When I first started planning on what to write on this blog, I expected to share my many encounters with Ukrainian culture: "squat/Turkish toilets," the variety of foods, generous hosts and hostesses, my unforgettable experience with poor quality tap water, train rides, air travel, souvenirs, Russian and Ukrainian languages, etc. Most importantly, though, I was meeting my "soon to be little brother." But today I'm going to write about more important things- things that I hope to always remember, and the things that I will remember, that I selfishly hope to forget.
When I stepped out of the taxi at Solnishko for the first time, I tried to take in everything about the scenery that I could. I don't remember what the weather was like, where we parked, or the clothes that I was wearing. But I do remember, quite clearly, the sound of children crying through the broken down windows. I'd heard stories about life in these orphanages, and I'd seen many pictures of this one in particular; but that distant world was quickly becoming reality. I subconsciously forced the noise out of my mind, and focus on what I had looked forward to for several months; I was finally about to meet my little brother, and despite our tight schedule that day, I was determined to meet him. I rushed up the stairs with Dad and he (or Mom) rang the doorbell. After a few moments, a woman led us into the stinky "locker room," which possessed the distinct smell of dirty diapers, or worse. As Stas’s favorite caretaker went to take him out of his crib, I looked around the room in front of me. I suddenly remembered the crying that I heard earlier, and saw a few kids crying. One little boy rocked himself and jerked around on the floor. No one was there to comfort him, and there were many other children to take care of. One child army crawled along the floor; another slumped over in a walker. I started crying when I first saw Stas, and I was overwhelmed when the rest of them looked up at me. They were all miserable, and I knew that they longed for me, but I'd heard about the consequences of visitors making too much contact with the orphans. I felt guilty for only choosing one of the healthiest children in that groupa. As much as I love my brother, my heart aches for those other children that I've met, and I wish I'd done more for them. When you are a 12 hour flight away from a place that you remember so clearly and children such as these, there is only so much you can do when you have left them.
Words cannot describe all of my memories and the feelings that I have for all of those children. They are no longer pictures; they are children. They are lovable, have their own personalities, were abandoned and sent to that orphanage, and face possible death unless they are adopted by a loving family. Many of the children that I met in less than three weeks will not have the opportunity to be adopted. They will be sent to institutions, where there will be little or no hope of them surviving. Few people, if any, will care for them, love them, or treat them anything like the precious gifts that they are. To many they are seen as little more than unproductive beings that are a waste of time and valuable resources, a problem to "take care of."
Well, now that I'm in a pleasant mood…..
I'm going to take a break and visit my cousins that I think arrived about 20 minutes ago ;)