The Truth Gets Out There
“A breakthrough had been made! Oh, it was
stout, the wall of lies, it looked like it had
been made to last forever — but a breach
yawned, and news broke through.”
“The Gulag Archipelago,” Vol. III
After Halloween, the return to normalcy continued. I went back to work finally, and Anguel started part-time day care at a center run by another former coworker of mine and his wife out of their house (we had visited when he threw a party to celebrate his 30th year on the job over the summer. Daniel had instantly realized this was the place for Anguel, and when I later called, they had space).
Leslie Scherr, the Maryland attorney James Albers had referred us to, finally found the time to call us back. He had been involved in another case and had also moved to a new office.
He said it would require payment of his $1,000 retainer even to read our files.
That wasn’t an obstacle — we considered it a fair sum to pay to find out for certain if we had a legal case over Cyril. And it was within our means, even after the adoptions.
We said it would be a while before we could get the money together, though. He understood, and told us to get in touch with him and make an appointment
More to the point, approaching rapidly was Nov. 25, 2000.
Anyone who has ever suffered through this kind of tragedy as much as we have knows that the one-year anniversary is the hardest.
We had plans, alright, to mark it, both privately and publicly.
Actually, the day we chose to observe it was Thanksgiving, two days earlier. I worked, and Daniel treated Anguel to his first-ever Thanksgiving dinner at his brother’s future mother-in-law’s house in Connecticut.
He loved it, and was a big hit with everyone who came, especially Daniel’s brother, who hadn’t seen Anguel since our return from Bulgaria.
Late that cold night, after they had returned and Anguel was sleeping, I came home from work and we sat down and watched the videos of Cyril.
With a real son now filling the absence in our lives, it was easier to appreciate what might have been with Cyril. It was a very emotional experience, to be sure, but now we felt at least able to begin to let go.
We let the rest of Thanksgiving weekend pass quietly. Daniel tried to get Anguel to have a moment of silence at about seven a.m. or so Saturday morning but with a two-year-old, forget it.
So they spent the rest of the day taking a long drive in Connecticut, Dan all the while thinking of the span between this day and its counterpart the year before.
One day, we’re sure, Anguel will appreciate the brother he never got to have.
Sunday night, we began the public commemoration. Dan posted the first part of our story to FRUA’s bulletin boards.
This would mark a sea change in the way reports of horrible stories had been handled there.
Previously, people courageous enough to post first-person accounts of fraud, extortion, incompetence or medical misrepresentation had often garbed themselves in anonymity or pseudonymity and had been very sketchy with details, often by design and for good reason.
They would rarely publicly identify the agency or facilitator that they had used, fearing retribution of some type (It sounds silly, but it has happened, especially to families that want to adopt again).
Solzhenitsyn describes this phenomenon thusly: “Truth, it seems, is always bashful, reduced to silence by the too-blatant encroachment of falsehood.”
Some of those rules had been broken a few weeks before when a woman named Marie Carvalho posted about her and her husband’s unsuccessful attempt to adopt from Ukraine using Cathy Harris’s very-popular network.
Their allegations of wrongdoing and horrid conditions at several orphanages triggered a furious debate, with some vicious personal attacks on the Carvalhos, that was still raging into Thanksgiving.
We emailed her congratulations and told her our story. She was appropriately horrified and was pleased to her that we, too, would soon go public with names named and fingers pointed (later she and her husband successfully adopted a girl from another Eastern European country).
After midnight Sunday, Dan finished the first post, a prelude of sorts giving the basic outline of the story and the first chapter.
(You can read the whole series of postings here. It’s sort of the first draft of this website, and tells many of these same events from my husband’s point of view).
Comments were universally positive. No one told us to shut up. They all wanted to hear the story.
As the next installments dribbled out over the course of the week, it continued. Posters were horrified by the turn of events — they had, of course, all been in Russia as the newly-designated caregivers of sick children, and this nightmare had crossed their minds.
Some people debated, as we ourselves had many times, whether Cyril could have been saved. The results were as inconclusive then as they had been a year before.
But most importantly to us they agreed that we had been poorly served by our agency. And since for many of those reading the thread it was the first time they had ever heard of Building Blocks, that was how they would then on know them ... as the agency the Cases used to adopt that child who died in their hotel room.