It's not pretty...but it's necessary.
I hit the brick wall today.
I was hoping to avoid it...but today it shot up in front of me when I least expected it and I hit it full force.
I'm sick of being here!
I want out...
It's sad really. I only have a few more days, if everything goes well...but those days are looming large. I feel like every second is dragging by, every minute lasts an eternity...let's not talk about the hours.
I think even Maddie is starting to feel it. She was a little less cooperative today...a little more stubborn. Not to be unexpected...but certainly not welcome when all I want to do is go home.
To make it worse, today I got my hopes up.
I should have known better.
What was I thinking?
I called my facilitator, who is in Kiev, to ask about the progress on the passport. She (not Lev) told me she expected it to be there this afternoon but she would call me and let me know for sure.
Well, you know me...I jump right to the wrong conclusions and start dreaming about getting the heck out of Dodge.
I'm still here.
The passport is not.
So...we're back to plan A...it should be here tomorrow.
Add to that the fact that I think my daughter hates me and you see why I'm so miserable.
Let me back this story up a bit.
Lev left me on my own, the day we brought Maddie home from the orphanage.
Cool. I can handle it. She's doing pretty well, I thought, and this would give us some time to bond without a Ukranian here to translate everything or second guess my parenting skills.
The bad news is he's not coming back...and he's not being replaced. I am on my own...permanently! He has another family coming in this week for their SDA appointment, so he can't come back here...and the big facilitator's mom is just home from the hospital, so she can't come down. So I get the joy of finishing this leg of the journey on my own.
Good thing I've adopted internationally before or I may just take this kid and hit the road! All I have to do is wait for the passport and get passport pictures taken for her visa.
Okay...now on to why my daughter doesn't like me.
Lev was supposed to arrange for someone to come pick us up on Friday to take us to a bank to sign over Maddie's account to the orphanage. They say it's not a whole lot of money, but asked that we give it to them.
Sure, no problem. Except they never came.
That same person was supposed to take us to get the passport pictures.
So this morning I took things into my own hands.
After confirming with Lev that he had no idea when the driver would arrive, I arranged (through Sandra's translator) for a driver to come pick us up and take us to get the pictures taken. I figured it would be one less step I had to worry about...and I knew I HAD to get it done before the embassy interview. I figure if the orphanage wants the money that badly they'll figure out a way to get it before I leave. (told you I had a bad attitude!)
So we went to get the pictures taken...and that's when it all started going so very badly.
Not the picture part of it.
That was fine.
It was Maddie's reaction to the Ukranians.
She loved them.
She wanted to be with them.
She most definitely didn't want to be with me.
The driver took us to a photo shop where his wife worked. She was wonderful with Maddie...gave her a little toy to occupy her while the pictures were processed and then accompanied us to get something else done to the photos. They were both so very nice.
Too nice.
All Maddie wanted to do was hold her hand.
She grabbed her hand to cross the street and dropped mine like a hot potato.
Maddie grabbed her hand in the car and didn't want to let go.
And then when the woman got out of the car and said 'baka baka' Maddie started to cry.
I wanted to scream, "I AM YOUR MOMMMY! NOT THIS STRANGER!"
But I didn't.
I just cringed inside.
Needless to say, the passport fiasco just added to my misery.
Then, we had no sooner gotten back to the apartment when Lev called and said the driver from the orphanage was there. Were we ready to go?
Sure...why not. I'm a glutton for punishment.
We bundled back up and went out to meet the driver.
Maddie knew him.
That should have been my cue. However, in my current state of mind, I missed that flaming neon sign completely.
He helped her into the van and off we went.
We arrived at the bank...and long story short (it's too long, I didn't even understand half of it) we have to go back tomorrow. After 30 minutes of yelling and screaming at the bank controller (I know it's the controller, because I had the time to translate the word in my Russian book) , the orphanage workers came back and told me the controller wanted Meshack's signature.
