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East European orphans hope visit to U.S. yields a family

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  • East European orphans hope visit to U.S. yields a family

    Stamford Advocate, CT
    July 30 2004

    East European orphans hope visit to U.S. yields a family

    Pavel `Pasha' Ptushko, an 8-year-old orphan from Russia, is staying
    with a Stamford family for a month while he waits for an adoptive
    family to be found. (Paul Desmarais/Staff photo)
    Jul 30, 2004

    By Katherine Didriksen
    Special Correspondent

    July 30, 2004

    STAMFORD -- Pavel "Pasha" Ptushko is fresh-faced, blond and 8 -- and
    has come far to find a home.

    An orphaned child from Russia, Pavel is staying with a Stamford
    family for four weeks this summer through World Links Association, a
    nonprofit international adoption agency based in Scranton, Pa.

    World Links unites orphaned children from Russia, Armenia,
    Kazakhstan, Moldova and Ukraine with American families. It has placed
    about 450 children in the United States in the past five years.

    In its Karing for Kids Host Program for Orphans, the agency brings
    children such as Pavel from orphanages in eastern Europe to stay with
    American host families for several weeks. The 56 children who visited
    this summer will return to Russia on Wednesday.

    The program, which began with 25 children in 1999, allows orphans to
    learn about American culture and family life while the agency screens
    potential adoptive families.

    It's easier to find the children permanent homes if they are in the
    country, said Laureen Dempsey, coordinator of the host program.

    "If they're just a picture in eastern Europe, they're no one," she

    American families begin adoption proceedings for about 98 percent of
    the orphaned children who come to the United States through the
    program, Dempsey said.

    All children must return to Russia after their stay. They go back to
    the orphanage or are adopted by an American family in Russian court.

    Born July 12, 1996, Pavel is one of the few orphans on this trip who
    has not been placed. Left at an orphanage at birth, Pavel, who has a
    partial cleft lip, never had a visitor there.

    "Russia doesn't have the social safety net that we have," Dempsey
    said. "When a parent can't care for a child in Russia, they're put in
    the orphanage system. . . . Some children are in the orphanage a long

    Pavel has seen his friends from the orphanage find families.

    "He's dying for a family," Dempsey said.

    His host parents in Stamford, who did not want to be identified, have
    watched Pavel acclimate to life in Fairfield County during the past
    three weeks. He particularly enjoys the beach.

    "Just getting in the water was thrilling for him," his host mother

    He is quickly picking up English words and phrases, flashing a "hi"
    at visitors and easily getting his point across with hand gestures.

    "He has a really good disposition," his host mother said.

    This week, Pavel fought a fake sword battle with the couple's
    4-year-old son, one dressed as a knight and the other playing a

    Some host families eventually adopt, sometimes taking in the child
    they hosted, Dempsey said.

    Barbara and Nick Rinaldi of Guilford and their 9-year-old daughter,
    Alicia, will adopt Christina Nesterenkova, whom they have hosted
    since early this month, as soon as possible.

    The Rinaldis have talked about adoption for years.

    "Ever since she could speak, she has wanted a sister," Barbara
    Rinaldi said of their daughter. "It was always kind of in the back of
    our minds."

    The World Links hosting program "was a perfect test drive," Barbara
    Rinaldi said. "They're truly sisters, sisters of the heart."

    A victim of parental neglect, Christina was removed from her home and
    placed in an orphanage near Smolensk. She has a foot deformity, which
    the Rinaldis hope to have corrected. They also hope her condition
    will speed up the adoption process which can take several months.

    When she arrived in the United States, Christina was wearing pink
    jean shorts that were two sizes too small and oversize shoes. She had
    no suitcase and carried only a plastic bag with an incomplete change
    of clothes.

    Her ordeal has taught Christina to take care of herself, Barbara
    Rinaldi said.

    "She is an independent, fiery spirit. . . . She's amazingly happy,
    given what she's been through in her short life," she said.

    Like Pavel, Christina will board a plan for Russia next week. Her
    host family is sad to see her go, even as they plan for her return.

    "We're dreading Wednesday, but we're looking forward to the best
    Christmas present our family has ever had," Barbara Rinaldi said.

    -- Families interested in adoption may call World Links at (570)
    344-8890 and ask for Laureen Dempsey.

    From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress