Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For the children

I found this poem on Candice's blog and wanted to capture it here so I could remember it (thanks Candice!) As someone who wished and waited and wondered and then stared into the beautiful eyes and hearts of the children at the detsky dom, I remember and pray for my good fortune in my son and in sadness for his friends left behind. I will never forget the feel of your small hand in mine as you asked me to push you on the trike...  

We Pray for the Children
by Ina J Hughes

We pray for children 
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories 
and can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
who stare at photographers behind barbed wire,
who can't bound down the street in a pair of new sneakers,
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
who sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish,
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

And we pray for those 
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children 
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
and never rinse out the tub,
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren't spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried,
and for those who must,
for those we never give up on 
and for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother...
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sometimes the world stops... Just for a second

On Thursday I loaded Corbin up with his twin cousins for a road trip to Grandmas house. They giggled and chattered the whole two hours and excitedly bailed like tornadoes into Grandmas house where I got placated with a kiss and lingering hug goodbye. I whispered to him, "I'm going to miss you like crazy!" he pulled back, cocked his head to the side and asked,"why Mom? I will always come home you know?" (I tell him this when I go away)I guess I didn't look convinced so he added, "if it will make you feel better, you can sleep with my lion, he will help I promise." last year I didn't think either of us were ready for him to be away for 4 days... This year it was like he was born for sleepovers. In that moment, as I drove away, time stood still just a minute. Click. A photo in my memory. He's growing up and growing so confident. I headed back for the 2 hour drive home contemplating how I would spend my time alone. Weird. However, my meandering thoughts were rudely interrupted by a misguided deer that thought playing frogger with a minivan in the dark was a good idea. Again, time stood still. The accident itself was scary but not terrifying. It sucked - my neck hurts a bit, van is written off (hooray!), and the next 24 hrs were inconvenient, but time stood still in the recognition of "what if"? What if I swerved and crashed? What if I were hurt? What if I... I can't even think about that... About my boy. That is what was the worst part. Time stopped as I caught my breath and thought about what if? Being here alone was strange and quiet and lonely. I did miss him like crazy (although I tested the theory that after you have kids you can't sleep in anymore - happily, I report that for me, it's not true!) he came home rarin' to go to pedal heads bike camp for kids. I came home tonight to excited tales of the day and 3 hot, sweaty, beet red boys in the bouncy house in the back yard. Just now I went into his room to kiss his sleepy head goodnight and as I snuggled beside him, time stood still. With his head cradled in my hand, I looked up at the pictures on the wall from my first trip. He was so small - not much more than a baby. His tiny body has grown strong and tall and that tiny blonde head that I cradled in the palm of my hand that Christmas not long ago is now filled with stories and adventures of a young boy - no longer the baby back then. As I kissed him softly and whispered,"I love you little man." I wondered if he ever thought he'd hear those words so often? They feel so good to say... And they are amazing to hear. Time stood still. Ya Tibya Loo Bloo.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Birth family search

What did they look like? Is he tall? Who do I look like? Will I go bald? There will be questions, of this I am certain. Corbin lived in the detsky Dom from 19 months to 3 years old and most people assume that children or people in general have no memories of being an infant. With my son as exhibit A, I can tell you that for us it is not true. There are memories. There are questions. There is hurt. There is sadness. There are happy moments. There is fear. Because he was from such a small village, there were also a lot of answers. The director at the baby home knew the family from when BM was a child. Anecdotally, I had many gaps filled in but for me, I felt like I owed my boy more. As his mom, I needed to anticipate the "what if" and go in search of the answers he may or may not choose to ask at any time in the future. Russia gave him roots and now it's my job to strengthen his wings so he might fly high in confidence and freedom. The topic of a search came up on trip two when I learned that my host who I stayed with was active as the on ground searcher for Mary Kirkpatrick. She told me about the heart wrenching stories of rejection and despair and that most searches don't provide much meaningful information. Even with that knowledge I asked her to pursue the search. Using my court documents as a guide, Anna located information that would lead her to the BF, maternal grandmother, Maternal uncle/aunt/cousins and another important family member. After the search was complete I settled in to digest and organize my thoughts on the information. There was certainly the bad and ugly - I expected that and it coincides with Corbin's memories. But, there is also an overwhelming amount of good, happy, loving, family ties that were flushed out too along with doors left open for future communication. I now have a file of photos and the answer to am I going to be tall or am I going to go bald? His roots aren't all bad. I've figured out how to manage the information and know it is his should he ask. I feel good about closing this chapter and have resumed grooming his tiny 5 year old wings. In the end, I'm really happy I did it. I didn't use Mary Kirkpatrick or Illich But both have an excellent reputation in the field. Buddy, you look JUST like your uncle who is strong and proud and loving and honorable. They are happy you are loved. There are people in Russia who are happy you are home.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Like sands through the hourglass...

