Saturday, October 19, 2013

Carrying the Weight

I know I haven't been on here, but it's really because nothing new has happened.  The Russians have been clear - they have a law that makes US adoptions illegal, and they have no intentions of making exceptions or changing the law.  We continue to pray for changes in hearts and minds.

Given this, I have struggled with how to cope with having no timeline, almost no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel.  What I'm trying to say is that this has been hard.  Really really hard.

When people ask me if I have children, how do I answer?

I feel such a constant sense of guilt that it is hard to bear at times.  I should have pushed my home study agency to finish things more quickly.  I should have pushed my adoption agency to give me more information about requirements sooner.  I should have started the whole process as soon as I saw her picture.  I should have...

Sometimes I can't breathe.  I can't sleep.  I can't think.  I can't be.  I don't know how to do this.

Her room sits empty.  Clothes hang in her closet, an adorable name pillow hangs from her doorknob.  But I cannot go in.  I find myself ignoring the very existence of the space.  As if somehow then this giant gaping hole just won't exist.  It won't be.

And there she sits.  Destined for who knows what if they don't change the law.  The hard fact is that she is sick and may not be getting any treatment.  Her disease is one that can be managed quite well with the right medications, but without treatment, she will die.  She might die before I ever have the chance to get her home.  It sounds extreme, but it is true.  I can't save my own daughter.  I can't even let her know that she has a family who loves her and is waiting for her.

And this last part is selfish, and I'm angry at myself for feeling it.  But I thought I finally had a purpose, I'd finally have a reason to be.  I feel like as I lose her, I lose myself.  I don't know what else to do.  I don't know who else to ask, who else to beg, who else to plead my case.  The State Department can't help, the Russians don't want to help.  Even some of the less scrupulous options aren't really options.  I've thought of moving to Russia (it takes five years to become a citizen), paying people for illegal transfers (I don't have that much money - and what kind of life is that?), other ideas... they're all dead ends.  And I feel dead.  I feel like I'm grieving for a lost child - like she's gone.  But she isn't.  There she sits, just waiting for a future that may never be.

And it's hard to just sit around and carry all that on my shoulders.  So when people ask me how she is, how it's going, I don't have an answer.  I pretend to be happy that I'm childless and carefree.  I'm just carrying it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Silver Linings

You know how I've been lamenting not being farther in the process?  Not being one of those 'pipeline' families that the U. S. State Department is working so hard to push through?

We found out today that the Russian government is claiming that in 99 of those 200 or so cases the children have now been either returned to their birth parents, adopted by a Russian family, or placed with family members.  Now I would normally take all of this with a very large grain of salt, but it has been corroborated by locals in Russia and local newspapers there that certain children have recently been adopted (most certainly related to the fact that Russia just raised their adoption aid by seven times).  While I am so happy that these children have families, I do worry that families may have taken them in for the money and not to care for them as their own.  And there is also that extra stab that the country pushed their adoptions to ensure that the American families who loved them would not have a chance to adopt them.  Because yes, somehow I would be happy if Tanya found a good family all the way in Russia, but I just don't believe that is what is happening the majority of the time.

The other positive part of Russia pushing adoptions again is that they have updated their orphan databank, and we get a new picture of my baby.  She is growing so fast, and looks anything but happy in this picture, but I'll take it.  So here she is, bangs all grown out, hair a little lighter, looking so very grown up.

Don't get me wrong.  Things are bleak, and that is putting it lightly.  The Russians are standing solid on the fact that they will not make any effort to put though any American adoptions.  The law is the law, they said, and they will not try to break the law.  They do not want to break the law.  Or change the law.  For now, things will not change.

And so I'll choose to be hopeful and happy for what I can get.  Hopeful that after some time (yes, it will be quite some time) and much negotiating, my Tanya will come home.  And in the meantime, we'll keep looking for those silver linings.

"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
Romans 12:12  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Missing Her

How do you miss someone you've never met?

How do you love someone so much it feels like your heart will come right out of your chest, even if you've never been on the same continent?

How do you figure out how to keep living life in this holding pattern?

I miss my baby.  I miss my little girl.  I miss her so much I feel like I can't breathe sometimes.  And it comes up suddenly sometimes - just walking past the Easter decorations and remembering that you planned on dying eggs with her.  Sometimes it comes slowly, like a dark smoke invading every part of my soul, grabbing onto every hope and good feeling and spiraling me into a weekend where I never get out of bed.  I dream about her.  All the time.  They're almost always anxiety-riddled dreams where I lose her hand or run through a tunnel and can't catch up to her.  I hug and cry with a little girl until I push her scarf back to find it's not her.  It's not my baby.  I still can't find her.  Every now and then I get to have a good dream.  A dream where she's home and playing and swimming and laughing and loving her family.  I wake up and expect to hear her calling for me, wanting pancakes or waffles with her grandpa.  And then I remember, and it all comes rushing back.  And my heart hurts.  All the time.  And I cry - a lot.  For those of you who know me, I'm not generally a cryer.  But I don't know what else to do.  I can't fight an entire government.  I can't make people change their minds or care more about children than politics.  I can't change the facts.  I don't know what else to do at this point.  And time keeps on ticking.  Time we don't have.  Adoption paperwork and approvals are only good for so long.  Fees paid are only valid for so long.  Although I'd gladly pay it all again ten times over if I could only have her home.  Here, with me.  Where she belongs.

