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FAQ

Monday, December 31, 2007

1. Will you post her picture after court or after the 10 day waiting period?

I'm not sure. Nobody actually said we couldn't post her picture...I just don't want to do anything to tick anyone off. I'm thinking after court I can share a pic. So mark your calendars for Jan. 10th! You're really missing out ya know. She's a cutie! :) Although all of my co-workers were quick to ask what size she wore - they want to get her out of the orphanage fatigues as quickly as possible.

2. How long will you have to be in Ukraine this time?

I don't know. Meshack is going to go to court, spend a day with us and then skedaddle back to the three kids at home. He won't even be there a week. (The kids really need to have at least one of us here - this whole thing has been incredibly rough on them - I think it's bringing up some emotions and questions they just don't understand) I will probably end up spending another three weeks in the country. Sigh. Honestly, I'm not looking forward to it - but I'll post about that another day. I'll have to wait 10 days for the court order to go into effect, then wait at least a couple more days for the birth certificate and passport. Once we get those we can head back to Kiev to go to the Embassy. Then we can leave Kiev for home.

3. Which orphanage is Maddie from?

Odessa Orphanage #1. I have been impressed with the orphanage so far. The director was friendly and straight forward and while we haven't been able to spend much time with Maddie and haven't seen her living conditions, it looks as if she's been well taken care of.

Any other questions out there?

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good news

Friday, December 28, 2007

I was going to post the first of a series of profiles today, but guess what?

WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!

And it's only a little over 10 days away!
January 10th.
AAAAAAAGH!!!
I don't know how we're going to do it!
We have to find tickets...
and then find a way to pay for them.
Find someone to take care of the kids,
notify our employers...again...
There is a laundry list a mile long with stuff to do.
Oh yeah...I almost forgot the most important part...
WE GOT PICTURES!!!
No....sorry, I can't share, for now. But can I tell you again just how cute she is?!
And I think the kids finally believe she's real.

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lost in translation

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Alright...you can stop your letter writing campaign to Santa. I've heard your pleas and realize I have left you in the dark for way too long. So here you are...a detailed account of our trip to meet Maddie. Warning: it's really long, but you asked for it...so enjoy.

