Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Merry Russian Christmas

It’s Orthodox Christmas Eve in Russia. This time last year…

Oh man, my nose burns as I fight the tears just writing that.  Now they just fall. No use fighting them. It astonishes me how the pain I felt then, I can still feel now.  Deep, cleansing breath. Continue.

This time last year, I didn’t know the fate of my daughter. I had just told her two weeks prior that I’d be back to take her home. It was the next morning, that of American Christmas Eve, we were told we might not ever see her again.

We might not ever see our daughter again.

She, along with the other orphans, was becoming political prisoner.

As cold as the December Russian air was, those words were like chest crushing heat. I found it hard to breathe in the back seat of that car I choked down my tears on the way to the courthouse. I was about to stand in front of a judge who partially held our daughter’s fate in her hands. I couldn’t appear shaken. I had to prove my strength, ability and desire to care for my precious little girl.

The stale air in the courtroom was suffocating as I plead our case with the judge. Repeatedly, I assured her we knew our life wouldn’t be easy but we were dedicated to caring for this child we already loved as our daughter in our heart. There was but a flash of relief when she said yes, because she then continued to tell us she was sorry that her judgment may not matter. She wanted to make sure we knew the unspeakable possibility. There was a political law looming over our heads like a blanket of darkness.

I put on my poker face and thick skin. We packed our bags. I don’t remember every really crying. I couldn’t let myself feel the depth of despair in my heart. I had to hang on to the thin thread of hope that resided in my soul. Without it, I couldn’t exist.  

We went to a Christmas party that night. Wonderful people, delicious food, fun gift exchange. There was even a mixed Russian/American couple that had adopted a special needs child at the party. Naturally, there were questions. I answered apathetically. It was all I could do to avoid hysterics.

It seemed a distant walk back to the apartment in polar temperatures. I don’t know if I slept that night. Our driver picked us up in the morning and we flew back to the US.

Christmas Day. Heavy heart. Stone cold face.

Thoughts and emotions churned in my soul for three days before they found their escape on an airplane to my mother’s house near Los Angeles. The tears flowed uncontrollably as I typed a blog through blurred vision. A few hours later, I was blindsided by middle-of-the-night calls from phone numbers I didn’t recognize and found myself doing interviews with the same media I’d turned down requests from when we were in Russia. We had intended to fly under the radar. I had no idea then that my blog would be translated and shared via popular Russian news sites, or that 40,000 people would read it. ABC World News Tonight , Good Morning America, CNN Early Start, Wall Street Journal, Yahoo!, Associated Press, Daily Mail (UK), The Telegraph (UK), KABC Los Angeles.

None of it ever on my radar. It consumed a week of me.

And then, by this time last year, it had died down. I was back home in “small town” Arkansas not knowing what would happen. My hope hung on God, and the Russian people who were reaching out to me and made it clear they would do anything to get Polina home!

To all of you, too many to name, thank you! I know you haven't forgotten the orphans and that you will continue to fight for them.

I pray you have a very Merry Christmas!

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