Family to Every Child

by Charity Fund 'Our Children' ('Deti nashi')
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child
Family to Every Child

A ten-year-old boy Roma was put into a social rehabilitation center in times of need for his family. Together with his parents and a four-year-old sister, the boy lives in a rural area in Smolensk region, where there is no stable job for adults. The family survives on part-time jobs and thanks to their meager household. The parents placed Roma in an extended daycare group at a social center, so that after school classes, the son was under the supervision of teachers, could have meals and ride a school bus free of charge. In the evenings, by verbal agreement between the parents and the center management, the boy returned home.

That was not a problem until the entire world went into self-isolation due to COVID and the social rehabilitation center closed the doors for the children who lived in it, and at the same time for Roma, who did not live in the center. It appeared that the children were not allowed to leave the institution and the parents were not allowed to see their children, even outside. All, the parents knew, was that the situation, as if under siege, could last until November.

In no time, the stressful situation affected Roma's behavior. Suddenly being cut off from his family, he did not know how to express his fear and protest. Hidden negative emotions quickly found a way out in the boy's aggressive behavior.

Alexandra, Roma's mother, is a modest, quiet woman. A few times she tried her best to convince the social center management to return Roma home, but to no avail, which made her feel even more helpless. In addition, the center stuff dropped hints that the family would not be able to get Roma ready for school by the beginning of the school year without their support: the boy needs a school uniform, shoes, sportswear, backpack, school supplies. Truly speaking, the family did not have the money for the purchases.

In desperation, the woman approached Our Children Fund with a request to assist in returning her son back to the family.

The Fund's psychologists provided Alexandra with a psychological assistance as it was important to overcome guilt and strengthen her parental responsibility. Legal consultations also helped Alexandra to muster up her strength to be firm when communicating with the social rehabilitation center management and to defend her position.

The fund provided the family with clothes for Roma and at the end of September, the family received a laptop for temporary use in case of distance learning and for Roma’s current homework, which is often asked at school to be done on a computer.

Now Roma is with his parents and sister. The Fund continues patronizing the family, primarily, by providing consultations from specialists who help Roma's parents to believe in themselves and become stronger.

 

Families in difficult life situations live next to us. It is important to help them on time and correctly, so that children in times of crisis for the family stay together with their nearest and loved ones; to prevent troubles so that the family would be able to raise children on its own.

The impact of our professional support for families is that children do not join the ranks of orphans with living parents, when their parents are willing and able to raise them.

Join us and you will realize you can change the world for the better!

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Angelina's long way home
Angelina's long way home

Angelina was separated from her mother for two years. In childhood, when each day is a little life, even a year feels like an eternity.

All throughout those painful days, weeks, months, the girl lived in a state-run orphanage while her mother was in prison. This is when the specialists of the Foundation began to work with Angelina, found out the circumstances of her life and outlined the opportunity for returning her to the family. Now everything depended on the girl's mother.

When working with families in crisis, we appreciate the parents' desire to keep the family together. Our specialists communicate with a variety of families experiencing different vulnerable situations, and not all the parents are willing to raise their children. Helping to mend a stove, making home renovations, going through the paperwork and documents - all this helps the family only if the adults want to be parents. Fortunately for Angelina, her mother had a great desire to raise her child as she maintained affection for her daughter.

Having been released from prison Angelina's mother Lyudmila got actively involved in the process of returning her daughter home. Together with Lyudmila, our social educator Kristina Umnikhina developed an action plan to meet the requirements of the Child Protection Services. With the assistance of the Foundation Lyudmila got a job, made renovations in the house, bought a refrigerator and other household items. She regularly called Angelina and visited her at the orphanage which is 300 kilometers away from home.

The mother and daughter were counting the days until the end of the bad streak in their lives, but when everything seemed to be over and the time had come to reunite and start a new life together another misfortune clouded the existence of this small family. The Child Protection Services had filed a lawsuit to deprive Lyudmila of her parental rights before she could get her daughter out of the orphanage. The mother was charged with unwillingness to take her daughter out of the institution.

