The bitter that comes with the sweet

July 22 — Thirteen years ago today, we adopted Adam. We adopted him on my brother’s 37th birthday. Happy 50th Birthday, Blair!

In some ways, remembering the adoption process must be like remembering the birth process. The bliss of the result far outweighs any pain-in-the-neck (OK, so the anatomy’s different) preliminaries.

I took notes about the preliminaries of our adoptions of both Zachary and Adam, and while remembering my obsession with the paperwork leaves no emotional scarring, reading my notes the other day about Zachary’s adoption did produce a sudden catch in my throat and a burn in my heart.

As I have mentioned, one week from today marks the 12th anniversary of our departure for Ukraine to adopt Zachary. And while my notes remind me of my many good decisions and many embarrassing mistakes–multiple trips to Washington (where I sit right now) both for the incorrect department authorizations of legal documents and then again for the correct authorizations–finally, I read about a day upon which I corresponded with my adoption facilitator. Her name was Diane Sadovnikov.

Catch. Burn. Tears.

Diane Duvall Sadovnikov helped us adopt both Adam and Zachary. She graduated from the University of Michigan with her Bachelors, I know, and Vanderbilt University with her Masters, I think. Diane had been a producer at The Nashville Network, but she gave up the glamor of TV to set out for Ukraine and mission work. In Ukraine, she met Yuri Sadovnikov, who she married and with whom she ventured into both her personal and professional future. I still cannot believe that she chose to give birth to two children in Ukraine, when she could have come back to North America.

I met Diane on the internet in 1997, upon the recommendation of a helpful lady in Colorado to whom I am eternally grateful (and whom I will never know.) Diane and I entered into our association right there on the internet, which led us to the telephone, which led us to our financial arrangement, which brought us ultimately to face-to-face contact in Kyiv/Kiev in July 1998.

Diane and I got along tremendously well from the git-go. I liked her very much. Further, when Bill and I got back from the Carpathian Mountains where we had become parents, our little Adam appreciated the eye-level companionship of Diane’s daughter Kristya, as well as crawling up and tumbling down the hill in the local park with her.

The last time we saw Diane, she and Yuri had moved back to the U.S., where they had turned Sense Resource Inc. into a Norfolk, Virginia non-profit and expanded their good work from Ukrainian adoptions to adoptions from other countries. I sat on the Board of Directors for a time. Further, Diane had expanded her advocacy with regard to other adoption-related issues. I spoke to an adoption conference Diane organized in Concord, North Carolina. There, I met her mother, a social work professor at the University of Western North Carolina. Diane and Yuri came to our house once. And we went to theirs.

We visited them on the way back from visiting the Delaware cousins, Julie and Carolyn. We took the Chesapeake tunnel south to Virginia Beach, where Diane and Yuri and now TWO daughters lived in a townhouse near the beach. Yuri cooked us hamburgers outside on the grill.

We kept in touch by Christmas card, until one year, the Christmas card was returned. I called the office and left a message, but I didn’t get a response. But you can understand, I am sure, that my mommy-life plus-professional-life was a little busy, and I didn’t get down to questioning the silence for a long time. Until I was planning to go to an academic conference in Norfolk in 2009. And Bill found this link on the internet. Please cut and paste this link to your browser if the link doesn’t work with a click.

Diane Sadovnikov died of undiagnosed cervical cancer (due to at least two years’-worth of misread Pap smears!!!!) on March 11, 2009. Yuri had already moved on to fulfill his own American Dream, studying film at NYU and taking up residence in L.A. I don’t know if he ever went back to Diane or his daughters after she knew she was dying. I don’t know if Kristya and her sister live with their dad or with a new mom and dad, although Plan B seems to have been Diane’s goal. I am so sorry that Diane didn’t reach out to us.

And I am so grateful she was there for us and our boys.

I think of Diane every day. I have been up all night the last three nights writing and rewriting this post to try to serve her memory as best I can. We will be reminded of her especially while the boys and I are in Ukraine. I will thank her for the sweet state of motherhood. And I vow to make every motherly day, bitter or sweet, a tribute to her work and aspirations.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The bitter that comes with the sweet

  1. Anne Mackie

    What an amazing story Leanne, and a wonderful tribute. I will look forward to more as your journey unfolds. Anne

  2. Jennifer H

    What a sweet story and I agree with Anne, a wonderful tribute. I love how people touch our lives and our hearts. I know Diane will be with you in Ukraine!

  3. I always appreciate what Diane and Sense Resource Center did for orphans in Ukraine and adoptive families in the US.
    BTW, A little comment. In 2009, I moved back to VA Beach to take care of Christina and Rebekah (the dream went back to the back burner :))

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