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Hi, everyone! We are Elena and Viktor Ivanchenko, a family from Zaporozhye.
We are raising nine children in our family. They are Katya, aged 18, who is our own daughter, and eight orphans: Tanya, aged 17, Vova, aged 13, Edik, aged 12, Ruslan, aged 11, Elya, aged 9, Kolya, aged 8, Lyuda, aged 7 and small Yura – he is only 3 years old.
Though based on the documents I am only a guardian for my children, all of them call us “mother” and “father”. As back as 2006 we understood we wanted to raise many children and to present our love to them but the life has turned out so that we had only one daughter. So we made our minds to invite one more child into our family. We dreamed about a fair-haired and blue-eyed girl about 3 or 4 years old. However, one can wish a lot but the real life makes its corrections in the plans.
My husband, daughter and I often helped one orphanage: sent there toys, clothes, sweets, as well as visited the orphans. So, on one of the New Year’s Eves we were invited there. When the staff of the facility came to know I was preparing documents for guardianship they proposed to me to take one of the children home for the vacation. At the time only several children were staying at the orphanage: the rest of them went to their relatives for the holidays and the vacation. So that was how we met with Tanya and Vova (at the time they were 10 and 6 accordingly). My husband and I thought the children would simply stay with us during the holidays and then we would take them back. But right from the start Vova called my husband “daddy” and Tanya began to call us “mommy” and “daddy”. And we understood that parents do not leave their children in orphanages. Thus, first “swallows” of happiness flew into our home. When we are asked: “How did you dare to make this decision?” I usually answer: “They chose us their mother and father”. And it’s great honor for my husband and me because God doesn’t allow everyone to take care of orphans. Tanya and Vova’s natural parents died and at present we are their family.”
Two years passed after that but our wish to have a small blue-eyed and fair-haired girl didn’t leave us. Again we prepared all the required documents and addressed Children’s Affairs Service and we were sent to visit an asylum – a girl was waiting for us there. When she was brought to us I simply came to love her from the first sight! Extremes meet: black hair; brown eyes were looking at me and saying: “I AM YOUR DAUGHTER!” We decided that she was ours but we were told that she had two problems that had scared away all the previous people who had also wanted to take her. I looked at the girl and thought: “She looks healthy, what problems can there be?” And then these problems were also brought to us – these two problems because of which other people rejected her: they were her two brothers, swarthy as their sister and very cute.
I have never had prejudices in national issues because all people are equal. It’s the same like with fruits that are different in their taste and color. Anyway we cannot imagine our world without plums, apricots, apples or pears. Same with people: God created people very different. Maybe the comparison is not very good but it is visual anyway. First words of my Elya were: “When I am your daughter I will be WHITE!” I will remember these words till the end of my life. Only afterwards, when we took all the three children into our family (Elya was 4, Edik was 6 and Ruslan was 5) they often used to ask me during their baths: “Mom, rub me harder please so that I will become white”. That is how our family was extended to three more happiness “swallows”. Certainly it is difficult to touch upon everything in our conversation: it would comprise life stories of every of the children in our family.
Two more years have passed; we improved our living conditions and prepared for a new member in our family. As usual we prepared all the documents and applied to Children’s Affairs Service. We found a child we liked and a lot of trips followed: the boy lived in an orphanage in western Ukraine. But the main thing was we went there to bring home Yura, eighteen months old, but returned also with a six-year-old Kolya and Lyuda, aged 5. It turned out Yura had a brother and a sister and they could be taken into a family only together.
Now we are many and we are friendly. Different situations happen at times, though: for instance, someone becomes too eager to be mom’s favorite. But then we usually have a talk, hug each other and everything ends well. The most important thing is for children to know they are dear to you, to know that they are needed in the family and their parents cannot imagine their life without them. I often talk to my children; we often make tea parties with questions: children ask me any questions and my husband and I answer them, then we change our parts. We like to do everything together very much. We have a small country house with a plot of land and the children like to grow vegetables there without any assistance. And I have noticed how they protect their plants and how distressed they are when some seeds do not grow. So sometimes in our conversations I use the same tactics saying: “Mom loves you and takes care of you. Anyway you return to sadness at times”. It’s the way we call their misbehavior – “a return to sadness”.
I haven’t regretted a single day the decision I made once to help orphans and the fact that now we have so many children in our family.
Best regards, Elena Ivanchenko.
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