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Children’s Hospital, Kyiv

April 9, 2007
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 1:27

When we travelled to Ukraine to adopt, the process took much longer than we originally anticipated. During the weeks when we were literally just waiting for another appointment to obtain a child referral, we had the privilege of visiting several orphanages and a children’s hospital. We spent many days visiting the children’s hospital. The benefit was mutual–it helped us pass the time and it gave the children fun visits and attention they so desperately needed.

Young children who were abandoned or found living on the streets were sent here, as well as sick children from the orphanages. If a child was abandoned in Kyiv or the surrounding area, they were supposed to spend one month here before being sent to an orphanage to begin the twelve month wait to be eligible for adoption. Sometimes, there was no space for them in the orphanage, so they would languish at this hospital for up to six months or more…not even beginning the paperwork necessary to start the twelve month wait to be eligible for adoption.

This was an eye opening experience for dh and I. The building was an old communist style building–note the metal bars on the windows. The conditions were appalling–filthy floors, horrid baths and toilets, thin mattresses (sometimes rotting) on metal springs and old dirty blankets. There were no toys, no crayons, no paper or books except what the friend we visited with gave to the girls. There were no adults spending time with the children. They saw an adult at mealtime as workers dropped off a tray with porridge and extremely hot tea for young children and the doctor occasionally. When the children were done eating, the remains of the food and dishes were placed in a wooden cabinet for retrieval, sometimes sitting there for many hours. The downside of this was that workers could pick up the trays without having to interact with the children again. The employees at the hospital seemed nice, and were always pleased to see our friend coming to spend time with the orphans. I have no way of knowing, but I’d like to believe they would have done more had they been given the resources to do so.

In addition to orphans, Ukranian citizens brought their children here for care. The conditions were not greatly better for those children, although they obviously got much more love and attention.

When we visited, we always brought fresh fruit, sausage, sometimes bread, and juice as well as bubbles, coloring books, etc. The smiles from the children made every moment there worthwhile. I will never forget the girls we played with as well as the little boy upstairs who was still in a crib.

The children were precious. Obviously, they had faced difficult circumstances early in their childhood, and some were handling it better than others. But, as with any children, they loved human interaction, and enjoyed playing, coloring and talking. Watching their faces light up upon our arrival and hearing their laughter during our visits made us feel good. Hearing their cries when we left after several hours, knowing they had to while away the time for sometimes hours, sometimes days before another visit broke our hearts.

These children were beautiful to us.The plight of these children still weighs on my heart deeply. We have been given so much, and so little was needed to brighten their day–more than material things, they just needed a human connection. I know we cannot aid every child, but we can make a difference in the lives of a few. To learn more about the situation these children face and how you can help, visit Hopeful Hearts Foundation’s website. They regularly send ministry teams to paint rooms, replace beds, provide foods, secure medicine, etc. They spend time playing with the children. They send occupational therapists to work with the children and show the orphanage staff how to help the children with developmental delays. Most importantly, they share the love of Christ with children and adults they come into contact with while working there.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. EmmyJMommy permalink
    April 9, 2007 1:03 pm

    It is amazing what we take for granted. I enjoy hearing and reading about your adoption experience and pray that one day we are in the position to help children in these situations.

  2. TulipGrrl permalink
    April 16, 2007 11:33 pm

    In February 2005, my son had pneumonia and we ended up in the best children’s hospital in Kyiv. And I was yelled at by the nurses for not bringing toilet paper or slippers. (I didn’t know we would end up in the hospital, and I didn’t know we needed to bring even T.P.)

    There are wonderful, loving nurses at some hospitals. And there are overworked, underpaid nurses, too. So often the hospitals are a pre-orphanage. The women from church in Kherson visit the hospital regularly to rock the abandoned babies.

    Found your blog today–don’t remember how–but the Russian title caught my eye so I started reading. . .

    Grace and peace,

  3. Bamadawg1980 permalink
    April 17, 2007 11:50 am

    Tulip Grrl, Do you live in Ukraine, then? I would love to go back some day. Parts of the country were beautiful, and we enjoyed meeting many people.

    As a sidenote, I have learned to carry toilet paper or klenex with me at all times when travelling outside the U.S.

    At one bathroom in a shopping center, we, as per European custom, had to pay to get in. What amazed me was that the price was different depending on if you needed toilet paper or not.

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