22 June 2007 КИСКА (Keeska—Kitten)
Self Portrait—Sasha in Shadow
First, let me apologize . . . I forgot the camera yesterday, so there are no new Sasha photos from then, but there are new photos from today because we changed our visiting time to the morning! Yeah! This is something we have been wanting, but it didn’t work with all the visiting schedules (all the parents who are bonding with all the other kids) until now. Adding to the fun, we actually met other families at the party last night, and they were all there this morning. It was great to meet them, trade stories and see them again today . . . it is nice to know others are going through the same kinds of things that we are.
In addition to having way more people around for bonding, we had a little КИСКА, kitten, who did a very fine job impersonating Pepper (our cat at home) for us. We have seen this kitten with her mother, and today she was up for being chased around the playground, and that suited Sasha just fine. The kitten must be the same kind of cat as Pepper because it is just as social. It wanted to be with the people, even those who were attempting to carry it around by its neck. (Sasha, we believe, was imitating the mama cat. This is our hope anyway.)
As he worked with her it became clear that he has had almost no contact with living animals. He grabbed her with such force that I am surprised he didn’t break a rib. Thankfully she is young, and didn’t seem overly upset about the rough love. We spent the rest of the morning trying to teach him how to pet a cat, which is a bit more difficult than I would have guessed.
In our world there have always been pets, and the girls have always been around people who treat the animals kindly, so they do the same. Sasha will learn this too. Hopefully he will get a head start here on the tolerant cat; otherwise he will have more experiential learning and natural consequences with our fully clawed cat at home. (Note to self, stock up on Bacitracin and Band-aids. Buy protective goggles for Sasha.)
I know I have brought Steve over to the (messy, furry, chaotic) world of pet lovers because when I asked if we could take the Keeska home he said, “Yeah, I think she could go in a carry on.” We encouraged her to follow us home to the apartment, until we realized there would be adventures trying to find kitty litter and cat food . . . and there are so many places a conversation involving the word cat could go wrong in a country where the locals eat horse . . . best to leave her at the Baby House . . . for now.
We had a great day outside, and having more people and the cat made our time feel more like normal play time at a park. One family has their almost two year old son with them—his name is Daniel and he was adopted from here last year. It was good to see Sash interact with another little guy. Sasha is pretty sure he is in charge of most things and this belief transfers from his “family”, to anyone on the playground and, more recently, to us.
There has been a slight, yet perceptible shift in our interactions over the past three days. Sasha has begun to assert his will more, and we have begun to say no/nyet more. It is a dance we knew would come, but one that is a bit awkward . . . we step on each others’ oes, try to communicate, then move along with the music. We have before us a confluence of issues—language, child development, attachment, emotions involved in leaving the only home he has known—and it will be our job to sort out what is driving his actions at any point in time.
We are trying to keep Masha in the loop with our reactions to his defiant behavior—he is such a little smarty—he hears nyet from us then goes to Masha to ask again. His new trick is not wanting to say pah zjhal sta (please) before asking/demanding something of us. There have been times when it is much more important to get a pillow, lay on his back and stare at the ceiling for five minutes rather than say please in order to get the water bottle. (I particularly admired the forethought involved in getting the pillow before laying and looking at the ceiling for five minutes.)
This is expected, and we will help him learn how things work in our family. I just fear that we will not have a clear understanding before we spend 24+ hours in transit (on planes—eek!) when we finally come home.
Speaking of coming home, we finally have some firm dates about how our next two weeks will play out. Our official “Bonding Period” ends on Monday, so our court documents will all be delivered to the court on Tuesday. Unfortunately we can not see the judge until the following Tuesday, so we will just have to cool our heels here, and keep up the same visiting schedule we have established, until then. We go to court on Tuesday July 3 and have to do more paperwork on the 4th, so we will both fly out of Petropavlovsk to Almaty after that on Wednesday. We couldn’t get a plane out of Almaty until Friday July 6, so that is when we leave, and as if by a miracle we will arrive back home 24+ hours later also on Friday July 6!
The adoption process involves a 15 day “waiting period” after the court date, so no official things can happen until that is over. After the waiting period Masha will help get a new birth certificate and adoption decree. With those, she can get Sasha’s passport and exit visa (another 10 days). Since it was going to be at least 25 more days before Sasha could leave Petro, Steve and I decided I should come home rather than stay. Both of us are in serious need of seeing the girls, and while we love talking to them twice a day, actually being with them for 25 days before returning to Kaz will be like heaven. We miss them terribly.
Masha will escort Sasha to Almaty and I will return to Kaz alone to do the final embassy paperwork and eventually bring him home. That second trip is not yet planned, but will be in late July, with us coming home in early August. Sounds good to us. Cheers!