Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My friends Christmas miracle

The adoption landscape and timeline is a lonely and trying one for even the strongest of families.  When you are doing it alone it becomes even more barren.  When time frames, and circumstances draw out to the unbearable, loneliness and heartbreak can't even begin to describe the feeling not only at the end of the day but also the beginning and middle too.  This has been the case for a friend of mine for as long as I've known her.  Our paths initially crossed after "meeting" on given that we were both single and at that time, going to be in Moscow to process travel visas for our sons at the same time.  We were looking forward to staying at the Marriott together and toasting the end of one journey and the beginning of the adventure in parenthood.  This was not to be.  My friend who had met her son in February had 2 "postponed" court dates which dragged out into waiting for the bilateral agreement to be signed amounting to 10 months between trips.  Last Monday she got the devastating news that the MOE pulled her referral and were asking for a new family to be matched with him... all solely because she is single in a region that was burned by a single adoptive mother with no scruples or shred of humanity.  Can you imagine?  Giving your heart and soul to a boy you've held and loved to have him ripped from you after being approved previously due to nothing you have done?  And it's Christmas... Bah humbug is the most polite way to say all the bad words that seem fitting.  But here's where the miracle comes in.  Her agency kicked into overdrive - they are the best in the business.  As my friend grieved heavily the loss of her long awaited for boy, they were working feverishly to make things right and find the boy who would fill the crib and eventually her broken heart.  Friday just 4 days after her heartbroke, she got that call.  I am honored to be the one she shared this happy but confusing and hard news with.  How do you open your heart to fall in love with another beautiful healthy little boy after not being ready to let the other boy go?  Wow... that's complicated.  Slowly, gears began shifting and hearts warmed to the knowledge that perhaps this little boy is just what Christmas is about.  Way back when, it all began with a boy, and so too is "PopPops" Christmas beginning with a boy.  He's a raven haired spitfire.  All I can say is - wow... this little guy couldn't look more like a bio if that were a special request.  PopPop deserves every happiness and has shown incredible strength, resolve, dedication and unwavering love already in her quest to become a mother.  Any child would be lucky to have someone so willing and ready - this little boy has no idea how much he will be loved and how hard his Mama has worked to love him into reality.  May your Christmas be merry my friend and may your tomorrows be filled with the love you so richly deserve.  I hope your travels will be FAST and smooth and we can't wait to meet your new man somewhere on the beaches perhaps next summer. 
And that my blog friends is an amazing Christmas story.  A child finds a family, a Mama finds her son, hearts are healed, lives are allowed to be amazing, and a family is born.  Merry Christmas PopPop - You are an inspiration to me and I'm glad our paths have crossed. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Awesome to be "average" + Sad news

Every day I pick Corbin up I think either a) I need to get some better upper body work outs in (perhaps shoveling snow?) b) I'm getting old c) Corbin is gaining weight by the spoonfull d) all of the above.  (P.S. if you aren't sure, always pick C)  I plunked Corbin on the scale again and he's sprung up to a whopping 35lbs which is 8 whole lbs gained in a year and 6 1/2 since he's been home.  This was also brought on by dressing him today in new size 3 jeans that were just a wee bit long last time and now they are just right.  The marks on the wall behind the bathroom door say he's grown 1.5 cm like 2 weeks.  This doesn't seem possible - I thought I must have made a mistake so I checked... and nope - no rocks in his pockets and he was in sock feet so... the measurements stand.  This puts him at 50% height and 65% weight.  Eating and growing... every AP's dream.  While I've never aspired to being average, this sort of average deserves a huge celebration. 

