Posted by Deb Shrier
I had the privilege of visiting a second orphanage with a family on this homeland trip to Russia. The family was interested in visiting the orphanage where their son Joseph had spent the first 16 months of his life. They arrived with donations and gifts for the orphanage. Disposable diapers ($30US a bag!) and some clothing for the children -- t-shirts and chocolates for the staff.
Although the director of the orphanage would not be available, she had made arrangements for another staff member to meet with the family. Somehow, when we arrived, no one knew of our visit. Our translator was able to explain our situation and stated that the young boy lived here during his early life. There seemed to be some talking amongst staff -- and eventually, we were permitted inside.
As the boy's mother spoke through the translator, the three women from the orphanage looked closely at Joseph. It was as if they were studying his face for a trace of memory. Finally, one of the women said very clearly that she remembered Joseph. He had the same sparkling eyes and smile. "You were a good boy...one of the best," she shared. Joseph shrugged his shoulders, smiled, and turned away. It was obvious that this recollection was somewhat embarrassing.
The rest of the visit included a tour of the various rooms. Joseph's mother remembered seeing the small wooden slide in one of the baby rooms. She commented on how well-maintained the orphanage appeared today -- so different than what she remembered years ago when she came to adopt her son.
Pictures of caregivers. Pictures of Joseph in rooms and the front hallway. Pictures in the front of the building with the name and number of the orphanage.
"Do you remember him?" our translator asked the caregivers. "Of course," one of the older women said. "He is our family -- and we never forget."
You can read more about this amazing trip in my previous blog post.
Deb Shrier is the DIrector of Post-Adoption Services at JF&CS.