While yesterday went inordinately smoothly with Toktogul, today was a bit rocky, at least during the morning and early afternoon. We went up to the mountains with Kuba, whom we all adore, and I felt more like Kuba was visiting us in Colorado rather than we were visiting withhim in Bishkek. It was so much like the mountains around our area that it was almost unreal. Beautiful snow capped mountains with fast rushing runoff from the snow pack melting. We saw a couple of groups of native Kyrgyz out picnicking and fishing with the longest fishing pole I have ever seen. The runoff was so clean and clear, and not muddy as it is at this time of year near us. One surprising thing is that it was so close to Bishkek, with a million people residing there, and yet almost no one was up there enjoying the cooler weather and the great outdoors. I would have assumed that people would flock up there to get out of the city, but I guess not. The one huge difference was the piles and piles of trash in areas surrounding the stream. So sad to see and made me better appreciate the laws we have in the US to protect environments such as this.
Toktogul did not understand why we were going to the mountains, and was a bit bored with it all. He was also mad that he didn't get the window seat, which of course is an age old cause for arguments between siblings, and even when we told him Matthew got to sit by the window on the way up and he would get it on the way down he was not happy. He did giggle and have a little fun when we were out of the car and playing around throwing rocks in the water. But things rapidly went downhill (no pun intended) from there when we were driving back to the city and he kept hanging his body out the window of the car and we told him over and over agin to sit down and then suddenly he lost a small battery out the window that he had been carrying around with him. He kept insisting we go back and get it, and we of course declined to do so. He got angry. About 10 minutes later he opened the car door while we were doing about 50 mph, and Dominick, who was sitting in the back with the boys raised his voice and sternly told him not to touch the door anymore. Then Toktogul got REALLY upset, and continued to pout much of the rest of the drive back to Bishkek. We went to lunch and he improved a bit, but we had decided that when we returned to the hotel all 3 boys needed to take a nap. Ohhhh boyyyyy, that did not set well at all with him!!! He was extremely mad at this stage, and I know didn't understand our reasons for wanting him to rest...he thought only Joshie should nap, and then he purposely made as much noice as he could while lying down, singing, banging the walls a bit, etc. So Dominick moved Josh to our bed, and separated Matthew and Toktogul into different beds, and he then sat in a chair in the room to play Sleep Monitor for them :-) The funny thing was, the minute Toktogul got the idea that he wasn't winning this battle and quieted down, he fell fast asleep, easily proving our point that he was overtired and overstimulated.
When he awoke about an hour and a half later, I was sitting next to him on the bed and his eyes popped open, and then this look of sadness came over him and he started to weep a little, and when I bent over to kiss him and ask if he was ok he really started to cry hard. I pulled him up onto my lap, and he did not resist and in fact melted into me a bit, and he cried for awhile while I gently whispered to him. Dominick came in and sat down next to us and Tokie went to him as well and Dominick explained he loved him very much and we pantomimed as best we could that EVERYONE had to take a nap, not just Tokie, and that he had slept a long time and was tired. He had stopped crying at this point and as we joked a bit about how tired he was a slow grin crept into his face and we knew then that he understood.
It brought sharply into focus just how confusing all of this must be for him, how overwhelmed he must be at times...how difficult it is to understand the rules and authority of parents if you have never had them before. He looked so sweetly sad and vulnerable lying there as the tears fell, and my heart felt his confusion and sorrow. The language barrier alone must be so frustrating and then throw in all the other areas where he lacks any kind of knowledge and it is a recipe for anger and resentment. Actually, if I were in his shoes I would be throwing tantrums day and night! We have a long and challenging road ahead, and it will be filled with curves, valleys and hills...it will not be a straight line by any means. We expect there will be progress and backsliding for a long time to come. Grief will also have to be worked through as it hits in waves, and I am hoping that having a firm yet loving guiding hand will give him the security he needs to express that when it arrives. He will know we will stand with him, hold him and be there for him, and that we want the best for and from him. And that grief WILL come eventually, and perhaps we saw a smidgen of it this afternoon. A child can not leave everything that is known and step into the unknown without feeling some sort of loss. I have a great deal of respect for how well he has handled everything thus far.
But then there was the little guy we had the rest of the afternoon...the smiley, excited, cheerful little boy who showed what a resilient spirit he has. There was the little boy who ever so proudly surprised us by taking a notebook and pencil, and writing for the first time and from memory of seeing it written only once "Mama" and "Papa". He wrote his own name in English as well as Matthew's name, and grinned so broadly as everyone applauded. There was the little boy who sat nestled on my lap as we waited patiently for over an hour at the Kazakh Embassy for our visas. Toktogul is also one of the most outgoing kids I have ever met, saying Zdrasvutya to everyone he meets from taxi drivers to waitresses. He already has the makings of an outstanding salesman! This is not attachment related at all, this is all personality. We have all met those who seem bolder than others and wished we were a bit more like them in approaching people, well it is easy to see that Toktogul has the "it" factor where that is concerned.
We spent the late afternoon and dinner with our new friends, Wendy and her kids, and it was the perfect way to spend our last evening in Bishkek. If you can believe this, we had refried beans and homemade tortillas in Bishkek, something that just a couple nights before we had joked about. We have a photo of Tokie eating his first burrito :-) Matthew and Joshua also had a blast playing with their boys, and it was really a sad and forlorn goodbye that was said as we realized odds are we will not see one another again, or at least not for a long, long time. It is so nice when you meet people you instantly connect with, and it is sad when circumstances don't allow those relationships to blossom. However we all made a promise to remain connected and with technology as it is that might not be as hard as it once was.
So here we are on our last night in Bishkek, halfway done with our trip. As I emailed my mom earlier, this may sound nuts but I think we will all miss it here when we leave tomorrow. Our stay here has been filled with emotional highs and lows, and with meeting a lot of really special people. It was all I could have ever wishsed for and more, and we will have lasting memories of our time here. Funny how it only takes a few days to begin to feel settled in someplace, and the relationships along the way make it that much more special.
We are on to Almaty tomorrow where we finish at the Embassy, and then I fly to Petropavlovsk to meet Angela and Olesya, the two sisters we sponsor through the Antares Foundation. I will so enjoy seeing Boris again, the program Director in Petro and I will get to meet his wife Sveta as well. I will tour a couple of the orphanages, including one for the handicapped, so although part one of our adventure is over and our true goal has been obtained with uniting with our very special new son, the adventure is only half over.
I don't know what kind of internet access we might have from here on, as we are staying in an apartment rather than a hotel in Almaty and that doesn't have access. I don't know whether the hotel I am staying at in Petro has it or not, but I will try and blog as I can from wherever I can obtain access...so stay tuned...more is to come, it just might take some work for me to get to share what is going on! Thanks again to everyone for walking this journey with us :-)