Vera should have gone to a mental institution when she turned 4, but because
We were able to visit and tour the baby orphanage where Vera lived her first four years. They were so sweet and were trying so hard to give those babies stimulation, even while living in a town that was amazingly poor, even by Russian standards. We'll never forget the newborn room--18 babies and one worker. Can you even imagine? Nonetheless, they had dedicated one room of the orphanage to stimulation. They had a disco ball, nature music, a bean bag chair, flashing lights...I have no idea where they got the idea that this was the sort of stimulation these kids needed but like I said, they were trying.
Vera's orphanage was also trying. They had a giant inflatable bounce house type thing in the main room when we arrived. No kids were on it, but it did look used. Vera's group had a play room with lots of toys and they were actually played with (something that doesn't always happen). Most importantly, when Vera's group went out to play the workers played with them. That's not to say the kids weren't needy; they lapped up our attention. They weren't frantic, however, and that's important.
One sad moment has stayed with me over the years: a beautiful, beautiful, girl of mixed Caucasian/native Siberian origin (think Enuit) walked up to me, holding out her hands for me to see that they had been injured. Our facilitator/interpreter told us she was wanting us to bring her home, too, and showing us how much she needed a family because of her disabled hands (her parents were neglectful and had let her wander out of their home in the Arctic Circle, barely dressed, and causing the severe frostburn that disfigured her hands). As far as I know, she was never adopted. This particular part of Russia is just so remote and only two agencies worked with the orphanage; both agencies were quite small and the agency we used closed when the owner died a couple of years after Vera's adoption.
On a happier note, after our court session we returned to the orphanage and took Vera out for a drive around her hometown. She happily jumped in the car and had the best time! It was cold, the town isn't beautiful but it was a great ride because we got to see so much of her excited personality. I had brought clothes with me to make they would fit her for the next day when we would take her out. The orphanage workers asked to keep the clothes and shoes so that they could have her dressed and ready for us the next day. Sure enough, they had put her in the cute aqua outfit my mom had bought for her...and had added bright orange tights that showed up very well with the Mary Jane shoes I had brought (I hadn't brought socks to try on the day before because, well, they're socks!).
Nothing like an aqua/orange combo
Thankfully, Vera was just as excited about going with us as she'd been the day before. She was more than happy to jump into our car again! She still loves to go places. I don't think she had a clue that we weren't coming back. We hopped on our plane at 1 p.m. local time and arrived in Moscow 8 hours later at 1 p.m. local time! We crossed 8 time zones in 8 hours!! That was a long day. Thankfully, Vera slept for almost the entire flight.
We stayed in a beautiful, very Westernized hotel in Moscow--the Marriot Tverskaya, I believe it was. They had a large open space on the third story and we took Vera there to play ball. Yes, even then she liked to play ball! We ventured out occasionally, but it was slushy and cold and dreary so mostly we stayed in, slept a lot, and got to know our Vera.
(Obviously, this was purchased before we got to know our Vera)
We arrived at DFW airport in the early evening and my kids and nieces immediately surrounded Vera, talking and trying to hug her...and she started kicking at them! Ooops! Nonetheless, we made it home, made a pallet for all the kids in our room, and on a bright October morning much like today Vera awakened to a family full of forgiving brothers and sisters who immediately pulled her out our door to play on the swing set. She never looked back.
Vera during her fun nighttime routine in Mommy's bathroom
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
...remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ....Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:12-13; 19-20