23 March 2010

searching for kristina

Thank you all for your kind words on the last post. I didn't want to overshadow our joyful milestone with this, so I've held off on posting.

This is a post I wasn't sure I'd write. It's on the long side, even for me, so be sure you've got some time.

Lexi came home six months ago, in late September. You may remember when I made her the album of photos of her groupmates. What I didn't mention then was the joy she had over seeing her friend Kristina. She exclaimed, "This is my friend! My Kristina! How beautiful!" She was more excited about seeing Kristina's picture than she was in seeing the picture of the little boy her caretaker told us was the only person who would play with her. (That was in June. I'm guessing the girls made friends later. Or the caretaker didn't know.)

When she was playing with my hair in those early days, she would take two handfuls and make pigtails. Then she'd sigh, "Kristina" filled with homesickness for her friend. The longing, the missing, the melancholy in that one word just made me ache for her. Then her eyes would twinkle and she'd make one ponytail and pronounce me "Daniel!" Her other little friend had the rat's tail that is so popular over here. She still does this today.

I don't remember when I worked it out, because the photo of her on the database didn't look at all like the little girl I saw, but I met Kristina. She was one of the two little girls brought in to play with Lexi on my second visit. My rep took a picture of us all playing together. But, the director panicked, whisked the girls away, and had me erase it. Yes, this is the photo that I'll regret following rules about for the rest of my life. I remember her. She was soft and quiet. She was gentle. Her light brown hair was in a ponytail. She captured a bit of my heart that day--even as I tried to remind myself that it was Lexi I was there to see.

Lexi missed her friend, Kristina tremendously. She talked about her--and to her in imaginary phone calls--every day. Kristine is often along as an imaginary friend to this day.

After much thought and prayer, I decided to inquire about her availability for international adoption. I had wanted to adopt sisters, I thought d2b was plural, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to keep children together who didn't share a biological bond, but were "sisters" in their group. My agency thought she'd be home by August.

No, I didn't post about it. This was one of those things that just needed to be mine, to be treasured up in my heart. It just wasn't for sharing.

Have you read The Waiting Child? It's the only Chinese adoption story I've read. It makes me weep. And I thought I would be able to write the Russian sequel.

I was told in December that Kristina was available for adoption and my heart soared! We began getting social workers lined up and inquiring about paperwork. Once the holidays were over and we were ready to proceed it was early February.

On that visit to the MOE my agency's representative was told that Kristina was not available for adoption.

I was devastated. I thought she was mine. I was ready. I was excited. My heart had already claimed her. She was mine. She was ours. I'm still heartsore. While I am delighted that Kristina is finding a home, I am so very disappointed it is not with us.

I have to thank my agency for doing the impossible. They were able to get information that they shouldn't have been able to get. Russian adoption is very private. Maybe it was my wild hopes that convinced our reps to pursue it or the MOE to share--I hoped that she'd been referred but not accepted. I hoped she was being adopted by a Russian family who would change their minds. I hoped that she was still mine.

My agency was told Kristina is being adopted by an American family, and that their paperwork is already in. And, I was given permission to take Lexi for a visit to say goodbye. This is amazing.

We booked our plane tickets and made arrangements with a driver. Then, we learned that the orphanage is quarantined with chickenpox. It's likely that Kristina will be gone before we can say goodbye.

Another blow. But this one was delivered so caringly by our agency rep--who e-mailed me in Russian. I was so touched by this gesture. Usually everything goes through translators and the agency. For him to e-mail me directly was another big thing. And for that, I'm very grateful.

So why am I posting this now? Truly, I'd rather not. I'd rather keep this all to myself. But, this blog has been used in amazing ways in the past. It's connected people in, frankly, miraculous ways. I'm hoping it will do that again.

I've put messages up on FRUA and adoption.com in an attempt to locate Kristina's family, but have gotten no response.

I've contacted the agencies that I know work in Moscow Region (ABC, CSS, Children's Hope International, Dove, Hand in Hand, IAG, MAPS, Nightlight, and Wide Horizons) to ask if they are representing this family. MAPS, Hand in Hand and CSS have replied, letting me know that Kristina is not going home with one of their families.

I've asked only that the agency will pass my contact details on to Kristina's new family in the hopes that they'll contact me. (If you were with one of the other agencies that hasn't responded and can tell them I'm not crazy, that might help. If you know of other agencies who work in Moscow Region that I don't have listed, please let me know.)

It is my hope that Lexi and Kristina would be able to maintain some sort of contact. Even just knowing where she was, that she was home and happy would be helpful to Lexi.

I've offered to share with the family things that I've learned about life in their orphanage that may be helpful with their initial adjustment. I wish I'd known.

