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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The end of another day

Despite the phone calls and Skype, adoption travel is quite lonely after your spouse returns home, there are endless days where you are in a foreign environment with people who cannot or do not speak to you. It is especially hard on someone like me who is forever searching for a new people to meet and learn about. I have an innate curiosity about people and yearn to know their stories. Sadly most people just want to be left alone.

There is a bit of a chill in the air tonight. The rains came on suddenly this afternoon and wet unprepared people; I and Amanda included. As we walked the path to the mall to buy the few things Amanda will eat the rain began. Of course the umbrella I brought to Estonia was back at the room. The clouds looming overhead and tension in the air that precludes a rain storm had me feeling ill at ease for most of the afternoon, so I was a little anxious venturing out. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was not an entirely pleasant walk. There were very few friendly people, they don’t generally smile at strangers here, they are not a culture that smiles a lot any way, not as hard-faced as the people I saw walking in Ukraine, but sober like them.

People were walking in twos and threes conversing in Estonian; many stopped and peered at Amanda, did a double take, grabbed sleeves and pointed. Were they saying “Look at that older woman with a baby?” or discussing her disability? It is unknown to me what they were discussing, but it did make me feel badly and rather lonely. Not one person sharing the sidewalk with us made overtures or displayed any friendly curiosity about us, maybe we just blend in? I did not expect them to, my weeks n Ukraine taught me not to.

Tom had reported that the workers at the American consulate told him to be careful when walking about, there was a lot of unrest and it was not entirely safe for us here. I am not certain what he means, as I have not witnessed this at all, people walk about working, selling, shopping, eating, and do not act threatening in any way. He did mention it was worse at night? I guess when there is night…

All the same I find it makes me wary to venture out of the apartment, and I also get my hackles up when they point and stare at Amanda, it makes me want to remark: “It is because of these feelings you have about these precious children that I am here, to give her a life she could never have in your country”. But is it fair for me to make a judgment like that? I know that decades or conceivably centuries of being told to hide and discard that which is different is hard to abandon. It seems logical to me that a belief system must be questioned, discussed, and found to be deleterious before a society (or a person) would make the move to change it. Though I think perhaps things will change here to a more positive place for people with disabilities as I saw a young woman with cerebral palsy walking with a friend, I wanted to applaud, it is a beginning!

Still sometimes I just want to shake the people awake when they look at Amanda like she is a freak show attraction. It depresses me to deal with it, and it makes me so angry. How can they see ugly or different when all I can see is the beauty of this little girl, the delicacy of her features, her sweet and pure spirit; Can’t they feel her longing to be loved and cherished?

At times I think too much, I think the rain has me feeling melancholy. I did get a visit from one of the young women who work here, she was showing me places to get souvenirs, she also told me about the zoo, how to take the Tram and encouraged me to ask for help if I needed it, I think I have grown exceptionally weary of asking for help, seems for 6 months straight it is all I have done.

After I finished my shopping I saw the rain coming down in earnest, I searched all over the mall for an umbrella and finally bought one at a souvenir shop, it was $11 (110 kroon), and I thought it was not a bad price considering. I used it to cover Amanda on the way back to the apartment, it was a peculiar site, and her little feet clad in her dressy white shoes; the only shoes we brought from home that fit her. It was funny how they stuck out from underneath the huge umbrella as she kicked them in excitement. It was all you could see of her. She kept trying to stick her head out to see where we were going. She loves the walks, and giggles and squeals as we walk along, which may be another reason why we get stared at!

I managed to step into a puddle of water and drench my feet and just washed jeans. Jeans that take 12 hours to dry here! I did not mind the rain so much; I have always loved walking in it and it was a warm rain. Many people were walking through it without umbrellas. It wasn’t until later this evening that the air grew chilly.

After our wet walk we tried to enter the apartment building with our purchases and could not manage the door. A young man held the door for us. He spoke to me in Estonian but when I said I did not understand he switched to English. I envy them the skill to speak more than one language and feel America does a great disservice to her citizens by not teaching them to get along in other countries, or perhaps parents should start when children are very young.

The young man asked if he could help me carry the stroller up the stairs and I declined stating that I would use the elevator, only after he left did I remember the stairs that led to the elevator. I had two large bags of groceries and did have a hard time carrying everything up. Next time I say yes.

The elevator door would not close because the bags were in the way; it is a very small and we barely fit in it. Riding in the elevator makes Amanda nervous and she goes through her litany of soothing rituals as we travel up to the 5th floor. I can’t tell you the relief we felt when we finally stepped through our apartment door.

We are at the end of another endless day, Amanda went down at 9:30 and it is now 12:15 PM. The sun is finally down enough for the outside lights to come on, I am thankful to the clouds that are blocking the sunlight, it feels like night here for the first time since we arrived. A perfect time to go to bed and sleep without the intrusion of the sun; I should not have taken that 2 hour nap, I am not sleepy! I would also sleep better if the people in the room next to me would stop talking loudly in the alcove and slamming doors, most younger people do not go to sleep until very late or should I say early in the morning.

Tomorrow if it is not raining, Amanda and I will venture out, I will brave the stares and we WILL have a good day, I cannot stay cooped up in this apartment, as pretty as it is in here, I am going stir crazy


amyl4 said...

I'm sorry the day was such a downer for you. You just hold your head high and be proud, because you are holding the most beautiful baby there!!!!

GoldenAngelsWorks said...

