Would you believe it if I said that I didn't take any pictures today? So I am going to use this time to answer a few questions we have been getting. Some of these are repeats from an earlier post but that was before she arrived. (And it feels like a lifetime ago!)
So are you adopting her?
No, Nastya is just visiting our family for a few weeks this summer. She has some extended family back home with whom she maintains a relationship.
Well, isn't that just cruel to show her your nice stuff and your family then send her back?
No, Nastya is just visiting. She was invited and she decided to come on this trip. For her it is simply a vacation and a chance to travel. Just like when you go on vacation, you know it is a fun break but only temporary.
Does she speak any English?
She does and has the cutest little accent but I doubt you will ever hear her. She is very shy in public and groups. She talks the most when she is asking JoJo not to bother her or teasing one of us!
Wait...so she has come before?
Yes, this will be her second trip. The family she stayed with over Christmas loves her very much and has kept in contact with her. They were unable to host this summer and are glad she is staying with us. They have been a great resource to us as we prepare for her visit. They have sent her gifts and postcards. We are attempting to Skype.
How does this orphan hosting thing work again?
We are hosting through New Horizons for Children. You can read more about the organization by clicking HERE. We pay her expenses so she can spend summer in the US being part of a family, doing touristy things, and practicing English rather than at an Eastern European summer camp.
So she celebrated a birthday? I sent a card but I never saw anything about it on the blog.
We cannot release identifying information such as her name and date of birth. That is why we haven't yet posted any birthday pictures. If I posted them on the day we celebrated then essentially I would be posting her date of birth!
Ummm, Laura, you just said you couldn't share her name but you are!
Sort of, Nastya is her nickname. It is not her given name so I can use it here.
When does she leave?
Nastya flies out of Indianapolis on Monday, July 29th. We are going to Indy on Sunday morning to spend the day at the Zoo and doing other touristy things. We have to be at the airport very early Monday morning so we are going to stay in a hotel.
So will you talk to her? Is she ever coming back?
We probably won't talk to her much. Time change and not speaking the same language make that tricky. Remember she lives in a children's home so it isn't like she has a lot of personal access to a telephone. We will send her cards and small gifts. Mail is unreliable her in country so packages are more of a gamble especially if they appear to contain anything of value. She will not be able to write us back because she does not have access to money to purchase stamps.
Why don't you just give her money to buy stamps or a phone card?
It doesn't work that way. One of the rules to the program is that we cannot send back ANY money not even just a few coins for a souvenir. Sadly, any amount of US money can cause problems for her and even put her in danger.
Danger? Why would a few cents put her in danger?
Life in a children's home can be tough. Children and teens living there have learned to take what they need. Items such as electronics, name brand clothing and shoes, and US money make her a target for thief and even bullying.
So you are sending her home empty-handed?
Nope. She has a rolling duffle and large backpack that will be filled to the brim with items we are required to send back with her and some approved extras. Required times include winter coat, gloves and hat, long pants, long-sleeve shirts, shorts, short-sleeve shirts, socks, underwear, and toiletries. Extras will be photographs, small gifts for her, small gifts for her friends, teachers, and the director of her children's home.
How can you just let her go back?
What do you mean? People keep asking us this question and it is starting to bug me! Are you suggesting that we kidnap her? Or are you suggesting we are heartless and don't care that she has to leave? Maybe it is better for you to think of this like a student exchange program. Nastya has a life and extended family with whom she has contact back in her country. She has no plans to live her in the US. We love having her and will miss her very much but she is a just a guest.
Just a guest? I have heard her call you "Momma" and "Daddy".
Unless you have experience with children from situations like this, it is almost impossible to explain. I am no expert but here is my opinion: Children need families. They are resilient. They do what they need to do to survive. Sometimes that is taking on temporary parenting figures. That is OK!
In fact, that is one of the benefits to this program. Nastya, who lives in a group setting, gets a chance to live in a family. She has no other opportunity to really see how members of a family interact. This isn't just parent-child interactions. This also includes husband-wife interactions. The adults in her life are paid to be there. Just like public school teachers here, these adults wear many hats and some go above and beyond for the children...it still isn't the same as a family. (And just like public school teachers they are not available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.)
We do love her more than 'just a guest'. When we agreed to host her, we knew that it would mean a lifetime commitment to love and care for her in whatever capacity we can. More than likely this will trickle down to simply praying for her for the rest of our lives.