And stop bothering Santa...he needs his rest!
--------------------------
We left Kiev at 3 a.m. on Friday morning...incredibly tired but excited.
It had all come down to this.
Today's meeting would decide whether we would be adopting from Ukraine. It was a good feeling, a feeling of peace...at least we would know one way or another. And it was completely out of our hands...which, as weird as it sounds, was a good place to be.
As we drove through the empty streets of Kiev (I had no idea the streets were ever empty) we called up the kids...just to check in and hear their voices.
We got the typical responses...
'When will you come home,"
"How much longer, Mom," and...
"I can't wait to see you."
"Just a few more days," we promised, "but first we have to go find out if this is your little sister."
We hung up.
Sigh.
It was going to be a long day.
The drive was interminable, magnified by the fact Meshack and I were jammed in the back seat of a tiny car like a couple of overstuffed teddy bears in a little girl's backpack. Sitting on our laps were three carryons.
We couldn't move.
We had only brought one suitcase with us, just in case we needed to stay the night...but we brought all the carryons with us because they held the valuables...the laptop, camera, camcorder...and we didn't want to put them in the trunk - just in case we needed anything.
You know...granola bars, breath mints, toilet paper, the family photo album...
All the important stuff!
We slept on and off during the trek...all the while our translator and driver chatted back and forth in the front seat like old friends.
They talked...
and jabbered...
and yacked.
I will never again complain that men don't talk. I'm telling you those guys talked the WHOLE 6 hours.
I could hear them even in my sleep.
Not one word of it in English...and not one word of it was translated for us.
UGH!
They could have been talking about how loudly we snored and what idiots we were for paying them to drive us to Odessa for all we knew.
We showed them...
We have a trick of our own...
I'll share it later.
I'm also going to write a post about the driver later. He defied every stereo-typical man comment I and every other woman on earth has ever uttered.
And then some.
He was a piece of work, I tell ya.
Anyway...
We stopped a couple of times to get coffee, gas and to take a potty break. The bathrooms weren't that bad. I've seen worse in U.S. gas stations so that was a pleasant surprise. (I know you all rely on me to comment on Ukrainian bathroom quality...I didn't want to disappoint. ;)
What wasn't pleasant was the ride.
I was freezing. And those who know me know...I don't freeze easily. For some stupid reason I had decided not to wear my comfy white, warm athletic socks that day...opting instead for some black dress socks - you know, the thin kind that don't do anything but make your feet match your black shoes. I don't know what I was thinking. I was wearing my black boots after all...no one was going to see my feet. I guess I was having flashbacks to Q-balls adoption when I had to remove my shoes before entering the orphanage.
I didn't want the orphanage director to think I didn't care about the details.
So to appease my vanity - I froze.
I know the car had a working heater...during the first hour of the drive I was just fine. But at one point it started getting cold, and since I couldn't get a word in edge-wise to our translator...I suffered in silence.
I finally spoke up with about an hour to go...but it still didn't get that warm.
Come to find out...the driver had his window partially rolled down.
IN DECEMBER!!!!
Ufta.
We arrived in Kiev around 9 a.m. and immediately set to finding the inspectors office. This was no small feat. I don't think the driver had ever been to Odessa before and while our translator said he had, he sure didn't act like it.
The pair kept stopping and asking for directions about every block or two...another stereotype thrown completely out the window. I honestly think I could have figured out how to get there quicker just by 'listening' to the directions instead of stopping only to hear the first two words out of their mouths and taking off at breakneck speed, and then stopping a block later to ask another unsuspecting pedestrian.
Sigh.
About an hour later we pulled into the parking lot.
Lev jumped out, and telling us to stay put - the first English he's spoken in six hours - ran into the building.
A half an hour later, Lev came back and told us to follow him. We went in the building through one door...immediately turned and walked through another set of doors...then started climbing three flights of stairs at breakneck speed. Lev is running up the stairs...Meshack and I are desperately trying to keep up.
Finally, I gave up and just walked.
I figured he'd stop and wait for us eventually.
We got to the top of the stairs and Lev disappeared through a door...we stood there and waited, not exactly sure what we should do.
He popped his head back out and motioned for us to follow him.
We stepped inside to find a nicely dressed woman, sitting at a desk, looking through our dossier. Lev introduced her as the inspector and said she'll be asking us a few questions. We get the usual spiel...'describe your house', 'tell me about your children', 'why do you want another one' and 'why Ukraine?'
We explain to the best of our ability and she must have been satisfied because she told Lev to come back by in an hour...she'd have the referral ready.
So we leave.
An hour later we return and Lev walks out with the precious document.
It's time to go meet the little girl.
We pile back into the car and start driving. Again...Lev and the driver obviously have no idea where they're going. They stopped every few blocks for directions. I feel like just telling them to stop at an internet cafe and Google it.
Being men, I don't suppose they would appreciate the advice.
We finally pull onto a back street barely wide enough for one car...let alone two. We drive past some very nice homes and some shacks....then past a large gate and by a church under reconstruction. We get to the end of the street and straight ahead we see the Black Sea...our one and only glimpse of it.
We turn around...the orphanage has got to be here somewhere.
Finally we go back to the large gate...Lev asks a bystander some questions and he tells us to get out...we're there.
Wow.
We were kind of surprised. The gate was gorgeous...unlike anything we had ever seen before at any other orphanage we had visited. It looked to be brand new and would rival anything we had ever seen surrounding palatial homes in the states.
We walked through an opening, down a sidewalk and into a brand new building...at least it looked brand new. The inside was completely renovated...it couldn't have been more than a year or two old. Very nice.
We walked into the office and right into the orphanage director's office. No secretary to make us sit and wait...no chance to take in our surroundings.
We sat down and she immediately began to look for the file on the little girl.
Her name, we learned, is Nastya.
She is three years old...will turn four in February.
She is completely healthy, physically and mentally.
She just has a couple of minor birth defects which make her undesirable to Ukrainian couples. She was born without ears...and has a small imperfection on her mouth.
To Ukraine she's an invalid.
To us...she's perfect.
'Do you still want to meet her,' the orphanage director asked through Lev.
'Absolutely,' we said simultaneously as we hear a commotion in the hallway.
The next thing we knew, a little girl with brown hair and brown eyes pops into the room and immediately brightens it with her smile.
This is the little girl we have been dreaming of.
We had finally found Maddie.
While she was born without fully formed ears, Maddie can hear just fine. She has a condition called bilateral microtia. A rare defect...one that stunts the growth of the outside of the ears and most often leaves the ear canal closed on the outside. It's a pretty easy condition to correct.
A surgery at the age of 4 or 5 open the canal...and a set of cosmetic surgeries reconstructs the ears when she is older. When all of the surgeries are complete, no one will be able to tell she wasn't born with ears.
It's amazing.
We hadn't heard of the condition six months ago. But then my brother and his wife decided to adopt a special needs child from China...and through Kaycee, we learned all about it. She also was born with bilateral microtia...and while she can't hear as well as Nastya, she has made tremendous strides in learning to speak English.
Len, Val, Meshack and I are absolutely convinced God has put these two little girls into our lives for a special purpose. If it weren't for Len and Val adopting their precious Kaycee...Meshack and I may never have considered Nastya. We would have been too scared. Now we're in complete peace about the decision. We know what to expect...and have no fears...no qualms.
We have the knowledge we need to help her.
And she has the heart needed to complete our family.
The orphanage director and Lev weren't convinced.
I think it's a cultural thing.
Before we had even gotten the referral, Lev had made quite a performance of trying to talk us out of even visiting her. He was convinced we needed to wait to find a 'healthy' girl.
We knew that it was now or never. We would either be going home with a pending court date or we would be going home and never coming back.
He finally relented.
Now, he sat here with the orphanage director continuing to question whether we knew what we were getting into. We tried to convince them, they didn't seem to buy it, so we asked questions about her speech progress, how long ago the surgery was that she had on her mouth, if she was up-to-date on her vaccinations, etc. Anything to seem to show the appropriate level of concern, but all the while we knew in our hearts...had known since she walked in the door...
This was Maddie.
And Maddie is a bundle of energy.
She ran around the room, exploring every inch of the place, trying to take in as much as she could. She would go from person to person wanting to be held...only to get down a second later to check out something else.
This is where we have our one and only...okay, two concerns.
She obviously is going to have some attachment issues to work through. There was absolutely no fear in having us, Lev or the orphanage director hold her. We had expected this.
And we've dealt with it before with Q-ball...granted he was much younger, but for some reason it doesn't scare us. (It's probably a level of naivete.) We are convinced this is our little girl...God will show us how to handle it.
The other is her activity level and her seeming inability to settle down to a task for more than a couple of seconds. It may just be over stimulation - this is what we're hoping for...or it could be early signs of ADHD.
Either way...they're both things we can handle as well.
The doctor let us take her for some play time in the hallway...not exactly the best environment to try and settle her down for reading or quiet play. But we did our best and she seemed to respond.
We do know she responds well to 'nyet'. She knows full well what the word means and complies without much fanfare and no complaint. She is curious about absolutely everything and her gross motor skills are excellent.
She is a chatterbox...she talks about absolutely everything. I don't have the foggiest idea what she's talking about but she wants to make sure you hear her and understand her. I just kept saying, 'da, da, da.'
I hope I wasn't promising to take her to see the Russian circus.
All too soon, Lev came and asked for our decision.
Like he had to ask.
And the funny thing was that we didn't even need to discuss it.
We just 'knew'.
That question set in motion a very busy afternoon...we had so much to do and absolutely NO time to get it all done.
We asked if we could take some pictures of Maddie before we left, but they said there was no time. We would come back later to get some more visiting in and we could take pictures then.
So we left.
We never went back.
By the time we had gone everywhere we needed to...her groupa had gone to bed for the evening and we had to drive back to Kiev.
We had agreed to adopt a little brown haired, brown eyed girl from Odessa...and we had no pictures to prove it.
Nothing to take home with us to show off to friends.
No pictures to show the kids.
Nothing.
Lev sighed loudly as Meshack and I tried to figure out a way to get a picture of our little girl.
It was the last straw.
It had been a long, tiring, draining day. The last thing I needed was someone giving me smack. So as we pulled out of town I did something I had always dreamed of doing while on an adoption trip...
I turned to Meshack and said...
"I'm-a oing-ga oo-ta ing-wra is-ha ittle-la eck-na."
"E-ma irst-fa," he replied.
Let's see him translate THAT!

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letter to Santa

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It's been awhile since I've been able to share a JacJac'ism. But as soon as we got home, I found a classic.

In our mailbox was a copy of last week's local weekly newspaper.
Inside was an absolute gem...
A letter to Santa from JacJac.
Enjoy...
Oh, and I do get presents...honest! ;)
------------------------
Dear Santa,

I like Christmas because we get to put lights on everything and we get to put all of our decorations out. We have snowflakes with lights on our windows. They stay on with suction cups.
I want a Hot Wheel that has a roller coaster. The second thing I want is a track with a ramp. Me, Q-ball and Dad could play with it. There is this train I like that has a car wash.
Punky may like a horse and a Barbie doll, she has a room for that stuff. We have a dirty fish tank so we need a plecostamus. It eats dirt off the walls of our fish tank. Some have short tails, some have long tails. You might have to go to Wal-Mart to get it.
Mom doesn't get anything for Christmas, but she does have a stocking. I want Santa to bring Mom a present this year, maybe some 'girl stuff'. Bring Dad a pretend motorcycle, he collects them.
When you get to (our town) find the sign that says, 'John's Market', they always have a light on. Keep going straight, turn and you'll see Nathan's house, ours is right next door. D.J. is next door too. He still has his Halloween decorations out, I guess he still thinks it's Halloween.
My house is kind of white, you will see our clubhouse, it's right next to Dad's new white dirty truck.
We've all been kind of good; well, not really, we all get in trouble sometimes.

