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Adoption Journey: Secret Orphanage Visits

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In part five of this gripping series, Tracy and her husband must travel in secret to meet children.

Tracy Mazuer: December 20

Tracy and John

After a grueling 23-hour train trip across the country with our interpreter, Sasha, who's been secretly stowed in the top bunk, we arrive in L'viv. It's beautiful, with a more Western European vibe. We feel like we're in a different country. Our friend has made arrangements for us to stay in a nice hotel in the center of town. We've been in strange (like gay porn star neon and leopard print straaaange) apartments this entire trip and, since I'm coming down with a massive cold, I welcome a bit of luxury -- albeit Ukrainian style luxury. (That translates to no toilet paper, one scratchy towel, and no hot water in the dead of winter kind of luxury. Here, you take whatever you can get.)

We arrive at the hotel with our orders: We are to secretly visit as many orphanages as we can in the few days we are here. We are to fly way under the radar. It's not legal for us to visit these orphanages without the approval from Kyiv (which, of course, they would never grant). You see, Americans don't just show up and "visit" orphanages, let alone share the negative experiences they've had at the adoption center in Kyiv and beyond.

The reason we're here is complicated and right now I have very little brainpower. Here's my basic understanding: L'viv is more progressive and more pro-Western politically than the rest of the country. Perhaps if the orphanage directors meet us personally and hear our story, we'll be able to find someone powerful enough and enraged enough to help us in Kyiv. Remember, in Kyiv they are saying there are no healthy* children available for adoption. How will the orphanage directors, who love and care for hundreds of children every day, respond to this claim from their own capitol?

We are deep in a world of corruption that most Americans can never comprehend. It's not a "follow the rules and everything works out as they say it will" kind of place. It's also not a place where one would say "Let me speak to your supervisor," and expect to remain in the country. You are to sit calmly while they lie and pressure you. You are then allowed to say, "Thank you very much for your kindness." (I'm being literal here.)

But enough of that -- right now we get to have some fun. Before we travel to the orphanages, we must have a massive Santa shopping spree -- it's Christmas after all. Sasha has told us that oranges are a luxury for these children -- so we run around town like scurvy-riddled Americans searching for our cure. Sasha laughs each time he translates, "We'll take them all!" Inevitably the shopkeeper looks confused and he has to repeat himself -- yes, all of them. We find candy and balls (we cleaned 'em out on those, too) and bubbles, Matchbox cars, learning games, balloons, and princessy items. We had brought warm clothing, books, and toys for our child, so we divvy it all up to give to the kids. John hesitates before kissing his beloved Baby Einstien Moo'ing cow goodbye, but deep down he knows his loss is another child's joy. (We've had that ridiculous cow since we began this process four years ago.)

Creating gift bags makes us super happy. By about noon, Sasha is outside negotiating with taxis for our long drives and full days. He is satisfied with one driver who "seems like a good man."

John and I are nervous, but this is an adventure of a lifetime. What do we have to lose? If nothing else, we'll be bringing Christmas to these children and that makes it all worthwhile. We just pray that at some point along the way we see a glimmer of hope for bringing home our own child.

PLEASE NOTE: *When speaking of a "healthy" child, I am referring to a child who does not suffer from major medical issues (i.e. HIV/AIDS, brain trauma, cerebral palsy). One should understand that any child who is being raised in an orphanage has been abandoned and/or abused leaving severe emotional scarring. These "healthy" children suffer from severe post traumatic stress syndrome, learning delays or disabilities, issues with rage, control, and the like. Therefore, the word "healthy" is a misnomer in this context.

See what happens and who Tracy and her husband meet on their secret orphanage visits.

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24 comments so far | Post a comment now April 16, 2009, 9:20 AM

This story is so fascinating. It should get picked up for a movie/book deal. I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to find out if they find their child…

Sara Jane April 16, 2009, 2:25 PM

My heart is breaking! How wonderful that you are able to tell us this story! I wish I could see more than of your adventures. I am glad you were able to buy and give out some of the ‘extras’ that we often take for granted! Thank You for sharing your story! At the end of the video, I saw tht tiny little girl, is that the one for you?!

Pamala April 16, 2009, 7:54 PM

Never thought of CP as a major health issue. I guess having a daughter with a major health issue I don’t understand how anyone can just toss away children because they don’t fit your perfect mold.

KW April 16, 2009, 8:55 PM

Kudos to Tracy and John for being brave enough to tell their story. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to share, in a touchingly honest way, a journey that most of us don’t have the courage to even begin, must less put out there for the world to see and hear. I was sad to see other women writing mean-spirited and judgmental things. I’m sure those comments were very hurtful and I hope you realize that there are many more people out there that admire and support you. You are smart for defining clearly (ahead of time) what you could or could not do as parents, and for sticking with those parameters at a time when people were playing to your emotions. You will obviously be awesome parents and I hope your story has a very happy ending!!

Sherry(the real one..haha) April 17, 2009, 2:04 AM

major kudos…this is such a gripping story…i am praying for this couple. they should also look into Steven Curtis Chapmans website.they have a wonderful story with success to share…god bless!

Anonymous April 17, 2009, 4:04 AM

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

Amy April 17, 2009, 9:37 AM

This story is painful to read. I see these people think they’re doing a good thing, but to the children it’s hurtful. These people are only thinking of themselves.

Anonymous April 17, 2009, 11:09 AM

Ugh, why don’t you just “special order” your children? This is as bad as the stories of parents choosing their kids’ eye color, etc. When women get pregnant, they don’t get choose levels of healthy—we get what we get! And as a parent of a special-needs child, I can say I wasn’t prepared, either, but you do what you have to do! I loved my child from the minute she was conceived.

