Thursday, May 03, 2007

Our Children

Tuesday morning Tatiana and her father picked us up at our hotel. We first had another appointment with the Ministry of Education and then they took us to the baby home. We met with the in-house physician as well as the director of the orphanage. As they were talking to us and telling us about Marya (pronounced Masha) they just brought her in and sat her right on Joey's lap. She looked nothing like her picture but still very cute and was much smaller than I expected so at first it was shocking. She didn't cry, she just sat there a little tense and shy but very calm. After just a few minutes she started opening up and smiling like a little flower. They tried to continue the meeting but it was very hard as we were more entertained by her so our listening skills were not at their best. We then went outside and played with her for about an hour. It was really amazing. I just couldn't get over how much she looks like Joey. The staff said to him "You must have been in Russia before!" Ha ha! They also kept saying "You can't take her, we love her, she's our favorite." We quickly learned why. She is very easy going and cheerful. She has a very pleasant disposition. We quickly learned that she does also have a very persitant spirit as well. All she wanted to do was get on the ground but we were not allowed to set her down in the grass because they said it was too cold and dirty but she tried all kinds of tricks like dropping her toys just to get closer to the grass. It was a little ackward because here we are entertaining this beautiful one-year-old trying to soak it all in while being observed in this unkept yard with only the toys we brought and a couple stumps to sit on. We were used to it by the end of the week but it was odd at first. Then it was time to leave.

After our afternoon break they picked us up again and we went to the older orphanage to meet Vadim (more commonly referred to as Vadick such as Joey is to Joseph.) We spoke with his teach for quite some time and then the director and doctor. Both children are extremely healthy although Masha did have a cold and passed it to Vadick. His teacher explained that he is very outgoing and likes to be the center of attention. She said he is very smart and likes to explain everything. They say he is the last one sitting at the table at every meal because he likes to talk about everything. They say he adapted very quickly to the orphanage. The plan was to bring him in with a friend, get aquainted, and then they would ask him if he would like to come back again, and eventually tell him about the adoption. They brought him in and my first thought was that he was so cute and sooooooo small. Of course they brought him in with a stocky 7-year-old friend who we were also quite taken by however Vadick is very small. We talked for awhile although we couldn't talk much directly to the kids except through Tatiana because of the language barrier but we did give them goldfish crackers and Hot Wheels cars which they liked very much. Afterward they asked him if he would like to visit again and go see his sister tomorrow. He said yes. He left the room and then we were bombarded with questions. They obviously really care where he is going which made us feel very good. We showed them the picture book of our home and family and they were very pleased after that.

That night we went to a little restaurant called 12 Chairs. It was really cool, cave like, and romantic although after awhile it felt a little claustrophobic especially with all the smoking (it would never pass code in the USA.) It was located below a theatre in a beautiful old building. We had a hard time communicating of course but the menu did have everything in English so we received what we ordered. I was not feeling well so I just had a vegetable soup covered with a blanket of dill and Joey had a Mexican chicken. That was something I read in a travelers book- in Russia they do not use a lot of spices so to us everything seemed a bit bland but they do LOVE dill and it is on everything! I found this to be quite true in most cases.

On Wednesday we went and picked up Vadick and drove to the orphanage to see Masha. It was so neat to see them together. He just observed her and his eyes were just smiling at her. He started to get more used to us too and smiled up at me as I rubbed his back (caught it on video!) I asked Tatiana to ask him what he thought of Masha and he said he thought she would be bigger by now and able to play more. He liked her though. It's funny, I thought he might imagine her smaller because the last time they were together she was only 2 months old. Anyway- it is such a pleasure to be used of God to reunite the two. We were in a small room and it was pretty loud because there was another family there. They are from Tennessee. It was refreshing to communicate. They were on their second trip waiting for court so they could take their little girl home. We ended up seeing them and talking with them during every morning and afternoon visit which made things much more tolerable. They had so much good advice for us as this is their second time through the process. They had adopted their son (who was so cute and was with them- southern drawl and all) a couple years prior. You would never even know he was adopted. He fit so well into their family. At 12:00 we had to end our visit because the orphanages never deviate from their schedules and the kids have lunch at 12 and nap from 1-3pm. We had another similar visit in the afternoon from 3-5pm. This time we played outside. Vadick didn't want to do much- just observe. Joey let Masha hold a stick and Vad kept repeating something in Russian and finally Tatiana said that he was saying " Be careful with that stick, she could get hurt." So sweet, melted our hearts. He then proceeded to remove every stick from the play yard. He did enjoy the bubbles we brought a lot though, they were a big hit!