In the really awful "Grinch that stole Christmas" news department, we found out that Corbin's Grandpa Tony has Cancer... and it's not a gentle sort of Cancer that gives you a gut check and an opportunity to get better.  It's the kind that tells you that this will be your last Christmas and to love him as much as you can right now.  Corbin loves his "dyeah-dush-ka" and it is so very sad to know that he will miss out on growing up with this wonderful man in his life.  This summer Tony in the picture of health sat out back and blew bubbles with Corbin for an hour and brought him special dyeah-dushka tools so they could fix things side by side. Corbin tried to convince him that getting in his pool was a good idea and settled for being dried off after he got out and was freezing cold.  I hate that I'm going to have to figure out how to explain that someone he just started to love won't be here for long enough for me to think of the right words to say to explain why he's gone.  Tony is one of the great guys... strong, funny, silent more often than not, hard working, and has a huge love for his family... the world needs more Grandpas like that... life isn't fair... but it's good...
We will be spending Corbin's first Christmas at home and will see Tony and some of my in laws on Christmas eve day.  Bitter sweet celebration of life on two ends of the spectrum... my boys first real Christmas and what will very likely be Tony's last....
How do you end a post like that?  My Mother in Law needs all the strength and prayers she can gather - if anyone needs to catch a break in this life I'd vote her - Shirley you have carried an extra heavy load and if there were a way to lighten any of it I wish I knew how.  So I guess I'll end it by saying, I'll be saying a special Christmas prayer for Tony and Shirley... if you have a second... they could use yours too... now is a good moment - it will only take a second...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There's something about Starbucks

One year ago I was sad and certain that Christmas would be spent again dreaming of a faceless boy who would lay in in the empty bed in the prepared room across the hall.  I resigned to buying a small token of Christmas to recognize the significance of the season without resenting the hauling out and putting away of totes full of festive decorations.  I spent the evening quietly stringing popcorn alone to adorn the tiny branches of my tiny little potted evergreen.  I dreaded each call to my agency to get no update at all and always hung up the phone feeling empty... until today. 
One year ago I took the required deep breath and dialed my agency again looking for guidance and answers to the then pipe dream of "what if" a referral came at our Christmas.  Who would be in the office to pass this on to my provincial director who was authorized to advise me that I had a referral?  I was assured that my agency would pass the information along but told to phone the director at the government to find out their Vacation protocol.  It was about noon and begrudgingly I called her.  I began some scripted rant explaining that Russia runs on the Orthodox calendar and that it could happen... a referral on Dec 25th while we are all enjoying turkey with our families.  She patiently waited for me to take a breath and interjected, "I hope that isn't an issue for you since I'm looking at your referral on my desk".  I was speechless.  We all wait for "THE CALL" and it turns out I had accidentally made it.  It was Monday and they had received the file at end of day on Thursday but were waiting for more info and photos.  I remember where I was - main drag of our city with a population of 1million plus and a semi truck behind me on snowy Canadian roads.  I hung a sharp right with a brief lip service to my turn signal, cut said semi truck off and 2 wheeled it into the conveniently located Starbucks parking lot.  Wifi is free and I was alone and numb.  In the world of IA from Russia on the FRUA board "going to Starbucks" is synonymous with getting "the call".  How apropos that I found myself in their parking lot again?  This time there would be no call to friends or family... I needed to process this info on my own and after falling head over heels for my first referral, I was scared - no terrified of what if I have to say no again?  I cautiously connected and hit receive about a dozen times waiting for a short medical and this...
I didn't know how to feel.  I had my checklist in hand and growth chart beside me in a file.  Current stats great... 30% height & weight, HC fantastic 80+ percentile, Apgar 9 /10... Philtrum - check, lip - check, eyes not too far apart and not too small  - check, no cupped ears - check, no funny bushy "clown" eyebrows - check (all in the rambling research I'd done on FAS facial features - by no means scientific... just what I was ready to look for)... still numb. One black and white photo I'd reviewed before on the data base on my regular perusals.  One sad looking little boy with tears in his eyes (perhaps because his pants were pulled up to his armpits?) that I later learned had arrived at the orphanage for the first time earlier that day to have his mug shot taken and the look on his face is one of confusion, sadness, fear, hunger and grief.  I honestly couldn't even feel anything - not is he cute? Not what do I think? Not a single thing other than I need to wait for more information and I'd better call Dr. Bledsoe.  On the road 2 days later after getting comfortable with the fact that I'd travel mid January if I accepted ( it was Wednesday at about 10 am)  I received a call indicating that the additional photos had been sent and was asked if I could travel before the end of the year.  It was Dec. 16th... I'd need to be on a plane in a week with a processed travel visa.  My head spun as I again made arrangements to Wifi at Starbucks, this time with my Mom to review the additional info.  I opened these photos and in all honesty... still felt numb and scared. 
