Monday, August 11, 2008

How to keep Roman Russian, at least in spirit

I lurk a lot at a few other people’s blogs, especially, it seems, people who have adopted from Ethiopia. A couple have gotten involved in a new foundation called Ethiopian Orphan Relief and a few of these bloggers have recently met face to face and got their kids together, etc. A support group on many levels. It presents to me the guilt & challenge of continuing to stay connected with our agency & Russia.

We talk about Russia often, and we talk about Roman’s adoption & homecoming often. We try to normalize Charlie’s arrival vs. Roman’s adoption by simple comparisons, made easier because Charlie had a stay in a hospital where we had to visit a lot before he could come home, just like Roman. And we stay in loose contact with the couples we made our first trip with; Christmas cards, maybe a phone call or email once or twice a year. But we haven’t stayed connected past that, and I feel rather guilty.

Russia makes it difficult to remain friends. There are many challenges in sending notes or financial support to Roman’s baby home. And it’s been so long now, I wonder if it would even be worth making the effort. Do they have the same director? Would they remember him, a 7-month-old baby adopted from them 4 years ago? But it keeps haunting me, especially as Roman reaches milestones… we told the director we would send pictures. And we haven’t. We said to ourselves we’d keep in touch. And we haven’t. I even joined a Yahoo! group for people who adopted through our agency, and I haven’t checked it in months.

Maybe it’s easier for our family, and Roman, to blend into the landscape. We don’t need the type of support that a biracial family might. And we talk about doing some cultural things with Roman when he gets a little older, but what is a little older? I fear over-Russian-izing him. At the same time, we are very aware of Russia’s actions in the world, and how most people still perceive the country, and also that he will be hearing all kinds of negative things about his motherland as he goes through school. I want him to be proud of his heritage & roots. Should we have kept in touch with certain people? Is it too late? There is a sizeable Russian population in our area. How do you explain that you’re experiencing something or wanting to meet people simply because they may help connect your child to his ancestry later? And how can that be done while avoiding a big neon “he’s adopted!” finger flashing at Roman?

1 comment:

WMW said...

I actually feel like we're not too good at this, since it was my first time making it to a gathering, but it is/was especially helpful to know others at least online when waiting/traveling/ first getting home and will be more crucial again, I think, as she becomes aware of being "different" (adopted/not matching us racially). I'm sure I wouldn't know where to start if there wasn't a good sized group relatively close to us--I'd have that awkward "what's the pickup line for trying to meet Ethiopians?" feeling you have.

I think it's good that you talk about Russia (positively--you're right, the news is bringing up old images, like the food crisis has for Ethiopia too). Beyond that maybe you just have to look for some cultural opportunities and follow Roman's lead as to whether he's interested in them not. I think kids' interest in adoption and their countries rises and falls developmentally and for whatever other mysterious reasons.