November 24, 2010: Part 2

Hannah found missing second part! Yay, Hannah, thank you. Apparently, I added it as a page, not a post, but I also did schedule it to add, which added my confusion. Guys, you need to realize, I work on my computer and websites all day, so I’m generally pretty computer saavy. But, 4 letter words that start with the same letter stump me every time. Anyways, here you go…

So, back to a knock on the door. The door opened and Lena walked in. Tiny and real. There she was. She knew that we were there for her, and after orienting herself and being handed a doll, she stood at my knees. I gently picked her up. She was light, soft and real. She seemed comfortable, almost right away.
If you’ve never experienced this, you might not know the strangeness of it, having a child you only know in pictures now on your lap. You know a child by their photos or maybe by a brief description. And suddenly, they are 3 dimensional. You can smell their scent, feel their skin, and hear their little giggles. So strange.

This little person finally in front of me was, formally, Olena. As they called her at the orphanage, Lenushka. Or, as we came to know her, Lena.

Before we could get too caught up in that moment, the door opened again and there he was. He looked like a startled deer. Staring, eyes scanning the room, then running to the social worker. Everyone gestured for Aaron to take him, and with some encouragement, Ilya let him. We knew him as Ilya, but they called him Ilyusha.

He was warm, sweaty and obviously tired. I have a feeling that they had just woken him up from his nap to come meet us. He was understandably stiff, and while we talked sweetly to him, he kept his head tucked down in great apprehension.

While these few moments were exciting, the nerves rose again. What if we didn’t seem comfortable enough? Were the doctor and social worker judging these first moments to see how we behaved as instant parents? Ilya’s head stayed down, but Lena was relaxed and quiet. Our facilitator snapped a few pictures of us, which truly excited Lena, to see herself on the tiny screen and she gestured around the room.

More of this is recounted in my original blog post.

It was only a few minutes, of this nervous playing, before they told us the children needed to go. Back to the their groupas. We could come again tomorrow. Although the excitement was over, I released tension walking out of that room. No longer did we have the social worker and Ludmila observing our amateur parenting.

Down the hallway, then the stairs, and back to squishing in the car. Sasha began to tell us how happy the children seemed. “Ilya, I was so worried. He had a woman visit him before. She came many days, but he always cried. She wanted to adopt him, but he cried so much that she did not think he would be comfortable. He did not cry with you. That is very good.” Huh. So already things went much better than we thought.

“Do you want to adopt them? We can start the paperwork or if you want to spend a couple more days with them first, you can do that.” Aaron and I exchanged some edgy, excited glances and some short, awkward phrases like, “what do you think?” Yes, we are ready. We don’t see why not and we don’t want to wait.

Off we went. We dropped off the social worker, back at her university-like building. Sasha explained, “I need to prepare papers. Shall I take you where you can get some lunch?” To the mall, we went. Sasha dropped us on the curb. She explained that we could gesture in the food court to point out what food we wanted and she would call us when she was done. We choose pizza. Easy enough to know what we were getting. We sat down at a little table and breathed deep sighs of relief.

Again, we were alone. Alone together. In a mall, yes, but we knew the likelihood of someone around us fully understanding our conversation were slim. We could process all that had just happened. Beside us, was a children’s play area. It was strange. The contrast of the baby house and this wealthy mall play area was just bizarre. Adjacent cities, two different worlds.

Eventually, Sasha called. I’m not sure what else happened that day, but the next thing I remember was the notary. Eastern European notaries are independent little offices all over. You can just walk in and pay to have something notarized.  A quick flash of our passports, many signatures and we were out the door.

Then, Sasha offered to take us to the grocery store. I believe we needed to exchange some money first, so we did that. Then, to the store. We had been to little markets in Kiev, but this grocery store was large, bright. Shopping carts and a parking lot. It seemed so… normal. To the left and right, as you walked in, were little shops. almost like a mall. You could grab freshly pressed juice. Or get some home goods. Just a bit further and you entered the store through a turn-style. Check your bag if needed or just go past the security guard.
(Again, not my photo– click for source. But this is the same chain that we sometimes shopped at in Ukraine.)

And, we shopped. Gallons of water. Juice and crackers for the kids. Boring, ordinary grocery shopping, while we still held the slight nervousness of such a monumental day.

Back to the car, and then back to our apartment. Sasha stayed with us that night and read through our children’s files again. She went over details again and expounded on certain things. Breaking down nuances which we might not have understood the first time around.

The day ended mildly, nerves slowly being taken over by exhaust. In retrospect, it’s one of the most life-changing days we’ve ever had. Meeting our children for the first time, the first steps to becoming parents, really saying yes to adopt. Wild and pretty much amazing.

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