Saturday, August 05, 2006

Two days later we became parents, sorta. Well…yes, in the way that other parents-to-be feel after seeing that first ultrasound and confirming ,the “it” has a face, arms and legs, a beating heart..a life. Never before had a slim white FedEX envelope held so much promise, trepidation , hope and a future for 3 people. My husband, a tad too slowly for my nerves, opened the envelope and out slid 3 sheets of paper and a plain black video cassette. No fanfare, no drums rolling. Just a faint tingling of the spine. The front sheet was a color picture of a 7 ½ month old baby boy, in a pink floral shirt and light pink overalls (A Boy right?) being held by a floating pair of arms, hair sticking out all over his head. And the largest, roundest, lightest blue eyes and chubbiest cheeks we had ever seen. Be still my heart. Next was two pages of ,quite frankly, horrendous sounding medical stuff. Taken a bit calmly because we had studied Dr. Downings explanation of Russian medical diagnostic procedures for newborns and medical terminology. My 20 years in the medical field also helped. And my endless hours reading and researching every thing every written or experienced about children adopted from Russia. We were ready, willing and able to tackle whatever came our way.
Baby Ivan was born on Feb 3, 1999(the exact day we sent in our application,-now cue the chill bumps). At full term he weighed 10 lbs and was 22 inches long and had a 7-8 APGAR. Big , healthy baby. Negative for all Diseases. Heart, Lung, Limbs, Motor ,Eyes, Ears, Abdomen-All Normal.
Nervous System- Perinatal CNS Disorder and Myatonic Sydrome.
Two Russian terms common on most all newborn medicals.
Only illness since birth- a small rash and a cold.
Examinations of him from 1 thru 6 months-all normal.
At 6 months he weighed 14lbs and was 27 inches long, normal head size. Only health note was a change in feeding directions.
I would hope so, only gained 4 lbs in 6 months, Jeez. Now on to the video. It began with a middle aged Russian lady holding a very cute, but now shaved head baby boy. No mistaking those eyes and cheeks. He looked around , smiled grabbed toys held out to him as someone off camera spoke Russian baby talk to him. While keeping his other thumb firmly in his mouth.
Then, much to our surprise, they stripped him naked and laid him on his stomach on a couch, circa 1950.
Mom and Dad, I have nothing to hide.
He was a loooong and skinnnny baby. You could literally see every rib and every vertebrae in his spine. But I knew some grits and gravy would fatten him right up. That loud crash you here is us falling in love , completely and unconditionally.
We immediately faxed our acceptance to our agency and began watching and rewinding this 5 minute slice of heaven over and over and over and over…well, you get the picture for the next 5 weeks, until we got our court date. Ok, we take time out to get his room ready. And shout it from the roof tops. You might think our first referral experience would have made us a little hesitant with our emotions or protective of our hearts this time. NOPE, That shouting from the Rooftops you heard was us. But at quite moments or late at night my mind drifted back to that first little boy and the guilt and hurt that remained . What would become of him???
Then our agency called my husband at work and told him we would leave in 2 weeks , Oct 28 to bring our son home. Court was on the Nov.3, home on Nov.13th. Then the flurry of buying him clothes, not to easy to fit a long skinny baby. Which by the way is still a long skinny 7 year old. Then of course is the packing, unpacking, repacking of our stuff. For a southerner to be packing for cold Russia does not come naturally. I read so much crazy stuff…Take your own toilet paper, take your own food, only wear black, don’t wear jeans. Don’t Drink the water, run from Fruits, beware of vegetables, question the meat. So that leaves beer, vodka and what? And then baby stuff. At least when you give birth things start our simple, the smallest clothes, the smallest diapers, First step Formula, no food, tiny bottles, just socks no shoes… even the First Timers can get it mostly right.
But we First Timers were starting with a 9 month old. What could or should he be eating? What would he eat? How to bathe him? Everyday? Did he need shoes? What size? Toys? Stroller?
Diapers? Too many brands, too many styles , too many choices of Everything!!!! Shampoo, soap, powder ,lotion, butt cream,-When , where, how much?? Medicine-Will he need it and what kind and how much to give? Will I over medicate or under treat-Zonk him out or Rev him up? Will they know we are just winging it, Does On the job Training count...Do they take off points for that, can we fake it long enough to just get him out of the orphanage ? And you thought the paperwork and financial part of adoption was the hardest.
I worked in the Operating room as a radiographer and they gave us a very nice shower. I was taking 3 months off with my son. Returning to work right after his first birthday to a 7on/7off position instead of my M-F 7-3, so he would have the most time with us and the least time in Daycare.Husband’s company said, Go, have Fun, take your time and we’ll pay you for it and congratulations.
Here’s my passport ,
Here’s my ticket, All aboard.
We climb aboard Delta to JFK then to Moscow. I carry a diaper bag full of cameras ,snacks and reading material and my husband carries a stroller with no baby and a carry on filled with copies of every piece of paperwork we had assembled, info from our agency, Russia guidebooks and cigarettes he will not be able to smoke for many hours, several time zones, thousands of miles and a world away..
Stewardess, bring me a drink, turn on a movie.
I HATE to FLY. There were no boats to Russia. Feed me, ply me with liquor keep me occupied so I won’t think about crashing into the ocean or crashing into parenthood. All of a sudden I cannot remember what my husband and I had been doing for the last 20 years we have been together. Really what? My life now consists of everything from this moment forward. It is as if I have just now at 39, started living or living my life. No one could have every told me or made me believe it would feel this way or that I would be here, hurdling through space on my way to Russia and to a baby boy.
Who goes to Russia, who do I know that has ever adopted?
We have become Pioneers of our families,
Explorers to our friends.
Mom and Dad. To Ivan
Soon to be Riley Will….


Blogger Debbie said...

My husband and I are just now starting the process to adopt from Russia. I'm so glad I found your blog. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your story.

Blogger MMrussianadoption said...

You have a great writing style. Very funny. The children are gorgeous. I hope we are that lucky.

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