Today marks one whole year since we walked into a Ukrainian orphanage and met Tavin for the first time! A year full of firsts, new experiences, bonding, love, family. A year to see him changing into the little boy he was meant to be. A family does that sort of thing, an orphanage doesn't. The main thing I remember feeling after our first visit that evening was the realization that we had no way to know what we were getting into, really....no idea the full affect of orphanage life on our son. You tell yourself that, but then it's actually real. The last year we have gotten to see the shell that an orphanage creates falling away, and a little boy emerging. As I write this, he came out of his room from nap time, excitedly exclaiming to see mommy, full of smiles - real smiles that he didn't know how to give a year ago. In just a few weeks we will celebrate one full year of having him home!
(Look at that face- how cute is he??)
Here is part of my journal entry from the day we met. Happy "Metcha Day" to our sweet son Tavin!
We arrive at the orphanage this morning and wait in a waiting room that looks like it would be more comfortable in the '70's. Lime green wall paper covers the walls above wooden paneling and a lace curtain hangs over the window. A small wooden coffee table sports a red plaid woven place mat. On two walls are large poster boards covered with pictures of previously adopted children from this orphanage. From the room next door comes the sound of children singing, having a music lesson. Adorable.
We are told they are ready and walk out to another building, the one that houses children with special needs. We go through a room where a woman is giving a PowerPoint to a group of women (nannies?), and ring the bell to his groupa. I'm thinking "he has been living on the other side of this wall for the last two years. This very wall." We are ushered into the entry room, and our facilitator speaks with the nanny. My stomach does flips like a roller coaster. Then here is the nanny and here he is! Here are his chipmunk cheeks, rosebud mouth, distinct ears, and deep eyes. And he's not a dream, he's a real live boy. A little boy laying his shoulder on the matronly nannies shoulder, as she and another nanny animatedly tell us what a sweet boy he is..that he is their favorite. They say "we love him so much we say our love will bring him a family! And here you are!" He is perfectly adorable.
The nannies volunteer all kind of info, like a proud mama, no doubt trying to seal the deal, as if we need any urging. He obviously likes to go outside, as he spends most of the time craning his neck to see around the nanny to the door that leads out. We give him a toy car and the nanny spins the wheels, he immediately imitates her movements. The nanny clicks her tongue and he copies her-they are obviously trying to show him off.
The nanny swoops him low to the ground to chase the car and has him laughing, a deep little throat laugh...a laugh with no smile.
After a few minutes I ask if we can have a picture with him and the nanny hands him over. I feel the weight of this real, live boy in my arms. He twists towards the nanny but doesn't cry, he's more interested in trying to get the phone from our facilitator. Phones always rank high with toddlers and he's no exception.
We visited with Tavin alone in the evening. We had planned to go outside but the nannies switched on us and wanted us to be inside. I think it was because I didn't have on a coat even though it was 65 out. We saw the effects of being in the orphanage throughout the visit much more clearly. He shows very little emotion or reaction to anything. The two words that I would say best describe him now are "curious" and "resigned". His eyes take in everything, turning to any sound from outside the room, and intently watching anyone who walks through. We brought a small ball and Steve bounced it to us, me holding Tavin on my lap. I would catch it, then put it on my palm and take his hand and help him push it off. He doesn't know how to throw a ball. After several minutes he started to push it off himself. Occasionally when we caught it he showed excitement, bouncing back and forth, but no smiles to go with it. An hour later he reached both hands out for the ball when Steve slowly brought it towards him, grasped it with both hands, repositioning hand to grasp better, before giving it a little toss. Progress! His favorite things to play with though we're Steve sunglasses which he tried to put on his own head, and Steve's wedding band which he found VERY fun to examine.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. - James 1:27
Have you considered adoption? Take a look at the many children listed on Reece's Rainbow, children waiting for a family. Advocate, donate to a family in process, or consider whether your family could welcome one more child.