Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sharing our Journey...Speaking our Truth

*Important Update: Adoptions are still continuing between Russia and the United StatesThis post was written when it looked as if Russia was suspending/possibly closing all adoptions to US families. 

 I am the proud mother to three children, one of which would not be possible without the help of the US and Russia.  It is through adoption that our daughter is a part of our family.  We love her with all our hearts and are so profoundly changed because of her life and all the lives of the children we have witnessed through adoption and the children we met that are still waiting for their families.

Here is a shortened rememberance of that second trip that brought Emily home.

Two years ago I was frantically and excitedly packing for the trip to go to court for Emily.  We didn't know at that time if we were going to bring Emily home that trip or have to make one more trip later that month to bring her home and wouldn't know until court. Recent events at that time was causing our region to change their policy regarding intercountry adoptions from 2 trips to 3 and unfortunately we were getting swept up in that change.  So we packed with the hope that it would all go well bringing everything we would need for Emily and all our gifts for the babyhome and the caregivers hoping this would be the trip we brought Emily home.

The morning of court...visiting Emily one more time.  It was hard to believe that court was finally here and in just a few hours we would know if we would be Emily's parents forever.

We went to court with another American family we were traveling with from our agency.  Our court appointment was after theirs so we sat nervously waiting with our translator.  We sat down next to a 12 year old boy whose parents were in court across the hall.  Because of his age he got to tesitfy in his adoption if he would like to be adopted by his new family.  I remember he said he was nervous to talk in front of the judge but that he wanted to be adopted by his new family and to have a mother and a father. I was so touched by this child and he gave me the courage to not be nervous.  Court was a very positive experience...lots of questions all translated first and then our answers were translated.  We were asked just as many questions from the judge as the DA. The pediatrician from our babyhome and the social worker both spoke on our behalf giving their recommendations for us to be Emily's parents.   We shared our photo album, everyone seemed satisified that we would love Emily as our own daughter and provide her a good home and future.  After an hour of court proceedings the judge left to deliberate and the verdict came back in after 20 minutes  We were declared her parents and could take her home that trip due to a breakout of chicken pox that had hit her babyhome. Oh...the joy, the euphoria...we were thrilled!!
Here we are out to lunch celebrating with the other family from our agency that also was bringing their daughter home, our translators and another American family that was traveling on their first trip.  So much fun that lunch!! Everyone was on cloud 9 because we just didn't know if the adoptions would go through and if we would get to bring our children home that trip.  Everything was in the hands of the court and we were all just so grateful!

Photos from Emily's living quarters where she spent the past year of her life.  Two rooms for eating, playing and sleeping.

One of Emily's caregivers that wanted to say goodbye to Emily that day as she couldn't bare to do it tomorrow when we took Emily home.  It was so made me cry as our translator translated.  It was clear how much Emily was loved by all our caregivers and that is what made it easier to leave Emily on our first trip. But we still couldn't wait to get back and bring Emily home.  Even though Emily was well taken care of, it wasn't a family or a home it was an institution and there was a sadness in her eyes that was hard to see.  Sean and I would try so hard to get her to laugh because when she was laughing and fully engaged with us the sadness wasn't there. The time we spent with her gruppa we witnessed that the children were all cared for and that adoption was favored for the children. They seemed to understand too that this was no life for a child.  That every child deserved their own family to love them.  They were happy that Emily had a home now and asked we come back again for another child.

That was probably the hardest part about being in the home...seeing all the children.  There were rooms where the children were older.  Children live in the babyhomes from birth to 4 years and then if they are not adopted at 4 they are transfered to the older children's orphanages (4-16 years) where life is much harder..think Lord of the flies.  I was told that the caregivers worry about children becoming too emotional or dependent on the caregivers that if they have to go the older orphanages they won't be strong enough to survive life there.  And the children that were more of a worry, more of a heartbreak were the ones that had any kind of special needs.  At 4 years if they were not adopted they were transfered to an institution where they would never have a chance of leaving again.  Children there would become bedridden and no more care, education would be given to them. It's a death sentence. The most terrible injustice, so horrifying.  There was a little girl with Downs in Emily's gruppa that always came right over, so smiley, so happy...crawling, standing, babbling, cute as can be.  I wanted to take her home.  I hope her family found her.

Today Russia has announced that they have suspended all adoptions to the US.  My heart breaks for all the children left behind in the babyhomes and orphanages all over Russia that have already been referred to American families or potential American families. My heart also breaks for all the parents caught up in this.  I can not imagine the nightmare.  I can not imagine not being able to bring Emily home.  What would our lives have been like without her?  I shudder to imagine.. Please let this suspension be temporary for the sake of all.  Institutions are no place for children to live. Children need love and families. Just looking at Emily's sad little face and her eyes in the babyhome and her eyes's clear how much she's come to life since being home in a family.  Here's the article...


Kimberly said...

Janine, this brought tears to my eyes. Your family and Emily are so lucky- I pray that the suspension will be temporary and other children will find their forever families soon. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for sharing everything you have in your blog. Your words and other blogs have inspired my husband and I so much. We had just began the paperchase last week and now are waiting to see what Russia does. I pray it opens again soon so we too can find a sweet sister for our boys. Thanks again for your posts- you have no idea the lives that you might make better with them.

Troy and Rachel said...

So glad to see some posts and an update! Emily is beautiful and you all have a beautiful family!

Becky and Keith said...

Absolutely wonderful post! It brought back many memories of "stalking" your blog when you were in St. Petes!

Sun With Passing Showers said...

We have adopted twice from Russia, using the same placing agency you used. Thinking of the children left behind is so sad and makes me wish we had the resources to give more of them a family!

Jen said...

Janine, I don't know if I've ever posted this to your blog before, but I've followed for a long time and ended up using the same placing agency you did (and have posted a few times on the yahoo board). Your blog was a huge inspiration to me as well as a great resource. We have a similar situation: two boys at home and we're sitting here waiting on our flight to go bring our girl home. I can't wait to have her in our arms forever.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks!

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