At this stage Lyudmila Dergacheva, the Foundation lawyer, got involved in Lyudmila’s story. With her help, Lyudmila set up a counterclaim demanding that the child be returned legally. Lyudmila won the court case and in January, after the court decision came into legal force, the woman was to take her daughter from the orphanage. By that time the girl had almost lost her patience: she had packed her few belongings to leave the orphanage as soon as possible, but as in a bad dream her departure was delayed again.

The litigation dragged on: in response to the court's decision in favor of Lyudmila, the Child Protection Services filed an appeal with the court; more time passed and finally the regional court also dismissed the Child Protection Service’s claim to deprive Lyudmila of her parental rights. Inspired by the hope for an imminent reunion, Lyudmila and Angelina prepared for reunification again, but then due to the COVID pandemic the quarantine began, and State institutions including courts closed or limited their work. So, it became impossible to obtain documents in court, and the orphanage would not release the child without documents. Then the Foundation specialists addressed Natalya Aleksandrovna Mikhailova, the Ombudswoman for Children’s Rights in the Smolensk Region. The Ombudswoman’s intervention helped, and in May Angelina finally returned home to her mother!

At the moment the Foundation specialists continue supporting the family, helping the mother and daughter to understand each other better. Both of them really need the support, as they are learning to live together again. We believe that everything will work out for them and that joy will dwell in this house forever.

Join our contributors, support the work of Our Children Charity Foundation!

Our foster families with children really need your contribution right now!

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In 2015, Natalya ended up in prison and her ten-year-old daughter Lena was placed in the Safonovsky orphanage. Fortunately, a year later, Lena’s elder adult sister was able to pick up the girl from the orphanage. This young woman took custody of Lena and took the girl to her place in Voronezh.

Of course, all the traumas this teen girl had gone through had a negative impact on her behavior. Lena's aggression, rudeness, unwillingness to learn actually veiled her fear and helplessness. The girl diligently built a wall between her inner self and those people who were nearby at that moment. The elder sister, yet inexperienced in raising children, could not cope with the “difficult” child and there was no one to help her. In the end, the woman refused the custody of her younger rebellion sister, so Lena returned to the state institution. This time it was the Voronezh social rehabilitation center.

Shortly after this happened, Natalya got out of the prison, however, this did not become a salvation for the 13-year-old girl either. Lena could not stay at her mother’s place for a long time since there were no normal living conditions and Natalya didn’t have a job. Moreover, the woman abused alcohol. Meanwhile, Lena turned out to be on her own, so she started glugging and skipping classes.

School absenteeism resulted in the fact that guardianship authorities drew attention to the family and recommended Natalya to send her daughter to an orphanage under an agreement. This is a frequent solution proposed by the state to families in difficult situations. Officials insisted that the orphanage was a temporary measure and that within a year Natalya would be able to get her life going and find a job so that there would be no obstacles to take the girl home. Natalya agreed and signed an agreement with the state. She also felt like that would be a better solution, primarily for her daughter. This is the way Lena ended up in the Safonovsky orphanage.

Psychologists of the Charity Fund “Our Children” (“Deti Nashi”), who work with the children raised at the Safonovsky orphanage, began to work with Lena in 2018. They helped the girl adapt in the orphanage and cope with a stressful situation through individual sessions. They helped Lena to re-experience the past in order to get over separation from her mother and the abandonment of her sister. Thanks to the support of psychologists, after a while Lena was able to accept a difficult situation and sort out her feelings.

During their sessions, our specialists noted Lena's steady attachment to her mother and the girl’s desire to live with her parent. The counselors of the Fund joined in, too. They contacted Natalya, discussed the situation with her and, together with the woman, made a plan for overcoming the crisis. Natalya tried her best to change her life for the better. She got formally employed by the same orphanage to be closer to her child. She put her old housing in order and went through coding therapy to stop drinking alcohol.

Not everything had worked out before the agreement expired, so the guardianship sent documents to the court to deprive Natalya of her parental rights.

At the trial, both daughter and mother insisted that they wanted to live together, but this small family could not win the case, although they had the support of the lawyer of the Fund. We helped Natalya file an appeal with a higher court trying to overturn the decision to deprive her of her parental rights. Unfortunately, the family also lost in the second instance court. Nonetheless, Natalya does not want to give up. We are currently getting prepared to defend Natalya’s parental rights in the Supreme Court and we are doing this together with Lena.