My heart just breaks every time Lexi says, "Oh, hi, Kristine! We miss you." She takes pictures of me holding the imaginary Kristina. She helps her and tells her all sorts of things. She makes sure Kristina has something to eat and promised Mama will make her a pretty dress. Sunday she was taking care of her because she was sick. We both love Kristina and pray each night, thankful that Kristina has a new family. (Lexi is able to do that much more happily than I, if truth be told.)

If you know Kristina's family, would you share our story with them? If you are Kristina's new family, please will you let us know? I can verify her last name, database information, diagnoses... We won't stalk! We just would love to know where in the world Kristina is.


Annie said...

Oh, you poor thing. I'm literally nauseated reading this. It is SO sad, and so hard to believe it is God's will.....but it must be.

Anastasia had a little "charge" a slightly younger little girl who she talked about ALL THE TIME (Xenia), and yes - I looked into adopting her, but she'd seemingly disappeared. No one knew where she was. Presumably she was taken to live with relatives. Anastasia STILL talks about this little one, five years later. I think Xenia somehow replaced for Nastya the baby brother who they separated from her.

I just hope children don't really feel these losses with the power and pain which we imagine that they do. Yet, I am afraid they might.

Kate - I do have one idea; there are yahoo groups for Russian adoption in just about every region. The Ivanovo one is quite close and helpful. I also belong to the Nizhni Novgorod one which is also very receptive. I don't know if they all are, of course. But you might check there.

Annie said...

Every time you write about that photo I wish you'd just pretended to erase it. But, I would have actually erased it too, I suppose. I'm just too darned docile sometimes.

If you can believe this - it was a chickenpox epidemic that prevented me from meeting Xenia and Nastya from saying goodbye, too.

kate said...

I've tried the yahoo group, too. It's not a very active one, and there was not a single reply.

Oh, I WISH I had just pretended to erase it. It just didn't evenoccur to rule-follower-me then. Now, I know better.

The Accidental Mommy said...

That is SO sad, I am so sorry for you and Lexi!
I was going to suggest what Annie did, there are several yahoo listserve groups specific to regional adoption and the one I read for Ukraine does sometimes have requests for information about specific children and where they might be.
Good luck, keep us updated.

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

Honey, my heart does go out to you. I know that when you're ready, when your heart has made that commitment, it's the hardest thing in the world to walk away. Perhaps this is opening other doors that God desires you to pass through.

On the other hand, at least you know that K is going to a home, to have a family of her own that will be able to provide her with the love, nurishment, warm, etc. that she needs. Praying for comfort for you and Lexi and praying for K's new family.

Unknown said...

Oh, wow. I don't even know what to say. Anya has a friend like that too - but she hasn't spoken of her once (yet). When we were leaving the orphanage, her friend was very quiet and had the saddest look on her face. I can't let myself think about that image for long!

I know the director at NL, and will email him and cc you on the note. That might help?

Jane and Jim said...

I know you will find her.
This is a very small community - this IA group...
You WILL find her.
Keep blogging about it. I'll link your blog to my blog just in case someone reads mine...

Unknown said...

Oh, Kate. I can pray.

Annie said...

That is one thought - ALL of us might blog about it. And another might be for everyone to mention it on their own yahoo region group, just in case someone knows about it.

Another thought: Could you find out what agencies work in that region?

Could you give the director a letter to be passed on to Kristina's parents with your contact information?

Could you provide such a letter to the Ministry of Education, or whatever Ministry is now organizing adoptions there? It is my understanding that the one we worked with does that.

Also, if they are under quarantine, that might well delay Kristina's departure. With Anastasia, we JUST slipped under the wire, because they had her and the other kids getting over chickenpox sleeping in a makeshift dorm, and while the whole orphanage was going to be quarantined the day we went to court, she'd had CP already (in fact was dotted with zelioni).

Just on the off-chance, our lawyer even told us we couldn't spend the days we'd planned to spend in Ivanovo City, and rushed us off to Moscow on the first train after court, I presume so we'd not be stopped. But Irina was famous for getting the waiting period delayed (as if that mattered to me - I wasn't going to rush away from Russia if I could help it!) I think the waiting period is more strict now, so Kristina might have to wait out the ten days; they might even delay court because I think the parents by law have to see the child again before court.

Maybe you can still connect. I'll pray so!

kate said...

I did find the agencies that work there. Those are the ones I e-mailed. I heard back from three. Sorry to be unclear about that.

I've little faith in anything making it out of the orphanage with her.

I'm still hoping we get down there--and it's possible. But, it depends not only on when the quarantine is lifted, but if they tell us. It would be so hard for me to go...but I think it would be good for Lexi.

Rachael said...

Oh, I hope you find her!

Maybe this is a crazy suggestion, but do you think the MOE would pass along your contact info. to Kristina's agency? With a little bribe maybe???

ko said...

