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back to the beginning

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One year ago...
Today I did something I have never done in any of our adoptions.
I went back to the beginning.
We are at the part of the paperchase where it's time to get Maddie's birth certificate changed to reflect Meshack and I as her parents.
It's a big step - in more ways than one.
Lev and I hired a driver to take us to the small village where Maddie was born. It is located an hour outside of Odessa...I'm not sure in which direction.
I think it's north.
Don't quote me on that - I'm still all turned around.
It wasn't a long drive...unless you were with our driver.
He was a maniac.
No...I mean it. He was nuts. I don't think I've had this bad of a driver since I've been here. Well, except for maybe the 'drive on the sidewalk' cabbie. Yea...the cabbie was the worst. But this guy wasn't far behind.
Can anyone tell me what the 'mph' equivalent of 130 km/h is?
Do I want to know?
It seemed awful fast...of course that may be because I've been living in the city for the past three weeks and haven't had the opportunity for the driver to really let loose. Who knows. All I know for sure is that things were whizzing by.
Anyway...he was so focused on his driving that he missed our turn. And not just by a little bit. He missed it by a lot!
We went 20 minutes in the wrong direction! That's 20 minutes each way.
He finally stopped and asked for directions at a gas station.
Thank goodness.
I could tell by the exaggerated body language the men he was talking to were dumbstruck that he was so far off course. They pointed back in the direction we had came from...and kept jabbing their fingers in that direction.
We were way, way, way past our turn.
Anyway...as he was pulling out of the gas station to do a u-ie on the interstate...he pulled in front of another car who was also pulling out of the gas station...and yep, you guessed it - we had another fender bender.
And Meshack wonders why I'm such a bad back seat driver. After this experience I would be surprised if I ever feel the urge to comment on Meshack or any other American's driving ability! They can't even begin to compare.
Thankfully, no injuries and no major damage.
We finally turned on the right road and I have to tell you - it was like going home.
We were in the country. There were cows grazing, combines sitting in the fields and every so often we would drive through a small town.
Granted...the houses were different and I don't usually see too many horse drawn wagons, but other than that I could have been back in Kansas, Colorado, Iowa or any other farming state.
We finally pulled into a bigger town (maybe 5,000) and Lev told me we were there.
This is where Maddie began.
This is where she was born.
This is probably where her birth-mother still lives.
Words do not do justice to the my thoughts and feelings as we pulled into town. It's hard to explain everything that came over me. There are so many questions...many of which I can't find the words to utter.
But the biggest is...does she still have any family living around here?
We may never know.
While we waited for the birth certificate, Lev and I went to lunch at a local cafe (It was pretty good), I took a ton of pictures and then I called Meshack. I just had to share this experience.
He too was moved...even from half a world away.
This is as close as we may ever come to having any kind of real background information for Maddie.
There's nothing else.
No names.
No real dates.
No pictures.
Just the information I can glean from this small town...and I had minutes to get it done.
It was so overwhelming. The journalist in me had a million questions...and no way to ask them. Lev was busy in the office...and the driver spoke no English. So I took my pictures, jotted down notes about sights and sounds and then sat back to drink it all in.
That's the best I can do for her.
I hope someday, when she asks questions, it will be enough.
Finally, Lev called me into the office, I signed a couple of papers and they handed me the birth certificate with Maddie's new name and our names listed as her parents.
We are officially her mom and dad.
There was no time to relish the thought. We jumped back in the car to return to Kiev. As the maniac drove, I snapped pictures out the window. Shots of the apartment buildings, the train depot, a local grocery store, a man on a moped...whatever was in sight I shot it.
Frame after frame.
Picture upon picture.
Until finally the town was gone.
When we got back to Odessa, Lev had the birth certificate authenticated. Then he tried to apply for the Tax ID number, but the office was closed.
Oh well. It will wait until tomorrow.
Another thing that will have to wait is a visit with Maddie.
Again, I was so entrenched in the paperchase I missed both visiting hours.
Only a few more days.

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