Day 1 at the Orphanage
Friday, October 7, 2011
Today was more than we ever anticipated;
in many unexpected ways.
I’m sure this is confusing you and you’ve wondered why I haven’t posted in a few days.
It is because of the things that happened.
I am typing this probably days before I will ever post it.
I want to remember it all and write it all down before the memories start to fade.
I haven’t posted b/c it was information that was incomplete.
It still is.
I will probably be blogging this way for a few days until we get all of the facts.
Let’s start out with the morning we were to go see Tanya (her name in Russian).
I started to type we got up, but had to erase it because we never went to sleep!
We were so anxious and excited to meet her and see what was before us that we couldn’t sleep.
We had laid in bed for 2 hours and finally gave up.
We got up and watched movies and ate.
We watched as the sun came up and started to get ready shortly after that.
Sasha came to pick us up and we were off.
We had to go to the inspector’s office first to show our SDA approval and get her permission to go see her.
We got to the inspector’s office after about an hour and ½ long drive.
When we arrived, we were greeted kindly and invited into the office.
We were then informed that the inspector was not in.
It was her birthday and she had left for the day.
My heart sank!
Are you kidding me?
After all of this, we get here and now the one person standing between our daughter and us is not at work today?
My fears were quickly relieved when Sasha told us that she was coming back to meet with us.
While we waited I was looking around the office and found the clock which had nothing other than a butterfly on it.
Why is that important you may ask?
Well, over the past couple of weeks that is the image God has given me for our trip to Ukraine.
We lost Anastasia and yet he promised to make something beautiful out of this situation.
He had us come.
He has a plan.
I LOVE butterflies.
At the state fair a few weeks ago they had a butterfly exhibit. I saw so many beautiful butterflies; but, the most exhilarating thing was to see them coming out of their cocoons.
Weak and fragile as they may be, they came from something that was not such a pretty sight and blossomed into these miraculous creatures with elegant, wings with insurmountable beauty!
God gave me the butterfly.
We waited a bit for the inspector to arrive.
After she did she got straight to business.
I don’t know much Russian / Ukrainian, but I know a few words.
I can also tell tone and this was not necessarily a good thing at this point.
Now, remember at SDA we were given so many names, background information and pictures that it all started to blend together.
We remembered that she was in a region that was said to be very difficult to adopt from.
We also remembered her name and age of course.
We didn’t remember much else.
That and we were not told some of it.
Back to the inspector’s office conversation…
She was rattling off so much so quick but I just kept hearing Brat. (think like bratwurst.. brat)
Hmm.. that means brother.
Why are they talking about a brother?
Was this the one that had a younger brother that was not adoptable yet?
Please, tell me what you are talking about, I kept thinking.
Over and over, brat and Sasha would ask a question and then she would respond with more of the same and over and over I heard “brat”.
I had a million thoughts racing through my mind at that point.
At our SDA appt they offered us siblings and we turned it down, one because we only have approval on our paperwork for one more child and two because of expenses to adopt another right now.
I look at Bryan, wondering if he is catching any of this and he doesn’t seem to be.
Sasha takes a deep breath and exhales saying
“Guys, I have to tell you something,”
Our hearts SANK.
Not again, God, not again.
He continued by saying, “she is adoptable, no problems there, but with new law, she has a little brother and he is adoptable with her. If we go to court for her alone, all of her papers show she has a brother and we might encounter problems.”
This must be the one.
“Ok, Sasha, what does this mean? We have to take them both or none?”
“Yes, that is what it appears to be.”
Why were we not informed of this yesterday?
Well, it is a new law.
No one has dealt with it yet.
How old is he?
4 years old.
He is adoptable on his own but with the new law he is adoptable only with his sister. Under five are not adoptable unless they have an older sibling being adopted in which case they can be adopted with them.
What. Do. We. Do. Now?
Bryan and I talked it over and thought there is no way financially we can swing this right now.
I just felt such a peace about it.
I kept hearing God saying to me, remember you said you would let me control the size of your family.
I asked if we could have a few minutes to go out and talk and pray about it. Bryan and I headed out the door of that office in so many pieces. We didn’t know what to think or do but pray; so that is what we did.
