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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…!

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Doors, Gates, Maps, and Keys: When Everyday Life is Chaotic

We went over a map of an old city we’ll be visiting soon.  The streets seem serpentine, but really, if you have a general sense of direction, it’s on a semi-grid system.  Yet, some of our kids from Russia could not navigate. At all. “Start at Point A,” I explained, naming a place clearly marked…

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Ballet Balancing Act

Posture, balance, grace.  These are but a few of the reasons why I feel every young girl should take ballet lessons. But what happens when your daughters come home from Russia at an older age and beginners’ classes are not available?  Well, that’s where things get tricky. Mashenka and Sashenka are 13 and 11, respectively. …

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And the Answer is… Da-!

If you will indulge me yet another update on Petya, our jewel-in-the-crown fifteeen-year-old.  HE GOT THE JOB!  No, not the original volunteer job, but SEVERAL, each better than the next.  Just when he was wondering if there was anything approximating an actual position worth smiling about, some doors started opening.  Talk about blessing: 1.  A…

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The Bumpy Backroad

The meaning was not lost on any of us. “Mama, it’s a bumpy backroad, but it still gets us there,” Petya remarked. “Exactly,” I agreed. We were traveling back to pick-up Pasha from his couple-day, get-a-grip stay with friends, and it was like fish trying to find their way upstream.  The country roads would not…

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My Son’s Interview

I’m a nervous wreck.  It’s Monday night and I should be sleeping.  In the wee hours of the night/ morning, I’m obsessing about my son who has an interview Tuesday morning. That’s right.  An interview.  My 14 year-old man-baby. I pray that they are gentle with him.  He is so sweet and kind.  I hope…

An Open Letter to Russian & American Adoption Officials

Dear Russian Foreign Ministry and U.S. State Department officials, Four times over the past months you have met together in good faith to craft a bilateral US-Russian adoption treaty. This has stemmed from adopted child Artyom Savylev being returned to Russia in April 2010 by his single adoptive mother, Tory Hansen of Tennessee, due to…

College Can Kill You

It’s that time of year again, commencement, with starry-eyed students and sensational speakers crossing paths on the dais. But the fact is, obtaining a higher education may be injurious to one’s health. Whether suicide, mass murders, or individualized stalking-stranglings and decapitations, the sad statistics emanting from college campuses have skyrocketed. (And public high schools are…

Self-Sabotaging Behaviors in Older Adopted Children

Our older daughter, Mashenka, was turning twelve. This would be her very “first” birthday ever and I imagined that she would be on her best behavior in true orphanage wheedling style. How soon I forgot. While the wheedling and ingratiating behavior happened on a regular basis when more computer or TV time was sought, our…

Older Adopted Children and Identity: Who Am I?

  I had a no-nonsense type of mother who came from rugged Russian immigrant stock and worked at a university where many youth of the 70s had the luxury of “identity crises”. “You ever want to know ‘who you are’?” she would tell me, “I’ll show you your birth certificate.” Case closed, simple as that….

Still Learning English…

Have you ever wondered what your kids are saying? Like other parents of teens and pre-teens, I have my fair share of “Huh?” moments, but for me, it’s exacerbated by the fact that mine are still learning English. “I lost my noodle,” Pasha pokes here and there in the car. “Shtoh?” I ask in Russian….