Love,
JacJac

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home sweet home

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ahhhh...
We're home.
We got in late Sunday afternoon to a very chilly Kansas City (there's more snow here than in Kiev)...
But we got a very warm welcome from three great kids...
Oh, and a dad and brother too! ;)

It's good to be home.
Yesterday was spent sleeping, playing, trying to put everything away...
Oh...and shoveling.
After Mom, Dad and the kids left we got another eight inches of snow, so Meshack and my brother hauled all of our luggage in from where we parked across the street, up the driveway through the snow and into the middle of my living room.
This morning Q-ball helped his dad shovel the drive and sidewalks.
While they were doing that I was throwing everything in the fridge out.
Since there was no electricity for the better part of a week - everything had to go.
Not so bad really...the fridge and freezer needed cleaning anyway.
Oh...And I've already done five loads of laundry.
Can I tell you how much I love my dryer?!
I will never complain about it again.
I promise.
Oh, I've also been doing a lot of cooking.
I had almost forgotten about our traditional Christmas Eve meal - everything Russian. And while I really could do with a nice, traditional American home-cooked meal, it will have to wait until Tuesday.
I sent Meshack to the store for the ingredients for our favorite meal out of our trusty little 'Please to the Table' Russian/Ukranian cookbook. We're having stuffed meatloaf, garlic baked mashed potatoes and a green bean dish that I can't pronounce.
Next year I think we'll try to add borsch.
If there's one thing I've learned on this trip (and believe me there are many lessons learned)...it's that borsch isn't so bad.
If you can find the right recipe.
The kids have enjoyed hearing about their new (not so baby) sister.
Unfortunately we still don't have a photo. Still a long story. I promise to tell you soon...I just have a lot of other stuff to do, like hug my kids, eat chocolate and sleep.
I'm slowly going through my memory bank, typing stuff up for you so you'll get all caught up soon.
I promise.
In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas.
------------------------
P.S. - Yes, I know this is an outdated photo of our house, but there was no way I was going out in the freezing temps and deep snow just to take a new picture. Not even for you my beloved blogging buddies. I love you...but not THAT much! ;)

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sorry 'bout that

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Alright...I know I'm jippin' you out of some great reading material, but I can't post much of anything tonight.
I've got to pack! We leave in about eight hours for the airport!!! ;)
Please be praying for the kids at home...they've all come down with a nasty fever and cough combo that has left them feeling pretty rough - and grandma wondering if they need to go to the doctor.
Hang in there kids! We're coming home!
When we do finally get home, I'll fill you in more on Maddie's story and what the timeline looks like.
Hugs to every last one of you who've been following our story.
Hang in there..
It's not over yet.

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WE'VE FOUND MADDIE!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Can you believe it?!!!
We've found our little girl!!!!
It still doesn't seem quite real.
After 321 days of paperchasing, waiting, praying and searching, we finally found our Maddie.
She is a little 3-year-old (facilitator had the wrong age) brown haired, brown eyed beauty in the Odessa region. And the issues that we had feared would be huge, are so small you can hardly notice them.
Now all we have to do is bring her home.
And get a picture of her...
long story...really long.
I'll fill you in later.
But first, since today is our last full day, we have some errands to run.
Yep, we're still coming home.
We thought about having Meshack go home to be with the kids for the holidays and then returning for court, but it looks like we won't go to court until after the Orthodox Christmas...so I'm coming home too.
That way I can save some vacation for when we bring Maddie home and I'll have a chance to rest.
Sigh.
I'm coming home...
And I've found my little girl.
It doesn't get much better than that.

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when you least expect it...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

You all know the rollercoaster ride we've been on in the last few days and weeks. We've had to hold on to the roll bar with one hand, while downing a bottle of Pepto with the other.
The ride was nauseating...and we wanted off.
Now.
But then we got a call this afternoon asking us to take one more trip on the rails.
And we have decided to take a chance.
We have a referral! ;)
It's for a little 4-year-old girl in Odessa, who has a couple of issues, which at first glance seem to be manageable.
We don't know anything else...not even her name or birthday.
We didn't have an SDA appointment so we haven't seen a file or even a picture. We've just been told about her.
We're going completely blind.
We leave early in the morning (3 a.m. local time - 7 p.m. at home) for Odessa - by car. We're hoping to visit her first thing in the morning, make a decision and go from there.
Nothing like waiting until the last minute...and making a life-changing decision under pressure.
Whew.
Someone hand us the Drammamine.
We're getting back on!

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at the eleventh hour

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Actually, eleven hours, 58 minutes...
She cut it pretty close.
Our American friend who came here hoping to adopt a little girl six weeks ago, may have finally found her daughter.
She went to her appointment yesterday without much hope. Her only chance lie in the fact that she got an unprecendented third appointment.
NOBODY gets three appointments.
Surely, there would be a little girl in the files for her to visit.
Still, she told us before she left for her 3 o'clock meeting that she expected to be back in the early evening to start packing for her flight home the next morning.
When she returned, instead of packing for her flight home to Louisiana, she boarded a train bound for the Odessa region last night.
She met the little girl this morning and fell in love.
Good things do happen here in Ukraine.
We may not be one of the success stories...time will only tell.
But I am thrilled in the fact that this little girl will soon have a Mama who will love her, protect her and encourage her. She will be in a loving environment full of possibilities.
Praise be.

