Friday, June 21, 2013

Life in the U...The Missing Days

I feel like I was at a standstill.  I wanted to "do" things in order to make our journey easier to read and more understandable.  I knew there were "missing days" in my journal.  It's now time to fill them. Here is a glimpse of our last days.... before sharing the beauty of being a family.

Side note: Because of my honesty here, I don't plan on ever publishing the full name of the country we are adopting from.  This would make it searchable from the country itself.  Yes, this happens.  I think the "U" is clear enough (smile).

Wednesday, June 12th (in K*e*) The TB Test and Meltdown

After a long trip yesterday, we were tired, but ready to begin the next stage....last stage of this journey...SOOOOO ready.


Ben has a fascination with throwing his ball on the wall and getting it stuck on ledges and such.  We found a blank wall wherever we were.  This repetition was/is calming for him.


This was our little kitchen where we spent our last days in the "U".

Where Ben and I slept.

The Entryway...(notice the fridge as you first walk in)

Our tiny bathroom...we were so thankful for.
 
 

 
 
Ben slept fairly well Tuesday night, but you could still see a level of exhaustion.  The aggressiveness still remained and was unpredictable.  He often seemed unable to focus and overwhelmed with everything new he was being asked to process.  At the small store where we needed to purchase food  he would become overwhelmed...his hands starting to flap and the fussing would start.  The smaller the store, the harder it was.  The larger the store, the more he just observed. 
 
Today we were going to get Ben's TB test.  We needed to be ready by 9:00 to travel to the medical clinic. 
 
Ben's hair was so soft...clean.  Though, no matter how much he played in the water, the smell would not leave.  His rotting teeth...the smell would pervade everything.  He had lived with the pain for so long, that he didn't notice.  His pain tolerance would rival any superhero.
 
Niko arrived to pick us up, as always, on time.  The roads of K*e* were clogged, congested beyond what you would see in most U.S. cities.  This isn't to say we don't have traffic, but almost nothing compared to the streets here.  Yes, we were not swerving to not hit goats as in Ethiopia, but often no traffic lines were observed, sidewalks were parked on, and drivers would refuse to move and just yell at each other demanding passage.  Only once did I shut my eyes, when in Odessa we came very close to hitting a grandmother slowly shuffling across the street. 
 
I'm used to this, but every once in awhile....
 
We wove our way through the streets and finally pulled into a building to the right.  A large security gate with no walls on either side had me wondering how effective it really was.  A older man casually walked over to the gate, uniform askew...talked to our driver and opened the gate.  The medical building was on our left (older, paint peeling) with cars parked on the grass, around trees, and in a few parking spaces.  As we found a spot, my brother and I brought my stimming boy into a small, very long and crowded hallway. 
 
As we walked Ben past person after person, he would swipe, trying to hit or kick them.  It was like they were invading every personal space he had in placed over the years of trying to survive.  They were kind, would smile, but Steve and I tried to hedge Ben in to protect him and those around us. 
 
We waited, hearing the occasional English of fellow Americans, and waited...finally Ben couldn't handle it much longer and we waited in a side room filled with toys that he didn't know how to play with.
 
At around 11:00 we headed to a small cafeteria, Niko kindly ordering for us.  We learned quickly, if Ben was struggling, food focused him...calmed him even briefly.  We knew it would most likely affect him one of two ways.  He would get over excited and stim or focus him intently on the food.  Thankfully it focused him.  He eat so well, finishing a adult size bowl of Borscht and trying a little of the pork nugget and some cabbage salad.   
 
Though we limited Ben's diet (Borscht, Activia yogurt, baby food fruit, mashed potatoes) we also let him try small bites of some other things.  Ben's world was expanding in more ways than one.
 
At long last it was our turn to wade through the hallway to the room where they would inject him for the test.  In an antiseptic white room they sat him down beside me and inserted a needle into my son's arm.  Tears filled his eyes, but none fell.  He squirmed and grunted and told us, the only way he could, that this was not what he wanted.  It was the first step of our ticket home though.  My mommy heart hurt to have to hurt Thomas and I's son.
 
Though Ben dozed in the car on the way home, he was exhausted.  When we arrived home I knew he HAD to sleep.  His brain and body had other ideas.  He melted and began the worst manic episode I had experienced as of yet...hitting, kicking, screaming, manic laughing, spitting...for hours....aimed at both himself and myself. 
 
