Today was another day of emotional highs and gut wrenching lows.
We started our day at 6 am loading up the car to make our way to Polyvanivka from Dnepropetrovsk - about 40 miles north. Once there we were met by a few of Ariya's caretakers who asked that we give them our Facebook links so they can follow her journey. We paid off that driver and piled into a new car with Ariya, one of the head doctors, and a new driver for the 150 mile trip to Kryvyi Rih in the South West. Ariya was very sad and did not want to go, and had to be coaxed to come along. I just kept asking myself how many times has she been displaced at the hands of adults? - only to start over with new people, new challenges, new pecking orders. While I know what I am doing for her is to finally put a stop to it, it hurt to be the catalyst for her world changing again.
We enjoyed three uninterrupted hours in the car with our sweet daughter and got to know her better. She warmed up to us after some time and she has proven to be very kind, funny, very independent, a little ornery, and more. There is a depth to her that is going to flourish and will be a cherished journey to watch unfold. For the time being she is tolerating us, but allowed us to hold her hand, and she fell asleep for a short time with her head on Lorene's lap.
Toward the end of the harrowing 150 miles, Ariya being to sing along with a talking/singing/dancing doll we bought her. It did my heart good to hear it. I have always felt that a child who can muster a song is a child that is not utterly broken. Ariya was very pleased with herself. smile emoticon
Finally we arrived at the new orphanage where she will spend her last weeks in the Ukraine - and where the toughest part of my day unfolded. It is an adequate space and from what we can see her needs will be met here. Sadly, for all the tenuous bridges we made with her in the car ride, they all came crashing down when we were told we could not follow her into the orphanage. She first begged to stay with us, and then giving up on us - you could just see it in her eyes - she asked that her new backpack be given back to her and they said no. So off we drove leaving our daughter behind - her things taken away - confused and betrayed and again abandoned to her fate in a strange place. It is an emotion unlike any I have ever felt. How does a man reconcile putting your child in a "worse" place in order to get them to a better place. It is madness. Of course I understand "what must be done". But I challenge any man to try it, and not be permanently changed by the experience. My heart will forever be hurt by this memory.
Ironically, because no documents were yet processed by the orphanage that says she exists, we would not be able to get permission from the local ministry to see her. So next we drove from place to place trying to convince the powers that be that she exists. Having successfully done that, we were able to once again ask to have permission to see her. The day felt increasingly desperate as we tried to navigate a sea of paperwork that would normally take weeks and do so in hours. But again, in our most desperate moments, doors began to open, and approvals started trickling in.
So, the day ended with our interview with the inspector (the second time we've done this now since being here) and an observation period with Ariya. This was the highlight of my day as they trotted her back into the room. And she snubbed us both! I offered her her backpack, and she denied it. She was truly betrayed by us and it would take a while to bring her back. It scared both Lorene and I as it did not make for a great initial "showing" with the inspector, who are already suspicious and skeptical of us. But in the end (after much self deprecating behavior on my part, such as running away from a wind up duck and otherwise rolling around on the floor) we managed to build back a small bridge with Ariya, and what appears to be the approval of the Director and Inspector.
So where does that leave us? With many unknowns. Because this process has been one-of-a-kind, there is plenty of concern that the court will throw us out. We do have all our paperwork in order There is nothing that should be considered unorthodox, except for the speed at which we accomplished so much. We are literally afraid that the court will find it "unbelievable". And it so many respects it is! Our next step is to get our court date. It sounds like it will be out too far out to achieve on this trip. So we will have to come back for that, then again to get her. A week ago I would have been destroyed by such news. Now - it is the new normal, frown emoticon
We have no choice, but to trust in God. There is nothing else we can do. And my friends, I can tell you, if you've ever been on that bitter bleeding edge, you know it is not a warm fuzzy blanket with angles singing trumpets and unicorns flying about and roses bursting out of the ground.
It is dirty, tiring, terrifying, and raw.
But for one little girl, it is worth it.