*This post was updated with photos and additional info after adoption
We also thought we should tell you a little about the baby house. Our little girl lives in the Botakoz baby house, which means "little camel's eye" in Kazakh. Because of their long lashes, camels' eyes are thought to be very beautiful, so this is a very nice name even though it might sound odd to our ears.
The baby house is home to kiddos from birth to four years of age, after which time they move to one of the orphanages for older kids. There are eight groups (rooms) in the baby house, with around 12 kids per group, organized roughly by age, for a total of around 100 kids.
Each group has two caregivers at all times - for babies it's a nurse and a nanny and then for toddlers (like our little girl) it's a preschool teacher and nanny. These women are amazing. They have so many kids to take care of, bottoms to wipe, and mouths to feed and yet they know each child individually and clearly make the time to give each one individual attention and love. Caregivers work 12-hour shifts, and at night there's one caregiver in the room while they sleep.
In addition to the caregivers, there are several full-time doctors and nurses, a speech therapist, a massage therapist, a music teacher, 3 or 4 psychologists who come in and out of the room throughout the day to work with the kids. There's a kitchen downstairs and the kids eat all of their meals in the big group room, which is basically their whole world.
Each group has a bedroom with cribs for babies or beds for toddlers and then a large group room, which is where they spend the vast majority of their days (eating, playing, etc). There's also a bathroom where they have their potty time and an entry room where the caregivers leave their jackets and things and where adoptive parents play with our children.
Right now there are about seven families in the baby house in various stages of adoption. You can see that the shoe room (the entry room where we change into our slippers) gets pretty crowded! We and our travel partners are the only ones from the States right now and I think there's also a German family and several from Belgium. Most of the families tend to visit in the younger rooms (most are adopting kids between 7 and 12 months - 7 months is the youngest age for international adoption from Kazakhstan) so we don't see them too often.
Every kid deserves a home and loving family, but Bokatoz is a pretty great place for those little ones who are still waiting for their family to walk through the door. It is cheerful and loving and we are so grateful to the place and people who have cared for our daughter for as long as she can remember.
This morning we had the opportunity to see a special program put on by the two older groups. They do these little programs for holidays and once per season to celebrate the children born in that season. It was adorable. They all paraded into the music room in their finest party garb - bows in hair, brightly colored shirts, yellow and black polka dot ties - and won our hearts with their fabulous singing and dancing. The plot was a little challenging to follow, but it went something like this: Sing a song, teacher dressed as snowman comes in, sing a song, teacher dressed as rabbit comes in (we're assuming this was some sort of winter to spring transition), sing a song, teacher dressed as wolf comes in (not sure about this part, we're guessing they just had a cool wolf costume in the store room and wanted to use it), wolf chases rabbit, wolf scared away by children, sing a song.
Now we get to the best part - the special musical numbers. The first was three sweet little girls doing a little "Russian doll" dance complete with kerchiefs. Next came our favorite number, five kids dancing to (and we are not making this up) Can't Touch This. Yes, they had a choreographed MC Hammer number in the baby house. Then the cake came out for all of the kids with recent birthdays, we sang a birthday song, and then it was a massive dance party to Russian techno! Yeah, it was clearly our best morning visit yet. Sash was too young to participate (it was the older kids), but she loved watching those preschoolers sing and dance and was clapping along with all of us by the end!
Sasha was clearly inspired by the whole experience, because during our afternoon visit she invented a new dancing game. Our room-mates have a little toy that's kind of like a See and Say - push on the plastic farm animal and it makes the animal's noise or plays a little song. Sestra would push the buttons until she got a song to play and then come to us with both of her hands outstretched. It took us a couple of tries, but eventually we caught on that she was trying to get us to dance with her (we're a little slow on the uptake)! It was a great game and we all enjoyed taking turns dancing and playing DJ.
Prayer request: We are so excited to be so close to becoming a family! Please pray for our little one's transition from the baby house. Pray that we can comfort her when she misses Botakoz, the only home she can remember, that she adjusts quickly to the rhythms of life with us, and that she understands with stunning clarity the special love that we have for her as her mom and dad and the unique relationship of a family.