Arriving to the United States in February of 2020, Nadiia chose to be an au pair because “this program gives me chance to gain the wonderful experience as a part of an American family, learn more about your country, travel and explore The USA, the culture, traditions, and way of life.” Initially caring for 3 children in Colorado, Nadiia extended her program for an additional year with the Scheinfarb family in California, making an astounding difference in their lives. Nadiia is loved beyond measure and has become an honorary member of their family. Please read their story below and discover why Nadiia was chosen to be our 2021 Au pair of the Year!
Nadiia’s Nomination Essay – Submitted by the Scheinfarb Family in California
February 2020. Rumors of a virus making its way to the United States was on the news.
March 2020. Our au pair from Sweden informed us she wanted to go home right away (and a few months before her first year ended) because she was afraid she would not be able to get a flight to go back home. Our next matched au pair from Belgium was not due to arrive until June 2020. We didn’t know how long this virus would be here but flights and borders were starting to close so we asked to be able to search for an in-country au pair looking to rematch to fill the gap while we were waiting for our new au pair to arrive.
On a quiet Monday morning at the end of March I logged onto Au Pair International’s website. A beautiful smiling face appeared on my search screen and I clicked “interview” for “Nadiia from Ukraine” immediately. That afternoon my husband and I (and the kids) spent nearly two hours getting to know Nadiia over FaceTime. We spoke again the following day to ask if she had any questions. She asked to speak to our au pair (who had just made it back home in Sweden) about our disabled son, our other kids, and us, we made sure that happened right away. The two spent some time talking on the phone and that evening when we asked, Nadiia accepted our match request! Because of Covid and working from home, her current host family determined they didn’t need an au pair anymore and had requested Nadiia to leave as soon as she could. Just three days after seeing her smiling face online, I hugged Nadia in person when she arrived at the airport from a flight with just 14 people on it.
When we brought Nadiia home, we helped her get settled into her room, introduced her to the kids, showed her the house, and just like that, Nadiia was a part of our family. There was no awkward transition period. There was no confusion. There was no disappointment after the “honeymoon” phase. We were and still are astonished at how easy and fluid things have been since Nadiia joined our family.
Nadiia has changed the dynamic of our family. She’s improved the quality of our lives and our children’s lives. And it’s not just because she’s here helping taking care of the kids. Having kids out of school for months on end and having everything closed and being on lock down was a unique experience. Nadiia helped us to make the best of the situation with grace and enthusiasm. We cooked meals together, played games together, had long conversations, had movie nights, and insured the two younger kids did their chores and online learning.
Our eldest son has severe autism and is non-verbal. He is like a 10-month-old in 14-year-old-body. His school also closed in March 2020 when Covid happened and has not gone back yet on line or in person (it is now January 2021). Since she arrived she has taken him on long walks in the neighborhood – all on her own initiative. He used to not be able to tolerate sitting in his wheelchair without having his DVD player on. Going to restaurants or pushing him in the wheelchair we would always have to have it playing. For years it was like this. Now, he is accustomed to just enjoying watching the world go by as he is pushed in or sitting in his wheelchair. This is Nadiia’s doing as she almost daily takes him for a walk and also a car ride around the neighborhood. This makes him so happy! She has also worked with him daily to practice wearing a mask and he now can wear a mask for hours (this also on her own initiative). We are beyond thrilled and amazed. And he loves her so much! He seeks her out to hug her, sit next to her on the couch, and cuddle together.
Our two younger kids adore Nadiia also. In fact, she often uses her free time to spend with them. She takes them to the beach with her, she built a large pen for the kids’ rabbits to play in, she takes them for ice cream, plays games with them… all on her free time. She will wake up early to see the kids before school if they have a special dress up day, or have a medical procedure. During a difficult time and eventual loss of a family member Nadiia provided us a peace of mind knowing that she would be there when we had to suddenly leave to attend to things. Nadiia is creative, funny, interested, intelligent, motivating, helpful, flexible, patient, and loving.
We are beyond lucky to have Nadiia as part of our family. She is not our au pair. She is, and always will be, our friend, and our family.