Bonding Day 4;tears and more tears

 November 6, 2008

I am so excited to have internet, lot’s to catch up on…

Bonding with Nina…
Today was the fourth day of bonding with Nina. It is not going well but I’m not so sure that it unusual. She is understandably terrified of us. Today Dart held her for the first time-she was not happy about it! In many ways, I think this is healthy and suggests she has made good attachments in her short little life and therefore is capable of attaching to us. We need to earn her trust and then her love. I have learned a few Russian phrases, most especially I say “don’t cry” in Russian. (I would recommend learning some words of comfort before coming. You can point and motion in the restaurants and shops but a screaming toddler needs to hear comforting words in her own language.) For now we rock, sing, soothe, and wipe many tears. At times she is inconsolable, crying hard, arching her back and just to escape us. It is so incredible sad and hard. I know this time will pass but I may have been naïvely optimistic about the reality of how a toddler would react to two perfect strangers. It does not change my bonding with her though. Today as she cried, I was kissing her face and thinking she is perfect, tears and all.
Yesterday we did some baby shopping. The clothing can be very expensive here but some things are nicer than we can get at home (tights and shoes in particular). We got her a coat and warm hat and boots, shoes and sneakers. The sneakers she has are two right shoes (some little one must be wearing two left). She does not complain-it makes me sad. Her little red “indoor shoes” are well worn, the Velcro closure no longer sticks and the inside sole is missing. On the edge of the sole is her name written in Cyrillic, written over the faded name of another child. We arranged a trade: one new pair of shoes or the orphanage in exchange for the old red shoes, this is Nina’s hospital bracelet of sorts, tangible evidence of her life in the orphanage. At twenty-two months I doubt she will have many memories here (truly I hope she does not) but some day we will talk about the baby house and the beautiful daughter we met there.

Life, food and shopping in Ust-Kamenogorsk…

We are living at the Shiny River hotel which is most certainly the nicest place in the city. It is listed as a 5 star property but I promise it is not. Not that it is terrible but if you come, it is better to have realistic expectations. The rooms are adequate, clean and well serviced. Again for those coming there is: no iron, a hairdryer that is ok to dry but not style (not that I care much), a small refrigerator, bathrobes. There is a restaurant, lobby bar and sports bar in the hotel. The restaurant is good for breakfast that is included with the room. Show your key, find a table and help yourself. You will find something you like, maybe not what you usually eat but you will not starve I promise. They have instant coffee too if you need a fix.
Each day after breakfast, we go to the baby house to visit with Nina for 90 minutes. There is only one visit each day. I’ve heard two stories why it is just one visit; that it is cold/flu season and that there are too many families visiting. It does not matter that is what we get. We have fallen into a routine of having the driver drop us off at Kronos a coffee/deli shop about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Several other adopting families meet us there and we have cappuccinos and pastries and some lunch. The food is excellent and the coffee as good as any in the US.
Ust-Kam is a small city of about 300,000 people. We have felt entirely safe and made are way around despite the language barrier quite easily. We can walk everywhere and we do. Maybe its because Dart is such a big guy but we have not hesitated to explore. We still have lots of time to see more and I will post as we do but I really want anyone looking to adopt in Ust-Kam to know we are NOT roughing it by any stretch of the imagination. If you are stressing about bringing food or “survival gear” you can relax. The only thing that is tough is that the internet is really really inconsistent.

Guys I miss you so much. The videos you have been sending are so funny and I play them every day just to see you all being so silly. Thank you so much for doing your part to get Nina home. You are going to love her and I know she will love you.
Roly- poly- Noly- I love you, I love you more, I love you the most! Mommy

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