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Journals from Russia 2009

2009-01-21 Yaroslavl - a visit to the orphanage

Although not exactly what I would call a small town, Yaroslavl lends itself to that type of feeling. People here seem a little friendlier than they were in Moscow, and being able to walk to several of our destinations adds to that ambiance. I feel in some ways that this small village has a better well baby clinic than we do in the States. Our well baby clinics concentrate their efforts mainly on testing newborns and carrying out a regular schedule of inoculations for babies and young children. Maybe the efforts of the staff at the pediatric polyclinic seemed more directed at the welfare of children because of their focus on not only immunizations, but also on the holistic approach to muscular skeletal development, mental cognition, and speech. I particularly enjoyed seeing the young mothers exercising their own children in the large swimming pool. I was of the impression that not only were they being exercised, but that also these infants and children were learning survival skills to avoid possible drowning. I liked that the mothers were involved in the strengthening exercises, massage, and therapeutic care of their own babies. I think this helps build a very close bond between mother and child. I think the highlight for me in Yaroslavl was our visit to the orphanage. After all the horror stories I have heard about Americans adopting Russian orphans only to see later on the effects their prior lives had on them, I was truly surprised to see children in a somewhat stable environment. I wanted to believe that one of the reasons these children were doing well was because of the doctors interest in their lives; he seemed to take the place of their own father figures. I noticed how clean the orphanage was and how much the people there seemed to genuinely care about the welfare of the children. I am of the belief that these orphans might have a better chance of settling into adoptive homes, with fewer emotional problems, because they feel someone cares about them from the start. My heart went out to those beautiful children, and if it had been possible I would have taken two of the girls home with me. My thoughts went to the idea of adopting the two older girls because they are the hardest to place, yet the two younger ones wanted so badly for us to take them with us to America. I almost felt that they were of the hope that we might possibly adopt them. When we were leaving I could see their expressions turn to ones of sadness and disappointment. It brought tears to my eyes because I sensed how much it would mean to these children to have their own homes with parents to love them. It was good to see an orphanage where social orphans could feel as if someone cares, yet it is sad to think of the many other orphanages around the world where these children are just housed until they are old enough to be out on their own. Anne Prantl

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