Saturday, April 18, 2009

We are Legit!

Together with Missi and Jen, I am diligently working on our 501(c)3. We are approved as an entity in Virginia, and we are waiting on our IRS application to be approved. Our goal is to work
with the orphanages in Khabarovsk from
which each of us adopted. We will focus on those homes first, since those are the ones we have connections. We are going to begin fundraising soon, and hope to raise the money to take back with us. We have a friend in Khabarovsk that will get approvals from the MOE so that we can go to the homes and speak with the directors to find out what they need. So much has changed that
we may need to purchase items that at one point were readily available to them.
My dream is to TRY and visit the judge who hears adoption cases. She has been very difficult to families lately and I wonder if she is moving towards allowing no American families in her court, or if she just wants to cover herself in light of the tragedies that she has heard of.
We are hoping to have our website go live by May 15 2009. That would be one year before our Launch Party, and we could start to ask for groups such as Girl/Boy Scout Troupes, civic organizations and Church groups to support us. We are very new at this, and want to keep our focus. I keep thinking about Anna's orphanage. She lived in the Komsomolsk Baby Home. She had a wonderful caregiver named Victoria. This dear woman found my address and wrote to me after I had been home for about 6 months. She shared in her letter that she had been the one to take primary care of Anna and was very happy that she found a family. Later she shared that she adopted a baby that was Anna's age. What I believe now is that she wanted to adopt Anna, but I got there first. In a recent letter she wrote that the only children that were in the baby group where Anna lived are children with very special needs. She called it "very sad."
I look forward to meeting her again. She loved my daughter and reached out to me so I know she cared deeply about my Anna. She said that she wanted our daughters to meet one day. I am not sure if I will bring Anna on our mission trip. In one way, I think it is important for her to go back to Russia, again. (she went on our trip to adopt AugustRose) I think it should be a regular experience for both girls to go back. I want them to be completely familiar with their birth country. I don't want it to be mysterious to them. We go to Florida every summer. We stay at my dad's beach house. They know I grew up in Florida and they know they are solnichka babies at heart, and dyevochkas in the soul.. In my mind, going to each place often will build a solid foundation of who they are...Yes, going to Russia every other year sounds crazy, but look who is writing this...Anyway, I can't imagine going back to Russia without them, so that means taking my dad too. He simply won't allow us to travel internationally without him. Me, yes, but not with his grands. So that means I need to save personally to take them. I won't ask anyone to help me bring my girls and DAD back. I figure I will need about 7K to take them and my dad is on his own!! So this 3Moms Mission is growing in scale, and cost! But it is so worth it..

"In order to move forward, sometimes you have to go back."
Now about working in Russia.
I had a couple of good leads for this year. They didn't work out and I can pretty much pinpoint why. I have tons of baggage and no international experience. My baggage being that I am single and have 2 daughters to bring along. The one lead in Saint Petersburg hired teachers with international teaching experience. The other lead sort of fizzled out before it ever got going. But this year, I plan to TRY to travel to Russia to meet the HR folks in Moscow at as many of the international schools as I can. I need to let them know that it may seem as though I am a wee bit of extra effort, in the end I am worth it. I am sure they are nervous that a single mother of two in a foreign country will be a problem, but really no matter where I am I am that same single mother and I do just fine. I have the ability to just figure things out no matter where I am.
I have figured out that I can enroll August in a preschool, and Anna would go to school with me, where ever that turned out to be. This is easy...And I have a strong family support system. Each Grandparent agreeing to taking turns in Russia for several months. My dad is even looking for work in Russia since he will retire later this year.
As for having international experience, I think teaching children in a school with over 20 languages should be of note. Right now in my very class I teach children from the following countries:
Bangladesh, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ghana, Libya, Pakistan, Mexico, and of course the good ole USA.
Many, many of these little guys are fresh off the plane from their homelands and go back throughout the year. At any given point at my school there are many children away from school and on a visit to their families "back at home." So I already feel like I have the international experience that schools want. I understand that they want me to be comfortable where I am, and that is where my adoption experience is not truly understood. I was shuttled about and taken care of by my agency and although I was there, I am sure schools worry that my heart was ready to get back to the US. What they don't know, is how hard I cried when I was being driven to the airport to come home. I can remember when this photo was taken...
It was mid October and we had left Khabarovsk and gotten safely to Moscow. It was my last chance to soak it in. We would leave Moscow the next afternoon. I cried off and on all day. I shared with my dad that I didn't want to come home. I wanted to stay in my Russian Bubble forever. Anna had been with me for about a month, and we were "thick as thieves." My sister was there to a part of it all and all of those years ago I began to wonder if I would ever make it back to Russia. Little did I know.

The same feeling. Different region, different daughter. My time in Novosibirsk was so short and chaotic. I had this ONE day to be with AugustRose in her city. I picked her from the orphanage on Thanksgiving Day. The ZAGS office that would provide her birth certificate couldn't fit her long name on her documents and asked me if I could change her name just enough for it to fit. I agreed to remove 1 letter but that wouldn't work. The judge had agreed to the original spelling and there would need to be a hearing for a change. So Moscow was contacted. Within one day, they agreed to allow the ZAGS office to issue me a new HANDWRITTEN birth certificate. That same day, we took that to the office that provided her adoption decree. That office was closed for the day. My coordinator called the woman at her home, and magically the decree was issued from a closed office. (I could have this story flip flopped/It could have been the adoption decree and not the birth certificate that were the problem) ANYWAY, all of this was done the afternoon after my court hearing. Yes, you read that right. I had sprung AugustRose taken her to meet my mom and Anna, left for the marathon paperwork chase, and came back to the hotel to see my mom strung out from the day... All of those documents had been delivered to the passport office and we waited 1 day to get it...There was a super blizzard happening, and I took the girls on a walk to play in the snow and see the town. In the photo above, you can see that AugustRose was holding on to my diet coke and water bottles for dear life. The next afternoon we picked up the passport and the next morning we were on a plane to Moscow. You can see that I am worn out in the photo. But oddly, I wanted more time to see the city with my new little family. Once again, I was thinking, "Will I ever get back to Russia?" I was never thinking, I gotta get back to America, I was always thinking, "How can I get back?"


kate said...

Congrats on your legitimacy! ;>

I was laughing at your never using "don't touch" with your girls. While I wholeheartedly agree with that in the US, it wouldn't work here. There are many things that aren't touchable unless you're "official".

I loved seeing those baby pix of your girls. They were so little!

(still need your e-mail!)

Christine said...

You are amazing! We have a daughter from this region.

Annie said...

Wow; I wish it were me! Do it while they are young and portable! I might still give it a try, but I know I would hear lots of noise about it...they signed on to be Americans!

I think you've connected with Randy and Natalie (Shore of Hope); they've learned a lot about doing what you're doing.