Today I left my home. Embarking on this magnificent journey to my boys. My parents were hesitant to let me go, but now I am going. Most people look down at me for adopting my boys, for truly they are my boys, when I am only 11 years older. But who cares what the world says when my boys are waiting? Today I departed, for my boys, for Ukraine.
Much to be thankful for! I have arrived in Ukraine. After spending three days on a ferry from Seattle to Anchorage, AK, I took a flight from Anchorage to Kiev, Ukraine. George met me here, and drove me to this hotel. I checked in and have a room upstairs. George showed me around Kiev a bit, and today at 9am, I entered my son's building, and finally met Dmitriy. His brother, Maxim, is at another building about 100 miles from here. Dmitriy and I will take a train from Kiev to Torez, and go pick up Maxim. George explained all of this to me.
George is my translator, guide, and much more. He is older, probably in his sixties. He has thinning gray hair, a short beard, and brown eyes. He is tall, and lean. He's been running around Ukraine helping me organize this for months.
Kiev is very beautiful, full of nature. There is a giant oak tree out front of Dmitriy’s building, and the leaves are piled up. It snowed today, and I felt enlightened by the beauty.
Today I met Dmitriy. I was ready to go at 8:30, and at 8:45, George picked me up in his car. We drove to Dmitriy's orphanage, and I was excited. I was finally going to meet him, after so many months of waiting. A caregiver took us around the orphanage, which wasn't in very good shape. Then we were led into a small room. Normally, George would have left at this point, but I asked him to stay, to help me translate. After 5 minutes, the door opened. And Dmitriy was led in.
Dmitriy is small, smaller than I imagined. Even though he is six, he seems as small as a 3yr old. His hair is short and uneven, like it had been cut in a hurry. He wore a red, fleece jacket and thick brown tights that functioned as pants. He saw me, and instantly asked his caregiver, "мама?" The caregiver nodded, and he shouted, "Мама!" and dove into my lap. He hugged me, smiling big. Then he jumped off my lap, and said something in Russian. “He said, ‘Come with me!’” George translated. Dmitriy took my hand and led me through his home. He was speaking constantly, and George translated every word. ‘Come on Mama,’, ‘This is where my friend sleeps’. Finally, he led us to his room.
Rows of beds line the wall, and rows in the middle. He led us to his bed, one in a corner with a small, light blue blanket. He showed us, excited to show everything. Then his caregiver called him over, for snack, George told me. He was sad for us to leave, but we needed to get me started on paperwork anyway. I was lead into the directors’ office, and George translated. I had to sign some papers, and then received a file about Dmitriy’s history.
I am shocked at what Dmitriy and Maxim experienced at the hands of their parents. The two were removed from the home after Maxim went blind from abuse. I can’t say anymore, I am so appalled. I spent some time with Dmitriy today, and I am so glad. I look forward in anticipation of the day that I don’t have to leave him there, which hopefully will be soon. I want them to both be mine by Christmas if possible. I am waiting for my court date, where the judge will see if I am fit to adopt Dmitriy and Maxim. It’s getting very late, and I need to sleep.
So much has happen in a week. Dmitriy is officially mine! I had court on the 30th, and the judge was pretty quick to say yes. Probably Dmitriy sold it to her, as he got up from his seat in the back, came up and curled up in my lap, saying ‘Mama’. He has a lot of energy, this boy. We took the train to Maxim’s orphanage, which took 2 days (the 1st and 2nd), and we met Maxim today.
George volunteered himself to watch Dmitriy for a while, while Maxim got warmed up to me. Dmitriy was a bit wild, and I didn’t want to scare Maxim. It had been four years since they had been separated. George took Dmitriy to a park, where George reported he loved playing in the new fallen, sparkling snow.
