Adoption story; all our stories

George here and here is an explanation of this series of my testimony of a situation that has been heavy on my heart for quite some time.

In my support against the banning of U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans, I want to tell a story, my story, so for a while I will tell you my story from photos of me and the other children of my orphanage in the region of Slyudyanka, Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia. I will also tell my story through memories and stories from my mother and I. I feel that this is in part is what I can do to make a stand and show my support and I can give you so many reasons why this is wrong for both sides, but I will let my story do that for you. This story line started on face-book as me just trying in a small way to get people’s attention and awareness to the benefits of adoptions to U.S. families and also it is so deep on my heart as well as I believe that God is calling me to act on this desire of my heart. I don’t have all the pieces yet of his plan, and I know it is subject to change at any moment he sees fit, but my heart has been so heavy for all the children over there for so many years that now, I feel ready to tell my story, our story to anyone who will listen. My Best friend and Founder of this ministry outreach website Wanda asked me post this story on her website under testimonies and I must say it is an honor and blessing to bring it to this wonderful gospel lighthouse ministries. So what I have first is just an explanation of my background from my birth to my first years in the orphanage. Then I have quite a long series of journal entries from my mother’s Russian journal that she had while she went to Russia to adopt me. It is still a work in progress and will take some time to tell, so please bear with me.

My story is not unique, it is like any other child's story over there; except some never get the same blessings I have. Some get much harsher conditions in life and it is really sad and heartbreaking. I feel this is in part what I can do to make a stand and show my support. I also would like to just tell some of my stories through various memories and things my mother told me. So, here are two photos of me and my fellow orphans. The photo on the left is of me and my fellow orphan Igor (me on the right and Igor on the left). The photo on the right is of all the other children and me in my orphanage as I suspect we are sitting in chairs while prospective parents are looking at us. Can you find me and Igor? My Friend Daniel (Igor) sent me these photos last year when I got to see him for my birthday after 18 years of separation. My mom and his mom told me of how we were almost as close as brothers because we never left each-others side. When we were leaving together as we were adopted at almost the same time, we had to go in separate taxis in Moscow, Russia to go to the airport and I wanted to go with Igor as much as he wanted to go with me, so our bond we had was so strong and still is after all these years, although in a new way. This is just one of countless stories my mom told me and I can recall parts of it.

 

So in continuance to my story, our story, I want to give you a few details of my very first years. My birth name was Sergey Vladimirovich Kozerev which was given to me by the state when I was abandoned at birth and is the patron names of my parents. My birth parents were aloof to say the least. They were documented alcoholics and were homeless at one point. My first two years were hard as I was a premature birth; I got the measles with my first year, and also pneumonia and would spend the first two and half years in a hospital. Then i was transferred to the special orphanage for abandoned children in Slyudyanka, Irkutsk, Russia where I would remain until i was adopted in 93' by a wonderful person, my mother. I can tell you the conditions there were rough for all of us. The conditions were with little food, cold nights, barely any variety of clothing and only two caretakers to handle all twelve or so of us. I remember this green superhero doll I always liked to play with and one of the few toys any of us had. When i played with the other kids, there was no difference between us. I can't explain it except that we did our best to keep happy or hope, but of course we did not understand what that was with the very little education we had. As I remember so intensely what I felt at that time, I can only tell you that we had a deep concern for each other. We looked out for each other and shared anything we could. Sure we fought at times, but sometimes we realized that there was no reason or point to it. My sincere prayer has been ever since I started remembering my past in Russia (and accepting Christ into my life to Christ in 99') that the other children were as blessed as me and more so. I had my rough times here in America with my family and situations, but i am a better person because of it. So this is just a part of my story and the others for today. More to come and remember we can make a difference through Christ in prayer and whatever he is calling us to do. Take care and as always God bless.

 

 

 

12/23/2012

Ok. So here is day three of my story, our story which is going to take a twist in viewpoint. I feel led to for the next few weeks or so to allow the viewpoint of my mother’s perspective to take over. When my mother came to get me (a total twist to that in itself), she kept a detailed journal of almost every other day that I have now after her passing two years ago and I just love pulling it out every once in a awhile and reading it. To actually try to imagine what she observed in my birth country has been such an adventure to read and I feel I can share some of it in which I hope that you all can relate or gaining a better perspective of my home country to. I honestly believe that she would not mind now, especially since in my heart I told her what my purpose in doing so was. Be prepared as this is one heck of an amazing story on her end. This will take some time, so I hope you all will bear with me for the next several weeks and try to imagine what she was thinking at any given time. Try to imagine yourselves traveling to a foreign country some nearly 9000 miles away from your home country and state of Michigan to a mess. My mom arrived in Moscow, Russia with two friends, (one of which who also wanted to adopt and her mother who tagged along) on October 6, 1993 when a revolution had broken out days before leaving 127 dead that day and counting and their Russian white house gutted from a bomb blast and covered in soot. Imagine people being dragged from the streets into prisons and utter chaos all around. This is just arriving in the country; the process of the adoption itself was a mess and a mystery as well.

Ok, so here is day one of my mom’s journal.

10/6/93

Greetings from Moscow, (Mockba) I believe this will be the adventure of a lifetime. The revolution seems to have quieted for now-today are the funeral services for 127 killed so far. The flag is half mast at the white house (Russian white house) which itself is gutted & covered in soot. Sue, Joyce and I were a little frightened at the airport when Yakov (driver) did not come to pick us up due to a mix-up in the days. But actually I feel stronger now having been able to troubleshoot that problem and forge ahead. I am now staying with Valentina who speaks no English at all. I have remembered a surprising amount of Russian & am learning much more now on a need to know basis. It’s fun to learn it. Sue & Joyce seem to have no interest in it-they just rely on me or the interpreter-how typically American. Valentina is very sweet, middle aged, 2 dockes (daughters) and she mothers me to death. At least she’s going to feed me more in a day than she eats in a month. I certainly don’t want to insult anyone. The food is very good so far with a heavy hand toward fat & carbs. Ketchup here is more like salsa. Salt is very precious & doled out in a small bowl with a tiny spoon. Valentina’s apartment is 2 rooms. I understand that goes for $30,000. Here I am paying $100/day including meals, a driver and interpreter. Yakov & his wife Galya are keeping Sue & Joyce (mom’s other two friends). Their son Saska & his wife Ira have been our interpreters. Ira took us through the paces with the American embassy. She knew exactly what and who we needed to see and what to take care of & translated our documents. Basically, we are being held by the hand through this process. So far it’s working very well. Last night we met Nathan whose wife charlotte is still in Irkutsk & have been for 2 weeks while Obolisk at the regional level have been changing policy. So Nathan has left for home while Charlotte stays here. Good news for us however, is that they finally designated the person to review the cases so by the time we get there; perhaps it won’t be so bad. Apparently, Tanya (Adoption services representative) bypassed this regional director to get her own adoptive son out & this has spoiled things for the rest of us. It sounds like we’ll really have to plead our case to get our kids. One poor woman we met at the embassy today lost her child when he was adopted out from under her by a Russian couple while she was already on her way here (heartbreaking). We all gave her agency numbers to try to get another child why she is here. My heart goes to her—I’d be devastated if that happened to me (little did she know that it would). I must keep in mind however, that my situation is not exactly rock stable either. It’s like a women’s club at the embassy-we all have the same hopes & the same heartbreak & it unites us instantly. It was wonderful to see the ones at the end with their kids getting exit visas (their tickets out of the country). The stories are all different-same were here as little as 12days, while some as long as 5 weeks. Moscow itself is the most depressing place I’ve ever been to. It’s a lot like the Chicago projects. The flats of Valentina’s & Yakov’s (the people she was staying with) are like a little oasis in the depression. They both have double steel doors for safety & inside they are clean and neat. Décor is 1940’s like or Salvation Army and Persian rugs on the wall are popular as are religious artifacts. There is not any running hot water, so Valentina boiled water for my bath last night. They give us the best they have & wait on us hand & foot as Valentina would not let me help even clear the table. IN the city, cars are dear, even small Junkers are $30-40,000. When Yakov picked us up, not only did he have to lock the car, but he ahd to put the side view mirror back on, put the windshield wipers on, and reconnect the distributor cap. He also had a padlocked club on the steering wheel. He turns off the car when stopped in traffic as well. Although we are very near the white house, there is very little police activity noticeable. It’s business as usual. Outside the American Embassy there is a long, long line of people trying to emigrate to the U.S.—they tell us $1000/day and they accept 70%. At night here, there are almost no lights outside or in the hallways, so it’s very dangerous & feels scary. We were of course escorted. After lunch we go again to the airport to fly all night to Irkutsk—It’s north of outer Mongolia. I hear from Nathan that it’s ok to drink the water because it is all from Lake Baikal (the deepest and oldest lake in the world) which apparently is disease free—they even bottle & sell it. We’ve been careful so far to drink or eat only cooked things. The juice boxes we brought for the kids have come in handy. I am so excited to see Sergei (me) tomorrow!!!

So this is my mom’s first day in Moscow, Russia and the region of Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia. A lot entailed there, but she seemed to tell and describe my birth country so well. The travel time in Russia alone is petrifying, much less all the chaos that was going on. I hope you have already gained a new perspective on this foreign country and the adoption process which is no easy task. 

The next day is even more interesting and heartbreaking at times. But out of respect for Christmas, I am taking a break for a while as I will be spending Christmas with family in Pasadena for the next several days. I pray and hope this has encouraged you in so many ways and that you support my stance against the banning of U.S. adoptions in Russia. Take care, Merry Christmas and as always God bless. 

 

 

12/25/2012 

 

So, day four of my story of how I came to America where I left off last time with letting my mom tell the story through her Russian journal entries that she did such a beautiful job describing my Birth country. So, I want to continue with her next entry where on Day 3 of her adventure to Russia is her flight from Moscow to Irkutsk which took about 8 hours across 5 time zones. Now, do remember this was 19years ago when regulations were different I am sure aboard flights compared to now. My Mother was very observant on her flight and while in Irkutsk and was appalled by how different things were here as to safety and common decency. I have a feeling that the culture is still the same or relative to then. So, here we go on our story.

 

Day 3: 10/8/1993

What a long trip last night! I felt just like the scene in romancing the Stone (one of my Favorite movies and my mom’s) where Kathleen Turner asks “is this the bus to Cartagena?” First, we almost went to Samova, Czech Republic. Then they obviously overbooked the flight & we had to throw people out of our assigned seats. I think they broke every FAA regulation that exists. No one bothered to buckle their seatbelts. It was an entire smoking flight where people were lighting up even during take-off! The steward was also selling Beer during take-off and everyone was up and walking around. Dinner we had been warned was inedible; so we brought Food along which helped. There were even 6 Pekinese dogs on the flight. Obviously, they were not housebroken, to take the place of the pigs in the movie. The people were overall very rude-pushing and shoving without so much as an Izvinite (meaning sorry in Russian). It seemed especially true for the Chinese here. The extra luggage weight I think is worth the cost for edible food and gifts to give out. No toilet paper or tissue in the bathrooms & the carpeting on the floor is up & bunching which trips people. It was an eight hour flight & we crossed 5 more time zones. My new family here is Galya’s and Igor’s Grandparents, Natasha-Mom of Tanya & Zena. There Poodle is Stilla, unlike Larissa’s poodle who only growls only at me.  I still had no phone; but I did get to send letters home to everyone and they will probably get it back after I get back (not likely unknown to her at the time). I am again separated from Sue and Joyce (friends who came with her to also adopt) but partial English is spoken here- especially by Tanya who is eleven. She and Osher along with their friend Vera went shopping and to the post office today with me. Shops are nearly empty & there are lines, long lines for almost nothing as well. I bought the girls snickers for treats. I think they were the most expensive thing there. There were sidewalk sales of hand-made or used (but clean) clothes outside in which I found a lovely sweater for Emily (the girl she wanted to adopt as well) for $5 & a hooded sweater for George (AKA: me) at $6. When we came back from shopping, Natasha gave me gifts from everyone—I didn’t expect that! They gave me a beautiful picture book of Lake Baikal (picture below) and enameled Ladle (picture below) and woven Box for trinkets (Picture Below) & a carved sugar Box. I gave Them presents then also. They were a small red make-up purse for Galya, Calculator & lipstick for Natasha, Battleship game for Igor, Raceway game to Zena & a radio to Tanya. I think they like them. I sure hope I brought enough stuff! Last night at dinner, I swallowed a chicken bone—boy did that hurt. I was trying to dislodge it and puked it up. Thank God!! Igor had me drink a lot of Vodka which helped with the pain, but then I couldn’t stay awake any longer beyond 9:30pm. This was after an afternoon nap, also I went shopping & to the movies with Tanya & Vera (her Best friend)—we really had a good time. Vera gave me an atlas book of Irkutsk. I didn’t really that gifts go both ways. So I gave her a cat necklace & bracelet.

