From the title of this post you are probably scratching your head asking "What gives?"...hahahaha! Day two as a family of five was, in short, awesome. I awoke at first light to Toktogul snuggled in bed between Dominick and I, who had gotten him out of bed to place him with us while the other boys were asleep. After a few minutes he hopped out of bed, and proudly went to the wall switch calling "Momma...ON...OFF" showing me that he remembered our lesson of the night before. His grin lit his face and the grins from the bed weren't far behind.
Today we went to visit Toktogul's Baby House, the orphanage he started out at (He has lived in 3 thus far) when an infant. We toured the outside and at first were not allowed insi until our coordinator, Saule arrived. While we were still outside, one of the caretakers popped herhead out the door to check out the strange entourage of 2 Americans with 3 little Kazakh/Kyrgyz boys and their interpreter following along, and suddenly she said "Toktogul??" and he went to her and she gave him a big hug and was SO glad he was being adopted. She shared with us that he was a very good boy when he was there, always active and "big heart". She also revealed that there was a caretaker who no longer works there who was so in love with him that she wanted to adopt him herself, but couldn't afford to raise him. That caretaker sobbed when he left the babyhouse, and she said she wished she could let her know that he did indeed now have a family..she then proceeded to thank us for adopting Toktogul as well as Matthew and Joshua, and said she wished others would see what beautiful children they are.
Not long after as we were getting into the car, Saule arrived and got me "inside". Man, what fun I had! I took several photos of the building, met the Doctor and a couple of others who came out to the car to see Toktogul and obviously cared very much about him and his future. Then...my biggest joy for that hour, at least, was that I had the priviledge of holding 3 other babies destined for families! I met Michelle's Zebastian, who by the way is a total doll and if it weren't for Michelle adopting him might just tempt me to adopt a baby again even at my advanced age. I met a little girl with a bilateral cleft lip just like Toktogul's who is beautiful and eyes shining bright...and I can't remember the name of the family who is adopting her. Then I met another little girl for a family with our agency scheduled to travel next month. If any of you are reading this blog, contact me, as I have pictures of each of your kids that I'd love to share!!! So, I got my baby fix, and honestly, that was enough to last me for awhile...I have enough on my plate now :-)
I was struck by the differences between Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz orphanages I have now visited. Frankly, the Kyrgyz orphanages I have seen are better than Kazakhstan's, and there feels like there is life happening in them. I have often described Matthew's and Joshua's orphanages as silent, even with 70-200 babies in them, the fact is the babies learn itis pointless to cry as there is no one to come help if you do. This orphanage today was filled with noice and activity, kids playing...lots of toys, babies crying and fussing, and lots of caretakers everywhere. For what it was, it was a cheerful and bright plae, and I think much of the credit for that goes to Saule, who has spent an enormous amount of time establishing programs there, training staff, getting Manas AFB staff to participate in upgrades...this is a woman who is NOT in it for the money at all, but is trying her best to make a difference. Again I go back to that theme that one person can change the lives of many with action.
I returned to the car where all the men were, and then we were off to Zum, the mall with souvenirs that are traditional. There Toktogul had his first escalator ride and had to learn that you stand only on one step. His head was going every which way as we went through this bustling mall filled with small stalls with individual vendors. You can not begin to imagine the stares we got with our little Kazakh/Kyrgyz crew...and one kind younger Kyrgyz woman asked me about our family, a bit about the process, and then stopped and said to me "You love your children very much..." as if a bit surprised, to which I replied "More than you'll ever know". The attitudes about adoption here by the native population is partly what keeps so many children languishing in orphanages, and if others can see us out and about with happy, bright kiddos maybe someones mind might be changed, even at the expense of being stared at constantly.
We then ate at a great little pizza place with close to American style pizza, and while there we took the opportunity to have Kuba explain some things to Toktogul about how our family works...that we don't yell at each other, that we never hit one another, that we expect him to acknowledge us when we speak to him, stuff like that. We explained that he may think we are mean, but we are not...that we care about him and know about dangerous things that he does not yet know about. We told him that he has the same rules that Matthew and Joshua have. We then asked Kuba to find out how he feels about everything so far, if he was comfortable with us and if he was mad at us for saying "no" so much. He told Kuba he was very happy and that he understood, which frankly surprised me as I figured he was pretty ticked off at us by now because of all the firm responses he had been getting from us about many things. He is quite insistent when he wants something, and doesn't let up easily (and that is putting it a bit mildly) but he doesn't yell or get obnoxious once he finally does give in so it is definitely workable...just tiresome at moments, but already we are seeing slight improvement and more acceptance by the hour of our guiding. Funnily, when I asked Matthew what he thought we should be teaching Tokie first, he replied "Commands Mom, so he understands things like 'stay' and 'stop' because he could get hurt!"
