Sorry I didn't post last night. I think this whole experience finally caught up with me, and I just crashed earlier than usual. But I want to keep a daily record of what we are doing, so I am going to go back and tell about yesterday.
Up until this point, we have had our coordinator with us most of the time to interpret for us while visiting Vova. But today she said she had to go to Simpferopol to work on some paperwork all day. She told us she would send a driver to take us to the orphanage at 2:00, and he would pick us back up at 4:00. Other than that, we were on our own!
As 2:00 approached, Jeff mentioned that he was nervous today, since we didn't know if we would be able to communicate at all with Vova. I was feeling those same trepidations. But when the driver pulled up, we went.
For the first time, we did not see Vova when we got there. But I saw some of the boys from yesterday, so I tried to ask them where Vova was, but they didn't know. During the 10 minutes or so that we waited for him to show up, we had the opportunity to meet other children who we had not seen before. Yesterday I learned how to ask, “What is your name” in Russian, so that's what I asked everyone who came up. They didn't seem to mind that we didn't speak very much Russian; they were just happy that someone was giving them some attention.
Eventually, Vova came bounding up the stairs to where we were. He was dressed very nice, with a button-down collared shirt on, and a handsome vest on top of that. He gave us a hug, then motioned that he needed to go change clothes. We learned later that he was dressed up because the Inspector wanted to speak with him. At that meeting, Vova had to put into writing that he did, indeed, want to be adopted by us.
When he returned with his play-clothes on, a group of us went back to our room. Today Kiril, Ruslan, and Sergay returned. But then we had a new addition, a sweet little boy named Aziz. They wanted to play Uno, so Vova began dealing the cards out. We had only been playing a few minutes when one of the workers at the orphanage came in and began screaming at Sergay. He was obviously scared of her...so was I. After he left the room with her, I realized that Kiril was hiding under the table. It was sad and funny all at the same time. I didn't know what to say, and couldn't really say much of anything without our interpreter there, so we just resumed the Uno game. But after just a few minutes, Sergay tiptoed back into the room. Kiril immediately went back under the table, and Sergay found another hiding place of his own. I waited a few minutes to make sure the lady wasn't returning, then I looked over at Sergay, and noticed that he seemed disconnected...like he didn't know if he should join us again or not. So I pulled out a bag of M&M's and asked Sergay if he liked them. His eyes got bright, so I motioned for him to come join us again at the table. Thankfully he did. So I played a game with the boys. I randomly picked M&Ms out of the bag, and whoever could say the color in English the fastest, got the M&M. Or sometimes I would take out 5 green ones, and each one would have to say the word “green” to get it. It was fun, and it served its purpose of breaking the tension in the room.
After that we just spent the afternoon playing. I was amazed at how comfortable it felt being there without the interpreter. In fact, I liked it better, because we were more engaged with the boys. They were all very patient with us as they taught us some Russian, and we had the opportunity to teach them some English.
I gave Vova a set of dry-erase cards where he could practice writing the English alphabet. I guess he had never seen a dry-erase marker before, because he called over his buddies to see how cool it was that this marker could be erased!! It was fun to watch.
Last night, Vova must have been thinking about family, for at some point during our visit, he pulled out a small sheet of paper with words he had written: dad, mom, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandmother, granddaddy. We affirmed to him that yes, indeed, all those words pertain to him now. And one day soon, he will be able to put faces to those hopeful words. Then, Kiril, who has been Vova's biggest supporter, added the word, son, for us. He pointed to Vova and said, “He your son”. Yes. Vova is our son, and that makes us very happy.
When 4:00 rolled around, we looked out the window and saw our driver pull up. We told Vova it was time for us to go. For the first time, he said, “please don't go”. I had to agree with him, I wasn't ready to go either, but we had to. So Vova picked up my backpack and carried it to the car for me, and gave us hugs goodbye.