|This 100 year old
building, 250 miles northeast of Moscow, was inherited from the Russian Army. It
houses the orphanage and the 53 children that Tom and Terry Tuszynski lovingly care for
through their Foundation for Russian Orphans. Photo taken October 2002.
In November of 1998 Terry Tuszynski heard a
story on the evening news that would not let her sleep. Soon she and her husband, Tom,
made a decision that changed their lives forever.
By the time Incredible People first wrote about Tom and Terry
Tuszynski in December of 2000, they had already made a dramatic impact on the Russian
orphanage. After hearing about their lack of food, warm clothing, or heat and with the
harsh Russian winter already setting in, the Tuszynski's wasted no time. Within six weeks
they had made the necessary arrangements at home, work, and in Russia to travel to the
orphanage in person and deliver food, clothing, bedding, and enough coal keep the furnace
going all winter.
and Tom Tuszynski
That story, an incredible testament of courage, determination,
and compassion, complete with photos from award winning photojournalist, Cyndy Sullivan,
can be found by clicking here:
Four years later, there's still much to do
Now, four years after Terry heard that first news story in 1998,
remarkable changes have taken place at the orphanage. There are new projects and exciting
new opportunities, both for the Russian children and those who want to help.
Beginning with that first trip in January of 1999, the Tuszynskis
traveled to the orphanage twice a year. And as wonderful as it was to see incredible
improvements in the old buildings, warm clothes, cozy beds, and plenty of food for the
children, it wasn't enough. Each time they returned home there were still 53 children in
that Russian orphanage who wanted a home and a family. So from early on finding loving,
capable adoptive families became a top priority.
In Terry Tuszynski's own words...
|Zeke Tuszynski is all smiles
in the midst of his Russian friends.
"In February 2001 we took our six year old son,
Zeke with us. It was his first trip to Russia. We felt that he was finally old enough to
go along and see for himself just what Mom and Dad are "doing over there" !
After the trauma of being immunized he was READY! When we arrived the children were so
excited to see him. They followed him everywhere. He became part of the 'pack' instantly,
playing, dancing, drawing and eating with the children. They loved listening to him talk,
something he is quite good at! They were amazed that he knew all their names. It was a
special time for all of us."
"We talked to the orphanage directors of plans for remodeling
the main building. They had a detailed list of work to be done as well as estimated costs
for the project. The list included a new roof, new floors, ceilings, walls, lighting and
heat. We reviewed it and gave them the thumbs up to proceed. We also talked about the
upcoming adoptions. They were very happy that the children were to be adopted by families
that had traveled to the orphanage with us on some of our trips."
"Following many months of hard work by Cradle of Hope Adoption
and some pretty awesome families, six children have been adopted! In August 2001 the first
two children, a brother and sister, came home (with their adoptive families). Since then
four more children have been adopted by families here in the Pacific Northwest. They are
adjusting well both in school and with their new families. Tom and I had a reunion for all
the children and their families. It was an incredible experience to see them running
around our house, playing with Zeke's toys and dangling from the jungle gym. I had to keep
pinching myself. Yes, it is REALLY happening! My dream has come true!"
Are there loving families for these children?
"There are currently ten more children at our orphanage that
are ready to be adopted, we just need to find them families! If you feel a tug at your
heart when you look at these faces, please contact us and we will tell you more about the
child/children you are interested in."
Natasha and Alyosha
Aldar and Aduard Abaneev
Katya and Alyosha
Pavel and Alexander
of the 53 beds received a warm, colorful afghan handmade by Terry's mother, Lou
We visited the orphanage again for a week in November of 2001.
On this trip we took our now 7-year old son and my parents, Jerry and Lou Frisch with us.
Zeke was very excited to see his 53 "brothers and sisters" again. He brought
Nerf guns for the boys and Barbie doll clothes for the girls. My mom brought 53 hand
crocheted blankets that she had made for the children's beds. And my Dad, well he was a
hugging machine! It has been proven that one man CAN hug 53 children ... AT THE SAME
When we arrived four of our children had been adopted and there were
already a few new faces to take their place. I spent some time getting photos of the next
group of children that will be ready for adoption (see photos above).
|The orphanage's main hallway
before and after with new flooring, paint, lights, doors, and walls!
|A wall in the boy's bedroom
before and the same wall after
We were astounded to see the remodeling. The pictures we have
included show the work. They ripped out ceilings, walls and flooring. Everything had been
replaced. Five large bedrooms were finished and all were painted cheerful colors. There
were new lace curtains, which the children had made in sewing class, hanging in the rooms.
