The early morning air was gray and sleepy as we drove through the city to get Maria early this morning, it was going to be such a treat! We pulled up to her orphanage and the playground was vacant. No one was out yet, all the kids were still inside. Sveta, Dasha, Andrew and I approached the grey, cement building through it’s crooked, heavy door. We walked down the hall, and saw 3 sets of eyes I had never seen before peeking at us from behind a cracked door. “Masha mama,” they said. “Previet,” I smiled and gave them a secret wave, but they quickly pulled back into the room, and the door closed. We walked upstairs and two lanky girls popped out of another door, eager to say hi to us, but they were scolded and the door was closed before we could say hi to them. When we saw Maria’s care givers, they greeted us warmly, I think they just can’t handle how happy they are that we chose Maria, their love for her means they can’t help but love us. One woman told us, “You so young to adopt her? You want young family?” “We want Maria,” we smiled at her. “She is young, we have a young family.” “Da,” the woman smiled.
Maria popped her head out from around the corner, bursting at the seams to come see us. She had the same outfit on as yesterday, plus a jacket buttoned all the way up, and her hair was in braids! Someone took the time to get her ready for her special day. Her long white ribbon sat proudly in her hair, the one from ‘Babushka.’
She melted into our arms, and whispered, “Sratsvuche mama,” as she wrapped her arms all the way around me, then to papa. “Strasvuche papa.”
We were off to the baby house to drop off our other huge bag of donations provided by our amazing and generous friends back home. (Some sweet baby is going to be wearing an Air Jordan onesie soon! And we wanted Maria to go with us.
Poor Maria got adopted into a family with a teacher as the mama. Today we gave her princess flash cards to help learn English numbers. Poor thing. But we had a good time talking about numbers in the car, so was so focused!
We found out that is was the house that Maya grew up in, so I prayed for her heart when we pulled in to the drive. We unloaded the heavy suitcase to carry inside. We had to buy little covers for our feet before we could go in.
|Papa helped Maria|
Even with previous experience in baby orphanages, it still hurts. But I have to brag how amazing Maria is, I am the proudest mama on the whole planet, I tell you. We couldn’t love this little girl more than we already do.
The five of us walked down a dark hallway, it was still early morning, hearing the echo of a few cries here and there, as we approached the stairs. Maria knew just where to go. We saw a line of precious toddlers walking to the potty rooms, eyes wide and excited to see us, a couple of them faces we knew from RR.
“MASHA!” called out a sweet, older woman with glasses, strands of hair coming out of her bun and lipstick mostly worn off. “Masha, Masha,” and embraced her. Other care givers came and the ones that knew her were so happy to see her. “Mama, papa?” they asked, pointed to us? She looked down, not being able to hide her huge smile, “Da,” she whispered.
Then they gave us the greatest gift we could imagine. One disappeared down the hall, and came back with 2 photos of our girl from when she was a toddler! “Maria!” I said. I couldn’t believe it! “For you,” the woman told me. “Spaseba Balshoyay!” I said and gave that woman a hug. Andrew and I were thrilled, I tell ya!
Mama, papa and Maria made some home made puppets while we waited. “Kakdela, Lala!” “Harasho!”
I think at that point we were supposed to be done, but I asked if we could see some of the babies in the rooms lining the long hallway.
“I don’t know…” started Dasha. But when we saw some pass by, I knew we had to.
Andrew was helping with the donations, so I took Maria’s hand and we went into a closed door.
We were greeted by a kind woman changing the diaper of the cutest baby I have ever seen, little birdie face with strawberry blonde hair. White, metal cribs lined the walls, each holding a silent baby who stared at us behind silent, round eyes. (I can’t share pictures of any babies faces out of respect to the babies, and the orphanage)
I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to, but I bent down to talk to one of the babies, ready to get kicked out any second. “Hi beautiful one,” I whispered to a round eyed cutie. He or she stared back, locking eyes with me. “Hi sweetheart, I love you,” and tickled the little one under their chin, and he or she burst into a smile and a sweet laugh. “Hi baby, do you want a toy?” I asked. I told Maria to grab me a baby toy out of a small bin of toys in the corner. She gave the baby a toy, and I went to the next crib and picked the little one up who was rocking side to side on it’s feet while holding the side of it’s crib. “Hi little one!” I said, staring into soft brown eyes, rimmed with lashes.
