Our second day at the baby home did not go as well as the first.
From the moment we started up the stairs I thought the place felt different. We could hear a child crying in behind a door somewhere and when they brought T. to see us, he was clearly agitated about something. He seemed more frightened of us than the day before and he would not make eye contact. We finally engaged him with one of my silver rings and a few rounds of “Trot, trot to Boston.”
On our second visit we were due to speak with the head doctor of the orphanage. Viktor ushered us into the doctor’s office where we waited, and waited. Viktor returned and sat with us. “On this day you would expect to talk to the doctor to get the medical information for the child. Today there is no doctor here to speak with you… but there is a very good reason…. Today one of the children in the orphanage died. All the doctors are at the hospital….”
Stoic Viktor. I never could tell whether he was actually broken up about it or just hesitant to tell us. I like to think it was the former.
We did eventually get to speak to the doctor, who gave us more in depth information about T.’s medical history - very healthy, only sick twice in his two years there, normal growth patterns. There were comments on his social status - a two-year old “leader” in his group.
I voiced my concern over T.’s lack of eye contact on our second visit. It was as if we had to start all over with him and I wanted to know that he had formed an attachment of sorts with his caretakers or groupmates (of course at that age toddlers don’t really play with other children, so this would be harder to tell). Viktor insisted that T.’s reaction had more to do with the fact that we came to visit just before mealtime and the child was afraid he was going to miss his lunch. “Vova,” Viktor said, using T.’s Russian nickname, “likes to eat.”
To our surprise, Viktor arranged for us to see T. in his group setting. But that is an experience for another post.