life on the funny farm

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Child Not Chosen: Meeting My Babies Part 3

Meeting Ylia

The Child Not Chosen

I chose
my babies by birth
in the quiet before you were born.

I did not know you.
I did not choose you.

I chose
Bella as my own.
With Bella you shared a roof.
With Bella you shared Mamas.

But I did not know you.
I did not choose you.

I chose
Borya as a son of my heart.

With Borya you shared distant memories of another roof.
Of another mother.

But I did not know you
and I did not choose you.

I was told I could take Borya as my son.
Not just of my heart
but of my home. My family.

I chose to begin the journey that would take me to him.

I was told
by men unknown to me
from the land of your birth
that I was to be your mother.

I did not know you.
I did not choose you.

Others chose you.

I heard words.
I heard special needs.
I heard ten years old.
I heard if Borya was to be my child
you would be my child.

I was angry.
I did not choose you.

God chose you.

God chose me.

God tried to quiet my angry heart and take me by the hand to lead me to you.
But I was angry and hid my hands behind my back.

I crossed dark oceans and sleeping lands.
I found myself in the land of your birth.
I found myself in a sorrowful building.

I was reunited with my son
and cried tears of joy.
My heart was full.

I did not choose you.

I found myself looking towards an opening door.
I found myself looking into beseeching eyes.

Eyes of loneliness
Eyes of questions
Eyes of searching and longing and hope.

Could I choose you?

I came to see you.
I came to know you.

I looked in your beautiful eyes.

Eyes of love
Eyes of joy
Eyes of mischief
Eyes of searching and longing and hope.

Eyes of God.

Eyes of my daughter.

I choose you.
I choose you.
I choose you.

Daughter of my heart
Daughter of my family
Daughter of God.

I choose you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meeting My Babies - Part Dva

Meeting Borya
It was August. 2003. I sat there in the dusty play yard on the worn bench feeling more than a little overwhelmed.

Bella was on my lap and I couldn't believe how much love I could feel for this tiny child that I had only just met for the first time yesterday.

We were in a dreamlike mother-child honeymoon of cuddles and songs and hugs and eye gazing. There wasn't a scrap of doubt that this was my daughter, and that this was meant to be. Visiting with her twice a day for the next two weeks was a beurocratic formality in my mind. I could hop on a plane to take her home with me tonight if they'd let me. But this was Kazakhstan. They would not let me.

I rocked Bella back and forth in my lap, embracing her tightly, and hummed softly in her ear. And I looked all around me at the children. Children swirling around me like the dust of the yard. Children laughing and dancing and fighting and all speaking in Russian. In turns, they would come stand before me to look and wonder. They glanced at Bella and then at me, and I knew they were asking themselves,
"Why her?"

I knew, before I ever arrived at the Detsky Dom,
before I got on the plane to fly to the other side of the world,
before I even thought up the concept of adopting a child, that there were orphans in the world. Children living without families.

But until I sat in this yard, I never thought what that meant. I never put faces with the word "orphans". But now I was here. And they were here. In the flesh. laughing and dancing and fighting and all speaking in Russian.

These were Real Children. Oh my God.

Oh. My. God.

'Orphans the Idea' was transitioning into 'Orphans the Reality' right before me. My heart was beginning to race. Why did I never think of what this would mean to me, what this would feel like to be sitting among all the little children without Mamas? I knew myself better than that. Jesus, Mary and Joseph I could't even walk into an animal shelter without wanting to take them all home, why did I think I could do this?

And then, a tap on the shoulder.

I turned and looked into the brown eyes of a boy. A young boy about 7 or 8 years old perhaps, with a smattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks. He smiled softly and spoke quietly in Russian, never breaking his gaze. I turned to my translator seated next to me. "What did he say?"
"He said, 'Can you find me a Mama too?' "

That was it. I looked back at this beautiful little child and the tears began to spill from my eyes. I was crying. I hugged Bella to me even tighter as I wept for this little boy, and for all the children there.

"Tell him I will do whatever I can to find him a Mama", I whispered.

And I sat in the dusty play yard on the worn bench, and I cried.

It was October, 2008. Years had passed since I had first met Borya in the play yard. And here I was again,
halfway around the world,
sitting in a stifling room smelling of ammonia and cabbage,
at the end of a five year journey.

