Friday, July 3, 2009

This Date In History 7/3/07 - Our Adoption Story

Below is the email update we sent home from Russia on this date in 2007. But I'd like to explain the photo shown here. The photo is a picture of a sunflower that was taken in Lenin Park in Astrakhan, Russia. Our adoption coordinator compared the children of the baby's homes to sunflowers. With the love and attention showered on these children when they go home, they blossom and thrive. Below is our email update sent home only one day before leaving Astrakhan.

Tuesday July 3, 2007 (maybe if we get our Internet)

Again it has been a while since we sent an update. The hotel’s WiFi is still down. The Internet cards have been useless for the past two days because the phone lines in Astrakhan have been down. We were able to connect on-line Tuesday morning for just enough time to read emails. When we tried to sign on again after lunch to respond to emails, the phone lines were down again. In the States, there would be an uproar but it’s just another day here and the lack of ability to communicate doesn’t seem to bother anyone. It is a ridiculously slow pace here. The only thing that is not slow pace is their traffic. The Russians drive like maniacs and there doesn’t seem to be any apparent traffic laws. For example, traffic was a little backed up the other day when we went out with our drive. Some of the cars decided that it would be best to simply ride their cars literally ON the railroad tracks. Also, crosswalks barely mean anything here. It is pretty much a free for all to cross the street. And the drivers certainly do NOT keep a safe distance away from pedestrians. They pretty much come inches from you before stopping. On a few occasions I thought we were going to get hit or, as passengers, our driver was going to hit someone. At first I thought the Russians were purposely doing this to us because we have “American” written on our forehead, but I noticed that is how they treat everyone. My theory is that this is why the US has road rage. That is because *we* have rules and others get ticked off when the rules are broken. Here, there are no rules….a free for all! But road/pedestrian traffic is not the only free for all. The invention of standing in line has not reached Russia yet. The pushing, shoving and cutting is so uncivilized to me. Sighhh…..four more days until we get home! Hopefully we’ll be able to get this update out today so that y’all don’t think we fell into the Volga River.

While I was reading all the emails from family and friends this morning, I began to get teary-eyed. I am so darn homesick and all the words of encouragement have been touching. Also, the parish church that my (Amy’s) family belonged to (St. Gerard’s) is one of the Buffalo diocesan churches that are slated to close. This brought another slew of emails from family reminiscing about the old neighborhood. Between already being homesick and missing my mom, these reminiscent emails were bitter-sweet. They were a joy to read. Many times while reading them I thought…..”Oh yeah, I forgot about that!” But at the same time, that dull ache that I have felt in my heart lately grew a little stronger.

Things are going a little better with Madeline. We have noticed that Madeline is happy with David and will play with him when she has a full tummy and is not tired. If those two criteria are not met, all hell breaks loose. Madeline is getting more used to David however; she feels the safest with Mama because all her caregivers have been female. I try to maximize her good moods by sneaking to go to the bathroom. I am done before she realizes that I am gone. Now if only I could shower quicker. All hell broke loose when I took a shower in the late morning. David was stuck trying to soothe a crying Madeline. From the shower I heard David explain to Madeline how “Mama has to get cleaned up. You don’t want your Mama to have a stinky butt….Flies will start buzzing and people will start to talk about your Mama’s stinky butt”……Oh brother, I can only imagine what this girl’s first words will be. We need to figure this shower thing out.

The other nice thing (besides being able to speak English to someone) about having other adoptive families here is sharing your experiences. Some of the parents here are in the region adopting for a second time. It is comforting that this behavior with Madeline is extremely common. In fact, hearing the stories of other families, it seems as though we are having the easiest time. Brian and Josephine’s (from Dublin) daughter has been biting her Papa. Karen and Huibert’s daughter is a 3 year old. Having lived in the home all her life she has absolutely no sense of danger. This had made yesterday (their first day with Milana) a very scary experience. Mike and Shari’s first adopted son cried for a week straight. The good news is that *eventually* things smooth out some. I am certain that all will improve when we are home and can establish a more normal routine.

After Madeline’s nap, we plan to take another stroll through Astrakhan. We need to think if there is anything else we would like to bring back from the region for Madeline when she gets older. Once we leave here, there is a good chance we will never be back again. Yes, we are extremely homesick and are very anxious to get home but at the same time this has been our “home” for several weeks now. When we get home and regain a certain degree of normalcy, memory has a way of being selective. Although it is hard to imagine now, I am certain that there will come a day when we look back at our time here with fondness. In the meantime, we are looking forward to at least be getting to Moscow tomorrow. First, it is getting us one step closer to home and second, maybe we could get some food that is not doused with dill.

By the way, David and I *NEED* to get out of Russia because we are ALMOST becoming Russian!!! (1) Yesterday it was a “cool” day here. I almost considered putting a cardigan on Madeline. The weather has previously been so hot. I realized that we’ve been here too long when the “cool” day was 86 degrees. I of course decided against the cardigan. (2) Our digestive systems have gotten used to the food here. And speaking of digestive systems, I was never so happy to change a diaper as I was today when I realized that Madeleine is getting used to her new diet too……enough said!

I certainly would like to reply to all of your emails but I am not sure that I will be able to. The lack of Internet has left me with a backlog of emails and a little girl named Madeline has left me limited time as well.

David and Amy


Whimsical Creations said...

I bet it has been wild for you to look back and re-read these e-mails.

Amy said...

It sooooo totally has! But , I must say, as tough as things got there, most of that has left our memory and we are actually left with very fond memories of Russia, (Astrakhan and Moscow)and our time there. We would love to eventually go back to visit the city some day.

Patti said...

Oh how reading this takes me right back to Astrakhan! I wonder if we ever saw Lenin Park - is it near the Azimut? We were in Astrakhan in March, so we didn't see any flowers.

Amy said...


I am sure you were in Lenin Park. If you were to head out behind the Azimut towards the little grocery store that was in the yellow building, Lenin Park was in that direction.

Basically, you would cross the busy street to head to the yellow grocery store (and almost get run over by a crazy Russian driver) and instead of turning right to head to the store you would walk straight. The little park area ran along the side of the Kremlin and had a huge statue of Lenin there.

Actually, there was another much nicer park just past that on the far side of the Kremlin that had even prettier flowers and fountains.

We were lucky enough to get a peek at two different seasons in Astrakhan. Our first trip was the very end of March into the beginning of April. And our second trip was pretty much all of June and the first few days of July.