Thursday, April 14, 2011

Aleksandra Elise: (4) A Clandestine Operation of the Soul

I remember entering through that door, and my perceptions of sight, sound, and smell being overwhelmed by pure emotion.  Rather than what I experienced, I recall at that moment what I felt. The nurse must have carried her into the room, and I'm sure that Kellie must have taken her first into her arms... but honestly all I remember is how in awe I was in that moment.

I do remember one detail, the intense focus on her face. The    face of this tiny baby girl was transfixed on ours, looking directly at us from across the distance of the room. Her eyes were wide and they absolutely sparkled. She smiled at us with a big toothless beautiful baby grin. She found both of us and she made our hearts dance. She came to us eagerly and gave us endless smiles and laughs. We were instantly and overwhelmingly smitten into foreverness.

As we got to know our daughter, we also were doing our best to triage her condition. We had a long list of observations to make and pictures to take that our Dr. back at Children's Hospital in Cincinnati had requested. This included quite a few measurements of movement and size. Along with all the deep emotion of the moment, we also had to get every detail right and keep our minds sharp. Meanwhile, the baby, the one the workers referred to as "Sasha,"continued to thrive on our interaction and further seize our hearts.

Each day we made the 100 mile drive through the birch-forested outskirts of Moscow, through multiple army barricades and the ever-falling Russia snow, and found our way inside this non-descript monstrosity of a stark, cold building where we held, fed, and changed this warm, beautiful little one that we had come so far to see. The contrast was breath-taking each day. We were given about 2 hours, and then we had to walk away, go back out that heavy door, crunch through the gravel and snow to our van and sit quietly with our thoughts as we bounced and banged down the chaotic roads.

The days were also filled with multiple trips to complete paperwork. Every morning began with official signatures, notaries, and money leaving our pockets. On occasion we would make a stop for a strategic purchase of roses or chocolate for the ministry official who held our destiny on that particular day. The evenings were the same. By the time we returned to our hotel each day, we had missed two meals and the sun had set behind the cityscape. We were always exhausted.

Our first stop on that second day was to deliver a vile of blood that had been taken from Sasha at the orphanage to a clinic hidden deep in the labyrinth of the city. I still do not know the reasons why, but I can tell you the how in regard to the delivery of blood. The van abruptly pulled over and stopped.  Our guide, Anastasia quickly threw open the doors and instructed me to follow her. We began running down the sidewalk and through an alleyway as I heard the doors close behind us, and then the van pull away.

Anastasia was wearing heels, and her speed was difficult for me to match. I can still see the flaps of her coat snapping in the wind as I ran behind her. We weaved through crowds and alleys, and walkways. Several minutes and a few blocks away I stumbled behind her into an old, small building.  She hung up her phone and the door opened.  Anastasia handed over the vile, I handed over the cash and the hand withdrew them both back into the door which abruptly closed.  We turned and walked away in the opposite direction that we came, and then to my relief the van re-appeared and safely whisked us away.

We were then taken back to our hotel where Kel and I struggled with a weighty reality. We knew we had some decisions to make. The blood was to be tested for Hepatitis C. Sasha had tested positive using a very crude test at the orphanage.  The blood I just delivered would be tested to determine with certainty if she had the disease. We were told that it if was positive, she would not survive. We knew that even if she were dying, we had the means to make her days, however short they may be, far more comfortable.

We came to Russia to adopt a healthy baby girl, and we realized that we had fallen in love with a beautiful baby girl who may be dying.

This was a Tuesday night and we had to fly out Saturday morning. On Friday we had an appointment with the ministry. At that appointment we had to declare our intention to adopt, or to abandon the adoption.

The soonest we could receive the results of the test would also be on Friday-- an hour after our appointment with the official. We had to decide what we were going to do, without knowing if she would live or die.

To Continue, click the link below:
Aleksandra Elise: (5) Counting Lions

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