“Estimate, I have volunteer – German”: the story of Birgit and her foster children

Birgit von Ezen moved from Germany to Russia in 1993, and saw tanks in the streets and empty shops. Worked in consulting, raised three daughters. Two years ago she became a volunteer in an orphanage, and in January 2018 took custody of three teenagers. “Why Russia? Why foster kids?”, but Birgit always followed my intuition and chose your path and now she wants the kids were independent and free.

Birgit von Ezen c foster children

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  • “Put’ em naked, dressed them and drove away. Junior never looked back” – to adopt four and learn to love
  • “Fear son jumped on the table and was sure that we’ll get him back”
  • “White mom”: having six brown children, she adopted another “problem”

To Russia went with the typical myths – “running around the streets bears”

Sunny August day in 1993 at Sheremetyevo airport, the plane landed in Berlin. 29-year-old Birgit von Ezen, a graduate of Heidelberg University – the oldest and one of the most prestigious in Germany, with her two year old daughter Jana moved to Russia. “I have this year’s silver wedding with the Moscow – 25 years” – with a smile and does not erase the years accent says Birgit correspondent “Pravmir” sitting on a limestone bench in the Park near the Tretyakov gallery.

First time in Moscow Birgit was in 1986. Then together with a group of translation students, she came to Russia as a tourist. In three weeks it toured Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Yalta and other cities. With Soviet citizens especially did not communicate this at the time. Like most of her fellow students, she went to Russia with the typical myths – “this wild country”, “people wear fur coats all year round, summer does not happen at all”, and “run around the streets bears”.

But Birgit always considered myself fearless and Russian language was also chosen because of the desire to learn something challenging and interesting.

The Italian seemed boring, already knew French, Chinese and Arabic study is not wanted. University teachers then with difficulty found the literature in the Russian language. The newspaper “Pravda”, where students took political articles to translate, sometimes sold at railway stations.

In 90-m to year Birgit and eight girls translators came back to Russia for six months – it was a student exchange program with Moscow state linguistic University named after Maurice Thorez.

Birgit remembers together with my friends were standing in line in the rain in the only cafes in Moscow – “a very bad place” on China-town. One day they went into a huge grocery store on Taganka square, but there was nothing – only one pack of sour milk. And so the whole week. The main diet of German students six months consisted of potatoes and buttermilk.

– Yes, it is hard, but there is something cool. When the other students so survive, it unites – meets Birgit to question what they here then so held. – Me it was easy: I knew that at any moment will be able to take a suitcase.

But held another “cause”. Future husband Birgit was also a student-translator. They decided that it is now in Germany or in Russia, just will be together. Six months after returning to Germany Birgit gave birth to her first daughter Jan. Father sees her only three months later, when Birit as tourists coming for a week in Moscow. So they lived the next two years – rare meetings in Moscow or in Germany. All this time they were looking for a job for my husband in Germany, but accidentally Birgit found a job in Russia,. In German representation of the company “Preussag” was looking for an assistant chief. The agreement was concluded for three years.

Alternating spoken at home: Birgit’s German husband in Russian, and Vice versa

The company has given office apartment – a small apartment is just 30 meters near the Danilov market. Her daughter was sent to kindergarten, however, then it in Russian don’t say a word and was already in practice. The house was just talking to alternate: Birgit German husband in Russian, and Vice versa.

– I was mostly theoretical. Remember, as the phone rang, and I fear to take hid under the table – laughing Birgit. – At first could not understand.

Birgit remembers tanks in the streets and “Swan lake” on TV. Remember how she ran to the post office to order a call to Germany – sometimes I had to wait for 3-4 hours.

The employment agreement was extended, in may of 97-th second daughter Tonya, and three years later – the third, Xenia. Decree and parallel distance learning on the master of business administration helped Birgit easy to go through the reduction in 2001. And soon found work in the Association of European Businesses introduced her to the prospective employer, a Dutchman. It was a young consulting Agency that helps foreign companies develop business in Russia. Team cozy – less than 10 employees, and customers from different countries, Birgit even had to learn Portuguese and to go on business trips to Brazil.