Welcome to life with children. Time passes, priorities change, memories are played out daily and snapshots of the extrordinary mundane that populate my happy thoughts as I close my eyes at night are all that there is to record the turning of the calendar. It's been awhile since I've updated and the main reason is technology. My camera doesn't talk to my iPad, my netbook doesn't talk much at all these days and my work computer is for doing the things that pay the mortgage. The only thing that continues to talk is Corbin... incessantly. If using the TV to placate him and provide me with 15 or 20 minutes or a long hot bath's worth of silence makes me a bad mom... I can live with that. The Cat in the Hat has taught him words like "habitat" and "meteorite" all while I enjoyed some silence. My blog has been caught in never never land of never having time, never having access to the pictures yet never wanting to give up on the great tracking of history that this has become. So I'll try to combine technologies and get a quick update done on today which for posterity sake is our second Gotcha Day :)  2 years ago there was no going back. It was a day of contrasts: You left with nothing and everything all at the same time while you clung to me out of fear and excitement. As we settled into the van for the drive into Komsomolsk from Selikhino your squeals of "MACHENA!!! turned to heavy eyes of exhaustion and you slept in my arms. That was my favorite memory 2 years ago and today, I covered your eyes as I walked you into the garage to surprise you with a new big boy bike. In your excitement in pointing out that it has a Maple Leaf on the front and a fancy new kickstand you also found time to turn on a dime with open arms to say, "Thank You Mama for my new bike. It's super awesome and I love it." I was worried that it was just a bit too big, but with tip toes delicately stretching to the ground, in a block, it was mastered... just like riding a bike.
New Bike today!
The smile I wake up to every day :) There is one less tooth in there though. It didn't come out the old fashioned way  and I was the one who needed the laughing gas. Tough little cookie managed through an abscessed tooth and a trip to the dentist before "meeting" the tooth fairy for the first time.
Happy 5th Birthday! (His cake was a crocodile which he said was FEROCIOUS!)

Cousin's Grad

Soccer mates

Great day in my life: he offered to clean up POOP! (don't mind the scrape... Evil Canevil met asphalt)

CostaRica Surfer boy

amazing sunsets everyday

Playing soccer with the local boys who came to watch the tournament

White faced monkey x2


We're off to a wedding in the morning so more adventures await! So glad I gotcha buddy. Today, tomorrow and always. 

Still to cover: Birth Family search. Our experience and thoughts. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two years ago

