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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…!

Post-Placement Preparations

Fortunate the family with children young enough to not understand when post-placement reports are upon them.  For Russian adoptions, your licensed social worker who performed the family’s original home study (with dozens of supporting documents declaring you suitably fit to parent, as though any bios have had to jump through such hoops) comes to visit and write a report at 6 months, one year, two years, and three years after the adoption was completed.  This is then sent to Big Brother in Russia.

Oh joy.  More expense, intrusion, and angst.  Some of the kids start to bite their nails, act out, and grow depressed.  Memories, sweet memories of Mother Russia.  I attempt to explain that the country and the people are not the problem, that Mama’s family is from there, but they just had the lousy experience of meeting a lot of lousy people.  Not all of them are like that.

Intellectually, they understand.  Some of them had sweet caregivers with whom we keep contact to this day.  Some had horrific experiences that make Charles Dickens’ writings seem like happy-go-lucky, happily-ever-after fairy tales.  These abusers are the same ones who will ultimately receive these reports, in addition to regional officials.

The Russians, feigning interest in the children, are lobbying for a bilateral agreement to extend such reports until the child reaches the age of 18.  About 17 adopted Russian children have died from domestic violence in the US, a drop in the bucket compared to Russian children killed by their own abusive families in Russia, numbering in the thousands each year.  Who are they trying to fool?

With the Russian fostering program instituted there over the past several years, the numbers of orphans in orphanages have dropped from 750,000 children to 250,000.  Yet, the statistics are still grim.  One of our sons was repeatedly beaten in such a foster home, so much so, that he wrote and demanded to be returned to the orphanage.  And the stats of those remaining in state custody are no better.  As many as 80 percent of Russian orphans end up in jail, become drug abusers, or turn to prostitution or other crime.

“What did we do this year?” I ask the kids cheerily, wanting this to be a happy exercise despite all odds.

“We excavated dinosaur bones in the West to gain archaeology credit, sandbagged raging rivers in the south as a community service project, helped co-manage a cafe in Paris to promote it to the next generation, and carried on an intensive Arabic language course in Cairo while riots raged and democracy was debated,” Petya rehearses.

“Good– what else?”

“We worked with orphans in Mumbai, and opened a soup kitchen in Karachi.  We studied math at MIT and investigative technology at Interpol.  We learned about primates in Africa and volcanoes in Iceland,”  Mashenka ticks off.

“Okay… and then?”

“We ate a lot of good food,” Pasha notes.  “And Mama, you look very beautiful today.”

“I like my bedroom,” Sashenka adds.  “Will I ever have a pony?”

And this is exactly why I write my own report for the social worker, that she will have something from which to work.  Best to not leave anything to chance.  Can you say “loose cannons”?

The kids memorize the number of textbooks they’ve completed in the last calendar year, how many museums they’ve visited, and why they will be Most Likely to Succeed.  They are well-educated, well-socialized, well-exercised, and yes, Pasha, well-fed.  They have been tutored by moi in Russian language, geography, and customs, along with attending cultural events.  Petya recently played tennis with a Russian man who commented that his own teen son could not speak any Russian after being in the US the same amount of time as our son.

“Spaceebah,” he shook Benedetto’s hand, “spaceebah for all you have done.”

Russian officials told us on several occasions that the best orphan children were not available for international adoption.  They imagined that they were giving us their riff-raff, and instead, they will be presented with evidence of royalty in the making.  I relish the chance to report back.

Along with the report that the social worker prepares, we are asked to submit a spreadsheet of 7-10 color photos.  So I make it 12, captioned on a couple of glossy sheets.  They are positive and poignant pics, painting a picture of a joyful family life– from birthday celebrations, to travel, to sports, to education, and community service.

Our social worker is amazed at the powerful portfolio we present.  While most families present a low-key, conversational overview, we feel it necessary aim for the Ivy League of Post Placements.  No wonder the kids are coming down with stomachaches.

“She can send us back to Russia, dah, Mama?” Sashenka inquires.

“Nyet, you know Miss Sally, she’s a very sweet lady,” I dispel any fear.  “She wants to make sure that Russia knows you’re safe, and we’re taking good care of you– that you went to the doctor, that you’re progressing in school, that we’re not locking you up in cages at night–all the regular stuff,”

“I just finished my science book– that’s the second one this year,” Pasha proudly states.

“That’s right, and what do you think your former teachers will feel when they read that?”  I ask.

“They’ll be in shock!  Nobody ever expected me to be able to do anything…” he laughs at the thought of being labeled an invalid and oligophrenic (mentally retarded).

“We’ll show them!” all of us giggle in a conspiratorial manner.

Miss Sally comes, and rather than stay an hour, she’s with us for over two.  It tuckers out most of the kids, the stress of being on display, but they are sitting up straight, holding up their end of the conversation, and rising to new heights of accomplishment with every question.  By their banter, you would think that one is entering the field of nuclear physics, another has found the cure for cancer, a sibling is brokering world peace, and the youngest is talking too much.  I have her sit near me so I can whisper commands in Russian to cease and desist when she can’t find the “Stop” button.

The social worker takes her leave, delighted with our successes, complimenting us that, “You obviously know what you’re doing.”

I wonder if Russia will come to the same conclusion.  Oh, to be a fly on the wall when they rifle through the report.


