We were so excited when our plane finally touched down in the cold Russian winter on a late February day. We looked at each other as if to say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!” We had just landed in Magnitogorsk, Russia just east of the Ural mountains. After so many years of planning and saving we were finally here to adopt our beautiful little girl.
When we visited the orphanage the next day, one of the first things we noticed is how it reminds you more of a doctor’s office than an orphanage. The Orphanage Director is a doctor and the workers all wear white uniforms. We later learned that over half of the children in their care have significant health problems.
We felt extremely blessed to at least be able to take one of the children out. We have now had Katerina for about six months and she is adjusting very well.
Another blessing we had during our visit was to have the opportunity to bring some of your donations to the orphanage personally. Even though the orphanage director spoke very little English, her smile spoke volumes as the translator informed her of the gift from All of God’s Children. She immediately listed many things that the money would be used for which included: playpens, developmentally disabled play equipment, specialized cribs for the disabled children, food, and medicine.
She then said she would call the other orphanage in the city which housed children above the age of four. The other Orphanage Director was also very thankful and asked if we could use part of the donation to purchase 70 each of China-type plates, bowls, cups; and sandals and shoes of various sizes for children ages 4-7 years old.
The Russian people are a very dignified people. This is taught in the orphanages to the children as well. All the orphanage children’s hair, boys AND girls, is kept very short, but the girls (even babies) wear dresses every day. Babies less than a year old are not only being potty trained (they can’t afford disposable diapers) but also taught to drink from tiny China cups. They use the breakable china to help teach the children social skills and to help them learn that if they drop the china and break it how to clean it up.
So we gave our daughter’s orphanage a sizeable donation and then set out shopping at “street markets” recommended by our translator to buy the dishes and shoes for the 2nd orphanage. Because of the sizes of the cars over there, it took us two different shopping days to get the quantities of items the orphanage needed. (The cars over there are mainly the sizes of Escorts.) We first went to buy the dishes. Due to the quantities we needed we had to go to a warehouse type setting. We referred to it as the Russian Sam’s Club!