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Adoption Journey: All About Making Money

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Tracy Mazuer and her husband once proudly proclaimed on national TV that they were child-free by choice, dammit! Ultimately the couple changed their minds and embarked on a journey that took them 30,000 miles, cost her $35,000 and finally landed in their own backyard. Tracy documented her experience in both words and video. In part four of this gripping series, they realize they've been duped.

Read Tracy's thoughts after she discovers what happened.

Tracy Mazuer: I'm so f*&#ing pissed I can't even see straight and I can't stop crying. The people we trusted -- our facilitators in Kyiv and now here, in Dnipropetrovsk -- are liars and people I now view as the enemy. Our person here in Dnipropetrovsk, I'll call her "Irena," is the sister of our main guy in Kyiv. We trusted her when she said she'd seen Snizhana and that she's perfectly healthy. That was utter bullsh*t. This is all about making money. They'll say and do whatever they have to to get us to adopt a handicapped child. It's clear that the adoption center in Kyiv is only allowing sick children to be adopted by Americans. Massage? A little physical therapy? Are you f*&#ing kidding me? Here's this poor child who's already been told, by the way, that we're her new mommy and daddy and we're having to walk away! F*&#! Had they been honest with us, we wouldn't have made the trip to Dnipropetrovsk. Save us all a crapload of heartache, time, money, and stress.

We're talking non-stop to our friend on the "inside." He knows this is all corrupt and he's desperately trying to help us get a healthy child -- there are thousands of them here in orphanages all over the country. We're ready for PTSD, developmental delays, learning disabilities, but not freaking cerebral palsy. We made it clear to EVERYONE involved that we wanted a "healthy" child and here we are walking away from this beautiful little girl. John and I are wracked with sadness and grief. Snizhana is a beautiful, funny, smart girl who will be a blessing to the right family. It's just not us.

The only person we can trust here is our translator, Sasha, who, by the way, is the employee of the facilitators. When he was translating the Russian to English, I noticed him wince when they were saying Snizhana had no problems that couldn't be resolved easily. I watched him intensely and then at one point, as he was translating word for word, he said, "This is what they're saying, not what I'm saying." We knew that he saw exactly what was going on. He knew they were lying and pressuring us to adopt this child for their own profit.

Our friend tells us we must try to get Sasha to break away from his employers and SECRETLY come with us to L'viv. We'll be safer and we need him. We have a job to do in L'viv. He'll tell us what that is when we're safely on the train. We are not to tell anyone. Not even our friends and family. You never know who's listening.

Sasha is willing to go. He doesn't like what he is seeing. He, too, was an orphan. He's lived in Ukraine his entire life and understands the nature of corruption and greed. He wants us to find our child and is willing to do what it takes. Can we adopt him? He's 24 and a spectacular human being.

December 19
We're on the train. We've essentially stolen the translator right out from under their noses. Now we're laughing. We feel like we're living "The Bourne Ultimatum." The people technically responsible for us in Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk are panicking because we're leaving and we're not telling them where we're going or why. We say we'll be back to Kyiv in about a week. They actually demand that we head immediately to Kyiv with all of our paperwork. All this while we sit on our train with Sasha on the top bunk. Ha! F*&# you. We're in charge now.

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46 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sara Jane April 9, 2009, 11:06 AM

Snizhana, what a precious child, I do not envy the hardship of searching for a child and being presented with such outrageous lies and the most difficult of choices, to let that precious bit of life go. In a world where children are neglected (or worse) daily, the search for child to love, care for and enrich these adoptive parents lives is beyond words. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I only wish that this child, Snizhana, and all those like her finds a family too. I look forward to the conclusion of your story.

v April 9, 2009, 11:32 AM

I am so interested to se what happens next. I wish that the blog was a daily thing… it’s making me crazy!!!

Jean April 9, 2009, 3:21 PM

Horrible. It shakes me to the core to know that they told that child you were her parents to be. How do they get away with such corrupt behavior? My heart breaks for that child!

Lisa  April 9, 2009, 6:15 PM

This is so heartbreaking… really. I’m crying for that poor little girl. How could anyone bear to lie to her. How sad. And my heart goes out to all adoptive parents who just want to do something good and have to endure this nightmare.

gerry April 9, 2009, 9:09 PM

I am in tears…I have no words…you guys are my heroes. I cannot fathom having to go through what you did.

T April 9, 2009, 10:51 PM

So, you guys want a kid but oh no, not “freaking cerebral palsy”! Cerebral palsy is not that bad. She doesn’t sound like a vegetable. Are you sure you’re ready to be parents? You sound like children who want the cookie without the piece broken off.
Maybe you should have gone with the US. It may be harder and take longer due to the bureaucracy but you won’t have to travel as far or have to deal with corruption. But of course, they’ll only offer you black kids, and you don’t want any freaking black kids!!

