From a volunteer who visited with her in August 2016:Irina’s update from last year is still very accurate. Her introvert and shy behaviors got more though. She prefers not to interact at all. It took me half of our trip to get her to trust me enough to walk around the building with us and she would still not look at me. She avoids any eye contact. She did enjoy the attention though. She still loves to sit on someones lap. She has grown even more than last year. This year she had become too heavy for me to carry her.
I think Irina wants to get out of the facility. She was transferred to this facility a couple years ago. Before she lived here, she lived in a ‘normal orphanage’ with a special needs group. When they lost their funding she was transferred here. When we take her for a walk she walks to the gate and she just stares at the world outside of those gates. She realizes there is an entire world out there. One day the nurses saw us at the gate though and they yelled at us for minutes. We were not allowed to take Irina there, she could walk away. The gate is closed and locked and we were there with her, so there was no way she’d walk away, but from that day on Irina was even more closed and she lost most of the initiative while walking. She even lost her interest in the swing. She needs someone she can trust, someone who she’ll know will stay and will love her. She has already been listed for so long! She needs a family!
From a volunteer who visited with her in July 2015: ” Irina is a beautiful girl with dark hair and big dark eyes. She has a cleft palate. She is a precious and happy little girl. She loves personal attention. She is craving attention and physical touch. If it was up to her she’d be held and hugged all day. She can react really shy to people who talk to her and especially when yelled at, she will become really introvert. She is a really sweet girl. Irina is a physically quite healthy girl. She is well nourished, she can walk, run, swing, etc. Her physical development is good, compared with the other children in the same facility. She seems to have a strong body. She knows how to use a swing properly and can swing by herself. She enjoys it a lot. She can play accurate with toys, like dolls, or pretend play with kitchen tools. She knows how to walk stairs. She can dress and undress herself. She can drink from a cup and eat by herself. She is potty trained and will tell if she has to use the bathroom. She doesn’t talk, most likely because of her cleft palate. She doesn’t make noises, but her eyes express a lot about how she feels. And her smile will tell you when she enjoys something. She understands what is being said to her and she can follow orders. When Irina is in the group, she’ll try to stay away from the others. She prefers to play by herself, but she is also capable of interacting with other children or adults. She prefers to play with children who are smaller or younger than her, probably because they are no threat to her. Last year I saw how she was being bullied by other (bigger) children. She tries to flee from bullies (and from yelling), but there is nowhere to go. This year she is doing much better. She has grown physically, which made her less of a target for the bigger children. Maybe also because new smaller children are in the group now. Sometimes she’s still the target of bullying and harming behaviour, but at other moments she will show these behaviours herself. She can be a bully to the smaller children herself. I think this is her way of showing that she is stronger now, but this is no good development. The longer children are in this facility, the more harming behaviour they show. Irina is still able to receive love, but time is ticking away. She needs a family. She would thrive in a family where she could be ‘the baby’.”
If you are unfamiliar with FAS, please spend some time researching this condition. Just as with Down syndrome, FAS and FAE have a wide variation of effects on each child, both medically, physically, and cognitively. This is typically dependent on how long during the pregnancy the mother consumed alcohol, and of course, how much. There is no way to know this ahead of time.
Irina has been transferred to the older child internat now. Elinor, Devora, Julia, Sullivan, Artemur, Duane, Abner and Irina may all be in the same region.