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 169 - Kazakhstan Part 15

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

The whole concept of auditioning children to adopt is distasteful. On the way to Baby House 2 where we had insisted that the adoption agency take us so that we could see more children beyond the three that we had met the previous day, I asked our interpreter, Inna, if the children understood what was happening when they were herded into a room in front of strange visitors and made to perform. She said that they understood, even at very young ages. "Remember Irat, whom you saw yesterday?" I thought immediately of the jug-eared seven-year-old who had accompanied Nurlan and who had tried so hard to please. "They told me that he knew you weren't going to take him and he cried all night."

There has not been a single time in the last five years when I have thought of the orphanages that I haven't wondered what happened to Irat. And I can't tell the story, or write about it, without crying.

At Baby House 2, the process was even more disturbing than it had been at Baby House 1 where at least the room was smaller and decorated with fantastic toys. We sat by ourselves against the back wall of a large room. A door opened on the left side and a small girl was gently but firmly bumped into the main room by a caregiver. She was Russian, with light brown hair with curls at the collar line. She had widely-spaced, prominent eyes and a pinched, pale look. As if to counter the expression on my face, someone quickly translated: "Don't worry. We had special tests performed. She doesn't have Down's Syndrome."

A pause. "Her name is Anya. She is two years old. She has some delays."

Institutionalized children have both mental and physical developmental delays without exception. The lack of appropriate stimulation can be devastating, even manifesting itself in missing neural development if it goes on for a very long time. These are challenges that can be overcome with nutrition and stimulation and love. But it's best to get the child to a family environment as young as possible to mitigate the effects of even a "good" orphanage.

Anya appeared to have some form of mild mental retardation.

And she was absolutely, quakingly terrified to be in this room.

They led her over and forced her hand into mine. She visibly shook. I patted her hand. She reacted as though this caused her pain. She was staring at the brightly-colored shoes that she was wearing as if she had never seen them before. I complimented her on her red plaid dress, hair bow, and shoes, which they translated for her in a sing-song voice. She trembled in response. Terry tried to engage her and catch her eye. Nothing. The caregiver led her in an oval in front of us. It reminded me of some twisted sort of horse show. I felt like we were torturing her and I wanted it to stop almost as much as Anya seemed to. The director asked if we wanted to see Anya any longer and we said,"No, thank you." When the door on the left was opened, Anya shuffled quickly and the sad little girl was gone in a flurry of plaid and curls.

The agency rep and the director talked at length. Whatever they discussed was boiled down by the translator to, "They have one other girl to show you. She is younger but she is retarded. If you want to see her, they can get her up and dress her."

We knew that we were not up to the challenges of dealing with a more severe developmental issue and that it would be difficult enough to bring any two children home at one time, let alone when one had additional complications. We politely declined to see the other girl.

We had this hazy idea that a baby girl would be a good fit for our family with three-year-old Nurlan. I didn't want to deprive Terry of the experience of having a baby around the house simply because we couldn't produce one biologically. That's kind of a silly motivation but these are the types of decisions that are both heart and head. Still, we were prepared to be captivated by a child of any age or gender as long as we felt a connection. Like Mister Jimmy said, "You can't always get what you want." You get what you need.

Since we had told the director that we would gladly see any available child, she said that she had a little boy that she would like us to meet. The caregiver exited through the left door and we waited. And waited.

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