I was dejected, sad and certain that Christmas would come and go again with no referral.  I had been in process for almost 2 years with nothing to show for it except a dwindling bank account, growing frustration and battered up heart after having to decline a little boy who wasn't to be my son.  As if on autopilot I dialed the number of my agency for an update and to pose unlikely hypothetical questions like, "what happens if I get a referral while your office is closed for Christmas?  The government offices are closed too, so would it sit in an inbox until early January?"  As usual, I was passed off and placated by being told to call the director at governmental adoption services.  Begrudgingly I did.  I left the office I was at and headed out towards the next, dialing as I exited the parking lot.  I was half way through my speech when she interrupted me to say, "I hope it won't be an issue (the referral over Christmas) since I'm looking at your referral on my desk right now."  Silence... did I hear her right?  Shock.  MY referral?  On your desk?  Why oh why didn't SOMEBODY call me???  Who cares - seems to be moot at this point.  Did I have internet access?  No.  But if I cut this semi off and make a California lane change I can squeal into that Starbucks lot without public injury and be live in about 45 seconds.  There was no fanfare this time.  No call made to anyone to be there to share the moment.  My pounding heart was guarded and afraid of the sadness that followed the first happy email moment.  Alone in the parking lot with the rage of the semi's fog horn still ringing in my ears, I hit "Accept" on the Starbucks home page and send and receive at a rate of 4x / second until the email titled REFERRAL topped the list.  There he was
I had seen this picture a hundred times before as I scoured the photo listing but I never attached the potential words, "My son" to them until that moment.  Numb. He looked as scared as I felt.  I waited.  I contacted Dr. Bledsoe at the Center for Adoption Medicine and held my breath.  Additional photos arrived which were happier "cuter" if you will... I started to let hope creep in.  The call that mattered most came a day later.  Dr. Bledsoe's nurse called, "She can't squeeze you in for a consult right away but it's OK.  She knows you need to have an answer to give your agency quickly and her answer to that is yes... BIG GREEN LIGHT!  You should accept and go meet him".  Exhale... and that was another moment that changed our lives.  My hope grew with the consult discussion on Saturday.  "Resilient little Rascal" over and over - he's got something in his eyes that tells me he'll adapt, adjust, and be fine... He's a good one... All the words of reassurance I needed.  The scramble to pack, get a travel visa and collect my thoughts began. This year as we were driving the song "All I want for Christmas Is YOU" came on my ipod and I told Corbin the story of how it had been on my blog and how I did meet him at Christmas 2 years ago.  The only other song he has ever asked to play over and over is the wheels on the bus... it made my heart smile when he said, "Mama, play that one again... I like it best".
2 years... a blink, a million moments, a million memories, a lifetime of smiles, giggles and laughter.  2.  Wow.  That went fast.   It was a Merry Christmas after all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Toys for tots

Garbage Truck and Lego - Garbage truck and Lego - Garbage truck and Lego...  Yes rain man  buddy, I know and I promise that I am frantically shopping  Santa is working very hard in his workshop to make the toys to bring on his sleigh Christmas eve!
I have managed to track down pretty much everything I'll need this year and have almost 3 weeks to spare.  I was searching for a particular garbage truck and had settled on one that was cheap not exactly what I had in mind but was a close facsimile.  It had the features but it wasn't the one I had seen but could not find.  One more trip... and what to my wondering eyes did appear but the recycle truck with 3 different bins and sanitation gear!  Aw nutcracker... the receipt for the other one was not to be found.  No worries, I hadn't bought a toy for toy mountain (for kids that go without gifts) yet so this would certainly do the trick.  Unwittingly, this has become a wonderful lesson for Corbin.  I had put the garbage truck into the vehicle and on our next trip Corbin spotted it before the door had even opened all the way.  "MAMA!!!  My GARBAGE TRUCK IS HERE!!!"  Enter sudden panic.  The conversation explained (with some initial tears) that this truck is for us to give to a good little boy who wouldn't get a gift under the tree this year because his family didn't have the money to buy him any.  As I danced around the obvious fact that Santa could still make one for him in his toyshop, Corbin started to ask questions about why the boy wouldn't have presents and talked about not getting presents in Russia except from me and that it would be sad not to have presents.  He finally conceded that he would give HIS garbage truck to the other little boy because Santa could still bring him Lego and maybe even new wheels for his Lego since Lyric (our dog) ate his tires.  What will make me happy is seeing Corbin open HIS recycle truck with a thank you note from Santa saying that "Billy" was SO happy to open his very own truck that Corbin shared and that THAT's what Christmas is all about.  (Well, that and finding a $100 recycle truck (seriously? WHO would pay that?) for under $30 - that's also my sort of Christmas shopping!).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas gift list

In a season over run with line ups, angry shoppers, honking horns and toys that will be broken before the Christmas tree comes down, here's a list of gifts that will last forever.  

An alphabetical list of 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget.
  1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
  2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
  3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
  4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
  5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are. (edit: WHOA!? What?  I would hope that my child would grow to be content with who he is!  Do I want him to continue to grow and learn - for sure, but I NEVER want him to feel like he isn't enough just as he is.  Gotta disagree on this one). 
  6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
  7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
  8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive. 
  9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
  10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice. (anyone have an extra brother or neighbor to lend to this cause... I'm as faithful as a labrador...)
  11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
  12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs
  13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
  14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
  15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
  16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
  18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
  19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
  20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.
  21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
  22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
  23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
  24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
  25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
  26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
  27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
  28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
  29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
  30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
  31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. 
  32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
  33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
  34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?
Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

147 million - could you make a difference?