 

So, here is day three of my mother’s expedition to Russia those 19 years ago. So to quickly point out that I know Russia has changed a lot over the years, and for safety sake, their regulations of air travel. LOL. Two things I want to point out are the differences in the society of Russia, and Just Irkutsk alone and then the welcoming of strangers into one’s home. From the current story line, you begin to notice two different worlds, as to when you are out on the streets; people are as rude as ever, Why? Well maybe with their way of culture, how they are treated by their own country, they assume, well, why expect anything different from foreigners. Such a misconception of many and my mom began to see this, but never wanted to conform to it. The second thing is the welcoming of strangers into one’s home. If it wasn’t considered just to be out of respect, it was considered as old family attributes of moralism within the household to welcome any strangers, however, the fact that my mom was paying $100/day did not hurt either. The receiving of gifts was as much expected as the giving of Gifts. Old family values that are not seen in other households of countries right next to Russia. My Mom gave a lot of time to the family she was staying with and learned so much about their culture while she stayed with them. She often told me that it changed her way of thinking of some people around the world and that we should always be thankful for who we have and what we have. So you can find the pictures the gifts given to my mother by the people she was staying with as gifts for her hospitality and generosity in my album titled “Russian Memories”. I wish I had all the pictures that she took of her stay in Russia alone and of the family she stayed with, but I have yet to acquire them from storage. I also want to point out in that in the story that yes, my mother originally wanted to adopt a girl as well( first actually, but then was show a photo of me and told of my history), but later that did not happen as something went wrong the adoption process. Keep that in mind throughout the storyline everyday as it will be explained later on.

You know, let me just give you an example of hospitality in my country, very simple in which this story, my story and every other children’s story, is my gift to you for welcoming me as one of you all along. I love each and every-one of you and look forward to the rest of my life here in America. I also pray that other children will be able to enjoy living in America and through this story that support will grow for opposition to the banning of U.S. adoptions in Russia. I think it is so sad that the wrong doings of others should penalize these children and the parents who want to adopt as well. 

 

 

Here on day 5 of my story, our story and my mom had been getting impatient with the adoption agency as she still had not been able to see me. She began to wonder if she would ever be able to see me, but did her best to keep her hopes and wit about her. So here is her next entry.

 

10/10/1993

 

I think that’s what the date is—it’s Sunday & I still haven’t been able to see George (aka: me) yet. Igor has promised me tomorrow at 8 o’clock with kata who can translate. Today we are supposed to lunch with charlotte, Patricia, Sue and Joyce. I hope they some news of our dossiers. I can’t even call to find out what’s going on. So I set here & continue to pay 100/day for nothing.  It is beginning to be tiresome to always have to translate & try to understand everything in Russian. It will be a nice break to see the others Americans today. I feel very much alone. Last night Tanya & Galya left, and only Igor & Natasha were home & had guests who only spoke Russian, So, I stayed in my room & did cross stitch. After-all, I couldn’t even begin to follow a conversion. But they also made no effort to introduce me or me to join in. The stores yesterday were so sad—long lines for 2 shelves of things in a huge warehouse—like it had been like Meyers in the past. Mostly, it’s sidewalk kiosks instead of stores. I bought 2 homemade sweaters for the kids, which were just simply darling at $5 & $10. The rest of the neighborhood is literally falling apart no effort at repairs. Just like the projects. The kids just don’t seem to notice. Just when I was feeling low we had a really nice day. We took a field trip to Lake Baikal in the Ural Mountains. The elevation was 4000FT, but it was cold & windy & I had an asthma attack—but it broke 2hrs later. The lake is magnificent—I’m glad Natasha gave me a book of pictures of it because I forgot the camera since I thought we were only going to lunch. The water is clear blue & the wind was high, So the chop was 3-4 feet. There were cows & dogs all over the road just like in Ireland. God these Russians are scary drivers!!! At least the driver wasn’t drinking unlike all the rest of us at the picnic provided by Igor & mark. Mark & Dimitri are friends that Sue & Joyce are staying with. They’re 30 Yrs. Old & speak intelligible English, especially Mark who has visited Philadelphia & Baltimore. He loved the aquarium. They stayed for dinner here as well, so we got to talk. Dimitri has asthma & we compared inhalers. I later gave him a few free samples to use. He was grateful, but very shy & reluctant to accept them. I think this trip will somehow have changed me by the time I get home.  Another ted-bet of whimsy every 3rd day the elevator take a break & doesn’t run—today was third day & we had a walk up 8 flights of stairs. We took a little side trip after our picnic to an old reconstructed Russian town Circa 100years ago. It was all long cabins, but with ornate shutters & window dressings. We saw the same thing all along, Lake Baikal. Seems to be another whimsical Russian thing to do. I went on this trip with all the other parents here in Irkutsk. Patrice (Husband Lee has gone home) Charlotte (husband who we met in Moscow) & Steve & Jamie (she is deaf) & then son Igor (my close friend I talked about on my first posting) is also deaf, but I think he can hear something. They told me that Sergei followed him to their car yesterday when they left with Igor because he is expecting his mom to come get him & thought that might be her. It breaks my heart—but tomorrow I will see him. How am I going to leave him there again? Charlotte & Patrice have gotten their kids & will probably leave by the end of the week. They will have been here 4 weeks by then. Jaime is a bit hyper & difficult but seems to have gotten attached to me. Patrice tells me that she was hysterical last night & kept everyone up.  So she & Olga & the others thoughts it might be nice for Jaime & I to spend some time together so, I can be calming influence—Great. But I will if it will help out some.

 

So here is a brief view of my Mom’s first trip to my orphanage and as I explained in one of my first postings of my support against the banning of U.S. adoptions In Russia about My childhood friendship with Igor, there you have it and details about his parents Jamie and Steve who are also deaf. Like I said before, our friendship was and is simple and innocent. I love how my mom always made the effort to keep the family interested, especially the girls of the household. It shows something about some of American’s hearts which is another reason to not ban U.S.  I consider every piece of this story from my memories and my mother’s to be such a blessing from God and I am forever thankful to him for them as it makes me appreciate him all the more. Thank you all and as always God bless.

 

 

So, day 6 of my story, our story involves a lot of aspects with mom continuing on the waiting to see me and she finally does get to. It involves mostly the medical exams that my mom had to get done on me to move the adoption process along. The first wave of doctors was from some new regional committee that handles the adoption process however they keep stone-walling her throughout all the exams. Throughout this entry my mother talks of her having been able to see me and the other children in the orphanage and uses medical diagnosis terms of their illnesses and disorders. So, I want to give a brief history of my mother’s medical expertise as it is very pertinent to this entry.

My Mother, Maureen Prendergast graduated top of her class from University of Maryland Medical School with a Doctorate Medical Degree in Emergency Medicine in 1982. Where she went to complete her residency in Delaware at the Delaware medical center from 1982--1985 and proceeded to go work in Chicago and throughout Michigan in hospitals as an Emergency room Physician and also as a flight physician for Aeromed and Borgess helicopter inflight program for 8 years. By the time she came to adopt me, she had been working at five separate hospitals all around Michigan. Her life before us was her work as she loved being a physician and has wanted to be one since she was a teenager. By the time she retired in 2004, she had dedicated 22 years to being in a Job and adventure that she loved so much. Her valuable intellect of medicine and science gave her an advantage in Russia as she could properly diagnose children and the family members she was staying with as they got sick throughout her stay. Unfortunately, at times Mom had to treat herself as she got sick herself as her asthma got worse at times because of various conditions of the weather and just the elevation itself. So what I intend to do throughout the journal entry is explain on what each of the medical terminology she uses is by my memories of what she taught me and also from research I have done through various medical references. So with that said, let’s start on the 12th of December of 1993 where she just started to talk about the 2hrs of travel to Irkutsk where she went to her first doctor for one of my medical examinations. 

10/12/1993: 
Things went badly from the start. It was 2 ½ hours to the orphanage & Kata & I were met by the older Doctor who explained that the new regional committee now wants another medical exam for Sergei (aka: me)—they say he is too healthy to adopt American. After this it was all I could do to keep from crying. I came 7,000 some miles for him, but they want to “save” him in case a Russian family wants to adopt him. He’s 6yrs old! At first she wouldn’t let me see him, but then she relented & said that I could meet the group of children but I could not tell him that I was his mother. He is adorable—much smaller I had imagined from his picture. He kept zeroing in, waiting for me to say I was his mother come from America to get him. It broke my heart. Now no one knows when this new Vrach (Russian medical journal) will come down from Irkutsk & what will happen. There is no one I can talk to at this point but UI can appeal to the regional director if the report is not favorable. Olga right now is too busy getting charlotte, Patrice & Jaime (women who also want to adopt children as well) off, so they leave Wednesday & then it will be only Sue & I to work on—perhaps she’ll find out more then, & can make a few key phone calls. Meanwhile, Larissa told sue we should go to Tyumen( Federal subject of Russia and where things can get moving) ASAP & bribe everyone with money because things there are shutting down quickly. So, since I cannot do anything here or even visit Sergei, it makes sense for me to go to Tyumen alone now & grease some palms to get things going for both of us. Especially since Nina (adoption advocate of some sorts) is soon going to America and she is the one and only one who push this through. I hope I have enough money—western union does not come here in Irkutsk. I’d have to go back to Moscow to get more money wired & of course that would be another $400 for travel. Last night I called home and talked to mom and felt better. But after all the support & reassurance from Olga, Charlotte & Patrice I feel better & more able to be patient & see what happens. I just don’t want to wait too long & risk losing Emily (the girl she wanted to adopt) too. Rather, than sit around feeling sorry for myself today I went to the other orphanage with Sue & saw Michael (the boy sue ended up adopting) who just his head shaved for a cradle (can’t wait to show you all that photo). He’s smaller than his picture (notice a pattern here, we are all smaller than any picture) but looks healthy & is active otherwise. Patrice’s girl, Dasha appeared undernourished & ill—she clinically has a right sided Pneumonia as well as ear infections. They are using Camphor ( Bark from the Camphor tree, where today It is used in products such as Vicks Vapo-Rub) on her ears, it’s lucky she only had seizure as it is so toxic. They were however, giving her Eli-Lilly PenVK (Penicillin oral version) which is a start. Odds are ther is nowhere near the drug resistance in this country than we have. So I put her on Lorabid (oral antibiotic) & very dilute Afrin nose drops for the plane & benzocaine ear drops (topical ointment). Patrice thinks I saved her life. Getting home in 2 days was probably all she needed, but it was nice to be able to help, then Doba the head mistress of the orphanage had me help translate into laymen’s English other medical concerns in the charts & verify X-Rays. She also asked if I had any more of that great medicine so I told her I would give her 10 bottles. I already left Ceftin( used to treat otitis, Ear infection) at Sergei’s Orphanage, So I’ll just a ship the Suprax, (semisynthetic, antibacterial )tammy (old pediatrician friend) could get me to Tyumen. There were 2 little girls here that may be available—so it wouldn’t hurt to have Doba on my side. There is one child with a Hemangioma (red birthmarks or just a birthmark in general resulting from abnormal buildup of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs) of the face. I don’t know if it is fixable, but she is only 1 year old. I don’t know if I can handle that. It involves one eye as well. The other child has a unilateral ptosis (an abnormally, low position (drooping) of the upper eyelid, it can occur unilaterally, which just means on one side.)? Birth trauma? Tumor? But I am jumping ahead of things—I hope things work out with Sergei (me) & none of this is necessary. We went shopping “at the mall” downtown today. How depressing, as it was like shopping at the Salvation Army. Very few things & all alike, but I did take a few pictures discreetly, it targets you to pull out a camera. Most of the better stuff is street-side along in kiosks. Russian ice cream is bland—like cheap version of ice milk The people individually are warm & affectionate, However, as a collective group they rude & cold. Shopping is certainly not a fun thing for them. There’s a lot of shoving and no one says anything to you. Workers don’t care to help you or show you anything. Overall, it was very sad. But things were very cheap. I got a snowsuit for $10. I hope I get to use it. This is also a city that is keen on Light bulbs or conserving electricity. It’s pretty scary at night because there are no outside or hallway lights, And Igor turns off his car lights as much as possible while driving! But driving here—it’s unbelievable that anyone survives. I just don’t even look anymore or think about it. If I go, I go. But’s it’s educational and they think I’m a maniac driver back home! HA!
So a few things to point out, first is my mom’s medical background came so in handy for so many right there in Irkutsk, and also just for herself. She had the heart and knowledge to do all that she could over there and though she had her own struggles to deal with, she pressed on to help others, including children. The second thing I wanted to point out that really came to memory for me as I wrote this was my mother being an atheist back then where she did not even want to believe in God. This is not a downside as later in her years of being a mother, she began to be open to God through Yana and I and by 99’ we all had accepted Jesus Christ in our hearts and got baptized as well. Another pointer is my mom’s fellow friend Sue and her mother Joyce who came with her to adopt a child (who later would be Michael) as well. Sue was a nurse I believe who wanted to adopt a child as well, but I think little did she know at the time that she would end up with six children by the year 2000. So, can you imagine having six children from Russia, WOW. My mom was having a hard time just trying to adopt one or two. I hope I am explaining this as clear as possible to you all as I so want you to see both sides of the adoption processes. I was told by a woman last night at a New years Party, who also adopted a child that since 1991 I believe( could have it wrong, there has been 60,000 some American adoptions from Russia alone and to think it is all said and done by the Russian Parliament. Beyond sad!!! Thank you for supporting and just listening to our story. The children need support, but most of all they need the love of a parent. Prayer is all I continue to know to do. Take care, Happy New Year, more to come and as always God bless.