I went into the building, which was bigger than Dmitriy’s building. It was gray, with rows of windows. I was immediately led to the ‘meeting room’. I was given paperwork to sign, and more information about Maxim and his past. I found myself almost in tears at his past. Then there was a quiet, hesitant knock on the door. The lady giving me the info said something in Russian, and the door opened. Maxim entered. He had a long, thin stick in his hand, probably the closest thing he had to a walking stick. He wore a way-too-big shirt with long sleeves, and blue pajama pants. He wore slipper shoes, and white socks. He is skinny for his age, which is 7. His eyes were closed. He timidly came in, visibly shaking. The lady ordered him to do something, and he felt around for the couch. He sat, and laid his stick on the ground, between his feet. “Hi, Maxim,” I said, gently touching his shoulder. He still jumped. I had learned from his file that Maxim was studying English, and was pretty fluent in it. “You my Mama?” he asked. “Yes, I am adopting you and your brother, Dmitriy.” I said, slowly so could understand. He turned his face toward me. “Why me? I blind.” He said. “Because you are you, and you’re my son now.” I said. Tears began to flow down his face, and I found myself crying too. I hugged him, and he hugged me back, pressing his face into my shoulder. We sat there, crying for a couple minutes.
Maxim wiped his face with his sleeve. “Thank you. You are nice, not like my old mama papa?” He asked. “Oh, yes, I will make sure you are never hurt like that again. I am sorry I wasn’t here before now.” I said, hugging him. He reached up hesitantly and felt my face, getting a picture in his mind. I signed some more paperwork, and had to leave Maxim there, with promises that I would come back.
Luckily, I already got my second court date, the 15. If all goes well, we could be on our way home by Christmas!
Maxim and Dmitriy got to meet again today. I had court, and both boys came up. Dmitriy’s court date wasn’t really an official court, it was just granting me temporary guardianship, I learned today. But now they are officially mine. Their names are now Maxim David Alexander and Dmitriy Brandon Kristopher. I got their birth certificates, and am so happy that I can officially call them my sons (though I have been for months). George treated the boys and me to dinner and dessert at a nearby restaurant. He insisted, as it was tradition to take the new family out, or so he told me.
Dmitriy has quite the appetite; I didn’t know you could shove that much food into that small of a child! He ate a whole hamburger (his first one, I might add), a corn dog, and a serving of fries. Maxim ate more according to his size, just a small kid’s meal with chicken strips. Both boys enjoyed the food, as they had never had it before. At their orphanages, they just had Cheerios and fruit.
Seeing the boys enjoying the meal, and not worrying about their past, made me feel calm. This was what made life worth living, those little moments, when we don’t have to worry about the world, or what’s going on on Facebook, but can just relax and enjoy the tranquility.
I laughed, as George did, at the look on Dmitriy’s face when he took his first bite of ice cream, eyes wide. He loved ice cream. Maxim, on the other hand, more enjoyed the cherry on top of his sundae, and the melted fudge at the bottom.
We’re on the train right now, back to Kiev so we can fly home. I can see flakes of snow outside. They cover the land in white, and make it look clean. Dmitriy is asleep, curled up on the seat. Maxim is next to me, his head on my shoulder. I think he’s asleep. Even in his sleep, he is hanging on to his walking stick. It’s worn from years of age, and I think that’s why he likes it. We’ll be this train until the 18th, then we’ll fly back home. I think we’ll be home by Christmas.
It’s hard to believe that Maxim and Dmitriy are blood- related sometimes. Dmitriy is so loud and energetic. Maxim is quiet, reserved, and wise beyond his years. We were talking just a few minutes ago, about his family before. He brought it up. He said, “I remember seeing. Mama Papa mean, they hurt me and yell at me. One time, I wake up and I blind. I scared of them. You stay me safe?” He asked. He asked if I would keep him safe, and I promised him I would. He didn’t seem to talk anymore, and I didn’t push it. I know that he is still working on accepting his past, and is in shock that he has a ‘good Mama’ now. “Dmitriy is lucky. He doesn’t remember. But I do.” Maxim told me. Dmitriy is very, demanding, in that he always wants to be held. I think it’s because before he was adopted, he almost never got held. He loves the snow, and danced in the rain yesterday. I can’t believe they are really with me. It’s been a blast. Maxim said it best with “We used to be orphans, but now we have our Mama. Yay!”"
What do you think?