Should I learn Russian or Kazakh? Check with your agency to find out what language is being spoken to your child; it varies from orphanage to orphanage, and even within an orphanage they may use both languages. It is much easier to find sources for learning Russian; go to the Language Section for resources for both languages. Russian and Kazakh are two completely different languages; Kazakh is related to Turkic, so knowing Russian won't help much. I recommend at least learning the Cyrillic alphabet (so you can read street names) and common words/phrases (please, thank you, yes, no, etc.) in Russian; learning them in Kazakh would be a bonus. Knowing Russian will enable you to travel easier, but it is not an easy language to learn. I do not speak any Russian, and had few problems moving around on my own in Almaty; I could always find someone who spoke English or managed with hand gestures and paper. Of course, the older your child is, the more beneficial it will be to speak at least a little. Another common issue is whether to keep up Russian or Kazakh once the chidren are home. The general consensus is that unless you have a parent speaking the language exclusively, your child will lose the ability to speak their native language. Even doing things such as sending them to language camps or having someone who speaks the language come over occasionally are not enough. Bilingual households work best when each adult speaks only one language to the child so that they get every day exposure. The younger they are, the more likely they are to completely forget their first language. Some children have even become fearful when they hear an adult speak Russian. Of course, there are exceptions to all of this. Dr. Alla Gordina has written an excellent article Native Languages in Internationally Adopted Children . Other resources on this subject: Language Development in Internationally Adopted Children , Language-related issues for international adoptees and adoptive families and FRUA: Language Development in Internationally Adopted Children .
Do they have a "tooth fairy" in Kazakhstan? More like a "tooth mouse"! The following are from Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby B. Beeler
- In the UNITED STATES, you would put your tooth under your pillow and while you were fast asleep, the Tooth Fairy would come into your room, take your tooth, and leave some money in its place.
- In KAZAKHSTAN you would drop your tooth under the bathtub and say, "Mouse, mouse, bring me a new tooth, please."
- If you live in RUSSIA, your mother would say that you would need to put your tooth in a mouse hole in the ground.
- Children who live in CHINA would take their upper tooth and put it at the foot of their bed and the bottom tooth on the roof. Their parents would say to the children that by putting the tooth in its proper place, it will make their new tooth grow in fast.
- If you lived in KOREA, you would have thrown your tooth on the roof and say "Blackbird, blackbird, my old tooth I give to you. Bring me a new tooth."
How can I give back to my child's orphanage/hospital/country and help those still there? Many agencies have programs in place, so be sure to ask them. To the best of my knowledge, none of the organizations listed below are associated with an agency. If you know of any others to add that aren't agency-based, please e-mail me to let me know.
- American International Health Alliance (AIHA) "advances global health through volunteer-driven, "twinning" partnerships and other programs that mobilize communities to better address healthcare priorities, while improving productivity and quality of care." Partnerships for Kazakhstan: Astana/Pittsburgh (primary health care), Almaty/Richmond VA (health management), Almaty/Tucson (infection control, emergency and disaster preparedness), and Semipalatinsk/Houston (infection control).
- US Agency for International Development (USAID) "USAID is an independent federal government agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. USAID supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting: economic growth, agriculture and trade; global health; and, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance."
- KidSave : in addition to sponsoring children to visit the US in their Summer Miracles program, they also provide financial support to orphans who "age out" of orphanages to enable them to have independent lives after leaving the orphanages.
- Interlink Resources is a privately managed nonprofit organization. Its purpose is to provide technical assistance, training and resource materials to recipient countries free of charge in the areas of: Business Development and Support, Public Health Research, Humanitarian Aid, Medical Training and Supplies, Children and Youth Programs, English Programs - Teaching and Development and Cultural Exchanges; works with orphanages in the Taraz area. They also have a child sponsorship program.
- Angel Covers "Foundation was created by parents concerned about the plight of children around the world. Our goal is to enhance the lives of children who will likely spend their childhoods in orphanages. This will be accomplished by providing direct support to specific orphanages as well as working closely with other foundations and their existing programs." For every blanket that is purchased, one is donated to an orphanage; they have other items as well. Although they work primarily in China, Russia and Africa, they have sent blankets and other items to Kazakhstan.
- Samaritan's Purse run by Franklin Graham: Operation Christmas Child (gift-filled shoe boxes), World Medical Mission (supplies and voluntters, doesn't operate in Kazakhstan)
- Antares Foundation "was created by a group of people dedicated to improving the lives of orphans in Kazakhstan. They work in Petropavlovsk. They also have a Antares Blog .
- ACORN (Abandoned Children and Orphans Resource Network) started out as a Peace Corp project in Ust-Kamenogorsk, it now sends care packages to orphanages in that area.
- Seeway Trust is involved with an orphanage in Almaty for handicapped children.
- Crossroads International is based in Hong Kong, with the Central Asia branch is based in Shymkent. They have a YouTube video that describes their work in Shykent.
- Two Hearts for Hope collects items and does fundraisers. Donations are then sent to various orphanages in Kazakhstan.
- SPOON Foundation: Support and Provide Overseas Orphan Nutrition; "Our mission is to improve the health of international orphans and adoptees by providing them with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive." Their current project is the Kazakhstan Vitamin Project.
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How do I set up a website/online journal for my adoption journey?7 The following all have a web site builder that allows anyone without knowledge about HTML to create a website. If you are comfortable writing your own code (or can utilize a program that can do it for you), there are numerous companies that can provide low cost web hosting, including the one I use, lunarpages . There are some agencies that require you to password your website when you are close to traveling; I think that this is an excellent idea, but please either make it public once you are home or create another website that you are willing to share. If you do password-protect your site, please send me an invite so that I can follow along.
Page last updated on 19 December 2009.