We couldn’t remember how we got in and saw an area with a couple of tables and chairs where some others were meeting and talking. We thought they don’t understand English so it’s ok, we can stay here. We talked and our emotions spoke first. How can we? How could they? But he’s asked for control. He brought us here. Ahhhhh what do we do?
So we did.
I prayed over our hearts and the situation at hand. I prayed that God would give us a peace and comfort about whatever decision that may lie ahead of us. I prayed that he would open our hearts to whatever he has for us and help us to trust him in all things. Even the shocking, live changing, must make a decision in a matter of minutes things.
With that prayer, we embraced and looked at each other with tears in our eyes and said, We’re good? Yep, we’re good. So we’re doing it? Yep, we’re doing it. Ok, let’s go.
Hand in hand we walked back into that room where all eyes were on us awaiting our decision.
Yes, we’ll take them both I said.
Sasha had such a huge smile on his face and said “you are doing the right thing. You made the right choice”
He told the inspector and she said she felt she also needed to inform us that there is a grandpa and grandma that are involved. They have no legal rights to her and have no way to take care of her but they do have a relationship with her that could sway her decision. We thought, wow, ok everything we didn’t want to deal with at our SDA referral appointment such as other family involved or siblings, we are getting. Ok, God, trusting you! We said ok, we will figure it out and she joyfully signed the papers and said let’s go.
We loaded up into the car along with the inspector and another representative from her office and headed to the orphanage.
It wasn’t too long until we pulled up at what appeared to be more of a farm convent type area.
The buildings are so old and one of them is no longer functional as the roof has caved in and the bricks are falling apart.
We parked and got out gift and photo album in hand, ready to meet our baby girl.
As we approached the building kids were outside playing and having a great time. We got in and were greeting and welcomed into the director’s office, whose name is also Tanya.
She had been called from the inspector’s office to let her know that we were coming so she could expect us.
She was so kind!
It’s like you could see the light of Christ in her eyes.
She had such a warm and welcoming spirit about her.
She was so excited to see us.
She informed us that she is used to adoptions.
She has done 2 here before and proceeded to tell us all about how they still keep in touch and are doing great.
This made me happy.
She showed us things the kids had made her and was just so excited for Tanya and us.
She said, let’s go to a play room for introductions, this is too formal. So, as we were gathering our things and headed out to the playroom another caregiver was off to get our Tanya.
We saw them ushering her into the room and then we turned into the room as well and it hit – There she is!
She is beautiful!
We went over and introduced ourselves and gave her the gift we had brought for her. It was a little white pony inside of a pink and purple purse with a comb, apple and carrot to feed it inside. This was the perfect gift for her! Alexis picked it out and will be so thrilled to know how much she loves it!
She was ALL smiles!
It is the practice that upon meeting the child, the inspector or facilitator must ask the child if they want to be adopted by the family that is there to see them. We were not expecting this to be asked so quickly as we had no prior communication with her and she’d only just met us.
They asked anyway.
As you can imagine, this is very tough for a 9 year old to comprehend, much less make a decision on a lifelong change in a matter of minutes after meeting someone.
They were very kind to her though and explained to her that she did not have to make a decision today. She told her that we had come from America to visit her in hopes of adopting her. They told her that at this point all they needed to know was if she would like to continue visiting with us and she could make a decision later.
She said she would like for us to visit longer and to come back and that she would also want to speak to her grandfather.
She seems to have a great fondness of her grandfather and as he is the only thing she has, it is to be expected that she would want his approval.
We were ok with that answer.
Of course, we wanted grandpa there ASAP!
The director said she knows the family well and thinks when she talks to grandpa he is a good man and wants what is best for Tanya and that he will encourage her to make the right choice and go with us. She sent word to get a hold of grandpa as he does not have a cell phone but lives in the village nearby.
We continued with our visit, playing and talking. She is one smart girl that Tonya! She knew a bit of English and was trying to teach me Russian for the words I was teaching her in English!
Sasha informed us that we would need to leave to get the inspector and her assistant back to work.
But, wait, we just got here.
We are only starting to bond.
Can’t we have more time? PLEASE!
I asked Sasha if it was ok if we came back to visit after we took them back since it wasn’t that far and we were given permission to do so.