Having to hold him against me, my muscles strained as he seemed to just gain strength, I struggled to protect him from himself and to protect myself from injury.   I was tired and felt more alone than many times in my life.  I struggled as my son would lash out and laugh as his hand made contact.  I couldn't reach my sweet boy and I (though I knew he was in there somewhere) was losing the battle to exhaustion and discouragement. 
 
My HEAVENLY FATHER sustained me.  He heard your prayers.
 
As Ben calmed, I released him. I backed off a little, knowing he needed to have a little space...touch being so foreign. 
 
As time passed, Ben bathed and fed...he finally...after this battle was over...went to sleep. 
 
I sat on the floor at the foot of the bed with my laptop.  My eyes were red rimmed, swollen...but God was giving me peace and slowly helping me to understand why this needed to happen.
 

Thursday, June 13th, 2013 (in K*e*) Touring and A Case of the Tireds (PASSPORT!)
 
I woke up this morning, knowing I needed to change.  I could not change the precious brokenness of my son, but I could change how I handled things. 
 
The words, a gift from God, kept bumping through my head. 
 
"Laugh, smile, get out of the apartment"
 
I knew very quickly why yesterday, as I pleaded with God to calm the situation, He hadn't.  It needed to happen.  Ben needed to know I would NEVER go away.  He needed to know that whatever his body did....whatever his brain did...whatever the drugs did...whatever he did...mommy would fight for him. 
 
Somewhere yesterday, Ben began to realize this.
 
I called our wonderful guide Eugene.  Thankfully, we were able to join another VERY sweet couple who were adopting (seriously) PURE cuteness .
 
(Shout out to Karly and Joseph!)
 
Ben seemed somehow calmer this morning.  I smiled, tickled, and just enjoyed my son as we readied to go out.
 
The first part of the tour, he just observed.  He seemed to want to just "see".  He knew and would continue to know he was "SEEN"...but our son had not observed real life before.  Everything was a first for him.
 


 
It was not until this point, at a small gallery, that we saw signs of the injured little boy within.  The art gallery was small and Ben started mildly stimming.  I thought outside was better and he did start calming down.

 








 
 


 
As we sat to eat a late lunch, the day was too long for Ben. His behavior started accelerating as food was served and while we tried to take care of our last shot at shopping.  He swiped, he hit, yelled, manic laughed.   It was NOT his fault.  Our son was hurt and scared.
 
I was so thankful that at this point I had news that I would hold on to tenaciously.  We had received a call (I may have holla'd in public) that Ben's passport would be here in the morning...in time for our appointment!!!!
 
Though he had done remarkably well until that point.  It was time to go home...at least to our apartment home. 
 
 
 
We headed back in exhaustion.  Tomorrow was a big day.  Tomorrow we'd receive our ticket home.
 
Friday, June 14th, 2013 (in K*e*) Medical, The Embassy, (Happy Sigh) Going Home
 
With no sign of a positive TB reaction, we headed (again) to the medical center for Ben's official medical examination for the embassy and for his test to be read.
 
It was the same long hallway, though emptier.  We were told we would be waiting a couple of hours.  Truthfully, I didn't care how long, how hard it was....this was one step closer.  As I walked out with Ben in a stroller to a more open area, we were almost immediately called in.  The office was different, that of a doctor, in the corner of a hallway. 
 
It was darker, but the doctor took a cursory look at Ben and his records, a nurse read his negative test.  Ben broke here...tears running down.  He was scared of the pain.  You could see it in his eyes.  Was he scared because of pain he experienced in the past or because of Wednesday?  We didn't know.
 
We were done though, another path was now opened toward our home in the United States.
 
Because of how quickly things had gone, we had a couple hours to kill before our embassy appointment.  After running by the grocery store, we went home to rest and give Ben some space.
 
Finally, the doors were (figuratively) opening to going home. 
 
Side note:  In the "U" things are very unpredictable.  You learn quickly, the process is never cut and dried.  A point is reached where you let go of assuming and just go with the flow.  Stressful? Yes...yet this is not about convenience, but children.  So many times we can pick and choose "programs" or "countries" and stop thinking what it's all about...a child.  We need to ask ourselves if our children are worth sacrifice and be appalled if the answer is anything except "YES!"  I'm as guilty as the next.
 
The Embassy is a clean crisp building, official in the extreme....guards, metal detectors, searches, everything. 
 
We exited the front building and wound our way (with the stroller) through a outside pathway.  We entered the next building and were called pretty quickly to one of many windows. 
 
I signed papers as Ben continued to try to take off his shoes.
 