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it all comes down to this

Monday, December 17, 2007

We woke up this morning excited.
Over the weekend, we decided to visit a little boy in a region eight hours away by train.
We had talked with our pediatrician on Friday and after hours of research we decided we could handle the little guy's epilepsy diagnosis.
But God must have other plans.
Thirty minutes after we called our facilitator with the news, he called back to say a French couple who visited the boy a few weeks ago, rethought their rejection of him and have come back to adopt him.
I'm happy he is getting a new family, but it means we're out of options.
The SDA psychologist recommended we visit a little boy who has a problem with his arm, but she won't let us come back in to review his file. We either take the referral or we wait for a second appointment.
We can't even remember what the little guy looked like, let alone be able to tell you what his diagnosis' were!
So we've chosen a third option.
We're coming home.
To be honest this experience has not been pleasant, and it is taking all the strength I have not to become bitter.
But bitterness only corrupts and I won't let this experience to that to me.
Technically, we still have one more appointment available to us. But waiting here during the holiday season will do us no good. According to our facilitator, no new appointments will be given until after January 10th. And while we know going home will move us to the back of the line for a new appointment, we are quickly running out of vacation days and the longer we stay the more it costs.
And not just financially.
It's also tough on our three little ones.
We've only been away a little over two weeks, but so much has happened in that time.
They endured an ice and snow storm which knocked power out in our hometown for the better part of a week.
For three days they lived in a cold house with my parents, huddled in front of a fireplace, hoping the electricity would come back on. Mom and Dad finally decided to take the kids and head home. They are all now in Colorado warm, dry and having fun.
But the daily phone calls are full of 'when are you coming home Mom,' and 'How much longer, Dad?'
So we're heading home.
Our tickets are for Dec. 23...we're trying to come home sooner, but all the flights are booked.
Imagine that.
Sigh.
We had hoped this trip would lead us to Maddie, instead it was just a really expensive vacation.
And it's wasn't even close to relaxing.
More than likely this is it.
We have missed the opportunity to adopt completely.
I don't know...maybe we mis-translated God's neon sign.
Instead of Ukrainian maybe it was written in Russian, Spanish or Telugu.
Or maybe it was written in English and this adoption process has warped our brains too much to be able to tell.
Sigh.
We're coming home.

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picture perfect

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just to prove we are actually in Ukraine and not on some remote desert island, I have attached some pictures we have taken of Kiev. Enjoy!


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cab ride from you know where

Friday, December 14, 2007

Three hours.
That’s how long it took us to get from the train station to the apartment last night.
Three hours.
Insane.
It took us that long to get to get back from Vinnytsya on the train!
Evidentally the problem was that we arrived at rush hour. But their rush hour is like none I’ve ever seen. The closest thing I can compare it to would be the traffic coming out of Arrowhead Stadium after a Chief’s game…but spread that over an entire city and you can see what we were facing.
Sheer gridlock.
For miles.
You know, if they would just obey common traffic laws, they probably would be alright, but when you mix in people driving through alleys and down sidewalks to the nuts who are creating their own third lane, you are bound to get chaos.
And that’s what it was. Sheer chaos.
I have never had another motorist yell at me before. Our cabbie was cussed at probably no less than three times last night.
And he probably deserved it.
At one point he headed down an alley only to come across a dumpster parked in his way. So what does he do? He bumps into it with his car and moves it out of the way!!!
The first time he decided a sidewalk was a extra street lane I about had a conniption. By the end of the night I was used to it – well, almost.
I don’t know how many people almost lost their lives last night due to his driving.
And I don’t know how much damage he did to his car every time he high-centered it on a street curb.
We got stuck twice, but instead of getting out and pushing it free….he just kept revving the engine and rocking back and forth…ON A SIDEWALK! People were walking all around us as he did this. Each of them gawking at us…I’m sure wondering how much we were paying this nut.
All the while our translator is sitting in the front seat as calm as can be.
I asked him later if that kind of traffic was common.
He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Yeah.’
At one point I was thinking that driving in this country wouldn’t be that hard to learn. They drive on the same side of the road. The street signs are recognizable…it’s just the aggressiveness I would have to get used to.
HA! Yea.

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24 hours in vinnytsya

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We are heading back to Kiev.
It wasn’t Maddie.
She was a pretty little girl, with light brown hair, huge hazel eyes and a smile that lit up a room. She had on a yellow jumper with a pink sweater and flowers in her pigtails.
She proudly showed me her ‘La-la’ – a doll with bright yellow hair and one eye that didn’t open all the way.
She played with a stuffed ‘sabaka’ with Meshack and pretended to growl at him…all the while with a huge grin on her face.
She was firmly attached to her caregivers – to the point that it took a half an hour for her to hand me a doll.
And another 20 minutes for her to let me touch her.
But that didn’t bother us…it was a good sign.
She knows whom to trust.
She knows who takes care of her.
She knew we were strangers.
That’s miles ahead of where so many orphans are.
But when she turned and walked out of the room with her caregiver, we knew.
She wasn’t Maddie.
It wasn’t the physical issues. We knew from our SDA appointment that there would be some small signs of Cerebral Palsy.
We could have handled that.
Unfortunately, it was what wasn’t mentioned that has us turning around and going back.
My heart is breaking thinking of her. Knowing it is nothing she has done. Nothing she could help.
It all sits on Meshack and me.
We know she has more issues than we are able to handle...and that’s our problem.
Our fault.
If I could I would take her home in a minute.
But I can’t. I know my limitations.
Does that make me a bad person? – Just because I know what I am and am not capable of?
If so, so be it.
I admit I don’t have the patience of Job. I don’t have an unlimited source of energy.
And I don’t have what it takes to parent a special needs child.
At least not one with this many special needs.
If it were just the Cerebral Palsy I think I could do it. It wasn’t severe. She was able to walk and talk. She was able to run in her own cute, awkward little way.
But I don’t have it in me to parent a child for the rest of their natural life.
And that’s what it looks like she will require.
It’s the most difficult thing I have ever done.
A lot of tears went into this decision.
A lot of prayers….
And hours of lost sleep.
What we can’t figure out is why God had us meet her? (And I am still convinced it was of God. - There were too many coincidences to make it happenstance.)
Was it so another family could find their Maddie or Zoie or Claire?
Was it so we would open ourselves up to other forms of special needs?
Was it to bide our time until Maddie became available?
Or were we supposed to adopt her and we just missed out on one of the most special blessings on this earth.
We won’t know in this lifetime.
We won’t know until we stand before the Father to answer for this decision.
My peace comes in knowing it was a decision we made together.
We had one of the most clairvoyant moments of our marriage.
Absolute agreement, on every single issue.
That never happens.
So we have a peace about it.
But what we don’t know is, where we go from here.
We have no idea.
Meshack refuses to discuss it until we get back to Kiev.
He’s tired.
He’s angry.
He’s sad.
And he’s frustrated with the whole process.
Part of us just wants to pay the $400 change of date fee and jump on the next plane we can find and head straight back to our kids.
But the more reasonable, sensible side will take a serious look at going through this whole agonizing process again.
But how in the world can we do it?
How can we set ourselves up for this incredible disappointment again?
Because we know that out there somewhere is a little Maddie or ‘Matt’ie…just waiting for us to find him/her.
That’s how we’ve explained the process to our three sweethearts at home.
God helped us find them. In the midst of a former communist country, far from home, a little boy (girl) sat waiting for their mommy and daddy to find them.
And right now in the middle of Ukraine, in a babyhouse with a hundred other beautiful children, our Maddie/Mattie sits waiting.
We just need God to help us find her.