The original old doors were removed, walls reframed and new doors stood in their place.
The I 00-year old stairway was beautifully redone. My mom placed her colorful blankets on
the children's beds, we bought more
food and also spent time getting new parts and tires for the
orphanage bus. We talked with the directors about hiring an English Language teacher and a
Woodshop teacher for the school. They were excited about this and actually know local
people who would be suitable for both positions.
The near future holds several more crucial
First, the children left behind not yet adopted. There is an urgency
about them now. A new look in their eyes that pleads, "Find me a family, don't forget
me." Tom and I saw it very clearly on our last trip. We have been contemplating this
difficult issue for some time. We realize that for many reasons several of the children
will not be adopted. Many of these children have no family who can be a resource to them
when they leave the orphanage. A lot of them have brothers and sisters in our orphanage as
well as other orphanages. A few have psychological disorders requiring medications. The
last group will be easily placed into centers that care for young people with these
disorders. So it is the larger percentage of children that are left without a place to go.
We are excited to tell you that we recently met a Russian couple who
plan to build a center for young people. This center would be perfect for some of our
older children. They could live, study, work, marry and raise a family of their own there.
They would have the support of a community that will be their family. This is essential to
their survival. We learned about this couple, Alexander and Olga, from our friend and
translator, Volodya. He has known them for many years. We have visited them now on three
occasions and after many conversations realize that their dream and ours is the same. This
summer they sponsored a camp for the older children. It was a huge success and they have
already selected five of our children to come to their community next year. These children
would otherwise be on the street when they "graduated". (See letter from Katya
Guskova at the end. She is to be one of the first children to live in this center. At the
time her letter was written she did not know of our plans to have her join this
On our last trip in August 2002, Tom and I committed to help
Alexander and Olga build this center. Our timely meeting of this amazing couple once again
reminds us that God is watching over this little group of children.
The second pressing issue is to find more families to adopt the ten
children that are ready. Keep in mind that once a family is chosen it can take a year to
do the paperwork and get them home. Spread the word for us, show these photos to friends
and family. YOU may know just the right family and we need your help!
We are also thinking about bringing a couple of the older children
to the United States on student visas. There are two boys who show incredible artistic
talent. We are doing some research to find out if we could bring them here for more
training. If we are successful we would like to find a few people to help us sponsor them.
Again, these are kids who have not lived in a family, so even this experience would be
incredibly valuable. They would live with a family, study art and English and WOW - think
of the possibilities! I will keep you updated on this.
And lastly, the (orphanage) directors have put together a
list of other projects they would like to get started on. They are currently getting
estimates for us on the work that needs to be done. We will have this information
including more photos on our website: www.russianorphans.org.
A letter from 16-year old Katya
As we come to a close we would like to share with you a letter Tom
received from Katya Guskova, a 16-year old girl at our orphanage.
Katya Guskova playing
This is Katya Guskova. Thank you for
everything you did for us. If it weren't for you our life would be very bad. Because of
you all children in our orphanage have real smiles on their faces. This is my last year at
school and I will sure miss you very much. Only because of you it was easier for me to go
through my difficult times. I will miss my friends in America very, very much and I don't
want to lose connection with them Tom a special thank you to that you did not leave us
behind when we had hard times. I will miss you very much because it may happen that we
will not see each other again. Tom please tell Zeke that I love him very much and that I
will never forget him and that he is always in my heart. God bless you.
The year 2003 promises to be filled with more new adventures and
changes for our 53 children and their caretakers. Words cannot express our gratitude for
your generosity, letters of support and caring. We hope that you feel a great sense of
pride when you look at these photos because without you none of this could have been
From the depths of our hearts we thank you,
Terry and Tom Tuszynski
* Editor's note: Helping to make these kinds
of wonderful, powerful changes in the lives of the Russian orphans does not come
immediately or without significant cost. If you would like to join Terry and Tom Tuszynski
in making a difference in the lives of these kids, they truly need and gladly welcome your
help and support. Churches, neighborhoods, classrooms, and families, as well as
individuals have all made important contributions. You can snail mail your much needed
donation and/or contact the Tuszynskis at:
Foundation for Russian Orphans
4128 1/2 California Avenue S.W, #101
Seattle, WA 98116
* We encourage you to visit the Foundation for Russian Orphans
website at: http://www.RussianOrphans.org