26 June 2007 Full Baby House Tour
We had another beautiful day today—and a great visit with Sasha. First thing we got to go on the best ride ever . . . to the place where they took his passport photo. It was the best trip ever for him because he got to go in a machina. We think that this was his first car trip (or first trip in a looooong time) and it was awesome to watch his little face. Every bump, turn, slow down or speed up registered clearly in his eyes. He looked from window to window to try to see everything—but it was all moving so fast (30 mph can seem very fast if you are trying to see everything you pass).
It was the best trip for us because we were getting one step closer to bringing him home. He will have a Kazakhstan passport for our trip home, and will become an American citizen when his feet hit our soil. We will need to get him a U.S. passport and do some follow up court things here, but he will be American just by getting off the plane. After the reams of paper gone to bureaucracy it is amazing that the kid will be an American at such a clear and simple point. Get off the plane, become an American citizen. Cool.
In his photos today you may notice that he has a green mark on his face. He has a small scrape there and the caregivers have this magic green pen they put on all cuts. We don’t know what it actually is, but it seems to help the cut heal, and while big green spots may seem odd when appearing on little faces, we are embracing them. I actually think I am going to get a magic green pen for myself—I tend to get a lot of cuts from gardening, and having hands covered in cuts covered in green spots can’t be bad—can it?
When we returned from our photo errand we had Sash try on his new duds. We guessed correctly on almost everything and they fit pretty well. Before we went shopping we dutifully measured Sasha in all different ways to figure out what size of clothes to buy. I thought this was a bit silly because I was just going to look at the number in the clothes he was wearing and buy that size number. Simple, right? NYET.
As we shopped I tried to work within my scheme, but surprisingly the clothes that were the same size all had different numbers. We were clearly out of the land of 2T, 3T and 4T. I thought Sasha was an 8 based on the clothes he wears, but we ended up with many different numbers, some 6, 10, 15, 25 and there were some letters thrown in for good measure.
I really wanted some article of clothing to have Russian writing on it, but Cyrillic seems to be in short supply when it comes to clothes. There is plenty of awesome English, or derivations thereof (my favorite is the shirt we got that says: WE TUMBLER the game is what most stick MORE!) Actually that probably sounds a lot like the Russian we try to speak. Eventually we found a Chicken Little shirt in red (Sasha’s favorite color) that says Chicken Little in Russian, so he will have something in his first language.
When we got to the pants part of trying on he was adamant that the pockets go in front. Which is often true, but in this case he was looking at the pockets on the back of the jeans. So he wore them backwards, because, God bless him, he is two, and when else can you wear your pants backwards? If any of you reading this are currently wearing your pants backwards, don’t feel you need to tell me, just know you have something in common with our little fashion icon.
Sasha didn’t want to take his new clothes off to go play outside, but he had about four layers on and we didn’t want him to roast so Masha eventually convinced him to change back to his BH clothes. (I think it involved some bribery with the watering can and talk of COK (Sohk—juice). The next four photos show a daily ritual that happens over the span of about 30 seconds.
1. Getting loot from the tan bag, retreating to the bench to investigate.
2. Trying to open one of the little metal lunch pails we keep stuff in.
3. Finding the new thing (hidden among the regular toys) in the pail.
4. Testing out the new toy . . . today it was an airplane.
We want to start talking about how we are going to go to Katia and Annika on a plane, then I will come back on a plane, then he and Masha will take a plane to where I am then he and I will go on what will seem like the world’s longest plane ride to HOME where Papa, Annika, Katia, Sabaka and Keeska are! My lower back gets sore just thinking about it, although I won’t be sitting as much on the trip home with Sasha . . .
The Other 22 Hours . . .
We got the grand tour of the BH today from the director, Dr. Rimma. She was great, and we were with three other families who also had their translators so there were a lot of words floating around the BH for that hour. It was cool to see the rest of the BH, and to see where the donations of families who adopt go.
We learned that the renovations to Sasha’s family’s house came from a second separate donation, and that when a space is renovated it is the actual caregivers who do all the work! They farm their kids out to other groups and then spend two weeks painting, wallpapering, creating elaborate curtains and generally spiffing things up.
While we were in Sasha’s house he came tearing out of the bathroom and love-tackled me. He is an easy kid to love. We asked him to show us his bed, which he did, and then he told us where every other kids sleeps (in case we were interested in that as well).
When we tried to peel off to go back to the tour he would have none of it and threw a minor tantrum—an awesome sign of attachment to us. He acted as though he was going back, but went through his house and appeared in the hall with the tour group again—as if by magic! Steve tried to reason with him but eventually his caregiver had to convince him to come back. I am dreading the big goodbye.
Sasha and Dr. Rimma
Dr. Rimma also noted to the parents who are adopting babies that the BH would go through 6,000 + diapers a month, so while the caregivers would like to use disposables (all called “Pampers”—go P&G marketing) they can’t afford to . . . so they use them only when they are out of the BH on field trips. The Baby rooms are nice—the kids are in the play room area when they aren’t sleeping and, again, it seems like good day care.
There are eight kid “families” grouped by age, and two of the eight are in what we would call foster care. Their parents are hoping to be able to support them again, so they visit their kids, eat and play with them, but leave the big picture care to the BH.
We saw the kitchen—it is big and renovated—really pretty nice . . .
The laundry facilities—an enormous job—but with equipment that also is pretty good.
The infirmary (there are three doctors including Dr. Rimma on staff) was nice—it is where kids who are new to the BH go to get acclimated, or where sick kids go.
The biggest surprise of the tour was getting to see the sauna and indoor pool!
The kids go swimming twice a week if the outside temperature is below about 75. One time they take a sauna, then go swimming, the next time they just swim.
After that they get massages and have aromatherapy. Needless to say, Dr. Rimma said that the kids always want to go to this building. There is also a little family room where they can lounge and watch TV as they wait for their massages. I wanted to ask if I could come for some spa time—but I thought they would think I would be joking. I wouldn’t have been joking.
Rose Essence for Aromatherapy
I will try to make this the last time I say this, but seriously, life in this Baby House is not completely horrible. It is true that these children and their families would prefer to be able to care for the kids in their own safe homes, but if that is not an option, this BH is a great alternative. We are thankful for all they have done for Sasha—he would not be himself with out all of their hard work and love. More mañana ~ Bah Kah! (Bye!)