PK and the Gang

Bringing Eastern Europe to Eastern North Carolina

There and Back Again

Polish Eagle CloseupAt last, here is the promised blog post from the rest of our time in Poland. While I desperately wanted to write more while we were in Poland, we were exhausted and I was quickly aware that I needed a bit of time to process everything that happened before I put fingers to keyboard.

When we last left our heroes, the Arthur family had just met. The next day, we were supposed to be at the orphanage at 10:30am. Our facilitator told us at breakfast that she was going to have to meet us there because she had to go to the court to work on details of another adoption she was working on. When Becky and I travel to a new city, we love to walk around – besides being cheaper than taking taxis, you also get to have a better feel for the town. We had already looked up directions to the orphanage and decided to hoof it for the two miles to PK. We even left a few minutes early to give us a cushion; you know, just in case.

It all started out so well. We got about ten minutes into our journey and then hit a massive roadwork project. We needed to cross the street but there was no way to get over to the next street we needed to take. No big deal, just go down a block, shoot across the street, head up a block or two and cross over, right? Not so much. There just wasn’t a street to cross over. When we did finally find one, we were incredibly far away from the directions, without a map, and the clock was ticking down to when we had to be at the orphanage. With no other options, we trudged on and eventually ended up on a street that I recognized from pictures on the internet – the Avenue of the Virgin Mary. This is the city’s main drag that leads to the Jasna Gora monastery. We knew the orphanage was near Jasna Gora but not in what direction. A few wrong turns later and we saw the city’s information center. We dove in. The ladies working in the center were a little taken aback by the crazed couple who suddenly appeared in their office, but I think they understood when I asked in Polish “Where is…” and hand them a piece of paper with the name of the orphanage on it. We were given a map and are happy to find we weren’t too far away. Some more dashing through the streets and we end up at the orphanage, only about ten minutes late. Not too bad for being in a strange city where you don’t even know enough of the language to ask where the bathroom is.

We were sent to the room where we met PK first to wait while the staff fetched Sister and

Polish Madonna

PK. We had a few moments to catch our breath and were pleased with ourselves that we had still managed to beat the facilitator. After a few minutes Sister came in the room alone. A pediatrician visits the orphanage three times a week and during her visit that day, PK and a few of the other kids had blood work done. It apparently took a lot out of PK and she was sound asleep. We were asked to come back in the afternoon. We waited until our facilitator got there and she took us to Jasna Gora. This monastery is the spiritual heart of Poland. Every August crowds of people make a pilgrimage there because it is the home to the miraculous image of the Black Madonna. I can’t imagine what it would be like in August because even on just a Friday in April, it was packed. Still, despite the crowds, the beauty, serenity and devotion that permeated the atmosphere gave a peace that calmed the franticness that had been our morning. After the visit, our facilitator left and Becky and I were on our own.

After grabbing some lunch at a KFC (which is crazy popular in Poland), we went back to the orphanage. Sister brought PK down to us. After chatting for a while, we were left alone with her. That day, PK was not feeling Dad at all. If I got too close, she’d scream. When she wasn’t screaming, she was staring at me as though she was doing commentary on a nature documentary, “The hairy one continues to make strange faces and sounds at me. Clearly, he is the slowest member of the pack, liable to be taken down by lions or other larger predators.” She loves Becky, though, and was happy to be carried by and snuggle with her. I wish I could post a picture of the two of them. It’s a snapshot of my perfect world.

While I have loved meeting PK, I realize that we’ve not seen the true her. We’re still

IMG_20160416_035013

Though she be small, she be fierce

getting to know each other. While Becky and I have been open with her, PK has no idea what’s going on and, because of that, has no reason to drop her guard. Eventually, we’ll get to see her in all her glory but until then, we have to rely on Sister’s stories. They’re great stories, guys. She looks like a living doll, but knows what she wants. Currently, she’s the oldest kid in her room. They’ve  considered putting her in the 18-month room. This room is occupied by three boys and they’ve decided not to put PK in the room. Partly because she’s so much smaller and they don’t want her to get hurt, partly because she doesn’t suffer fools and they don’t want the boys to get hurt. She’s got very dexterous fingers and enjoys untying shoes. Hers are constantly double or triple tied. When she’s tired, she’s going to sleep. However, she wants to sleep in comfort and she knows where the cabinet is with the extra pillows and blankets. She’ll dig out the pillows and sleep on them or just climb into the cabinet and sleep there. When she does warm up to me, I’m going to have my hands full.

Our last day, PK was not feeling well. She’s teething which made her miserable and even had a bit of a fever. She did let me comfort her a bit, which thrilled me to no end. All too soon, though, the time came when we had to leave. Sister came to take her and told us how nice it was to meet us and that she knew that she was going to have a good family and that she would be safe at our house. It might sound strange to some but having a nun trust me with one of her precious little ones means the world to me. Full of tears, we kissed PK and told her we loved her. She reached out for us and Sister smiled and said, “See, she wants to go with you.” Talk about twisting the knife. We tried to hold it together but were both crying. There was a lady in the lobby who was probably visiting a grandchild. She saw us and gave us us a look of love and sympathy that surpassed language. It was so sweet, but also opened the floodgates. We left the orphanage in tears but quickly pulled it together since we had to walk two miles down the main street of a big city.

So now, we’re back home, an ocean away from our heart. We have some work to do before we get to see her again. Besides preparing the house, we have paperwork. The fact that we’ve accepted a referral means that we will have a better chance applying for grants as well. It’s a lot but it’s good because we’ll definitely need something to do to keep us from just wishing the days away until we see that sweet face again.

 

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3 thoughts on “There and Back Again

  1. Susan Farrar on said:

    I am SO glad you are doing this!!! I know it will be heartbreaking and difficult for you but the two of you are making a huge difference in a country with a huge need! You are both heroes!! Poland is a fascinating country rich in history and tragedy and is estimated to have as many as 80,000 orphans within its borders. Poland is roughly the size of New Mexico. With 350 orphanages and 100 smaller family-run orphanages, Poland currently has the highest number of orphanages in Central Europe. Most of the children in their care have suffered emotional trauma, and the orphanages do not have the resources needed to meet the needs of these children. 25,000 of Poland’s orphans live in state-run orphanages. 90% are social orphans, generally meaning that they have been removed from their parental home because of neglect, abuse, poverty, or the parents have lost their parental rights. There is a growing need in Poland for families to adopt.

    • Hi Susan,
      While we definitely aren’t thrilled about the four to five months between now and the next time we will see PK, we know we will see her again. While much of what you’ve shared about Poland is true, I think it’s also important to share that PK’s orphanage is a place full of love and resources. A pediatrician comes about three times a week, a psychologist visits regularly, and PK has seen one of the best eye specialists in the region and has gotten top medical care. Granted, we’ve only had the experience with the one orphanage and, as a Catholic institution, it gets support from both the church and the state. Becky and I both loved the fact that, despite what our American mindset of what an orphanage is, this particular institution works with parents of many of its children to reunite families and get them the help they need to be able to do that. Poles are very good about adopting their own children and the desire is to keep as many in the country as possible. Poland has also, in recent years, seen the benefit of foster families and the number of children in foster care is growing. While it is obvious that the best place for a child in in a home, we’ve been so pleased with what we have seen as far as the love, care and support our little one and those with her have received.

  2. Jackie on said:

    My heart aches with you and pray time goes fast until you can bring her home.
    Can’t wait to see her and love on her.Love Jackie

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