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The warmth, sincerity, love and joy have settled in the cozy home of Irina and Nikolay Maksymchuk who live in Pologi city. They have warmed up the hearts of eight orphans that had hard lives. Now, nine boys and girls live in their foster home
But it turns out that not every child is our child because there are children who do not feel needed who live with negligent parents, parents that are drowning their sorrows in alcohol, that are in jail or that are working in other countries. Unfortunately, being an orphan with existing parents, and bitter childhood are still deplorable occurrences of our current life.
Orphanages even if they are equipped with good facilities and have kindhearted staff never could replace children’s’ own homes. Even if that home does not have luxury because it would have a mother`s care with her telling fairy tales every night and also a father`s wisdom. There are heart-warming family dinners in the evenings and children are considered the best in the world. Thanks to all of that they are caressed by love and they grow quickly and most of all happily.
Such thoughts come to mind in the Day of Faith, Hope and Love, the day when Ukraine celebrates The Day of Adoption. It is good that the well of peoples kindness is not getting dry and that kindhearted people keep taking children with hard lives to the table in their home.
Children are the happiest being with families, not in institutions run by the Government. Nikolay Maksymchuk is well aware of this. He does not remember his own mother and for his stepmother 4 children were too much, so she sent Nikolay to an orphanage where he spent 8 years and felt great sorrows during all those years. This is why his heart bleeds every time he sees orphans.
The same compassionate nature of his wife Irina, her full understanding and support were those causes that inspired the couple for founding a foster home. Actually, before that the Maksymchuks had already gone through the levels of adoption and also of being a foster family. It does not matter what to call a way of protecting orphans, the main thing is to warm up the orphans under the roof, to give them family warmth, feed them, teach them to live in society. Now, there are nine children in the Maksymchuk family and only Lyuda is their child by blood, she is a senior in high school and is a good example for her brothers and sisters, she is their first tutor after their mother. Once, when she was younger, she was looking for children that had bad lives for her parents to adopt for those whom she wanted to take home.
The story of each child is a whole book. Here leaning on the mother is a nine year old girl with big bows in her hair- Rita. She loves telling about her school, she is a big helper for her parents with housework, she is responsible for the cleaning of the porch and her room. She already can fix fried eggs and even bake pies.
- Ira got to our house first- Irina says- Her parents were drinking and we felt very sorry for the child, she was four and a half years old with no parental care, hungry and dirty. She was staying with us for about one year, we hoped her mother would come back to a normal life and would appear. But, no, it didn't happen. It was already time for Irina to go to school for the first time, we needed her documents for school which we didn't have. There was a question of whether to deprive the parents of the child's custody. This was when we adopted Ira.
Lida has already been in the family for four years. She is wearing an elegant white blouse, slender, with a friendly smile on her face. The father is looking at her with tenderness as if she were a magic flower that beautifies their garden. He remembers her when she came to them the first time, she couldn't do anything, everything fell from her hands, she did not know how to wash dishes or make a table. Now, she professionally cans fruits and vegetables, she loves cooking new recipes for meals.
Ilya came to the house from Chernigovskyi orphanage. He wants to get the surname Maksymchuk when he gets his Ukrainian ID. Nikolay is a son of Irina's sister who died. Along with the dad he is responsible for housekeeping. They work together to milk 10 goats, they mow grass for them and then make hay and straw.
At the beginning of summer the Maksymchuk family ventured forth and took a very bold step. They took under their roof another four children from Matviyvskyi orphanage, brothers and sisters Vasya, Yulia, Ira and Victor, the orphans of existing parents. From time to time their parent will remember through a drunk fog about the children and call them to drum up crocodile tears over the children. They do not understand they have ruined their childhood.
The Maksymchuks remember the children came to the house and they did not have simple skills of taking care of themselves, did not know hygiene and did not know how to use manners. For example, Victor could not even speak, so his new parents had to take him to the doctor. We had to teach him the names of these and other things, how to formulate simple sentences. But now, he chatters and says he is mother's favorite. Because of the family's growth last summer the family did not go for vacation as they usually do. Only for daytrips not far from the house. They were preparing for school time. Irina was patiently teaching the smaller children reading and writing because they knew a little of that. She was buying all necessary things for school including school uniforms for the children. The father gave about 32,000 hryvnyas for getting the children ready for the school year. They were choosing all new clothes from T-shirts to shoes very carefully, trying to choose clothing that would last for a long time and would be liked by the children.
All the children call Irina and Nikolay Mom and Dad. They do it without forcing or uneasiness because there is enough love for everyone in the big family and everyone is taken care of. The children see everyday the parents permanently taking care of them.
- We keep a quite big barnyard- Nikolays says, so my children do not eat American genetically modified chicken but only all natural foods. Now, we keep 16 pigs, last year we kept and used 12, but now 12 would not be enough. There are 7 sheep, also goats, ducks, a lot of hens. The boys willingly help me and the girls help mother.
The kitchen is not only a female territory. We cook meals in turn. Every day we have fresh, tasty and healthy food. The parents train the children to fix simple meals on their own. They have enough stocks for every day and for winter time. The "tour" to their cellar is very impressive, there are about 250 cans of pickled cucumbers and tomatoes only from this year harvest, about half a ton of tomato paste, two drums of oil and incalculable number of jars with jam, juice, potatoes, pumpkins and onions.
The Maksymchuks believe that nutrition is an important part of children's lives, especially because their digestive system was hurt as infants. It is necessary to cure their health little by little so that the "inheritance" of their neglected childhood will not follow them all their life.
This is why the mother first of all asks the children that come home from school what they have eaten there and how they feel.
- It is also important for the children to know the differences between meals and all the ingredients they are made of- Irina says.
Here, in the kitchen, they spend time together. Either together or one after another the children come to the mother to tell her their secrets. What precious time it is for the children who were neglected from birth! Lida sits down to embroider, she does beautiful ornamental patterns. Ilya sings for his mother. She visits all the performances he takes part in and irons shirts for all his concerts.
Every child they have taken into the family has to have their own private territory, a place, where they can stay alone, do whatever they want to do at that time. To make the house that way the parents had to completely remodel it, added some rooms, now there are 14 of them. Everywhere there are many toys, big and small ones, two computers, two scooters, some bicycles. Nikolay does not make a big secret of where he earned enough money for all those things. For seven years he worked in Hanty-Mansiyskyi region as a shift worker. The hard work and strong Russian winters undermined his health but he could financially build his big dream- to fill the house with children’s noise, laughter, the happiness that gives people a clear understanding of why they live.
The father is sure the children will build their own families when they grow up. Or if they want to stay in the house there will be enough room for everyone:
- I was collecting all of you for a long time and you will always be my own children.
- Our workers very often visit the Maksymchuks- told us a chief of county child services Viktoriya Osadchaya - and they always derive so many positives from there. It comes from the father that just lives and breathes through his children. It comes from the mother who wisely keeps the house and the children’s hearts in her hands. With each step in their parenthood, with each child they themselves make progress in their lives destination. It seems like there becomes more and more love under their roof. The love leaves the house with the children and goes out with them.