Where Are You Going?

Saturday, December 22, 2007


That's the first question people ask when you say you're adopting overseas. They expect you to answer China, or somewhere in Central/South America, even the "common" Eastern European countries are nodded at as if they know all about where your child will be from.

But if you say "Kazakhstan" people look at you funny. Very funny. Then they try to pronounce it back to you, which is funny. Very funny. To you.

It's a "-Stan" country, formerly of the USSR, but it's so much more than that. We claim America to be the great melting pot, but Kazakhstan is a beautiful blend of people-groups. It's the one country where we don't know what our future child looks like.

She could have dark black hair, and beautiful Asian features. Kazakhstan shares it's eastern border with China.

Or, she could have blonde hair and deep blue eyes - the descendant of a Polish or Scandinavian intellectual who was sent to Kazakhstan to work in the coal mines by the Communist regime.

Or, she could have reddish-brown hair and brown eyes, and people will never think to ask if she's my biological daughter or not, because she'll look just like me.

The country is a little less than 1/2 Muslim and a little less than 1/2 Russian Orthodox, and it has a hint of Protestantism. Yet, there are no holy wars here. These people are trying to survive and thrive as their country changes repeatedly in their own lifetimes.

Old men can remember before there was a USSR that engulfed them formally in 1936, when they were small boys. Their wives remember before "criminals" were sent there to work. The highly educated that threatened the Communist governments. And the "Virgin Land" program in the 40's and 50's that brought so many Russians that there were soon more non-native inhabitants than native.

Then independence in 1991 left a country of confusion. Many people left - going home to what they still remembered, or what they had heard first-hand stories of from their own parents.

What was left was a country struggling to find it's identity. Struggling to find even it's common language. Forward motion came, as it did for the Clampets, in the form of "black gold". Kazakhstan, the world's 9th largest country, sits on a huge reserve of oil. The first pipeline was completed in 2001, the second had a majority completed in 2006.

It's been a slow and steady climb for this new Republic (the President is elected, but most power is held by the Executive Branch of the government). Their money is increasing in strength (the Tenge), the children are being taught Kaz in school as their primary language, Russian is being regulated to a secondary language. 19% of the population lives below the poverty line, but the literacy rate is over 99%.

These are numbers, statistics that can perhaps help you envision the world that our daughter lives in. And that's important for sharing with our family and friends. But they don't clearly represent the people. It's what I love most about reading other PAP's blogs - seeing their pictures and hearing about the lives they encounter.

It's my primary reason for keeping this blog. I want our child to be able to see the people she came from, and the heritage she has.

And that life transcends data.

~Lone Butterfly )i(