Saturday, September 24, 2011

Visit #4 (And a Little Police EXCITEMENT!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011
Visiting Day #4

The morning went as usual. We tried to ignore the alarm clock, stayed in bed as long as we could and finally got up and ready. We met Alexei downstairs (we live on the 4th floor of our building) and off we went.

I thought this would be the end of having to elaborate on the ride to the institution but I was wrong. Remember when I said that the driving here is CrAzY???? Well, we thought that our driver was just another CrAzY driver; but, it’s worse. Apparently he is a CrAzY CrAzY driver. Why do I say this you ask? All along we thought there were just no speed limits here. Until today. Halfway to B our driver (an older man in his 60s we were sure would be a “safe” driver) was pulled over by a police man. Let me tell you, it is pretty scary to be pulled over by a police man when you do not speak the language at all. Alexei pulled the car off the road, took his documents out of the glove box and got out of the car. He went and sat in the police car. Then, he came back took money out of his wallet (we are pretty sure he cussed here but we can’t be sure – that is just a guess from context) and went back and paid the police man. We are unsure of whether he paid the ticket or paid the cop off. But either way we were on our way again. We thought he might drive better after this. We were wrong.

 We made it to orphanage alive to find this:

The gates were locked. Just peachy. Our facilitator/lawyer told us we could visit every day if we wanted and now we were locked out. After a harrowing 40 minute drive. Brian called Tatyana on the phone, she made a call to the orphanage and then told Brian someone would be out to unlock the gate. At that point Alexei got out of the car, walked to the side gate (a pedestrian gate) and opened it. That one was not locked. LOL. So we invited ourselves onto the grounds. We were eventually met by a nanny who told us (in modified sign language) to walk around the building and come in the back. So we did. She escorted us into a little room (the room for our first meeting) and we waited for Sterling. And we waited. And we waited. One of our little teenager friends came in and waited with us. Finally that nanny stuck her head in and was surprised he wasn’t down. She told us to wait a minute (mind you NONE of these people speak English) and she would go get him. Finally his nanny brought him in! YAY!

 He was dressed like this:

What on earth is my child wearing? I can’t wait until I can break him out and put him in some Baby Gap. He looked like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz meets Payne Stewart meets Ted Nugent. That blue jacket is velour. Really? I told Brian we weren’t taking any pictures. That obviously didn’t work. LOL. He had several new scratches on his face.  L

 We began playing and played for a few minutes until someone else came in the room. A LOT of the orphans here have families that visit them. They are social orphans. Their families know that they cannot take care of them so they send them off to orphanages but they never sign away their rights. Today one of the older boys had his babushka in tow. They came in to share this tiny little room with us. Not happening. So we packed up our things and we went outside to play (we knew it was ok because Sterling’s nanny had brought us our blanket to spread on the grass.)

Speaking of this room...(this is a great laugh)...I guess when you want to redecorate and you decide you dont need a door anymore, you can just cover it up with wallpaper and pretend it doesn't exist...That's what the institution did (I HAD to take this picture...Brian and I were rolling!) If you look closely you can see the hinges and the door frame covered... HAHAHAHAHA....

 Sterling and I left while Brian stayed to get the bag together (who knows old babushka might be a spy!) Well, Babushka wouldn’t let Brian leave the room until it perfect! Sterling had sat on the futon and the blanket had gotten messy. Brian would put it back up and try to leave and she would scold him in Russian and he would go back and fix it. This happened 4 or 5 times before she actually let him leave the room. LOL. J

His behavior inside is SO VASTLY different from his behavior outside. Inside he throws things, he won’t “play”, and he puts everything in his mouth. Outside he is inquisitive, will “play”, watches things, laughs, and doesn’t throw things at all. We are trying to figure this out. It’s interesting but the minute we get him outside he is a different child. Outside he is actually attentive and most importantly SMILEY!

We had fun outside today. We had snack, played with the slinky, played with the Bumble Ball, took some walks (he’s getting better) and today we played with the bus (just not appropriately) and we rode the Soviet Era Merry Go Round (well Sterling did, just watching him made me woozy.) We tried a different kind of fruit snacks (I’m not a fan) and we won’t be eating those again. Gross. They just stick to his teeth and I know they aren’t getting brushed so no more of those (even though he did like them.) Back to the all natural ones – they are better for him anyway. On a side note, he LOVED the crinkling noise the fruit snack bag made when we took it out. J Talk about giggles! It was hilarious. Brian would try to take the bag from him to open it but then it would crinkle so Sterling would take it back and just LAUGH! It was so funny. I had to get that laugh on tape so I hope the video loads (who knows with our new internet at home…)

How does this thing work???

Mmmmm. Banana Puffs!

Grass moustache! LOL

I love this picture...but I'm not sure why...That scractch under his eye is new...GRRRR

He even knew to hold on! (Although he kicked his shoes off...which he does OFTEN!)

Brian is trying to get the bag of fruit snacks from him...

What else do you have in here??? Lemme look.... (funny he knows where his stuff comes from and when he doesn't want something, he will put back in the bag...LOL)

That giggle! I wish I could have taped longer but if I tape too long it takes FOREVER to upload!

Eventually we were joined outside by all the groupas. The boys love gather around us and we know they want to play with our toys so sometimes we let them or show them how one works. Today I made the Bumble Ball go for 2 of the older boys (probably 9ish) and they just giggled and giggled. But they always get told by the nannies to leave us alone. (But they always venture back.) We enjoy watching the boys outside – the older boys really look out for the younger boys and help them go for walks and play with them (they do have a soccer ball!) We love watching that. There are a few others Brian and I love and it will be hard to leave them behind – but Sterling has enough uphill battles for us to climb. I’ll have to try to get pictures (once we get in good with the director) so that I can get them up. Some of them are older but one or two we just LOVE.

We stayed for a while after they came out and then we decided it was time to pack up and leave. We left Sterling with his nanny and folded up the blanket, which one of the boys took from us and took back to her. As we were leaving we watched them sit Sterling on a bench while the other kids played. I’m assuming this is for a few reasons: 1) His mobility isn’t that great 2) everything goes in his mouth and 3) it’s easier to keep him controlled. But, it made us mad and sad.

Our ride home was uneventful and Brian and I played games on our phone to keep ourselves from paying attention to the road. J We won’t be visiting Sterling tomorrow but I will post just some random fun facts about our stay.


  1. We've been pulled over twice. One driver paid the cop off with 50 grivnias (um, wish $6 would get me out of a ticket at home!!) and the other driver talked his way out of it. We've been told that mostly the cops are just pulling people over randomly and trying to get money (one driver said, "for lunch")and don't really want to write out a ticket. Such a different world, here!

    Also- Sterling is rocking that outfit. Wear it like you mean it! Attitude is everything :)

  2. Laurie Im pretty sure that is what our driver pulled out too. 50 grivnas...its the purple one right? The one he pulled out was purple...yea no kidding $6 instead of $210...if only.

    And that outfit...YIKES!

  3. Hi Erin...Glad all is well so far. Yes, the driving is NUTS and the outfits for the kids well I just don't know what to say of that. Bryce had literally 6 layers of clothes when we took him out and it was on 70 out! Sterling is ADORABLE and can't wait for the 2 boys to play back here in O-town!
    Safe travels
    Kim Baumann

  4. Oh my gosh, Erin -- could he be any cuter!?

    We used to call Lil's outfits "Orphan Chic" because they were so wild and varied :)

  5. He will be so handsome in gap clothes!!! I can't wait for you guys to break him out.