Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Two Sides of Christmas

Merry Christmas!!

I love Christmas. Love, love, love Christmas. And no, it's not because of the gifts. I love the spirit of Christmas - family, friends, pretty lights, getting just the right gift for someone else. And this Christmas, I got one of the best gifts anyone could ask for. My adoption agency finally found the little girl I had been looking for, and she is available for international adoption.

But this Christmas is bittersweet. Because while I get to be all excited to finally get the process moving, Tanya is still in a Russian special needs home. While I have heard good things about some of the women who work there, it is still an institution. And I have to keep reminding myself that Tanya won't just have the regular orphan issues - attachment, behavior, possible medical issues not disclosed - she also has the entire set of post-institutionalized issues. Images of mental institutions from the early 20th century here in America always pop into my head when someone trots out that term: post-institutionalized.

So my Christmas prayers are for her. My Christmas wishes are also, and maybe even more so, for those who surround her physically now. I pray every day that the caregivers are able to have patience, kindness, and love for the many children they have in their care day in and day out. I pray that they will love my little girl until I can get her home. While cannot imagine doing their jobs, I pray that God supports them as they somehow do. I pray for the other children - not just those in Tanya's home, but for all who are stuck in institutions while we celebrate in cozy houses with families gathered around decorated trees. I pray that God will keep Tanya safe while she is still so many miles away. And I pray that this will be her last institutionalized Christmas, her last Christmas away from her forever family. We believe in the power of prayer here at the Fisher house, so we covet your prayers as well. Will you join us?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Many of you will not understand this. Those of you with real phobias probably will.

A little background here: I am terrified of needles -- Always have been (really, you can ask my mom). When I was a kid, I remember running around a school gym trying to get away from my mom at a random immunization clinic. I also remember 'going along' to my sisters' doctor appointments and then *surprise* time for a shot for me, too. My mom got clever - she had to. Once I got older, I just avoided needles. I was almost not allowed to come back to high school because I had not gotten my MMR booster. I was almost not allowed to come to my daycare job because I had not started my Hepatitis B series. For almost 10 years after that awful day, I managed to almost completely avoid needles (except for that one TB test .... ). And then I needed a good-paying job, and the Red Cross was going to send me to Kuwait. There was one catch - I had to update ALL of my immunizations and get a few new ones. A total panic attack, many tears, and an embarrassing mother-daughter moment later, I survived all 8 shots. When I ended up not going with the military, my first relief was that I would not have to get the smallpox, anthrax, and finish the Hep A and B series. To be honest, I'm not sure I could have gone through with all of those. Sad, I know.

And then came Tanya. Because she has a compromised immune system, it is imperative that I be immunized for everything possible. I could never forgive myself if I brought something home that made her sick. So I knew that I needed to bite the bullet and finish the Hep A and B series.

Today I made my first sacrifice for my daughter (I really like the sound of that .... my daughter). Yes, I've spent time and some money on this process, but those were easy. Today, I got a shot. And the most amazing part? I felt the prayers of those of you who saw my facebook post, I looked at a picture of Tanya, and I didn't panic. I didn't cry. I didn't avoid the appointment. I didn't even make the poor nurse wait. Because I would do anything to protect her. Anything. And today, even though it may not seem like a big deal to some of you, I began to show that.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's in the Mail!

I spent six hours this weekend watching a pre-adoption workshop. And believe it or not, it was worth every minute. I got to 'meet' many of the people who work at my agency and to hear many more specific facts on the process. It was long. But it was also helpful - and required by the Hague.

I feel as though I just finished an enormous final exam because my much bigger task this weekend was to finish all of my adoption questionnaire essays for the application part one (the easy part). Some were easy to answer, but some were much more complicated and difficult to put into words. How can I explain why I know I'm ready to adopt a child with special needs? How can I describe that tug I've always felt on my heart, my soul to make sure to take care of the children who no one else wants? How can I relay the message that I've just always known I needed to adopt a special needs child? Has it been forever? Or did it start on that day over 19 years ago when my dear and loved sister came home and told me, her preteen-mess-of-a-middle-school-sister that she was pregnant and was releasing her child for adoption? Not that he wasn't wanted - believe me, he was. Or maybe it was the day that I met Tyler's family. Maybe it was even the day that they first invited us all to their house. Their home. Maybe it was the day I watched as my sister held her beautiful baby and just loved him. She loved him enough to give him the life and family she knew she could not. Maybe that was the day the adoption seed was planted in my heart. Maybe it was that day I watched her struggle with one of the hardest and most important decisions of her life. Maybe.

How do I explain how much I love this child? Do you remember that moment you first saw the two lines show up on the pregnancy test? That's what seeing Tanya for the first time felt like. Like I was newly aware of this life that was meant to be a part of mine. Like God was whispering - no, shouting - at me telling me I had a child on the way. And just like a biological mother's love grows for her child as her belly grows, so has my love for Tanya grown as my heart has grown. And now? She is a part of me - for better or for worse. It doesn't matter that I have met her, talked to her. Did you need to meet your unborn child to love him? Did you have to wait until he was old enough to have a conversation to bond with him? I didn't think so.

How could I explain that in my adoption essays?

Finding Tanya

When Lis came home in August, I never would have guessed that it would take almost four months to firmly locate the amazing little girl she found. One of the most uncanny things about Tanya is how much she looks like me at her age - really. Sometimes I glance at a picture of her and think it's me. It's like somehow my actual, biological daughter was born across the world.

But on Thursday, December 15, 2011, after a flurry of emails between Lis, a nonprofit, my adoption agency, and myself, it was official. We finally found Tanya. She was the little girl who I had found on the Russian Orphan Databank (did you know that Russia has a website databank of all of their orphans?). According to the databank, she is available and has no siblings. 

Finding Tanya has not been easy.
Bringing Tanya home will not be easy. I am not that na├»ve. What I do know is that God has called me to this process and God will lead me through it. And hopefully Tanya will read this blog someday. It may never happen, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t go down fighting. Tanya deserves at least that. For now, she remains institutionalized in Russia – and that breaks my heart. Keep us all in your prayers – we can use them!