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Friday, February 1, 2008

I overslept.
How could I oversleep today of all days?!
The cab was supposed to get there at 7:30 a.m...it was 7:15!
I jumped out of bed, yanked some clothes out of the suitcase, ran a brush through my hair and put on some foundation.
Then I got Maddie up.
She wasn't too happy with me...until I showed her a banana.
The kid is nuts about bananas.
She got dressed and we ran out the door.
Nikolai, the driver, was waiting at the gate. I hope we didn't keep him waiting too long.
The streets were relatively quiet. It's amazing to me..even in Kiev, things don't really get moving until around 9 or even 10 in the morning. And on weekends, you can count on the streets being deserted until 11...at least.
We zigged here and zagged there. Turning corners, going into areas of the city I had never seen before, until finally we arrived at the American Medical Center.
As we walked through the doors, a nicely dressed woman walked up to us and introduced herself as Lev's mother. She also is an adoption facilitator, although she doesn't do any translating...just organizing. So this part of the process she's wasn't to familiar with.
Great. Just what I needed...a rookie.
We sat down and waited for the clinic to open. It opens at 8 a.m., but the doctors don't show up until 9 a.m. Who knows why. But we were there so early to make sure we were the first clients of the day.

We were.
It still didn't help.
An hour and a half later we were still waiting for the report.
The U.S. Embassy only takes appointments until noon...and they made sure to tell me over the phone the sooner I got there the better the chances were that I would be walking away with a visa today.
I HAD to get that visa. I just HAD to! There was no way I was sticking around through the weekend just waiting for Monday.
I pushed and prodded Mrs. Lev. I bugged and thought about bribing just to get her to MOVE IT!
It didn't help.
The woman, who of course was as nice as could be, worked slower than a snail. I finally had to flat out tell her I needed her to check and see if it was done. We had to leave NOW!
It was.
On the way to the embassy Mrs. Lev said Lev insisted we needed to get copies of our passports taken for the embassy. She said Svieta insisted it wasn't necessary, but Lev was positive we needed it.
I was willing to take Svieta's side...but there was no stopping the woman (finally). She said there was a copy center near the embassy, it would only take a few minutes.
If you have been on an adoption trip to Ukraine you know there is NO SUCH THING as an errand that takes a few minutes. Especially a trip to the copy store.
It takes FOREVER!
Surprisingly, only 10 minutes later she came out with copies in hand. Still...those 10 minutes felt like an eternity!
I was a nervous wreck by this point. It was 11 a.m. I just knew there was no way they were going to get Maddie's visa done today.
No way.
We reached the embassy and I jumped out and grabbed Maddie. We wogged our way down the hill, with Mrs. Lev trailing behind all the while saying things like, 'I'll wait for you out here,' and 'Good luck.'
We ducked inside.
We breezed through security and walked into the building.
It was like going home.
Everyone was nice.
Everyone was helpful.
Everyone was SMILING!
Everyone wanted to see us succeed at getting this visa as badly as we did.
What a blessing.
For the first time in weeks I felt like I was amongst friends. One guy even asked me if we had met before. He looked familiar, but I couldn't place him.
Forty minutes later I walked out with Maddie's visa.
It almost made up for the horrible time we had getting the passport. ;>)
That was it.
We were done.
Maddie was ready to go home.
It was surreal. I had to ask three times if that was all.
They just laughed with me.
I had the little manilla packet, I had the receipt for payment and I had the little visa glued into her passport. What more could I possibly need?
I guess after all this time it felt too good to be true.
Maddie and I were finally going home.

19 salty messages:

Julie February 4, 2008 at 4:13 PM  

Oh Tami - I just cried when you described walking into the Embassy. I can just imagine how that felt - a piece of home. You never appreciate America more than when you're not there...
Prasie God you're both coming HOME to your FAMILY!

Anonymous,  February 4, 2008 at 4:15 PM  

What a day! I was a nervous wreck right along with you, reading about trying to get through at the medical center in time to get to the embassy before it was too late. Whew! I bet you really COULDN'T BELIEVE it when you made it and only 40 minutes later were ALL DONE - finally! "Going home" - ah, the sweetness of those words! - Melinda H.

Waitingonmyua2 February 4, 2008 at 4:31 PM  

Are you stinkin' home or not??!! LOL Yer killin' me 'ere!

Drew, Michelle, Luke and Tetyana February 4, 2008 at 4:33 PM  

Yes!!!! This must be the most amazing feeling on Earth!!! Travel safe and I hope Maddie does okay on the flight...

TylerandBrianne February 4, 2008 at 4:39 PM  

where is the rest!!! you have me at the edge of my seat!!!

cara February 4, 2008 at 4:53 PM  

Congratulations, on the latest hurdle! I can't wait to see a picture of your entire family together! Cara

Rachael February 4, 2008 at 5:27 PM  

YEAH for you!!!

I only hope your trip home is as easy! Safe travels to you.

Tina in CT February 4, 2008 at 5:50 PM  

I can imagine how wonderful it was to walk through the gate onto US ground at the American Embassy. It was our country and meant HOME for you and Maddie.

But, the question is, "Are you HOME with Maddie for real now?".

Amy K-S crew February 4, 2008 at 6:50 PM  

You do a wonderful job with all the blogs and thanks for sharing your adventures with us. What experiences you will have to share with the kids when they are older! You are home now, right?!?! ;)

Stefanie February 4, 2008 at 7:51 PM  

Are you "paying back" for all that extra time you were in region waiting on the passport? Enough with the suspense, are you home lovin on your family?? Better be!

Chris and Virginia February 4, 2008 at 8:17 PM  

I'm assuming your back home. Congratulations. We've been following your journey, and what a journey it has been. Now the real work starts :).

We hope you will keep us updated from time to time so we can see how you all progress.

Good Luck and God Bless!!

Nataliya February 4, 2008 at 8:38 PM  

Now I can breathe! I suspected you've got Maddie's visa on Friday, but I wasn't sure :) But it makes a lot of sense - for everything you went through in Ukraine, you had to have something easy! I've got Rachel's visa also on Friday, just a week ago, but it feels like it happened a long time ago!

About bananas - you are right. All of us, ex-Ukrainians, are nuts about bananas! I ate probably 3-4 a day when we immigrated to the U.S., and most of my friends did the same :)

Tonya February 4, 2008 at 9:52 PM  

YAY!!!!! You're done. Now post pics of the kids, already:):):).

Adrienne February 4, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

YEAAAAA!!! You're coming home!!! :O)

Living Life with Sophia,  February 5, 2008 at 8:58 AM  

Wahoo! I am so happy for all of you! Home sweet home.

Melissa E. February 5, 2008 at 10:00 AM  

I completely sympathize and thus I fully understand enough to completely rejoice in your speedy Visa! Home is so close! Have a safe trip!

Steve and Gail February 5, 2008 at 10:13 AM  

Congratulations Tami. You are right about the Embassy. It will be a long time before I compalin about American governmet red tape and delays. The USCIS in Omaha and the US Embassy in Kyiv, both gave extra effort to get things processed so we could get home ASAP. Our kids also love bananas and banana juice. I don't think that many stores in Omaha carry banana juice.

adopting2fromUkraine February 5, 2008 at 11:19 AM  

Welcome Home! What a wonderful way to end your trip, everything falling in place:)

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