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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Adoption: Making Me Lose My Mind

Morning sickness. It’s expected for bio moms, but for adoptive moms?

I’m not getting sick every morning, no, there would be some benefit in that, as in lost weight. I can eat anything and everything, like the goal is to be as heavy as an expectant mom even though it’s all on paper-!

No, instead, I’m losing my mind.

I used to think it was funny when there were some TV commercials a few years back with a young lady forgetting things and secretly wondering if she were pregnant. It sounded like there was a connection. Apparently, I’ve made the connection.

The extra stress of the paperwork one hundred and two originals, three copies, five notarizations and apostilles for each piece of paper, totalling 1,397 documents in triplicate, except those in duplicate or quadruplicate, to be put into your folder, the agency’s folder, the Russian Department of Education folder, or the court folder, can all make one crazy. What about those that need photocopying, what if I mix those from one folder with another’s? I’m color-coding and using post-its like they’re being given away for free at office supply stores. There are documents that expire within 18 months, 15 months, one year, 3 months, and 3 minutes.

As a matter of fact, my tummy did hurt last week, enough to make me think I had an ulcer. My heart was also palpitating and I tried to do deep-breathing to calm down. I felt a little better, but the physical symptoms persisted for a few days. Even now, my heart is racing, probably in an attempt to keep up with us rushing everywhere for more documents and money gushing from our savings, or retirement, or tucked in the shoes in the closet given the prevailing economic situation.

Yet it’s my mind that concerns me most. The body may be falling apart, but please don’t tell me that my razor sharp mind is so dull that it won’t slice peanut butter any more.

An example: we feed the dogs, Misha and Grisha, different types of food. Who knows why, there was some supposedly good reason once upon a time. Grisha is growing out of puppyhood and Misha’s allergies seem to be under control now that it’s the dead of winter. I’ve tried to phase them into the same diet, but Misha is of such a delicate constitution, that he strikes back with killer gas attacks like a cloud of Napalm enveloping everyone around. If you need to be cooped up with him in a house, or car, or plane for any length of time, well.

Now that I find myself going senile, I’m feeding the one dog, the other dog’s food. It’s in their bowls on the floor no more than two seconds until I suddenly come to my senses, try to snatch it back, but the little guys fight me off like a hapless hockey player trying to gain the puck. No way.

Then the other day we were at an awards ceremony for yet another of our son’s Petya’s many accomplishments. This is the kind of event that would be too long for my taste at ten minutes, but instead you have those who can be best described as “non-public speakers”, droning on, not even talking into the microphone, while babies wail nearby, and my own kids are begging to eat the crummy junk food provided as part of the festivities. I try to put on a happy face and last through the interminable proceedings.

For such a good job, we decide to take Petya, and Pasha by default, out for ice cream afterward. (See, junk food provided by a parent is always more healthy than junk food found at a community event.) It’s only on our leisurely way home that I gasp and tell Benedetto to floor it and get us home immediately. I realize that I have left something in the oven that should have been turned off and taken out after 30 minutes. Instead, it’s been baking for over two hours.

“The dogs!” I scream. “The house! It could be burning down!”

Benedetto practices his expectant dad driving, zooming around slow-moving vehicles as though we are on our way to the hospital to give birth.

“God, God, help us! What if the house is on fire, and the dogs are trapped?” I am as shaky and queasy as an expectant mom can be, ready to practically throw up.

Pulling into the drive, Benedetto jumps out and races into the house, me following on his heels. Everything is intact, charred remains, and bad smell in the house notwithstanding, billowing smoke not yet seen. We have been blessed beyond imagination. We have been saved.

The kids take the dogs outside immediately. I turn on fans, open French doors, and place the charred pans outside.

“How could I do that? How could I do that?” I choke, feeling the guilt that surrounds idiotic behavior. “I turned off this, I checked on that, I ran around doing ten things at the last minute, BUT I LEFT FOOD IN THE OVEN AT FULL BAKE!!!”

This gave me a wake-up call. It had been little things up till then, forgetting this and that. I went into a store, made a few purchases, and then left the bags at the cashier. I had taken several steps when the guy standing behind me in line, and then the check-out girl, called out to me. (Gotta watch those check-out girls, I’m not sure she would have told me if he hadn’t. I think they get to keep whatever the patrons unwittingly leave behind.)

