I find it simply amazing to believe that Lexie and I met for the first time one year ago on Friday May 25, 2007. She was so frightened and uncertain. Who can blame her. I looked, sounded, and smelled different from anyone she'd met plus we met in a VERY small room with Lexie & Mueret -her head caregiver- another caregiver holding another baby from her group they were introducing me to, the director of the baby house, the pediatrician of the baby house, my coordinator, the interpreter, Rosa the other single mom adopting from Spain and the 3 1/2 year old girl she was adopting plus her caregiver, my mom and myself. All of us in a room no bigger than 5 by 8 with two overstuffed chairs, a small table and bookshelf. Did I mention it was about 85 degrees outside and I don't even want to think how hot is was inside with all those bodies and no AC - not even a fan. Plus with all the emotions I was feeling and all the talking in different languages, I am amazed I didn't run out of there screaming. I certainly felt like it.
When they gave me Lexie for the first time she pushed at me with both hands with all her might trying to get away from me and then cried and reached out to her caregiver. They warn you that kids who CAN attach will often have stranger anxiety and that is a good thing. I thought I was prepared for it until this child they are encouraging me to agree to "bond" with is clearing not interested in bonding with me or having anything to do with me for that matter. But it was really brought home to me how correct they were about that when the other baby girl, who was 14 months old, let me hold her and then just sat in my lap and stared at me. That was very disquieting and really sad. I felt like she didn't know what to do if someone held her and had learned not to object to anything that was done to her. At least Lexie felt enough confidence in herself to object to someone she didn't know. And object she did. They also brought in two baby boys, one who was about a year but looked very thin and unhealthy and then I asked to see the little foundling boy Stephanie (one of the families that was there just before me) told me about. This poor baby had been found on the streets by a policeman at around 6 months old they thought and had been at the baby house for a year. He was just terrified and confused and didn't look well either. I am happy to report the first little boy was adopted and is doing just great. He is actually very chubby now and on target for his age. The foundling unfortunately is still at the baby house as far as I know.
Anyway, I agreed to start "bonding" with her that afternoon and when we came back for our first private visit Mueret played Hide & Seek with me holding Lexie and Mueret hiding and then leaving. She was very understanding about how to make the transition easier on Lexie. But the 2 hour visit was tough since she never really relaxed. We got a chance to take her clothes off and saw all the bug bites and scratches on her. I was so sad and very unsure if adopting her was the right thing to do. We went back to the apartment that night and I told Mom I just didn't know - that I didn't feel any connection to this child. Mom said let's just visit her over the weekend and if I still felt that way then we could call my coordinator back in the states and let her know what's up. Thanks Mom for your wisdom and fore site.
The next day the morning visit was outside because they were fumigating the building due to a "bug infestation" and all the children and caregivers where out in the "playground." Even though there must have been at least 50 babies out there, I saw her right away and when she smiled at me I just knew everything was going to be alright. Now it was probably gas or simply being outside for the first time in her life but that smile was so beautiful to me and when I took her from Mueret she was smiling and laughing and a completely different baby. It was like she was saying "hey I know you - you came back." And that's just how I felt. My heart knew her even if my head needed some time to catch up. At the end of the second visit that day she didn't want to go to the caregivers, which surprised us all. Each visit just go better after that and by the time I took her out of the baby house for the last time, no one would have questioned that we were mother and daughter.
So I spent the rest of this May and June reminding her (and anyone else I talked to) what each "anniversary" was. The day we meet (Friday May 25th), the end of the bonding period (June 8), the court date (Monday, June 18th) one of the toughest days of my life and June 19th when they finally gave us the "positive court decision" but of course we had to wait the 2 weeks for the "final decision" on Wed July 4th which was Lexie's Freedom Day. What a wonderful day to take her out of the baby house for good!!! Friday July 6th was the day I received Lexie's new birth certificate with her new name on it as well as me as her mother. It was amazing to see it in writing, even if it was in Russian. Then came Tue, July 10th, our last day in Aktau when we flew to Almaty which also made it's Lexie's first time on a plane. We finally made it to the US Embassy on Wed July 18th (boy was it nice to her unaccented English again) and we flew out of Kazakhstan Friday July 20th at 3am and landed in Houston Texas when Lexie officially became an American Citizen on Sat, July 21 where she met most of HER new family for the first time. Finally we landed in Washington state on Thursday night Aug 2 where she spent her first night in her crib at home. Which officially ended all of our anniversaries. Needless to say everyone was very sick of me calling almost every day of the summer with some kind of anniversary or saying "this time last year we were..." So thank you for putting up with me but when something so big and so wonderful happens to you, well you can help but want to celebrate. So thanks for walking down memory lane with me and I promise to TRY to do better next year. Maybe I'll be back in Kazakhstan meeting Lexie's brother or sister and creating more new firsts!!! You just don't know what the Good Lord has in store for us.
Our first picture together. Note the sweat pouring down my face and the worried look on Lexie's. She doesn't even look like herself!
This is that second morning together when I saw her in a sea of faces. See how much more relaxed and happy she was and so was I!
Just some of the babies that where brought outside so they could fumigate the baby house that day - part of the Sea of Faces. I pray that some of these children are now home with their families or have found new families to love them.
I decided to post these pictures (click on the pictures to make them bigger - especially her feet) of Lexie's "skin condition" so that other families traveling to Kazakhstan to meet their children won't be as surprised as I was. Ninety-five percent of this was cleared up in a couple of weeks with Benadryl and anti-biotic ointment that I happen to have brought with me. Her caregiver asked me what the miracle drug I used on her was. The rest was the result of the scabies she had (and I got) but that too was cleared up once we returned home and received the proper treatment. I didn't originally post these because I didn't want to take the chance that some Kazakh official monitored these blogs and it affect her adoption. Now I want other families not to worry too much if they find something similar when they first meet the children. We have so much at our disposal here in the states and these babies will benefit from that once you get them home. I was simply amazed at how happy and outgoing she was during our visits while dealing with the discomfort this must have caused her. Love and Benadryl are a wonderful combination!!