Wednesday, August 25, 2010
His Russian Heritage: An Adoption Story Part 3
In Part 2 of His Russian Heritage; An Adoption Story, Russia was kept away from seeing his baby brother, he was told he was to be adopted, he was hurt, confused, and alone. He was a nine year old little boy. He just wanted to die...at least that way he could be with the mother he had tragically lost.
The adoption system in Russia, at the time of his placement, was a complete shamble. By American standards, it was appalling. There was no therapy provided for these children...no counselors that could help these children process what they were going through. There were no bright engaging colors, no exciting toys, and very little in the way of happiness. Russian orphanages operate on very little funds and still to this day, much needs to be done to reform the system. I feel that anyone adopting a child from this country is an angel. The outcome for the un-adopted children of Russia is horrific, most of whom at the age of sixteen are dispersed onto the streets to fend for themselves.
When Russia's adoptive parents travelled to Tver Oblast to adopt his baby brother, they purchased the requested presents for all the staff they would meet. It is customary to bring items from the United States that are hard for the Russian people to acquire "to make the process" move in a satisfactory way. I liken this to bribery, but what were they to do? What would you do? You would bring what was asked. They were told that the baby boy they were to adopt had an older brother and they were asked if they would be interested in adopting him as well. They thought long and hard about this and decided that they would leave this country not only with one child, but two. They would not split the boys up. It was divine intervention that the boys remained together.
At first, Russia had refused any thought of being adopted. He wanted nothing to do with the idea. He was then told that these people who spoke not a word of Russian would also be adopting his baby brother. Russia thought long and hard about this decision and decided if he was to be reunited with his brother, then he too would be adopted. He met these strangers and only tolerated the process. He was given presents by the strangers. He could not understand what they were saying, but the thought of having a new toy and possibly seeing his brother again were enough for him. Per adoption requirements, several visits had to be made by the strangers before they could leave with him. He went back to his ward and the toy he had received was taken way by the staff to be sold on the black market. It seems as if this is a normal practice. (To me it says, "Let me reinforce loss and heartache for you some more".)
Soon, the adoption process was concluded and "Gotcha Day" had arrived. Russia was loaded into a car with a Russian speaking interpreter and for the first time in many months he was reunited with his baby. The reunited boys, the driver, and the interpreter were to meet up with the new parents. There was excitement and fear for all. Russia and the baby now had new parents. The new family spent a few days in Tver Oblast before permission was granted to move towards Moscow before returning to the United States. There was so much to do and so much to take in.
Russia has very vivid memories of this time and shared them with me with mixed emotions. He was terrified and confused. He wanted no one to touch his baby. He did not hate this new person he was to call "Mama", but he did not want her to cuddle or love on his baby. He was not open to bonding and of course there was a major language barrier to overcome. The new family did the best they could to understand and work through the mountains of emotions coursing through their veins. The parents wanted Russia to return to his childhood and not feel that he was responsible for the baby, but Russia wanted nothing to do with that thought. There was no way that the new parents could be prepared to understand what this little boy had been through or even how to help him, but to love him through it. They needed to find a common ground, something they could use to connect with Russia.
Upon arriving in the United States, by way of Washington, D.C., they discovered they had found something that caused severe happiness for Russia. They found something that would finally put a smile on the face of the most adorable blond haired, blue eyed child. A child that at the age of nine weighed a mere 32 pounds (which is the average weight of three year old in the United States). The new parents uncovered Russia's love for American food. Fast food it seems, is a universal language and bridged the communication gap. To this day, good food can calm him and believe me when I say, Russia can eat some food.
A fire storm of sensory deprivation was unleashed and now Russia was more preoccupied in learning about all things American. The new family traveled from Washington to Norfolk, VA. The first place they went to upon arrival in Virginia, was a place that I have a deeply bonded connection to. They went to Doumar's, a locally historic barbecue and hamburger "drive in" and upon eating his meal, Russia's first sentence in English, was..."Good, f~ing food."
Really, it was and the laughs that this brings back to everyone showcases what the future held for this tow headed little boy. A boy so full of life and heartache. A boy characterized by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...a hurt and confused little boy from Russia who now had to acclimate himself into a whole new world...one which he had no understanding of. He needed to blend his past with his future.
There would be numerous ups and equally as many downs. It would be a tumultuous roller coast ride, but unbeknownst to all, the ride would prove the fortitude in this little man. They would showcase Russia's spirit and the deep love of his new parents.
The new family was to embark on their life together...a family that never gives up and is always there for one another through anything. This idea would be tested over and over again in the years to come.
In the next segment we will delve deeper into the transition a non-English speaking child makes when coming to America. How a new life affects the child and the lives of the parents. How a child learns a new language and all the discoveries he makes. Can you imagine what happens when a child goes from having nothing to having everything?
This is Home Girl and I love good f~ing food, too.
Russia wants to thank you all for reading his story. The above photo is of him and his baby. Boy, do we love and miss that little man.