I thank them profusely, adding, “Unfortunately, it’s not the first time.”  There is so much on my mind at any given moment, that it’s ready to burst. And yes, I use lists, and I prioritize, and I try to focus, and get some exercise, but let’s face it, the mind is gone with the wind.

Some adoption agencies or countries add up the ages of prospective adoptive parents and have their silly little calculated formulas, for instance, that your combined ages can’t be more than 90 or 100 to earn the right of becoming their client. What kind of “requirement” is that? I’ve never heard of such a stupid system, but you might as well put us down at 395 years combined for all of the mental wear and tear at this point. Not to mention that your combined income had better be over 90 or 100 thousand or you won’t be able to afford even the apostilles.

As usual for international adoptions, we currently need a zillion documents overnight. No, make that yesterday. So what happens, but our social worker falls off the face of the earth. Days and days pass. We need the bulk of everything from her. Turns out that her license needs to be renewed, and the official guy issuing the certificate has put her off and cancelled several meetings, resulting in the Dastardly Domino Debacle that eventually slams us as the last one standing.

We put in a call to our agency to let the caseworker know what’s happening, as well as to update her that we have every other piece of paperwork known to man:  signed, stapled, and sealed. She had e-mailed not to express nor expedite anything to her before we call. They may have an alternative route of handling the documents more expeditiously, but we had to talk first. So we obediently call. She’s in a meeting, also never to emerge again. That’s it for today, and about the next two weeks while we’re out of town, unless the social worker reappears and uses those pre-paid mailers we left for her. Finally, she pops up again.

We arrange to have the documents rushed to us overnight from the apostille office at our local Secretary of State, after the social worker had forwarded them in our pre-addressed envelope. This is how you do business when you’re never in town. Then the apostille office was kind enough to drop the envelope off AFTER BUSINESS HOURS, so our overnight package was all for naught. Combine that with the MLK holiday on Monday, the Inauguration on Tuesday, and some freak snowstorm that downed all planes and trucks on several continents if not the moon for several days, and well, just forget about any documents being rushed to Russia. As I tracked our package, all I could picture is some guy sitting in the back of a delivery truck, stuck in the snow, eating a hoagie sandwich, while locals picked packages off at will. All the tracking tells me is that it’s “on the truck”. Umm, I want it in my hands, NOW!

Okay, breathe, exercise, relax, pray. Imagine that there is some Divine purpose behind these interminable obstacles. I tend to think of them more as devilish delays, keeping me from children who need a home. And a mother who’s not having a heart attack, or ulcers.

When we signed-up with this agency only a few weeks ago, they said we may be travelling within a month’s time. Could have been a marketing ploy. The caseworker welcomed us with a note about helping us along our “adoption journey”. I openly hoped for an adoption sprint, a mad dash toward the finish line, that all the suffering and pain associated with the interminable waits of previous adoptions would somehow be shortcut like the New York Marathoner who hopped on the subway for part of the footrace. I inquire of my husband if our adoption theme song should be “Do the Hokey-Pokey”.

And so time ticks by slowly, as my heart races quickly. I have been feeling dizzy a lot lately, everything seems to swirl around me, whether standing up or lying down. My equilibrium, both physical and mental, is off. I almost fell over today as I was leaving a building, but Benedetto caught me. Stress can be brutal.

And now as I chat with you, my faithful readers, there is a knock at the door: the documents! They smell of a hoagie sandwich, no less, but they are here, safe and sound, ready to be collated, copied, and sped to their next destination. We rush to prepare them and drop them off at a different delivery service before 5:00 pm to arrive first thing on Monday morning, because it’s beyond urgent. At 5:15 pm, we get an e-mail from our agency caseworker asking for the package to arrive on Tuesday as she won’t be in the office on Monday. And send another check, please.

That’s it. I’ve rushed around, and jumped through hoops, and watched for wayward packages long enough. No one will be in on Monday-?! Put me in the loony bin.

The realization that I’m losing my mind has come just in time for:  the adoptive parent psych exam. (To be continued… when I get a pass from the asylum….)



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