Friday, December 28, 2012

(Incalculable Joy) x 46

The first year we were back from Russia with Laney, I told anyone seeking adoption advice to avoid Russia.  I've forgotten about that over the past seven years.  I am a person, generally, for whom time seems to diminish pain and exaggerate joy.  Besides, I've had seven years of my daughter.  Seven years of proof positive that the agony of getting her was worth it.  Well worth it.

But that first year, I'd have told you to steer miles clear of Russia. Look to Eastern Europe, Africa, foster-to-adopt in America.  But avoid Russia.  Because Russia made adoption uniquely difficult.  Seven years ago, we traveled to the Eastern edge of Russia, met Laney (Lena she was then), hugged and cuddled her.  Saw her bleary eyes and pale-to-the-point-of-translucent skin.  Saw how hungry she was.  And then we went home. And we were home for ten weeks.  Ten agonizing, horrible weeks, powerlessly waiting for the proud, creaky Russian bureaucracy to tell us we could come back.  Those 10 weeks were the worst 10 weeks in my life.  Worse even than the week my father died; and he died suddenly and tragically.  Those weeks were unimaginably painful.  I survived them on a steady diet of nicotine, alcohol, and spite.  I don't recommend this as a coping mechanism.  It worked for me, but damn, was I unpleasant to be around, hungover, stinky and prone to nasty comments.

If I hadn't ended up bringing my daughter home eventually, I think I'd be broken in some fundamental way.

Right now there are 46 families going through what we went through, only for them it's so much worse.

I don't think we can fix Russian/American adoption.   This ban is enormously popular in Russia because there are a variety of crazy theories about what happens to Russian kids adopted in America.  I don't judge this too harshly since we're far from immune from wackadoo paranoia here.   Russians don't seem to want their children adopted at all, but they are especially leery of American adoption. So, I am hopeful that the 1000 kids adopted annually from Russia by Americans will be adopted into Italy or England or one of the other countries that groks adoption like we do here.

But maybe we can do something about those 46 families.  

I think that the worst thing about having real political power in America must be that you know how fucked up the world really is.  I imagine that's the reason presidents (most of them) age so much.  Why Barack Obama's hair got so gray.  Why Hillary Clinton seems so tired.  Children are starving everywhere.  Children are raped and murdered and devalued in a million places in the world.  American children go to bed hungry every night too, also with bullets whizzing down their streets.  And the 650,000 kids in Russian orphanages have little chance at a good life.

But, like I said, maybe we can do something about those 46 families.  So, let's contact Hillary Clinton, and ask her to help them.  And Barack Obama.  Write your congressperson.  I'm writing to Vladimir Putin and including the letter Laney wrote.   And let's throw some full-throated encouragement their way to, at the very least, let those 46 adoptions be completed.  Let's encourage these powerful people who see so many horrible things to give themselves the gift of enabling incalculable joy, 46 times.

I hope you do.  46 families are going through a kind of pain it's hard to imagine.  And 46 children have the chance to be part of a family.  It's worth a quick email, right?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Open Letter to Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama

This is in response to the proposed Dima Yakovlev Law working it's way through Russian legislature.

I met my daughter for the first time on February 28, 2005 in Blagoveschensk, Russia.  She was 19 months old but no bigger than a year-old baby.  She had beautiful blue eyes and had been sick with a cold, I think, for her whole life.  The first year of her life she spent in hospital because there was no room for her in an orphanage.    When there was room in the orphanage, she moved there.

I don't know much about the orphanage.  We were only ever invited into particular rooms when we visited her in the orphanage.  So I don't know if she shared a crib, if she had friends.  She wasn't very strong.  She was always sick.  She never had enough to eat, she never got enough love.

But I know people cared about her.  And I know that the people in that orphanage looked out for her, wanted the best for her, and were so happy to see her get her own family.  I know the wonderful people who helped us with her adoption cared about Laney and wanted our family to be put together almost as much as my husband and I did.

I ask you to think about your own children.  I ask you to imagine them spending a year in a hospital because there was no room for them in an orphanage. I ask you to imagine them sick and hungry for almost two years.  Think of that before you play politics with the lives of the children in those orphanages.

My daughter is now nine years old. She is strong and tall and smart and beautiful.  She almost never gets sick.  She laughs all the time.  And she is very proud of being Russian.  She knows who she is.  She knows where she's from.  She is Russian and American. And she is my daughter, she is my whole world.

