First, a funny anecdote. We couldn’t figure out why Liliana tries to eat the bubbles in her bath. Only this morning we realized that she’s equating them with the cappuccino foam we give her. Who knew?
On Friday, our translator advised us to buy airline tickets to Kiev, leaving Simferopol at 12:50 p.m. today, knowing that if Liliana’s passport shows up in the Simferopol passport agency’s Saturday mail, we could start the U.S. Embassy paperwork in Kiev today. [This is another infuriating thing. There is no such thing in the Ukraine of government offices accepting faxes or e-mail attachments from other government offices in other cities. Everything must be done in person or by mail or by courier. So, for instance, after we leave Simferopol, our translator has to travel to Yalta again, to get an official seal or stamp. Then he can return to Kiev to submit all the paperwork to the main office at the Ministry.]
Guess what? We get a phone call from our translator this morning. “What is this holiday you have in America?”
“What holiday?” I say, then remember Columbus Day. “No,” I say. “You don’t understand. No one celebrates it. Only government workers get a free day.”
“It no matter,” he says. “Embassy close today.”
Well, of course it is. We need them to be open, so of course it’s closed.
Then he continues. “Passport not arrive Saturday. Passport come today. One of you stay behind to sign. The other one go with child to Kiev. You can meet in apartment.”
Of course we’ll have to do this. We’ll lose one ticket’s cost (they’re non-refundable), and Dan will buy a ticket for the later flight time of 5:20.
On the way to the travel agency, we decide to scrap the three earlier tickets and buy three new ones for the 5:20 flight, if there is availability. There is. Now we can fly together. Because we only have one phone, and because we’re unsure of what the next steps are in the adoption process, we don’t want to be separated. [Dan adds, “Because we love each other.” Isn’t he sweet?] Our current translator cannot translate appropriately, and he has floundered through his responsibilities. He should have known about the Embassy being closed. We still hope to finish all our U.S. Embassy paperwork on Tuesday or Wednesday morning, so we can leave Wednesday evening.
Onto another discovery we’ve made about Liliana.
Every home or apartment in the Ukraine has slide-on slippers at the door, for its owners or occupants to slip into once they’ve removed their muddy shoes. Well, Dan and I usually go around in our socks (or Uggs at home), so here in Simferopol the slippers remain at the door. Liliana loves to bring them to us as we’re sitting on the couch in the evenings. So the other night, we’re playing with her (and recording her because we’re captivated by the unusual animation in her speech and gestures). She slides the slippers on our feet, then slides them off–all the while carrying on a running commentary in what we’re assuming is Russian. At one point, she hauls a large bag of Huggies to the couch, places them on the cushions, and a launches into what can only be categorized as a severe scolding–staccato speech, finger pointing. On and on it goes. She slides one of my slippers off and uses it to “spank” the Huggies. Every whack is delivered with a verbal scolding. When she’s done with my slipper, she uses her hand. It’s disturbing to watch. We’re sure that the orphanage workers performed such scoldings and spankings, because I caught one of the caregivers cuffing a boy over the head when she didn’t know I was watching. No wonder the children are so well-behaved. Any misstep and you get paddled or slapped. No wonder the children soak up the love after leaving the orphanage. [Our translator asks us today, “Do you think she look different than when you first meet?” Yes is the answer. Her cheeks have filled out. Her hair is longer. Her facial expressions have multiplied. She’s much more animated...and opinionated. “This happens always,” he says. “Every time.”]
I think this might be part of Liliana’s sporadic behavior problem. Maybe she’s putting up emotional barriers because she doesn’t want to be hurt. Maybe she’s confused that we “punish” her differently, yet shower her with love and kisses. How can we possibly discipline and love her? We use firm “nyets” to steer her away from temptation, but immediately distract her so that we’re not having constant melt-downs. If she throws a tantrum, we walk a short distance away and ignore her. The frequency and duration of the tantrums are dwindling. She actually halts her scream mid-scream to run to us, to see what we’re up to, since we’ve shown no interest in her antics. Because we sit with her while she falls asleep, she is distracted enough not to whip her head back and forth or scratch her ears (to the bleeding stage) or hum nervously. This is a new kind of love for her, and it might be the cause of some adjustments on her end. She has to know we’re consistent. She has to know that we’ll return when we leave. She has to know we’ll still be there in the morning when she wakes up or in the afternoon after her nap. She has to know that there is nothing in this world she could do that would lessen our love for her.
Our love is here to stay. It’s as dependable as fire is hot.