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
Sveta
Sveta

Sveta is fifteen. She has been living in an orphanage for a year now, studying at school, and getting used to live in a new environment. She is learning to understand who she is.

Sveta does not remember herself before being three years old, but afterwards she remembers her adoptive mother, strict and demanding. Loved. Sveta had her own clothes, toys and school. Everything was normal- like in every family. Everything changed later - from a nice cheeky girl she grew into a teenager with scandals, bad marks, nasty behavior and other signs of this awkward age. This was different from the what her adoptive mother thought about how her daughter would grow up. She took the girl to the orphanage, telling everyone about "disgusting behavior", "bad genes" and "potential alcoholism".

"What we are having here is not even a return," says Christina, a psychologist at Deti Nashi (Our Children) Charity Fund. “A child who grew up in a family, who almost didn’t experience life in orphanages, founds herself in an orphanage being almost an adult. Can you realize the degree of damage? Sometimes parents (not very smart ones) frighten their children, "If you behave badly, I'll take you to an orphanage." But in Sveta’s case this came true in real life".

Deti Nashi Fund tried to work with the girl's former adoptive mother, but did not make much progress. Then the psychologist and social worker of the fund decided to try to find the girl’s birth parents. Specialists believe that it is very important for a child to know about real parents in any case and ideally, to know that they love him or her and took care of them before. Even if the situation has changed now and they cannot be together anymore.

One day during Sveta’s session with psychologist, Christina asked her to paint a tree - this is a simple exercise that helps to realize a person’s place in this world. Sveta drew a tree without roots.

Sergei met Mary, Sveta's mother, after placing an ad to the local newspaper. The girl responded and they started correspondence. They wrote each other couple of times and then Sergei invited her to come.

Maria moved to Sergei with her son and after some time Sveta was born. And then in just one month the man got fired from the factory, Maria had a stroke, their house was burnt. Sergei gave up and started drinking. They lost their parental rights in one year.

"My mother was deprived of parental rights when I was about two years old too," Sergei says easily. "Masha is also from orphanage."

The man is now working as a tractor driver at a local farm practically "for food". In Sergei and Maria’s house there is no heating, frankly speaking there is no real house in fact: just collapsed walls, you can only stay inside in the outwear. Clothes are drying on the ropes, Sergei washes them as Masha can’t use one hand. The drying goes badly, clothes get covered with ice.

Russia has almost no system of social support for people facing difficult life situations, so they do not have any abilities or resources to restore their lives. They give up almost immediately, and all their past family experience only reinforces this model. When Mary lost her parental rights, she and Sergei tried to find out how to reinstate the rights, but their daughter was already placed into foster care. It is clear from the conversation that the man does not see the difference with an adoption, so he and his wife decided that they had lost their child forever.

"If you do not change the system, do not work with such families, you get an endless reproduction of the orphanhood," says Christina Yakusevich. She often saw how former orphanage children did not resist, when the children were taken away from them. They consider this to be normal because they did not know anything else in their lives.

We are leaving the Sergei’s village; there is a long way and a long work ahead. Fund staff Alina (counselor of children at Deti Nashi) and Christina will help Sveta and other children in two orphanages in the Smolensk region, where Deti Nashi work. They will drive for hundreds of kilometers more, visiting their families, talking, explaining and showing the right way. Sergei and Masha need to come up with an action plan, to restore documents, to come to agreement with the supervisory authorities so that they could finally see their daughter. The Fund does not do this for birth parents, people have to go all the way on their own. But not alone: the staff of the Fund will be by their side now.

"Do you know what these medals are?"

Alina is holding a Sveta's great-grandfather’s photo, which her parents gave to the girl. A wide smile, short-cropped temples and a guards badge on his chest. Order of the Red Star and two medals "For Courage". During the Great Patriotic War Sveta’s great-grandfather rose to the commander of the saber squadron. Another picture - great-grandmother, with exactly the same dimples on the cheeks as Sveta has. She is a real beauty. It is important for any person to know his or her history, but it is vital for a child from an orphanage who is growing separately - both from the family and society. Usually a teenager takes after someone from the family. Now Sveta has got a family of great-grandmother and great-grandfather, a hero and a beauty.

She now has the people to be be proud of.