We had vowed to help him.
We lost him.
We found him.
We were told we could adopt him.
We were granted approval of our dossier and permission to travel.

And I sat in the suffocating room feeling more than a little overwhelmed.
It had been five years.
How would he feel when he saw me again?
How would I feel?
My head was spinning, my heart racing....

At long last, the door opened, and Borya walked in. And just like that, the stress and uncertainty were gone. We moved towards each other and I wrapped my arms around my son. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what then is a hug worth? Here, folded in my arms and squeezing me tight, was the flesh and blood manifestation of a dream.

We stood like that a long time, till one of the women asked him in his language,
"Do you know who this is?"
"Da. Mama."

In an instant I was transported back in time to a child's room, with dancing bears papered on the walls and hand-painted on the furniture. The lamp-lit bed held a mother and young child, with a cherished volume propped open on a mountain of knees while the concluding words of the book were read:
"Yes, I know who you are. You are a bird. And you are my mother."

Of course I cried. Of course. He had not qualified his answer in any way. I was not the woman he remembered from so many years ago. Not the woman who wanted to adopt him. Not his adoptive mother. I was simply ...


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let the Carnage Begin

My chicks arrived Thursday morning.

They're cute as, well,
little fuzzy baby chicks.

They are tiny and they sit in the palm of your hand and they go peep-peep-peep.

But I know their days of being adorable are numbered.
I just stopped into my local feed store to get a new heat lamp and saw they had some chicks for sale.

2 1/2 week old chicks.

Not so cute.

No longer going peep-peep-peep.
Walking all over their smelly green poo.
Feathers beginning to come in every which way.
Not in that cute-soft-fuzzy sort of way, but more like the chin-stubble-of-a-teenage-boy kind of way.

Oh well. The kids and I will enjoy a bit of precious while it lasts.

The thing that I dread more than the loss of their cuteness is the approach of their certain demise.

See, I have a not-so-strong history with chickens.

The first time I got them I did not fully appreciate the importance of a fortress-like chicken coop. I had a stall in the barn all decked out for them, but my barn was by no means critter-proof.
Needless to say, I came out one morning to find a bunch of feathers, a piece of wing here or there, and not much else. They were good eats for the foxes.

And it was a lot of chickens, so one of those clever foxes must've gotten the idea to do a delivery service that night. Or somethin.
I'm just saying, it was a lot of chickens.

But that was years ago.
I'm older and wiser now.

I've got a varmint-proof room in my barn all ready for my little chickadees.
But even that didn't satisfy me. I was afraid their heat-lamp might mysteriously malfunction in the middle of the night and they would freeze to death all huddled in a ball of cuteness.


So I'm keeping them inside for a while.

In Rosie's bathtub.

How does a 13 year old girl feel about having to share her bathroom with a dozen or so chicks?
Oh she's good for now because of the teenage-girl-affinity-for-all-things-adorable thing.
But I know in two weeks' time, when their stench overpowers the rankor of her bathroom, she will be peeping a different tune.

When they're ugly.
And smelly.
And loud.
And messy.
And have I mentioned smelly?

Our farmdog Annabelle surveying her new charges.
Chicken tenders?

The chickies are 'ere!

High-brow facilities

Friday, March 18, 2011

Meeting My Babies

Unlike most Moms, I cannot recount in detail, or even in generalities, the birth stories of half of my children.

And while I can blame my faulty memory on many of the black holes in my life, the integrity of my memory has nothing to do with the void in my brain where a beautiful story should reside.

The stories are not there simply because I never experienced them. I did not conceive, carry in my body, or deliver three of my children. That leaves me with an emptiness that aches. I never got to place my hand on my belly to feel them swimming and kicking and searching for elbow room. I never got to kiss their sweet tiny fingers or inhale their baby essence.

However,to be fair, I must mention that I have, in exchange, something most mothers do not. Meeting my babies for the first time took place when they were no longer infants, but people. People with thoughts and questions and dreams and the confusion of their emotions all swirling around.

And these meeting stories, as opposed to birth stories, are monumentally sacred to me, and just as special as the birth stories of my three biological children.

I thought I would share...

