Still Tuesday, March 7 -
We left the V's orphanage and loaded into the tiny car for the ride across the bridge to D
's old orphanage. Our region is situated on the Volga River and the "city" side is on one side of the river and then there's a more "suburban" side across the bridge. D's old orphanage is located in the more "suburban" side. It took us about an hour to cross with all the snow. The Volga, much to our surprise was frozen! It is a huge river and we were surprised it had frozen that solidly.
There were people out ice-fishing on it. Now remember, anything ice and snow related is a huge novelty to us East Texans!
I was expecting to have some profound feeling when we arrived at D's orphanage, but I guess I was just glad that long ride in the cramped Lada was over and that we were just finally there! Plus with all the snow it looked much different than it did in the summer and fall. Maybe too, I was a little worried about D's reaction. I don't know - conflicting feelings for Mommy!
We went in and saw the orphanage social worker. She said she remembered us and D
as a baby. She truly seemed happy to see D
and how well she is doing. We brought a current picture of D
framed for her as a gift. D
was pretty nervous though and just sat in our lap and sucked her thumb! Eeek, something we had tried to have her NOT do in public in Russia because of the all the Babushkas! Even as an 11 month old baby, they were trying to break her of it when we left and here she was 5 and still sucking that thumb like crazy. She only does it now when she is tired or unsure of herself and baby- I would be a little nervous too if I were her!
Most of the staff and children were gone from the orphanage that afternoon to a concert in celebration of Women's Day. We were unable to see the room where she lived either because they have moved all the babies to another building and her old room as we know it is no longer there. We were a little sad about that. I guess we just expect things to stay the same. We gave the social worker the chocolates and cake we brought and the 60 knit caps that hubby's mom had knitted as a donation to D's orphanage. Then we took D's picture with her a few times.
At this orphanage, it is really neat how they have things set up. The older kids ages 3-17 live in "cottages" which are like townhomes. There are about 10 kids per cottage and a crew of Mamas who come in on shifts. There is one "head Mama" who lives there most all the time. I think she gets one day a week off. Anyhow, when we adopted D, we were able to stay right there in one of those cottages on the grounds of her orphanage. On our second trip we were able to take her into our room with us the day we arrived! So we had 3 days to bond with her before we even went to court. The mamas still fixed her (and our) meals, and we kept her on her orphanage schedule, but it was wonderful to have her with us from day one! The head mama in that cottage is still there, but she was gone that day to the concert. We left her a picture of D now and also a picture of her and D when D was a baby.
We took a tour of the cottage, it has been remodeled a whole lot since we were there. The only two rooms that were exactly the same were the living room the bathtub room and the toilet room. I took a picture of D
(and all her 45 inches!) beside the tub where she had her first real tub bath. There is a picture in her scrapbook of her as a baby in that bathtub so now we have a before and after! Then D
needed to T-T and we went into the toilet room (about a 4x4 square room). It was very smelly in there. I distinctly remember from our stay in that cottage that the bathroom always smelled freshly cleaned and of bleach. So that must have been for our benefit! Beside the potty was a little bin with torn bits of paper from magazines and old books - that was these poor children's toilet paper - in 2006! When we stayed there, they had regular Russian style t-p so I'm sure, now, that too was for our benefit. Anyhow, I was glad we had our travel roll of Charmin. I've never used bits of torn paper for t-p. Maybe I should have tried it, now that I think in hindsight. Such a spoiled American I am. I was glad, though, that D
saw that. I am afraid that she will have a romanticized view of Russia. Of course we want her to be proud of her heritage, and have shown her many lovely and exciting aspects of Russia but we also want her to know a bit of what life is like in the orphanage as well. I also wish I would have had the camera with me in there to take a picture of it as a reminder, maybe even have it framed in our bathroom when I am feeling like our house is too small, too out of date, too whatever - to remind me to be grateful for what I have.
Then we bundled up into our snow gear for the thousandth time and headed back to the Lada. The orphanage grounds were just covered in snow and there were children out pulling one another on sleds and "cross-country" skiing on little wooden worn out, splintered skis strapped to their regular snow boots. They were having fun, but I wanted to come back home and buy them some cool skis to ski with! Of course, I wouldn't know the first thing about how to choose a ski!
We piled back into the Lada 5 adults and a 5 year old. After they dropped us off at the hotel, they were taking our coordinator back to the train so she could go home and be with her 5 month old daughter on her first "Women's Day" which would be the next day. This meant we'd be riding the train on our own tomorrow night. That would be a first for us. Of course we've taken five train rides already between Moscow and our region, but we were still a little leary.
The car dropped us off about two blocks from the hotel - so it wouldn't get stuck - and we walked the rest of the way to the hotel. This was the time we saw THE PERFECT SPOT for making a snow angel! We told D
to go for it
and she made her very first snow angel! The look of pure joy on her face is a treasure I'll carry with me forever!! Click on the picture to get the full benefit of that great smile!!!
We went to dinner at the hotel restaurant and when we entered there was loud music playing, a DJ on the little bandstand and several ladies dancing. Oh yes! They were celebrating for Women's Day! Boy, that music was loud, though. I guess we've become old fogies!
There was only one menu in English and we passed it around the table and made our selections. We were there with another couple also adopting with our agency at the same orphanage. Once we ordered, D
wanted to dance, so Daddy took her out on the dance floor and they shook their boodies a bit. But the partying ladies came and took D'
s hand and wanted her to join their little circle and that freaked her out, so she and Daddy quickly came back to the table (with our pantomimed apology and thanks to them for including her). She was really tired, she had only closed her eyes a couple minutes during our ride to her orphanage squished in the car like a sardine. After we ate our "so-so" dinner (I chose chicken again) we headed upstairs and crashed for the night!
More to come!
Till later . . .