Friday, June 12, 2009

Kiev, June 11 and 12

Two little boys playing on the jungle gym in the orphanage hallway.

After we left the internet cafe yesterday (11th) Teresa and I headed for Steven's orphanage. It is the 2nd to the last metro stop on the red line.

I don't know why but this particular metro stop seems to be very unkempt--papers, cigarette butts, pop caps, bottles, trash all over the place. It seems so weird because the other stops I've been at have been much tidier. I have figured out which way to go just by remembering right-left-left: I turn right after getting off the subway itself, turn left after exiting the station and follow that underground hallway all the way to the end where I again turn left and go up the stairs to the outside. I have absolutely NO, ZERO, ZILCH sense of direction underground. If I remember my simple directs then it is only a matter of about 4 or 5 blocks to the orphanage gate. Sometimes there's a guy sitting at the gate, sometimes not. Sometimes he has stopped us, sometimes not.

Our visit on Thursday was another tough one. Steven came to us pleasantly and calmly enough but soon was much more interested in running off than staying near us. He loves to play the chase game--and that's fine when it's a GAME but not when we are telling him no. So when I went to fetch him from distant parts of a galaxy far, far away (otherwise known as another part of the orphanage than where he was supposed to be) I didn't go laughing and running. I tried to just walk faster than he did, catch him and then carry him calmly but firmly back where he was supposed to be. One time when we returned I had him sit on my lap which he did NOT like and another time I just placed him in the chair. Then he spent a lot of time hiding behind the ceiling- to-floor curtains that are along most of one side of this hallway. I could just imagine him pulling the curtains down so wasn't real crazy about this arrangement. I thought perhaps he'd come out if he saw we weren't chasing him but that didn't work. I found out that he wasn't just hiding there, he was also working on pitching our toys out the window. Only the ball escaped to the great beyond; the finger puppets saved themselves by clinging to the window sill from whence I rescued them and returned them to the safety of the bag. I switched to this wiggly, squiggly ball-thing and Steven seemed to like the feel of it. He was still holding it when it was time for him to go eat and that was fine.

To be honest I was pretty discouraged after this visit. I would appreciate emails/comments from people who have dealt with this kind of stuff before and lived to tell about it--and whose kids are coming around to normalcy in their behavior and attachment. Yes, of course we know we should expect institutional behavior but I guess there's always a part of us that really, truly hopes we won't have to deal with it--that when a child comes into contact with our marvelous selves that 5+ years of learned behavior will just miraculously disappear.

Teresa and I stayed up really late and consequently did not rise and shine anywhere near the break of dawn this morning. I was laying around doing some Bible reading about Jesus' attitude and response to children when I heard this chirping sound and thought a bird had got into our kitchen through the open window. Nope, it was our doorbell and soon the door opened and a blond-headed lady carrying a computer monitor entered calling out "hello?" I was embarrassed to say the least that I was still in bed and not dressed for company. Thankfully I was decently clothed (though later found out I had my shirt on backwards!) by her return trip with other computer parts which she was soon assembling in the living room while I washed my hair. Sadly however, we still do not have internet. According to the apartment people, the computer was working fine but by the time it arrived at our apartment, it was no longer functioning properly. I was promised a phone call by the end of the day. OK, it's after 8 pm. Apparently not by the end of THIS day. Otherwise I guess we'll move on Sunday.
Visit today a little better. More later.


Molly C said...

I have no experience, but I would say give it time. Just keep taking it one day at a time. I think that when you get him home it'll be easier because you'll know the environment. I work at a special needs summer camp and my director always says "the first and last weeks are the hardest". Thankfully you won't have a last week with him, since he is coming home! But still, it's just the beginning and I assume he is testing you. He is probably not used to as much attention as he gets from you, and he probably did not have as many boundaries. I'm just guessing because I don't know his situation

But I think that with time, love and patience he'll be a different kid. You two are still adjusting to each other as mama and son, so hang in there!

Alice said...

Joy, I don't have any personal experience, but I have followed many RR families, and they have described similar behavior. I bet families from the yahoo group will give you lots of support!

I've always thought the orphanage visits were like "no man's land". The child is on his own turf, but often in a part of the orphanage he wouldn't normally spend time in. Instead being in his groupa doing what everyone else is doing, he is stuck in a strange room with strangers. You have to follow all the orphanage rules, and you are probably being watched by the staff. How stressful for everyone, and how contrived. It is not at all a good environment for getting to know each other. Hang in there, Joy. Keeping you in prayer.

Carson's Mom said...


I haven't been there, but my sister Markay has. Her e-mail is The difference in her experience at first and her children today is amazing and I would never have believed it from witnessing them off of the plane. The got home at the end of Oct. and by Thanksgiving were playing wonderfully with my children and totally attached to Markay. The early going was difficult I assure you though, but her children today are as sweet as any I know. I will be praying for the bonding process to start very quickly and the bad behavior to subside. Hang in there.



Linda said...

Joy = hang in there - we are praying. This is the storm before the calm evidently, but I know that you are committed to the task and God will give you the wisdom you need. I love you! Linda

Charissa said...

I remember you having similar visits with Caleb, remember? Look how he fits in now. You'll do great. He will be so loved.

Natalie said...

Hang in there, Joy. It must be so hard, after you have waited so long to get there, but as others have said before me (including you)adjustment can be difficult, and take time, and the orphanage visitation situation definitely doesn't help.

I don't want to sound like Pollyanna, but on the plus side, I would think that Steven's failure to think that you virtual strangers bearing gifts are the greatest thing since sliced bread, could actually be a good sign that he doesn't have RAD.

We are all praying for you. And you are right, God will not leave you orphaned in this situation He led you to.

Mandy said...

Oh (((Joy))) - this is the hardest part, at least it was for me :( During that 10 day wait, I didn't visit Alex the 2x's a day - just once. It was physically and emotionally draining to have a child that wanted NOTHING to do with being carried or held and at the same time having the caretakers look upon me with disgust if he even touched the ground (no playland there and yes, he hit, bit and pulled my hair - ouch!). To say the least, Alex was much like a wild animal while in there and I just faced the fact that things would work out when he got out of there and I could start acting like his mom and not a grateful onlooker.
Yes, things got worse when we went back to Kiev but as soon as we stepped foot on that airplane, something happened and he turned into a different child (complete angel on the way home).
Attachment has been work and the behaviors have been even harder BUT we are here. Alex is happy, healthy and loved.....and we are really starting to feel like a family now :)
Just know that God has your back:)
I'm here anytime
Love you,