24 February 2008

just kate plus eight (long)

Do you remember the girls in 3.10? I met them last summer and caught their joy in a donated doll bed. I brought them a doll and Christmas treats as a part of Rachael's Simple Wishes project. I returned with dolls for everyone and a promise to "sponsor" them this year as my gift.

This week, I set out to spend my first birthday with them. The two youngest girls, V and P, have birthdays within a week and a half of each other. I had m&m cookies that were baked that morning gift bags filled with art supplies and a new outfit for the birthday girls (yes, they're in Hannas now...) and a two bead kits for all of us to enjoy.

I was really looking forward to this visit and I was not disappointed. I was greeted with cheerful cries of "Ket, Ket!" that claimed me as theirs. The rest of the orphanage life went on as usual, but for a little while I belonged to them. It was just me and the eight girls.

We had tea (and cookies). They sang and chatted. The girls were quiet about their gifts, but I hope they liked them. And then everyone just settled in to everyday-ness. Some of us (K, Ka, L and I) made bracelets. P settled in with a book. N and N and V and Ks turned on the television and flopped down on the floor beside us to unwind from the week. Clean laundry was brought in by a cheerful older brother and dumped on top of P--eliciting delighted shouts. Girls disappeared briefly to wash hands and collect laundry. (This, it seems, happens once a month. They had a LOT of laundry to put away! Each girl put her own clothes away in the cupboards that lined the room.)

Personalities today were so different. N, who I thought was shy, is a little monkey! She laughed and joked and played with V. Her older sister, K, keeps a close eye on her. L keeps a close eye on her sister, too. They are very tender with their sisters, looking out for them but not mothering them. It was really lovely to see. L, who was excited and boisterous last time was very considerate. She wanted to make sure I understood, that I had sugar for my tea, that I felt at home. Her sister, P, was just as gentle and friendly as last time. She told me, quite seriously, that I should be wearing my cross inside my shirt and not on the outside. They all heartily agreed. She told me her sweater was beautiful and thanked me for her gifts. And, Ka, who seemed much older than the others last time was happy and pleasant and just part of the group. I think some of this is that they are more familiar with me and less guarded. Some of that may just be because promises made have been promises kept. And, having the entire group together again.

When I was talking about the orphanage system here, and the fact that parents could send their children to an orphanage without relinquishing their rights, an ex-pat friend cast a new light on the situation. She compared it to boarding schools in the UK and the US. My sw has said that the girls there are happy and well-cared for by the orphanage staff. As hard as I find that to believe, it is what I saw. I longed desperately to be sent to boarding school from the time I was very small. I think imagined it to be a sort of camp-like environment where you lived with and went to school with your friends. (And you wore uniforms; that was important.) My afternoon on Friday felt just like that...minus the uniforms. While I have heard horrible stories about the internats here in Russia, this orphanage feels different. Not all the places I've visited have this environment. Some of them feel steeped in apathy and bordering on despair. I'm just so very thankful for the joy that I find woven between and around and among the girls in room 3.10.

I wish, truly wish, that I could just move in with them. I know they have a caretaker who genuinely cares for them. She is proud of them and affectionate. I would love to have her job. They are lovely girls and I so enjoy my time with them. Just Kate Plus Eight--doesn't it sound like there's potential for a reality tv show there?

12 comments:

Debbie B said...

So glad you enjoyed your time with these special girls. What a wonderful way to spend your birthday.

Like the name of the show. It sounds oddly familiar!! :-)

The McCollum Adoption said...

There is a show on TV its called John and kate +8 they have a set of twins and a set of septuolets(?sp) its on TLC kate your show would be much better.

Please let me know how I can help

Kimberley

Tricia said...

you've got me in chills! sounds like a wonderful day!

rita's orphanage sounds similar to your experience with the girls. when we were able to visit on saturday night, with the lights turned low... the tv on... it seemed like a typical household - only seven children and one caregiver. the children acted like brothers & sisters. they had their snack and were told to get ready for bed. it was sweet.

Lauri said...

Very sweet...


I would watch that show

votemom said...

sigh.

Annie said...

What a lovely, lovely post! Thanks for sharing it. My children had, for the most part, lovely children's homes. Poor, but scrupulously clean. Very loving caregivers. Sometimes I feel I have a lot of live up to!

Roxy said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. My daughter came from a place like that but for 4 year old and younger. When visiting for referral you do not get to see much but I got the feeling that it was a nice environment.
I will definitely watch Kate+Eight reality TV show.

Anonymous said...

these posts make me soooo jealous of you and your life...

DebiP

Rachael said...

"You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life..."

I'm singing along. ;)

Loved the little glimpse. What a sweet day.

Only, it makes me even sadder for little Ira. She weighs heavy on my heart.

Christine said...

What a wonderful post. BTW, I was just watching John and Kate plus eight last night! Have you heardof it?

Tina in CT said...

I might be naive, but is there any possibility that you could adopt from this orphanage?

You must be feeling so good inside after the time spent with the girls and knowing that you brought a lot of happiness.

annmarie said...

Kate, I am peeing...