Odds and ends

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Russian siblings reunite in Florida

OVIEDO, Fla. -- The nine Bekayev children, ages 3 to 14, have never lived under the same roof together, staying in separate orphanages in Russia since their father abandoned them and their mother died.

But that is changing this summer, at least for a month, during a stay in central Florida.

Ann and Jim Wottring have raised four children and are nearing retirement. But they have nine empty beds at home and eight acres of land with a pool, trampoline and horses that they can offer the children.

The children arrived in central Florida on Tuesday accompanied by a translator.

Wottring, a 60-year-old account executive for 3M Co., and his 59-year-old wife, Ann, a preschool teacher, got the opportunity to host the children through World Links, a Scranton, Pa.-based nonprofit adoption agency.

World Links brought 61 children to the United States during this trip. Some will find permanent homes in the United States.

However, children who do find a home will still have to return to Russia in early August. Adoption paperwork would take a minimum of six months.

"If all I do is give them all a nice vacation in Florida, I've done my job," said Laureen Dempsey, a spokeswoman for World Links.

The siblings spent their first day in Florida shopping for clothes, eating a fast-food lunch and getting over jet lag.

"My first impressions are they seem to be happy. They seem to be glad to be here," Jim Wottring said. "I guess the rest we'll find out."

-- From wire reports

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