Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Flashback

I never know what I am going to post here, until I start scrolling through my pictures. This morning, this photo caught my eye.


This picture was taken while we were still in Russia. To be exact, it was taken on November 16, the legal date that I became his mother. The process in Russian court cases involves what is called a "10-day wait". It's a waiting period to ensure that none of the parties involved in the court case change their minds.

The good news for me was that I was able to get custody of Henry during those 10 days. I will readily tell anyone who asks, spending those 3 weeks in Russia after I went to court was probably the most difficult 3 weeks of my life. I was a new mom, stuck in a hotel room in a foreign country far from everyone I loved (except my Mom, who was a lifesaver). I wasn't sure what I was doing.

To add insult to injury, on the very first night, Henry pulled a fast one on me that I thought I would never recover from. See, when I was treating him with scabies cream, he didn't like it too much. As I would learn, when he got really worked up, he had a tendency to "hold his breath". You know when a baby is getting ready to wail, they suck air to maximize the output. Well, Henry got "stuck" on the sucking air phase. Stuck to the point that he started to turn blue. Talk about freaking out. I felt like a chicken with it's head cut off. I didn't know what to do. My first thought was to turn him over and start slapping him on the back...until I realized that would be appropriate if he were choking, which he wasn't. Then I tried blowing into his face. Then I ran to the bathroom to sprinkle some water on him with the hopes of startling him into breathing.

Before I could get to the bathroom, he passed out in my arms. He "woke" immediately and the trauma was over (at least for him). It left me scarred. I couldn't sleep and barely ate for days, worrying about what was wrong with him and asking what I had done wrong. My saving grace was the email exchange I had with my doctor back in the states. You can read more about it here. And the good that came out of it was that I came home 10-15 pounds lighter.

Anyway, I've majorly digressed here. Back to the process. So, those three weeks were the most difficult, but I wouldn't give them back for anything. I am convinced that having those three weeks cemented the bonding process for Henry and I. Yep, we were stuck in a hotel room in a foreign country with no independent transportation and no ability to communicate with the outside world.

But, the flipside of that dilemma is that there was nothing else to do but focus on each other. If Henry was awake, my focus was on him. I was sitting on the floor playing with him and focusing 100 percent on his needs. I didn't have to worry about what I was going to make for dinner, or doing a few loads of laundry, or cleaning the house. It was all about him. And I saw the fruits of this situation. Each day, he warmed more and more to me. He laughed and smiled more. He began to thrive. He took his first steps and began toddling around the room.

I, too, got to know my son. I learned what made him giggle, and what a bossy-pants he could be. I eased into becoming a Mommy and to reading the signs my little boy was giving out. I learned how much he hated the bathroom. I learned how much he liked to eat. I learned how much he loved to be read to, and how much he enjoyed looking at pictures and being told what he was seeing. I discovered his inquisitive nature.

At the end of the 10-day wait, there was a flurry of activity to finalize all of the paperwork. Most families that adopt from Russia pass through Moscow on their way out of the country to visit the Consulate and get the final approval to bring their child home. Part of this final approval involves a cursory medical exam.

Well, from where we were, a trip to Moscow was further away than travelling from the tip of Florida to the furthest tip of Alaska. Fortunately, our agency was able to arrange for a courier to take our paperwork to Moscow on our behalf. One of the activities we needed to complete was to obtain that cursory medical exam by a local doctor so the courier could take the results with her to Moscow.

That is what you see in the picture above. It was quite an interesting experience. When we arrived, we soon discovered that the "clinic" did not have any electricity at the moment. Not to worry, that didn't slow us down a bit. The exam involved me stripping Henry down to nothing and the doctor poking a prodding him a bit. Henry didn't like it one bit, as evidenced from his demeanor in the photo. The doctor thought it was hysterical that I should ask for a picture of her as a testimony to part of the entire process. She said that no other families had ever asked for such a thing, but obliged none-the-less.

After the flurry of activity, we had a few more peaceful days before we left to go home. Things were cut very close for comfort. We were about to pass through the ticket gate at the airport when our courier arrived from her flight from Moscow and rushed to hand off the paperwork we needed to enter the United States with my new little soon-to-be citizen.

PS: For those that worry, Henry has finally outgrown the "turning blue" thing, much to my glee.


  1. i love your friday flashbacks. i cannot imagine how frightening it must have been to watch him "hold his breath." fortunately, allen never did that, but i had read about it. and how wonderful that you got to spend those ten days undistracted ... what a blessing for you to have that time to bond with him. miss you tons!


  2. It is a scary thing to see a little person hold their breath like that. I'm glad Henry doesn't do that anymore. It seems he loves you too much and is secure enough in your love for him that this game is no longer necessary.