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 190 - Kazakhstan Part 18

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

Now that we had officially decided on the two children, the adoption agency hurriedly set up visitation schedules with the orphanages and drove us directly there. Natalya popped in. She expressed surprise at the quick decision, somewhat ironic since she had been the insistent drop of water reminding us of the problems of getting off the timeline. She had assumed that we would pick Anastasiya since the baby by foreign adoption standards was prime real estate -- white, female, healthy, pretty, an infant, and had just become available to be adopted. If we didn't take her, the next couple surely would. Natalya was a little startled that we had picked Nurlan. He was the opposite -- male, non-white, older. Statistically, he had much less chance of being adopted. Of course, his excellent health and good looks helped.

Kazakhstan requires two weeks of daily visitation before court to finalize the adoption. Our schedule would be to see Nurlan for two hours in the morning and Anastasiya for two hours in the afternoon. Like many other Kazakh rules, these were really approximations.

We entered the preschool and donned the booties over our shoes that were a measure to protect the children from infection. I noticed that they also kept the floors very clean, a challenge in this muddy city.

The hallway opened into a large, elongated room with this bright display on one wall. Inna explained that these were traditional Kazakh costumes and artifacts. The tent-like backdrop symbolizes the yurt, a felt and lattice tent that was the dwelling of the nomadic Kazakhs. The costumes were silk and felt and absolutely gorgeous. Inna said that the children might perform in pageants on holidays. The felted picture in the center is typical of the Kazakh folk art that we saw.

As impressive as the costumes were, we really wanted to see Nurlan in a setting where we could start to get to know him. We waited in a room with a high couch and more colorful Kazakh embroidered costumes hung on the walls.

Inna talked to the staff. She came back and told us that they had taken Nurlan aside and explained what was happening to him. After a short while, a caregiver appeared with the chubby little boy. He was wearing little pants, a little white T-shirt, and slippers. He was shy and silent but did not cling to the caregiver.

Inna knelt down to Nurlan and told him in Russian that we were to be his parents. His face barely changed expression. Inna talked to him a little more and then, not getting much of a response, retired to the outer room to read a magazine. She left the door slightly open in case we called her.
Nurlan was very interested in Terry, particularly in his beard. The boy paid little attention to me. We quickly realized that we were in a room with a lot of breakable items and one small and curious child. We started digging through our pockets to find something to amuse him. Finding little, we called to Inna to see if she could find some toys.

On the first day that we had met the director, we had seen new and very elaborate toys on display. We started to wonder if the orphanage only displayed toys and never let the children play with them. Inna brought back a little plastic tea pot and a small garden rake. It wasn't much, but it was something that he could manipulate with his hands.

Nurlan put these two plastic toys together in a variety of ways. It was obvious that he had mechanical aptitude. He sat on the couch and clunked the two toys together and we sat in chairs on either side and looked at him. He seemed to appreciate being the center of attention.

I took several pictures of him. He liked to look at himself in the LCD display. He lunged at the camera to attempt to take it out of my hands. I showed him how to take a picture with my help and he took a few blurry pictures before I put the camera away. He was clearly annoyed that the camera was gone and kept trying to get the case and open it. It was a very odd feeling to be at the mercy of a child with whom you could not communicate and could not discipline.

We kept trying to distract him. On one of her periodic checks on our progress, Inna suggested that we bring snacks next time.

Eventually Terry could get close enough to touch and play with Nurlan with a small teddy bear that we brought from home. It was a very long two hours and we were genuinely tired and glad when it was over.

The caregiver appeared at the door and Nurlan swaggered out without a look back.

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