Trish April 17, 2009, 5:15 PM

This couple is a wonderful example of what parents will do for their child. As a parent, and even a parent of a special needs child, I applaud them for fighting for a child. They don’t know what they will get, and like any couple they may have visions of what they would like, but as a loving couple they are NOT special ordering. I feel sorry for people like Amy or the Anonymous poster because they can’t really tell the difference between a real genuine loving couple and a couple that would do the things they stated.

Pamala April 17, 2009, 6:38 PM

Trish did you miss their last post where they left a poor girl behind because she had Mild CP? Special ordering they are. Because that child was theirs. She was the one that they were supposed to get but they ran away, they abandoned her all because she had CP. These people are looking for the perfect child and it’s disturbing at best.

Kris April 20, 2009, 12:50 AM

As a parent of an adopted child, I am intrigued to see how this all plays out. However, I still find it hard to grasp parents turning down a child with mild CP because it means she doesn’t “look” healthy. Clearly this couple would rather have a child riddled with emotional scars on the inside so the world doesn’t see them than than have them on the outside for the world to see. I guess either way they are giving a so-called “damaged child” a home, but sad to see the choice made on such a superficial level.

Barb April 20, 2009, 10:07 AM

Pamala and Kris, I agree. This recent post feels like they’re trying to make up for the last post, which haunted me. The “special ordering” comment rings true in my ears, too.

G Cracker April 20, 2009, 6:15 PM

Pamela, Kris, and Barb; You are so full of it that it makes me sick. You are throwing stones when you surely live in glass houses. Oh! What’s that you say. How could I possibly know anything about you. How does it feel to be critized by someone else. This couple isn’t looking for the perfect child but know their limitations on raising a child. I pray for all three of you poor miss guided gals.

Barb April 21, 2009, 2:45 PM

G Cracker, you’re criticizing me for criticizing them… that’s fine; you feel one way, I feel another. But just think about your statement, “know their limits”—I don’t think we can go into parenthood with “limits” because that’s setting us up to fail. It’s impossible for any of us to know what the future will bring for our families, so by cherry-picking, it feels like this couple doesn’t have a clue about the ups and downs of parenthood. That’s how Tracy comes across in the posts. I’m paying close attention because I’d really like to see a happy ending, but I’m not sure what “happy” will mean for everyone involved.

G Cracker April 21, 2009, 4:18 PM

Barb; I am so happy that you responded. Limits are something that people like octomom have none of. Let the government take care of her children or hope for donations from all of us. Yes limits, such as medical insurance for a foreign child adopted and brought to the US. Now add to that an existing medical problem. That alone is a big consideration. I beleive they know their limits and I beleive their hearts were broken because of this experience. I also beleive they will be bless over and over again.

Pamala April 21, 2009, 5:50 PM

I’m sorry but as a parent of a special needs child, I didn’t get a choice and it wasn’t saying “I can’t do it” it was seeing the child, talking to the child, her being told this is your new mommy and daddy and them just up and running away from the child.

Hey don’t want to be judged, don’t put it out there for people to judge. How would you like it if your mother came up to you and said “You’re not good enough” and left. That’s probably how the girl felt that they left. That she wasn’t good enough. They didn’t have two thoughts about what they did to that poor child.

G Cracker April 21, 2009, 6:54 PM

Pamela; You are judging without knowing all the facts. First off, you can get insurance for your child and there are many agencys that will help you with your special needs child. Not so for an adopted child from another country. You bring that child home and you are on your own. I applaud all parents of special needs children. You are very special indeed but lets not be so quick to judge without all the facts. We should all wait until the end of the story or just maybe the beginning

Barb April 22, 2009, 9:00 AM

G Cracker, you talk as if you’re personally involved? I hear what you’re saying about insurance, but it doesn’t hold up to the argument that Tracy said they were up for “some” health issues, but not “major” issues. And my response to that is that most parents don’t get to choose the health of their children—as anonymous said above, we get what we get, and then we deal with it as needed. Tracy says they wanted a “healthy” child, but they’re OK with mental issues, so, really, it’s not a “healthy” child? She’s talking in circles, and in general it just reeks of people looking for “the perfect child” the way you might choose a new puppy. It’s painful to watch.

As far as limits, there’s a big difference between limits and good choices. Octomom made, what I think, is a bad choice. But most mothers who give birth to a child with special needs don’t say, “Well, I never bargained for this… this is beyond my limits, I’m walking away.” And beyond that, the children in the orphanages are old enough to KNOW they’re not good enough, which makes it so heartbreakingly worse.

You talk about waiting until the end of the story… I’m watching, but there are some statements that you can’t make up for no matter what; just the fact that this couple has thrown themselves into the lives of so many children with the intent of walking away (I’m referring to the orphanages they paid surprise visits to) is a huge red flag. It’s selfish, and it’s probably ruining the process for all the adopters who will come after them.

G Cracker April 22, 2009, 2:31 PM

I believe limits equates to good choices. I have friends who have gone thru the overseas adoption and it can be wonderful but it can be very painful.

Pamala April 23, 2009, 2:28 PM

G. Cracker I’m not sure where you get your information about not getting insurance. My friend adopted from that area of the world, with her daughter having CP and she’s currently insurance as well as the other child they adopted who has some emotional issues. And they were insured right away through her husband’s job. So perhaps you misunderstand how things work or you just weren’t as informed as you should have been.

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