 "Nee-el-zah" you may have heard me say if you were a fly on the wall.  That was before I gave up and took off his shoes so we wouldn't lose them.  I'm a barefoot girl at heart and if the embassy had let me, I may have thrown off my shoes as well.
 
As we chatted with a really neat couple carrying a PRECIOUS little girl that was extra special, we were called to another window, sent to another to pay, and then sent back to the first window.  Confused? Ya, so were we (laughing).    Finally we were told to sit and wait for our "interview".
 
We sat with our new friends as Ben swatted at any of us who came close.  The large area was empty besides the other family and us.
 
As we were called, I expected some pretty thorough questions.  They didn't happen though. Granted, they had our life in paperwork and could probably have answered questions better than I could, but this still surprised me.  They handed me a beautiful book...his passport...with a United States Visa inside.  My heart sighed.  We were going home.
 
The United States Embassy

As we packed, Ben was a little nervous.  We had to get up at 1:30am and to leave by 2:30am.  After getting Ben to sleep, talking with my kids, handwriting our itinerary for each suitcase, and finishing packing...I finally made it to bed around 11:00.  I MAY just have been a little tired.....

and happy.
 
 
Our carry-ons (duffle bag with extra clothing, backpack with computer and wallet, and Elmo backpack with everything I MAY need for Ben)

Our Suitcases

My Bros Suitcases (and Bro)

My beautiful sleeping boy and his last night in his homeland.

Saturday, June 15th (On Our Way!)
 
I prayed and prayed and prayed as we headed out from our apartment. 
 
Our driver/translator/facilitator Niko was a beautiful blessing...no joke.  He was going from bringing us to the airport at 2:30am to take his boss to another airport at 4:00am.
 
We had given Ben Dramamine (for kids) for the flight.  His fear, withdrawal...all of it made his insides go crazy.  We prayed he would sleep.
 
He was so exhausted that he slept through the entire first flight.  I knew (had been through the war) how a flight could have been....how Ben could have exploded within himself.  We took a deep breath as the first flight was over.  Two more to go.
 
 



 


 

We had a five hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany.



 
Our long flight ahead, I continued to pray...along with many of you.  For six hours Ben slept.  I constantly checked his breathing...even starting to get concerned.  He was EXHAUSTED though...beyond exhausted.  When he woke up, there were moments (ok, forty minutes) where he verged on the serious manic episodes, but it somehow (prayer) stayed at bay.  I held him close to keep him from harming himself or either of us.  We made it though.  We made it.
 
Ben was now a United States citizen....in no other place than the capital of the United States.
 
With just a brief layover, we passed through immigration, leaving our "never open it until you hand it to immigration" packet.
 
The last flight was relatively brief, around two and a half hours.  I changed Ben, found a place that sold yogurt (his favorite besides soup), and prepared to board.
 
Think back to my brokenness, Ben's worst manic episode...play it again during this flight.
 
I hesitate to rehash much of the flight.  It was hard.  The airline (no joke...literally) moved all the crying babies/children into a couple of rows.  They had others without children move to do this. I am not kidding in any way. This is NEVER a good idea.  In theory, some may think it may work...NOT IN REALITY.  In reality, a child...scared or fearful...would finally fall asleep while another child would renew it's cries and wake up the other two to create a chorus.  It was painful and awful for all the children.  They fear, finally fell into a fitful sleep only to be woken up abruptly. 
 
I will say that when I walked off the plane I felt like I was falling apart.  The judgment of others on the flight I can live with.  There is no embarrassment over a situation created not by my son, but by men devaluing life.   Yet my physical body actually hurt from holding my frightened and tired son for hours.  My heart hurt from the children all scared and scaring each other.  My eyes hurt from lack of sleep. 
 
And no one was there to meet us...and it wasn't their fault.
 
My entire family, having left and hour EARLIER than they even needed to, hit every accident, detour, EVERYTHING that could be hit on the way to the airport.  Indeed...this was a hard night...and every bit worth it.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for writing all this! I have loved reading it, and am blessed by what the Lord has done for you! Praise the Lord, Ben is HOME!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are one tough mama... Seriously... I`d a had to buy a glass of wine or something!!! HUG!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think the bouncing the ball off the wall is that he never played with anyone. I bet he saw other boys do this because they didn't play together. All I can say about those last days is- WOW! You are going to be one interesting Grandma years from now when your grandkids and great grandkids say- "Grandma you did what!!!"
    (((HUGS))) and continued prayers

    ReplyDelete

In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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