"Have you ever moved cities”?, Alina is taking a sip of coffee at the gas station, it's quite dark, we have been traveling all day from one side of the Smolensk region to another, and will take about two hundred kilometers for the Fund specialists to get home. “I’ve noticed that if you are alone in a new city, without relatives and without friends, even if you rarely talked to them and did not have time to meet, you feel especially lonely. And our children are alone not only in this city but in the whole world. Someone once said, "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main."

Memories of your parents, the understanding that you loved and were loved, the opportunity to communicate with them - these are the "roots" that Sveta did not draw in the office of psychologist. This is not a story about returning to the family, her parents have too many difficulties to raise a daughter. But communicating with them gives the girl an opportunity to feel needed and loved, it helps a her to become a balanced individual, to learn and successfully build relationships with other people, peers and adults. Years of observation of how the life of the children develops after they graduate from the orphanage showed that those who had the opportunity to communicate with their relatives were more open to participating in the fund's projects. Those who participated in the projects were more successful after graduation, better adapted to adult life, which means that the orphanage circle was torn, not repeated by their children.

Deti Nashi Fund must pay for the work of psychologists and Homelike project’s social educators. They look for relatives and support the communication of children with them. Some money is also needed for transportation costs, as the fund's employees travel a lot throughout the Smolensk region in search of relatives of kids in the orphanages. Please support the project, and if possible, start a small regular donation.

Thank you.

*the child's name has been changed

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Frequently, the reason for removing a child from a family is that the parents are unemployed, but the following story is about how work became the reason for separation.
Vadim entered an orphanage a year and half ago. His mother, Irina, had a job as a milkmaid. She left for work between 4 and 5 in the morning, leaving her three-year-old son alone until noon. The situation in the evening was similar. The woman also drank alcohol occasionally. Neighbors concerned about the lack of proper care for the child turned to child protective services.

The boy was three years eight months old when he arrived at the orphanage. His mother visited him regularly for the first six months but then stopped coming. Vadim was initially placed in the institution on a temporary basis, but because Irina was not visiting him, the question of terminating her parental rights was raised.
But then experts from Homelike project took on the case, and Pavel, our social worker, visited Irina at home. Talking with Irina, Pavel realized that Irina missed her son very much, but she could not get by without working and she had no other job option. Also, there was no one to help her. Irina lived alone and did not interact with her neighbors. Even when the Fund gave her a way to pay for a babysitter who could take the child to kindergarten and bring him home, local residents refused to help.

Having established a channel of communication with Irina, we negotiated with the specialists at child protective services, and the child’s stay in the institution was extended by another six months without the mother losing her parental rights. After talking with a specialist from the Fund, Irina began visiting her son again. And the orphanage staff later gave her permission to take him home for holidays and weekends.
Oksana Reshetova, an educational psychologist at the orphanage, worked one-on-one with Vadim’s mother. This helped Irina make changes in her life. She has now changed jobs and has begun receiving support. She took her son home in August and enrolled him in a kindergarten.
After living without his mother for a year and a half of his life, Vadim is now five years old. That is quite a long while at his age, but we hope time will be on their side. Our experts will keep in touch with the family!

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Victoria
Victoria

Sometimes parents become hostages of their past and cannot get the relationships with their children back on track because of shame or fear of social embarrassment. Here is one of the stories of 'Homelike Project. Smolensk region'

Victoria is 40 years old, she lives in a village. While her husband works, Victoria keeps the house and the garden. This fall their daughter starts school. Such a decent, friendly family of three. Meanwhile, in the next village orphanage there is a boy named Vasya. Victoria is Vasya's mom.

When our Smolensk team took Vasya's case, the boy's personal data file proved that his mother is deprived of parental rights due to an antisocial lifestyle and alcoholism.

It turned out that the woman actually behaved immorally in her youth, and due to this, the custody authorities seized her son from her.  Eight years have passed since then; Victoria has completely changed, but could not get back together with her son since then.

She was scared to death to go to the custody, as she understood that no one had forgotten anything in their small village. Moreover, every time she met someone from them accidentally, the custody officers reminded of her past, adding to her guilt feeling.

However, Victoria never forgot about her son. Before we took Vasya’s case, the woman kept track of his life on her own.  For several years that the boy lived in a foster family, Victoria timidly asked friends in common of how he was doing. But recently the boy was returned to the orphanage, got into our program and soon afterwards we found his mother.