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choooo chooooo (stream of consciousness)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Would you like to go for a train ride?
I’ve got three hours to kill and two hours worth of battery on my laptop so I thought I would let you tag along and we could chat. It’s been awhile since I filled you in on the little details of our trip.
Just put your luggage on the top bunk, have a seat and make sure you take your coat off.
It’s hot in here.
Let me catch you up on our morning.
It started early. We got up at 5 a.m., worried we weren’t going to have enough time to get everything together before Lev and the driver arrived at 7 a.m..
We didn’t need to worry.
Lev didn’t show up until 7:30 a.m - and he didn’t have a driver with him.
He thought we were going to take the Metro.
With all of our luggage? HA! I don’t think so.
We may not be willing to fork over $250 for a ride to Vinnytsya (He found a cheaper driver – he REALLY wanted to go by car! J), but we’re not suicidal. We’ll hand over $30 for a cab ride to the depot, thank you.
An hour and a half later we pulled up to the depot and climbed out.
Talk about packed.
There were people everywhere.
We hoisted the bags out of the trunk and made a beeline for the ticket counter.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going (I was trying to keep from bumping into a babushka) and I tripped over the door jam, falling flat on my face.
My facilitator kept walking…Meshack was too far behind me to see…and all the natives just stepped around me.
No one stopped to make sure I was alright (I’m fine, thank you.)
No one stopped to help me pick up my stuff.
And no one laughed at me (at least on the outside). J
They all just kept walking…like herded cattle going through a chute at Meshack’s clinic.
I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or really teed off.
I chose neither. It’s just another reminder of the stark difference in cultures between Ukraine and the west.I found another HUGE difference just a little while later.
After we purchased the tickets, (second-class - its not so bad), we decided we had better take a bathroom break before getting on the train. So Lev led us to a back room where we paid 30 cents to use the bathroom.
I walked in…
And I walked right back out.
Thank goodness for McDonalds.
There was one across the street with a western toilet! J
I bought a ‘vater, nyet gaza’ to appease my conscious for using their facilities.
I’m now good for at least four hours…maybe more.
I’m rationing water and chewing lots of gum just to be sure.
We’re passing through some little village right now. I’d ask Lev the name, but he is asleep…recovering from a nasty cold. He’s refusing my motherly advice. He’s taking Echinacea shots and cough syrup. He says he’ll be fine. He won’t even take the cough drop I offered him to help sooth his throat. I guess I don’t blame him. I’d be a little nervous to take medicine from another country too. For heaven’s sakes, I brought a whole medicine cabinet with me just in case I caught something! J
Well, that town went by pretty fast.
The countryside looks a bit like northern Minnesota. Trees everywhere (remember, I’m a Kansas/Colorado girl – trees are few and far between)…but it’s also flat. And through the trees I can barely make out some farmland.
I bet it would be pretty in the spring and summer.
Here comes another little village.
Hey!
There’s a house!!! I knew they existed, but all we’ve ever seen are apartment buildings!!!
A house.
A real house.
Wow.
I have to admit I’m a little nervous about meeting the little girl.
We don’t know what to really expect…and we don’t know what kind of reception we’ll get from the orphanage. It sounds like they rarely have people come in to adopt. I got an email from a reader last night who said they had adopted from Vinnytsya last summer and were one of the first ones to adopt from there.
She also gave me all kinds of information on Vinnytsya. (Thanks, Leslie)
Unfortunately, we’re going to a small town south of there by about 50 miles. We can’t afford to stay in Vinnytsya and drive everyday, so I think we’re going to be stuck without some conveniences, as Lev would say.
The Aspen trees have changed to pines now. It’s very green…
The guys are sleeping…I think a 2-year-old and myself are the only ones awake in this car. Every once in awhile you can hear her jabber (at least I think it’s jabbering…it could be fluent Russian and I’d have no idea.)
We just passed a shrine of some sort. It looks like it may have been a train accident monument or something. It was right along the train tracks and there was nothing else around. Just a mound of dirt and a huge orthodox cross.
Hmmmm.
As crazy as it sounds, I would really love to take a quiet walk through these woods. It’s been nothing but tons of people around us for days. Days upon days upon days of people talking in a language that I can’t even begin to understand…except for the occasional ‘nyet,’ ‘da,’ and ‘immodium.’
Some quiet time alone with God would be nice.
Did you know my name is Russian?
Yea, shocked me too.
Evidentially my full name has Russian origins. Several people here have commented on it. And it was one of the first things our facilitator, Sveta said.
I assured her that, no, my parents aren’t Russian. They’re German. Actually, German, Dutch and American Indian. I think in the geneology somewhere it shows that some of them may have made a stop in Russia along their way to the U.S. But, we’re German.
It may have been too much information.
Hey. There’s another small village…with some houses. And those houses look new! Brand new. They kind of look like something that may have been built in the U.S.
Right next-door is a run down home.
Wealth and poverty are neighbors in this country.The ride has really been pretty smooth. I actually didn’t realize we had started moving until I looked out the window. No jerky stops or starts.
There was only one spot where it got a little jerky…but it didn’t last too long.
These trains may not be state of the art, and the windows may be so dirty it looks like it’s foggy outside, but I can’t complain about the ride.
My boots are holding up pretty well - my feet too. I haven’t worn my tennis shoes since we got off the plane last Monday and I really don’t miss them too much. The boots make me feel like I’m blending in, even if I’m not.
Lev and Meshack say I don’t blend in…but what do they know? They’re men.
I think I am. People are constantly asking me for directions or for the time.
Wish I could help them out.
I just smile and say sorry in English. They usually shrug and walk away.
We’ve been on this train for an hour now and we haven’t made a stop yet. I’ve typed three pages worth of copy in Word and gone through two Strawberry Low-Fat Nutri-Grian Bars (Melinda are you proud of me?)…and only a quarter of my water bottle. Pretty good, I’d say.
Oh…we’re slowing down. We must be getting ready to stop.
I’ve tried taking pictures out the window, but it’s so dirty, I’m sure the pictures won’t come out.
All of the trees around here look like they have HUGE bird nests in them. Now that the leaves have fallen, it looks like the trees have little balls of twigs stuck in them. Upon closer inspection it looks like maybe a plant or something is growing the trees to make them look like that. It’s crazy. These trees look like something from a Dr. Seuss book! J
The one that just passed was FULL.
A guy just stopped by and offered me his stack of magazines. I’m not sure if we was trying to sell them to me or was just being extraordinarily nice. I just smiled and shook my head. He walked away.
Yep…we’re stopping.
We’re slooooowly slowing down. We must be going all of 5 mph right now.
If we stop anywhere near a sign, I’ll let you know where we are.
There’s no sign.
That stop lasted all of maybe five minutes.
Just long enough for people to get their junk and get their tail off the train.
And once again, you could barely tell we had started rolling again.
Someone is out in the hall making choo-choo noises to the 2-year-old. They walked by and the baby smiled at me.
Too bad by the time he’s an adult he won’t remember how.
We’re back to aspen and other deciduous trees now…and the farmland teases me from the other side of the tree line.
To all of you back in Kansas…stay warm…and stay inside. I hope you get your electricity back soon. Mom and Dad, there are a ton of board games in the bookcase by the fireplace. It should help keep the kids busy.
It’s funny.
Everyone warned us about the cold weather here…but we’ve been enjoying daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s, while at home they’re dealing with a huge ice storm and highs in the teens. I think we’re having a balmier winter than they are.
The trees thinned out there for a moment and what I saw, reminded me of Kansas. A couple of hills, with a plowed field in front of them…just like home.
The baby down the hall is crying again…and Lev just got up to use the facilities. Didn’t his Mom ever tell him to go before he left the house?! J
We’re slowing again.
Now Meshack is headed to the bathroom…or the ‘toilet’ as he keeps calling it. He thinks it makes him sound much more Ukranian. I just can’t bring myself to calling it a toilet. It sounds so crude.
Besides…if it’s the hole in the ground version, it’s not even a toilet.
I asked Lev how I would know which train station we were supposed to get off at. He gave me a quizzical look.
‘Well,’ I said. ‘If you and Meshack are sleeping, one of us has to be aware of when we’re supposed to get off this thing. As much as I’d like to visit Belarus…I certainly don’t want to go there today! J
He laughed at me.
He had set his alarm on his phone.
We still have an hour to go.
I have 40 minutes of battery power.
Meshack just came back and said something to me about the toilet. If he’s complaining about it, it must be bad. So I’m sorry…you’re not getting a first-hand report on the conditions of the toilets. I’m not going anywhere near them.
Meshack is taking pictures of the compartment now. I may share one with you, if I don’t look like too much of a dork.
Every once in awhile we go past a train crossing. As near as I can tell, there’s a person sitting in a booth waiting for the train to come by. As it approaches, they go out and pull the gate down, so no one can cross. Not exactly efficient…but it does the job.
The trees have thickened up again.
Those of you getting ready to travel…here’s a word of advice. Stay away from the fizzy water. It’s terrible. If you go into a grocery store and can’t figure out which water is which, just look for the BonAqua label with a LIGHT blue lid. That’s the water with no gas. It is everywhere in Kiev - kind of like Aquafina. I tried looking at the label to see if it is made by the same company, but wouldn’t you know it, the whole thing is in Cyrillic.
We just passed a house not even 15 feet away from the train tracks.
How can those people sleep at night?!
The ride is starting to get a little bumpier. Not nearly as smooth as in Kiev.
It’s noon now…and I’m starting to get a little hungry. What I wouldn’t give for a Schlotszky’s Turkey, Bacon Club right now. All I have are more Nutri-grain bars and chocolate covered pretzels…and those are supposed to be part of our gift bags to the orphanage workers.
Oops…we just went by a crossing and the arm wasn’t down. Someone must have been sleeping on the job.
Well the battery is running out so I had better close for now. I’ll be sure to let you know how our visit goes, in the meantime…das vedanya.