I laughed.
Out loud.
'He's in America,' I said.
'He's in America,' the lady told the controller.
'Hrrrumph,' the controller said.
'Sigh,' I said.
So...we headed back to the van for what I thought was a ride home. Instead the driver asked if it would be alright if we went back to the orphanage.
All the way there wild thoughts flew through my mind.
'Was the crazy orphanage director going to try and get more money out of me,' 'Was the money from that account that important,' 'Would it keep me from going home,' 'Was this a setup to blackmail me out of more cash?'
Seeeee...crazy thoughts. But that's where my mind is. The stress of being here is combining with my fears and creating a mental game I'm not up to playing.
We finally arrived, walked through the gates and up to the administrative building. I was on the verge of a panic attack and was working on a plan of attack.
It never occured to me that no one in this building spoke English.
Remember the taxi pantamimes?
Seeee...I told you I was stressed.
We walked into the building and straight to the director's office. As soon as Maddie saw the director she yelled something and RAN to the director.
She climbed up into her lap and the director just kept saying, 'Nastya, Nastya.'
'She has a new name you know. She's never going to learn her new name if she keeps getting called Nastya all the time.' - No I didn't say it.
I didn't say anything.
Evidentally all that was going on was that the driver needed to come back and pick up the executive staff for their nightly drive home. He gathers them all up and takes them to their prospective bus stops.
It was time to go.
I called Maddie to come with me and she looked at me with a crazed look in her eye and backed herself into the corner. The director kept talking to 'Nastya' and I heard the word 'Mama' every so often. Finally, the director walked Maddie back over to me and I picked her up.
She started crying.
Yea...made me feel real great.
The director kept talking to her as we walked back out to the van.
When we reached the van, the driver opened the door and I set Maddie inside.
Now you have to realize the van is a big van...it's more like a mini-bus. It requires two steps to get into and there was no way I could just carry her into the van, so I had to hand her off.
One of the ladies grabbed Nastya...and didn't give her back.
The whole way back to our apartment, as we dropped people off, Nastya Maddie sat on this woman's lap and just drank in all the attention. She laughed, sang songs and shouted out 'machina' every few blocks.
And then she got over-stimulated.
She went nuts.
She tried kissing the lady all over her face...then tried kissing the lady sitting in front of her. She got loud and refused to quiet down and got so squirmy I could tell the lady was getting a bit uncomfortable.
But she never gave her back.
Finally we reached a stop where everyone got out.
The driver told me, '100 meters' and pointed in a general direction.
'Oh, I was getting out too. Okay.'
So I climb out, the lady hands Maddie to me...who promptly starts crying again.
Everyone walks off after telling 'Nastya' 'baka baka.'
I stood on the street corner lost.
Not literally...I knew exactly where I was.
It was figuratively.
I had hit the brick wall at 200-million miles an hour and I couldn't find the energy to pick myself up and cross the street.
I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to find the orphanage director.
She grabbed Maddie from me and crossed the street.
I followed along like a lost puppy.
All along the 100 meters, the director kept telling 'Nastya' wonderful things about her new Mama. I chose to believe they were wonderful things because I don't understand a lick of Russian and I'm too tired to really care.
We finally arrived at Boonina 21 and the director turned to me, handed Maddie back to me, said 'Baka Baka' to Maddie and 'Das Vedanya' to me...and off she went.
Okay...she's not so crazy after all.
I on the other hand, am.
We walked back through the scary alley to our apartment...all the while Maddie is chatting with me as if nothing had happened. There's no crying, no nothing.
Until we close the door of our apartment to the outside world.
And then the flood gates open.
The tears were mine.
I haven't felt this spent, this lost, this overwhelmed in a very long time.
Maybe ever.
All I can do is pray.
Pray the passport comes tomorrow.
Pray I have the strength to endure the train ride back to Kiev...by myself.
And pray the U.S. Embassy has pity on me and processes Maddie's visa in one day so I can head home on Thursday.

