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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…!

Why I Need Money NOW: A Holiday Wish


Have you ever really needed money?

I’m there. I’m so there. I have never been in this predicament in my life, where finances were tighter than tight. Well, there was the time when we were newlyweds living in Jerusalem, but I thought that it was the fact that… we were newlyweds… living in Jerusalem. Everyone had a hard time in those days of skyrocketing inflation.

Maybe it’s a matter of expectations. It’s been 30 years of doing the right thing. We try to live within our means, unlike most everyone I know. We have always worked hard and tried to save. We have given to the poor and helped those in need. We’ve followed all the rules, and now we’re left sitting in the cold. Literally.

After a year of Benedetto and I not getting paid for what should be gainful employment, and depleting our savings, my patience and understanding are shot. We are standing on thin ice. It’s cracking. I know things will turn around, but how long can we hold on? Now is not the time to be selling stocks or real estate, so there go my aces in the hole… down the black hole.

That leaves very dubious alternatives: the lottery, eBay, selling my internal organs. The first two are phantoms of fantasy, those elusive “what ifs” that are fun to imagine. But dreamy land doesn’t put food on the table. As far as organs, I probably need to retain all that I have, “just in case”.

I could do temp work to get us over any hump, but the last time I tried that was eons ago, and the office thought I was a corporate spy. Begging on the street with a cup or hat might be easier. Make that cup AND hat. I wonder if anyone’s tried that. Double your money, double your embarrassment. Don’t even ask if I can sing for my supper. Looks like lean days are ahead. I will lose weight at last.

Selling the family jewels is another latent opportunity waiting to be tapped. If only some of them were real! Ah, well. The tiara may not be the road to treasures, after all.

Everything at home has conspired to make us poor this year. Renovations went through the roof as roofers came out three separate times. Ceilings were literally falling-in and the front steps had to be redone. These are not issues that can be ignored. If you don’t have a roof over your head, or a way to step to your front door, well, those are biggies. Home repairs ranked right up there like a major, blowout wedding bash, or a total car wreck, depending on your perspective. Plasterers worked inside, while we elected to do the painting ourselves. Still hasn’t been done, of course. The dishwasher door is hanging on by a thread, there is no light in the refrigerator, and then the heating system blew, just as the freezing temperatures hit. Turns out the heater was only 17 years old, rusted and rotted pipes all needing replacement, along with the main unit inside and out. Next, the outside spigot froze and spewed our water all over. Come to find out that there are insulated mittens sold for such protuberances. One of our spigots can be turned off from the inside, and one cannot, so it’s not like we were neglectful….

Something is now leaking outside, maybe an underground pipe from the street to our house. The neighbor told us he called the city and they informed him we needed a plumber. Might as well have these workers on speed-dial… with a direct line to our Swiss bank account. We have plenty of other jobs that a plumber could do at our place, but now is not the time. Unless it’s actually leaking, caving-in, or blowing up, it’s not going to get done any time soon. I already told Petya and Pasha that if they need to do any “serious business”, they are not to use the main bathroom upstairs, but go to the guest bath on the main floor that’s in more workable condition. Better than an outhouse in the Old Country.

Then the plane blew an engine. Did you know that plane engines are not cheap? Did you know that it’s not fun to rapidly decrease one’s altitude, much less one’s income, while hurtling from the sky? Private jets are glutting the market and even the most experienced brokers have inventory up to their ears. Maybe we could live in the parked plane….

Did I cover the fact that our home phone has not worked for the past three months? Call as we might (hah, hah, we fooled them—we have contact with civilization through our cell phone and via smoke signals), now the phone and cable companies are having turf wars over our service.

Vet care for sick pups is also expensive. The dogs went from bad to worse, subliminally suspecting that now was the most auspicious time to fall sick. We handled them swallowing big chunks of chew toys, dealt with diarrhea, vomiting and scratching, along with their large pieces of fur disappearing due to allergies or mites. Bacterial infections covered their bellies with acne-like bumps, while their rumps were so raw that I was the only one willing to administer soothing vaseline with a wet paper towel. Several hundred dollars here, several thousand dollars there. We needed the doggies to be well, and they seemed to need a doctor’s help to get to that goal. The doctors needed to pay off their med school bills. And so it goes on the food chain of economics.

Our insurance costs have been jacked up, and then cancelled without telling us, to add insult to injury. Finally found a new plan that’s more affordable and that covers absolutely nothing, it turns out. You only learn these tidbits of info while standing at the doctor’s reception desk. The nurses start to grill you like some deadbeat. Love paying those still-astronomical premiums for no good reason, while writing out checks at the doctor’s.

It is precisely at this time that we received a call from Russia. Not that we were looking, we were simply interviewing agencies for the future. The distant future. They ended up pursuing us. Five years to the day when we met our first son in Russia, an e-mail comes that there are some older children who need our help. Unheard-of for them to approach us. It’s a different agency, who knows nothing of our past, but feels that these are kids who need our particular help. If we move quickly, we could meet them within the next month.

We ask all the right questions and learn they are reportedly not sick, mentally or physically, amazing in this day of anything-goes, slow-mo Russian referrals.

The two of us ask the other ka-ching, ka-ching questions. No 8-doctor medical exam is required for this region, our earlier psych exam can be used, our previous 20 hours of adoption education will not need to be repeated, one parent can travel for trip one. Airfare for the next month or two is half, or one-third, of what it was when we had to travel to Russia last summer. Sounds too good to be true. A photo comes by e-mail: they look like mini-me’s. Be still, my heart.

The two of us discuss it, pray about it, ask the kids about it. Our heads say, “How?” Our hearts say, “We must.” Our wallets would say, “Ouch”, except that they are numb and empty.

Some believe that those who cannot afford the initial costs to adopt, should not adopt at all. Yet with stocks plummeting, IRAs bottoming out, and adoption prices approximating the cost of one luxury car per Russian child, it doesn’t mean that there’s still not enough money and love on a daily basis to care for one or more kids. It means that the hurdles facing parents in this kind of economy will cause fewer children to ever find a loving home and family, and that’s sad.

It’s exactly the wrong time to be expecting, but it looks like we are. Paperwork pregnant and poor. We have come this far by faith, and by faith we will go forward. I banish all negatives and doubts! A congregation has stepped up to accept tax-deductible contributions for us, so if you know anyone rolling in the dough, who’s won the lottery, or okay, who has an extra bill in their wallet or even some change in the jar, please e-mail us at: info@destinationsdreamsanddogs.com. I see those kids’ sad eyes looking at us across the miles. They are orphans who are counting on help arriving soon.

Somehow, the money will come. Somehow, the kids will still be there when I travel solo to see them. Somehow, I will learn to sell my chotchkes online or sing on the street. It’s a season to believe in hope, against all hope. A miracle will happen.

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