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planes, trains and automobiles

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Which will it be?
Train...
Bus...
Car?
If our facilitator has his way it will be a car.
When we started this process almost a week ago, I was dreading riding the train.
I had heard horror stories about the bathrooms...
I didn't look forward to being cooped up in a compartment for hours on end...
And I wasn't sure that I could make it through the ride without getting horribly car sick.
So when Lev said the other day that it was only a three hour car ride to the orphanage I jumped at the idea.
A car.
We can stop.
We can go at our own speed.
And I don't have to worry about those nasty bathrooms.
That was, until he told us the price.
$350 for a three hour drive.
I am in the wrong business.
I need to be a driver in Ukraine.
I could make a killing.
Lev really wants us to use the driver. He says it would be more convenient...and he's right. It would.
But we have been here going on 10 days now, and haven't done a single thing adoption related. We're 10 days into our 30 days worth of housing allowance, driving fees and food money.
We can't go blowing $350 in 'Emergency Cash' on a cushy cab ride!
So we are heading to the train station tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. sharp!
We'll be hoping that somebody cancels their 4 person compartment so we can all sit together...otherwise it looks like at least a couple of us will be split up.
If it gets too bad there's always the bus! :)
Lev's not too happy about it...and frankly neither am I.
But at least it won't be a 12 hour train ride.
It's only 4 hours.
That's not so bad.
And with any luck we'll get to meet the little girl tomorrow afternoon...
And we'll finally know if we've found Maddie.
--------------------
BTW - We'll be in a very small city in Western Ukraine. Chances are internet service will be spotty at best. Please bear with us if you don't hear from us for awhile. I'll try my best to keep you all up to date on our progress. If needed, I'll ask my sister-in-law, Valerie to update you all! :)

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how does wednesday sound?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sounds pretty good to us!
That's the day we should finally get to meet the little girl.
Woohoo!!!!!!!
The wait may finally be over.
Our facilitator called this morning. He talked with the assistant orphanage director and she said we could come either Wednesday or Thursday.
WEDNESDAY SOUNDS GOOD TO US!!!!!!! :)
That's two whole days sooner than we thought it would be, in what we thought was our best case scenario.
God is goooood!
It sounds like we'll be leaving bright and early Wednesday morning to head out to Vinnytsya. And we're taking Dr. Yuri with us.
Hang on...
It's finally our turn to get on the rollercoaster ride.

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A taste of home

Sunday, December 9, 2007

We took the bus to church today.
It was virtually empty and the streets were deserted.
At 10 o’clock in the morning most people were sleeping in, except for the faithful few…and a few merchants headed to their booths for the day.
As we rolled along, I couldn’t help but think of a book I read as a child.
It was the story of a little boy named Yuri, who lived in Siberia during the days of the Soviets. His parents were Christians who helped smuggle Bibles into the area.
The family lived in constant fear of being found out.
And little Yuri learned the meaning of sacrifice and faith.
How times have changed.
A decade after the fall of communism, we were riding a bus, going to church…getting ready to openly worship in this former Soviet society.
(I need to find a copy of that book.)
We finally reached the turnaround point and took off toward a row of apartment buildings.
Our new friend, Sandra Boykin, a fellow adoptive parent, has been in Kiev for five weeks trying to complete an adoption. It’s been a rough process, but the smile on her face tells of an inner peace in her quest.
In her smooth, southern accent, she told us about the first time she and her friend, Tamarah tried to find this church. Another adoptive family gave them directions to the Kiev International Bible Church, and being the adventurous women that they are, they immediately tried their hand at locating the sanctuary.
They kept walking and walking, looking for the church…worried that they had somehow missed it.
It seemed a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. How in the world are we going to figure out which building is a church as rows and rows of gray apartment buildings loomed before us?
Finally, we saw it, a cross high up in the air…like a beacon.
And as we got closer we realized it wasn’t a gray, old building. It was a contemporary, new structure. Like something we would see in the states.
Like a welcome, old friend.
We walked in the doors and started up the flight of stairs. (There are stairs everywhere in Ukraine.) The church is divided up into several worship services depending on your native language. There’s Ukrainian, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and English.
The English service was on the top floor.
Of course.
Up we climbed. It seemed like an endless number of stairs. In reality it was probably only three flights.
We stopped at the top to catch our breath before opening the door.
It was like we were back in the States.
The music was familiar.
The words were familiar.
The smiles were familiar.
The smiles were welcome.
We quickly found some seats and settled in.
We sang the same worship songs we sing in the states. We had the same offering time, prayer time and
And then it was time for the service.
It was long sermon…but a good one.
And guess what the scripture was for this Sunday’s sermon?
Yep. Galations 3:29 - 4:6

