It was with heavy hearts that we spent our last few minutes with our girl. We knew that it would be maybe six months before we were able to come back for our court date.
I held her tight knowing that I had to let go. Silent tears slid down my face and Nastya gently touched them. Finally I pulled myself away and we watched her slowly walk the hallway leading to her group of kids. For the first time in our visit she stopped and turned back. She stood there motionless and staring at us as if she was trying to take us in, so that she could remember. She knew we were leaving this time, she knew it was different and my heart broke again at the somber expression on her face. The guide spoke to her in Russian and she pulled her gaze from me and glanced at him. Without any words she hung her head and turned back and made her way slowly down the hallway. It took all of my self-control to not run after her. I clung to Pat as we made our way out to the waiting taxi. In silence we rode back to the hotel.
Even now these words are hard to write and the pain is still there.
We flew back to Irkutsk to finish up some paperwork and do a little exploring. We bought several gifts that we would be able to give Nastya as she grew older. Keepsakes from her home country that we hoped would be special to her.
When we boarded the plane for home, it felt like the whole world had changed. Had we only been here for a week? After a loud, smoky and liquor filled (the other passengers - not us) flight back to Moscow, we were more than ready to get back home.
As I stood on the tram in Chicago I couldn't help but compare the two places. I had the sudden urge to jump out of the tram and kiss the ground in thankfulness for being back. The grass seemed so much greener, all of the colors so vivid and the beauty seemed shocking to me, as if I had never noticed how abundant our lives were.
The next several days felt like drifting through fog, and the fog was filled with crying babies. One day I sat on my couch trying to come to terms with everything and thought, how can I do this? How do you go back to a life that is so easy compared to what you now know is reality for so many children. I wondered if selling my house and sending the money to the orphanage would help. But I knew that it wouldn't, money would not give them love and nurturing and family.
And I became angry with God. How could he allow this? These children were innocent and did nothing to deserve this life!
I was gently reminded by a friend that it was our sins that put these children here not God. The lives that these children have is a result of the life choices that all people have made. God did not create life to be this way, but we chose it. Now it is our responsibility to advocate for, love and pray for these children. They deserve hugs, kisses and the warmth of a family!
It wouldn't be long before I would find out exactly how one persons choices can effect so many lives. When the news broke, I felt like I had been physically kicked in the stomach! Please let it not be true I cried, but it did and the news changed so many lives:
"RUSSIAN GIRL KILLED IN U.S., ADOPTED LEGALLY
Investigators began looking into the adoption of [2 year old] Nina Hilt after the girl died earlier this month in Virginia. Her adoptive mother, Peggy Sue Hilt, 33, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, was arrested last week and charged with the girl's murder, reports the AP. The Interfax news agency reported Monday that Russian prosecutors found the girl was adopted with no violations of federal regulations. Hilt's arrest came just weeks after Russian authorities stripped three U.S.-based adoption agencies of their accreditation, saying they failed to monitor the children's well-being in their adoptive families. About 20,000 children are adopted in the United States each year, with Russian children accounting for some 25 percent of their total number. At least 12 adopted Russian children have died since 1996."
So many of us in the adoption community were scouring the web looking for details of the case and hoping against hope that somehow things would be okay, that justice would come. How we wondered, could we prove to the Russian officials that this is not the norm for adopted families?
And then we found out that the judge that had approved the Hilt's case in Russia, was the very same judge that we were assigned to...
To be continued...