Monday, February 10, 2014

Yekaterinburg Adoption: Between trips 1 & 2 The Personal Side (aka Hell at Home)

As I've written about on this blog, Rob and I adopted our daughter, Siena, from Yekaterinburg, Russia in 2008. To complete the adoption, we had to make three trips to Yekaterinburg. The length between trips 1 and 2 was 10 endlessly long months. Between those two trips, I had to do an insane amount of paperwork and I almost gave up. Rob kept me going and focused. Eye on the prize.

The paper chase was one part of that story, which I've already covered. The personal side of the story is entirely another. What was going on in our home and in our relationship was not good.

After our trip home from our first trip to Russia, we tried to assimilate into our new life. We had a new home, Morgan (who was in second grade), and Nicole (Bob's 17 year old daughter who was a senior in high school). My cousin, Sue, had moved in with us.

In November, Nicole and Rob got in a huge fight and Rob kicked her out of our home. Nicole went to live with her mother. Rob and Kalie (Rob's other daughter who was 14 years old) were beginning to speak a little after a long dry spell. Kalie actually boycotted our wedding because Rob and Kalie had gotten in a huge argument just before the wedding. (Are we seeing a trend here?)

One night, Rob went to Kalie's volleyball game. I didn't go. But Rob came home from that game giddy with excitement. Apparently, Nicole (who Rob was not speaking to at the time) and her boyfriend, Tristan, were at the game. So was Terri, Rob's ex wife. During the game, Nicole got upset at something and stormed out of the building where the volleyball game was taking place. Terri chased after Nicole and Rob saw it all happen. How any of this was funny or something to be happy or excited about, I have no idea. It was bizarre.



Over Christmas, Rob, Morgan, Kalie and I all flew to Utah. While I was at my parent's house, Rob, Kalie and Morgan were at Rob's sister's house in Ogden. They called me and said they had just purchased a lab puppy. My heart fell. I love dogs but it was one more responsibility that I just wasn't prepared for. They had already named the puppy Bear. Of course when I saw Bear, I fell in love. Kalie flew home with the dog and when we got home, the raising of that puppy fell almost solely on my shoulders. Rob, who promised he would pitch in, didn't. It was a trend that continued throughout our marriage.


Rob set up this photo of the puppies at his sister's house. Not sure how this was funny coming from an alcoholic.

When Rob and I combined our homes, he promised to handle the finances and bill pay. He asked that I start off with it just for a few months and he would take over. I begged, asked, pleaded with him over the years we were together to please take over that responsibility. It never happened. I used to send him meeting notices so he would block time off in the evenings to go over finances. He'd accept all the meeting requests but, big surprise, usually came home drunk on those nights. He never took over the bill pay.


We had a beautiful view and yard but we never could enjoy it. I took care of the bill pay, kids, upkeep of the home, cooking and cleaning and laundry, managing our vacation home. I could not handle the yard, too. Even though we had a gardener and a pool cleaner, the back yard always smelled of dog poop. Once a month, I cleaned that up, too. All while Rob did almost nothing around the house. He would come home from work after too many drinks and either sit on the couch and watch TV or go to bed early. I was exhausted and overworked. It started off that way and it never ended. Interestingly enough, this was the identical problem in his first marriage, too. Old habits die hard.

He also promised to take over cleaning the pool and upkeep. We hired a pool guy but Rob promised that would just be for the first couple of months. Rob never cleaned the pool once when we were together.

Rob never cleaned the yard either. I hired a gardener. His promises that we would save money and get rid of the gardener and pool guy because he'd do it never materialized.

Our garage was a disaster. I literally couldn't walk from the garage door to the door leading into the house. I asked him many times to help me clean out the garage. One day, Rob took Kalie and Morgan out for coffee and I started cleaning out the garage. When Rob came home and found me cleaning out the garage, he started screaming at me. "I wanted a nice quiet Sunday at home and you're making me feel guilty!" he shouted.

His bizarre behavior and screaming fits became more and more common. His confession that he was an alcoholic and would get help provided me with just enough guilt in my brain that I needed to stay with him and help him get well.

One day he screamed at me and I had had enough. I purchased plane tickets for Morgan and me and we flew to Utah to visit my parents for the weekend. I didn't even tell Rob where we were going.

Nicole moved back in with us a few months later. Her behavior at her mom's house wasn't acceptable to her and so we allowed her home. It was one more layer to the insanity that I was living with. Drugs and alcohol and screaming. I hated it.

...But every time I was ready to end the relationship, Rob would be just contrite and apologetic enough that I would feel hope and relief. I was lazy and tired. I didn't know what to do. I was so financially strapped in our new home and paying off Rob's bills that I didn't know where to go or what to do. I was so trapped. In January, just a few months after our wedding, I was ready end the marriage but, instead, Rob did a huge mea culpa, one of hundreds, and instead of leaving him, we went to Catalina for the weekend. After that trip, we had a period of peace for several weeks. Maybe he was really going to change, I thought. As always, it was a very short lived promise.



And then there was Todd. Like clockwork, I'd hear from him every month. And every time I did, I wanted to see him and be with him more than I wanted to breathe. I even set up a few dates with Todd and then would cancel at the last minute. I was afraid that if I saw Todd, I would be incapable of not being with him and I just couldn't do it.

During this time, it also became apparent that my job at HSBC was coming to a close. The writing was on the wall. With the slowing economy, I started hearing rumors that the company would be eliminating positions and probably my job wouldn't survive. Rob encouraged me to start looking for another job. And so I did.

Just before we got travel dates for our second trip to Yekaterinburg, I scored interviews with two companies: Sempra Energy and CareFusion. I ended up getting job offers at both companies. Same salaries, almost identical bonus structure, same title. I didn't know which of the two jobs to accept. Rob talked me into accepting Sempra. He was working for that company, too, and he convinced me that it was the best company ever. Despite my better judgment and gut instinct, I accepted the job at Sempra Energy. I negotiated a start date for late July, which would give me time to complete the adoption. Because we finally got travel dates for our second trip to Russia! A bit of exciting news.

A new job, a new child, a trip.

And a life with a raging, highly functioning alcoholic. My head was spinning.

One thing that did go very well with Rob was vacations. When we were getting ready to go somewhere, Rob was a happy drunk. So we were both looking forward to our trip. Rob contacted a Moscow travel guide and we were going to spend time exploring Moscow, then spend several days in Yekaterinburg and fly home. Rob's dad was excited to see his new granddaughter and we were talking to his mom, Peggy, about going with me on the third trip to bring Siena home. My parents were considering going on the third trip, too. It was a whirlwind. I just wanted to get home with our new daughter so we could start trying to come up with a more "normal" schedule. Maybe if all the stress of the adoption was behind us, our relationship would normalize. Rob blamed everything on stress and I hoped he was right. Less stress, better Rob, better relationship?

And so it was that in early June, Rob and I were heading to the airport in San Diego to catch our flight to Moscow.