 

 

So a few things before I start on day 7 of our story. This day is rather depressing and disheartening for my mom as things were not moving much as to my adoption and her health was not doing well to top it off with her asthma. Also, I plan to include the 17th in this entry; so with that in mind, let’s get started.

 

 

10/16/1993

I am very disheartened by the turn of events or lack thereof. Still no news of Sergei’s eligibility or even when the doctor will examine him. And I had a full blown asthma attack yesterday that didn’t help-I had to break down & give myself IV Solumedra (Steroid) & took more prednisone all night. I also increased my Proventil to 10-20 puffs in an hour. It somewhere approximates anaerosol tx (inhaler) dose. But I was scared—feeling lousy at rest & being 7,000 miles from an American doctor. Thank God for Penny. She is from Alexandria, VA to adopt a little boy & she is alone & staying here. We have hit it off very well & she helped keep me calm & distracted through this.  But she did say I scared her because my color was so bad, but today I look much better I can putter around the house, but I’ll have to pass on a shopping trip with penny and Tanya & stay here & veg out. I started to cry talking to Tanya after coming back to the orphanage as every day I go see other women’s babies, but never my own. There are two children in Irkutsk orphanage, Gulya and marina both of which require ophthalmic (eye) surgery. They are both 2 years old and cute as buttons. If I knew I couldn’t have Sergei, then I would rather adopt one of them while I’m here I feel so hopeless—especially since I hear things are not going well in Tyumen. I’m just in limbo. And it hurts to see everyone else with their children—once again no family for me. I need to talk to someone like Tanya at home to see what is going one. I have also been isolated from Sue and Joyce as well. Rumor has it, though that we are going to Tyumen Monday or Tuesday. I am getting pretty good in Russian though I am trying to think about this as a learning experience.

 

Ok so of a depressing entry but my mom kept finding something to keep hope in and I believe God was giving her that hope all along by placing all the people that were mentioned in her path to keep her from going crazy in a way.

So her next entry begins with her just having a little too much to drink as she wanted to relieve the stress. Afterwards, she goes through the frost agency (adoption agency) where things are slow in processing paperwork.

 

10/17/1993

Entirely too much vodka tonight, but it helps with the stress! Seems there’s one slow person at the regional level named Roza who is just a secretary but won’t process our applications until the Frost agency updates it’s registry with Moscow, but Moscow says go by the old rules until new law is passed, so we are caught in the middle. Tanya (adoption advocate) has enlisted the aid of some department Head of maternal/child welfare, who is supposed to do something Monday and Tuesday Sergei has another physical which Tanya said will go ok because she has talked to the doctor about it. So she makes it feel like things are sewn up, just going to take more time. As least I’m breathing better on 80mg prednisone/day. Today I went down to 40mg as the weather seems nice. Last night penny really got sick after vodka & Zithromax or who knows-maybe food poisoning from Moscow. I had to give her all my IV fluids & antibiotics & Lomotil and after 2hrs she was able to sleep & feels like can go shopping today to the museum. It should be fun as this stuff is more the old world Russian traditions rather than this ugly utilitarian stuff built by the Bolshevicks. Maybe I can take photos without getting shot. I guess we won’t be going on to Tyumen until the smoke clears when Olga goes over the head of this Roza bitch to get three of us through. Then they can do any regional rearranging as possible. Maybe Thursday or Friday we can go to Tyumen? We need to have mark come talk to Galya & Larissa about it. The 3 of us are the last Americans to come over until the new laws are passed. The ongoith orphanage was cleaner & brighter than the one in Irkutsk, but still very depressing. There are a hundred kids, 1 month old-3yrs old there, but can I get one. Nooo!

 

So I see frustration building up with my mom. That is understandable right, as she went there and at times had nothing to show for it, and yet still she had people to rely on at that time. I see courage and determination in my mom and the women who also are with her as they went through many troubles and illnesses, which just has me appreciate them all the more. More to come, take care and as always God bless.  

 

Apparently, my mom had a bit too much too drink to relieve the stress of the adoption Process. My mom seems to have a short fuse with this official In the regional office in Moscow and this Roza has some resentments against someone within mom’s group, so here it is about a week and half into mom’s stay in Russia and things are already tense.

 

10/17/1993

Entirely too much vodka tonight, but it helps with the stress! Seems there’s one slow person at the regional level named Roza who is just a secretary but won’t process our applications until the Frost agency updates it’s registry with Moscow, but Moscow says go by the old rules until new law is passed, so we are caught in the middle. Tanya (adoption advocate) has enlisted the aid of some dept. Head of maternal/child welfare, who is supposed to do something Monday and Tuesday Sergei has another physical which Tanya said will go ok because she has talked to the doctor about it. So she makes it feel like things are sewn up, just going to take more time. As least I’m breathing better on 80mg prednisone/day. Today I went down to 40mg as the weather seems nice. Last night penny really got sick after vodka & Zithromax or who knows-maybe food poisoning from Moscow. I had to give her all my IV fluids & antibiotics & lomotil and after 2hrs she was able to sleep & feels like can go shopping today to the museum. It should be fun as this stuff is more the old world Russian traditions rather than this ugly utilitarian stuff built by the Bolshevicks. Maybe I can take photos without getting shot. I guess we won’t be going on to Tyumen until the smoke clears when Olga goes over the head of this Roza bitch to get three of us through. Then they can do any regional rearranging as possible. Maybe Thursday or Friday Tyumen? We need to have mark come talk to Galya & larissa about it. The 3 of us are the last Americans to come over until the new laws are passed. The ongoith orphanage was cleaner & brighter than the one in Irkutsk, but still very depressing. There are a hundred kids, 1 month old-3yrs old there, but can I get one. Nooo!

 

 

 

I find this is where my mom has to sit around and apply as much patience as possible with these next two entries say just that, and also has her being cautious about her spending habits and what she eats. But still it is reassuring to know that she had all that patience inside of her heart and mind for me. I often wonder what god was specifically doing with her right then and there. 

 

 

10/18/1993

Penny is doing better today as she was able to go with us to museum & walk about downtown Irkutsk. I took lots of pictures especially of old wooden houses—they are such a contrast to each other these ornate lintels & door frames & windows casings on dumpy squat huts. I suppose when they were first built it was different. This section of town was surprisingly clean, although the traffic exhaust was still pretty tough for me to walk 4hrs. Built right into these fanciful wooden houses are all the rest of these obviously governmental utilitarian building Ugh. Well I guess that’s Socialism. It was a beautiful Indian summer day & felt great be outside. There are still no people smiling, except for very small children. The Museums were small but had some beautiful traditional outfits & icons. But the museum shops were the place to go—I got old Russian craft type of gifts—Matryoshka Dolls,  Lacqeux, barrettes, pins, Bones & got mom coins & a set for each child (which we each own now). Overall, our spirits were better today after doing something out and different & hopefully things will start happening tomorrow—penny &I moved I to the kids rooms & now we pay only $50; that will help a lot. Tomorrow, I will go to Irkutsk orphanage with Sue & Joyce & have my picture taken and let Galya and Marina to process them later. Sue tells me Doba & the doctors all keep asking for me-they like me, so maybe that will help.

 

10/19/1993

Now it’s my turn to be sick maybe Penny had a viral GI bug & passed it on, or maybe it’s all the garbage I’ve been eating as I have cramps, lots of gas, nausea and vomiting, only a little of diarrhea and a fever. Probably the prednisone doesn’t help. I think if I don’t eat anything for the rest o the trip, I’ll be ok. At this point insulting Galya us the least of my worries. I feel better this AM—and Galya didn’t seem angry I didn’t eat, so maybe this will work out. Today I hope they will still bring Sergey to the doctor but we are having a blizzard. This cold, loud north-wind blew into town last night after a gorgeous Indian summer day & brought snow. This is more like the Siberia I expected. Yesterday Penny and I went to the small stores behind the tenement by ourselves. It was a little scary, but we found our way around & actually made some purchases without getting ripped off. It felt good to be out in the sun & active—I feel like a bump on a log not doing anything. I also felt a sense of accomplishment at being able to do this by ourselves.

It’s so odd, major things are broken down & just left-potholes like meteor craters, sidewalks all broken up—it looks like bombed out Germany in the 1940’s but in contrast the streets are constantly swept & immaculate & the leaves are also cleaned up. It makes no sense to me. Last night I was able to get through to George (Friend) & Mom & it was so good to hear their voices. News from America is that Michael Jordan retired and George is mourning along with the rest of Chicago & basketball fans everywhere. No news from Moscow lately. Dave is making a schedule up for me through November—he says I’ll be a very poor person if it takes that long and he’s right. I did get a picture of Ilya, but I won’t say anything until I see what happens with Sergei (aka: me) & my financial situation. Have to really watch the money now. I have a bad case of cabin fever today—maybe starting new stitch project will help, while we wait news from Olga.

 

Well that is it and my mom seemed to be yearning for something to do besides sit and wait around. But once again she finds someone to hold onto and something to do with the patience she applied and I truly believe that God was helping her with that patience and endurance even though she did not see it. More to come take care, God bless and I give God all the glory and honor for the ability to write this story with full devotion and passion. 

 

 

So on day 8 of my story, our story, it appears everything in turning out to be in my mom’s favor for my adoption. She continues to hold hope and seems to be quite the chatter box lately. But also she noticed that I had a desperate pleading look on my face to be adopted or just to have someone love me. That is without a doubt how every child felt. We all want to be loved by a single individual. So here we go on continuation of our story.