Each case in our practice is a labyrinth, and no one knows in advance whether there is a way out of it. We share responsibility for the result of working with the family. Our specialists provide families with their support: psychologists help people to believe in themselves, and counselors give instructions on ways to act in various situations and on the steps to be taken.

Our work is based on proven methods and on our own experience in such cases. We are inspired by the stories of families that have overcome crisis with our support and whose children grow up at home, in their own family.

Join us and support the work of the Charity Fund “Our Children”!

We really need your support right now!

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Tanya* had a baby when she was 15. She stayed together with the father of her child for a year. Then the man waived his fatherly responsibilities and kicked Tanya and her son out of the apartment.

The young woman went back to live with her father and stepmother, and soon placed her son Roma in an orphanage.

She is now 17 years old, and her baby has spent almost a year in a state-run institution.

When raising her son Tanya had to face a lot of difficulties. The girl would often clash with her stepmother. She studied poorly, and college teachers considered Tanya incapable of learning. She skipped a lot of classes and she fell behind on many subjects.

As Tanya had a baby before reaching legal majority, the guardianship authorities took her and her son under supervision, and then, taking into account her dire circumstances, suggested that Tanya should place her boy in a children’s home for a year. Tanya agreed and took Roma to an orphanage. The young mother would almost never visit her son and, according to the staff of the institution, and she did not take any interest in him. The guardianship authority considered the situation hopeless. The experts were sure that the baby would be better off in the children’s home.

Meanwhile, though, Tanya was attending meetings at the parenting club organized by “Our Children” Fund, where she met Kristina Yakusevich, who is a psychologist.

From the Fund’s many years experience, we know that the vast majority of mothers miss their children who are in orphanages, and yearn to be with them. For various reasons, they cannot raise children, so they begin to relive their own grief and failure through destructive behaviour. Tanya was no exception.

As it turned out, Tanya grew up in a family of addicts. Her parents were alcoholics. When they were little, Tanya and her brother would be regularly taken to social rehabilitation centres. their parents were restricted in their rights. They would be reinstated in them from time to time. The children would be sent back home, but the situation kept repeating. Tanya and her younger brother lived in state-run rehabilitation centres for more than three years in total!

Unfortunately, girls from struggling families often begin early sexual life. It is because they experience a constant need for physical intimacy and try to prove to themselves that they can be loved and needed by at least someone. Sometimes, as in the case of Tanya, this leads to pregnancy.

We found out that Tanyahas never been in psychotherapy, though she had an extremely low self-esteem. In the family, the girl would be constantly rebuked and never praised. After Roma’s birth, her parents built up such a feeling of guilt and shame in her that she could hardly deal with them on her own. So Tanya followed the well-trodden path she knew well from childhood: bitterness and indifference to everything.

Our psychologist took the opportunity to work on Tanya’s case in the framework of Stick Together program. With the support of the specialist, Tanya gradually grew through the feelings of resentment towards her parents, reflected on anxiety and the sense of personal boundaries, emotions and affection. In addition to working in the parenting club, the psychologist held about 30 personal counselling sessions with Tanya.

In the course of this period, the girl has changed: she started to dress more neatly and take care of her appearance. She improved her performance in college and is now taking an active part in her college life; she stopped being rude to teachers, and learned to find compromise solutions. She improved relationships with her father and stepmother. Tanya learned to plan her day and build long-term plans. In the summer she got a job as a seamstress, decided to transfer to the correspondence department and combine work with study.

And most importantly, Tanya began visiting her son every weekend! As it turned out, the girl had not visited the child not because she was indifferent to him, but because she was not able to build a dialogue with the staff of the institution, and did not know anything about her maternal rights.

Guardianship authorities were sceptical of Tanya’s decision to take her son out of the orphanage. The main argument against this was that Tanya is a minor and cannot cope without full support.

Therefore, the psychologist of the fund contacted the protégé’s parents. Tanya’s father agreed to help his daughter with groceries, redecorated his three-room apartment and allowed his daughter and her grandson to live in it. Her mother promised to help pay utility bills. We also involved the assistance of the Fund’s lawyer, who explained Tanya’s rights to her and explained how to receive child support from the child's father.

