Global Voices Online
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The Day of Spousal Love and Family Happiness - July 8, Moscow, Russia (photo by Veronica Khokhlova)
Russia's got a new holiday: the Day of Family, Love and Fidelity, celebrated on July 8. In a post titled "From Russia With (Family) Love," NBC news producer Yonatan Pomrenze has described what the country's newest holiday is about:
[...] The emphasis [...] is not on falling in love, as much as keeping people in it. [...]
A holiday post (RUS) by Moscow-based LJ user eprst2000 has moved quite a few readers to tears and made it into the Top 30 of the Yandex Blogs portal:
Turns out today is some kind of a special holiday, with a long name that ends with 'fidelity.' The Day of Family, Love and Fidelity. Or something like that.
All TV talk shows today solemnly featured families with many children. Some with nine, others with 11 kids. [...]
And my mother (who works at a maternity ward) said today: "A woman at our hospital has given up her twins. Yes. She is 36. Already has an 8-year-old daughter." My mother knows how to cure people who can't describe where the pain is because they are only a few days old. And my mother knows. Also, as the department's head, she's responsible for talking to women who are giving up their children. She has her own words and methods, which are hard to convey in text. "And I ask her, - my mother continues, - how can you give them up?" - "Well, you see, - says the woman, - I won't be able to provide for them. And someone will adopt them and bring them up in a normal way, will love them as if they are their own children." My mother, again: "Do you know that normally they do not adopt two children at once? In 99 percent of the cases, a couple adopts one child. And according to the current law, twins cannot be separated. Especially if it's a girl and a boy. They may meet in the future and this may lead to incest. [...]" The woman spent a few days thinking. And today she has still refused to keep the children. She said she thought that the man [children's father] would marry her, but he chose not to. He said: "These aren't my children! We've never had any twins at all in our family!"
I'm not saying anything as I listen to my mother. And she continues: "Recently, an 18-year-old girl gave up her son. I tried to talk to her in many different ways, but she looked at me and said: "Do you know that my father is the head of this and that region? And my mother works for this and that institution? They are well-respected people. You see, I just can't." - "Do the parents know that you are giving up your child?" - "Mama knows." - "And your papa?" - "..." - "So the two of you are afraid to tell your father. How come such a man's daughter had a child out of wedlock?" - "..." - "Just tell me one thing: why didn't you have an abortion?" - "Am I an idiot or what? It's bad for one's health. What if I can't have children in the future?"
My mother talks on. In her department, a girl has recently given birth. The girl is 25, she is mentally retarded. Her parents came, they are also her guardians. Mother is crying, father is moving his jaws so as not to cry. Normal, healthy people, it just happened that their girl was born this way. She attended a school for kids with special needs, met a boy there. Both are around 25, but their development is like in 10-year-olds. Everyone knew they were having a relationship. Doctors said that with their condition both were definitely sterile and there was nothing to worry about. Explain them about condoms, they said.
A boy was born. Not big, but healthy. There is a 90-percent chance that he has a similar condition as his parents. The new grandparents came. Crying. Filled out the papers certifying that they'll be giving up the boy. They're retiring soon, have been pulling her all their lives, ordinary people, aren't making thousands of dollars. The girl is getting only [about $100] as disability pension. Where else are they supposed to get the money from? When we die, who's gonna take care of these three? She can't even take the child into her hands, can't wrap him. It'll all fall on us again. And we've spent our whole lives like this!!!... How can we take him???
The ended up keeping him.
My mother said that initially they did sign the papers to give him up. And then the young mama showed up at the entrance to the newborns department - stood there, howling. She can't speak well, so she stood and howled. She got her breast milk coming in. Started nursing the baby. Wouldn't let him go. In violation of the rules, as an exception, they allowed the baby's father in. My mother said the two of them were standing over the child, touching him, saying something in their own language. Nurses were swallowing tears as they were coming out of the room.
When they were leaving the hospital with the baby, they presented all doctors at the maternity ward with a cake. A really huge cake. With these words on it: "May God bless you." My mother said: "And how are you supposed to cut something like this?"