Kristen April 10, 2009, 8:48 AM

T, I think your comment was out of line. I don’t think you get to tell people what they are ready for, especially in this sitaution.
This couple went searching for a human being to love and care for and they did there homework but still through no fault of their own have been lied to and put in very difficult situation. They have had NO time to research even what it takes to take care of a special needs child and then maybe they don’t really feel prepared to do that. Have you ever taken care of a special needs child? I have one and it’s A LOT of work and takes time.
You shouldn’t be so judgemental until you have walked in their shoes, how many kids have you tried to adopt? How many of them are special needs?

deskless April 10, 2009, 8:50 AM

The law in Ukraine is that you may not select a child but that one is selected based on your preferences at the Central Adoption Office. The young healthy children are all adopted in Ukraine. The others in the orphanages are unadoptable. There are few if any healthy children available to foreigners. If you did your homework you’d have known that.

So you know someone important whose supposed to pull strings and cheat the system and get you special treatment of a healthy little girl not FREAKING CEREBRAL PALSY ( by the way I have one of ‘those’ from Ukraine who is now- with therapy an honors student who rides a bike unassisted and we actually chose him back in the day when we could’ve had a healthy child)

So Great! Influence your way to a perfect child. After all adoption is about getting what you want and showing off your perfect trophy child that makes you look good ( and bonus!!!) *noble* to take in an orphan whe nyou couldve had your own.
Nevermind the bit about finding a family for a child.

I’m sure part XX will be the “miracle” you ‘deserve’ of your high powered friend using his influen$e in a corrupt country to get you a perfect little girl.

Heaven help her if she’s not all you expect. Then you can pop some pills and wash it down with OTCs.

Barb April 10, 2009, 9:47 AM

I almost didn’t comment because I’ve never adopted a child, but by agreeing to share your story with the world, you opened yourselves up to the criticism.

Tracy, take a look back at your harsh words. You make yourself sound like a selfish brat… far from the loving mother I’m sure you envision that you’ll be. I understand that emotions were running high, but how would you feel if that beautiful, hope-filled little girl, Snizhana, read your words. As it is, she’s learned that she’s not good enough for you…and how many times has that happened to her already? This is absolutely heartbreaking for the children who are unwanted because they’re not “perfect.” As we’ve read, it’s no ball of fun for you, either.

I haven’t read anything that explains why you want a child. I’m curious to hear more of the decision-making behind this quest.

I also have to point out one thing—no mother that has carried a child can guarantee the baby will come out “healthy.” But we love that child well before we see him or her. Sometimes “imperfections” can be handled well by good doctors and patient parents.

I truly hope for a good outcome from this experience.

David Cottrell April 10, 2009, 10:12 AM

Sounds like you did not do your homework and due deligence because it’s all about you. What a shame.
David Cottrell

Joyce April 10, 2009, 10:47 AM

If you are not ready to accept a child with health problems, you really should not become parents. Children do not come with a warranty. You could have a perfectly healthy child who suddenly has a an accident, head injury, illness, etc, and is no longer healthy. You can’t send them back. This is reality. Please give up on the idea of adopting.

Alexandra April 10, 2009, 12:55 PM

You went to this little girl. You saw her face. You interacted with her. She was told you were her parents and that she was leaving an orphanage. YOU WALKED AWAY. You feel righteous? You feel like you’re doing the right thing because these people “lied” to you? You should be happy with ANY child. What if this child had been born from you? Would you have left her because you aren’t prepared to deal with Cerebal Palsy? Let me tell you, most people who deliver handicapped children AREN’T PREPARED to deal with it. However, they stand by their children. They don’t run off like cowards.

ame i. April 10, 2009, 1:36 PM

Excuse me, those leaving hateful comments, but this couple was lied to and manipulated. They didn’t tell this little girl they were her new parents. I have 2 healthy bio children, thank God.
You can all hate on me now for saying that if I did adopt, I would not adopt a special needs child. I would not put the stress of that child’s care on myself, my husband, my children. Redneck Mommy and many others sought out to adopt a special needs child and Tanis did adopt a special needs child. That was her choice, as it is the choice of this couple to adopt a healthy child.