On Thursday Vadick's orphanage would not let him leave because he had a temperature (caught from Masha.) He was also separated from his group but he was okay with that. We just played on his playground and brought out more toys which he was very happy about. More cars, balls, sidewalk chalk, etc. We really had to entice him to play. He just wanted to observe which I totally understand. He also was very protective of the toys we had given him. Joey played ball with him for awhile and then I sat on the bench with him and we worked on communicating with the little Russian I have studied and learned. We also went though a baby book with pictures and I asked him "What is that?" in Russian and he would tell me and I would repeat it. I think we will be using this technique a lot in the beginning. It was definately a bonding moment. I did get him to say one English word, shoe. At the end of our visit Tatiana asked him if he would like to live in a place with all of his own new toys to which he said "I have lots of toys." Then she asked him if he would like to live in a family forever with his sister and if he liked us. He was rocking with his head down, on his feet, but in sort of a fetal position (because he was playing with his cars on the ground) and he contemplated it and said "yes." We were so happy. At this point he did not want anything to do with the picture book we had brought nor did he want his picture taken. I had to sneak around to get pictures of him. It was kind of a good thing that we didn't go to the other orphanage because the time alone with him was very defining for our family and neccessary for our bonding. He is very fluent in his language and would hold long conversations with Tatiana so it was hard for us at times especially as I kept thinking of the challenges that lay ahead and I long for him to continue speaking and not feel like he has to be mute just because we can't understand. His voice is so pleasant, and quiet, and raspy. That afternoon we visited Masha and tried to play outside again. She was so hot. They bundle them up so much with sweaters and heavy jackets and hats even though it is like 70 degrees out. All we wanted to do was get all those clothes off her but we followed the rules.

Friday was our last day. Also during the week we had many more appointments such as the Ministry of Education, Court and the Chief of Staff at the Children's Hospital.

We picked up Vadick and had a nice morning visit at the baby home and then took him back to his orphanage and we were able to go inside for a quick second and see the little room he was staying in with another sick child. They had two twin beds that looked cozy and a little table with all the toys he had collected from us throughout the week. Oh I forgot to mention he is really good at sharing his food. Tatiana tried to get him to take off his socks and shoes so we could trace his foot and know what size shoe to buy him but he refused even after bribing him with yet another car and threatening to get his caregiver. He really didn't want to so the caregiver brought us a shoe that fits him well to trace. But then surprisingly he tried on the shirt and pants we brought him in exchange for a car. The shirt a 4T fit well but the pants 4T as well were way too big. I don't know how much shopping we will do before hand because it was hard to tell plus some brands are different. I will probably buy him a couple 3T's and mostly 4. He finally took an interest in the book of our home and family and I got to go through it with him in his language explaining that it is his new home, grandma, grandpa, etc. He seemed excited although he may have been showing off for his friend. I had Tatiana tell him that we loved him and would come back for him in 7 weeks and that we don't speak Russian but we are trying and we hope he will try English also. I gave him a hug and we left. It was difficult to leave but not quite as hard as I expected because I do know that he is happy there and they do take good care of him.

We drove to the baby home for our last visit with Masha. She was happy as usual. We asked to stay inside and surprisingly it was the first time we were alone. Just Joey, Masha, and myself. We played with her and took lots of video. We walked her around the room and tried on the clothes I brought for her. They were too big as well. I think she is probably 12 months clothing but I will probably buy her 18-24 so she has room to grow. She has little feet too. We had a very nice bonding time and I undressed her feet which was fun. She had on shoes, socks and tights wadded up in the socks. I showed her belly to her and she liked that. I raspberried her tummy and I think she thought I was nuts but she did smile when I tickled her. We went through the picture book with her also and she looked intently at it. We left one for each of them along with all they toys, clothes, and snacks. It was a nice visit. She likes to laugh. Then it was time to go. Tatiana said if we were sneaky, we could take her back to her group. We weren't supposed to go in because it is under construction (but her area wasn't.) Tatiana said next trip we will get to spend more time in the orphanages and also with the caregivers. We went upstairs and saw her groups quarters. It was very nice. They had a nice toy room, a room with all the beds and a couple play pens with no toys, a little kitchen with tables and chairs, and a potty room. I think it was potty training time so two at a time the children sit on their own potty chair until they go. The rest of the children wait in the boring play pens. We sat her in her chair and took a picture and then I was told I could set her in her crib and take her picture. I sat her down and she started crying hysterically and threw herself down on her blankets. We had not seen this side of her. It clarified two things to me- #1 We have some major challenges ahead, and #2 my heart broke- obviously she does not enjoy that crib which makes me wonder how much time she spends there. I picked her up immediately and she clung to me digging her nails into my skin. It was so good to hold her and so devestating to see her like this. A few minutes later she was playing with the toys we brought in a play pen. We said good bye. It was a little harder because of the meltdown situation. I was crying quietly. We learned that there is one caregiver to 10 children in Vadick's orphange and one to 15 in Masha's. All of the baby's except Masha had their head shaved. Please pray that they don't cut it. It is beautiful and I would like to continue to let it grow.

Overall meeting our children was an amazing experience. We cannot wait to get them home in the USA and in our home.

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