Friday, March 31, 2006

We look at pictures from the orphanage

I woke up early and Maia followed me out at about 5:30am.

"Do you want to see photos of Kazakhstan and of when you were in the orphanage?" I asked her. I had been looking at photos.

"Yes," she said.

So I brought some up on the computer. They were from our second visit to see her--April 30, 2004.

"Do you remember this place?" I asked her. "This is the orphanage. This is where you used to live."

She tried to say the word, orphanage.

"Orphanage," I said.

"Look," she said, pointing to a shoe that she had been wearing.

"They're cute, aren't they?"

"I was a baby, yeah?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. "Do you remember this? You were really good at it."

Between the first and second times we saw Maia, Kristina bought an educational game from a store in Shymkent. It's a sorting toy--you have to stack concentric rings on a cone. You have to do it in order of size for the rings to fit.

At the orphanage, Kristina took the game out, showed it to Maia, and then took off the rings.

Maia focused in on the toy immediately, trying out different rings on the cone, and staying with it until she got it solved. Her concentration was remarkable. I videotaped her working with the toy, and the videotape shows that she stayed at it for more than 14 minutes straight, repeating the stacking process several times. Maia stopped only because Kristina brought out some raisins for her.

Kristina had been thrilled with Maia's effort and her success in stacking the rings properly.

We still have the ring game.

"Yes," she said.

"Is that Cheetos?" she wanted to know. Maia is a big fan of Cheetos.

"No, that's a bag of raisins," I said. "Do you remember them? You didn't like it at all when Mommy gave some to that girl."

If you speed up the videotape of the scene, you see Maia's hand darting in and out of the bag of raisins and then up to her mouth. The staff made us stop giving raisins to her because they said the raisins were too hard for her to digest.

She used to carry things around in her mouth--books, by a corner, a little stuffed dog that we got for her, by its ear. She used her mouth as a kind of stash and as a third hand in order to avoid having to put things down. I think putting things down was probably a risky thing to do at the orphanage.

A photo came up of Kristina and me with another couple that had adopted.

"Auntie Sandy," she said.

"Well, it kind of looks like Auntie Sandy but that isn't her."

"That's Anna," Maia said, indicating the child of the third couple in our group.

Anna is a friend of Maia's from hula. "No, that isn't Anna. I forget her name, but that isn't Anna."

"I wanna watch Batman," she said. She had gotten tired of the photos.

And so we stopped.

She looked so little and serious when she said goodbye to us that day.

We adopted her a week later--May 7, 2004. We had many ups and downs in between.

John, March 31, 2006


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