14 September 2009

post-court visit

This visit was neither as fun nor as educational as out last visit.

When we got there, the security babushka told us Sasha'd (Until she's home and understands that English is a different language, I'll keep calling her Sasha. Then, just like I have a Russian name and an English name, I'll introduce her English name. I think.) been very pleased and happy, like a princess, away from the other children "walking around herself like a cat" which Olga told me was a Russian proverb. Actually, it's a quote from Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.

I had several questions to ask the director and wasn't sure we'd have time on the 22nd. So, we asked her.

What is her normal sleep schedule? Up at 7:30 a.m., nap from 1:00-3:00 p.m., get ready for bed at 9:00 p.m. and go to bed at 9:30 p.m. (That seems really late to me. This will be changed.) She washes/bathes every night because she is a girl. Boys don't. (???)

What about food? Are there any she particularly likes or dislikes? Does she have allergies? She is a big girl. She eats anything. (Ummm, her caretaker said she was a picky eater. The orphanage sw/assistant director/I don't know who she is scolded us for feeding her orange juice which upset her stomach so badly that she needed a bath.)

May I take a photo of her group? No. (Okay, expected that one, but had to ask.)

May I take a photo of her playroom without any children in there? No.
Of her sleeping room? Her bed? No.
These are only for Sasha to have when she is older. I won't share them with anyone. I just want her to be able to see where she lived--to remember. No.

I was just so cross with her! WHY wouldn't she let a picture be taken? So many people have SO MANY photos. I don't have any for Sasha.

It is just an extension of how I feel about this orphanage. It's well-equipped. It's clean. It's by-the-book. It's cold.

I didn't get to let them know that I wanted the elephant back. But I intend to get it. I'm taking another toy to trade for it. If it's still in the building, it's coming home with us.

I think our pick-up visit is going to be quickly-change-clothes-and-get-out. I asked about bringing treats for her group, and it wasn't encouraged. I'm still going to do it, but they'll likely just have them as part of their lunch.

My agency doesn't require gifts. And, right now, I'm not feeling very thankful and gifty. I might do a cake for the staff. I might give a teacup to the director. But that would only be for the families who are coming along behind us. (I don't know if this orphanage has ever had an international adoption. I don't know that they have many adoptions at all. I do know I was the first from my agency in the entire region in the last five months!)

We had a short, weird playtime. We were in the music room again. We tried on shoes and took measurements. We played with sticker books and a puzzle. But, I think both of us felt that our time there was finished. I think we're BOTH ready to leave. I doubt either of us will look back.

I think families who adopt an "orphanage favorite" or who have been allowed to meet caretakers and groupmates feel differently. I certainly thought I would. But, I don't. I don't feel gratitude and compassion. I don't feel they did all they could for her. I feel like they did what they were supposed to--but no more. I don't think that anyone's heart was touched by her. I feel like Sasha's an inconvenience to them. I feel like she's a number, a peg to fit in a hole.

I left a book for caretakers to sign and groupmates to scribble a picture in. We'll see if it actually happens. I hope so. I hope I have something to show her in years to come.

I can't wait to get her OUT of there! (I told you I was feeling more and more snatchy.)


votemom said...

sorry about no photos. we don't have any either. just pics i took of the outside of the building.

be sure to print a copy of her database picture. that's something.

re: "she's a big girl" ... umm, really? i think not.

Jim said...

I'm sorry they're treating you as if this is all an inconvenience. But it shows how motherly you are, that you care about these things and what they could mean to Lexi later in life. Maybe your daughter will be more like ours. She likes photos, but she LOVES stories. She would rather hear about it than see photos of it.

Amy...who wanted 4. said...

oh my goodness!
It sounds like you and I had similar experiences. We have no warm feelings about Caroline's orphanage either and felt EXACTLY what you said. It was clean and nice and they gave her the minimum. They also would not let us see where she slept or meet her group. Why??? I did not get that.
We did meet a care taker on the day we picked her up. But when we left, no one came to say goodbye to her. That killed me.
Where were the tears from the director and caregivers that I had read so much about?
We also asked for letters from the care takers and got nothing.
We DID feel like it was GOTCHA day.
I could not wait to get her out of that environment.
I sometimes wish I had something fond to tell her of her orphanage or even Russia. We just felt very little kindness to us or Caroline for that matter.
What a shame.
What a blessing that you will have each other forever and ever.

Debbie said...

Sounds like our experience at Nathan's dwelling - no extra pixs of anything! Compared to where we had visited him previous, night and day difference :(

And as you know we were the first American family in years to adopt out of his orphanage and then 2nd in the region in 3-1/2 years... We tried to do everything "correct" to help those behind us!

Barb said...

Oh, Kate . . I just feel so sure that you are the right mommy for this precious little one. It breaks my heart to hear that she appears to be some kind of inconvenience to them and it just seems so cruel to not allow you to photograph things for her. Take the elephant and run. (although I know you want to think about the families coming after . . .)

Lindsay said...

