27 February 2008

pockets (longish)

*please note: blogger's spellcheck is still not working, I'm tired, typing in the dark on a keyboard with keys that stick because I've dropped it twice and am not going to proofread

In addition to my visit to 3.10 last week, I also joined V on two orphanage deliveries. (She works for Orphan Grain Train. They deliver shipments of goods to people in need worldwide. The shipments didn't make it safely to the intended recipients here in Russia, so donations are sent to V who then purchases and distributes needed items.)

We went back to the IKEA orphanage(not its real name, nach). I had purchased little dolls (Polina Pockets) for the disconsolate O and her good friend, L. I also had mini cars for L's brother and his friend. V hadn't been able to deliver them, so we brought them along. I wondered aloud on the drive there if O would be happy with her little dolls or if she'd burst into tears and tell me the hair color was wrong and she didn't like the dress. V thought this was hysterical! In fact, she was more disappointed than I was when we weren't able to see the girls. (They were still in school. It took a long time to figure this out. We were sent from room to room with promised that L & O were there. Finally we learned they were still in class.) I think coming home from school to find a surprise waiting would be great!

In return, their caretaker gave me a beautiful beaded rose that O had made and a matrushka that L had painted. Their generosity is always astounding!

We went to a new-to-me orphanage after that. It was a really nice one. The director was so soft-spoken. The "children" there were all happy, well-spoken and respectful. They were all busily working and playing--whether they were two or sixteen years old.

I brought some little squeaky bath toys with me in the shapes of all sorts of "machinas"--cars, motorcycles, helicoptors. Fortunately, they were young enought that machina (car ) and samolyat (airplane) sufficed for everything. ;> They loved them! We played and played. It is so easy to entertain them. Silly little games like squeezing the toy so the air blew on their cheeks were a big hit. One little girl who was an apt mimic quickly started speaking English (It's so nice!) during this game. Where's-the car? (Gdye machina?) was a big hit, too. They'd hide the car behind their back and I'd look for it in their pockets, their ears, tickling their tummies... They'd laugh delightedly and show me it. Then, of course, it would start all over.

One of the girls, D, was quick to notice my cross. She showed me hers...and all of her friends'. She was the oldest in the group and definitely the ambassador.

When I visit the baby rooms, I'm always touched. This orphanage had happy, healthy "babies". (They were mostly two-to-three-year-olds with a few four-year-olds, I'd guess.) Even here, in this well-managed facility, there was behaviour that I find atypical of preschoolers. I don't know if it's cultural or institutionalized behavior or a combination of the two, but it's consistent with behaviours I've seen in other baby homes. I don't know if others have noticed this, but in the ones I've visited, the children will flock around, crowding my legs like peguins huddling from the wind. They don't raise their arms to be picked up, but this is what they want. They just inch closer and closer until you reach down and pick them up, many of them with their head bowed. They won't instigate a hug and don't really know how to return one. They want to be picked up. They want to be roughhoused with and tossed and tickled.

One little pixie named K claimed a spot on my lap after playing with me for a while. Others would come and go, playing with V and each other, but K stayed with me. She had sparkly blue eyes and dimples. She was hesitant to leave and go eat her snack when her caretaker put an end to our play. And, she craned her neck for a last look as we headed to the door. The rest of them were happily eating.

I just wanted to put her in my pocket and take her home.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like the feeling was mutual. I am glad they did not let us meet any other children during our first visit or the faces of the others would haunt me. In fact, we did take pictures of another little boy a few months older than our son on our second visit and he haunts me because he was not adopted through our agency by the people I took the pictures for. I don't know why not and I worry about him although we cannot go back and get him.

Maggie said...

Don't you wish you could just manage an adoption directly with the dietsky dom? Bless your heart for visiting these orphanages and doing this. It takes a generosity of heart and a strength I don't think many would have if in your "still waiting" position.

Lea said...

Just catching up on a few of your posts. You write so well. It is wonderful to be able to see these places through your eyes.

Carrie said...

Hi Kate! I found your blog from a comment on Katie's blog. I am also adopting from Russia - child #2. I am glad you are able to go into these baby homes and give them a tiny bit of the attention they so deserve. My daughter asked me the other night if her brother had lullabies and stories at bedtime. It made me so sad. I try not to think of these things.
I observed similiar behavior from third graders that I taught. These children came from broken homes and they would just crowd around me when I was reading. They just needed a little more attention than some of the others.

Maura said...

Bless you Kate. I know I would also want to bring home many of the children in my pockets. You are a strong person with a big heart.

Annie said...

Boy - I bet you did! I can hardly stand to see all those longing little faces.... I want to love them all! But that sounds like exactly what you were doing.

kim said...

Wow... very touching. Every time I hear you talk about one of your trips to the detsky doms, it gives me goose bumps.