Meeting Bella
"Will you tell me a story?"
"What kind of a story?"
"About the day I first met you."
"You're not too tired?"
"No, no, no. Please tell it?"
"Well, OK. If you're sure ...
"Many years ago, you lived on the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, in a big building called the Detsky Dom, which means Children's Home. You lived there with many other children, and the caregivers, which the children called Mamas. Now, these children were all different ages, all different colors and shapes and sizes. But there was one thing you all had in common. None of you had a family of your own. Sure, you had food a-plenty, and things to do and lots of children to play with. You had warm clothes and tights and shoes to wear, even if sometimes the shoes were too small or had holes where your toes would peek out to see what was going on."
"But every once in awhile you would have to say goodbye to one of the children, because a new Mama and Papa wanted them to be part of their family. You didn't know why the children were chosen by these Mamas and Papas. Did they choose Anastasia because she had beautiful long blond hair and eyes blue as ice? Did they choose Peter because he was so good at marbles and had that smile that made you smile right back?
You wondered if maybe a Mama and Papa would one day come for you, but you worried because you didn't think your teeth were pretty and you didn't like your short brown hair and the other kids teased you sometimes and said you talked funny.
So you watched the Mamas and Papas come and go, and you said goodbye to many children over the years, but still you waited and you wondered and you dreamed.

Then one day, one of the caregiver Mamas gave you some news. She told you that a Mama was coming to the Detsky Dom. She was coming to see you because she wanted you to be her daughter. At first you didn't believe her. You thought she must have meant Katarina with the beautiful braids. But she assured you, she meant you, Bella. The Mama would be coming in the morning.
That night was the longest of your life. Your brain had so many questions that it didn't know the answers to, so sleep was impossible. What would your Mama look like? What would she smell like? Would she be soft? How would her hair feel in your fingers? Maybe she was a princess and wore a sparkly crown. Maybe she was .........................
and you fell asleep at long last.

When morning came, you were out of bed while the other children were all still deep asleep. You snuck quietly to the window and sat there, looking out, staring intently at the place where cars come in off the street, so you would be sure to see your new Mama the minute she got there.
Sometime during the morning one of the Caregiver Mamas came in to get you dressed. She slipped over your head a fancy red dress, all ribbons and lace. She smoothed and brushed your hair and made it pretty as could be with a white bow that was big as your head. She gave you clean white socks and pretty buckle shoes (that were, ouch, too tight).
As soon as she was done, you went right back to your spot at the window. You waited there and watched there all morning, for hours and hours.

Finally the Caregiver Mama told you it was time. She took you by the hand and led you out of your group room, along the hall, down the stairs, and through a whole lot of hallways till you came to the Director's office. Without hesitating, she sent you right in, with a little nudge at the top of your back. A few steps inside the door you stopped, frozen with uncertainty.

There, across the room, sitting in a chair by the Director's desk, was your new Mama.

She was wearing a long flowy skirt and she had long, flowy hair. She smiled at you, and her eyes got all watery. You smiled back, but didn't move from your spot by the door.
Valentina, the Director, told you to come over and say hello to your Mama, then told the Mama that you were shy. Then another lady that you didn't know said something to the Mama in funny words that you didn't understand.
When you still didn't move, all the grown-ups went back to talking, but the Mama kept looking back at you and smiling. After a few minutes you began to take steps towards the Mama. She was listening to the other grown-ups, but now and then would look over her shoulder at you and smile some more.
You liked that smile. You took more steps. You were almost close enough to reach out and touch her. A little closer and you were standing right there beside her. She looked at you, and put her arm around your shoulder, and gave you a little pat.

You didn't realize you had been holding your breath, but now you let it out like a wind. Moving ever so slowly, you kind of backed yourself up till you were sitting right in the Mama's lap. She put both arms around you now, and started stroking your hair, and rocking gently back and forth. You reached out to feel her hair, and it was as you imagined, soft as silk.
You lay your head down on her shoulder and ran your little fingers through her hair, top to bottom and back again, over and over. When you looked back at the Mama's face again you saw it wasn't just her eyes that were watery. Her whole face was sloppy wet as tears washed her cheeks.