 

10/20/1993

Well the news last night was Good-if true—apparently Sergei is Ok to be adopted—of course it took us 10 days to get back to this point from the day I arrived. 10 days & $1000 later things are the same. Cabin fever was really bad yesterday—almost claustrophobic, thank God for penny. Things at obelisk are supposedly ok as of Olga’s meeting yesterday with Mr. Alexii, but she had to go back again today so neither of us could go to the orphanage. Sergei doesn’t even know who I am yet. What will I say to him? Will he like me? He’s old enough to have an opinion. He did however seem very open & affectionate last week even though I was just a stranger. It feels like we are in exile here in Siberia—at least we are in good company historically—many prominent figures have been exiled here. We are kept without communication or transport & in that respect are being literally held prisoner. Sue & Joyce made mark stop by her this AM—he waited in the car—and hopefully will have him drop them off after noon we can play cards or something. Mark told them yesterday when they asked to be driven over that Penny & I weren’t here and of course we spent all day in cell except for ½ hour when we took Stella for a walk—we aborted that when she seemed to have respiratory difficulties & a gang of bored young Pakistani’s were hanging around & got a little creepy. What can we do when we are nearly held in a prison state like this—totally dependent on them? Can we trust anything they tell us—everything seems to take twice as long as they say. Now they say 5 days to finish Visa’s, passports, Etc. and sue & I still have to do this in Tyumen yet. I am desperately homesick. How much can you read or cross stitch? At least penny and I brought stuff with us. Getting out for a walk is essential—my muscles are turning to Jello. At least my asthma is again reasonably under control. Now I have an excuse not to drink any more Vodka—but how to explain this to Igor? Socialism—everything is the same, dreary state here. How did an entire nation embrace this concept. I suppose when you have nothing, even something is better & it gave them hope. But even upper middle class are equivalent live in tenement like shims. Penny thinks we should write a joint article for good housekeeping about this experience. Gradually our strength & independence is being taken away. I feel so tired. We need to stick together & assert ourselves I think. A translator would really help. Trying to assess the situation in broken English is very difficult. Sue and joyce came over & we played cards all afternoon we are much better now in spirits. Still no word on when I’ll get to see Sergei again. Pretty soon it’ll be time to pick him up for good. Tonight we’ll push to talk to Tanya. More impressions—went to the market again with Tanya just to get out, it helped a lot. But I’ll never take A & W for granted again. That big store with almost nothing in it. And it all seems so normal to Tanya & the locals. Bought bananas as a treat today $1/LB. on the bus (which is free) & In the market, there were no smiles, no eye contact—just shoving, pushing ahead in line without a sense to excuse themselves. But when life is this sad what do you expect. Napkins are like wax paper & still very precious. Milk is whole & cream on top & in bottles. They don’t wash dishes in soap just hot water. No wonder I have Guardia. What any of us wouldn’t give for a toasted bagel, but no toaster—although Olga has one already. Generally, just using canned milk does it. Only fresh veggies are tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, no green veggies since we got here. There are lots of carbs & ground meat, chicken & some tough kind of beef. While we would be rich if we lived here, there’s nothing to buy with our money anyway, just buy a plane to get out. Apparently, things are all set in Tyumen, & it shouldn’t take nearly as long there. Hopefully!  

 

 

In this entry, my mom seems to have reflected on how this adoption will change her life. She got to do something that she had wanted to do from the start of this journey, which is tell me that she was my mother coming to get me. She also begins to question why she even picked me. No negativity in it, but I can see from the question and the answers to them, that there was room for mystery. The mystery of God’s intervention in this, it was not until a couple of years after my mom gave her life to Christ that she saw the uniqueness of how God brought her to both Yana and I. I think this is one of the best entries in her journal and also the most heart-wrenching for me. I miss her all the more now and it drives me to continue this story in not only honoring the children of the orphanage’s and those wanting to adopt, but also honoring my mom’s efforts over there. Most would have given up by this point, and this is not even close to the end of her journey, as more problems will arise as the Russian government continues to drag their feet. Please enjoy the same sense of adventure, hope, and sense of amazement I get from this story of mine and all the children.

 

 

10/21/1993

Plans change so fast that I cannot keep up in here with it. Sue, Mark & Dima came after the card game & said Rosa will not to do what her boss told her to do & process our papers & that it will be another 10 days. And that sue & I should meantime go to Tyumen on Friday because Galina said everything is ok there & ready for us. So today we went to the orphanage & got documents, then saw Olga & Katya at the regional office & now Galina has other people she must deal with right now & she thinks we should stay & finish in Irkutsk. It amazes me how Roza is holding things up. She doesn’t even have to certify the documents—she just has to type them. She’s just a secretary. Katya said her boss came out and told her to do it but that she’s still dragging her feet, maybe tomorrow or Monday she’ll get around to it, then I have to go to the register’s office back in Cledpanka to get new birth certificate & adoption certificate but must have Rosa’s stuff first. So I’m looking at least another 2 weeks. Money wise we shook things up a bit last night. Penny & I insisted that we go talk to Tanya & Diana in America about all of this because every 6hrs we get a conflicting story & how much we were paying came into it. Seems it was only $75 per day alone, & $50 for 2 so I have a credit of $275 coming to me which is 5 days more. That helps with plane fare & stuff in Moscow it will be close money-wise, I must find out western union goes to Irkutsk. There is a telegraph office. I’m move frustrated & homesick now than ever. I had hoped some of this stuff could be done simultaneously it spoiled such a nice day, too. I went to the orphanage & told Sergei (aka: me) I was his mom & he was very affectionate & spontaneous. He likes to be held or sit on my lap—even before presents. He seems to be very clever & active, as he fixed us a tea, played with trucks, did some ironing & put dolls to bed—showing off the toys in his room. He doesn’t say much, but answers correctly & understandably when asked a question. And he even remembered my name from meeting me once 10 days ago! He can only count to five consistently, but I don’t see any signs of serious physical or cognitive delays. He becomes much focused & intent on what he is doing, rather than having a short attention span. Oxala, my translator—and I use the term lightly, thought he was very clever. Oxala was nice but not sophisticated in English much more than Igor, so I couldn’t find out what I needed to know about the documents I was given. But such they are, at least they have been given to the regional government for the first step without losing a day.

On the way to the orphanage we had a near miss, we hit a patch of black Ice in the shade & spun out of control & ultimately into the embankment not the other side which was a sheer drop. And we even the oncoming truck. It’s funny, in spite of all evidence pointing to the contrary, I did not think we were going to die—it just did not feel like it was my time—and luckily I was right!

It’s hard to believe I had guts (or the stupidity) to get in a car with a total stranger (male) who speaks no English & take it on faith that I would actually get to my destination rather than just disappear. He actually turned out to be very nice.  But I still cannot believe I did that. However, I’ve managed quite a few difficult situations her quite nicely if I do say so myself. Much more than I even thought I could. Here I am someone who cowers into in the walls at parties & hate the thought of meeting new people, but here I am—Surviving socially. I must be smoother than I thought because I have a working command of a very difficult Slavic language I never thought I’d learn. I’m certainly braver than I thought even just coming here. I’m more emotionally stable and able to take significant risks including some forever kind of risks in adopting 2 children. Not just kids, who are now forever in my life. And people like me here, new friends. Penny says she can’t imagine anyone not liking me. We have become close so fast due to close quarters & a lot of time, but part of it also is that we have a lot in common. And I thank God for that little divine intervention--she’s keeping me sane. New news today! Actually it changes every 6 hours or so. Igor went to Rosa today instead of Olga & she made out the forms. I wonder if this wasn’t just 2 woman in a standoff & because of the superior role men still play in this society, that it took a man to get past Rosa. Also Dima said the letter we wrote to the mayor caused a big shakeup downtown last night. I feel better having taken some control over my destiny. It’s amazing how debilitating loss of independence is & how it then feeds on its own inertia. Anyway, the result is that the obelisk signs Monday, we go before the payte on Tuesday & I pick up Sergei for Good. I’m nervous about this-my life is about to change forever. Why did I pick this child? I don’t even like Asians as a whole. I guess it was now or never & I’m not child shopping for the right kid. In part I think it’s because he’s older, more unwanted & has been left out so I know how he feels & that gives us a common bond. I was thinking to myself how good it would feel to be home in my quiet house alone & just relax—but that will never happen again. I will still have the pressure of a language barrier even there until both kids learn English. Meantime, my brain is tired of always having to translate even the smallest things—you just never get a rest. I hope they learn quick & I may pay Pam to tutor them. I guess there’s no going back now.

 

Amazing, from a woman just wanting a child, any child, a girl at first, then me. What does that say about American culture? I would like to believe that Americans do their best to keep their minds and hearts open when making such a difficult life changing decision. Thanks for listening my friends and family, more to come and as always God bless. 

 

 

10/23/1993:

Had a little field trip to Irkutsk & shopping with university Mark providing a history Lesson & short tour. It actually was fascinating & helped me to see Irkutsk more as their home rather than this place I’ve been exiled to. He took us to the cathedral of the holy order—Russian orthodox which was magnificently restored. The walls and ceilings were all elaborate icons & traditional paintings I got a small medal icon of St. Sergei for my son (me) & one of Christ for emily (the girl she also wanted to adopt) since they didn’t have one of St. Svetlana. Mark also bought each of us a small copper & wool icon at the museum shop to put over our son’s bed from his homeland.  A Russian orthodox priest came in looking like he’d just stepped out of the last century in flowing black robes & beard—exactly the way I would have pictured one to look. We were a little out of place since none of us were wearing a skirt. But they tolerated us because we were visitors. There’s a famous grave in the churchyard of Gregior Shelnikoff who discovered Alaska 200years ago erected by Catherine II in memorial. It was beautiful. It was all in a lovely day, it was a pleasure to be distracted and hear English. Joyce got on my nerves & penny’s too—she kept saying “oh we’ve been here already! And every comment was negative. I hope Sue’s, Penny’s and my interest in what mark had to say overrode her negativity. I thank God for the little divine intervention that has kept us separated. It would be like traveling with my mother. And this trip requires a lot of positive thinking. Tomorrow if the weather’s good we go to Lake Baikal again. This morning I brought my wash in & stood it up against the wall—it had all frozen outside! We all had a good laugh over that.

I need to get my passport back—Katya said there’s a saying here, “you are an insect without papers” I realized when we had that spinout that I had no ID on me if I had been injured or knocked unconscious. Or what if there was a police check & I had no passport or Visa?

My wish list:

  • A bathroom big enough to around in
  •  Real Kleenex or toilet paper
  • Real napkins, not waxed 4x4
  • Seedless grapes
  • Equal!
  • Diet Coke!
  • Seatbelts & car-seats

 

 

 

So a bit of tourism, history of Lake Baikal, anger, frustration and heartbreaking agony in these two entries as my mom and her friends battle with the government over In Tyumen. But hope arises still for all of them.

 

 

10/24/1993

Today we had our second field trip to Baikal & it was lovely. The day was sunny although cold in the mountain wind, but the air was crisp & clean. Mark came as tour guide & brought his wife, Valentina and his 2year old daughter Elizabeth. Sue & Joyce came as well. We even to the Baikal Lake museum which was a bit more detail than penny, sue or Joyce wanted at that point, I found it interesting. The lake is 25million years old (most only get to 20,000 years) & is 1.6 KM deep. Mark said the highest peak in the Urals was 2km (9-10,000 feet) & I only felt the altitude a little where we were (at 5,000ft). this time there was snow in the mountains. The temperature of the water averages 3.6 Celsius & never gets above 12 degrees Celsius. A little chilly for water skiing I think. I would love to see the lake frozen—it apparently freezes clear because there are very few minerals in the water. Looking in the water it is crystal clear to 40meters. Mark desperately wants to study in America for 3-4months & is teaching his daughter English. He does make the poor kid perform every 2 seconds =--I hope he eases up on her as she gets older. Mark said Valentina stays home Liz & it’s her full time Job, although she is an artist & designer by profession. She apparently gets her 3 years to either get pregnant again or return to work. How can that still be a state rule now that socialism is over? Mark thinks I will be a great mom & I cannot fathom why I’m not married. He says I wouldn’t be single in Russia for very long because I’m so nice & intelligent & attractive. It’s hard to explain the mentality of the American male to him. He says they just aren’t men anymore. Maybe he’s right.

Penny still can’t eat much & it worries Galya & Natasha. Mark tried to explain her sensitive stomach to them so they wouldn’t be offended. Why couldn’t it be me who couldn’t eat instead?

Apparently, the continental mass in this area is sill forming & there are frequent earthquakes. I wonder if that is responsible for some of the damage around here that looks like it was bombed?

 

10/27/1993

Today we go to meet Roza to finally hopefully have our regional papers signed. Yes, I realize this is where we have been since Friday, but the man who is to sign wasn’t there like he was supposed to be yesterday. You’d think they’d want to get us out of their hair. Things should move fairly quickly from here & onto Tyumen Sunday. We’ve all decided to have the translations done in Moscow.

I was not able to call anyone last night with Tanya & Diana calling & Mark interpreting everything in a drunken stupor—poor man, his best friend died yesterday at 46years old of lung problems. Everyone keeps saying it was our choice to come at a bad time, that we knew the risks, so what can we say? These are not the kind of problems of a revolution I was planning on dealing with. Every-day is a new problem, yet another delay—but these guys think this a normal way to be. Oh well. A man was sweeping the walks today with a broomstick hand made from sticks—just like a real wicked witch just in time for Halloween. I’ve seen many people use these primitive brooms since then. Back very soon. Seems the man isn’t available today either & the committee can’t sign to him. So now we’re set for tomorrow at 10am. That makes it really unlikely we’ll be in Tyumen Monday. Penny was in tears. I was trying to be positive—it’s only one more day, but it’s stretched out to 5 one more days & it’s hard to believe it’s ever going to happen. But someone has to stay calm & positive. We all are at the mercy of these petty bureaucrats with no leverage—especially being women—we don’t count at all & if we get uppity they might just put us in our place by really delaying things. They are still telling penny that if it goes ok tomorrow she can get Sasha Friday. Which means we could leave Sunday. We are all definitely ready for a change of scenery—even if the same problems haunt us in Tyumen. It’s hard to consider another 2 weeks here.