Oh man. So sorry to hear this for you. But on the upside I'm very happy to hear she has a family. I do think EAC may work in the Moscow region also. Good luck. I really hope you find her family.

Holly said...

Oh, Kate. I'm in tears reading this. Sending you hope and prayers that you find Kristina. Good luck to you.

Laura said...

I can't remember how I found your blog, but I've enjoyed reading about your life with Lexi. We have a daughter from Chelyabinsk and a son from St. Petersburg. I know our agency, Adopt-A-Child (Pittsburgh), works in Moscow. I wish you the best of luck!

kate said...

Laura, do they work in Moscow City or Region? Thanks!!

Maggie said...

Oh Kate. I hope you find her. These kids experience so much loss. And the other children in the dietsky dom are really truly their families.

When I was trying to adopt Vladimir my agency told me that his younger sister (who had been in a separate dom rebeynka (sp?)) had already been adopted through their agency. They facilitated contact between me and the other family.

After I lost Vladimir, I sent the family a message to let them know. Their daughter had no memories of her older brother, but they knew that one day the information would be important to her.

Keep trying. I hope you find her.

Anne said...

Hi Kate,
I'm on the singles yahoo group with you. I think European Adoption Consultants works in Moscow (www.eaci.com). I hope you find her!

Lindsay said...

Hope you find your answers. Will trying any of the translators/facilitators who work with the orphanage and adoptive families help? Maybe they will know when the meeting will be taking place and can pass information on for you.

Good luck.

Pollock Family said...

Lutheran Social Services, and Lighthouse adoption... work in Moscow..I hold my fingers crossed you find her... and also try to contact USA Embassy in Moscow, all the kids go trough them... good luck

Anonymous said...

My sister adopted twice from the Moscow region through Alliance for Children. I don't think they are on your list.
Good luck finding them.

Tammy said...

When I was going through Frank Adoption Center a few years ago, I believe they worked in Moscow. Not sure if it was the city of region or where they work now. Just don't tell them I sent you if you want cooperation LOL!

I will be sending so many prayers your way. I know it feels like you've lost her.

I 2nd the idea of submitting a letter to the orphanage director or even the MOE, along with a large "gift". This one is worth swallowing your ethics if the ends justify the means and bring closure for both you and Lexi.

nicole said...

This post just brings a frog to my throat..poor lexi and kate sometimes things happen in ways that break our heart.Maybe you can sew a plain doll and have lexi decorate it to in her mind look like her friend??I make waldorf dolls..if you email me privately at amomentintime@live.ca i could make lexi one and mail it too you with the right hair colour etc.maybe itll help??this post is so sad..huggs from canada...

Laura said...

To answer your earlier question, I believe Adopt-A-Child works in Moscow City, but I'm not entirely sure. I just know most of their referrals come from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Let me know if I can help in any way. I so hope you find her!!

Debbie said...

I cannot say anything that has not already been said... you all are in my prayers and thoughts and since this is a close community (relatively speaking) there definitely is hope you can connect some day!

Maura said...

Everyone has said it all. I SO hope you find Kristina.

And while it would not be a replacement, I like Nicole's doll idea.

nicole said...

thanks maura iam an artist who belives in that dolls help facilitate play for children..I could make one that looks simalar to lexi and one that looks like another little girl ..lexi could name it kristina and they could play together and kate can make the girls matching dresses etc..just as we had fav blankies etc as children if kate says to lexi well kristina has gone to her new family but mama has dollies for you to pretend play with it may help her have something tangible to hold onto.I currently paint lifelike dolls for a liveing and donate to a nurseing home..I love kates blog and enjoy reading about lexi anytime i can help..huggs from canada..

McMary said...

I am very sad for you and I will pray that you find Kristina.
I am not positive but I believe that Children's Home Society and Family Services in MN and also Kids to Adopt (not sure where they are) also work in Moscow. It might be worth a try.
Praying for you and Lexie.

A Room to Grow said...

Rita has a friend like that who we think lives in Spain. I've tried the messages boards a couple of times but haven't heard anything.

All we know about Rita's friend - Alonka (sp?) - is that she has three sisters. She and her three sisters were adopted in Fall 2007 by a family from Spain. Rita and Alonka lived with an orphanage caregiver for six months in 2007 to "ready them" for family life. We were given a photo album of some of their adventures that summer.

Garnet said...

I found your blog through either Rachael or Moscow Mom and have been following along with your search for your daughter. I rejoiced when you finally got to meet her and bring her home and have loved seeing her blossom under your care. I just haven't gotten my act together to introduce myself and congratulate you on your new little one. But I can't pass this. I'm really praying that you find the little girl and get a chance for Lexi to connect with her in some way.