Tonya had told us about a performance she is dancing and singing in on Sunday and invited us to come. We asked her if she would like us to come back today after we took the inspector back and play some more and then again on Saturday and Sunday? She smiled and said “Dah.” (Yes)
She said yes!
We can come right back to see her.
She needed to go eat so we parted ways and she gave us hugs before heading out.
We returned shortly after we dropped off the inspector and checked out a hotel that was in the area so we could be closer.
When we got back the director took us to see her classroom where she was.
We opened the door and the kids and teachers went crazy!
They were all so excited to see us.
They all waved and chattered about.
Tonya was seated at her desk in the second row all the way on the end by the door. I spotted her right away and smiled at her.
They welcomed us in to the classroom and told Tonya she was welcome to go with us. With that she jumped up, grabbed her pony and skipped to us.
She grabbed my hand and off we were.
The director told her to take us to see where she sleeps.
It was so nice of her to do so.
We were never welcomed into these areas before.
We sat on her bed, the one in the front right corner with the pink towel made into a bow.
She had several stuffed animals on it including a worn out bunny, a porcupine, teddy bear, baby doll and more.
We sat and talked and played on the iPad.
We played until it was time for her to go eat again and they called her away. We were going to head out but she said to wait for her she’d be right back.
We waited and just relished in the moments that had just happened.
Here we were, in our daughter’s orphanage room, on her bed, holding her toys.
Before we could drift too far away into our land of replaying the day, she popped her head in the door and said “come watch me practice for the play!”
This was a big step!
YES, we would LOVE to watch your rehearsal!!
She grabbed her purse with the pony and photos inside and led us to the other building where the rehearsal was taking place. She looked so cute and sassy in her little business suit. The girls were mostly dressed the same. Most in the same green or red sweater with flowers on it and black polyester dress slacks, red or pink mini high heel shoes and a jacket to match the pants. Tonya never had her jacket on, only the sweater. The jacket remained draped over her chair in the classroom.
She was hurrying along but kept looking over her shoulder to see that we were coming. She was so happy!
I decided to jog a few steps so I could catch up with her.
This made her happy.
We made it in the building, up the stairs and down the hall into the concert area.
We grabbed a seat in the back until it was her time to practice at which time she hopped up, handed me her pony purse and hustled up to the stage after catching her Daddy’s eye to make sure he saw she was going up.
Bryan came and sat next to me and I whispered.. “she gave it to me! I am the Mom, the holder of things.”
We got to see our baby perform!
It was magical.
It brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, even a performance about potatoes and other vegetables can make this grown momma cry.
Because it was my baby.
I recorded her practice and she loved that she had someone there watching, cheering, taking pictures and video.
She is amazing.
Thank you God for her!
She came to tell us she was going to change after her portion was over, we thought she was coming back but she didn’t because she was done rehearsing, so we headed back to the other building to say see you later.
We don’t like “good-bye’s” in this family.
When we got over there a boy ran up to get her for us.
She came down in her dirty blue sweatshirt and jeans with colorful flowers embroidered on the right pocket area. Yes, I wanted to catch and remember every detail!
And of course, the pony in hand! She loves it!
It is special to her!
It doesn’t remain on her bed, it is in her arms or in mine.
I love that!
I asked her to let me see the pony for a minute, we pulled it out of the purse and Bryan and I hugged it. I told her that whenever she misses us or needs a hug, that both Daddy and I are hugging it right now and when she needs it, she can pull it out, hug it and it will be like having hugs right from us. Her eyes lit up and we put it back in the purse for her.
We told her that her sister, Lexi had picked out that present especially for her.
She smiled and looked ever so lovingly at it, lifted her head and said, “will you tell her I say thank you” and I said “yes, I will”. She continued, “and tell her I’ll be there soon!”
I said, “of course I will honey, of course I will!”
She gave me a great big hug, it seemed as though neither of us ever wanted to let go.
We were finally in each others arms, right where we belong.
I told her “I love you” as I kissed her forehead and she replied, “I love you too.”
She hugged her Daddy and we said we’ll see you tomorrow, and we floated out on cloud nine.
To be continued….