Monday, June 4, 2007

June 1 Holiday for children

The first of June is a holiday celebrating children in the former USSR. Ukraine seems to have continued the tradition. I understand that women’s day is sometime in February and Red Army day was a defacto men’s day of celebration.

The orphanage in Donetsk gathered the children in the playroom who were joined by the staff and many adults – including adopting parents and perhaps relatives of the children.
As the Mistress of Ceremonies recited a story into a large felt flower she led the children in song and dance. At times the children passed around a baby doll. In a touching part of the event a five year old blind resident recited a lengthy poem to the director of the orphanage and presented here with a gift of crafts and pictures. She and everyone in the room shed a tear or two. At the end each child received a small gift (gummy fruit wedges). Later, outside, Mikola was very industrious at opening the package and stuffed two fistfuls of the treats in his mouth. His grin not only showed how happy he was with his accomplishment, but also how he couldn’t fit anything more in his mouth much less chew what was there.

Mikola seems to be making some kind of association with me. After the ceremony he saw me in the hallway as he was being led off to his room, and he seemed to express some dismay at having to go to his room. Irena, the head teacher also spotted me and went to get him so we could go outside for a visit.

At the end of my visits and when it is time to go inside he pulls his usual trick of going limp, dropping his body, and rolling around on the floor, ground, or dirt. This is a common response of his to anything that he doesn’t like. He is very good at it and will do it anywhere without any regard to his surroundings. I can just picture him doing this in the states especially in the middle of grocery stores or other inconvenient settings. Inevitably after one of these episodes, he is covered in dirt, but when I return for the next visit he is fresh and clean. The caretakers must curse me when this happens.

His best friend Mariano, who is also being adopted, seems to be very afraid of getting into cars or going past the orphanage gate. Meanwhile, Mikola can barely be stopped when he sees a car. The Italian couple seemed apprehensive about what was going to happen when the time comes to take Marion home. In our best attempt at communicating with Italian and English hand gestures, we decided to coax Mariano across the gate line with Mikola. There are other ways that they seem to complement each other well.

Don’t do this at home:

Today, June 2, I took a random tram to the southern end of the city. After waiting out a torrential rain in a cafй, I headed in a random direction just to see more of the city and happened upon the terminal and workshop of the street rail trams. From outside the gate I noticed an old refurbished street car and took a picture. A man in a uniform emerged and signaled me from inside the yard. The last time this happened Beth was admonished for taking a picture. But, as he approached he uttered a phrase that I hear often at the orphanage, that I believe is used to encourage someone to come and follow. So I did. He invited me to take more pictures closer up and even go inside (not that I understood what he said). Then he further encouraged me to follow him and as we got closer to the back to the yard in a more secluded place, I was thinking, now I’ve done it and who really knows I’m here!

Tucked away in a barn was a refurbished #1 street car. It may have been redone for a 70th anniversary celebration in 1998 – as it had the numbers 1928 – 1998 on each side. The first street car outside was #2 embellished with 1928 – 2003 on its sides.

For a city that doesn’t offer much for tourists – it was a nice gesture to me a stranger, randomly showing up in an obscure cranny of town. My thanks to the yardman, whoever he may be.

June 4 Decree in Hand

I received the court decree today granting our adoption of Mikola. Roman will arrive tomorrow and we'll scurry about to finish up the Ukraine paperwork and then off to Kiev for more US paperwork. Then some more waiting and a long trip home, changning in London and overnighting in New York.

By the way;

For anyone else thinking about doing this, American Airlines has been very flexible with changing my ticket at a minimal change fee. The adoption rate of $650+ one way, while not cheap, is a reasonable fare for our latest addition. It’s about 1/3 to 1/2 of an unrestricted roundtrip ticket and is about the same as a highly restricted round trip fare.


Nessie309 said...

Hey Sig - That was a bit risky old boy - they could have had you out working in the Siberian mines for spying - An American walking around taking pictures with a camera!

So now that you're on your own there - how are you filling your evenings? - hanging out in bars or what? - Missed you at the poker on Friday - it was a good night...

Hope you have a good journey home...I'd dread flying all that way on my own with a 2 year old...
Good luck

JanetPG said...

We just found your blog - Congratulations, Beth and Sig and Ethan! We are so happy for you, and can't wait to meet Kola. Safe travels.
Janet, Rich, David, Laurie, Stephanie Gayes