Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day 2 with Vera...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - a summary of our second day with Vera

Luckily, I took a Tylenol PM before bed and had a great night of sleep. I didn’t wake up at 2 AM wide awake like I had previous nights. Our driver called and told us that they are taking Vera back to the orphanage, but he is not sure when. So, he will call us and let us know, but he thought the earliest he would call would be 2 PM. So, we got cleaned up and headed back to Old Arbat to get lunch and shop.

We stopped and bought a painting of St. Basil’s and then made our way to McDonald’s. I had told Kiara that I would bring her a Happy Meal toy back from Russia. The menu has no English on it, so we weren’t sure how ordering would go. It is nice to know that Happy Meal and Big Mac are a universal language, so we didn’t have too many problems ordering. The food tasted almost exactly like in the States.
We stopped at a souvenir store. I wanted to get Russian traditional dress for both my girls. We found some beautiful red silk dresses with headpieces. I can’t wait to see them in them. By that time, it was time to head back to the apartment and wait for a call from our driver. He called about 2:30 PM to say that he would pick us up at 3:30 PM to go to the orphanage to visit Vera.

After a 45 minute drive, we were at the orphanage. We were able to ask our driver to decipher Vera’s growth numbers. It turns out that some doctors use roman numerals for dates, so that is why it was so confusing. The room we were in for our visit was kind of small. It seemed to be a place a lot of the workers walk through from the hallway to a room off of the room we were in. It had laminate floors with a big kind of dirty rug. There was an L shaped couch, a big chair, 2 dining room style chairs, and a small toy basket with some toys.

They brought her into us and she seemed to recognize us. She had several layers of clothes on and black shoes. Since we didn’t get a good visit with her the day before and we only had an hour and a half today, we had to focus on getting the pictures for the doctor and seeing what she could and couldn’t do. We had to put this sticker dot in between her eye brows and take a picture of her looking at the camera. It could have been a lot harder to do with a more active child, but it was still quite the process to get a good picture. It didn’t help that I felt like our camera wasn’t working properly. We were able to observe that she would get up on all fours and rock and she crawled just a little. She would stand holding onto the couch and she cruised just a little. She sits on her own very well. She doesn’t use her pincher grasp, but she used both hands individually to pick up a small piece of paper and try to put it in her mouth. After observing her tonight, I was a little more concerned about FAS, only because her philtrum wasn’t as pronounced as I thought it was. The philtrum is the space between your lips and your nose, in children with FAS a lot of time this area is completely smooth instead of having a ridge.

Notice the great picture of the 2 of us. Ryan still has the green stickers on his face!

We got to take her back up to her room. We couldn’t go into the room because our shoes would get the floor dirty. We stood at the doorway and the caregiver held Vera. I asked if I could take their picture. I wanted a picture of the caregiver, but I also noticed that I recognized 2 of the other children in the room. One was the daughter of the friends we ate at TGIFs with on Monday. The other was the daughter of a couple from my agency that is waiting on their court date. So, I was able to also get them in the picture. As we were leaving I turned off my flash and just held my camera low and was able to get another picture with the 2 girls in it. Adoptive parents treasure these type of pictures. A lot of times we aren’t allowed to see where our children grew up and spent the first part of their lives. It was also neat that Vera is in the same group with these girls, they are kind of like sisters.

After seeing the other children in her group, it also raised some concerns for me about Vera. She seems so tiny. All the other children were “fat” by orphanage standards and much more interactive it seemed. When we got to the door, they all stopped what they were doing to look at us, one of the children waved, and one tried really hard to get to us. Vera wouldn’t have done that. So, obviously she isn’t small because of the environment she has grown up in.

So, I knew we probably had a long hard night ahead because we would need to decide for sure if we would accept Vera. We needed to send all her info to the IA doctor.

So, Wednesday night was one of the hardest nights of my life. I called my friend that had helped me with the growth charts. After I gave her the rest of the measurements for Vera’s head circumference, she thought that was more normal. But, when I sent her a picture of Vera and she saw that her philtrum wasn’t very pronounced, she thought we should consult the IA doctor. So, I summarized everything that we had learned about Vera and sent the team a few pictures of her. They emailed us back and told us that their assessment would be waiting for us when we got up in the morning since it was morning on the West coast. Yeah right! Who is going to sleep when you are waiting on such important information? I was really starting to think that we were going to have to turn Vera down because I didn’t want to risk not being able to give Kiara the time and attention I am currently able to. I wanted to make the best decision for our family. I didn’t think that the doctors would come back and say that Vera was a high risk referral, but I didn’t think they would say she was a low risk either. So, what if they say she is a moderate risk? I don’t think I could take the chance. I was miserable. I didn’t feel like there was a good option. Either we accept the referral of a child that we aren’t sure we are able to take on her special needs, or we turn her down, have to stay in Russia longer, and we don’t even know if they would have another child to show us.

Thankfully, about 3 AM the report came in from the doctor. And, to my shock and udder amazement she said that Vera was a ‘lower than average risk referral from Russia’. She said that Vera has none of the 3 features of FAS in her face. Ryan and I were crying as we read the report because we knew she was our daughter. I emailed the report to my agency director, who had called earlier to check on us. I was so emotional that I couldn’t even talk to her, so I think Ryan talked to her for the first time ever. Right about that time, my friend from England emailed to ask why I hadn’t updated my blog. I asked her to send me her phone number since she was obviously up. It was great to share the good news with someone. Ryan went to bed while I stayed up to email the good news to a few people.

You never really know how you are going to react to meeting your child for the first time. I have to admit, I didn’t have that ‘this is my child’ feeling immediately. But, thinking back to having Kiara, I don’t think I did with her either. On the other hand, Ryan basically felt that she was our daughter immediately. We are so similar in how we make decisions that I am surprised we reacted so differently. All in all it was a great day, but extremely emotionally draining.


Katie and Pete said...

Nichole, your meeting Vera exactly mirrored how I felt about meeting Luke. It brought back so many memories. I had totally expected to have a lightening bolt hit me when I met Luke for the first time. What's funny it now I look back and cannot begin to imagine how I felt that way. I think that as AP's we have such expectations of what "the moment" is going to be like.

I love reading your journal. You are a great writer and it brings back such memories!

Holli said...

can't wait to meet her!!! she is so cute and lovable!
praying for you as you wait yet again!

Jennie said...

I love how you are so honest and open! I love reading about Vera and cannot wait to meet her one day!