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 211 - Kazakhstan Part 21

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

Keeping a baby engaged in a small, overheated space was actually somewhat easier than keeping an active three-year-old content in a large room with breakable objects on every wall.

Anastasiya held her head up strongly and had an intense, if angry-looking, gaze. We settled into the upholstered chairs as though there were any other choice in this room the size of our bathroom at home. The door was open and Inna was perched on a chair outside. Particularly during the first few visits, we would look up to see some caregiver or other unexplained and unsmiling person staring in.

The baby was sturdy but didn't wriggle as much as I remembered babies doing. She stared at us and around the room.

When the attendants weren't looking, I counted her fingers and moved all of her joints to make sure that they moved in the direction they were supposed to and not any other way. Her eyes tracked. Her little gummy mouth looked normal. The bones in her head had knit completely. We couldn't see or feel any odd lumps or strange discolorations.

When we tickled her, she looked somber and a bit confused.

She sat on Terry's lap and stared intently at his beard. This seemed to be a much better plaything than the rattle and she eventually successfully swatted at it with one hand.

Inna appeared to translate a request from the baby house. "Next time, bring a big bag of disposable diapers and clothes for the baby. Each day they will dress her in whatever you bring."
Since the realization during the interviews at Baby House 2 that they were dressing the children in a special set of "visiting clothes" in the back room, we wondered what the children were wearing when we didn't see them. From the hothouse temperature in this baby house, maybe the children wore very little.

It was hot and humid in the little room. And it was glasses-steaming humid. We sat down with the baby on the rug in front of the chairs. A caregiver materialized to look disapprovingly. She signalled that the floor was much too cold and drafty for the baby. She closed the door with a disgusted look. Well, that put an end to the peepers, which was just fine with us.

Anastasiya was strong and had no neuromuscular or skeletal abnormalities as far as we could tell but her muscular development was delayed. She could grasp and hold objects but she couldn't sit by herself. She could lie comfortably on her tummy or on her back but made only slight movements to turn over. She could vocalize but didn't coo or babble.

Institutionalized children have inevitable developmental delays but it was disconcerting to see firsthand a nine-month-old who was developmentally only five- or six-months-old.

We held a toy where she could see it and then moved it to her side as she lay on her back. Not much reaction. Some more tickling met with some more glaring, but the dawn of interest.

Terry held her sitting on his lap and facing him and bounced her up and down. That move was a winner. Not a smile yet, but not a scowl either. He bounced her forward, he bounced her backward, he bounced until he was bounced out and then it was my turn.

We switched off holding the baby and walking from one end of the room to the other, about five paces. She like the window mounted way up in the wall.

Inna opened the door and said it was time to be done. The caregiver scooped up the baby who stared stoically forward with an expression a little like Leonid Brezhnev without the really big eyebrows.

We had arrived at 4 PM and it was now a little after 5. Length of visitation was supposed to be two hours or so according to what we had initially been told but this seemed to be another one of those aspects of Kazakh law that were more like guidelines. We were getting used to this and signed the log when it was pushed in front of us. After all, it was Saturday and the staff was probably eager to have their one-day weekend as well.

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