“All Little Children Are Mine,” Friend, Feb. 1999, 32
Katya listened to the sounds of the train. The iron wheels rolled with a fast, rhythmic music: clackity, clackity, clackity, clack.
The train moved quickly toward the big city of Moscow, toward the airplane that would take Katya to her new home. Soon she would be flying away from Russia, away from her school and her friends, away from her orphanage, and language, and—and everything she had always known.
Her new parents sat beside her on the train. As her new mama asked her a question in English, the interpreter translated. “Are you hungry, Katya?”
“Dah (yes),” Katya said in her quietest voice.
Her new papa pulled out a package of crackers from his travel bag. They munched in silence, their eyes meeting from time to time. Whenever Katya looked up from her cracker, she found her new mama always smiling at her. So far, their only “words” to each other were smiles and nods.
Katya wanted to ask all kinds of questions, but she was afraid. How long will it take me to speak and understand this new language? She wondered. Will my new brothers and sisters like me? Will the children in my new school make fun of me?
Through the window, the villages seemed to race by. She smoothed the skirt of her new dress, then hugged her doll closer. Filled with all her fears, she started crying softly.
She felt her mama’s hand move gently onto hers. Katya watched while her mama pulled a small tape recorder from the travel bag and turned it on. The music was gentle, and when the singing began she was glad to hear that the words were Russian.
“Ya Gospodnia dietia (I am a child of God).” She had never heard such ideas. The song continued, “And he has sent me here, Has given me an earthly home With parents kind and dear.”*
As Katya listened to this new song—with its ideas she had never before thought about—the words seemed to melt through her, slowly finding their way to her heart, until she felt as if her whole self, inside and out, was covered with a warm quilt.
As the music continued, she smiled at her new parents and they smiled back.
The new song had chased her fears away.