At the end of summer, little Roma returned from the orphanage to his mother. Now they are together again, as it should be.

* The names have been changed.

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When Alyosha was 11, he unexpectedly ended up in an orphanage, while his mother stayed at home.

The Administration of the school where the boy studied sent a complaint against his mother Svetlana to the guardianship authorities. She was accused of aggressive behavior towards her son. The guardianship officers came to Svetlana’s house to inspect the situation in the family and decided that the latter was unsatisfactory. The child was taken away from the family and sent to the Safonovo orphanage, which is 140 km away from his mother.

Our position in such cases is to keep the children in touch with their parents, help them survive the separation and, if there is no risk to their lives and health, eliminate the reason for separation and return the children back home. All children who get to the Safonovo orphanage (located in the Smolensk region and patronized by our organization) get consultations with psychologists of our fund.

Similarly, in Alyosha’s case, the fund’s psychologist Alina started working with him. The results of tests and conversations held with the boy showed his strong emotional attachment to his mother. The situation in the family, of course, was not ideal: Alyosha and his mother lived in very modest conditions and often had to move because they did not have their own housing. According to Alyosha, there were quarrels in the family but his mother never caused him physical or psychological harm.

When the psychologist began working with Alyosha, she also got to know the boy’s mother. To do this, Alina traveled 140 km to a remote village to meet with Svetlana. It turned out that Svetlana herself had had a hard life. Her parents drank heavily and cared for their daughter very little. Suffice it to say that her education was limited to 1 (!) year at school. As a result, Svetlana has poorly developed social skills, she is infantile, and not confident in her own abilities. It is difficult for her to interact with the outside world, especially to protect herself and her son.

However, the woman coped with raising Alyosha. The boy’s physical and intellectual development is fine, and, as it turned out, he is very attached to his mother. It is worth mentioning that being so far away from the boy did not stop Svetlana from regularly visiting her child in an orphanage for a year and a half. It is very difficult for a resident of a remote village to do it without a personal car.

Our psychologist conducted more than 20 personal consultations with Svetlana, including testing her for the level of aggression and emotional attachment to the child. All test results are normal.

After thoroughly familiarizing themselves with the case of Alyosha and his mother, the specialists of the Charity Fund “Our children” began to work actively to bring the boy back to his family. There was a plan to remove the restriction of the mother in parental rights through the court. But the orphanage in which Alyosha was placed opposed this plan and filed a lawsuit to deprive Svetlana of her parental rights.

We did not see another option but standing at the family’s side. It was clear that the woman would lose the trial without our support. Any interaction with the state system was a challenge for her.

Thus, our psychologist Alina appeared at the trial as a witness for Svetlana defense and provided the court with the results of psychological examinations. Ludmila, the fund’s legal counsel, became the woman’s lawyer. She defended the interests of the woman, helped Svetlana formulate her answers, and prepared her for her appearance in court.

As a result, the court sided with Svetlana and removed the woman’s restriction on parental rights! So, very soon Alyosha will return home.

“In such situations, psychological support for the family provided after its reunion is also important. In the case of this family, while the boy spent a year and a half away from home, his mother got used to living alone. Of course, she continued to love her son and wait for each meeting with him, but partially still managed to wean from the child. Therefore, we will definitely continue having meetings with this family, and if necessary, we will consult Svetlana by phone. It is important that both Alyosha and his mother know that they can always ask for help from the “Our Children” charity fund,” says the fund’s psychologist Alina Lebedeva.

In Russia there are many families that need help, but it is not always about the direct financial support. They need professional support in the development of their social skills and in improvement of their financial and legal literacy. They also need assistance in organizing life in difficult rural conditions. Financial resources are needed for integrated and systematic work with crisis families – to pay specialists, to cover their transportation costs, to organize assistance in the repair of family housing, etc.

Please support the “Stick Together” program of the charity fund “Our Children”. Any donation you make will help families like Svetlana’s and Alyosha’s to remain united.

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Organization Information

Charity Fund 'Our Children' ('Deti nashi')

Location: Moscow, Russian Federation - Russia
Website:
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Project Leader:
Varvara Penzova
Moscow, Russian Federation Russia
$18,283 raised of $30,000 goal
 
101 donations
$11,717 to go
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