If you know me or have even followed my blog and Polina's adoption at all, you know that this experiences has changed me...deep to my core.
I believe our family's adoption story is very unique. I say that not because we were caught in the ban - there were nearly 50 other families who experienced that. However, I believe we experienced it a bit differently than the others. I never could have imagined what would come of my "Death Would Be Better" blog. I was woken around 3 o'clock the next morning with calls from all around the United States and Russia. I was caught off-guard, didn't understand what was going on and couldn't figure out how these people from the media and charities had gotten my phone number. A man from Texas just kept telling me someone in Moscow gave it to him after he read my blog. It was then I logged-in to see I had tens-of-thousands of blog hits and hundreds of comments. It wasn't until I answered a call from the ABC Moscow Correspondent, Kirit Radia, that I learned my blog had been translated into Russian and published on a very popular news blog in that country.
I didn't have much time to process what was going on before I found myself in the ABC and CNN news studios and fielding phone calls for interviews from The Wall Street Journal, Radio Free Europe, and numerous outlets I can't even remember. All I knew was that it wasn't my style to sit back and leave things in other people's hands. I needed to fight for my daughter, and I was willing to put our family out there as a "face" to the story.
I don't remember much about January. I remember it was a roller-coaster. I was flying high on hope and then something would happen to pop my balloon and I would cry myself a puddle of tears. And then....repeat. I tried to keep a strong front out there....you know...don't let the enemy smell out your fear kinda thing.
I remember the Russian people rallied around our family and fought for our little girl by name. They carried her picture in their protests against the Magnitsky law. And I knew then that if these people I'd never met could show so much courage and tenacity in the face of repression, I could too. I found resolve there. I was going back to fight for my daughter if they weren't going to let me take her. My parents feared for my safety and I quietly made necessary, unspeakable arrangements at home just in case my return didn't go so well. I was backed by the vitality of the Russian people, and there was a song on repeat in my head that told me I wasn't alone.
"I know Who goes before me, He is a friend of mine. The God of Angel armies, is always on my side..."
Through the passing of the next few weeks, we knew families were able to bring their children home, and we believed we would too. We purchased airline tickets and planned for my mother to stay with my son. We were in contact with our comrades in Russia who arranged lodging and escort transportation.
While on our trip, we did multiple media interviews with in-country American and Russian news outlets. We met people who had contacted us through our blog and wanted to help in different ways. We offered to pass on the help we were receiving to other families who were having struggles getting their children home. Of course we were excited to bring Polina home and introduce her to her extended family, but in truth, there was great heartache involved in leaving Russia. We could have left earlier than we did, but there were still people to meet, visit, and say goodbye to. It was gut-wrenching knowing that it would be a long, long time before we would see them again...if ever.
There continues to be mental and emotional anguish revolving around the orphans that are stuck.
It has been almost 8 months since we said goodbye. Let me tell you, it's been a whirlwind. I feel like I've lived in a fog for most of it. Things were NOTHING like I imagined when we came home. It has been challenging. Helping Polina assimilate has been complex. Building a cohesive family unit has been complicated. Support systems diminished and others formed in their absence. We've learned who our true friends are, and the fakes have been revealed. Just like January, there have been highs (I've shared here) and there have been lows (I'm saving for the appropriate time.) I have learned so many lessons about myself, parenting, adoption, the world and the people in it. I've learned about priorities, values, and taking steps...no, leaps...of faith. Most importantly, I've found purpose I didn't know I had. I still don't know exactly where it's going to lead. But I do know I'm going to follow it.
Tomorrow, I will announce part one of that purpose and how you can help. Stay tuned!