From Russia, With Love

Ann and Jim Wottring have their hands and home full this summer. The Oviedo, Fla., couple volunteered to host not one, two or three children, but nine Russian orphans for one month this summer. The Beckaev siblings are brothers and sisters aged 3-14 who arrived from Russia early last week to experience a little American culture.

The kids, who don't speak English, have an interpreter who also will be with the Wottring family for one month this summer. They traveled from Moscow as part of a "summer vacation" program run by an international adoption agency, World Links Association.

The Wottrings have four children, including one adopted child. The last Wottring child was sent off school in New York this year. Ann, 59, a longtime preschool teacher, says when she heard about the nine siblings, she said to her husband, "we have nine beds" (for their kids and grandchildren) why don't we bring those kids over for the summer?"

The couple is nearing retirement but have the space and heart for the kids. They have eight acres of land, with horses and a trampoline and pool. Churches and civic groups and friends have donated everything from 24 loaves of bread to a van for the family to get around. James Wottring, a 60-year-old retired account executive, says the experience should be a rewarding one.

When the kids arrived last week, the Wottrings greeted them at the airport with fruit in tow, which the kids loved. The couple said this about the kids: "They are all siblings. Nicoli he turned 4 on Saturday, Eggert he is 4 to turn 5 on July 28, Erina, she is 6, Sletvanna she is 8, Katya she is 9, Max he is 10, Alla she is 12, Anatasia she is 13, and Sergei he is 14. They do not speak any English, but we have an interpreter, Asya Bochenkova, who is 23 and lives in Russia. She has a master's degree in world history and this is her first time in the United States."

The Beckaev siblings were orphaned when their dad died and their mother abandoned them. In Russia, the siblings live apart in different orphanages. The agency frequently sends sibling together but this is the first time as many as nine kids have come over together for the summer. The ideal situation would be to find a permanent home where all the kids could stay together, but that's not realistic.

This past weekend, the two youngest came down with a mild case of the chicken pox. The doctors said by Tuesday they should be fine. On Saturday, the Wottrings took the kids to the ocean and they had their first pizza, which they love. The family has gone through approximately 120 bags of microwaveable pop corn, another food the kids can't get enough of.
On Monday, the kids picked out shoes and backpacks, donated by Payless Shoes.

Ann and Jim Wottring and the nine kids visited The Early Show on Tuesday along with interpreter Oxana Zaveryukha.

If you are interested in hosting, adopting, sponsoring or helping a child, or for further information regarding "Karing 4 Kids" Summer Program, please call World Links at 570-344-8890 or 1-866-ADOPT-70.

Applications are now being accepted for host families and can be found at Please, mail your application to:
World Links Association
425 Spruce Street, 3rd floor,
Scranton, PA, 18503