There was no elation, there was no relief... there was no OMG!!! this is it!!! I was so afraid of feeling hope and excitement... afraid of feeling anything.  But, for the very first time I allowed some Merry into my Christmas and allowed myself a glimmer of "what if?".  I remember that I had the Mariah Carey song "All I want for Christmas is You" on my blog at the time... and there you were, at Starbucks staring back at me.  A year ago today, our lives together began.  2 days later after a resounding "Go Get him" from Dr. Bledsoe, on the 16th I said my first big DA! and the wheels began turning to bring you home forever.  I will never forget the words that Dr. Bledsoe said over and over, "Stacey, there is something in his eyes... he's a RESILIENT LITTLE RASCAL..." over and over "RESILIENT LITTLE RASCAL" he will adapt, adjust and he will make it... some kids have it and some don't - I don't think I'm wrong about him... it's there for sure... Well, she couldn't be more right.  I am blessed every day with a child who never missed a beat in adapting to me or his new world.  I can't say that there are (or even were?) any "orphanage behaviors" or lingering adjustment at all - he just never looked back. 
A lot has happened in one year.  Today we will visit Santa for your very first picture on his lap, do some more skiing, and ceremoniously I'll wrap your very first Christmas gifts and lovingly place them under OUR tree... because forever, this day will be reserved as the day my tree was full up with forever... it became full up with the best gift I will ever receive... it is full up with the gift of you. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Wow... it's busy.  From son up to son down I'm on the go.  Gone are the silent moments (admittedly I get a few two days a week when he goes to preschool now) and my time is filled full up.  I'm not complaining... and yes, I did anticipate pretty much all of the busyness but ahhhhhhh crashing in bed at night never felt so good.  I take my Mama time to play soccer and hockey but find I'm having trouble just winding down even there because I'm so damned competitive - tonight, I made sure I actually was breathing on the bench at our game.  I do need to slow down a bit and remember to breathe but everything seems to be done at flat out speeds these days.  Speaking of flat out speeds, that's the perfect segue to our ski adventures.  Corbin literally jumps into things with both feet - there is no part of this boy that stays on the fence.  His ski boots were installed in the parking lot and he couldn't get locked and loaded fast enough.  He is enthralled with the groomers on the hill but his focus was clearly on how to get back to the magic carpet as fast as possible from the top.  Enter exhibit A and B - A was controlled and B... well... the Russian judge gives him a 10 for style points and I laughed all the way down the hill (so did the liftie!). Every time he got to the top of the magic carpet the liftie would shake his head and say, "he still has the biggest smile I've seen all day out here" and that lasted until we packed it up to go home.  He loves it and I'm so glad he does!  There was a mother of the year moment on the hill too which I will neglect to post the associated video to but suffice to say, there was some excessive speed, lack of "making of the pizza" (read: braking), a magic carpet gone wrong and reactionary crying but in the end, the smile stayed plastered on and a good time was had by all. It will be wonderful to watch him get stronger and manage his overconfidence.  Learning the basic snow plow could be a bit of a challenge! Today... who needed to snow plow???

OK I couldn't figure out how to put it here but it's the ski video that is somewhere else!

I have been fortunate to have captured some amazing photos since we've been home.  Here are some wonderful ones that a photographer who I came to know through the endless document requests from my bank offered to take for us since we didn't have many with Lyric our dog.  There are so many to choose from - but 2 is enough. 

 What else have we been up to??? Well it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and this year, there is truly no place like home for the holidays.  Corbin was enamored with the lights and the various decorations that he got to help put on.  I was so excited to get out the Russian ornaments I bought on trip one (since it was Christmas after all!) and then to pull out the BEAUTIFUL Father Frost carving that I bought in Moscow.  To me, this photo says contentment.  It's the first time in 3 years that this house has held a tree...

And finally, after another friend commented to me on how much bigger Corbin seems to be I popped him on the scale and measured him up.  He's now 34 lbs and 38 1/2 inches tall... I'm pretty sure he's in a growth spurt because tonight he ate more than I did and then had chocolate pudding for dessert. 
Well, it's war and peace again but like I said, it's busy and the wonderful moments keep coming!


First day skiing - thank goodness he loves it!