Nappies for Nork

by Beth Shepherd
( March 27th, 2015 )

Do you ever feel like you want do something bigger than yourself, even just a little something? Send a few dollars to Nappies for Nork. Nork is a children’s home in Yerevan, one of the two children’s homes I visited during my trips to Armenia. Here’s more:

orphanage changing table

Nappies for Nork

Nork orphanage, located in Yerevan, Armenia, is home to approximately 80 orphans, newborn infants to grade-school children. Nork is in dire need of disposable diapers. While it should be the responsibility of the Armenian government to supply basic necessities such as diapers, economic constraints have made doing so a challenge.

In the US, a brand-name diaper costs roughly 15 to 30-cents per diaper. In Armenia, diapers are more expensive, closer to 25 to 50-cent per diaper, depending on the size and brand. The bottom line (sorry…couldn’t resist) is that for $1.50- $3.00, a child at Nork can be clean and comfortable for an entire day. $70 will keep a child in diapers for an entire month. Approximately $135 will ensure every child at Nork has fresh diapers for a 24-hour period.

Hopscotch Adoptions has partnered with SOAR (Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief) to set up a diaper fund: http://soar-us.org/diaper_fund.html where you can make a tax-deductible donation: http://soar-us.org/donate.html. Note: If you pay via the Paypal link on SOAR’s website, make a note in Paypal that your donation is for the Nork diaper fund.  If you send a check, write ‘Nork Diaper fund’ in the “For” line.

Make your contribution, in any amount, between now and Easter Sunday—April 5—and you can also enter a drawing for a variety of items, including a cookbook, Armenian Christmas music cd, Starbucks gift card or an 8×10 photograph taken in Armenia by yours truly! Email viviane8 at yahoo dot com. Let her know you made a donation and provide your contact information.

Hopscotch diaper drive

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Leaving one home to join another

by Beth Shepherd
( March 25th, 2015 )

Out the turquoise doors we passed, our daughter leaving one home to join another. Walk through these doors in the other direction and you enter Baby Bird’s first world, a children’s home, where she lived for the first year of her life, surrounded by the voices of nannies and other children just like her, children who—for any number of reasons—were not able to live with their birth families.

I will always be deeply grateful to the nannies who did their best to meet her needs. But to me, these walls also tell another story, one with limited opportunity, where there isn’t space to crawl and run and play, where there are no clothes or toys that were hers and hers alone. The children’s home was a place where even the most loving of nannies cannot meet the needs of a child in the way a family can.

Leaving orphanage

I can only imagine what might have been going through her head as two virtual strangers removed her from the only home she had ever known, from familiar faces, smells and sounds. I often think about what she left behind when—three years later—on most mornings, we clink our glasses together as a family and say ‘Genatz,’ cheers in Armenian. I think about the women who cared for her, her language and culture. But then I think about the other children we saw, some whose faces I will never forget, many of whom will spend all their growing years inside the walls our daughter left behind in the arms of her new family.

Taxi leaving orphanage

As we drove south, from Gyumri to Yerevan, Baby Bird looked out the window—eyes wide open—studying the new world surrounding her. Catch lights appeared in her eyes. Photographers love catch lights, which are created when a light source causes reflections in their subject’s eyes. They give the eyes depth, soul.

Mt Ararat

If you look into my daughter’s eyes, you will see something beautiful, something that will always be inside her, that she will never leave behind. You will see the land where my daughter was born. You will see Armenia.

Light in eyes

Take the road less traveled, Beth

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Our 3rd Family Day!

by Beth Shepherd
( March 22nd, 2015 )

On March 19,we stood before a judge in Gyumri to ask if one 11-month-old baby girl could join our family. The selfie we took in our hotel room, all gussied up right before court, gives you a good idea of how we were feeling. We look a tad anxious don’t we?

Our family of two before Armenian court

If you’ve never been in our spot, try to imagine being in front of an authority figure, who doesn’t speak your language—in fact almost no one in the court speaks your language—and you are asking permission to do one of the most important things you’ll ever do in your life. Daunting, isn’t it?

I know I was nervous and Big Papa had some seriously sweaty palms as we held hands and waited to be ushered into the courtroom. Inside there was a judge, a representative from Little Bird’s home province, a representative from our adoption agency (who sat on the sidelines), and our translator.

We had a prepared statement describing why we wanted to adopt this particular Armenian child, and how we planned to care for her. Our agency’s representative had also forewarned us the judge or the representative from our daughter-to-be’s province could also ask us questions off the cuff. Gulp. After we took our oaths, my brave husband stood and presented our case before the judge.

Three [nerve-wracking] days later, on March 22, we went back to the courtroom to get the news. We found out the judge was sick that day. Oh no, we worried, how many more days would we need to wait before we heard her decision? A few minutes later, our representative returned and told us the judge had already signed our paperwork and acted favorably on our request.

“Congratulations,” he said to us. “You’re parents.”

I started crying.

“Why are you crying? The answer was yes.”

It’s hard to explain all the feelings swirling inside me at that moment. Here we were—finally. The culmination, legally anyway, of more than three years spent the throes of the adoption process—the “crazy train,” as Big Papa often refers to it. Five trips to Armenia, referrals found and lost, mountains of paperwork.

This is a picture of us shortly after we left the courthouse—legally parents. We certainly look more relieved than we did three days ago!

Our first photo as parents

After a celebratory lunch and a walk through Gyumri’s open-air market, we returned to the orphanage to share the good news with Baby Bird. Here we are, our first photo as a legal family. She doesn’t look all that pleased. Not that I blame her. Who are these people? Why are they hugging me so tightly? Did they bring any snacks?

In Gyumri and a legal family

Take the road less traveled, Beth

Want to be in-the-know on all things Pampers? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or RSS/email.

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