‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

THANK YOU & More from the Orphanage

 I really needed those comments...can't thank you enough. Sometimes we need a reminder of our own strength and that all will be well. I did, and you provided it. Honestly cannot thank you enough! I feel like, aside from prayer, reading your comments is what is keeping me sane this week!

So, I could bore (or grieve) you with the details of today's nightmare, but what purpose would it serve? Instead, I'll fill you in on all I can about the few days at the orphanage. I know my subsequent visits there are what will keep me sane these long months. Here is how it started out:

We did not plan on tv cameras being there. In fact, I told the producer that I really did not want them to follow us there, but they were granted permission from the local Dept of Education, and so they came. She also told me I could speak about adoption, and that is always a good thing.

Nastia and Anya were angry about the tv coverage, especially when it ended up being three different stations instead of just Channel One Russia. But they were fairly polite on camera -- the best I could hope for from two girls who have had cameras stuck in their faces for 5 years now, on and off.

But thankfully, the media was there for only about an hour, and then - joy of joys-  we were alone with the children!!! Here are a few photos of giving out the toys. I had purchased a gift for every one of the 100 children. None of them had ever received a toy, and they were, well, pretty much in shock.

L-- shows her barbie to her caretaker.

I wish I could share the experience first hand with you, of seeing those faces light up when they received their gifts. I tried to give each child a choice between two toys, but that proved too overwhelming for them. I would ask, which doll would you like? Or, which car? And a look of terror would appear on each face -- the choice was too overwhelming for them. One little blonde-haired boy looked back and forth between two cars, rapidly and then started crying  'I don't know! I don't know!' and ran away. I had to go after him and coax him back into the room. I eventually chose for him, the nicest red matchbox sports car I could find. He was still clutching it tight to his chest when I visited his group the next day!

Giving out the toys to the youngest boys
Also want to mention that the reason the children look so well dressed (compared to past visits) is because they were prepared for the media. I've never seen the place look so great! They even borrowed rugs from god-knows-where, which Nastia found very funny. She also thought it was a riot that all the caretakers were dressed in something other than a housecoat AND were wearing make-up! But who would blame them?

After the hour or so of gift-giving, the director ushered us into the kitchen for lunch:

Anya, Katya, Nastia and Svetlana eating fish soup.
After lunch, Nadezhda (the director) interrogated us about America for what seemed like an eternity. She does this every time I come. She is fascinated by a place she cannot even imagine, except from impressions she gets from American movies. I finally extricated us so we could say goodbye to Svetlana and Katya, and go visit with the children.

Saying goodbye to Svetlana
Nastia was adamant I see the forest where she used to play. I had never seen it on earlier visits. So Danil appointed himself our chaperone and guide and walked us into the woods, being sure to run ahead and hold branches out of my way:
Nastia up ahead, and D--, my shadow, waiting for me...
I will post more tonight about the visit, but this post is already too long!


  1. Keri, hello! You don't know me very well but I have folowed your story closely, asked friends to write letters, etc. I am Winnie on Frua :) Anyway, I wanted to tell you how great it is what you are doing and how inspiring you and your girls are. So much so that I have reached out to New Horizons regarding hosting. Bless those sweet children. I am so glad you are there for them and can share this experience with us.

  2. Delurking to say I'm so inspired by what you are doing over there, Keri! We adopted our son from Moscow almost a year ago, so Russia has a special place in our hearts- but I know the Russia we learned to know is completely different from what you are experiencing. I really enjoy your blog- keep up the great work and God bless you and your girls!!

  3. I really think the publicity is wonderful!!! There has been so much NEGATIVE publicity about adoption.

    I don't know why I expect Russia - bigger than the US - to be the same everywhere. Maybe Siberia is like North Dakota, or something. Having done a lot of touring theater I know that ND and Southern California are not at all the same...

    That said, I will say that the orphanages in in Ivanovo were all VERY clean - making me think that my kids might find me wanting in that department - and the caretakers were well dressed - perhaps not always in heels and so forth, but not far from it. Coveralls only for the cleaners and cooks.

  4. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos and snippets of your day. It's a wonderful reminder of the goodness of people!

  5. No post is too long!

    And I WISH I had been on the computer to see your last post when you were wanting comments. I am happy to provide! : )

    It is so awesome to see those pics and hear about your experiences, so don't hold back!

  6. So glad you were able to deliver the gifts personally. What a beautiful blessing! Hang tight and keep your chin up. You're doing a great work!

  7. Anonymous9:47 PM

    Hey hey hey -- some reporters kept the camera out of your faces and just took weird photos from the back seat of the car.

    But seriously, sometimes publicity can do wonders -- much as your blog and Facebook posts are inspiring people who otherwise wouldn't know the amazing things your family is working on.

  8. Your blog is an amazing find. I can't wait to read every word. Someone who was adopted from Russia about 10 years ago told me that in her orphanage, the girls who had found adoptive parents had to wear a blue bow in their hair. I see one of your photos shows a girl with a blue bow- is this coincidence or is there some cultural significance to the practice?

  9. I beg to differ...none of the post is ever too long. We enjoy the read. Especially about what you are doing and the visits to the childrens home.


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