31 salty messages:

Susan & Truman January 28, 2008 at 4:14 PM  

Tami - I am so sorry to hear of your experience, but I'm glad you were honest about the whole thing and got your feelings out. I try to put myself in your situation and I can feel the anger rise. Although I'm sure it's nothing compared to what you are feeling. Please know that even though we are strangers, I am praying for you & Maddie to bond your last few days in Ukraine and come home soon. Hang in there! Much love from blog-land!

Amy K-S crew January 28, 2008 at 4:31 PM  

Your emotions are totally understandable and I'd be in the same boat with you. You're doing FANTASTIC given the circumstances even though you feel emotionally and physically spent. You're honesty is refreshing. We'll pray that things wrap-up quickly so you can get home to your family ASAP!

Christina January 28, 2008 at 4:40 PM  

That day would have been hard for anyone - especially by yourself without your spouse to share the experience with. Maddie must have been so confused and I can't imagine how frustrated you must have been by all these "helpful" people undoing all of your hard work at bonding. Hang on, it's just a few days more and everything will be SO much better when you are home with the family.

Anonymous,  January 28, 2008 at 4:51 PM  

I've been following your blog and enjoying it immensely. We adopted from Ukraine in 2002. I just had to write after reading your 'hit the brick wall post'... I know the wall isn't new to you, but it brought back such memories. Our daughter had her biggest meltdown in the Kyiv airport. She told a very nice Canadian man who spoke Russian, "I want to go back to Solnyshko[the orphanage]. I do not want these people to take me to America." I told him to tell her, "Sorry, we're your family now." Of course she perked up the minute we got on the plane and they started serving FOOD! Hang in there!
Catherine Hendrickson

Waitingonmyua2 January 28, 2008 at 5:40 PM  

Oh I remember "being there" so much. You are being held up in prayer. These last days are hard, but you will make it. Forget about the crappy day. It's early and it won't matter 6 months from now. Promise. Big hugs, Beth

Anonymous,  January 28, 2008 at 7:47 PM  

I have been following your blog. We just came back on Nov 17, 2007
When you are feeling down. Let other adoptive families and God be your wind beneath your wings. It will be only a few more days.When you get to America, she will only have you when she gets here. Be ready, she will not want you out of her sight.

Anonymous,  January 28, 2008 at 7:50 PM  

Hi, Tami. I don't blog, so I don't have an id.But, I just had to leave you a comment. I've been to Ukraine onMissions and I had culture shock. I certainly did not expect it. And I had Americans around me. I cannot imagine having to deal with people for over a week who don't speak english. Maddie is so smart and she looks like she really enjoyed herself Sunday. I know you're gonna make it, cause I prayed for you today. I'm not sure I could do what you're doing. I really admire you.

Nataliya January 28, 2008 at 7:59 PM  

Oh Tami, I understand! I didn't have the same exact situation, but I felt as lost as you during the last several days in Ukraine. My flood gates opened too many times and I thought I couldn't take it anymore. But finally I got home, and you'll get home this week too! And everything will be better at home.

You are in my thoughts and prayers as you are finishing your journey. I'm sure the passport will come tomorrow, the train ride will be a piece of cake, and the Embassy will process your Visa on Wednesday!

Don't forget to bring Maddie's photo to the Medical Center. You'll also need her immunization record and her medical form with the result of blood work. I'm sure Lev took care of it, but it doesn't hurt to ask him about it.

DoveFamily January 28, 2008 at 8:20 PM  

What an overwhelming day. Praying for God to cover you with peace and rest, and for Him to help you and Maddie (and your entire family) with your bonding and attachment.

