Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rita and Sergey's Story

" You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should..."
--Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

Now the rest of the story about Rita and Sergey…

On our second day at the orphanage, we met with the adoption program coordinator, and told her about our decision not to pursue the adoption of the little boy Aibek. At the same time, we mentioned that we had seen Sergey in the toddler room, playing with Aibek, and told her the story of how we had waited for them last year, to no avail. When John pulled their year-old photos from his wallet (he still carried them around with him), she was stunned--amazed that we were still that connected to this two kids. The reality was she knew exactly who we were, that we were the ones who had had this problem referral. It also became clear that she herself had a very personal relationship with these two children. Her first reaction was to say again that these two were not available, that the father now lives in Kazakhstan and has never signed relinquishment papers. We didn’t press the issue at that moment, but let her think on it a while. That evening, she came to see us with the interpreter (the coordinator speaks no English), and told us that she would do everything in her power to get these kids “sprung“, available to adopt. We believe that, because of her personal relationship with them, she had been waiting for somehow the right situation--and the right people--to present themselves. “I didn’t recognize you at first”, she said….

So--for the last few days the wheels have been turning in that direction--we finally met Rita and Sergey, got their medical records, etc. What a delight these two are! There are certain standouts in each “group” in the orphanage, and these two are shining stars in their respective areas. Both are extremely social, very smart and relatively on-target developmentally. They have a “spark”, and we connected with them instantly, as we knew we would. We have just had that feeling about these kids, for a year almost.

But what a hard life--their history is not a happy one. When we finally sat down and talked to the social worker and the head physician at the orphanage about them, we learned their story. They have been in the orphanage for the past year; prior to that they had lived with a grandmother when their parents divorced and neither took responsibility for them. When the grandmother died, there was no one for them, and the Kyrgyz version of child protective services brought them to the orphanage. The kids had been staying where they could, with Rita sometimes having to beg for food on the streets to feed herself and her little brother. Both were malnourished, anemic. For the first few months in the orphanage, Rita hid bread under Sergey’s pillow every night, so that he would be sure to have something to eat if things went bad again.

Fast forward one year--it is hard to imagine what these kids have been through, looking at them laughing and playing and interacting now. How resilient is the human spirit? We don’t know exactly, but I think we are about to find out--it seems impossible that children can come through such experiences unscarred. We may be in for a tough road. But these two seem like our destiny, and I guess we will figure out how to do it.

So--the adoption coordinator is sending a social worker and child protective services worker into the mountains of Kazakhstan (a neighboring republic) this weekend, to see if the father will agree to sign the papers to release the children. The coordinator feels that there is a 95% chance that they will succeed. Why have they not done this earlier? We’re not sure, but I think it took someone who really earnestly wanted these kids to push the envelope.

We continue to visit with the infant Aigul, not knowing where any of this is going...

Love to all.


Diane Noriega said...

How powerful is the hand of God that he has placed it on Debbie and John and touched their lives so profoundly. People are staring as I sit in a cybercafe reading this incredible story and looking at these beautiful pictures with tears pouring down my face. I believe with all my heart that this was what was meant to be and you will find your family complete soon.

I love you guys with all my heart,

heidie said...

These 2 certainly do have a "spark" and it is quite clear they have touched your hearts. Life has an amazing way of leading us to our destiny.

Hugs, The Naslands (Eric & crew)

Irena said...

I couldn't stop crying after reading the "Rita and Sergey" story. What a shame that children in the rest of the world still have to go through what these two had to endure... And they still have so much happiness to share! And I am really amazed at how strong your (John and Debbie) instinct is about these siblings (and has been for the past year!!!)and the fact that you follow it with all your heart to complete your family. Hats off to you...
Best of everything,

Irena, Essi and Aryana

Madeline Petersen & Tim Avery said...

Hi Debbie and John,
WOW!!! Looks like you have brought some others to tears (in addition to me), my heart goes out to the two of you. I am overjoyed that there is so much love in this world.....what a family you are going to have.
Again, thinking of you with much Aloha.....travel safely...warm weather here in the bay area during the day, but cool nights....can't imagine what weather and living conditions are like where you are right now?

Tina said...


I just stumbled on your blog and am so glad I did. We are about to receive our referral for an older infant from Kyrgyzstan. I see by where you live that I'll bet we are using the same agency. I'd love to hear more about your trip and more about the children.