At some point in her life in Russia crossed the border of adaptation and took the natural course. Worked at the weekend – museums, movies or meeting friends. My husband and Birgit broke up but they remained friends and still keep in touch. New year Birgit and her daughters were often seen in Germany, and there spent the summer. Children went to school. School education in Russia Birgit praises for its versatility, and although the Soviet approach to the study of English calls failed, her daughters were lucky with the teachers and with the genes of the parents and interpreters. To obtain a higher education girls went to Europe: Ian studied in England and now lives in Germany, Tonya worked in Canada, now studying in Sweden, the younger She also chose England.

So they decided to do. I’m not going to interfere with them. In fact, very proud of the fact that they are such self has grown, explains Birgit. I don’t understand the way of education when children are “nurse” and after puberty. And another grandmother, another aunt, and from the yard, which intervene and point out that a hat should be worn. Very angry that any woman on the street knows how to raise your child.

“To see that child’s eyes lit up, although he can’t speak, is very cool”

In 2016, after 13 years of experience in consulting, Birgit retired – personnel changes, disagreement with superiors. Needed a break to figure out where to move on.

When I came to work a couple of months volunteering, says Birgit. The Fund “give life” was the only charity organization that I knew. But I immediately knew that going to the hospital I can not – going to cry with the children. So did Fund translation from Russian into German and was looking for another place where they can be more useful.

Met with the Foundation “I am”, was to go to the children’s homes. Took the stroller with the most problematic children and walked around the grounds. One day in bad weather just rolled the baby down the hall and he screamed from happiness. “To see that child’s eyes lit up, although he can’t speak and barely moves, is very cool,” says Birgit then.

And later in her life came the Foundation “Volunteers to help orphans”. Birgit became a friend of the family where a single mom was undergoing treatment and her two children, a boy five years and a ten year old girl, sometimes needed help. Birgit took them to walk to school, helped with the documents. Mother thanked the children were amused by her accent.

Birgit soon became interested in the mentor program, hosted a training course – volunteering is addictive. “His” children, 13-year-old Denis, she first saw at the meeting volunteers and children in the orphanage in Vnukovo. Both shy at the first interview – Dennis stranger with an accent, Birgit – his inexperience in dealing with children from an orphanage and ignorance of their psychology. For the next month on weekends, Birgit went to him as a mentor and tried with him to communicate: to talk, to walk, to help the school. Friends Denis boasted: “Think for me the volunteer is a German.”

Later Birgit will fight with his consumer attitude to everything, including her, and ask, “do you need the volunteer? Money on the phone I can you to throw. I don’t need to for you to come.”

And as their communication became a trust, Denis, brother-twins Artem and younger 12-year-old sister Victoria was taken into the family.

“When I told them that I wanted to take them home, all lit up”

For me it was a shock, recalls Birgit. – I thought, well, okay, maybe. I didn’t want to become a mentor to another child, taking a breather. And suddenly a month later a call from the curator of the Foundation: “Birgit, children back.” As it turned out, the family was not very prepared. Of course, it was a big stress for children, they were taken and simply returned as not suitable. And on the one hand, I was sad, but honestly, I’m happy. Then I only have Denis was. Vicki and Artem their volunteers. In parallel, we tried to find them another family. Called from somewhere in Siberia and I could not imagine that they would go that far. And one day was a strange call: people wanted to have 20 foster children, and three places they were still free. How is this different from the orphanage? Then I have all moved to the stage that I want all three of you in his family forever.

Care doubt: is it possible to give permission of foreign person with residence permit. The answer was: “Yes, no, maybe”.

Then Birgit wrote to the Ministry of education. And when a month later came the answer “you can”, Birgit jumped from his chair and rushed to call the Manager of the Fund.

– The school of adoptive parents I started to go even earlier, just for myself. It was not thought that she will really need once. But the funny thing is that I was the first of the graduates took the kids. All was surprised.

Birgit was supported by his daughter. Was delighted and the older 28-year-old sister of brothers and the Wiki, Birgit with her and now communicates quite close. After all the talk should have, perhaps, the most important step is to obtain the consent of the guys. Prior to that, Birgit decided to spend the day with Artem and Vika separately. Artem prepared at home a chicken, and then went to the football to cheer for “Spartacus” And Vic has brightened the ends of her hair and baked a carrot cake, which was then carried to the orphanage.