I'm sorry they won't let you take photos. The old, suspicious eastern bloc mentality rears its head. Maybe when you go back for the pick up they will feel differently.

I'm even more sorry that you don't get a feeling that they view her as the beautiful, unique little girl that she is. I'm glad she has you for that in the future. Every little girl should be someone's princess. Every little boy should be a prince.

And yes - we have an American school. And we Brits are even known to hire them too ;)

ko said...

Hi Kate,
Sorry about the pictures. Is there anyway you could have the translator or someone take some pictures with your camera? That is what we had to finally do. Our translator took one of the playroom and bedroom. Too bad you didn't leave a camera with her. A cheap throw away one, and have her take some pictures! lol
Well I hope you get some. We didn't get anything back from our trip, but the book we made her. I hope you get the elephant! I can't wait to hear that she is sitting by you with a big smile! She is special. She is yours!

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

I am amazed that you were not able to get any pics. Do they not want S to remember her life before, the place she grew up and her friends? Only a few more days and you can take as many photos as you possibly wish. Hang in there, mom and S.

Jackie said...

Kate, I hope there might be a change of heart when you return to pick up Sasha. Perhaps you can take pictures of her with her caregivers when saying 'good-bye' ... and then maybe that will warm them up for more. Just a thought. Stay strong. Soon :)

Rachael said...

I'm so sad (and mad!) for you both to hear this!

My experience was so completely different.

Oh, it makes me mad for you just thinking about it! WHY can't she have photos of her friends and caretakers and room and bed?!

votemom said...

if you decide to take a gift back, maybe consider some new clothing.

that's how we managed to convince them to give us an outfit that each of our girls wore. we showed up with 6 NEW outfits to trade for 2 OLD outfits. it worked.

it's a treasure to have those little dresses hanging in their closet.

Matt and Carla Morgan said...

Ugh - bless your heart. No wonder you're snatchy. Can't wait until you get back to her!

And, blogs are modern-day red tents! I'm glad you're apart of mine.


Jen said...

My heart is sad as I remember our orphanage trips too. But, I'm very happy to know that in a few short days, she will be home with you and will have a loving Mother by her side. I'm so happy for you Kate!

Zoya said...

Sounds pretty mean-spirited of them not to let you take any photos, specially since it won't affect them in any way.

Regarding sleep time - it's probably would be hard to get Sasha to bed any earlier since she has two hours nap. My daughter started going to bed at 7p.m. once she stopped napping, but before that bedtime would be around 9 pm despite waking up at 6 am.

Lauri said...

I am so sorry...can't wait until she is out of there

That makes me so sad that they would not let you take pictures. We were able to leave a camera between visits and the staff took pictures for us and wrote letters to Liv

Sarah D said...

Kate: Thank you for opening my eyes to this. I think I had it stuck in my head that everyone would be crying at the thought of one of their children finding a happy home. That is so sad, the way you've been treated. I guess being an x-teacher we are taught to bend over backwards to make parents feel welcomed and show that we adore the children in our care to no end. Something to think about as we dream of a referral.

Annie said...

Here's something our lawyer did for us - she asked the director for any photos from my children's files. Didn't turn up much, except in Anastasia's case, I got a few they'd taken at the orphanage.

I really think that each orphanage (each of my four was in a different one) is different - just like different schools, and different families, there are different "feels" to them. Some are all crazed about "security" - so much so they really turn away volunteers...others are probably not safe enough with an "open door policy".

And, I think there are other issues - perhaps the children's moods; time of day, what's going on. When I asked to take photos of Zhen's orphanage I was given a brusque "No. It's naptime." Well, I think that was merely the truth (though I felt shut-out at the time). My friends adopted their children from that orphanage a few months later and spent all sorts of time upstairs taking all kinds of photos.

They don't sound too friendly, however, I wonder if your agency's "no gift" policy is part of the reason. Frankly, I had a BLAST buying every cool thing I could on clearance for months in advance of the visit - and was generally given a LOT of leeway in everything. Ilya got to spend the weekend with us in our hotel, AND walk out with the "good clothes" he'd managed to nab at bath time.

The bathing amuses me. I still cannot break Ilya from his orphanage cleanliness routine. Except he thinks he's really a "clean nut" now because he bathes and changes clothes every 3-4 days rather than once a week. Anastasia also only got to change once a week, but fortunately, she's been happy to take full advantage of the facilities.

I AM sorry you don't like the place. I AM sorry for you, too, Amy! I am so glad for the positive and happy memories I can take from my children's previous "homes". Each of them clearly had people who cared for them for who they were - really appreciated them. Like the art teacher who had made a portfolio of Ilya's drawings to give me, each beautifully separated from the next with tissue paper. And I will never forget the woman I saw from down a long hallway - lovingly wrapping Zhenya up in all of his outer clothes, and surreptitiously kissing him on the top of his hat.

Suzanne said...

We used both names for awhile and then, about the time that it sunk in that the new life was a big improvement, they both wanted to eliminate the detskydom name. They were, I think, embracing the new life via the new name.