Well I should say “we” this time because WE are going back to Kazakhstan. My lovely boy and I in about a month’s time are heading back to the place where it all started. Well where he started and where our family started.
Just in case you’ve wandered in here unannounced, I adopted Daniel in a marathon session nearly 10 years ago which involved a 3 month stay in Kazakh Siberia in the winter of 2006/07. Having stuck fairly close to our local neighbourhood since then the time has come to show Daniel his birth place.
I am ridiculously excited.
I gave a presentation about Kazakhstan to his class on international day at school yesterday, I faced 29 ten year olds with more trepidation that I’ve faced some board meetings, the stakes were so high. Could I reach the bar? Could I even touch it with my fingertips when I was on tippytoes? His anxious instructions were not to be too embarassing and to make manti for the food session in the afternoon. In fact they were more like samsa by the time I’d baked them rather than steamed them but I sincerely doubt that any of the children knew nor cared. He said they were acceptable – neither the best nor the worst food there (OK dodged a bullet there).
After the event a few of the teaching assistants were kind enough to say they’d really enjoyed my talk and video and how much they’d learned (not difficult to make information about Kaz a learning experience). Daniel casually pronounced it “quite cool”.
Stage one in “Feel proud of your origins and yourself” completed.
The Red thread of Fate
The red thread of fate is sometimes used as a theme for adoptive parents who like the idea that they and their children were destined to be together.
An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.
But tonight I’m thinking of my friend Anne and her family who will be heading back to their home in the USA whilst we are mid-trip. They have graced our little part of the world for nearly 2 years with wit and an admirable self-awareness of their odd American ways whilst trying (and failing on the basis that we don’t have any) to point out our own English idiosyncracies.
There are many red threads in a lifetime if you’re lucky and this is one thread I hope to hold onto tightly – though this one will be a fibre optic thread.
So James Taylor or Bill Withers? James or BIll?
Vale Anne, I wish you well until we meet again.
The Night Before
So it’s the night before leaving and my intentions for a quiet sneak off have been circumvented by Daniel who is so excited he is in danger of exploding before we even get near the plane. He has been merrily suggesting to any likely looking adult that they might like to donate some money to the orphanage. And blow me down they have!
His lovely teachers had a whip round in the staff room and sent him packing with a sigh of relief no doubt but also with enough money to treat the kids there to what ever we think appropriate – I was thinking of a round of ice-creams for staff and children alike (at least those who are old enough) but then random friends on facebook keep sending me money too so I’m thinking that we’ll have enough to buy other stuff too – craft supplies, paper – I’ll find out what they need.
A few of our little band of UK/Kazakh families have children from the same place and we have donated between all of us really quite a substantial amount so I’m hoping to be able to replace some furniture for them too.
Touchingly Daniel has been on a mission (aided by my mum the arch ebayer) to sell off as many of his old toys as he can and is proudly clutching $85 which he will split between buying things for the kids and buying himself some reminders of his time there.
In a bizarre twist of fate it seems that a lady I have roped in to help us in Almaty is friendly with a surgeon at Great Ormond Street who does free surgeries for poorer families out in Kaz once a year so we are also taking some stuff out for him. It’s turning into a regular aid convoy…
Anyone else got that song in their head now?
I on the other hand am still working and have not packed a thing. I may turn up with a couple of carrier bags at this rate. So different to the last time I went when I had to pack some clothes, toys, nappies, formula etc for a child of uncertain gender and uncertain age. Now it seems all the child needs as essentials are his ipad mini, David Walliams book and some clean pants. And frankly the clean pants were my idea and not necessarily one of my better ones in his eyes.
See you on the other side.
Daniel was born in Ust Kamenogorsk (Kazakh name Oskemen on this map in extreme northern left tip of Kaz bordered Russian Siberia, Mongolia and China. We will also stop over in the capital Astana (centre) and spend a week in Almaty the main commerical centre bottom left corner on the Kyrgyz/Chinese border. For perspective, Kazakhstan is roughly the size of the whole of western Europe with only 18 million people.