– When I told them that I wanted to take them home, all lit up. And Denis the next day after the conversation just sent: “you Can write a failure, I’m not coming”. I was at a loss. Talk to our curator. The reaction is understandable, I just wasn’t prepared. And then Dennis wrote a very long message in “Vkontakte”, where the points laid out all his fears and explained that in his place I too would be scared, and how things will actually. A couple of days there was silence, and then Denis said, “I agree.” I was very happy.

This phrase Birgit banishes from the face of the sudden a tear and begins to smile widely. So, in January of 2018, she became the mother of six children.

“They have become softer. They’re doing or not doing something, not to offend me”

And then began the standard way of adaptation, in which the joy of finding each other, and tears, and fear.

The first six months, the three of us sat on home schooling – came to him the tutor on Russian and mathematics. So they overtook the program.

The main educational principle Birgit in respect of both blood and foster children – not to intrude, let the children learn self-reliance. However, to get them to read books, she goes to the bookshelf, picks up Tom and sat down to read by myself, for myself.

– Sometimes I feel like a shrew, I don’t like that. I do not like to shout and get them to do something. Remember, Artem had to go to the doctor, and he ran away from me on the street – well, I followed him. Or do we have a rule in summer, 22.00 must all be home. Once the boys got here late, didn’t listen, and I immediately allowed. Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to be tough. But during those nine months, the children became softer. I often see that some of the things they do or don’t do, not to offend me. I can’t stand when I’m cooking something for lunch, and they say, “Oh, I’m not hungry, I’ll be there in an hour.” At the orphanage, they have food always was. And now hear: “Yes, come along”. I know that they are not particularly desirable, but they know that it’s important to me.

All potential foster parents, Birgit advises two things – a sense of humor and a good share of apathy. They will definitely help, especially in dealing with teenagers.

Sometimes Denis, Artem and Vika are asking about Germany, and Birgit talks about her school and a two-story brick house in which lived in his childhood, about his native city of Bremen, well-known Soviet schoolchildren on the fairy tale by the brothers Grimm.

Usually with their German friends in 90-m to year, when studied in Moscow, she met in Germany when summer came on vacation with her daughters. This year the trip did not happen, but friends came to Russia and met with Dennis, Artem and Vika. And in September, Birgit and the boys went to Spain for the wedding of the eldest daughter Jana, where are gathered all the relatives. It was their first major family holiday.

If the child wants to later live in Germany, please. But I’m not going back there. I love Russia, this is my country, though I don’t like everything here. But I like the Moscow rhythm of life, the flexibility that constantly need to be firmly says Birgit.

At this point, the staff Gormost begin to wash the fountain. The fly spray on sitting. “Thanks for the warning” – when leaving the Park, ironically throws Birgit and continues:

– Can’t say why I took kids. Some say that I miss my children. But that’s not why. Just fell in love, I guess. I like children, and they don’t have to live in an orphanage. While the children in the orphanage, they’re not particularly helpful. The fact that Russia is a statement may take the child to the orphanage is just a nightmare. Children whose parents are alive will grow up in an orphanage, but because my parents retained their parental rights, children can not arrange in the family. Almost every day there are moments when I get scared, but to overcome the feeling of fear – in it something is. And there’s always some help from other parents. The community of adoptive parents is a support that cannot be underestimated. You can access them from absolutely any problems, any issues, and sometimes just a kind word.

From the history of Birgit seems to be very beautiful even glossy. New acquaintances and asked reporters: “why didn’t you leave, if your daughters don’t live here, what’s keeping you? And why do you need three adopted children?” But, it seems that life Birgit is an example of how people should “own way”, when personal choice is affected by intuition and a sense of “right/wrong”, and not the opinions of others. And this is the answer to all questions about life Birgit in Russia and foster children.

– You know, I used to be thinking outside the box. I think long, and quickly make and live with what we have. I have never in my life did not regret their decisions. And I don’t care that I will be around.

I want my children to live a full and happy life, know more, have Hobbies, and are able to decide for themselves what they want, and that is not very interesting. That is, there were individuals who know how to make decisions, to choose their own path.

I’m not sure that we will have contact after they turn 18. On my part Yes, but what if they don’t want to… I Hope they will have, but not necessary to something to oblige, especially to gratitude. And it would be unnatural if they are now calling me “mom.” They had a good mother and her memory very much alive. The second mom I don’t want to be, I just businesslike.

Hope Prokhorov

Photo: Irakli Pitskhelauri / Fund “Volunteers in aid to children-orphans”

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