Maria (simpleton) is on again. I’ve definitely been here too long because it’s a rerun. It’s bizarre that I’m following a Spanish soap opera dubbed over In Russian! At least I did a whole book of cardiology CME (medical study materials) for 12 credits. Now I feel like I’ve accomplishment something while eating myself to death here. I’m so tired of eat, eat, eat Marina! Kushna at every meal. 

 

So here is what the adoption process in Russia boils down to. Money: 1st priority, paperwork: 2nd priority, Sitting and waiting: 3rd priority, Pleading your case: encompasses every step of the process, and yet I know that through all the process, patience is what built up in my mom and the others which is so helpful In this world. God gave her the perseverance to keep going. A friend of mine told me that the amount of time and money my mom put into just shows her love for me, that no amount of money would ever have kept her from getting me. Funny, God’s love for me has not even the smallest price on it in numbers because all the tag would read is “my son Jesus’ death” which is priceless in human eyes or imagination. What an amazing thought huh?

 

 

 

It would seem that a lot can go wrong in 12 hours much less a couple of days. This one adoption official is giving my mom and the other woman such a hard time along with the ministry of education. Claiming all these ridiculous rules that are just totally conjured up to delay the process. I have this question on my mind, why did it take so long for me to even be accepted for adoption? I leave that to God.

 

 

10/28/1993

I can’t believe how much can go wrong In 12 hours. Only chocolate can fix today. We started off at the regional office with Olga being told by Roza not to even show her face in her office & she didn’t want to talk to her. So she brought all of us in & with our “sad” faces the committee man, a lady lawyer & Rosa met with us. First, they told us that children had approved by the committee for adoption, but that they couldn’t let us have the children because Tanya’s (adoption representative) license expired 10/1. What it boils down to is that Roza hates Tanya & Olga & is getting back at them through us. We’re the pawns in this little cold war. It was so bad that Roza kicked Katya & Olga out of the room & brought in another translator, Uri because she didn’t trust katya’s translation. Then when we were alone they said they couldn’t just go through on the old rules because they would lose their jobs. She came on all sweetness & light that she was doing her best to help us in spite of Tanya & Olga. She said she had to take the documents to Moscow to get special permission from the minister of education & would return in a week with an answer. We had no choice at this point agreed. But she was caught in many lies—like she said they only got our paperwork yesterday—but they’ve had it for weeks & we saw olga there with our papers last Thursday with our owns eyes, Roza was saying Olga hadn’t given her the papers. After talking to Tanya says if she takes our documents & gets to the minister of education before Tanya she will tell more lies & they will deny us & give the children to another agency & we will lose them. Apparently Tanya is licensed through the DATS foundation which Roza did say is the only agency licensed for adoption in Irkutsk. Apparently Roza promised Tanya that this was all ok with the DAT license 2 weeks ago when this was an issue, and now she’s reneged on that promise. We don’t know who to believe. Tanya is coming to Moscow Monday & will bring all the documents. Meantime tomorrow we will go back to the regional office & talk to Mr. Alexii who is above Roza & if he says ok, then things are ok to proceed without Roza. We are also to write a letter to someone in  the ministry of education to get her fired. I hope this is the right course & that we are not hurting ourselves to go over roza’s head when she made a big out of trying to help us. It’s so hard to know what to do. We were all crying at the office. I don’t know if it helped or not.  So, meantime, where sergei is becoming less a possibility we were at Olga’s awaiting calls when Galina called—good, we thought as we had our plane tickets ready to go to Tyumen tomorrow while things get sorted out here. Then katya comes in & nonchalantly tells us Galina said no adoptions allowed in Tyumen to single women & that one of our children had already been adopted by someone else. I was devastated and couldn’t stop crying. Olga gave me some liquid—a sedative I suppose. So we called Jan who was shocked & in tears, who called Galina who us back 1 ½ hrs later saying she paid this money & now we are allowed to adopt & that it was sue’s child who was given away. So thank God I still have a chance with Emily. Sue is holding up better than I would be. & I feel guilty feeling glad it wasn’t my daughter given away. But Galina is looking for another child for Sue. It seems things in Tyumen once we get there now on Wednesday or Thursday which will take another 10-14 days. Apparently, the thomas’s & the walkers & some single woman getting 3 sibs are there now and have pissed off the Russians by refusing to pay $100/per child. For christ’ sake—how can come this far in such uncertain circumstances & quibble over $100? We told jan to let them know we will whatever they ask at this point. So I’m still in the game here—but it changes 360 degrees in 2hrs. I’m emotionally drained from being on their rollercoaster today. At lunch Galya & I were doing shots of Vodka & even that didn’t help. How can people jerk us around like this? I guess it’s easy to do without language. I’m afraid to believe in anything anymore after today.

 

10/29/1993

Another day of big challenges yesterday but I had too much Vodka to write last night. We went to Mr. Alexii’s office but while we were waiting the blond-haired man from the committee yesterday saw us there & got very angry. He went into Mr. Alexii’s office & then he no longer had time for us & told this guy—a consultant for tourism to deal with us. He then got Rosa & initially there were both angry    & didn’t believe Katya was translating correctly & said she would spoil everything, but then he settled down & we decided to all go to Moscow for this meeting with the minister of education & Rosa. What she doesn’t know is that Tanya is coming with us to this meeting. There will probably be a war. But at least we got in writing that the children were all three approved for adoption by the committee so they can’t rescind it later. So the only issue is Tanya’s License and she is bringing everything her, so we should be ok. I guess then its to Irkutsk, but I should get on to Tyumen before they change their minds about Emily. If sue is unable to get another child & goes on from there, then I will send Sergei with her to take to George since I will be another 2 weeks in Tyumen. I’m having George (friend) find me more money & pay my bills while I’m gone—he’s being really a good friend & a partner in this as he promised. He had already thought about trying to get money from Steve. Yesterday in that office I felt scared—we were herded like it was still a police state. We weren’t going to see Mr. Alexii no matter if we waited all day. I’m glad he finally settled down in his anger & we all parted on good terms—and we got our documents back. I did give them calculates as a taken of our appreciation for all their efforts and that seemed to help break the ice. And I think it helped most of all that weren’t antagonized. It’s so hard to know who to believe, both sides say the other is lying—Rosa even said Tanya & Frost adoptions were a “Pirate agency”. What if Tanya & Diana are in the wrong? Who do we trust? I think staying safest way at this point. We wonder too if Rosa & this bland guy have a thing & that’s why he’s involved—they seemed awfully chummy together. I have to leave soon—I’m almost out of Kleenex! Poor Dima—his daughter was kidnapped by the daycare worker because he didn’t pay his bill—but he had a frantic 5 hours driving around trying to find her. Good thing they can’t do that in the states.

Natasha bought penny & I back ice cream or “scream” as Tanya calls it. It’s odd texture and flavor  & its so slow to melt that they sell it out of boxes stacked, already in cones. Nothing is wrapped or covered here—you buy bread, they just hand you the loaf. It seemed a loaf of bread open like that—a drop it in the dirt & nonchalantly brush it off. 

 

 

So my mom had a lot to get in order, getting visas extended traveling back and forth from Tyumen and Irkutsk, once again being at the mercy of the government. She also realizes that the emergency room back home in Michigan must be wondering what is taking so long as she was only supposed to be gone for two weeks.

 

 

10/30/1993

Tomorrow’s Halloween—what a day to be on an Aeroflot (airline). Off to Moscow to plead for our children. I hope we don’t get caught in the crossfire between Tanya & Rosa. And I hope George(friend back home) is able to send some money or I’m in trouble. He’s being wonderful about all of this—it’s a lot of time he’s putting into take care of my financial affairs. Now he & dad are supposed to call me Sunday night in Moscow, but now I won’t be staying at the number I gave them. I think George peeved trying to get ahold of me. Mom must have been worried not to hear from me for over a week because she called Tanya, who told Dad when to call. At least I did remember to give mom those numbers-I should give them to George also. I hear from Sue’s call to Melissa that the ER is frantic with worry over us—especially since no one had heard from us in 10 days little do they know we’re really only in danger of dying of car crash or boredom & frustration or smog & smoke. Although the men think another little war will come because there’s so many angry people especially in the regional offices of Irkutsk. I would like to be gone before that happens. Igor & Natasha had a little party for us with champagne, ice cream & profiteroles. They have been really good to us. And Igor has especially been patient & good natured about chauffeuring us all over-especially ½ hour to Olga’s to call home. I home when I fly back it will be as a mom. Penny will be going to America & Tanya will bring Sasha back with her—good for her, but I will sorely miss her company. I hope most of my time when I return will be in Tyumen. I think it would be best to leave Sergei in the orphanage & pick him up after Tyumen. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to drag him all over—and extra expense. And I don’t want him to think I’m just dumping him on another orphanage without being able to explain the situation to him. If I send him to George for a couple weeks, he’ll get very confused & be scared since no there speaks Russian. And he won’t know who has mom is in that crucial bonding period. So, many things to consider as my brain is so tired—perhaps I should not be jumping the gun until after the meeting on Tuesday.

 

11/1/1993

       Back in Moscow, I spent yesterday on an Aeroflot (airplane) all day. At least there were no dogs in the aisles this time. We met an American who lived in Irkutsk for two years doing timber work & is now going home to Seattle and he kept us going in the right direction. Otherwise, it was the same, pushing & shoving rude crowd. Larissa talked to sue last night & said that we shouldn’t let Tanya be at this meeting because if she & Roza are in the same room it will be a catfight & ruin everything for us. I have trouble believing all this is happening =--what ever happened to adult professional behavior. How can we lose our kids over 2 women with a personal vendetta? Well, as it turns out, Tanya won’t be here until Tuesday afternoon after telling penny she was going to meet with us Monday. We did finally catch up with the people who were to pick us up & they will still act as drivers & translators for us here—I don’t know how much this will cast us. Initially we couldn’t find them & we went to get penny’s luggage & trooped all the way to the other end of the airport—another crowded rude shoving mass of people & smoke, then take a bus to get the bags, then had to walk through the snow on the runaways, dodging airplanes, taxiing around to get to the car.   We had to do that walking from the plane to airport—rather a ling hike in the snow, dodging trucks, baggage handlings & planes. I’ll never complain about Detroit airport again. The Belgrad hotel is Ok. The beds or single, short & narrow & the rooms are cold & drafty. But clean and the bathroom has good water pressure & enough room to dress in. I have a room to myself for 2 days. It’s actually a nice break. I am definitely someone who need private space at times. Breakfast was strange—kelbasa, cheese, and a roll with honey. There were no choices or menu, and besides 2 cups tea you had to pay for more. I need to learn higher numbers to understand. We were the only women there—this is obviously a businessman’s hotel. The good part of this hotel is that they have a kiosk in the lobby that sells Pepsi light! It’s been a month since I’ve had any & tasted wonderful.

I racked up $150 in phone calls home last night to mom, dad, tammy & George. He can’t get any money on my credit cards because I have the cards & he hasn’t been able to get hold of Hartman or Ken sanders. It’s just as well-the American on the plane told me it takes a week for western union to release the money to you. So I’ll go to an American bank & get a cash advance on my credit cards. I just wish I knew that I wasn’t just throwing money away by continuing to pursue this. I was so depressed when I talked to George (friend), that I don’t think I even remembered to thank him for his efforts even if it didn’t work out. But I’ll call him Tuesday after the meeting with the minister. I feel a little better about this meeting now that Tanya will not be here for it. Maybe things will stay calmer & Penny’s friend may translate. His wife works for the Department of welfare & said there were also kids in Moscow to be adopted. Maybe that’s another avenue to pursue if Tyumen doesn’t work out. Today we go to the American embassy, the bank, Finn air to get penny’s ticket changed & maybe shopping at the Irish store. I need books to read—in English or I won’t survive another 3 weeks here. Well, a useful day-after 2hrs of questioning I was able to get more money on my visa card at Russian banks here. George will be surprised that this “major city” has no American banks here and Penny & Joyce tickets were confirmed & we verified our meeting & obtained a driver & a translator. Now what’s left is to get Howard to extend our visa’s. we even got to do a little shopping when we were in the intercontinental building—designed just like the Illinois center in Chicago. I was optimistic and bought toys for the children. I suppose if things don’t work out, they’ll be good Christmas presents. We drove & walked around the city a fair bit –saw the kremlin. I didn’t see anything I would have wanted to take a picture of. I did buy a set of picture postcards which do portray the nicer spots when they were in a better state. There are some interesting gothic structures, but everything is in a state of ruin although they’ve already cleaned off the black soot on the white house. The streets were so crowded the road conditions terrible and the sidewalks are equally a bad state of disrepair. And all along are tacky kiosks making even the nice sections looks like cheap tenements. A bright spot was lunch at Mcdonald’s!

