Friday, March 30, 2007

Small things with great love...

“In this life, we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love….”--Mother Teresa

We picked up Margarita and Sergey on Tuesday, with great joy, trepidation, curiosity, and a pervasive sense of peace. They ran to us when we walked into their area, and jumped into our arms. Well-prepared by the caretakers for our arrival?--maybe, but I believe there was real emotion and sincerity there. They had made cards for us, in their crafts time, Rita’s with pictures of flowers and Sergey’s with a picture of an airplane. We visited a little with the caretakers and the other kids we had played with on the last trip (though a few had “gone home” to America in recent weeks to their new families--hooray!). We dressed the kids in the clothes we brought for them, so the orphanage could keep their clothing, and soon left. The caretakers were sad to see these children leave, children who are clearly some of their “favorites”--there were smiles and hugs and tears all around. Margarita and Sergey were, though, amazingly focused on, well, getting out of there. They said their goodbyes and piled into the car, eager to move on the next, unknown phase of their lives….

The last few days have had ups and downs--fortunately, many ups and only a few downs. We are all getting to know each other, feeling each other out, testing. We had been told by others that have internationally adopted older kids that there is often a “honeymoon” period for a few weeks just after adopting, where kids are not secure enough to let you see their “difficult” sides. Then eventually, when they figure you’re not going to “return" them they will begin to test you and the power struggle begins. We have seen a little of both here already…

These kids are great kids--very bright, curious, independent, social and affectionate. Their naivety is scary sometimes, however--their lack of fear regarding everyday things, like busy streets, leaving the hotel room without Mom or Dad (!), or walking away with strangers. These are some of the hardest things to deal with without a common language--how to impart these warnings to children who don’t perceive any issue. It has really been the source of the few tantrums we have seen.

So what have we been doing? Well, unfortunately the weather has turned cold and rainy, so we have been cooped up quite a bit in our room. We brought a reasonable supply of hotel-toys--puzzles, Hot Wheels, dolls, trains and train tracks, a Leap Pad. In addition, we brought a selection of DVDs we thought they might enjoy, ranging from English language animated films and musicals, to a few Russian-language videos we picked up at Moscow airport (so far the favorite is Sound of Music, in English). Margarita is extremely interested in electronics, and really good at working with them, so she has enjoyed the Leap Pad, the electronic English-Russian translator we brought, and Mom’s laptop computer (oh, dear). Sergey loves the train set (look out Zachary!). We have tried to have at least one outing a day, even in the damp weather, just to give the kids (and us) a break from the hotel. Most days it has been a short walk up to the local grocery store, or to the fruit stand vendors on a nearby neighborhood street. One day we were required to appear with our children at the US Consulate, for some paperwork. Yesterday however we used the hotel’s inexpensive shuttle to take us to a local park, near the center or town, and we walked around for an hour or so, visiting the train station, a local pastry vendor, and the playground area of the park. That was a lot of fun, though we were all freezing by the time we got home.

We’ve been eating mostly at the hotel--usually room service for breakfast, lunch down in the restaurant, and dinner at one location or another. Scott and Carolyn, here with their infants Jack and Daniel, have also stayed pretty close to the hotel, due to the cool, wet weather. It is supposed to warm up soon; I hope so cause we are getting close to cabin fever--more clashes with the kids today than in recent days, and I think it’s due to the kids’ boredom--and ours.
We spoke with Zachary on the phone yesterday for the first time, all of us. It was pretty funny, everyone talking at once in two different languages. I think Zach was very excited to hear from his brother and sister, and they were definitely interested in talking to him. Now every time I boot up my laptop, they run over and grab the external headset, calling Zachary’s name, thinking I am about to make a voice-over-internet Skype call to their brother….

It’s been a little hard to post, it sort of takes both of us to keep things under control much of the time. But I’ll try to post tomorrow with some anecdotes and special moments from our first days with Margarita and Sergey… We feel truly, truly blessed that we have been given this wonderful opportunity, a chance to do this “small thing” for these kids, and complete a journey within ourselves at the same time….

Love to all.


Diane Noriega said...

It is no small thing that you are doing my dear sister and brother-in-law. It is a tremendous and wonderful thing. You are all blessed, all five of you. And I too feel blessed to be sharing in it all with you. Zachary and I can't wait to see you soon at home.

Love, Diane

Madeline Petersen & Tim Avery said...

Hi Debbie and John,
So GREAT!! to get your new blog message, and so very pleased to see Miss Maggie Mae wearing girlie pink.....As you can tell from my previous "comments", I was watching closely to see how things are going....and it seems they are going very well. Of course, all of the issues about raising children, hi's and lo's are already showing up. Can't wait to hear more, but see from your blog how wrapped up you are in the every day of child rearing. Can't recall what you wrote about returning home, but hope it is soon. Thanks for this blog, it has been a blessing to those of us whose "hearts" have been flying with you to the other side of this old planet.

Sharon said...

Hi Debbie and John,
I meet you at the Adoptin Adoptions picnic. I have a Sam from Kaz. and am working on my second for fall. Your posts are lovely and I'm thrilled for your growing family. Look forward to meeting the kids at the next AO picnic.

Jackie said...

D & J - I am so thrilled for you all!! The images are great. I'm so glad you are finding time to update your blog. I am certain you have your hands full ;) I wish you all the best in the coming days until you are home. Until then, stay strong and may you all be well. Jackie

Madeline Petersen & Tim Avery said...

Hi John and Debbie,
You must be home by now? I'll try and call San Diego this week-end if we don't get any updates on your blog. Although, I can imagine (or try to imagine) just how hectic things are with your family. We are well. Just taking it easy for me, and working too hard for Tim. I'm sure, on CNN, you've heard of this problem with pet food, so I continue to cook for Pepe and Printemps. They love it, and I don't think it is such a burden....who else do they have to go to? The breeder did tell us of a food she was confident about, so we did get some of that and it is in their bowls now, but I'm still continuing to cook, so they don't rely wholly on pre-prepared dog food. Guess they'll be disappointed as soon as I feel it's okay to give them totally canned dog food or kibbles. One of my administrative interns is getting married, she has a wedding website, it's actually quite nice. The date isn't until Bastille Day 2007 (July 14) in San Francisco, but it will be fun to go to the wedding. She is a great gal....very pretty, smart and talented like you are Debbie.
We think about you every day and hope all is going "smooth as silk"?
With much Aloha
Madeline & Tim