Kris April 10, 2009, 1:48 PM

I understand you being upset about the lies, but I have to say, if you had a child and the baby had been born with cerebral palsy, would you have felt this way? Would you have wanted to give your child up? Honestly, the fact that she was walking means it was not severe and with some PT and maybe OT, she could do whatever she wanted? If you just wanted a “perfect child” you are not ready for being parents. Just because you have someone “in the know” doesn’t mean you deserve preferential treatment for “perfection”. What if you get the daughter you want who looks perfect on the outside but is riddled with emotional impairments? I would much rather have a happy child who needs a little PT than a child that looks “perfect” but ends up running a parent through an emotional rollercoaster. As a parent of 2 biological kids and a daughter adopted from Guatemala, I was really hoping to see another positive story, not one displaying selfishness and a “we’re gonna show them” attitude.

Lisa H April 10, 2009, 1:51 PM

“Save us all a crapload of heartache, time, money, and stress.”

And that’s not a MODICUM of how that little girl felt/feels.

Barb - Perfect post!!!

Joannie April 10, 2009, 2:01 PM

The comments from all these hateful readers make me ill. Why so much judgement? Tracy is sharing her story in an honest and pure way and all the rest of you can do is jump on her back and criticize her for her candor. Shame on you.

Kris April 10, 2009, 2:18 PM

After pondering this some more and seeing the post by ame i., I felt compelled to write more. If Tracey and Johnny are established in their careers and they only wanted one child, they have ample means to help this little girl have a great life. Seeing she has fully use of both hands and can walk albeit awkwardly, there is potential for remediation. I do understand of only wanting what you can accept as we had to turn down a referral that I suspected had CP. But that was only because we already have a autistic son, who does not have severe issues, but he requires more of our time that our “normal”(whatever that is) daughter. We had a limited time to accept our first referral and had not arranged for a medical evaluation prior to receiving referrals. Our only concern was have 2 high-needs kids on both sides with our NT daughter sandwiched in the middle, and feeling like she was always overlooked. If I had an evalutaion arranged and had full knowledge of what to expect, that decision might have been different. Maybe had Tracey and Johnny went through a reputable agency and not someone in the know, and follow typical protocol, they would not have gotten in this situation. I feel for Snizhana, she was taken advantage of.

Barb April 10, 2009, 2:23 PM

I feel no shame in calling her out on HER hateful comments. I truly try not to judge people, but her post and the whole way this adoption is going makes me sick to my stomach. I hope for a happy ending for them, I really do, but not as much as I hope for a happy ending for Snizhana and the other “unhealthy” children.

Pamala April 10, 2009, 11:19 PM

I’m sorry but I know a beautiful little girl adopted in Russia with CP and she’s the brightness and most wonderful child ever. To turn away from a child over a disability frankly to me is just plain wrong. My own daughter has a disability, I didn’t get a choice, and frankly I don’t think those adopting should get a choice. Anyone adopting in that area of the world knows these children are going to be prone to these disabilities and to actually see this girl, and walk away, what a horrible thing to do to her. Do you know how she’s treated in that orphanage? Did you care? My God this poor child has no chance is people are as cold hearted as the above.

When you become a parent you don’t get a choice over whether or not you get a child that is healthy. Do I wish my daughter was healthy? Of course, but you know what, she’s not and it is what it is and we’re doing just fine and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lisa April 11, 2009, 3:18 PM

Our first two children are adopted and we were fortunate to have received referral information about their medical needs, and knew they required care unavailable their birth country. When we received a photo of our first son, born with an ophthalmic defect, we thought he was the most handsome baby ever. Not having parented, admittedly we were scared in general and also whether we could take on his care. And maybe there were other issues we did not know about. But for us what overrode our hesitation, facing our own physicial and emotional limitations is that we realized, we needed him as much as he needed us. When we saw him our hearts literally opened up. He was the one. Its as if the ache of wanting and waiting so many years to be a mom and dad was finally realized. I am so grateful that we ran over our fear whether we could parent and love these children. We would have missed a whole chapter in the series of our lives. They are joy. We are the lucky ones.

I wonder if I were in her position how I would feel, what would I say. Someone burst her fantasy dream bubble and it hurts, she admitted it, and needs time to heal. Maybe if she had been more educated about Eastern European adoption, support and time to breath in the reality, she may have eventually responded differently after the meeting at the orphanage. But its better to know in the beginning that bringing a child home you do not have some loving and kind feelings for is not a healthy way to start a family.

There is a saying that adoption is not for sissies and its true. Its a road that may be less traveled, there can be so much unknown and many have an opinion. I admire Tracy and her husband for their blunt honesty. I would rather people just come out and say it rather than having no place to push it down. I wish compassion for them as they search their heart and soul of what this journey to parenthood is all about. Its not always what it appears to be.

Emily Perl Kingsley.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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