Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Buddy Ruslan~Part 2

Just a few months later God grabbed our hearts again . . . for Roman,

another blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy with Ds in the same country. This time our caseworker automatically approved us for two boys with Ds, ages 0-6. We got approval from USCIS for 2 children--even though I'd only requested one!!!

December 2008 we were back at the ministry of adoption's office in the capital city. We asked for and received the referral for Roman but didn't even ask for a 2nd referral.

On Monday we drove across the city with our facilitator and parked by an open gate with a blue sign. I was nervously excited as my boots walked through the gates,

under an arbor,

up a long snowy sidewalk,

and finally came to the front door.

There were hallways and more hallways before our facilitator finally knocked on a door and asked for Roman.

After about 10 minutes--maybe 15--of interaction we were asked if we wanted to proceed. "Yes!" Then and only then I was allowed one --and only one--photo. Our little guy looked so emotionally fragile sitting on the chair by the door with his group mates in the background. And then we had to scurry off to start the adoption wheels rolling for the little guy we re-named Steven Mikhyal.

But guess who else was in Steven's groupa? Yes, Ruslan! Ruslan with his crooked grin and his delightfully crossed eyes. The worker told us he and Steven were transferred from their baby house together and they were friends. She smilingly questioned about us adopting him as well. I asked about the Hepatitis B status and she verified it. I was still scared.

I got a few opportunities to see Ruslan over the next few days. Kevin and I handed out Magic Markers to all the little boys and the Magic Marker special paper. Several immediately bit the tips of the markers. I got to look at pictures in a book with Ruslan. He held the pages so tightly I couldn't turn them! I got to see him walking with his groupa to lunch, holding hands. He seemed so little and cheery and sweet.

We found out that we were the first family to ever adopt from Steven's orphanage. The first to ever adopt from his court system. And that the process was going to take a long time. We stayed through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and still no court had even been scheduled. We finally flew home on New Year's Day.

During the months and months of waiting for court I continued to think about Ruslan. I asked our facilitator if it might be possible to go ahead and add him to our dossier since we'd been approved for 2 anyway and since everything was already taking so painfully long. I asked our homestudy provider how difficult it would be to write an addendum to our study expanding the ages we were approved for ever so slightly. See we were approved for ages 0-6 and Ruslan was 6. Sounds like a perfect fit . . . right? No, our approval only extended TO age 6, not age six plus even one day. To my dismay I received this reply:

"Your home study approves you for two children ages 1-6. In order for that to be changed an updated HS would have to be done and it would need to be approved through INS. In my professional opinion it would be best to get Steven and let him settle, then start the process for the other little boy."

There was also a huge amount of confusion and conflicting answers from the Ministry of Adoption whether we could add another child to our case or not without having to compile a totally new dossier.

And my husband truly felt like our plate was already full; just completing the adoption of Steven was all we could handle.

So I dropped the question.

FINALLY in June we were scheduled for court. We walked back through that orphanage gate, and back under the grape arbor now green with leaves and immature fruit,

down the long, long sidewalk and up to the front door. The director was surprised to see us. He had thought we had changed our minds and weren't coming back :(

Most of our visits with Steven were now outside. Out on the big yard with the playground equipment that was peeling and seemed in such poor repair. I NEVER saw any children playing on it.

When we let Steven climb on the ladder I was expecting to get in trouble by the watching caregivers at any moment. I saw Ruslan in his little cap being led out with the other children to sit in a sandbox. Ruslan sat close by his caregiver. I never saw any of the kids actually playing in the sand. I did see one kid of the groupa kicking a soccer ball around. . . . And of course, there was Steven our wild man who would run as far and as fast and as often as he could.

Eventually our process was done: Steven came home on July 3, 2009 just in time to celebrate Independence Day as an American citizen.

But as far as I know my buddy Ruslan is still inside that same orphanage building.

It is already past noon there since Ruslan's country is 9 hours ahead of us. I wonder what Ruslan had for lunch? Maybe some borscht and bread? It has been unusually cold in his city this winter. Many homeless people have died. I hope he is warm. I hope he still has his lop-sided smile and the sparkle in his adorably-crossed eyes. He will turn 10 later this year. He has already been waiting for half of his life. I hope . . .

. . . he has not given up hope.

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