I am sorry you are feeling the way you are... but I can understand Amanda is beautiful and unfortunately too many can not see the beauty. I feel sorry for them.
I hope you are able to go out tomorrow.... I love the fact that Amanda loves to go out and see the world.... She should be allowed to.

We were given the opportunity to go see the movie Wall-E. Robert laughed and cried so much. I recommend that everyone see it.

Kris you are one person that I know would love the lessons that movie teaches the kids.

You are my inspiration so keep up the cheerful thoughts and if all else fails.... Just call Amanda's name and look at her beautiful smile..... It will change your mood.... at least it does mine.

Alice said...

Oh Kris, I would be feeling melancholy, too! It must be very lonely to be in a strange place with no other adult company. I think you are very brave to venture out on your own. I would hate the pointing and staring, too, especially when you don't know what they are saying. My older sister used to wear a bulky metal brace and big ugly shoes and we always got stares. I got used to it, but I still noticed. I hope you have a great day tomorrow! Hugs and prayers!!

carol said...

I am so sorry for the rude people that dont see a beutiful little girl. Sounds like you had quite a day with the rain and trying to get back to your apartment. I hope Amanda has another good day tomorrow. I can only imagine the loneliness you are feeling.Keep counting down those days. Soon it will be your turn to travel home with Amanda.
Alaways thinking of you and Amanda. Take care and stay safe.
Carol n

Sheila said...

I am certain that they are amazed at what a beautiful little girl you have and are captivated by her laugh - they double take because they realize that she is not what they have always been told a child with ds is. At least that is what I told myself in Ukraine when they stared and pointed at Lera. It is a wonderful thing to rescue a child from somewhere like that and a tiny glimpse for them to see the wonder that Amanda is and what they are giving up. Just don't smack anyone before you leave and it will be a distant memory once you return to the USA very soon. We are keeping you both in our thoughts and hearts! Chin up!

LIN said...

Boy do I remember that, carrying a child filled stroller up and down stairs! Hang in there Kris, I hope things move along quickly for you. It sounds like Amanda is doing great, she sure is cute!

Stephanie said...

Kris, I hope you have a spectacular beautiful sunny day tomorrow. I know it's easier said then done, but dont worry about the stares and pointing.. just imagine that they are pointing and saying " That is the most beautiful little girl in the world" because she is!!! They just are too blind to see it!

Anonymous said...

Praying for a pretty day tomorrow! I'm sorry you have had a tough day, so I am smiling a huge smile from Florida at you! :-) Hang in there! Amanda is so pretty, and you are right about her hands...she has beautiful hands.

WheresMyAngels said...

I have to say that I find it odd that they would know she has a disability. I still remember when I worked in a grocery store and my coworker told me that a young child had DS. I was like "How can you tell?" I couldn't tell at all. She could tell because she was a mother of a child with DS. A year later I became a mother of a child with DS. I remember the nurses telling me the doctors were wrong that my baby didn't have DS. So I called my co-worker and friend and told her to stop by and tell me if my baby had DS. Of course she did. I just find that most people here do not have a clue, unless they know someone with DS. Now an older child or adult is much more recognizable as having Down syndrome, so I can understand that. Maybe they are just admiring you all :)

Sorry you are lonely! I love, love that pic of her in front of the TV.

Christina said...

You have an amazing sense of place in your writing - I can almost feel that rain!

Chin up and know that there are wonderful people behind those serious faces - the young man at the apartment was proof of that.

I hope tomorrow you have a more cheerful day with your little beauty - her family loves and accepts her and that's all that matters! :)

Anonymous said...

We are praying that the rain stops and that tomororw will be a better day. Yes I imagine it is lonely being there on your own with your new daughter and not knowing what is really being said around you. It is sad that they do not know how treasured the SN children are and what a joy they bring into a family. Smile as you are doing a terrific thing with your life and following God's plan for you.

KonaGold said...

Kris! ((HUGS)) You are so brave and amazing! I absolutely love your blog, your words make everything come alive, I feel like I am almost there with you and Amanda! I hope you have a beautiful day tomorrow! It is raining here in AZ, too. I will be praying for you that the time until you come home passes quickly and painlessly so you and Amanda can be reunited with the rest of your family. I can't wait to see all of your girls together! And btw, I seriously doubt anyone is saying look at that older woman because you SO do not look older!! If you came into Chili's I would have to card you! :)

Charlotte said...


I remember being in China with Rachael alone and feeling so alone and so alientated and people stared at the white woman with the white child ( little did they know she was their own child they would never get to keep or enjoy because she was MINE ! as Amanda is YOURS forver !) Rachael is albino, and that was too much for them to handle.

I am so greatful Amanda has you and a loving family that will protect her all her life from the bad guys !!!

Enjoy your time, have fun ! You are with your princess, the only time it will be just you and her !!!

I can't wait to go and just be with my Diana alone !

Hugs and Kisses, you are such a brave person !

Charlotte and crew

Bethany said...

I'm so sorry you are experiencing these emotions. I know it is so hard. Like someone else said ... chin up! Show them what it means to love this child. When they point and stare, smother her with kisses. Show them there is love to be had. I love how you write ... I feel right there with you. Hugs.

June Berger said...

Kris, I'm sorry for your sad day. But remember we have a secret...the wonder, beauty and pure love that a child with DS brings! Those poor people will never know what they are missing! We are the blessed ones, when they pity us (as they often do), it is really we that should pity them. All that they miss by not knowing such God blessed children. I LOVE Amanda's smile! She is so awesome! Praying for sunny days and rainbows, love and laughter, peace and joy.

My three little girls

My three little girls
Finally got all three to smile at once