First off I hate the word "orphan" but sadly, it is descriptive of 147 MILLION children in the world today.  November is Adoption awareness month and tomorrow is Orphan Sunday.  For a moment, as a result of a news article, Facebook post, Church presentation or blog, more people might consider what it would be like to be one of those little people who go to bed alone; many not only without a good night kiss but without being spoken to, held, fed, encouraged, celebrated or acknowledged in any way.  No food, no love,and  nothing to call their own.  Maybe, just maybe those same people might be moved to do more than feel bad for a moment.  Likely they (YOU) won't adopt but is there something - just a little something that you could do to help?
Now before I stumble off my pedestal, this isn't about me.  It's no secret that I adopted to fill MY desire to be a Mother.  There was no pretense of making the world a better place or doing something noble.  My decision to adopt came directly from the fact that at 25 years old I became a widow and lost not only my young husband but also the children we planned together but this isn't about me... it's about them.  These faces will stay with me forever.
Anna - sweet, gentle, content.  Corbin still talks about you.

Zhenya - you STOLE my heart.  You have a zest for life and a gregariousness that I hope you never lose. I think of you  and with a heavy heart I smile.

Karina (just a peek), Zhenya, Grisha, Anna, Sasha - May you know the love of a family.

Karina, Anna, Zhenya and my little buddy Alosha reaching for the camera, thank you for being my Grisha's friend.  He named the buddies he sleeps with after you and tells stories of your playground adventures. You are not forgotten. 
Unloved... isnt' that a powerful word?  These faces of the children in Corbin's detsky-dom are with me always.  Their spirit, laughter, hope and potential still haunts me as they remain unloved by a Mother or Father.  I check the databank and my heart sinks when I see their faces still there.

Perhaps our story helps to debunk a myth or two about adoption:
1.  Singles make good parents.
2.  Single mom's can parent a boy (so far so good.)
3.  You don't have to be a celebrity to adopt.  You do however need a plan, a steady job and a whole lot of determination.  Having been a girl scout will help if you remember the motto, "be prepared".
4. Adopting a 3 year old is every bit as amazing and exciting as adopting a tiny baby.  Corbin came home full of wonder and excitement to explore his new world and it continues to amaze me every day how lucky I am to be his Mama.  I also got to skip the wonder of sleepless nights, diapers, poop up the back and potty training.  Toddlers rock.
5.  It is however not "easier" to adopt a toddler than an infant because they come with a whole new set of rules and challenges.  There are things you need to research and prepare for - in fact, that goes for any child in any adoption.  Don't go in blind - do your homework.
6.  Adoption works.  I have had the privilege to meet with many adoptive families and speak at our home study adoption education seminars to hopeful parents and can happily say that the children are loved, cherished, nurtured and adored by their parents.  There have been challenging times and adjustments for all but overwhelmingly adoption makes dreams comes true.

Perhaps the quote by Mahatma Ghandi says it best of all, 
"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."

What could you do for a child who goes without?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Reaching our potential

"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential they help us reach ours.  An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary.  They are a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared"  Author Unknown. 

Not sure why I've never seen this quote until now but, I love it and it belongs on my blog.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Life is good in the woods

They were searching for "captain thunder" under the bridge
Fall colors make for the best hikes and when you do it with friends they're even better. 

Tree huggers unite

the road less traveled is so beautiful

Not sure why this makes me think of, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil... 


Then and now.  Good food + Good lovin' + Sunshine + Runnin' = an inordinate amount of growth. Thankful doesn't even begin to describe the 2000 words these photos are said to be worth.

Then - he's hardly taller than Lyric
Now - he towers over her.

Soccer is wrapped up for another season.  We were off to Nationals in Vancouver where we fought it out to the gold medal.  I promised to leave nothing on the field and had a great time and tournament.  After overhearing one of the most talented players on my team lament that she finally had won a National Gold, I was humbled to know I've been a part of 4 teams who have come out with Gold or Silver at this level.  2 Gold and 3 silver - how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to be part of greatness.  This is what it was all about.  Thanks to my team.
And these... they need no explanation or reminder of why I am thankful.

Giving thanks... for all that you are and all that you allow me to be.