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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…!

Birthday from Afar

This week, my daughter turned… well… never mind. Best not to go into too many details for now. She might as well follow in her mother’s footsteps and not discuss her age. Let’s just say another year, another birthday. I’m sad that I can’t be by her side.

We had hoped to be in Russian court adopting her by now. It’s been a few months and our court date still hovers off-shore like a rainbow whose end keeps moving the closer you come. At least I’m not having visions of leprechauns. A pot of gold wouldn’t be bad. The weeks and months stretch by. Here she is, becoming a young lady half a world away.

I’m not sure what we would do if we were together on her big day. For the boys’ birthdays, we go to “mini-mashini” (go-carts) and they love it. Or, an indoor water park with slides, obstacle courses, wave machines, and enough humidity that I might as well be in Africa with my afro. But what will this daughter enjoy?

I think of other girls her age: A movie and a special dinner? Getting her ears pierced? An amusement park? Horseback riding? Miniature golf? Cake and ice cream with friends? Fact is, I don’t know her that well. She has so much to tell me and to share.

I look forward to enjoying girly-girl things together at home: painting our nails, baking a cake, curling up on the couch, doing our hair, and engaging in auto repair… whenever we’re not hunting and fishing, of course.

For now, I write letters to her mountaintop orphanage. I remember traversing blinding snowstorms, my plane being diverted twice the last time I saw her. How the letters arrive, and if they arrive to such a location, is anyone’s guess. We send photos and “little nothings” of dollar store gifts. The last thing I want is for her to be the target of any bully or thief and cause her further pain. Smart to fly below the radar for now. Plenty of time to have her coming-out cotillion later.

Well, actually, not all that much time. If things go as planned (meaning my plan which has no distinct connection with reality) and our ten days after court are waived, I will fly home with the girls and change from one mode of transportation, to another, and another, and finally arrive… one hour before I’m due at a major tea party! Hat, pearls, silk dress, heels… jet lag. Sounds like fun. I’m being sufficiently vague and ambivalent when questioned about my own attendance at said event. It’s hard to avoid the issue given the fact that I will be the keynote speaker. This could be a problem. All of the ladies are already atwitter as to whether or not my daughters will be there, as though the girls are now in their village setting, practicing how to sit in a ladylike manner in a freshly-starched linen dress, legs crossed at the ankles, raising their pinkies from porcelain teacups while making pleasant conversation….

No way would I subject the girls to such a thing right away. Talk about putting them on display. They might as well be dancing bears in the Russian circus with all of the gawkers gathered ’round.

So what to do? I’ve scoured the internet in an effort to get a cake or something to her. All of the possibilities sound better suited to Russian fiancees (i.e., alcohol and flowers), or they only deliver confections to major cities. We need something chocolate, delightfully delicious, and able to be delivered by horse cart, if necessary. The powers that be were working on it, but it is not to be. Sure, we’ll celebrate once she’s home, yet it’s not the same.

I tried to discuss the idea with Benedetto, and he simply rationalized it away. Easy for men to do. “She’s not going to miss it. I mean, she’s never even had a birthday cake before….”

Thank you,” I reply. “I feel so much more relieved now, being reminded that OUR DAUGHTER HAS NEVER HAD A NORMAL BIRTHDAY IN HER LIFE,” I glare at him with snake eyes.

He comes around under the harsh light of scrutiny.

“Cake? Is that what we’re talking, cake? Why can’t we get her a cake?”

What did he think I was referring to, elephants traversing the mountains, laden with jewels? Flying her to the Riviera for the weekend? Mickey and friends visiting the orphanage with a set of mouse ears for all?


This is our girl and we want her to know we’re thinking of her. Now. On her birthday.

But in the slowly grinding machinery known as adoption, we must accept the fact that we are running towards her in waist-deep water. We are sitting in a traffic jam, bumper to bumper, trying to make it to a past-due appointment. We are in a video time-warp where the master controller’s editing knob has everyone moving in slo-mo.

At least it’s not reverse.

I consider jetting over to set up Skype in the Internat (orphanage boarding school), just so we can communicate any time we want to, or at least snag a live satellite feed with birthday greetings being beamed-in, while heavily-decorated cupcakes are served on silver trays by waiters in dinner jackets.

Too much?

She’s been waiting long enough to have all the fun and carefree experiences of childhood. With heavy heart for me, the day passes. I am cheered only by the thought that soon we will begin our journey home together. Birthday candles are waiting.


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