I noticed Maria walk down to a crib in the corner, and reach her hand in to the fussy, very upset baby. When I saw this little one’s face, my emotions got the best of me. She was skin and bones, wrinkled face, pitifully crying. My Maria, without a word, stroked her leg and rubbed her back—a baby that most wouldn’t even touch, one that I have to admit, hurt too much to look at. But Maria. She chose just to comfort the crying one, a humble action. I was so proud of her. “Mama is so, so proud of you for showing this little one love. Maria is a very, very good girl,” I said, unable to hide my tears for the baby, it just killed me. She smiled, but her gaze was still on the little one. Maria and I grabbed all the toys and gave one to each baby, before we went to the next room.
They were a bit bigger in this room and all stood with their hands on their cribs, staring at us wide eyed, silent. “BABY!” I said loudly and came very close quickly and tickled under their chins. They gave a quick, shocked smile, confused. We stroked their cheeks, peek a booed them, and picked them up, saying sweet things to them.
“You like them?” Dasha asked. “Yes, they are so cute!” I said. “Usually parents just like their own kids,” she said. “Oh come on, you know how cute they are.” “Yes, they are very cute,” and soon she was tickling a big blue eyed blondie who giggled and giggled.
We were told we had to leave the room. As we walked out, little round faced cutie followed us with her eyes as we left. When we got to the door, she just lost it. Just dissolved into tears and fell to her mattress. “Oh baby,” I said and ran back to pick her up one more time. “You’re ok! You’re ok!” and I bounced her. I gave her a purple teether in the shape of a butterfly and had to leave.
We saw one more room full of teeny tiny babies, that I think were all born this month or last before we had to go. Gorgeous. Smiling, sleepy angels.
We let Maria take a few pictures, and they invited her to eat lunch with some of the toddlers. She was so cute sitting at her little chair, eating. Something about it was just so humble, obedient and sweet. She just wanted to please her old caregivers.
|Eating her mush in the back. Sweet girl.|
I put some more toys around in the cribs, and we left.
The care givers try to do what’s best for the babies, but they know there are just too many. They know families are best for the babies, and they want families for them all. But they honestly do the best they can. The babies are fed, and clothed, but they spend most, or all their time in their beds.
We wouldn’t be able to visit Maria in the afternoon, so we decided to give her a present from her cousin Charlee. And guess what Charlee! Maria LOVES Hello Kitty too! I mean really LOVES Hello Kitty. It was the perfect gift, you and your cousin will have so much in common, and when you have your Hello Kitty birthday party this year (for the second year in a row) your cousin Maria will come too! We can’t wait.
Hipstomatic Pictures in the Car
For lunch, we had some beet salad, soup and split a BLT. Does that sound kind of gross? It’s not, it’s so good! We have a whole afternoon to ourselves, so now it’s off on an adventure.
Tomorrow we get to take Maria out into the city! How fun is that?! I have this inner battle with myself. I don’t want to warp her world view, and buy her every little thing, because I know she is happy with just mama and papa. Plus, I know that coming home each day with a little gift from us is hard on the other kids in her groupa who are already having to deal with seeing their friend being adopted without them, but it’s just too fun to shower her with love. And just is just so appreciative of each thing, it’s so fun!! I gotta start praying for my parenting skills for my big girl.
Dasvidena for now. Our time here is running short. Please pray for those babies, that their families find them soon, they are simply incredible.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
Psalm 63: 3
The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. ~Mother Teresa