It was the second largest Mcdonald’s in the world.—china is #1. For dinner sue & I went to the restaurant & bravely ordered in Russian. The menu had many things listed, but actually the only things available were those with prices printed. And it was very limited and pretty pathetic. But cheap—both of us ate for $8. There was a stray cat in the restaurant—which sue kept on her lap, & fed all through dinner (ugh!). No one else seemed to think it was unusual or unhealthy for a cat to be in the restaurant. I would have loved a salad, but it’s not safe and it’s amazing how thirsty you get when you can’t drink the water. 

 

Mom really tried to make sense of what was happening and she just could not put her finger on it. I am awe of her patience and perseverance and I would hope and pray that other soon to be adoptive parents would have the same amount, not the same way in dealing with it, but the same amount of patience. Besides all that trouble, my mom did get to eat at the 2nd largest Mcdonald’s in the world in Russia. New experience to say the least. Thank you once more for your support and just listening to our story. More to come of course, and as always God bless. 

 

 

 

11/2/1993

Our meeting with the minister of education Alla Zugdorov went well. Penny’s friend Cathy & her teacher Natasha who interpreted for us were wonderful. Alla said we were the innocent victims & assured us that we would get our kids, but that they had to deal with Tanya, sue burst into tears in the meeting which I think actually helped. God, what a dumpy little hole of an office. This government rally doesn’t have any more. Tanya came in after the meeting with much fan-fare & got filled in on the meeting which Julia had to go to as Olga instructed her since Tanya couldn’t make it. She is another chain smoker and by the time she & Julia finished with our room you couldn’t even see. My asthma is bad again & I had to get a room to myself—until Penny leaves tomorrow, then I’ll move in with sue. Tanya went to the minister’s office at 2pm & hasn’t returned. We were so worried she was going to piss them off & ruin everything. Rosa was supposed to be there at 4pm. Sue in particular doesn’t trust Tanya. Even penny had additional power of attorney forms drawn up for Sue & I because she doesn’t want to risk Sasha with Tanya, who seems to be in a lot of trouble, and who may be here a very long time. We felt a little better after Natasha called—we wait yet another day while they take all the documents, I guess those that Tanya brought to the minister of Health tomorrow, Natasha will keep us posted tomorrow. I’m glad we forced her to take some money for her help-she has been invaluable. Too bad she’s a chain smoker too. I just want to go back to my own country where I can breathe—that’s all I ask! By the time I leave I’ll have passive emphysema. Anyway, Natasha said Alla made a point of telling us not to be upset because we will get our kids; they just need to take this step to make it legal. CYA, maybe, on their parts. Anyway, I think it’s a good day.

10pm… Well I was wrong. Seems Roza was setting us up after all. When Tanya produced the license & answered those charges, then Roza said that the regional pediatrician said our kids were too healthy—but we have it in writing form the regional committee that our children were already approved. Luckily, Alla seems to be genuinely on our side & she called her boss who said the diagnosis were fine. Then Rosa said our documents were not in order—apparently Diana didn’t get each document apostilled as I had to with my other dossier; so those have to go back to America then Fed-ex back here. Meantime we are going back to Alla tomorrow to beg her for a letter enabling the local government to process our adoption—once we have those papers we can get our kids & leave without the regional approval. We also have to talk to Scott at the embassy to have pity on us and let us out without the regional papers. It will be the 6th case they’ve done this so there will be a precedent. I’m hoping that we will get the regional papers while we are in Tyumen so we won’t have to lie, but Tanya warns us that Roza could drag her feet indefinitely. I’m beginning to trust Tanya & Alla-it sounds like Roza really is a serious problem. She even told one couple that Tanya practiced witchcraft. But Tanya did make any concessions Roza asked for including a retraction letter for the complaint letter she sent about Roza. So I feel she is putting our interests ahead of herself. Sue still doesn’t trust her & I think she’s lost all hope. She’s very down & feels hopeless.  I hope she can find the strength to go on. I’ll be ok if Hartman will advance my next bonus ahead of time. Otherwise, I don’t know how I’ll be able to pay my bills for November.

 

 

 

 

So, there a lot of aspects to this day as Tanya, the adoption representative seems to still be in quite a lot of trouble herself with her license being expired, Roza (government official for the minister of education) giving them more problems out of spite for Tanya, Sue being brought to tears over more problems with Tanya and mom having trouble with finances back home. This day has been quite trying and I must say; I wish I would have read this journal more when she was alive because I would have loved to pick her brain more on so many intricate details. No telling if she could have remembered them though, except her memory was already sharp as could before she became ill in her last years. I just am in awe of her resilience and determination. Miss you so much mom and I am so proud of you.  I can’t wait to get to the final days of the adoption (which is still a ways off) and then onward home. Try to think of this story being like every other child’s or parents story over there, not exactly the same of course, but pretty darn close to it. I pray this story and others will somehow be an eye opener and heart throbbing provoker in Russia one day, because like it or not, something has got to give even after it has been said and done.

 

 

Another day of more emotional upheaval. We sat in the ministry office for 6 hours before anyone would see us. And it’s a good thing we stayed because it seems Alla has aligned herself with Rosa and started to lie also. She told Natasha to tell us to go back to the hotel—4pm after telling us she would meet with us at 12, then 2pm, then 2:30pm, then finally 4pm. And she told us we had to go back to America get everything apostilled (notarized) again. So we decided to go to Alla’s boss—no matter how long it took, we would wait. We ended up meeting with both of them. At first it was hostile—especially on Allah’s part she even tried to lie to her boss and said we only had copies not original documents. Natasha went over every page with them showing seals & original signatures and they backed off on that issue, but want all of our translations retranslated by her & re-notarized. Julia is going to get that done tomorrow, then we return to the ministry for a final decision. Natasha thinks everything will be Ok’d by tomorrow. The boss even called the ministry of health & confirmed Sue’s & my kids were approved, Penny’s child has to have another psych evaluation first. If everything is ok tomorrow they will give us a letter to process adoptions. I can’t get my hopes up yet, not until I have that letter in my hands. Some wonderful news from Tyumen, not! Seems although Svetlana (girl mom wanted to adopt and name Emily) us in the orphanage, she won’t be available for 6 months or longer if ever as it had something to do with parents and paperwork. Sue and I were partly upset, but it was blunted by some relief at not having to go through this again in Tyumen. We are going to pursue other avenues for girls in the meantime. I can’t believe they never even bothered to call & find out their status or even call us back. Sue and I are to get our money back from them no matter what. As far as we are concerned, they didn’t do their job. They could’ve found this out with a couple of phone calls before we came here with all this stuff. Basically, they abandoned us here. I’m so frazzled tonight I can’t think straight I’m too tired to even cry any more over losing Emily.

 

Mom losing Emily (Svetlana) hit her so hard that day and I know why she lost her. Mom told me why later when we had one of our discussions on my adoption when I was a teenager. Svetlana’s birth parents or at least her father came to visit Svetlana one more time; however he visited her after the abandonment papers were signed and if the birth parent visits even just once, the adoption process is terminated until it is resolved or other arrangements are found which could take months or even longer. All that work seemed to be for nothing, but like I said before, it left room for the mystery of God’s intervention. If even the tiniest event occurred as to Svetlana or just the adoption process alone, who knows, I may never have been her son, my family or things would not be as they are now. Never would have met all of you, or Calvary. I of course will never know and don’t wish to. I am beyond content with my life here in America and with all of you. My gratitude to God and all of you in my life is beyond words or comprehension as is with my fellow orphan friend Daniel I am sure and so many others. Thank you for being a part of my life here in America. Funny, Mom told Yana & me the same time and time again, especially on our anniversaries every year for coming to America. Well, more to come, Thank you, take care and as always God bless. 

 

 

 

11/4/1993

Another day, another problem as it seems Diana really didn’t do height and some of the translations don’t and the notary cannot certify them. So Tanya, has to retype the translation tonight & Diana has to get some special translations done by fax today so we can have this done by 5pm. The notary said this is all a waste of time & money, since all of our documents are already legal & valid—its just another hurdle the ministry has thrown at us while dangling the magic letter of approval In front us. What will they come up with tomorrow? Natasha has been a godsend to us—she has made us her crusade & is pushing Tanya to do this work for us. Tanya thinks we should sue Diana for not doing her job and putting us through all this. Oh, another 180 degrees turn I Tyumen while Emily is not available they suddenly have a sibling group of 3-10-8-5. 2 boys & 1 girl immediately available. It’s a lot to think about and they wouldn’t speak any English. Could I afford 4 children all at once? Anyway, we are probably going to Tyumen to check things out and/or get our documents back, depending on what happens tomorrow.

11/5/1993

Well, as usual another day with nothing accomplished. Diana so far has not yet faxed the translated apostil’s, which Tanya has to retype so we can be back at the notary at 9am. Tanya & Diana just keep saying they’ll give us our money back—I think they want us to give up & go home. Actually, I think Natasha has this whole situation figured out--we went over to check on her son who I started on steroids last night for asthma & she fixed us dinner & filled us in. She’s done some asking around & it seems Alla has been treated to 2 trips to America by other adoption agencies & Natasha thinks they may even be paying her to get rid of the competition. I am namely referring to Tanya & frost agency. So everything they can do to make our lives miserable will help to drive them out of business. And we certainly won’t be very good advertisement back home. Natasha said this was very obvious when after that first meeting with Alla—with us alone everything was alright—and then Tanya appeared and everything went wrong. Thank God for Natasha. I’m so tired of hearing Tanya whine about her problems. She’s only been here for 3 days—we’ve been here for 5 weeks because of her. It’s a good idea to send her to Irkutsk where she can’t cause any more problems & Natasha will handle things here. She really is a smart lady. I’m really tired of being held hostage here. The scary part starts tomorrow. Sue & Tanya are going to Irkutsk & I will stay here alone until Tuesday. Well, I have my cross stitch. And I don’t plan to do any major exploring. Tonight when we got back Natasha’s we walked in the hotel right behind 2 guys in full metal jackets, fatigues & automatic weapons. No one acted like there was anything unusual going on & they didn’t shoot anyone so I guess they’ve just part of the ambiance of Moscow.

 

Explanation: 

I think these two entries explain themselves nicely and a blessing has come upon mom with Natasha coming fully into the picture to help with problems in Tyumen. God is so good all the time, even if we don’t see it at times. Sometimes I questioned the tactics my mom and others had to use through all  of this, but I just don’t let that outweigh the end result, my adoption. She did what she had to out of love, and I would like to believe God sees her heart and forgives her.

 

 

So it has been two days since I have written an entry on my story, our story as I have been quite busy with other things. So it is the 7th in which my mom has been in Russia for a month and one day, and things seem to be turning around. I swear it feels like a roller coaster for all of them. So with further or do here is her next two entries. Enjoy and try to imagine being there. 

 

11/7/1993

 

Well maybe things are finally turning around for us. Natasha talked the notary into doing all of our papers & everything was faxed & done—for $170 of extra money but done nevertheless. Considering how hopeless this job was with translation taking several days to a week and the usual wait for a week and the usual wait for a notary at 4-6 weeks, getting this done in 4 days was a miracle (amen to that). One I’m sure they’re not expecting at the ministry. It’s like we’re Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz—we came to emerald city & the Wizard didn’t want to help us so they sent us on an impossible mission to get the witches broomstick. And we did! Now we have to go back to Emerald City (Tyumen) on Tuesday & pray they don’t come up with any more delay tactics. I was optimistic when I talked to George (friend back in Michigan) for the first time in weeks.

I don’t understand the taxi system here. Only a very few number of cabs are marked, the rest are just guys in cars willing to give you a ride for a negotiated fare. The subway is an experience also. It’s a lot like London with incredibly steep escalators down to the subway. You have to push your way through throngs of people and there are people standing all along the walls & exits selling things just one or 2 things I guess they were able to get their hands on. It was pretty sad. But the subway itself was pretty clean. Well I feel very brave today. Natasha offered me tickets to the circus since her son was still sick they couldn’t go. I got myself to her apartment by taxi, then took a trolley to the circus, and hired a taxi back. All by myself! It was a little scary; especially after dark but I had fun. The circus is world renowned & has a permanent building here in Moscow. The tumblers were spectacular and the trapeze artists worked in the dark with a black light & fluorescent clothes. I had my heart in throat. They also worked without a trapeze below.

