On Thursday night I wrote this to a private group of adoption friends:
I have been conditioned to think that this was a gesture of goodwill to the children that are left behind. I had a difficult time deciding what to do with this $xxxx.
The thing that tipped the scales was my Ukrainian friend who has facilitated adoptions in the past. He BEGGED me not to hand over cash...that I would be perpetuating corruption. He said the money was intended for Maxim and it should be used for his benefit. He also said that if my heart tells me to donate to the facility to ask the director for a list of items that they need and purchase things from that list. Which I do plan to do.
I know that many of you are using the **other** facilitators and they DEMAND that you hand over this money in its entirety to the facility. You need to know that this is a corrupt practice (many of the directors and fac's split the funds 50/50) and even if you can't do anything about it, I think it is a practice that needs to be questioned.
In the process, many children had to be transferred to other facilities. The music room in the remaining building now holds much of the therapy equipment from the old building...along with stacks of extra furniture and crap. Also, I understand the physical therapist was let go...no money in the budget to pay her.
Before I hand over cash or even donated items, I need to think carefully about how this will benefit the children. As much as I may trust the people I'm dealing with here, it's so easy to see how the funds could simply be pocketed. This IS Ukraine, folks. It's a place where personal survival and "what's in it for me" is of primary concern. Even among professional and seemingly trustworthy people.
So, for the time being, Maxim's savings will be set aside for his medical needs, which could be extensive. I will get a wish list from the director and keep in touch with local missions to coordinate any donations. I'm very appreciative for the care that he has received in the past 4 years. I understand that he was in poor condition when he was transferred and that he spent at least a year in a "laying room." I will not forget the children left behind.
Two and a half years ago, when we adopted Theo and Zhen, I did hand over a FAT STACK of Ukrainian cash to the orphanage bookkeeper. I didn't know him, he could have been any guy off the street. I got a sick feeling when he folded that money up in his newspaper, stuck it under his arm and walked out of the bank. My feelings were confirmed when I visited the orphanage a year later and found the same poor kids sitting alone in broken cribs, no toys, drenched diapers, and smelling of vomit. There was no lasting benefit to them.