In the last post, Adam had returned to the orphanage where he spent his first four years accompanied by our friend Mirka, the teacher and interpreter who had helped us adopt him thirteen years ago. The orphanage security guard had allowed him to go upstairs to the room where he lived when he was three. He lived there in the three-year-old room with about twenty other children. Now there are seven. He was letting little Diana, a current resident, wear his furry hat. Here’s the end of the story in which he recalls his experience:
I was thinking this whole time that it was a bit awkward, the whole thing was awkward. I didn’t know any of the nurses. Part of me felt I should know them all, like I was right back home. But I wanted to see the whole space.
Mirka translated my request to go around the rooms to see what had changed. The security guard took me around.
There was a bathtub. I don’t remember a bathtub. I don’t remember ever having a bath there. We went to the bathroom right in the big room here we did everything else, sitting on little red potties in a row. No privacy. The bathroom was nice.
They had lots of toys to play with, lots of soft cuddly toys. I don’t remember toys at all. But I understand we had plastic toys that could be easily cleaned.
Seeing the bedroom made such a difference to me. I remember the beds being small and crammed into the room. I slept in a crib. I remember being crammed in a crib, three of us. Now all the kids have their own individual beds.
That’s when I started breaking down. I broke down in the bedroom. I could hear half of what the security guard was saying was saying and half of what Mirka was saying about the improvements. I was in a daze. Then I just started crying. I was telling Mirka how happy I was to see that the kids are ok and doing well and they all have nice clothes. They don’t have it as bad as I did when I lived there.
Then I went to sit down to play with the kids. I remember distinctly the little girl asking me why I was crying. I said I was just happy.
The little kids were happy as ever. They were playing with my hat, playing with my hair.
At first all their attention was a little bit awkward. I was thinking that I don’t even know these kids, and they are acting like they have known me forever. It made me uncomfortable a little bit, but I told myself that would have been selfish. Thirteen years ago, I was in the exact same place as they are now. I wanted just the same attention as they did. So, at that point I didn’t care about keeping my distance. After seeing how happy these kids were just to see us, I really didn’t worry about it. I was embracing this opportunity to give them attention.
When I had the kids on my lap, I was feeling that I might make a good dad one day. It felt good. I felt like I was making a change in someone’s life, making them happier even though they were in a sad situation.
I felt a little bit sad to leave. I wanted to stay longer and play with the kids.
After the visit, I started thinking maybe I’ll adopt from the orphanage when I get older, and I grew up a little inside, I think. Now, I realize my true priorities and what I really have in life and how blessed I am to have been adopted and cared for and loved. I think that people shouldn’t feel sorry for me when I say I am adopted. They should be just as happy as I am.
The trip to the orphanage is not going to be a one-shot deal. It is going to be an ongoing journey. I want to go back while we are still in Ukraine and then come back again with one of my best friends who has supported me in high school, my friend Logan. Part of me has been fulfilled and I want to make that part grow even more by going back again and again. It’s the part that the not knowing what was behind those years I never knew about.
I am really happy that I went because that yearning to want to come back here is gone. I don’t NEED to go to the orphanage any more. I want to go, but I don’t need to. I am really happy for the experience It helped me understand where I come from and not to be afraid of where I come from, the background I have.
Adam and the rest of the family plan to return to the Svalyava orphanage just after Valentine’s Day.
Meanwhile, Leanne and Bill plan to visit Zachary’s orphanage to give them some CDs for the kids and our respects. It’s only ten blocks away from where we live. Zachary will not accompany us. He has no interest in visiting his orphanage. He doesn’t share the need that Adam had to reclaim his orphanage years. After all, Zachary has no memories of the place. He was only one when he left. He’ll be happy to leave Ukraine behind.