 

So looks like things are turning around for mom and the others. Natasha got things moving with the notary and everything was properly faxed. It is funny how my Mom compares her experiences to movies like in this one, she compares it to the wizard of Oz. Mom and I were fanatical about movies, and music. Mom got the courage to venture out to the circus in Moscow and enjoyed herself. Mom was always good with keeping her spirits up somehow and entertaining herself.

 

11/13/1993

I haven’t written in this for a while as sometimes it just gets too sad. Sometimes it just gets too sad. I couldn’t find an English typewriter—although I did find the store that sold them but they only had Russian machines. I also managed by myself to buy stamps for postcards & went to McDonald’s for lunch. Between pointing & charades & a little Russian, I got my order in. I did actually enjoy my couple of days alone in Moscow—no smoking to deal with. The plane was 8 hours late Wednesday; so nothing could be accomplished Thursday—but nothing was accomplished on Friday since apparently this letter we worked so hard to get is still not enough. It still has to go back through the committee & someone wasn’t there on Friday. Rosa (regional jerk) is still causing problems. I think perhaps Susan & I should instead of Tanya—I think she again is causing more problems than helping us. Tanya was not particularly helpful about girls either. I think she is just all talk. Sue has been to see little Marina a couple of times & is probably going to talk her. The 18month old in Angarsk has nothing wrong with her, so Rosa will never let her out. Although, another couple has picked her out already & wants to come over & get her. Tanya said there were no other girls. So I asked about the 9 month old with large facial Hemangioma (Birth marks, an abnormal buildup of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs. A red to reddish-purple, raised sore (lesion) on the skin; A massive, raised tumor with blood vessels.) & she said she do anything to help if I wanted that child because otherwise they’d never place her. Am I ready for a child with a serious disfigurement? Suppose it can’t be fixed? Can I raise her to feel confident & accepted? I think maybe I can. She may be my last chance, because I’m not ever going to do this again. I even went for a walk with Tanya & Alla (adoption representatives) in the bitter cold and had very little trouble breathing while talking it over with them. But my face hurt from the vasoconstriction. The wind chill probably made it -30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 

My mom decided to take a break from journaling because it got sad day after day with all she went through, and I am puzzled as to how Tanya, the adoption representative could be so ill-minded in the process. Mom also thought everything through with trying to see if she could deal with a handicapped or disfigured child, like the 9 month old she was looking at. I really like these two entries as well as they demonstrate a thought process of someone who is really clear headed about a decision that will last them a life time. But there is a part of my life that mom did not know at the time and I may explain later on.  Thank you all once more for just listening to my story, our story and your support. Love you all and as always God Bless.

 

 

 

More problems occur, and we get to see a pathetic side of certain areas within the Russian government. Pay attention and see what you gain from it. Also mom’s friend Sue has always seemed to want to be on her own as a determined woman who gave so much of her heart later in the years to her six children.

 

11/15/1993

Had to pay a penalty to get our visas extended passed the 11th since they didn’t get registered before that. Apparently, we were supposed to have been registered with the government on arrival too, but no one took care of it. Things either move at a snail’s pace or not at all. Today is supposed to be the big day with Rosa at the regional government. Everyone was here for dinner last night & a lot of Vodka in preparation. It was quite fun. We met Tanya’s pediatrician friend Igor who wants to come America. They were trying to talk Sue into marrying him so we could get a green card. She looked embarrassed. I don’t think she is at all interested in marriage, although she says maybe someday. But she doesn’t want someone to tell her what to do. Tanya said if everything goes alright we could go see the baby & talk to Doba. It’s so typical, no one ever considered me as a green card possibility for Igor—not that I want to be, but it still hurts. Funny thing was, he liked me far more than Sue—actually he just liked to get me drunk. Had to lance (prick) a sty on Valentina’s eye last night & give him antibiotic ointment for it. I did it with about 6 people watching, but with all the alcohol, my hands were steadier than usual!

Galya told Tanya that she thought I was the perfect guest—probably because I eat and drink for her. Tanya did say it’s a great insult to a Russian not to eat & drink what they offer. Our hosts have really been wonderful & that’s the bright spot in this nightmare, so that at times I feel guilty complaining how horrible it’s been. It would be nice to get them presents sent here for Christmas—they were teasing me that I’d still be here by then—but the post office almost never delivers mail to Siberia. Things get opened & taken in Moscow & never gets here. Tanya will have to bring things here. I wondered why they never seem to get any mail.

 

My mom of course was very cautious not to offend anyone in the household. My mom was what a lot of people call an accommodator these days. She wanted to make others feel better in any way she could. A trait that was passed down to me through just seeing her at her.  I do realize that there needs to be a healthy balance. Someday I will find it. Tomorrow entries are The Big one. Leave that unsaid as I am almost without words again. To think I have read this journal time and time again and it still has such a effect on me. A gift from God, that’s what it is. Take care and as always God bless.

 

 

 

My mom told me of the accusations the government, well actually this one individual claimed about the documents being forged on the approval letters and of course that was all bogus as Rosa just had an axe to grind with Tanya and the translator. But of course she could not stop the will of God, Oh no she couldn’t as you will find in this letter.

 

 

11/16/1993

Well yesterday evening was really bad, but today was really good. Last night Sue told me the committee met & couldn’t decide if they should grant our adoptions because Rosa claimed we forged our approval letter & that our documents were falsified in Moscow. And she said it was our idea to go there in the first place, not hers. How can anyone, much less a government official lie like that? So we had to wait for confirmation from Moscow. Today they got it and approved our adoptions in writing. So, tomorrow I’m off to Slyudanka to pick up Sergey (aka: me). I have to take a train because the roads are closed by snow, but it’s actually a little faster. I can’t believe after all this time it’s actually going to happen. The chance of getting the girls is looking pretty slim, especially, since Tanya has signed off & is not going to help us with them. It seems she’s not licensed the way she’s supposed to be. But we will try an independent adoption through her attorney, who she talked to yesterday. Apparently, he has many powerful friends. Tanya really is all talk & no action although she did manage to get us the boys finally.

 

So it is official (I am to be adopted) and my mom still didn’t believe it at times. Time and all the experiences had a way of placing understandable doubt in her. But she rejoiced over it nevertheless. I realize now that it was all God, his plan was beyond my mom’s capability to understand and he gave her a level of patience and endurance that blows my mind and I would think it blows yours as well. I thank God for it all and treasure the journey.   

 

11/19/1993

Been an interesting couple of days. The train to Slyudyanka was cold. The seats were the old time wooden seats. Galya was sweet packed Katya & I a lunch. No one met us at the station so we had to hike 1 mile to the main road in town & hitchhike, carrying Tanya’s suitcase of toys & my bag. The town is so small it took nearly ½ hour to hail someone. And it was -20 degrees Celsius. That’s right around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Then we got to the orphanage & the director had the day off! I was ready to freak out. If we had to do this all over tomorrow with the train I think I’ll just lie down across the tracks and get it all over with. But I finally got lucky & they called here at home & she came right in. but then the lady at the local committee was out on business. Luckily, by the time we had lunch. She had come back & we were able to get the paperwork done. The lady at the local committee requested that I not be there, Katya said something about her being afraid of me. But they got the paperwork done we had to take a later train because the 5 o’clock was 10 hrs. Late, so we took the 7 o’clock. Luckily we were able to get a ride to the station—in the back of an ambulance. It was like a van with 2 seats & a long stretcher. There was no medical equipment aboard. Sergey was really good on the train. He played quietly & sat still. Mostly he played with the Walkman pushing every button fro 2 ½ hours. But the night was horrible. By the time we got back it was at 11 & to bed at 12. He was so wound up that he only slept for 4 hrs. He was touching everything electronic, lights on-off-on-off. When I would say nyet (no) or slap his hand, he’d just laugh & do it again. I finally had to hold him down to sleep. He did a lot of auto stimulation such as rocking of head or kicking his legs rhythmically. It was more of the same in the morning open & closing every door, on-off-on-off every light and was into everything. Finally, I got right into his face & spanked him & said no, but not to Nyet. I also understand “Ya Pisyet” which means he has to pee, so we’ve had no problems in this area. I was pretty upset at his behavior because if he really is this hyperactive with such a poor attention span, I don’t know how I’d teach him English-or keep him under control. I felt like “what have I just done to my life” & I was almost in tears. Then I got a break to go to the local government for my final papers & Galya kept him as it turned out until 8 pm. When I got back he was much better & has been all day today. He slept all night peacefully (thank God). He’s no longer fooling with the lights & doors and listens when I say no. He occasionally answers to George—that’s going to take a long time. But he is starting to remember a few words in English. He really doesn’t have any attention span to read or watch TV, however. I’m surprised, I know he’s never seen it, but I thought he would be fascinated by it. Too bad—I was depending on sesame-street to help teach him English. I guess it’ll be up to Robbie. Behavior wise & size wise he seems only 3 or 4 level but he can learn. I wonder if he’ll ever go to regular school. At least we seem to be able to communicate non-verbally. I try to use English mostly with him, but he has no need to learn English here, since everyone else speaks to him in Russian. I’m a little concerned about how much water he drinks & how often he goes to the bathroom but he certainly doesn’t appear to be ill. This morning for breakfast he ate 3 hot dogs, ½ tomatoes & bread, then Galya gave him a large piece of cake also. Maybe he’s making up for lost time. Sure is a sight different from the way Debbie (her God daughter back home) eats. At any rate, I feel better about things today.  I certainly hope I’ll be able to bond with this child. He looks so Korean. Poor kid’s clothes are falling off as he’s so small. And he doesn’t know how to color with crayons or use a fork but he’s learning. Poor sue, she had her day at the local gov’t & it was an unbelievable disaster. Here she was already to finally get Michael & this was the final step. Some lady on the guardianship committee decided you have to have a letter of abandonment which is not true. I didn’t have one for mine. There was an address for the mom on the paper from the orphanage, so they sent someone to her house & she said she only wanted to abandon him for 3 years because she was too ill to care for him when he was little but maybe she could when he was bigger. But she was just too ill today to decide. She has to think about it. Sue was devastated & justifiably angered she’s feeling persecuted & like this is partly because the Russians hate of Americans, so we don’t count & they treat us like shit. She’s angry at Katya for not directly translating her anger & think she’s not translating correctly for her is not aggressive enough. Well at least the latter part is true. But Olga has really been trying to help her & Sue’s lashing out at everyone. She’s also starting to talk that there’s no reason to continue in this world. Her mother is worried she might try to kill herself—she has tried before. I’d rather see her angry like this than suicidal. Anyway, Dr. Igor & the government lady are to try again today at 2 pm—I hope it goes well or I don’t know what she’ll do. When I repeated by saying no & nyet, he just laughed & laughed. But after I spanked him & made him lie down & stay still (time out) things have been better. We’ve been going over flash cards & he mimics well, but his retention is very poor. It’s just a sound game to him. I think I will get nowhere with him until we leave because he has no need to learn English here—everyone speaks Russian to him. It didn’t help that Natasha did flash cards with him last night in Russian. And it was much more fun for him because he was right all the time. This is going to be tough.

 

How could anyone be afraid of my mother? And yes I was one heck of a defiant child, I guess I realized I wasn’t under there rules anymore, (thank and praise God for that moment). But in my heart, I would venture to guess, that I just still couldn’t believe I was free of them.

After I came to America, I saw no more fellow Russians and somewhere inside of me, I guess I wanted to forget my heritage because there was nothing for me to really remember, nothing good anyway. Mom helped with that extremely by providing me with the best care possible as you will see from my memories after arriving in America. Please remember, I never stepped out of the orphanage, not once, so everything around me was very strange, but so interesting curiosity wise. My obsession with doors and lights was common among other orphans as well because most of the light switches in the orphanage were above my reach. I remember the window across from where we sat on chairs and the bench as that window was still too high to see anything worth seeing. Strange boy in strange land is what I was and others. So you see, everything was new to me as well as strange and scary. I still get goose-bumps from this entry, and yet I am humbled, because I can’t remember most of it. A very good friend of mine told me recently, that it is because there was a language barrier between my mom and me; so my brain did not see any point in remembering any of it. However, I do remember the train Rides, and bits and pieces of the circus which will be in the next entry. Funny, I can remember so many things and yet then there are things I choose not to remember; probably for the best. Remember, God is bigger than anyone one strong individual here on earth including Rosa and I guess that is why maybe one reason my mom stuck with it, even though she hadn’t completely accepted Christ in her heart. Thank you once more, more to come and as always God bless. 

