Yes, it was a year ago – Jan. 4, 2007 – that Veeka and I first met. I was still jet-lagged from having arrived in the country two days before when I arose some time near dawn, threw down the first of the many weird breakfasts I would have at Hotel Tseleena, then jump into a freezing van for an hour ride through snowy steppes to Rudney where we pulled up at a somber brick orphanage, then clambered inside. The smell of urine nearly knocked me over. There was the discussion with the orphanage director, then the big march upstairs to a large room I’d get to know very well during the next 3 weeks.
About 10-15 children were playing there and then I spotted one that looked about the age of little Veronika Ahmedianova. She was scowling. As they brought her to me, she started to shriek. She would continue to act like this for the next 2 weeks. I flet pretty helpless trying to spin a top for her and take her around on a tricycle while the interpreter, orphanage director, adoption coordinator and orphanage doctor all looked on. Very little pleased Miss Veeka that day and she was awfully glad to be rescued from me and restored to Lena, her caregiver.
Tonight, Veeka and I dined on steak and salad and she ate about half the steak! She kept on signing “more” so she got more. Then she kept on saying “cookie” so I had to dredge up something with a flour tortilla, butter, sugar and cinnamon in a microwave as I had forgotten to get something special. But we did burn a special candle I had gotten for her in Kazakhstan plus we went and got some snow boots for her immediately after work. And tonight she got an extra long hot bath.
Sooo, compare the first photo of Veeka (in the yellow sweater) and the other orphanage kids with one taken last week at Oma and Opa’s. She’s gained about 5 pounds, grown 3 or so inches and her feet have increased by 2 sizes. Saturday morning, the social worker comes for Veeka’s yearly assessment which all adopted parents have to agree to.
And I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, I am encouraging several single women in this area to do the same thing.