thoughts on a second honeymoon from the fringe of hell
Call us crazy, but our idea of a mid-life crisis is having more children. Okay, I'll be honest; that's my idea of a mid-life crisis. My husband just happens to be good-natured enough to go along with the half-witted notions I embrace as we travel together through life. What can I say except that he's a swell guy? I, on the other hand, go off half-cocked beyond the rubble of what was once the Iron Curtain, dragging my husband behind as we travel on a quest built on the flimsy foundation of a deceitful international adoption agency named Yunona.
We now facetiously refer to this company as Yu-(k)no(w)-nathing.
Our quest? To retrieve two daughters, ages 8 & 11, from an orphanage in the region of Donetsk. Yunona's repeated promise? That these girls were indeed available, that they had received our letters and were aware we were coming, and that they (Yunona) could provide for their adoption.
We had gone the route taken by the majority of parents: spying on a photolisting endearing kids, our hearts and consciences wrenched by the thought of their childhoods being lived out in a dismal impoverished orphanage while we relished the relative materialistic ease of middle class American life. We did not know until we arrived in Kiev that Yunona purchases the photos they place on the Internet. We learned that the photos are taken by the orphanages to update binders filled with child profiles lining the shelves at Ukraine's National Adoption Center (NAC), but for a dip in Yunona's pockets, certain workers at the NAC will instead sell those photos. The effect of this practice leaves the binders filled with grossly out-dated profiles of children waiting to be adopted and fills the Internet with the faces of children about whom Yunona in truth knows nothing.
Parents aren't told – at least not until they arrive overseas — that they must not mention the name "Yunona" and that they must never mention they "pre-selected" the children they have come to adopt. Suddenly, parents become a part of the conspiracy, taken to the NAC to scramble through countless binders (or at least those selected to be shown to them) — only able to hope they'll come across the face of the child whom they thought had already been arranged to be theirs.
It is quite a shock.
Putting aside all the bureaucratic hoops and financial strains that precede such a trip for willing parents, it is heinous for Yunona and agencies like them to issue contracts for children over whose fate they in fact have neither knowledge or control. The owner of Yunona, one Ivan Jerdev, fancies himself a sort of Cyrillic Robin Hood, justifying his questionable means by the common end: that of having nevertheless brought about the adoption of orphans.