His & Hers

We were not able to take the kiddos on our visits today; instead we each visited separately.  So today’s post will look a little differently!  We are doing a “His and Hers” edition where I will tell you about my day and my visit and then I’ll let Jake tell you about his!  Since my visit was this morning, I’ll go first.


We woke up this morning and got everyone ready to go.  Jake and the kids came down with me and they went down the street to the bakery after I got in with our driver for our visit.  The drive is about thirty minutes and it was so quiet and peaceful.  I don’t usually get to just sit and enjoy a car ride without two monkeys needing me so it was actually a bit of a treat.  I used the time to read through some prayers in the mother’s prayer book Jake got me for Mother’s Day and to practice the new Russian phrases I wanted to use. 

In particular I needed “Daddy, later – this evening”, so I could explain to Juri where Papa was!  That phrase very much came in handy both with Juri and with the nannies and the director.  They were outside again today, and Juri saw me all the way across from the other side of the orphanage grounds.  I was standing there going “I think that’s him over there…” and he starts waving and yelling “Mama!!”  So I know his eyesight can’t be that bad!  (He has mildly crossed eyes and, they say, vision trouble.)

I rolled him on over to our usual visiting spot and the two of us had a great time.  He wanted out of his wheelchair and to sit next to me.  But for part of the visit he surprised me and actually asked to sit on my lap!  So I held him for a bit and he gave me a big hug that lasted for about fifteen seconds, it was so lovely.

Five ladies from the staff were out doing gardening work today so we weren’t alone.  He was telling everyone “Eto maiya Mama!” (This is my Mama!)  The orphanage director (I am pretty sure that’s who it was!) also walked by and Juri called out to her so she came over.  I think she asked him if he wanted to go to America, but it didn’t look like he really understood the question.

I got out our picture book for her to look through which she really liked.  Overall I think it was a very positive spontaneous meeting!!  After everyone left his balloon flew away and he wanted to go get it.  Yesterday I had him stand up while supporting him under his arms, and “walk” over to the balloon.  It wasn’t very far, and I just moved his foot for each “step”.  I thought perhaps it would be a good time to get him used to the idea of using his legs again.

Well, today, he actually asked to go get his balloon!  I didn’t even think he liked it yesterday, so I was a little surprised.  But, of course, I obliged.  I stood him up, moved his feet a few times and then he all of a sudden took off!  He just started moving his legs, one after the other while I kept him balanced.  I wasn’t even really taking any pressure; he was almost completely supporting himself and WALKING!

I was so excited.  I exclaimed “Good!” in Russian about a dozen times.  I think he loved it too!  He asked to do it again a few minutes later, and then his feet got caught up in my skirt and we both had a good laugh.  Now I am waiting for Jake to get back from his visit and to hear from our facilitator whether we leave on the train tonight or tomorrow.  Either way, I need to start getting our bags in order again!

We go back to the capital this week to take Janna’s referral and then it’s off to her region for a few days.  I sure am going to miss my boy!  Trying not to think about it too much, hopefully the nannies will tell him we are coming back soon.


I got to the orphanage and apparently I look so Ukrainian that no one seemed concerned that there was this twenty-something guy walking suspiciously around the orphanage.  I tried to look very confused, but everyone just ignored me. After about ten minutes and three laps around the grounds I finally walked inside and went to the director’s office.  The assistant director greeted me with a warm smile and took me to Juri’s group’s room.

They had me wait outside.  While I was waiting for Juri to finish his snack some of the kids came out and tried to take my backpack (don’t worry Ron I protected it).  Juri’s nanny brought him out and he said “Papa!”  Then spent the next five minutes asking where Mama was.

No sooner did we pull up to the benches and he practically jumped out of his wheelchair.  I get the feeling he’s not incredibly fond of it.  We talked as best we could, but the greatest fun we had was when we played with the balloons and I got a huge belly laugh out of him.  He repeated “silly papa” after me, which was a cute moment.  He definitely seems to be in a repetitive stage of his speech, which we hope bodes very well for him being able to learn English quickly.

Juri really wanted to play in the sandboxes, but I was telling him no.  At one point he tricked me and pointed very excitedly at something saying “Da papa?”  I sheepishly said “Da…” and picked him up to walk where he was pointing.  When we got there I realized I had agreed to the sandboxes.  He was so incredibly excited that I couldn’t go back on it at that point.

Most all the sandboxes were taken, so we ended up in a corner near the area where his group was playing.  The boys started talking to him from across the play area.  He was visibly upset and talking defensively to the boys in his group.  It looked like they were trying to taunt him or belittle him while he was with me.  My papa bear instincts kicked in.  I told him very definitively “Juri’s dom America.”  Then he smiled and didn’t seem so bothered.

We didn’t get a great sandbox, it was too low and the sand was really hard.  He was trying to play but he was already frustrated.  It was getting to be time to leave, so I was trying to get him to voluntarily let go of the toy when a boy came up and grabbed it right out of his hand.  He started sobbing.  His nanny came over and consoled him.

To help him feel better I told him “Mama zastra” and taught him a new handshake.  I grabbed his whole hand, like in an arm wrestling grip (except a nice one) and I looked in his eyes and said “Paka,”  then, pointing to my arm, “be strong” and “zastra”.  There were no more tears or whimpering, he looked me straight in the eye and said “paka”.  I got up to leave, said thank you to the nanny and said good-bye one more time before turning to go.

While I was out our facilitator called and said we weren’t able to get our second referral appointment until Thursday, so we will have a few more visits with our boy before we go!

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