The Sixth Letter.  May 16, 200

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Only 23 Days Until We Go Home - May 16th

Yes, we are starting to count the days. The longer we are gone the more I miss home. We continue to visit the orphanage twice a day. Going with the other couples makes it fun. We will hear about whether we will be getting an apartment today (we hope).

One of the really great things you see at the orphanage is the change in the babies once their parents start spending time with them…it’s quite remarkable. There is one British couple who is adopting two infants (a boy and a girl). The first couple of days they brought the babies into the visitation room they were like little zombies. They were stiff and stared into space…now they are moving around, interested in everything and talking baby talk. We have witnessed a miraculous change in their behavior! The attention and stimulation they receive from their parents makes a world of difference!

We’re not sure if Andrei and Vera have undergone the same conversion since they are older, although both their doctors say they have seen improvement. Andrei’s behavior has been mostly good on our recent visits. His tantrums don’t last as long and he has had fewer of them. One couple that is here brought their 4-year old son with them. Andrei has seen his parents giving him (the four-year old) bananas to eat. So, of course, he wanted a banana. We bought him one and he was thrilled!! I had to take it away from him when he had it half eaten because I was afraid he would choke himself…both his cheeks were full and he kept shoveling it in. As soon as he finished it he wanted another.

Vera has gotten very accustomed to being held and seems happy to be in our arms. She fell asleep in mine yesterday….what a great feeling!

Dave has been spending his leisure time doing word puzzles in this book he found among the items left by previous couples. Our adoption agency, Children at Heart, has this duffle bag (a cache so to speak) that gets passed from couple to couple which contains supplies and unwanted items left behind like books, videos, can openers, assorted dishes, a microwave, and a hot plate among other things. Dave found this book with word puzzles. Now he’s on a mission to complete all 76 puzzles before we go home (I think he said he’s done 57 of them so far).

On our daily visits to the orphanage we see the other children living there and we always stop to talk to them. We have given some of them nicknames. There is one kid that we call "Dennis the Menace". He always runs up to us and looks at us with this screwed up expression. Then he usually grabs either Dave’s or my hand and starts playing with Dave’s or my watch. There’s another child we call "Mr. Jolly" because he is not. I keep trying to get him to smile, but he won’t. He is the saddest looking child I have ever seen. I keep telling him someone might adopt him if he would smile, but he continues to scowl anyway.

Andrei is talking a lot more and using more English words. He will repeat full sentences that he hears from Dave or I, although I’m not sure he completely understands their meaning. He can count up to six pretty well. He seems to like learning things. I don’t think he will have any trouble learning English.

We visited a museum last Friday. It was pretty interesting except we couldn’t read any of the little explanations they put under the displays. There was a picture of one American in the museum….Hilary Clinton (can you believe it?). She apparently visited here when she was First Lady. Kazakhstan has a pretty interesting history. The current President has been in office for a long time. In fact, he was President (or some other title) when Kazakhstan was part of the Soviet Union. He is in his last year as President (they serve 7 year terms and are limited to two terms) as an election will be held next year. Kazakhstan is one of the most stable countries in this region and has the strongest economy.

I will try to keep doing letters for the web site, but once we have the children full-time it will be more difficult (still not sure when that will be). We appreciate the e-mail, as well as your thoughts and prayers!

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(Editor:  We'll understand if life gets pretty busy.  Write when you can. We do look forward to your letters, and especially to your homecoming.)

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