18 April 2006

quick notes

Cultural note: On our Easter Sunday, I noticed loads of people walking around with pussy willows. I asked a Russian friend whom I had dinner with what the significance was. She said that in Russia pussy willows are used instead of palms for Palm Sunday. The people bring them to church and they are "baptized". Then are then used throughout the service and taken home afterwards. I'm looking forward to participating in this tradition next year!

Life note: I've been informed that I'm being evicted from my palace. Sigh. I've worked hard to make 11 Millyonaya home this year and have succeeded rather well. Granted, the flat IS too big for me. So, the school is moving me...to *9* Millyonaya! I haven't seen the flat yet, but it's right next door. The outside certainly isn't as nice, but in St. P you can't judge a building by it's exterior. (Well, sometimes you can, but it's best not to.) My new flat will have two bedroom, two bathroom a very small kitchen and a round living room! I'll tell you all about it once I see it...

Phyical note: It's light so much longer!! Last night I walked home from a friend's flat at 9 p.m. and it was just twilight. The Neva has melted. It's been sort of wiggly and causing lots of sunlit sparkles. It looks like the river is as thrilled to be shaking off winter as the rest of us. Since we always had snow from Halloween to Easter growing up in Colorado, it feels like it's time for spring now that Easter has passed. Thankfully, the Russian weather is indulging me!

Language note: My Russian teacher says I have a very good ear! Now that "Wizard" is over, I'm back at my lessons twice a week. I'm looking forward to summer and greater opportunities to make a fool of myself as I attempt this difficult language. (Hopefully, I won't have to fall back on my usual means of communication--I speak pantomime excellently.)

Adoption note: I've completed all my education courses and have filled out most of my paperwork. I'm now waiting for the state of Virginia to send me some certified birth certificates and the state of Ohio to send my child abuse clearance. I also have to go to the consulate (perhaps tomorrow) to have my fingerprints taken and then submitted to the FBI. I still haven't signed with an agency, but am close.

Since this adoption will likely take about a year, I can't help wondering if my daughter is just coming into the children's home now. (She would have to be available to Russian families for nine months before being available for international adoption. This would be the latest she could realistically be entering a "Dvetsky Dom" or children's home.) She may have been there since birth, or she may just now be entering a strange new world. When I eat, I pray that she is fed. When I get dressed, I pray that she is warm and clothed. When I go to sleep, I pray that she is safe and loved and that she knows I'm coming. She is very much in my heart already. Please join me in praying both for a smooth adoption and attachment process and for her while we wait.

Much love,

04 April 2006

inspired by devon (parenthetically laden)

Yesterday, I had my homestudy (explained in the next four paragraphs, I promise). It was changed from Tuesday to Monday at the last minute. Since we're on spring break (God is good to me) it was easy to accommodate the change in schedule. I didn't sleep the night before. I got up early to make sure everything was ready--and to bake muffins we didn't eat and buy milk they didn't take in their tea.

A social worker (from the US) and the head of her Russia program came to my flat. They spent four hours talking to me. I had filled out checklists (What concerns do you have about adopting?) and written an autobiography (limited to 5 pages--sheesh) so that they'd know what to ask me about. Basically, these are the people who decide if I am fit to adopt. They studied my "home" (read: ME) and also my flat. (I do have quite a posh pad here in St. P...but may be moving soon.)

They basically said I was Pollyanna (anyone surprised?). (Actually, they said Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, but I think they meant Pollyanna. I am very good at the glad game.) They think fact that I moved to Russia (to learn about the Russian culture and language) when I knew I wanted to adopt from Russia will be looked upon favorably by the minister of education for my region (they approve the referrals--see below) and the judge who rules on my adoption.

BUT there are many more hoops to jump through before I'm approved. There are forms to fill out, references to acquire, financial statements to compile, documents to gather, fingerprints to run through the FBI computer...All this from St. Petersburg.

We talked about the age/gender/number of children I want to adopt. I'm thinking a girl aged 2-5 or sisters aged 2-6. The lack of space in Russian children's homes (dvetsky dom) means that siblings are often separated. If they are young enough, they may not even remember each other. But, it's also possible that siblings are either together in a dvetsky dom or were together doma (at home) and know each other. I think what I'll do is say I'm open to either 1 or 2 and see who is referred to me.

Referral--After my homestudy is completed, and after I've chosen an agency (goal for the week), I will wait for a referral. My agency will receive basic information about children available for international adoption from the minister of education in the region of Russia to which I'm assigned. (Russian children must be available to Russian families for 9 months before they are available for international adoption.) I will be asked whether or not I want to travel to meet the referral. Then, after meeting the child and having her medical records reviewed (or even having a physical done at the local English-speaking clinic) I can make a decision. At that point, if all goes well, I sign an intention to adopt and wait for a court date.

Someone who adopted from China was very judgmental about the Russian process, saying s/he would never adopt from Russia because you "pick" your child. This is just not the case. I am not out shopping for a child with a list--blue eyes, chestnut hair, exceptional artistic ability, IQ > 110... I know that as a single mother I am not the best person to adopt a child with special needs. And I appreciate the fact that I will know that my child is as healthy as possible. I guess I see the referral process as the equivalent of not smoking or drinking (yeah--not so tough for me) or consuming too much caffeine (OUCH!) during a pregnancy.

I was hoping to adopt NEXT May. From what I'd read, Russian adoptions were taking 10-13 months. Now it seems that timeline might even be speeded up...let's hope my fundraising can keep pace!

Let me know what you want to know. I don't want to bore you all. But, this is certainly filling my head and my heart these days!!


01 April 2006

Agency decision!

To quote Cinderella in Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods": I know what my decision is, it is not to decide.

Actually, I decided to do things backwards. I'm having my homestudy done and submitting my INS forms while I wait to hear about re-accreds in May. And guess what--my homestudy is THIS WEEK!!! It will either be on Monday or Tuesday. I'm so glad we're on spring break right now. And, the homestudy will be completed by the owner of one of the agencies I'm considering. Another family in St. P (I teach their daughter) is adopting with this agency. It's nice to have someone close at hand who is one step ahead of me in this process.

I have to get all my pre-hs paperwork done this weekend. I'm off now to write the life of Kate.

Thanks for riding the roller coaster with me! I think the safety bar just went down...

ps Although it's 1 April, this blog is absolutely true.