But somehow this didn't make you scared. Though it seemed too crazy a notion to be true, she was crying because she was happy that she was your Mama. Not a Caregiver Mama, not a princess Mama, but the best kind of Mama, a Real Mama. She was yours and you were hers and could this really be true? Someone out there in the world beyond the Detsky Dom, someone wanted you, Bella, over all the other children here and in the wide world.

Like spring rains seep into the dry ground to bring new life to the sleeping flowers, this thought that this Mama wanted you and loved you began to seep into your skin and into your bones and into your soul.

And as you sat on her lap, with her rocking you back and forth and humming a quiet little song in you ear, and stroking your hair and your back with her warm hands, you knew you had found Mama.

And that Mama was Home."

Friday, March 4, 2011

That Was Then

Sometimes when I'm blog-surfing

can I smash that into blurfing or is that too much of a stretch?

I am entertained and somewhat jealous of all the Mommy bloggers with little ones. It seems they have a bottomless well (toilet) of material at their disposal with which to craft their stories, what with all the poo and the pee and the puke flying about their house at all hours of the day and night.

Writer's block? How about a humorous anecdote about some poo?

It's funny. It's timeless. We can all relate. And it flows from the keyboard like a sour stream of yellow neonatal excrement.

But then I sit down to write and I've got nothin'.

My kids are big now. With Daniel an elderly 11 and Patrick ready to leave the house in a couple more years

please God

their diaper-bursting, poo-painting, potty-training days are, thank the Lord, a thing of our past.



now that I think on it, bodily excretions have not totally left the building, metaphorically speaking.

Let's play a little game of That Was Then, This Is Now, shall we?

That Was Then
Brown sticky substance covering the hands and face and nearby walls of the toddler. Mother Senses are in full state of arousal as you slowly slip on a HAZMAT suit while never breaking eye contact with the child...

This Is Now
Brown sticky substance covering the hands and face of your Easter basket junkies. You grab their hands and sniff. Then taste. Then ask for a piece.

That Was Then
Putting little pee-soaked Princess panties in the washer and thinking, 'if only she had stopped playing to get in to the potty on time....'

This Is Now
Putting large pee-soaked granny panties in the washer and thinking, 'if only I hadn't sneezed....'

That Was Then
Cleaning drops of pee from the toilet, the floor surrounding the toilet, the walls around the toilet, and the baseboard heater next to the toilet (which, by the way, seems to aerosolize urine droplets in a Glade-air-freshener-candle-from-Hell kind of way)

This Is Now
Cleaning drops of pee from the toilet, the floor surrounding the toilet, the walls around the toilet, and the baseboard heater next to the toilet (which, by the way, seems to aerosolize urine droplets in a Glade-air-freshener-candle-from-Hell kind of way)

That Was Then
Staring at poo in the toilet, your face contorted, you jump around the bathroom, hands waving madly in the air, and yell loudly, "You pooped in the potty, hurraaaaaay!"

This Is Now
Staring at poo in the toilet, your face contorted, you jump around the bathroom, hands waving madly in the air, and yell loudly, "Who forgot to flush? That's disguuuuuusting!"

That Was Then
Between pregnancies and nursing it had been so long since you'd had a visit from Aunt Flo that you almost grew to miss her.

This Is Now
Between fluctuating hormones and your body shriveling up before your eyes it has been so long since you've had a visit from Aunt Flo you almost Here's your hat, what's your hurry Flo you old bag?

That Was Then
Your children come in from playing outside. They smell of sweat and dirt and somehow peach marmalade. You hug them tightly.

This Is Now
Your children come in from playing outside. They smell of B.O. And sweat. And B.O. You keep them at arm's reach and admonish them about the liberal use of hygiene products.

That Was Then
You walk into the bathroom and see your five year old, pair of scissors in hand and a crooked line of 1/4" to 1/2" bangs across her guilty face .

This Is Now
You walk into the bathroom and see your 15 year old very carefully shaving the one hair off his chin because he "needed to shave".

That Was Then
You securely latch the straps of his car seat and adjust his little mirror. He smiles as he jiggles the teether keyring you just handed him. You sigh and think, "How did he get so big? Seems like just yesterday I brought my baby home from the hospital."

This Is Now
He securely latches his seat belt and adjusts his rear-view mirror. He smiles as he jiggles the car keys you just handed him. You sigh and think, "How did he get so big? Seems like just yesterday I brought my baby home from the hospital."


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