1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything,
2
but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.
3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world.
4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Talk about speaking the truth in love.
The message was on God’s perfect timing.
How Christ was sent at just the most perfect point in time.
When man was most ready to hear about God’s plan for salvation.
God’s perfect timing.
Hmmmmm…..
Sound familiar?
And the verse about adoption - well, that's always been one of my favorites! :)

It felt like God was just reaching down and offering us a little hug and encouragement.
After church, we headed across the busy street to the local McDonald’s (we’ve seen at least seven and counting.) for lunch and then caught the bus home before taking a Sunday afternoon nap.
Just like home.


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i'm still here...really

Okay...Who took away my commenting ability?
I've been spending this quiet Sunday afternoon surfing all my favorite bloggie friends, reading their insightful posts and then trying to leave them a comment...
BUT this silly computer won't let me comment!!!
If I'm really persistent, after about seven times of hitting the refresh button I may get the comment page...but by the time I push 'publish', most of the time it has lost my witty words.
Those of you who are among the lucky few may get a comment from me today...but if not, please take comfort in the fact that I AM reading.
It's one of the benefits of still being in Kiev.
I still have internet...even if it is spotty.
I'll post more about my day later.

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we're not in kansas anymore

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Since we've got some time on our hands, we went sightseeing today.

Forget the metro, grocery stores and sidewalk vendors we've been visiting the last few days.
This time we wanted to see all the touristy stuff.
So up and down the streets of Kiev we walked, taking in the sights and sounds surrounding St. Andrew's, St. Sophia's, Independence Square and Khreschatyk street, with Allya, our facilitator's sister.
She needed to practice her English.
We wanted a tour.
It was the perfect partnership.
We did some shopping, took tons of pictures and ate at McDonald's.
I know what you're thinking, but we've been eating authentic Ukranian food all week - our facilitator Lev, insisted on it! :) I think he made it his mission to teach us as much about Ukranian culture and cuisine as possible. So we needed a touch of home.
Besides...we may be heading to the region next week and from the sounds of it, it's a small village. I doubt they have a McD's there.
Speaking of the region...we're not exactly sure when we'll be heading out. We thought it would be mid-week, but we got a call from the head facilitator tonight who made it sounds like it might be more like next Friday.
Sigh.
The time is quickly getting away from us. At that point we will have been here almost two weeks without much to show for it.
Sigh.
Oh well...the key is to try and get the court date as quickly as possible, so Meshack can get home. After that the timing doesn't matter that much.
Please pray for a change in the heart of the orphanage director.
We're hoping we can get our referral letter on Monday. If so we can visit as soon as the director will allow.
We're asking Lev to call the orphanage on Monday to let the director know...
Tuesday's good for us! :)

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the wait begins

Friday, December 7, 2007

We've made a decision.
We're going to wait for the little girl.
For some reason, none of the other children really 'spoke' to us like that little girl.
So we're waiting.
We have no idea how long of a wait it will be...probably at least until the middle of next week.
Not too long in the big scheme of things...but an eternity for right now.
We want nothing more than to go and find Maddie...
Let her know we're here...
And that we care.
I am aching to hold her and comfort her just as I would any of my children.
But I can't do that.
I have to sit here in our Kiev apartment...
And wait.
Have I told you, I hate waiting?
I thought so! ;)

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we're sleeping on it

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thank you everyone for your prayers, your support and your honest feedback. It has been a true blessing to come back to the apartment tonight and read all of the notes of encouragement.
Thank you.
I would like to update you on where we stand, but unfortunately there's not much new.
We had another appointment this afternoon (technically considered to still be our first appointment). In that meeting we were shown some new files.
Now we have a difficult decision to make.
Do we go ahead and meet one of these new children?
Or do we wait for the other girl?
Thankfully the SDA has given us until tomorrow at noon to decide.
We will have an answer for them.
We just don't know what it will be yet.
The real challenge of international adoption is avoiding becoming a slave to your circumstances.
It is so easy to do.
We are far away from home...far away from our kids...far away from everything and everyone we hold dear.
It is difficult to do even the simplest things without assistance, which gets REALLY old, REALLY fast! :) We can't even read the street signs for heaven's sakes, which means if we go out for a walk we have to make sure we take our cell phone with us in case we get lost (a real possibility).
We don't dare take the subway...because we can't tell what stop we started at and where we need to get off. And we can't hire a cab to take us anywhere because we can't negotiate a price.
When buying groceries at the store down the street it's a toss up as to whether we'll come home with what we were looking for...because we can't tell what is in the packages.
I don't want to sound like we're complaining. We're not.
We are enjoying our time here and this week has flown by.
It's just that all of these things makes daily life difficult.
And if you add a week into an already long process, we know by the time we are done we will be incredibly tired, stressed and more than ready to come home.
A week makes a big difference.
But we also know we are not on our own timeline...we are on God's.
It may just be that He's trying to remind us of that.
Our job is to figure out what all of it means.

What we do know is that we will do whatever it takes to bring our child home. Whoever it is.
That's the problem...the knowing.
If it is the little girl, then by all means we will wait HOWEVER long it takes to bring her home...but is the child God has for us, one of the little faces looking up at us from the files this afternoon?
We don't know.
Only God does.

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confusion, questions and prayer

While you were sleeping, we hit a roadblock.
Evidently the girl we were supposed to meet had surgery yesterday to correct her strabismus and now the orphanage director won’t let us come and visit her for a week.
And even if she did, Dr. Yuri doesn't think he could make have a good observation of her.

Needless to say this has put a big wrench in things.
It looked like we were going to have to make a decision as to whether to proceed with her adoption or go back to the SDA for another referral.