Jeri January 28, 2008 at 8:20 PM  

Tami, you have been so brave to handle things alone so Meshack can be back home with the kids. Ofcourse she is going to gravitate to the familiar faces and most importantly, a language she can understand! Think about how good it felt to get back to hearing english! Very soon, Maddie will be in America and then you will get such a cling-on kind of kid. She will be completely dependent on you. You're tired, your're homesick, and missing your family. It is so normal, give yourself credit for the roller coaster you've been on. This too shall pass. Hang in there, Jeri

espe,  January 28, 2008 at 9:10 PM  

As a PAP I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your HONESTY! I am so sorry that you are in so much pain (homesick for your husband , children, language and America!). I pray that from this point on you will only gather more and more strength!

jessy January 28, 2008 at 9:22 PM  

HUGS!!! You're alone. You're tired. Tired doesn't go far enough. Exhausted may not cut it either.
I can't even look back on trip #2. When I look at the life book, I can only shudder and turn the pages quickly. And I only took pictures of the happy moments! But I wasn't by myself, I had the master. Have you ever done this alone before?
Just as a gentle reminder (cause I'm sure you know this): Maddie doesn't dislike you. She hates you! Expect her rage. Her ambivalence. Her seeking affection from everyone BUT you. Things are going to get alot worse before they get better. I sound like the voice of doom and destruction, but I'm wanting to encourage you...To remind you that this is completely normal for post-institutionalized children. All of her anger is going to be aimed at YOU. I know it is hard. I know. I'm sure your other kids have struggled with attachment? I find by reminding myself (in the first few months, constantly)of this, I was/am able (with God's help) to say to myself after those little digs, hard pushes, and vicious rages, "But I have CHOSEN to love her." I'm choosing to love her, no matter what. It is my decision. And when those moments of bonding and true affection come, they are even sweeter.
Tami have you considered calling her by her orphanage name for a time? We were instructed to call Marina by her orphanage name for a month. And then for a month call her by a hyphenated version--in our case, Olga-Marina. Then in the third month, we dropped the orphanage name altogether. By the fifth month, "Olga" drew no response from her. I'm just thinking that expecting her to give up her name immediately may be an unnecessary loss when right now she is grieving so much, though I'm sure she will thank you in the future for not making her grow up as 'Nastya' in our culture. Just as I'm sure Marina won't regret that we let 'Olga' fade away.

Suzanne January 28, 2008 at 11:57 PM  

Oh poor you. And I mean that. This sounds just dreadful and tiresome and awful. I remember those days. Details are different but the exhaustion and the dismay at having one's new child prefer everyone else, that part is familiar.

It gets better.

You know this, I know, but it seemed as if you needed to hear it again.

It gets better.

Lots better.

Every day better for days and days on end until life is good again.

And you baby girl loves you you you you best.

Hang in there.

Suzanne January 28, 2008 at 11:59 PM  

PS we did combined names too. It lasted about 3 weeks until the new names stuck.

Tina in CT January 29, 2008 at 12:17 AM  

Jessy has said it all and I agree so much with her comments.

I just can't imagine what you are going through trying to do all of this on your own and then have the emmotional thing to deal with too. Thank goodness that within a few days you'll be home with your husband and all of your children and the support of your friends.

Remember that it's OK to cry to release your emmotions and stress.

We blog readers are all pulling for you.

The G's,  January 29, 2008 at 8:40 AM  

Praying for you. I can only imagine how hard it is right now.


kate January 29, 2008 at 9:02 AM  


Send me your phone number so I can call you!!

only k8 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous,  January 29, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

I am trying again to leave a comment. This computer of my sister's hasn't let me leave a comment so far, though I've been keeping up with your blogs. It won't let me view the video clips, either.

I was so sorry to read of your hard day - to have to go through all that alone must have been incredibly difficult!! But when you're that far down, you can only go - UP! It can only get better now! Soon (though I know it doesn't seem like it now), you'll be back with your family, and Maddie will be getting to know and love all of you. It's not surprising that she was excited to be with people who speak her language, but she obviously still thinks a lot of you.

It must be terribly frustrating that all that ridiculous red tape is keeping you there MUCH longer than need be! I am thinking of you lots!