As the day wore on things just kept getting better...and I actually got my first kiss today, a real one, not a fake one, and it was a spontaneous "mom" kiss. All three kids are riding around a la 60's style in the back of Kuba's station wagon...you know, like we ALL did when we were kids, as there are no seatbelt laws here and no way to transport this many people in a small car if you did have such a law. As I got in the car all three boys were hanging over the seat calling to me and Matt and Josh each leaned over and gave me kiss, and then I hear this high pitched "Mama" and turn around, and there Tokie is puckered up waiting for his :-) Of course, at this stage, we are pushing nothing physical as that comes with time, but he is very open to much of it without yet causing me worry over attachment related issues with overt friendliness with strangers. This is just a kid who has been fortunate enough in this environment to have a few special people in his life who loved him, and showed him how to love, so he has an open heart to accept and give it.
And now we come to "Hiney Bonding". Yes, I have boys, and those of you with boys around this age will totally get it...and those of you with no experience with the wonder that is a boy will think this is ridiculous and perhaps even in poor taste. Oh well, jump to the next paragraph if you choose to. Toktogul brought with him in that blue shopping bag one of those ghastly little kewpie doll things with tall wild hair, and it was clothed. Well, we are beginning to work on vocabulary and Joshie was playing with the doll and pulled his pants down accidently. I know of at least one mom reading this with 3 boys who already knows where this is leading...hahaha! Joshie laughed a bit and Tokie laughed a bit, and I pointed to it's bottom and said "Hiney", which made them break out in hysterics as Tokie tried out the new word, Matthew then joined us and pretend spanked Joshie's bottom and said "Hiney"...and I think at that moment they all began the real process of becoming brothers as they chased each other around this tiny room for the next 20 minutes pulling pants down and patting each others hineys while laughing up a storm. Suddenly, things looked different to all of them and they realized just how much fun they could have together even without a shared language yet.
Already you can see Toktogul blossoming with any praise at all. Joshie did his little scribble drawing this afternoon, and I made a big deal out of it as usual saying how pretty it was...and then Toktogul started with fierce intensity on his own drawing (Thanks mom for those magic crayola markers) and when he was done presented it to me with a look of such naked expectation on his face I almost wanted to cry. After much making over of it by mommy accompanied by huge hugs, there was a new light in his eyes..one of joy at being noticed...one of his soul very, very slowly beginning to fill up. Can you imagine what this feels like right now, being a part of this, standing by and watching this child unfold into the flower he will some day become? I can't find the words really to express it.
Another interesting thing is that Toktogul has bugged us and bugged us about phoning his mama from the orphanage, the one who cried so much when we left Belovodske. We tried tonight but couldn't getthe call through so will try tomorrow. But I have been so pleased to see his attachment has formed to this woman so strongly, as it means he will eventually have thje ability to attach strongly to us.
This evening I went to the Hyatt to visit with Tina, another adoptive mom who has a BEAUTIFUL baby girl that I got to spoil for a few minutes...and we talked and laughed, and it was so nice to be with someone whose life experience mirrors mine at the moment, even if the age of the child is different. Tina is an incredible mom and feels such a blessing has dropped into her life, and it has. After being spoiled with Coke Light and real internet access so I could post the recent photos, I returned home where the boys were all still awake. As I approached the room in the hallway I heard giggles, and lots of them. I opened the door and was quite literally pounced on by first Tokie and then Matt and Josh, 3 boys and about 180 pounds of bustling, giggling, hugging and kissing cyclones all yelling MOMMYYYY!!!.
Damn guys, it just doesn't get any better than this. I KNOW we have struggles ahead, I know he will challenge us routinely for a long time to come. But as I tucked them all in bed tonight, Matthew and Tokie whispering under the pillows in Boy-ese that needs no translation, and Joshie on my lap with his head buried in my chest, I knew that this was what God made me for...this is what I am supposed to do with my life. It may not be earth shattering and it surely will win no Nobel Peace Prizes, but it has made a difference in the lives of 3 precious little boys and a difference in all of the lives they will one day touch. Thank you God for giving me this opportunity, to watch my sons go from being unloved castaways to cherished children. Thank you for giving Dominick and I the courage and strength to do this. Thank you for never allowing me to become pregnant. I "get it" now in ways I never have before.
Until the next episode of "The American Kazakh Kyrgyz Klan in Kyrgyzstan", good night!