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rough and tumble

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One year ago...
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.

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