With the adoption of our Igor, we are blessed with the special love of a very special member of our family. Family which goes far beyond the blood lines of our members, true bonds for life based on decisions we made together and events we can’t control or prevent. Myself being adopted because events made me an orphan and my adoptive parents decided to adopt me and love me as their own son. My precious girlfriend at the time of our decision and now my fiancé, once in full acceptance that she is not able to have children of her own and now the proud mother of her 2 adopted children, her very own children. My blood family, the relatives of my parents, and my adoptive family, the relatives of my adoptive parents. Family of my fiancé, proud grandparents of their adopted grandchildren. Best friends, who came so close and special that they are a part of our family, of our lives. And of course our Leia, our smiling shining precious sweet angel, who motivated us to do whatever it takes to adopt our Igor and be the best parents we can be for our children.
All these special people, family by blood or by decision to make a difference for those who no longer have family, are my family, our family. And all of them were there for us during the adoption procedures of Igor. Praying with us, hoping with us. Sharing our fears and giving us hope that all would work out for the best. Cheering with us when the special moment was there and we were allowed to adopt our Igor, crying happy tears with us and celebrating this special moment with us. Thinking out loud with us how they can support us with his treatments and how we can join our love and strength to help and support this wonderful sweet loving traumatized little boy. Because we are family and Igor belongs to our family.
Continue reading On family ties, true bonds and brave children
We meet in the back of a restaurant. For a moment I feel like in an old spy movie and my friend must have noticed that this makes me nervous, with a smile he tells me not to worry. “We are safe here”, a sentence I have heard a lot during my stay in Crimea but this time it means much more to me. This time it means my friend feels safe here. I can’t put to words how happy I am to finally see my friend in person and in safety, more than a year after the horrible Massacre of Odessa which changed his life permanently. Here he sits, smiling, greeting me, looking at my fancy wheelchair with the skilled eye of a technician. Luck and what I believe to be Divine Intervention in the bravery of some bystanders are the reasons why my friend is still alive and happy to meet me on this summer day.
Brave enough to talk about the events of that day and evening but worried about his family still living in Ukraine, we decide to call my friend Vlad, although we both know this is not his real name. Vlad still has family members in and around Odessa and Vlad knows that Ukrainian authorities have given them a hard time to tell them where he is. Vlad is on a wanted list because he survived the Odessa Massacre, officially only for questioning, but Vlad knows that those who have reported to the Ukrainian authorities for this so called questioning have all been arrested. Ukrainian authorities are even so ruthless that they have arrested family members of some of the organizers “for their own protection” although none of them want to be “protected” by Ukraine.
Vlad agrees to publish his story, wants his story to be told as long as it doesn’t cause any problems for his family and friends. I look at the eyes of this strong man and see genuine fear when he speaks about his family and friends, about his concerns. This is Vlad’s story in his words, approved by Vlad for publication and Vlad approves distributing his words on the internet.
Continue reading The #Odessa Massacre – Part 2: Interview with a survivor (1/2)
People will respond different when confronted with traumatic experiences and emotions. Some will be silent for a while, locked inside themselves with their thoughts. Others will scream and shout to express their feelings, anger or frustration. When I am confronted with emotional trauma, two things happen. The first thing that happens is that I become unaware of my surroundings and I stop caring that everything is in the right place. Anyone who knows me, knows that this is very strange behavior for me. The second things that happens is that I start to feel my feet, the feet I don’t have any more for over a decade. This might be difficult to imagine but I literally feel my feet turn cold and I already know that when I will be finally able to sleep, my night will be disrupted by phantom pains and nightmares of the explosion.
The evening of 2 May 2014 started very nice for me and nothing pointed at having my feet turn cold that day. After a good wheel-tennis tournament in which I managed to finish in 3rd place, my friends and I went to our favorite fish-restaurant overlooking the harbor of Amsterdam. When the food was being served, I noticed an incoming call from a friend in Odessa but I decided to call him back after dinner. A decision I still regret! We enjoyed our food and some nice wine and when we left the restaurant I remembered the missed call and tried to call my friend back. Busy signal, it took me some attempts before I could finally reach him.
They are killing us! Our people are burning, they are killing us!
A very hectic conversation, panic and fear in his voice. Bits and pieces of what has happened and what was happening. My feet turned cold while trying to understand what my friend was telling me. A protest and a counter-protest escalated, people locked up in a building, shots fired, fire everywhere, the building set on fire with people inside. Many died, didn’t know how many but must be many. Escaped with his younger brother, beaten by hooligans. Cousin still missing, very worried and afraid.
Continue reading The Odessa Massacre – Part 1: Traumas and emotions