Sunday, October 14, 2012

Still Golden

Vasily, without a gift, at his orphanage in
October 2009, the last time I'd seen him
An insistent rain pelts us, and windy blasts imperil my umbrella. Irina, our translator, offered to meet Vasily in the parking lot herself, but years of prayers for him torpedoed my patience, and I adamantly refused to wait for him another second. Russian sidewalks are seldom level, and much of the way I slosh through puddles too big to dodge.

The last time we met was three years ago, as Vasily stood forlornly in his orphanage’s office empty-handed, shrinking as the other boys, all with waiting families, clutched care packages (Solid Gold, 12/1/09). Though I liked him well then, he’s nearly fourteen now, and been languishing longer than any other orphan on our roster. Even securing a host has been impossible, once prospective families hear of his orphanage’s dismal reputation and my not having seen him in ages (Russian Orphanage Life, Scene Two, 3/22/12). Vasily’s only hope is to travel on our trip so I can update my opinion.  Either I’ll drop my caveat, or him.

At the car, a gust grabs my umbrella and whips its metal into the finish of the vehicle. The driver is annoyed, but my chagrin vanishes as the passenger door opens. Vasily is in the back seat, flashing a broad smile of remembrance at me. To the marrow of my bones I sense he knows I am still trying to help him.

Vasily gets a gift after
our group discussion.
Vasily joins us mid-trip; despite a four-hour drive one-way to get here, his orphanage only allows him a few hours with us. Arriving just in time for our group discussion, he tells us he likes his orphanage, especially his friends. It’s poignantly ironic when he dreams of being a “rescue ranger [saving] all the people who need it,” since he himself still awaits rescue. After the session, when I announce swimming time, he laments dejectedly he has no suit.  He brightens and thanks me profusely when he sees I brought him one.

Click below to Tweet, and help Vasily find his family.

In the pool, he interacts well with John, a host dad swimming with the kids. While we watch them, a social worker the orphanage sent along says he has difficulty learning, and just finished sixth grade. His biological mother drinks, taking so little interest in him that one year ago, when last she saw him, Vasily didn’t recognize her.  Understandably, he prizes promise-keepers, but gets angry when people lie. Opining she cannot find anything negative to say against him, the social worker labels him shy, a good boy who is “very often hungry.” With grand approval she adds he doesn’t smoke, noting most kids at her orphanage do. She says he once visited America with the Lighthouse Project, and longs to return if he can find a good family (Rolla, 7/11/09).

Vasily was so thankful I'd brought
him a swimsuit.
After swimming, it is already time for him to leave. Though it’s too early for dinner, the cafeteria serves him alone before his long ride.  He’s had nothing since this morning, and the driver won’t stop on the way back. As he inhales his meal, he tells me about a lady he stays with during vacations. She’s widowed and lonely, so wants a child at her house. He exudes his feeling of vicarious ownership as he effuses, “In the house is a shower,” as though it’s a rare amenity. He grins when I commend his effort in his interview.

Before he departs, I decide Vasily would enjoy seeing kids from his orphanage who have new lives in America. After the slide show of beaming ex-orphans, I thank the chaperone for sending these children, and helping to make their families complete. Expecting a reciprocated pleasantry, I am blindsided when she says only, “Awful things are shown on the TV.” Caught off guard, it takes me a moment to respond. Finally I reply that the bad stories she’s heard, while reprehensible, represent a minute fraction of adoptive families, and that Americans are rightly indignant when hearing of such abuse. I tell her I treasure my Russian children, as do our families theirs, and that devotion and sacrifice for children is the overwhelming norm for adoptive parents.

Vasily, nearly 14 now, in July 2012;
still golden after all these years
I walk with Vasily out to the parking lot. I say goodbye to him in Russian, then Irina translates the rest of my well-wishes. He smiles, then hugs me tightly before he climbs into the car. I wave until he is out of sight, then walk back in wonder, incredulous that three extra years in his orphanage have not dimmed his openness and sweet demeanor. He was solid gold the first time I met him.

And he’s still golden now.


Click here to Tweet, and let others know Vasily still needs a family!

Interested families may visit Vasily as part of our November 9-16, 2012, Lighthouse Project trip to Russia. You'll travel with our fun group of friendly Americans, and let your compassion make a difference for the orphans you'll meet. Interested? It's not too late! Call Becky at (616) 245-3216 to join us! Don't miss your chance to change the world for a Russian orphan in need.


  1. I wish I had the money to adopt him! My grandmother was also adopted from Russia - he has a special place in my heart and I will continually pray that he finds a loving home!

    Erin :)

    1. Erin, thank you for your prayers! They are needed, and most appreciated.

  2. Did he find his family? Ran across your website on accident and can't stop thinking about him.

  3. McClure, he has not found his family yet. He is now 14, and his age would make it difficult for him; worse, the Russian government banned adoption to American families as of January 1, 2013. If this ban is lifted soon, Vasily would still have a slim chance of a family. If it is not lifted, he would be quite unlikely to find a family in Russia. Please pray that American families would again be allowed to provide loving homes for Russian orphans!

  4. I have thought nonstop of him since I saw him. Is there a way to send him gifts, letters, etc., just to let him know someone out there is thinking of him?

  5. McClure, you can send a gift to Vasily. If you'd like to e-mail me at, I will tell you how to do so. Thank you for asking, and for your concern!


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