I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 134 - Kazakhstan Part 10

Every Sunday, this blog will describe our life-changing trip to Kazakhstan in 2005 to adopt our two youngest children. While some of our friends and family have seen a few of the pictures, we've never put it all together in an organized format. One of the reasons is that I hesitate to subject others to a 21st century version of the endless slideshow of vacation photos harking to some relative's visit and a lost evening of my childhood. Still, the story must be told before details are lost since this is my children's unique birthright. When we get to the end of the story, I'll edit the posts together into an extended and separate blog page and then have it printed by one of the blog-to-book(let) services for my kids. For people with less interest, these posts will be easy to identify and avoid. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We looked around the little apartment. It was clean and serviceable. We would get to know it extremely well in the next few weeks. There was an assortment of canned goods in the cupboards and some root vegetables in the refrigerator. A dish drainer sat on the small cupboard and a coffee pot sat on the window ledge. It seemed like some science fiction story where the inhabitant vanishes but leaves their half-finished plate on the table.

The apartment consisted of an entry hall, a bathroom with a small washing machine, an eat-in kitchen, a bedroom, and a living room. There was a shallow enclosed porch with a clothesline off the bedroom. The livingroom had a crystal chandelier, a display cabinet with some little statuettes, an upholstered futon/couch, two matching chairs, a TV and a VCR. The lace curtains hid about a dozen plants. Nastya had asked us to make sure to remember to water the plants. Looking at the mismatched pots that ranged from 3 inches to 2 feet in diameter and their occupants potted in solid clay, I knew that they had been dug out of a field somewhere and that I could count on killing at least one of them before we were done.

We emptied suitcases and stashed clothing in the armoire and dresser drawers. We carefully separated the gifts for the childrens' home and the clothing that we had brought for the little boy called Nurlan. The paperwork processing had taken so long that he'd probably outgrown what we had initially purchased, but we brought it anyway. We were sure that someone would be able to use it.

Prospective adoptive parents usually receive what is called a referral. This is information about a specific child who is, in effect, reserved. The parents then have the opportunity to accept or reject the referral based on medical evaluation, gut feel, whatever. This is how a lot of adoptions work, both for international and domestic situations. Kazakhstan is different. Referrals are literally illegal and adoptive parents are required to "travel without referral" in the terminology of the process. Like many things in Kazakhstan, legality is slippery. We had a pictures of two children, a video of one, and our agency had been actively working with the childrens' home to prepare Nurlan for adoption. Or so they said. Putting the pieces together later, I suppose the upfront money went to the people who run the orphanage to keep them from showing Nurlan to other adoptive couples until we got there. Americans are very concerned with processes and both the ends and means. Other places in the world are largely concerned with the ends. The adoption facilitators provide resources to the orphanages to get favorable service, the orphanages use at least some of the money to provide for children beyond their meager budgets, but we would still call it a bribe.

We watched from the porch for Inna to return. When the car stopped below the window in the unpaved, muddy street, we grabbed our coats and the fistful of keys for the multiple locks on the double doors.

Inna was back with Dima, the driver who would be our regular escort. He had a beautiful newer car and played American music on the sound system. We climbed into the car and were on our way to the preschool. We passed small stores, markets, some beautiful ornate buildings, a huge and newly built mosque, and many small and colorful one-story homes called "doms."
The car turned down what looked like an alley and went through a gate. Like all of Uralsk, there was mud everywhere making most buildings look a little dismal. The preschool's cheery turquoise stripe and roof did not make it look less drab. We were told that we had to wait for Natalya before we would be allowed in. It was warm, so we got out of the car and walked around, trying to look in but not too obtrusively. It was odd that we couldn't see or hear children. You'd think that they'd be outside on a warm afternoon.

Natalya pulled in. We were very nervous. Natalya led us to the front door, which was strangely on the side of the building. There was a large plaque on the door written in Russian. Just inside the door was a place to cover our shoes with fabric booties. The building was warm and smelled of food cooking.

We were led to the office of the director of the childrens' home. She was a sturdy ethnically Kazak woman with a warm smile and an efficient manner. The woman from the Ministry of Education was there also. The director asked us some questions that were pretty much the same as the MOE interview. I think the adoption agency people translated what we said into whatever was the "right" answer. We had been warned not to ask about Nurlan in front of anyone official (wink, wink). The director seemed satisfied with the answers and said that they would be bringing in children for us to interview shortly. We glanced at the MOE woman, shut our mouths and nodded.

We were in a room with a big table, wooden floors and some display cases with brand new toys. We sat stiffly as Natalya and Inna smiled consolingly. Soon, a caregiver opened the door and behind her we saw the shadows of two little people.

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