Saturday, January 2, 2010

Her Brother's Keeper

An orphan, Vera doesn’t have much save her brother, seven-year-old Alexander. Years ago, their father died; subsequently, their mother’s rights to them were terminated. The Lighthouse Project had once been on her docket, before her babushka promised to care for them, squashing their chance at an adoptive family. Vera wistfully noted Babushka didn’t take them, and never visits. Hardly placeable any longer, it’s a small consolation she’s finally available for adoption, at age fifteen.

Vera’s confident, well-spoken maturity at once inspired and deflated, as she insisted she still wanted to live in America with a family, but realized her “time is ticking.” Observing the orphanage is not a proper place for Alexander to live, Vera would be happy for him if he found a family, even alone, and would let him go by himself, if necessary, to give him a chance. Living in a family would “be best for him,” she added.

Vera wants badly to stay with her brother, but not at the expense of him losing a family. The Russian government generally prohibits international citizens from splitting up siblings; when it happens, older sisters and brothers, whether of majority age or not, must consent. While this is an occasional occurence when an older sibling declines to be adopted, Vera still calls having a family her dream. She recognizes, though, that her presence in the equation hurts Alexander’s chances; young, sweet, and smart, finding his family would be a cinch, were he alone.

Excelling in ninth grade, Vera enjoys history, has many friends, and is known as a good cook. An aspiring poet, she last wrote about love; words come automatically, she says, an ability I envy more than understand. When she sets goals for herself, she expects to achieve them through work and motivation. Queried on her knowledge of English, Vera proffered an eclectic list: “Duck, my brother, my sister, do you like, library, I love you.” Her name, translated, is “Faith”; fittingly, Vera believes in God and attends church, typical for kids at her orphanage. She calls herself a good sister, a mother really, to Alexander, protecting and helping him when he finds trouble. But for all her friends, she laments there is no one in her life, outside a cousin, to protect her in the way she protects Alexander; no one mothers her.

In ten minutes, Vera managed to burden me with the most gnawing desire I’d ever felt to find a child a family. Her can-do attitude, so laudable, can’t help her keep her brother. The girl who has lost almost everyone, and will selflessly sacrifice the last love she treasures, for his good, needs a family with Solomon's wisdom to adopt them both.

Her chance has come late, very late.