We put the decision in God's hands.
A few minutes later our facilitator called. He talked with the SDA and they want to see us at 4:30 p.m. to talk to the psychologist about our options.
Please pray for us.
We don’t know if they will consider our appointment yesterday as our first appointment and make us wait to come back for a second…
Or if they will have compassion and let us look at new files today.
And pray for the little girl that we were supposed to meet.
She is miserable and in pain. Her eyes have to be covered for a week (hence, why they won’t let us come see her – we can’t make eye contact and bond.) And her chance for adoption may have come and gone.

Heartbreaking. But at the same time we know that He is in control.
I’ll let you know how the new appointment goes.

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meeting notes

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We had a good day today.
A very good day.
It was busy, non-stop...but it was a good kind of busy.
The kind of busy that may have helped us find Maddie.
Our meeting with the SDA was very productive. It was a quick meeting. I don't think we were in there a half an hour. But we didn't need to be in there long.
We think we've found Maddie.
We're going to be meeting a three year old girl, who is as cute as a button but has a few medical items on her record (one of them could be serious).
We're taking Dr. Yuri with us to examine her and give us his assessment, just to be safe.
But we're feeling pretty good about it.
Our referral letter won't be ready until Thursday evening.
And then we'll head out first thing on Friday morning for the Vinnysta region.
And the best part?
It's only three hours away...
by CAR! ;)
Don't worry...after we meet her and we know for sure what is going to happen, I'll fill you in completely. Including the cool stuff God did during the meeting.
Just hang in there a little while longer. ;)

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the great Kiev summit

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We had soooooo much fun!
It was a blast to finally meet the people we had only known in bloggy world!
Mark and Courtney and Sue and her husband, Chris, joined us for dinner at O'Panas in downtown Kiev.
If any future PAPs are looking for a good restaurant with authentic Ukrainian food and decent prices, you should give this a try.
The atmosphere was great.

It was set in a little hut-like thing in the middle of a park across from Kiev University.
The menus were in Ukranian and English with pictures to boot.

How easy is that?
Point and order.
Meshack ordered deruny and borsch.
I had a steak with a yummy sauce.
One word…
Delicious.

Okay, maybe two.
Mmmmmm.
And I’m not usually the adventurous type.
I even tried Meshack’s food.
And I have to say the borsch was good.
Yea...surprised me too.
We had a great time.

Half the fun was getting there.
Since we are complete novices at the Ukrainian bussing system, Bogdan offered to find someone to take us to the restaurant. Natasha and her boyfriend, Maxim, graduates of the orphanage system, did a great job of helping us navigate the bus and subway system to downtown Kiev.
Natasha helped us pay the one Hryvnia to ride the bus each way…led us through the city streets to the subway entrance, down the stairs and into the tunnels leading to the platform.
Maxim kept track of us.

A tough job I might add.
Do you know how hard it is to keep up with two Russian teens, who are in a hurry and are wearing black in a sea of other people wearing black?
Anyway...on the way, we walked past street vendors selling everything from liquor to housewares, CDs to hairbands.
We literally walked by a fish for sale, resting on a cardboard box.
After an hour, we finally made it...a half an hour late.

Thankfully, Mark, Courtney, Sue and Chris are patient people.
We had a great time, but a couple of hours later it was time to head home.
We had to get Natasha back to the graduate house before 10 p.m.
But there was a little problem getting home.
The plan was to leave just a little before 9 to give us plenty of time to get her home. We were finished with dinner and were sitting and chatting while we waited for the waitress to show up with the bill.
She never showed.
We waited and waited…
Finally, Meshack went back downstairs to see if he could get a menu to figure out how much we owed. Mark and Courtney offered to take care of it for us, once the bill actually came.
Even so, we didn't get out of there until 9:20...poor Natasha ended up late.

I hope she didn't get in too much trouble.
We had today off.
Since it rained most of the day, we spent a lot of time in the apartment.
We went out for a little walk and a quick trip to the grocery store...
But we spent the majority of the day reading, talking and catching up on our Zzzzzs...
Good thing.
Tomorrow's the appointment.
It's the big day.
I'll let you know how it goes.

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safe and sound

Monday, December 3, 2007

Saying goodbye to the kids was much harder than I thought it would be.
As we were hugging the kids I kept whispering to them…’Daddy will be home soon, Daddy will be home soon.’ I couldn’t bear to remind them of how long I would be gone.
And I wasn’t prepared for how difficult it would be to walk away from my little ones. Those teary little faces kept popping over the divider as the kids jumped to sneak a peak over the frosted glass on the other side of security.
It broke my heart.
And Meshack’s too.
We blew kisses and hurried toward the gate.
The last glimpse I had of my babies was as our plane pulled out of the gate and headed toward the runway. All three of them were lined up at a window in baggage claim waving.
Anyone teary yet?
I talked to Q-ball, Punky and JacJac for a minute on Skype a little while ago. They were getting ready for school and Mom says they're doing fine.

Sigh.
On to happier news.
We’re here. It’s about 3:19 p.m. Kiev time and we’re finally settled in.
Actually, we arrived a few hours ago and have been working to get a few things settled before taking a much-needed nap!
We are staying in the Internat 12 – an orphanage for older children.
Their deputy director, Bogdan, has set up a wonderful opportunity. The orphanage has a guest house they rent to traveling families, and all of the money goes back into the orphanage.
And from what I hear, it’s cheaper than staying in the city’s center.
A win – win for everyone.
We have a nice three room flat…a living room/bedroom combo, with a kitchen and bath. Everything is brand new…very nice. There’s even a washing machine.
But we’re scheduled to move out of this apartment in a few hours and into a bigger one. Bogdan has been a HUGE help to us. He volunteered to walk Meshack across the street to the grocery store to pick up some stuff – he even translated for us so we didn’t pick up the dreaded Kefir on the first try! J
He came back with a internet card so we have unlimited internet access now – well, unlimited during the evening. During the day we share the phone line with the orphanage so we have to keep online stuff to a minimum.
And he’s coming back by in a few hours to help us go to dinner.
Yep, it’s time for the great Kiev summit!

Mark, Courtney and another couple who has an appointment tomorrow will be there. Both of those couples live near the city's center where the restaurant is, we on the other hand are going to have to take a bus (or two) and the subway downtown, before hiking the rest of the way.
I'm looking at it as an adventure.
One of the kids who used to live in the orphanage (aged out), whom Bogdan works with, will ride the bus and metro with us to the restaurant. And then we get to ask the waiter to call us a cab to bring us ‘home’.
Yep…we’re living on the edge! ;)
Tomorrow we are supposed to meet with our facilitator, Leo, and go over what will happen at our appointment on Wednesday morning. Other than that it sounds like a free day, so we may try to talk that teenager into being our tour guide.

I'd better run. It's time to move to the new apartment.
(Sorry, no pics for now. We have a VERY slow dial-up...it's going to take forever. I'll try to figure out something soon...although we didn't really get any pictures taken today. I need to correct that tomorrow!)

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