Thursday, June 18, 2009
"Adopting Alesia: My Crusade for my Russian Daughter"
If you look off to the left and see the links for other blogs, you will find one for the "Crab Chronicles". That blog is one I have followed for years and is written by adoptive mom Dee Thompson. Dee and I are friends of the close internet variety, having emailed back and forth for a very long time and yet not having the pleasure of meeting in person. Dee has written and published 2 books, and the book to the left is her new "baby". I was lucky enough to receive an signed edition in the mail yesterday afternoon, and of course I ripped it open and proceeded to spend the evening reading the entire book. What can I say, I am sick, coughing all night and this was a GREAT way to take my mind off it all!
Her title is very apt, as her pursuit of adopting Alesia indeed became a crusade. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, and as doors kept closing Dee shares with us how she refuses to quit, how she stood in front of the doors and kicked them in with her modest, low heeled footwear (anyone who has been to Russia will understand THAT joke! The high heels there, whew!)! Although under circumstances that are quite different in many respects, it might be obvious to many why I can relate so well to such a well told story.
For those who have yet to travel to adopt from any of the former USSR countries, the vivid descriptions had me chuckling with their accuracy. This would be a wonderful book to get a strong sense of the environment, the attitudes, the cultural differences that you will experience.
Utilizing actual saved emails which are sprinkled liberally throughout, Dee weaves her crusade tale expertly and the authenticity of those communications lends itself to helping the reader feel very "present" as each part of the story unfolds.
As the months drag on, as the wait extends far longer than anticipated, you can feel the author's roller coaster emotions, something that will resonate with many adoptive parents who find themselves in the same leaden shoes as they wait for what seems an eternity for their adoption process to be completed. The descriptions of seeing children who have changed over the time it has taken to adopt them and they have grown ever-older were personally touching for me. I've been there, I've felt that, I know what it is like.
I find that reading stories such as "Adopting Alesia:..." help me as I work through our own adoption processes. Let's face it, though international adoption is not exactly an unheard of oddity these days, thanks to Angelina and Crew, it still remains an experience that most of us are unable to fully share with anyone in our mommy cliques unless there happens to be someone nearby who has also adopted internationally. When one considers that fewer than 5% of all international adoptees are over 5 years old, the odds of running into someone whose life experience mirrors your own is very slim...and our experiences as parents of older internationally adopted post-institutionalized children is a very, very unique one with a distinct set of fears and challenges. Reading Dee's work was a great reminder that I am not alone in how we formed our family, that others have done it and the horror stories that non-adoptive "friends" always want to share with us to warn us of the train wreck coming our way are not ALWAYS true! There are many Alesia's out there, and there are many families like Dee's and mine who have successfully adopted older children and would do it again in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.
No, "Adopting Alesia" is not a 20/20 expose on the nightmare of adopting older children from Russia. Sadly, stories like this one rarely get the airtime that the others receive. I say that not to deny the very true reality that many families face of emotional issues with their older adoptees...sure, those stories are out there and are part of the larger mosaic of the story of internationally adopted children. But it is refreshing to read a story that more closely fits with the overwhelming vast majority of stories I have heard directly out of the mouths of mothers and fathers for years...children overcoming incredibly difficult pasts to embrace a new life and a new family with gusto, adoptive parents going to great lengths to bring their children home and provide them with the tools they need for success.
Read this well written chronicle of a mom's resolute and relentless pursuit of her child. You will come away shaking your head in admiration for both mom and daughter.