(Please note:  99.9% of all that I write is the truth and nothing but the truth.  In today’s post, in order to keep our daily activities and accomplishments semi-private, some of the past year’s activities may have been altered and/or embellished.  Keep in mind that our true activities are probably much more fabulous and impressive than anything mentioned here….)


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12 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Phyllis says:

    You had me going for a little. I figured at some point in the listing that you must have been embellishing. Otherwise, I would really have some ‘splaining to do to our social worker. : )

    • avatar admin says:

      Lol, glad I got you-! We’re somewhere between the listed activities and plaster of paris volcanoes (never did do that). Today our oldest was dissecting a crayfish….

      We do travel a lot and our activities parallel these, but parallel in the sense that there is a wide divide somewhere in the middle….

  2. avatar matryoshka wendy says:

    I just mailed my “yearly update letter” to the agency today. Have to admit, it’s a page shorter and much less frilly than it was five years ago. And as usual, last Saturday I was orchestrating a family photo to put in the 10 photographs. You would think that after five years, I would know that this happens every.single.May and be prepared. Never happens. But I do include a good dose of We traveled here and experienced this and her teacher frequently calls her a very talented writer….

    • avatar admin says:

      What, you don’t need to clean the house-?! No fair, Wendy, no fair. 🙂 I do believe that we have a responsibility to play up the positives and let them know that these children are loved and cared for… and excelling in whatever ways they are. We are our own best propaganda (uh… PR) machines. I read them to the kids and let them know how good they sound on paper. 🙂

  3. avatar Wrenn says:

    That made me nervous just to read about! Sounds like the children did beautifully !

    • avatar admin says:

      Made you nervous…? I often have that effect on people…. The kids did well, it was the “before” and “after” that wore me out-! Another one coming up in a couple of months for another child….

  4. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Goodness! Apart from selecting 10 – 12 photos from the thousands we take each year, we don’t do anything specific to prepare for the visit of our social worker! And this is our LAST ONE. I don’t care if the RFR changes the rules, we should be grandmothered… I mean, REALLY.

    Anyhow, Sashenka-mama, go watch the video (in your inbox). I think that is the only thing we should need to submit for D! 🙂

    • avatar admin says:

      Yes, of course most people don’t prepare for the social worker visit, Gwendolyn. They have other things in life to keep them busy like your daughter’s underwater filming career, a virtual Jacques Cousteau in the making. Others of us have to “help” the kids shine, lol, when they begin to go deaf and dumb for the interview. Just call me CONTROL FREAK-!

      I can’t wait to see if the much-discussed, yet no-sign-of-signing, bilateral agreement comes to pass. Can you imagine having to do these reports (at our expense) until they’re 18-?! Most of the adoption agencies are already out of business due to the US economy, and the craziness of Russia, who’s going to submit them to Russia? Does anyone remember when there was talk of Russian reps being allowed access to your home at any time??? Now THAT would be interesting….

  5. avatar meant2be says:

    Your post-placement visit sounds WAY more exciting that ours! lol! Our girls told the SW how “annoying” it was that we don’t let them have Facebook, their own cellphone or let them wander the streets! She proceeded to tell them that it is because their parents care about them and they said they knew that. It was a nice try though ;O)

    • avatar admin says:

      Oooh, Meant2be, she’s a good one, that SW-! Our kids wouldn’t dare raise any issues– they think she’s on our side, lol. (Don’t want to burst that bubble….) We just say that she wants to make sure for Russia that they’re safe and doing well.

  6. avatar AP's Mom says:

    We just had our FINAL PPR yesterday! After adoption #1, we finished our last PPR and instead of getting our $100 deposit back we signed it over to the agency and started anohter adoption! This time, we are taking the cold hard cash, though-DH and I are not ready to be outnumbered! 🙂

    I have never been one to dread the PPR, as I kind of like bragging about how great my kids are doing, and it is a good excuse to comb through the mess on my computer that serves as “last year’s photos”, if nothing else, to reassure myself I have not accidentally deleted them before backing them up! However, it did feel a little strange-like “That’s it?” We’ve been in an intense emotional relationship with this agency and their various employees for over 7.5 years and 2 Russian adoptions, and we just concluded by being told, “Sounds Good-you should get your check in 4-8 weeks.” and only after I joked about how we’ll be in touch in the future when we run into “teenage identity issues” did she say, “Oh yeah, we have a lot of post-adoption resources, so let us know if we can be of help…” Anyway…just a bit of cognitive dissonance for me-happy to have another “obligation” out of the way, but a little sad, I guess, that it means the kids are growing up!

    • avatar admin says:

      I know, AP’s Mom, I know. We have one son who’s been totally finished for years (and he has the greatest accomplishments, so that does bug me, lol, but both boys come from the same region, so I know they’re seeing all of the kids in the photos), one more to go in the summer (final PPR), and then the girls will finish in one year. In the beginning it seemed so long and drawn out, like they would never end. Now that there are four running around keeping me busy (3 taller than me), it seems like they’ve sped by. So I could be losing my mind, too, in the midst of all of this, and just losing track of time…. Congrats on this milestone!

      Do you think I should simply turn the checks over for another adoption-? Heh, heh, heh, heh (nervous laugh)….

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