I have to find a new job, so this complicates things even more.  Can I move?  Only temporarily.  You see, my home study and adoption are all approved for my current address.  And my family is here - I don't want to live anywhere else with her.  So moving feels like giving up.  And I'm not giving up.  Ever.

So I'll just keep existing and missing her.  I don't know what else to do.

Some facts for those of you who have asked:
Around 46 families have had their court date and were only waiting to pick up their children.
Around 219 families had official referrals, many of whom had already visited their children.
It is unknown how many families are in my unique circumstance, but we did hear from one on a conference call.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

On turning 6

This day is not what I expected it to be, but I suppose few are.  A few short months ago, I thought I would have met you by now, would have been able to tell you our story, hug you, hold you.  Instead, here we are, separated by what sometimes seems like an eternal abyss.  The government of your country has taken a hard stand and will most likely not change anything for quite some time.  You will remain in your institution for the foreseeable future, no idea that there is an entire family here just waiting to love you and take care of you.  We pray for you to feel our love, to feel God's love every day.  We hope that you have not lost hope to find your forever family.  We are here.  We are waiting.  We are fighting.  We love you more than you could imagine.

And so you are having another birthday in your orphan home.  Once again, I wonder if anyone is celebrating with you, if you even know it's your birthday.  I want you here to give you your presents, let you pick out your birthday dinner, choose your cake, and blow out your candles.  I want you here to tell you how special you are.  I want you here to tell you how much I love you, to tell you about your family, to make you a part of our family, your forever family.  I just want you here.

But instead, I will wait.  Like many others, we just wait.  We sit on conference calls with the State Department that become increasingly pessimistic.   We follow press conferences in a nation on the other side of the world.  We listen for talk of amendments to this bill, and feel our hearts drop every time they are not passed.  We wait for this cloud to pass and pray that it will pass.  We wait and we pray.

So until I can finally see you again, I will wish you a happy 6th birthday from here.  Where your room sits waiting and ready, where we all pray every day for you and those around you.  I love you, kiddo.  Even from afar.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What can you do?

This is one concrete thing you can do to help us get Tanya home.  So if you're so moved, please contact your representatives.

Members of Congress have a short window of opportunity to sign on to two letters regarding Russia’s recent decision to ban adoptions to the United States. The first letter is to President Vladimir Putin of Russia and the second is to President Obama. Both letters appeal to each leader to recognize the basic human rights of these children and all children in Russia to a family and to work to resolve both the pending cases of children who were in the adoption process prior to the January 1, 2013 ban. 

Senator Roy Blunt and Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chairs Senator Landrieu, Senator Inhofe, Representative Bachmann and Representative Karen Bass are currently circulating these letters for signature by their colleagues, with a deadline to sign on to these letters of tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16 at 12pm EST. Please contact your Senators and Representative today and urge them to sign on to these letters and lend their support to Russia’s children. Offices interested in signing on should contact Libby Whitbeck in Senator Landrieu’s office or Kristina Weger in Senator Blunt’s office.

- You can find your Senators’ phone numbers and email address at

- You can find your Representatives’ phone numbers and email address at

Please distribute this information widely to your friend and family, requesting they also contact their Members of Congress prior to Wednesday, January 16 at 12pm EST

Our Thanks to Senator Roy Blunt and Congressional Coalition on Adoption Co-Chairs Senator Landrieu, Senator Inhofe, Representative Bachmann and Representative Karen Bass and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute for their continued leadership on this issue.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Whole New Year

As most of you know, Putin signed the legislation that bans US adoptions in Russia late December, and this ban went into effect on January1st of this year.  Happy New Year 2013, I suppose.

Yes, this is terrible news for Tanya, and this is terrible news for me and my family.  But let me make a few things clear.

In this family, we do not give up on each other, and we have not and will not give up on bringing Tanya home.  So for those of you offering condolences, I appreciate it, but she is not gone.  This is a significant setback, to say the least, but we will bring Tanya home.  We don't know how or when, but it will happen.  My mother is convinced it will happen this year - she's downright optimistic!

Things are bleak, yes.  But there are glimmers of hope that may break open in the coming year.  We all recognize that this is political, and politics are constantly changing.  There may be an amendment that allows for the adoption of special needs children.  There may be accommodations for adoptions in progress.  The ban may be overturned by the Russian courts (the bilateral agreement that went into effect in November 2012 called for 12 months notice before stopping adoptions).  God may work in some other mysterious way.  Or it may not happen this year.  I do not know.  All I know is that it is my job, as Tanya's mom, to fight for her until there is no more fight left.  And we are not there.  Not even close.

Psalm 62
5Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7My salvation and my honor depend on Goda;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.       Selah