Today there was a question in the group that reminded me of a little horror story from my pre-blogging days.
This is a whole other post, but suffice to say, that shortly after we adopted Anastasia we discovered that she had three older brothers. Ilya we met and subsequently adopted. The two older brothers Sasha and Viktor did not want to be adopted, but we keep in touch with them. As I have related here, my wonderful friend Alla in Moscow, keeps in touch with them, and even early-on made sure they had phones, and bought phone cards for them with money I sent (and perhaps even with her own; she's that kind of generous person.)
So, Anastasia was begging to talk to her "Russian brothers". I am a little leery of international phone calls of any kind, so went to my friend Sveta's house so she could help us place the call. One minute we were dialing, and the next the room was spinning and I was unable to breath.
Sveta and I had sat down on either side of Anastasia on the couch. Sveta was there to help, if needed; I wanted to listen in, as much as possible. That's how I heard Viktor answer the phone, say hello, and tell Anastasia that he was at babushka's house, and their mother was there, and he'd put her on.
And suddenly, Anastasia is talking to her mother.
I hardly knew what to think or do. So, I listened breathlessly. The mother seemed pleased to hear from her. Anastasia, with no time to turn on her emotions, remained sensible. She assured her mother that she liked her family, she had a nice school, she had good brothers, a nice room, a dog and a cat, pretty dresses, new dolls, etc. I was sitting there in shock all the while, I must say. After this fairly brief conversation, mother handed the phone over the grandma, then grandpa, then an uncle. Then things began to take a turn to the absurd; someone ran down the street to grab another uncle, and across the hall to find "Tyotya Olya", then upstairs for the neighbors. They all had a word with Anastasia. For some reason at some point while she was talking to everyone in the city, I got up and took this photograph. (And to think - I didn't even blog in those days!)
Anastasia hung up, and told me about all the people she'd spoken to, and relayed some information about where her grandmother was working, and about her grandfather's health. Meanwhile, Svetlana, whose sister had just a few months previously passed away unexpectedly in Russia, was overcome by her own emotions, and began to cry. Anastasia and I went out to the garden, to let Sveta calm herself and make some tea. That's when I took the photo at the top of the blog. I was still in a state of shock. But surprise! Anastasia took it all very much in stride. My tantrummy, over-emotional daughter, could talk to the mother who she hadn't seen since the day she was removed from her care by force - and she was mostly worried about her grandfather's health, and amazed that the neighbor's toddler who she used to play with, could now talk fluently.....
As the afternoon went on, and Anastasia chatted with Sveta about the call, and enjoyed tea and cookies, I began to really believe that there were to be no horrific ramifications from this extraordinary experience....and there weren't!
My next fear, to be honest, was that my husband would go ballistic. Craig had not been in favor of keeping in touch with the brothers. He wanted NO OPENNESS at all!! There was no way I'd ever ask Anastasia to lie, or even to tell her to keep something from her father, but I was sure not going to mention it myself! I knew he'd be very angry. I was on tenterhooks and SO hoping that somehow he wouldn't find out about this event. I almost began to think he wouldn't! Anastasia was showing an amazing amount of equanimity - and was now more interested in how Sveta makes her amazing bread (she'd begun to teach Anastasia how it was done) than in any other aspect of our visit. So, just when I thought I was "home free", imagine my horror, when at dinner, Anastasia chimes up (moreover at a quiet moment when no one else was talking) "I talked to my mother in Russia today!"
Craig looked at her fondly, "Oh, yes?"
"Yes; and I talked to my grandmother and my brother Victor and my brother Sasha. And my grandfather and my uncle Grisha. And Grisha is married and has a little girl who looks just like me." And, just as my heart is threatening to completely cut off my breathing passages, she goes on, "When I grow up, I'm going to have five children and move to Russia and mommy can come to Russia with me and take care of my babies!"
Craig just smiled at her and said something like, "Well, that sounds nice." Clearly neither he nor the boys took anything she said as relating to reality. I sat there with the knowledge of having dodged not just a bullet, but a grenade.
Generally Craig and I have a very honest relationship; but it was so important to me to keep in touch with the "Russian brothers", as we call them, who at that time included the not-yet-adoptable Ilya. Especially since Anastasia seemed to take this all so much in stride, I figured - why make trouble? I did finally tell him, a few years later. I think we were in the process of adopting Ilya then, and Alla had assured us that Anastasia's extended family were nice, albeit terribly poor, people....only their mother was a troubled person.
As I did relate here, Anastasia's mother passed away a couple of years ago, and to be honest, I am so, so glad this surreal episode occurred. I think it was good for Anastasia on some level, and I know that it must have comforted her mother to know her little girl was happy. I'm glad that she knew that before she died.