It seems like it has been forever….I know, I know!
It is hard to believe I am coming up on the two year mark of when I was standing before a judge in a Russian courtroom. And of course, a couple of weeks after that landing at LAX, finally bringing my daughter home. Today lots of memories came back to me, for a couple of reasons I suppose. My social worker is due to visit within the next month for Victoria’s post adoption report. Additionally, just today I was contacted by a single female living in San Diego. She contacted through email and received my information from CHI. Of course, she is considering adopting from Russia and her note consisted of many questions about my experience.
I met a wonderful couple in Russia on my second trip. They had a court date the day before mine. In Russia, though you have a judgment of custody, you are not able to actually have custody of your child until 10 days after the court decision. Justin and Heather were adopting Blake. Blake was in the same group as Tori at the orphanage. During the ten day wait we would visit the children during the week. So we had several drives together to the orphanage and also enjoyed playing with our children together. I remember one distinct conversation that we had. I cannot remember if it was on one of our drives to the orphanage or in the lobby area of the Vlad Inn, but the conversation has always lingered in my mind.
The conversation centered on the idea that we, the adoptive parents, could quite possibly be their, the adopted child’s, trauma. Sure, as an adoptive parent you would like to think the life you will offer a child will far exceed that of being raised in an orphanage. BUT you are also taking them from their comfort, their familiarity, their life as they know it. You are removing them from their life because you have a better plan….essentially they really don’t know you or trust you. They don’t know the mental preparation you have gone through. They don’t have that same chance, knowledge or ability to do any sort of mental preparation. Sure the caretakers might refer to you as their Mama when you are due for a visit, but really a young child just can’t comprehend or understand what is going on. They just know you have disrupted what they had, whether it was good or bad.
Thinking back to the beginning, when I first brought Tori home, I do think in some ways I was her trauma. The transition was difficult at times for her and rightly so! Our life began together hanging out in a hotel, having a grand time. Soon we were on a long plane ride heading home, what I know as home, not what she considered home yet. Everything was unfamiliar to her; people, food, language, home, bed, etc….those first days were rough. I remember after getting everything taken care of at the airport, we headed to my dad and Jan’s. I requested Tori have a Happy Meal waiting for her. Yep, I wanted my new American girl to have a Happy Meal. She really had no interest in a meal, mostly was interested in the dog and wanted a big drink of water. I remember walking up to my dad’s house and I put her down on the grass. I was stunned (seems really dumb now to admit that) at her reaction to her feet on the grass. It dawned on me; she had never felt grass on her bare feet before. She was not pleased by the sensation, but also not frightened. She really just did not know what to make of it.
I remember the drive home that night, to our house. She screamed and cried the entire way, all 50 minutes of the drive! The sun had set and it was dark. She was also strapped into a child car seat, something they did not use anytime we were in a car in Russia. She was struggling and trying with all her might to get out of that seat. My poor baby girl! Her brother just kept asking me what was wrong with her, why was she so upset, can't we just let her out of the seat? Everything was new and different, really just about everything. The first few weeks were rough, not all the time of course. Nights were very difficult for her, often crying in the night. All I could do was go in to her room, soothe her, rub her back, kiss her, hug her, do what I could to comfort her….sometimes several times in one night. I often found that while she was crying in the night, she was not even awake. As I write this, in my heart I celebrate the growth we have made. Yes, we….I have grown so much, just as much as Tori. Dylan has grown too, he is an amazing brother! Not only has the growth been huge, but the trust and love that has been established is tremendous. I am totally in love with my daughter! She truly amazes me on a daily basis. When I look at her and think of her personality, words and phrases that come to mind include (Dylan added some words too): strong , persevering, full of life, compassionate, funny, joyful, enthusiastic, fearless, caring, silly, adventurous, loving, eager, comforting….these are just a few…… God has truly blessed me, us!!! Several times a day she tells me and her brother how much she loves us and; “Mommy, you are my very, very, very, best friend!!” Life is grand!
I promise to update again after my post adoption visit….