Victoria gladly shared memories of her son with us, and together we made a detailed family genogram- a technique that helps a child to better know his family, and also helps a specialist to better see family "scenarios" and find positive stories from the child relatives’ life.

Our specialists have conducted psychological therapy with Victoria, thanks to which the woman has overcome her shame about the past, and, on the contrary, realized that she has every right to be proud of having independently overcome the crisis and changed for the better. She gave up alcohol, created a strong family with a worthy person, carefully runs the house, and educates her daughter, who, according to our psychologists, is harmoniously developed.

Our social teacher Alina Kiprich accompanied Victoria to the custody authorities to find out what documents were needed to resume the relationship with her son. After the visit, Victoria and her husband became determined to get back together with Vasya.

Unfortunately, the psychologist in  the orphanage was also aware of Viktoria’s wild youth, and firstly refused to organize a meeting with Vasya. At that point, our foundation organized a meeting with the orphanage director to assure her in Victoria’s reliability and the seriousness of her commitment.

The meeting went well, Victoria made a right impression, and a longed-for permission was received! The most important thing for now is to prepare Vasya.  From his personal data file we know that the boy was seized even without an opportunity to say goodbye to his mother.

Ulyana Sorokina, the psychologist of the project is actively working with Vasya now. The meeting is coming soon!

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'Homelike Project. Smolensk region' helps children in orphanages remember their roots and get in touch with their family. This is a story about how our specialists found “lost” parents.

Practically since birth, 12-year-old Kirill was raised by his great grandmother. His mother suffers from alcoholism. His father had never even seen him; he ended up in jail before the boy was born and, according to the boy’s guardian, he never got in contact.

The boy and his great grandmother lived in his aunt’s apartment, who, according to his personal file, was not fond of the boy. Their host’s poor attitude towards him became the reason why his great grandmother gave little Kirill to the Safonovo orphanage.

Whenever a child leaves their family or foster care for the orphanage, our specialists are sure to always meet with them. After examining and talking with Kirill, it became clear that his family is very important to him. The Homelike project team got to work on the case and started to look for his family.

The address of Kirill’s grandmother on his father’s side was given in his personal file. This is where Alina Kiprich, the project’s conselor, headed.

The boy’s uncle was living in the apartment. For a long while, the man couldn’t understand who she was talking about – he had never seen Kirill – but when he figured it out, he helped find Dmitry, the boy’s father.

His father was overjoyed to hear news of his son. Dmitry told us that he had tried to see his boy, but due to the strained relationship with Kirill’s mother, nothing ever worked out. When Alina told him that the boy was fine and they could meet (for the first time in his life!), his father was truly happy.

Work is now underway to prepare the boy to meet his father.

In these cases, children oftentimes may harbor resentment towards their parents, not wish to talk to them, or simply not understand. Using special techniques, the project’s psychologists are helping the boy sort out his emotions, understand the situation, and prepare for the meet up.

Of course, there hasn’t been any talk of Dmitry taking Kirill from the orphanage, but we hope that the family reunion and long-awaited meeting will soon take place!

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A brother and a sister have returned to their family after six months in the orphanage. This happened thanks to the sincere desire of their parents to turn things around, the careful work of the orphanage psychologist, and the Deti Nashi Foundation.

Six months ago, the children were removed from their family by court order and were placed in Shatalovo orphanage. The poor financial standing of the family, the employment difficulties of the mother, unsatisfactory living conditions, and arrears in rent served as the pretext for that situation.

Statistically, the majority of parents dramatically reduce the frequency of communication with children who stay in a residential care facility for more than two months. As a rule, time works against the reunification of the family.

However, in the described case, the mother regularly visited her son and daughter, and their stepfather also kept in touch. The orphanage psychologist conducted a series of tests with the children, which showed that:

- the children really missed their mother;

- the children are attached to their stepfather and he plays an important role in their lives;

- the children's stay in the orphanage was causing them far greater harm than the conditions in which they lived at home.

Of course, the experts of the Deti Nashi Foundation took on this case!

After three months of working together with parents, the situation of the family is as follows: the issues with employment have been resolved, cosmetic repairs have been made to the apartment, and the family is being provided with psychological support.

The children are home; the family is reunited; and we do hope that everything will be all right!

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Organization Information

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

Location: Moscow, Russian Federation - Russia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Varvara Penzova
Moscow, Russian Federation Russia
$18,783 raised of $30,000 goal
 
102 donations
$11,217 to go
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