 

 

So the issues me revolve around getting mom's passport back and mom's friend Sue getting her child. So, I am still causing quite a stir for this strange lady (LOL) to me. Also, you will find I had many fears back then and rightfully so, but there was always comfort somewhere deep inside of me by being out of the orphanage. 


11/20/1993
Well Michael’s mother finally signed the letter of abandonment & sue will pick him up either. Today or Monday. My translations are done & I should get passport Monday or Tuesday & hopefully Sue’s will be done by then too & we can go to Moscow on Wednesday, perhaps if we can have our pictures done for the kids visas & appointments at Filitov then maybe we can be seen at the Embassy Monday & get out of here. But that’s 2 more weekends because of the stupid holiday. I am so homesick & being cooped up in this tiny apartment with Sereozia is going to drive me nuts. I had to really spank him yesterday when he got into my purse & disobeyed me willfully. 

11/21/1993 Went to the circus yesterday & it was cute. But Sergei was scared of so many people & when they turned out the lights. I hadn’t realized he was afraid of the dark, so last night I left a light on. We figured out an estimated date of departure as the 1st of December—Wednesday a week while my translations are done, the typing isn’t. And since we cant be seen at the embassy until Monday & mine will take 2 days, I can’t leave until Wednesday. Sue may leave Tuesday. Both of us are planning to go back to work on that first weekend. How am I going to pay my bills? At least if I get some money back it will help. Things have been better with sergei although we had a major tantrum today—it was very difficult. I put him to bed but I don’t have enough Russian to tell him he has to stay there, until he stops crying & will be good. I had to spank him & put him back several times. He tried calling Natasha—but at least she just laughed & didn’t interfere. Finally Igor went back & talked to him but left him there, & in awhile he came out & apologized—and that had to be translated too. What am I going to do with him? I vacillate between thinking this is a big mistake and being calmer & saying to myself it’s only been 4 days & we do seem to be communicating somehow. Babysitting is going to be a problem to arrange. I can’t just leave him all the time with Robbie (George’s (mom’s friend) son) because he’s so difficult. What will George think of his namesake? Will he be bummed to have a retarded child named after him? No he’s bigger than that. But I will ask him to reconsider his offer to take him in if I die until he’s spent sometime with him. 
I’m just sad today. I bagged up all Emily’s clothes to give to the orphanage—no sense in carting all this stuff back. I think I’ll have to leave the stroller also, even though it belongs to Jodi. I’d have to pay extra freight on it which will amount to more than a new one will cost. I know everyone will expect me to be deliriously happy, but I’m sad over no daughter, and I’m frazzled & overwhelmed with my son. At least I got him tonight to sit down & focus on the word book for~~20 minutes, a new record. And he actually remembered a few things. I’m sure all parents feel exasperated by their children at times. I think the Ceclor is helping—He’s not in the bathroom every few minutes now. It is still even colder -30 degrees all day. Basically I feel like I’m in hell—frozen over. 

I wonder why my mom struggled with her decision so quickly. However, I don't care anymore, because all the years were worth it in so many ways . New mom's have doubts of course, and I have to think that adoptive parents struggle more with the issue of bonding, but I know even biological parents can struggle as to bonding with their child, so research says. This is with great evidence in my heart at least, of God's divine intervention in the process of both the adoption and my mom's heart. I can't wait for the last two entries of my mom's journal that I will finish up by the next two days, and then I will start by explaining my first 1 year in america. Thanks for listening, remember we can make a difference and as always God bless.

 

 

 

My Mom’s fears are so in depth and so understandable, and I loved that about her. I wish I could just once more have told her of my gratitude for it all; everything! But somewhere in my heart, I know she knows, she always knew. For the last two days, I have been scanning pictures from albums into my computer for my story line and I am in awe of how far my sister and I have come. I love her so much and appreciate all that she does for me and our times together. I remembered things I have not thought about for quite some time and years ago, I think they would have not meant as much to me as they do now. I am in awe and humbled as well as to how I have assimilated into every environment I have been put in even when my mom doubted I could as you will find in this entry. I moved around a lot after coming to America and have been put into a lot of different situations which I hope to shed light on in this story line. Please enjoy and see what you take from these two entries.

 

 

11/23/1993

To Moscow tomorrow! This precipitated a new anxiety—Sergei is now very attached to Igor & family—I’m sure he thinks this is his new family. What will happen when I take him away where no one can understand him? Today Galya went to the store & Sergei was sitting on the bed crying & I couldn’t understand what was wrong. I felt so helpless and inadequate & I’m really wondering if I’m doing something good for him after all, or if he’s too old to assimilate into another culture & languages was this a big mistake? I try to console myself by remembering that little mark was 5years old & he seemed fine after 4 months in the US and the Thomases (friends of mom’s back home who adopted and who I think motivated mom to adopt if I remember) don’t speak Russian.  Well I guess it’s too late to turn back now. Talked to George last night—he’s taken care of my finances—which are a disaster. Dave thinks I shouldn’t have had a paycheck at the end of Oct, So, my mortgage bounced. But George got an advance out of him & fixed things temporarily. I will really owe him after this.

11/27/1993

Things went great for me in Moscow. The flight of course was 9 hours late, so we were up all night. Luckily the boys (Igor and me) slept finally once we got underway thank God for the 5hrs time difference so we had a few hours of sleep—then on to Filitov. But checking again today I think it’s not there. Well, we’ll see what the Caruthers (could have that wrong as it is hard to read) says. It took only 15 minutes at the clinic-they agreed he his delayed by 2hrs, but definitely thought he was not mentally retarded. He did say he needed speech therapy—which is good to know since I had no idea how his speech is. But he did think he should have a neurology evaluation & brain ultrasound as well as a GU w/u. He’d have to be sedated for a CT—he freaked out at getting his Visa pictures taken—they are a riot (The Pictures below).  But he’s scared of a vacuum cleaner too—I guess all machines that are unfamiliar. Overall though, he has really settled down quite a bit. And he seems fine with just me & he is beginning to understand more & more English now that no one is speaking Russian to him. I feel better now about leaving him with a sitter. The consul put his paperwork right through even though I had only secondary evidence so. I was technically done on Friday & could have left, but with the holiday weekend, no seats are to be had until Tuesday. Sue has to go back to the embassy Monday anyway because they insisted she lost her new birth certificate & nothing could be done with it. She was angry & frantic-faxing another week here if another original had to be obtained from Irkutsk. She called Olga who explained what it looked like—just a piece of paper, not the cardboard, things they were looking for. She called Scott & of course it was there all along. But they can’t finish her Visa until Monday. So we are hanging out at the Belgrade hotel with the kids. George (mom’s friend) is getting to the point where he always underfoot—I need to make some space for my work or he’ll be crying every-day when I go work—It was nice to find out from some of the other parents at the embassy that their kids also have a thing about the lights & doors. Must be an orphanage thing; George is very patient with Michael (Sue’s [mom’s friend who also came with her] son) even when he hurts him. George doesn’t strike back, but he does correct him—at least it sound like he does. And surprise—George can tie his shoes! His LA gears are too hard for him to get on, so I assumed he couldn’t tie, but he came over & tied my shoes for me. I need to let him do more for himself to discover what he can do. Oh—one couple at the embassy was even worse off than us—they had been here 3 months! They also had some government official holding up their paperwork to get a trip to America, sounds familiar!

 

 

My mom’s friend George back home is going kind of stir crazy picking up shifts for her and handling all of her finances and she was so grateful. Also, I do notice that my mom did take notice in my gentleness with Michael (who even after we came to America was very difficult and violent for a while), and I know why I was. After all that we (the orphans and I) went through, we knew reacting in a certain manner to each other would never help things, they never did, and we came to realize that, even at our young age. I appreciate that aspect of my growing up in the orphanage so much, because I am a better person of it, no matter how painful it was. We took care of each other and looked out for each other, no matter what we confronted; there is just no two ways about it. Funny, how God works huh and yet what power. So there is one last entry left of my mom’s Russian journal of her last days here in Russia and I leave that one for tomorrow and dedicate it in her Shining memory of those times with what little memory I have of those times. Thank you once more for your support and willingness to listen to my story, our story. More to come and as always God bless. 

 

 

 

 

So Wow, what an amazing journey it has been, but you know what, it isn’t over yet, it can’t be. I really, really have enjoyed this first series of my adoption story and have gained so much perspective into how I was, how Mom was back then, and How I am now. I don’t regret any of it and somehow it has been so healing for me to tell it. I want to tell you all, that you made it all worthwhile, and so do all the orphans  over there still, waiting for a home, someone to take them in their arms and tell them, “Hi I am mother, Hi I’m am your Dad, and welcome to America.” I can tell you that can be the best feeling in the world, even if they don’t understand it at the time. God provides that gap over time and his love for them. So here we are on my mom’s last journal entry which has her reflecting on a number of things, saying goodbye to the place, the family she stayed with, and pondering on this entire trip.

 

 

11/29/1993

Home tomorrow! I never thought I’d survive to see the day. This is my last night in this smelly, wretched place. The kids are going stir crazy cooped up here also. We did get to say goodbye to Natasha (yesterday—she did so much for us & she was so glad to see the kids. When she was interpreting for George it was funny the things he would say-like he asked if it hurt the soldier in the pop-up book to be squashed like that. Very considerate question. I think it’ll be fun when I can actually understand him. He is saying a few more words in English, but understands quite a bit more. Poor George had to work a midnight at 3 rivers last night that he had picked up for me knowing I needed the Money & hoping I’d be back by now.

In retrospect, good things about this trip;

  1. I got a son
  2. I met some really nice people
  3. I learned to appreciate America
  4. It’s over

Susan is the only person I know who has more complications happen to her than me. Seems we’re a deadly combination. Sue went to the embassy today to find smoke pouring out the doors & they had closed. Luckily it was only a radiator burned out in the entry way, and after a 2hr wait, she was able to get her visa. Just imagine getting this far to have the embassy and your papers go up in flames!!!

 

So there ends my mom’s Russian journal; but not my story as I want to continue with my memories and what my mother told me. I am not going to go over every year, just the highlights, my first couple of months, major blessings, hardships and how God has been involved in every single moment. So please join me on this incredible continuing journey that still is in motion to this day. Thank you all once more for your continuing support and just listening. Take care, enjoy, and as always God bless. 

 

 

8/16/2014

Even if. Father God, these last few days I have been reflecting on so many painful memories. I leaned on you in the midst of my mother's constant illness, her becoming paralyzed all those years ago, praying with endless cries at nights asking you to just heal her, You didn't. Yet I leaned on you still, I trusted you to the degree that I still loved you. I asked you to help me be hope to her in her depression, for her to break free of the depression...You didn't. Yet I still leaned on you trusting you to the degree and acknowledgement that I still loved you. I asked you to comfort me in some way...You did through my family, also My Calvary Family, Momma Sharon and family, and most of all You. 

When I found out the news of my mother's death that morning...I fell to my knees and asked You to just please give her back to me. You didn't. However...moments into that...I cried out over and over this..."I still Love you Lord" while still repeating over and over again...Please just give her back to me." I grew from here on to not just love you...but to start leaning on you for everything...as this was my ultimate bottom where I began to truly realize You are still in control...you are holding me so tightly in immense love, understanding and compassion. 

Even if my life were too fall apart like those four years ago...I will still will praise you...Even if the healing doesn't come...like my memories and heartache...friends lost...the dreams that never come true...I will still trust you...I will love you; For I have seen time and time again what it feels like to be even just one day without you. Torture of my soul!!! I have not a shred of desire now to ever feel this again. Thank you comes no where near close to my gratitude towards you God, for you Jesus, for your love that abounds to fabric of my soul. 

If you find yourself anywhere doubting your faith...doubting the great God that is not one to smite or take someone just because He wants too...He always has a greater purpose. He only asks us who lean on him to persevere in Him for He will simply bless us further while comforting with provision of friends and family while all along strengthening EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!!! God bless.

 

I am in awe of where God has taken me. I praise him for bringing me to a point where I could surrender, thus in obedience I left a church I have loved for 10 years and still will always love because they are family. I have no idea if God is going to bring me back to Calvary or not, but I truly believe that He has placed me in Weems Creek to be better equipped and to continue blessing others.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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