Thursday, August 31, 2006

Orphanage in Pokrovka

Pokrovka is about 3 hours outside of Vladivostok or 1 hour from Ussuriisk. It is a very small village out in the middle of nowhere, right on the Chinese border. The orphanage is not really an orphanage, in Russian they call it an internatz. It is a "home for children without parents" and is quite different from usual Russian orphanages.

The children at Pokrovka range in age from 8 to 17. It is a pretty big building, half of which is a school and half of which is housing. We ate lunch there and were quite impressed by the food. It wasn't gourmet but the children got a decent portion, especially compared to the orphanage where Dima was and where Max and Nastia were previously.

The children spend about 4 hours per day in classes and then have free time to get into lots of trouble. Some of the children seem to be able to come and go as they wish, though there isn't much to go to in Pokrovka. In the summer, the home closes down and the children are farmed out to private families whom I assume receive some sort of stipend.

We spent a couple of weeks there in Feb. 2003 when we adopted Max and Dima. It was an experience which we still treasure. We both felt that those few hours we spent with the children each day were some of the times when we felt closest to The Savior and to His work.

When we would walk into the place, we would immediately be swarmed by children. Even the 15, 16 and 17 year olds were not hesitant to approach us. We did bring food for the children each day so that was part of the appeal. They would take the stuff and then run off like little squirrels to they rooms to store it for later. Then, they would come back and visit with us.

If I sat on the couch I would immediately be surrounded by girls - mostly Nastia's friends - and they would stroke my hair and snuggle up to me, hold my hand and give me hugs. Even now it brings me to tears to think about it. Even though these girls were teenagers, their needs were still the same as the toddler's needs. They needed a mama. Oh, how we wish we could have given a family to more of them.

The boys would surround Robert and Alexander. They figured Robert was a basketball player (he's 6'6") and so they would talk to him about sports even though he couldn't understand a word. Some of the lighter ones would ask for Robert to put them up on his shoulders - 10 and 13 year olds, they had just never had a chance to do that before. Alexander was interesting too, but they wanted to know about his gameboy, his clothes, his school and life in America for a child.

We were the first people to adopt from Pokrovka. It is basically a home for children, to prepare them to go out into the world. At 16 they are supposed to leave, though I know there were 1 or 2 there who were 17 years old.

There is a girl who is in almost every picture with Nastia. We are going to try to find out about her and maybe find someone who is looking for a beautiful girl to add to their family.

I will publish pictures as soon as I can. The hotel we are staying in has very limited internet and it is hard to do anything.

Orphanage Drive

I have posted here many times about the amazing people I've met through our adoptions. Many of them have been in "the field", but most of them have been adoptive parents and some have even been strangers with big hearts. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have asked if they could help in some way. In fact, the only reason we've been able to keep in touch with what is going on with Anastasia is through the help of a friend (Mary Kirkpatrick) who has organized all this for us.

The man, Alex, who has been making these runs to Vlad for us had an interesting experience when he went to visit Anastasia this time. The director asked that he buy laundry detergent and food before he was allowed to talk to Anastasia. Apparently the orphanage is in dire need. Mary has suggested that we start a drive to see if we can raise money for the orphanage. My thought is that before we leave we will buy a lot of school supplies (this is what Anastasia always asks for) and then when we get there, we could use the bulk of the money for food, detergent and maybe even some clothes depending upon how much we raise.

I will post more details as soon as I figure out how we will organize this. In the meantime, I've met a wonderful friend, Kristen Fudge, who has a website of her own which she started to help pay for her adoption. She has agreed to put aside 1/2 of her proceeds to Anastasia's fund. Isn't that wonderful? There are some amazing people out there. Kristen sells clothes, Christmas decorations, and lavender and other satchels all with a vintage theme - many of them Russian vintage. Check out her site and you will be helping 2 families if you decide to buy!
Kristens website is:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Anastasia's pictures

In most of the pictures she looks sad or pensive but he managed to get a little smile out of her in some of them. She has some bruises on her head and on her arm which Max noticed right away and is now really concerned about. My poor babies!!

Here are some of the photos we got from Alex's last trip to Pokrovka:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Big News!!

Okay, I only have the prelim. report from Alex (we sent him to Pokrovka again to see what is going on and bring some things to Anastasia).

THE PARENTAL RIGHTS HAVE BEEN DENIED. ANASTASIA IS FREE FOR ADOPTION. She is already on the database and will be free in 6 months. We are beside ourselves -- really, we are so excited. We just found out 10 minutes ago and I couldn't wait to post the news. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

First thing tomorrow I need to find an agency and get going again. Please keep praying for us, it works! Thank you all my dear friends for keeping Anastasia in your prayers. Thank you Leslie for feeding the little fire of hope that flickers in my heart.

I can't wait till morning when I can tell Max!