I have to apologize right off the bat, no pics right now! Sorry! I can't figure out what I am doing wrong with downloading (I am very blonde when it comes to these things--ok when it comes to most things) and my hubby is fast asleep after working most of the night so I don't want to disturb him. He was not able to take this week off from work so he is having to visit orphanages during the day and work during the night. He is going to fall over dead eventually!
I did want to update everyone though. We drove the long drive out to Alisa's orphanage. It is IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE. If you decide to adopt a child from here, please pack water and food as there is no place to stop to eat or shop along the way, it is all dense forest and very little civilization. We were indeed the FIRST adoptive parents ever to come to the orphanage. They were quite confused at first what to do with us. The good news is that they didn't understand Russia's confidentiality laws and so we got to see much of the orphanage and interact with a lot of the kids. I have pics and lots to say about many of the RR kiddos! The vast majority of children I saw at this orphanage had Down Syndrome!
The facility was actually very impressive. 10 years ago it was a place of horror stories and that was all the information I had about it. Even the Russians admit it was horrific. Today it is a bright, clean and welcoming facility. The children are engaged in several activities including art, therapies, recreation, performances, and even theraputic massage. The staff is super friendly and loving to the children. It is very poor and the children look under fed, but that is to be expected from any orphanage. Compared to the many orphanages we have seen throughout the world, I would definitely rank this as one of the very best. I will warn parents who are considering a child from this institution though, the children have all had their heads shaved for hygiene and practical reasons. It was quite sad to see Alisa's adorable pig tails gone so I thought I should warn others. She looks totally different as the pictures I have of her were from 3 years ago! Alisa is in a group of 12 children and has 2 caregivers that alternate shifts. She also has a teacher, physician and therapist. The children in her group are ADORABLE. There are 3 little boys in particular who were SUPER sweet, engaging and just overall wonderful children that I am going to advocate for like crazy when I get back. They would make a wonderful addition to any family. On RR they are: Dmitri B, Alexander, and a little boy who is not on there but I will find out his name tomorrow. I also saw Gregory walking with his group in the hall on the way to various acitivities a couple of times and he seems delightful. He appears very smart and loving. He has the most amazing spirit that you can feel the instant you encounter him. Maria was in Alisa's group too, is sweet and desperately needs a family. http://reecesrainbow.org/category/waitingbycountry/russia/russia-region-8
All of the children in the Novosibirsk region who have significant disabilities are transferred to this institution at the age of 4. All of them! The only time they delay a transfer is if there is a family in process to adopt them. It is sooooooooo sad that there has never been an adoption from this region of a child over the age of 4 with special needs!!! I hope to change that. No, I WILL change that. Please help me in spreading the word of how great the need is. This is a HUGE facility with so many wonderful children who currently have no hope of adoption. At the age of 18, they are moved to an adult facility to live out the rest of their lives. In Novosibirsk, we were told 100% of children born with Down Syndrome are placed in an orphanage because the parents have no resources to help them. Children with DS cannot go to school or attend daycare. There is a huge stigmatism against them. Don't they know that children with DS are the sprinkles on the cupcake of life??
Now on to Alisa (or Alice). Alisa was very hard to evaluate while we were there because they woke her up from her nap to see us and so was very tired and lethargic. The caregivers kept trying to reassure me that she is not normally like that and is social and very smart. I will be excited to see her on the 6th as I saw none of that on our visit, she just wanted to go back to bed :). She is a skinny little girl but tall, I think I would put her in 5T clothing which is very good considering her environment. I am concerned about her head size as it is very, very small. Since I have 3 children with microcephally, I know that this can mean serious issues. And since she was not active at all, it was very hard to evaluate her development, from what I saw, she looked very, very delayed but again the caregivers were very much trying to convince me of how intelligent and engaging she is so hopefully it was just that she was exhausted. I was too after two days of flying and then a long car ride to finally visit her. I am hoping that is why I did not feel a strong connection to her. It surprised and it alarmed me as all of our other 8 adoptions, I felt immediately upon seeing the child that they were MINE. I am quite upset and confused about it. Again, I am hoping that it was just that we were all very exhausted and our next visit will be totally different. I know it is not because of her appearance or delay, we have adopted several children that were DISASTERS when we first met them and we still fell in love right away. I am relying heavily right now on the very strong inspiration we got that we should pursue her adoption many months ago. I am prayerfully taking one step at a time, knowing that the Lord will guide me if I lean on Him. She is obviously well loved by all the adults at the facility that we came in contact with. This brings me so much peace to see that she has known love. I am told that she is also wonderful to other children and does not have any behavioral problems at all. Yeah!!
I know that what I have written is not the fairy tale true love story everyone wants to hear. I think it is vitally important though that I post honestly as I know that there are many other hopeful adoptive families who read this blog and I want to paint an accurate picture of how emotionally confusing and exhausting adoption can be! This is why it is very important to bring God with you on this journey.
Today we will go see Maria. Her orphanage is only about 20 minutes from our hotel which will be nice. It is soooooooooo hot here! Yes, Siberia is hot, who knew?? And none of the cars have AC so driving 2 hours to Alisa's orphanage was quite the experience. I guess it is unusual for this time of year to be this hot, because all the locals seem to be melting too ;). We had to upgrade to a room with AC and it is costing us an arm and a leg. Oh well, who need limbs ;).
The kids back home seem to be having a ball with their babysitters. This has helped me soooooo much to know! Those who know me, know that I do not leave my children well. The fact that they are happy, sets my mind at ease.
I will post pics when I can!