A boy named Roman and his 6000 mile search for his brother and sister
A soccer ball Roman received from orphanage coach Vladimir Leonidovich may have changed his life. A small band of Waldgeim boys became an exceptional soccer futbol team. Orphans are usually segregated from the public school population, but Public School 16 in the poor Little Biro neighborhood admitted their group - despite academic problems - and the boys became eligible to play other schools in regional soccer matches.. With help from an older boy Bogdan, a team comprised of Artem, Kirril, Vanya, two Vovas, two Yuras, Korney, Ilya and Roman became a kind of family. And when the Waldgeim boys led Little Biro PS 16 to a Far East elementary championship, some of the boys became visible to adoption officials. Teachers reminded them of Roman's harsh sibling separation.
In 2008, a divorced middle-aged man from Boston applied to adopt a boy in the only Russian region that would consider such a request. The Jewish Autonomous Region, with dissident roots and an anti-Moscow legacy, had different rules. Roman's bleak medical reports and disheveled-looking photo had apparently limited his adoption options. Yet, teacher Lidia Ivanovna's descriptions provided a clue about the real boy. "He always has his own opinion." The adoption moved forward, but first, under Russian law, Roman had to be offered to the parents of Sergey and Anastasia. During that time, a social worker at an adoption agency was in contact with the family. They said no on adoption, but Roman's future father was told the family, which lived on Long Island (NY), would be willing to have visits. That offer was repeated at various times by adoption agency personnel. However, the adoption agency was scandal-marred and soon was suspended and then terminated by the Russian Federation. The agency failed to meet the Russian government's legal standards,. After much scrambling, a St. Louis firm stepped up and saved the adoption. At the adoption hearing in Russia, Roman showed up with a USA sweatshirt. He was a boy on a mission.
Roman proved to be a great boy. He had obstacles that related to his late start in school and health. Yet he recovered physically and adjusted socially in ways that sometimes masked the difficulties in adapting to a new country. Roman did well as soccer futbol continued to be his personal bridge. He was no longer alone. Through family and friends, he acquired an extended brood of kids from Russia that included Svetlana, Irina, Marina, and Sonya. He came to America around the same time as his orphanage roommate, teammate, and friend, Vanya. Vanya, who Roman regards as a brother, had been adopted by a nice family in New York. Still, as years passed, his desire to find Sergey and Anastasia remained strong.
Many official avenues have been pursued. US Freedom of Information requests for public information have been met by bureaucratic delays and confused interpretations of laws. There have been serious medical issues, but all requests for confidential and anonymous medical information exchanges receive no response. Those requests to the Long Island parents must be sent through the original controversy-plagued adoption agency. That terminated adoption agency solicits large contributions and sends cryptic messages. There has been legal assurance that the messages have been delivered. For years, Roman's family tried to understand. Yet the refusal to share anonymous medical information was unusual and difficult to fathom given the possible medical repercussions. Fundamentally Roman's existence has always been ignored. There is no more basic issue for an orphan than a lack of recognition of one's human existence. Meanwhile Russian adoption protocols regarding sibling rights have been violated. Roman's only option is to search for public information and support. Roman has legal rights and human rights too. He will try to find his brother and sister.
As of May 2017, Sergey would be 18 and Anastasia would have turned 16. In 2009, it was confirmed that they lived on Long Island, New York. They arrived on Long Island around 2006. They certainly needed help from Russian translators and teachers during their early time in America. Their first names may have been changed.
Roman has literally come a long way. In 2006, Roman was a little boy recovering from rheumatic fever. By height and weight he was below zero percent on normal growth charts. He had no schooling and had been separated from the last two members of his family. He lived in an impoverished orphanage in a place called "Beyond Siberia." The boy was 6000 miles away from finding his brother and sister. Yet he never lost hope.