Russia gave me my child.  In return, I give her all my love, I focus my life towards her, I make her my most important priority.  This is a good deal.  This is the way the world should work.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guns, Guns, Guns

I could never have a gun in my house.  Perhaps surprisingly, this is not down to an intrinsic moral objection.  It is practical.   I would probably murder my husband if I had a gun in the house.  Not that he drives me to murderous rages (often).  But because I go to bed every night with varying degrees of paranoid terror and Don works nights.  So many nights the poor guy comes upstairs, ready to rest his weary bones and is, instead, greeted in the dark by the eerie specter of his beloved wife bolting straight up and saying something super eloquent like "WHO THE FUCK IS THAT!!!!!  AUUUUGGGGHHH!" (I totally scream like Lucy Van Pelt).   Imagine if I had a gun by my bed... I'd shoot him.  And even if I didn't out and out murder him, I'd certainly do enough damage that he'd never feel obliged to clean the bathroom again.  And, you guys, I HATE cleaning the bathroom.

So no guns in our house.

I do not actually have any moral objection to gun ownership anymore.  If you want to have a handgun or shotgun around your house, I agree that (with certain provisos) this is your right as an American. I am like most gun control advocates in this county.  We are not standing eagerly by waiting for  legislative wiggle room to take your guns away.  We have no plans to pry a gun from your cold, dead hands because, really, given rigor mortis and whatnot, this seems like a dangerous proposition at best.  When we talk about gun control, we're talking about AK47s and gun show loopholes and putting the brakes on the myriad super easy ways that anyone can get a goddamn assault weapon in this country.

On the other side is that evil troll Wayne LaPierre who's got his followers convinced that any gun control legislation, no matter how patently obvious, will lead invariably to Barack Obama personally showing up at your door where he will demand your gun and hand it over to the Black Panther he totally hangs out with when there are no cameras on him.  Gun nuts suffer from a much deeper degree of paranoid terror than I do.  They are also not embarrassed by their paranoid terror.  Paranoid terror is really only ever successfully managed when it occurs alongside a healthy dose of embarrassment.

All that said, the most disheartening thing I've noticed in this gun crazy country of ours is the sexual thrill we seem to get at the idea of shooting someone threatening.  They've gone and legislated that pornographic fantasy in Florida to just super great results.  And Wayne LaPierre may actually believe that more guns means less murder because Wayne LaPierre is an evil troll and doesn't understand math. And this story was all over Facebook as some kind of awesome lulz.  Look, I get it - feeling threatened is horrible and incredibly scary.  And I'd be a big old fat liar if I said I'd never indulged in the fantasy of blowing away some motherfucker who threatened me.  But, if someone breaks into your house to steal your TV, they didn't just spring into existence at the moment they kicked your door in.  They are living people, with complicated lives and while they might not be good people, can we not, at the very least, have the common humanity to regret their death?  Can we not at least recognize that killing someone, even someone who's threatened you, is a significant act?   And that while there are times when it might be justified, it's not something we should celebrate?

I feel like such an old lady saying this, but we don't like in a Michael Bay film (shit... movie.  Michael Bay does not make films).  Killing matters.  It signifies.  It is not fun.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Lustrous Winter

I think I sing the praises of winter around this time every year.  I am a member of the distinct minority that enjoys the short days and the long nights.  I also like the short nights and the long days.  I like any season until I get sick of it.  Pretty much my favorite kind of weather is "the first day it..." I love the first day I put on a sweater, the first day it snows, the first day I can go out in shirt sleeves, the first day I can swim in Lake Michigan without freezing my nards off (my friend Danno told me that women also have nards and he's pretty smart so I'm sticking with the expression).

But December is much maligned by us earthwalkers.  Most people just really super duper hate it.  We hate it so much we designed this whole festival of lights with inside trees and brightly colored ornaments and twinkly lights to get over our collective depression at getting only seven or eight hours of light (look.. I know many of you believe in Jesus and love him and stuff... but we do this whole Christmas thing as a mechanism to help us get through the long, cold night.  That's for realz the reason for the season.  Everything else is just tacked on.  WAR ON CHRISTMAS!  SOMEONE CALL O'REILLY.  STAT!)

And I do love Christmas, with the pretty pretty ornaments and the presents and stuff.  But, come on you guys, here in this first world place we live in, can't we give a little love to the long lustrous night?  To the coziness of home fires?  To just doing a little fucking less and enjoying the opportunity to kick back?

It's dark out.  Let's just pour a glass of wine and play a little Uno, read a book, watch a movie we haven't seen in a while. Let the kid skip that class.  The world won't end if the rug goes unvacuumed.  Don't go checking your work mail during commercial breaks.  It's dark out.  The world is giving us a break.

And I'm blogging through it.  In the old days, the pre-kid days, I'd spend these nights hanging out at the bar.   Playing Uno with Laney is probably a little better... but those nights at the bar sure had their charms.