I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”
--Edward Everett Hale
Today was our last day at the orphanage for awhile; tomorrow we start our journey home (which will take about 24 hours). It was hard leaving Rita and Sergey; they are now a little possessive and jealous when we come to visit, and they push away other kids who try to climb on our laps. “No, this is MY Mama and Papa!”, Rita says to them. They have seen other children leave the orphanage with new parents and it’s a very special thing to each of the kids there to find their forever family. We left with Rita and Sergey a small photo album of some of the photos we took during our visits, so they will have something concrete in hand to remind them that we are coming back for them. We also included a photo of Zachary, who Rita proudly introduces to others in the room as “her new brother”. She pored over this little photo album, going through it front to back, over and over again.
And little Aigul, the infant we went to meet at the beginning of this trip? We visited her almost every day, not knowing if things would work out with Rita and Sergey and figuring we didn‘t want to go home empty-handed. We really fell in love with her--she has an adorable smile and now just lights up when either of us walks in the room. We finally asked the inevitable question--insane as it might be--could we take her too? Unfortunately, we will be leaving her behind, we were told it was impossible to take three at once unless they were all siblings. Probably for the best, but it is hard to leave her here. But she is an infant girl, and in high demand by adoptive parents, so the agency will have no problem finding her a family.
We started the 2-week trip with three other families. One family went home after the first 4-5 days, unfortunately, because they decided that the little girl they came to meet was not a good match for them. The other two families, however, are thrilled with their little boys, both 7 months old. It has been a wonderful experience, meeting and spending virtually every moment with these other families and their new children. It has become a very tight-knit group, with potentially lifelong relationships in the making. We all travel home now, while the legal wheels turn in this country, and will return for about 10 days in March to pick up our children.
A little about the orphanage--it is not the awful, depressing place that you might be picturing. Though it is definitely rather primitive by our standards, they do an amazing amount with what they have. The facilities are a collection of small buildings, with each area housing a group of about 12-15 kids of similar ages. The 100 kids housed here range in age from newborn to about 5 years old, with 3 caregivers in each group of 12-15 kids. The caregivers truly care about these kids, and it is clear from watching their interaction that the kids love them too. I am sure there is no abuse. There seems to be a good amount of clothing and toys for the kids, though there are no “personal possessions” (yes, this would definitely be the type of place you might want to send your own kids to take a look at when they are whining about not getting exactly what they want). The area where Rita and Sergey live houses kids from about 2-4 years old (Rita is 6 and should be in the “next” orphanage, in Bishkek, but is only here in Tokmok because they don’t like to separate siblings) is pretty nuts when they all get going--they don’t see many men, so they all adore John, and the “rougher” way he plays with them. We have gotten to know most of the kids in that group and there are some real diamonds…I hope they find their family soon. Actually three of the kids are leaving this week, their new parents from the US are coming back for the second trip to take them home. We are so lucky that we can take even a few of these wonderful kids into a new and better life than they are destined to here--so fortunate that they will be enriching our own lives…
Well, hopefully our journey home will be less fraught with obstacles than the one here--we really miss Zachary and can’t wait to see him…
Love to all.