Keep hanging on and saying those prayers! It will soon be over. I sure do hope you will be able to get on that plane on Thursday. - Melinda H.

Dave January 29, 2008 at 10:10 AM  

Isaiah 40:28-31 -- Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I can only imagine what you're going through. I was a wreck even having my family with me. All you can do is depend on Him. I'm praying for you to have increased hope and strength. You can do this b/c He will do it for you.

Gina Holland

adoptedthree January 29, 2008 at 10:38 AM  

Hang on a few more days. Adopting from Ukraine is not the easiest thing to do and even harder finishing up by yourself! But in a month or even six months from now, it wont mean much of anything.

Dont get too distressed about Maddie. She is only responding to what she has known and what is familiar. It won't mean anything once you are home.

Just remember:):) Three year olds are at such a great age and they love to explore and be the center of attention! It is their ME world!! What a fun age too!!

Chin up!!

Anonymous,  January 29, 2008 at 11:53 AM  

Hi, Tami - I think that Maddie is a very lucky little girl to have you for a mom. She will think so too very soon. I will definitely pray that you will soon be on your way home as I hear Sandra and Annalee are now.
Jan (Sandra's friend)

Amblin,  January 29, 2008 at 1:13 PM  

Jessy said it all so well.


I too would do the name change slowly instead of right now. It may be just too much loss for her right now. (((hugs)))

You're doing a wonderful job! Hang in there!

Ashley January 29, 2008 at 2:31 PM  

Oh, Tami, I am praying. I am so sorry this day was so difficult. Just hold on to your Daddy's hand. He wants to walk you through this. Keep crying out to Him. We are all interceding prayers on your behalf as well. I can't imagine this because we haven't gone through it yet. I do thank you for your honesty. We all need to hear this especially those that are yet to go through it. I love you, my sister.

Missy January 29, 2008 at 2:51 PM  

Oh, Tami, I am so sorry! I am praying that the Lord gets you home quickly so you will not feel lost anymore. I know today was hard but know that many people care about you and are praying!

Tonya January 29, 2008 at 3:49 PM  

What a day! Just hang in there,honey. You'll be home soon and there will be no one but family to snatch Maddie up and no-one to call her by her old name. I felt like Lyra had 17 parents while we were in UA. 15 caregivers and me and Landon. It was rough.


Julie January 29, 2008 at 7:46 PM  

I want to thank you for your honesty. When we are in a similar boat (as it seems so many have been!), I will think of you and I will be so thankful to know that I am not the first to feel that way. I also want to say that I believe you are sowing a harvest right now in Maddie. The sowing is the hard part. I am praying that the harvest of love you will reap in her will be 100-fold what you have sown into her.
You are so covered in prayer...

Rachael January 29, 2008 at 11:38 PM  

I had a little Moscow meltdown myself. It's perfectly normal for the stress and emotions to get to you, especially when you're alone in this foreign country. Hope tomorrow goes better, even though I've already read your next post and am sorry about the passport situation. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

Kathy and Matt January 30, 2008 at 12:34 AM  

I can only imagine how you feel...we haven't been here as long and have only met our daughter, but I know I was already feeling homesick during our first week. I can also see how easy it must be for Maddie to reach back for the comfortable -- those she knows and who speak her language.
Still very hard for you.
You'll be in my thoughts. I'm so appreciative of your honest posts. It helps to know I'm not the only one with these thoughts.

JamieD January 6, 2009 at 4:06 AM  

Your honesty and rawness are what make this such a beautiful post.

Thank you so much for sharing.

A n T January 9, 2009 at 9:34 PM  

(((Hugs))) What a very trying and humbling ordeal.

JuliaS,  January 23, 2009 at 1:51 PM  

Beautiful - even though your stress is so evident here. What an open and honest post. Nice to have the perspective of looking back to now though I imagine.

Wishing you well and that Maddie is adjusting well.

Creme de la creme 2008

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