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 141 - Kazakhstan Part 11

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. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It had been a remarkable couple of days. We had flown to the other side of the world and then some, been interviewed by government and agency officials, and were now sitting jet-lagged and sleep-deprived in a sunny, wood-paneled room with the preschool orphanage director in Uralsk, West Kazakhstan.

Hidden in our luggage were the latest few pictures of the child called Nurlan that our agency had been able to send to us. In line with Kazak law, we were "traveling without referral" to meet unknown potential adoptive children. In actuality, we were approved by the US government to adopt two children from ages 0 to 4 with minor handicaps and our adoption agency had forwarded us pictures, a video and medical information about Nurlan, a three-year-old boy, and pictures of several other children for consideration.

The agency had made arrangements with the childrens' home to be sure that the child presented to us to meet would be Nurlan.

And now we were about to actually meet him. We were nervous. What if we didn't like him? What if he had some significant handicap that was beyond our capabilities to deal with? What if he didn't like us? What if this had all been a giant mistake?

A slight, pretty Kazak woman slowly opened the office door. The director nodded to her and she swung the door open more widely. Two little boys were bumped into the room. A tall, thin boy with a sad face and bright eyes led a small, stocky boy by the hand. We immediately recognized the smaller boy as Nurlan. It's odd to have memorized a few baby pictures and then have the actual person materialize in front of your eyes.

The older boy was introduced as Irat. He looked as us deeply as though we were glasses of water and he were very thirsty, and then dropped his gaze to the floor. The woman from the Ministry of Education had appeared in the room. Neither she nor the orphanage director were fluent in English. They conversed and then said two words in English with a pleading look: "Big brother?"

The interpreter filled in the details. Irat was going to be seven soon. When children in Uralsk orphanages turn seven, they are taken from the preschool and sent to Zhas Dauren, a children's home where they will likely stay until they are eighteen, taught a trade, and released into society. The orphanage staff was suggesting that we take Irat as well as Nurlan to save Irat from a traumatic move to a place where he would receive less care and have almost a zero chance of being adopted. They were not biological brothers but Irat was a sweet child who was very afraid of being moved to the other orphanage and who truly wanted and deserved a family.

The staff gave Nurlan and Irat a few plastic toys and they sat on the floor and played. If Nurlan spoke at all, I don't remember it. He was strangely silent for a three-year-old. Irat, sadly aware of the purpose of the visit, made every attempt to engage the younger child and be as entertaining as he could be. Nurlan, having no idea why he was there, took the toys out of Irat's hands and generally acted like a toddler. Irat periodically glanced up with a look full of anxiety plastered over with fake happiness and then played with more determination.

Neither child seemed to have physical or mental handicaps. Irat probably needed improved nutrition since he seemed somewhat malnourished. He had a grace and compassion beyond his years as he tried to show little Nurlan how to play with some of the toys. Both boys were ethnic Kazaks, meaning that they were Asian. Nurlan was a handsome toddler, while Irat had a pinched little face and could benefit from cosmetic surgery to pin back his large, protruding ears.

We watched the children play for several minutes. There really wasn't much to say and we probably weren't in the best mental state to ask questions or make decisions anyway. We had come for Nurlan and there didn't seem to be any reason not to go forward with that. The caregiver led the two children out. Irat glanced back while Nurlan looked only forward as he went through the door on his chubby legs.

We asked Natalya what the next step was. She said that we had a little time to decide on children but that it would be best for the schedule if we could do it as soon as possible. This was the first of many times that Natalya would remind me of an ermine-covered bulldozer.

We had been amazed to see Nurlan, though a little sad to see how much he had grown since the early pictures. He was almost beyond being a toddler and we had missed so much of his life already. Irat was a sweet child and deserved an opportunity but we had been thinking about a baby girl as the second child.

Efficient Natalya said that she had set up an appointment at the Baby House, the orphanage for children from a few months of age to three years old. Would we still like to go or were we ready to make a decision at this point?

I glanced at Terry and knew the answer. We still wanted to visit the Baby House. We nodded and smiled our farewells politely to the Preschool Director and were shortly back in Dima's car on the way to a different orphanage.

No comments:

Post a Comment