Thursday, October 30, 2008
Here in Kiev tonight after dinner On the way a few nights ago...they were so cute!!
Today we finally got to meet our great friends (via blog for the past 6 months) Kevin and Pam. They are on their way to their region tonight! Great to finally meet you in person guys - in Kiev no less!!
Yummy desserts tonight!
We made it to Kiev late on Wednesday night. There was some crazy running around in Zhytomyr to get passports finished. Basically we waited ALL day and had yet one more tearful goodbye from the orphanage... We kept thinking that any minute it would be time to pick up the passport. Then all the sudden it was time and we had to rush, rush, rush!!! Basically Ukraine seems to have two speeds - whirlwind fast or wait, wait, wait! You think you are waiting forever and then all the sudden you want to beg to slooooow down just enough to catch your breath! After the slow long wait of the past 10 to 14 days, the last three days have been nonstop - therefore no time until now to post!
We got to Kiev at 10:30 Wed. night, had our medical yesterday morning and then barely slipped into the Embassy before it closed. My hand ached from all the forms I had to fill out :) The Embassy is closed technically today but they are reopenning for us so that they could process the girls' visas! How nice - we were very impressed with the service that they gave to us. So after many more hours of sitting at the Embassy today (which we were more than happy to do) - we walked out with visas in hand!!! Wooo-hoooo!!! America here we come!!!
We are so thankful for all the people who have worked overtime to pull all this together with such a tight timeframe to get us on that plane Sunday. Not the least of which is our facilitator. Thank you N!!!!
We are settled in a nice apartment in Kiev and are actually sleeping good now!!! How nice to be in an actual bed!!! And while Kiev is about triple in prices, we don't even care - it is so great to be here. One more day in Ukraine and we come home!!! We plan to do some sightseeing tomorrow, some souvenier shopping, and maybe go to Hillsong Kiev church service tomorrow night.
We will practically not sleep tomorrow night since we have to be at the airport by 4:00 am which means we have to leave by like 3:00 am. Who needs sleep anyways?!? We can sleep on the plane and hope the girls will too!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It is a blessing for the girls that it has been so hard to say goodbye to their friends and to caregivers.
A blessing because it means that the last two years they have had deep, loving relationships with each of their friends and several caregivers - especially Alla. But it makes it harder right now. They are actually doing pretty well. They want to go home. What has made it harder is that we have had not one, not two, but three emotional goodbyes at the orphanage. We keep thinking that we will be laving tomorrow and then having more paperwork delays. So of course as long as we are in the region the girls want to see their friends. I understand but I wish we could just say one goodbye because it is taking it's toll emotionally on all of us as well as the other children. I personally have had a rough few days. Emotionally I feel raw, and physically I have not slept well in five days. Those of you who know me well, know that I do not function well on lack of sleep, which is currently close to what I felt like when I had a newborn and didn't sleep. The difference is I am not lying aroung being waited on now in the comfort of my home!!! I am hiking all over town and my new children are a bit more difficult and sleep a great deal less :)
Today was one frustration after another - the girls broke my phone and I had trouble communicating with the phone store people to fix it. We locked ourselves out of our apartment all day. We bought a gift for one of the kids and lost it. We got stuck at the orphanage for at least two hours more than we planned and were all starving (another really bad combo with no sleep and my hypoglycemia). We have had a few confrontations (minor but still hard) with the girls - we are all on our last straws emotionally... And last and definitely not least - we found out that we were not going to be able to leave for Kiev today. Breathe in, breathe out. I need my little red shoes soooo bad!!! "There is no place like home, there is no place like home!"
Back to the goodbyes, the emotions have been hard to contain. I have had to constantly tell myself that I cannot break down in front of the kids. But it has torn my heart to leave these precious children. We love them so much. And they are so heartbroken. They are grieving in different ways - some cry, some retreat and shutdown, some get just overly hyper... It would be easier for all if we had not spent countless hours the past four weeks playing with them, talking, taking quiet walks, playing soccer, playing Uno, and just loving the children that will remain orphans. For four weeks they have embraced us, allowed us into their world, taught us silly games, taught us Ukrainian. We have wanted to bless them by showing them that their tricks on the monkey bars, their dances that they've learned, their goofy games, their songs that they make up, and everything else about them is important and precious and worthwhile. We have tried to hug and love and encourage every second that we are with them. But now, we have come to love them more. And they have come to love us more. So while we are thankful that we had this time with this precious group of children, it makes these goodbyes indescribably hard. I love too many children that I cannot help. Oh Lord, please love these children. Please bless them. Please give them hope. Please hold them. And please comfort Zach, Katya, Nastya and I as our hearts break to say goodbye. It is hard to love and leave. Easier to close our hearts and not love. But that of course is not the answer. We are forever changed - our hearts have stretched bigger and the stretching is painful. Thank you Lord for this precious time with each one of these precious children, and even for the pain - because we can take it You knowing that You love them far more than we ever could.
If you are considering adoption or if you feel that tug at your heart, don't let it pass. Pray and see if this is how God wants you to love. He will show you and He just might have a child to bring home - to you. Or maybe there is another calling for you. But somehow each of us is called to in some way love the orphans and widows. Ask him how. One thing we can do is pray. If you would like a child to pray for, let me know and I will send you a name, a little info and a picture. I promised Tanya, Galyna, Masha, Tanya, Yana, Alena, Vika, Vera, Olga, Vova, and Oleg that we would pray for them regularly. I could use some help in this! (Sorry I have not emailed you back Anna - will do so very soon!)
As sweet, wonderful Vika tearfully told me as we got into the taxi tonight, "Remember me. Please remember me." Oh how could I forget. Lord, remember them.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
She had a bit of a pout when there was a misuderstanding about what type salad she ordered at the pizza place. We fully expected this turmoil of emotions - it is difficult to leave what is familiar and the friends who have become like sisters. I think it speaks of the great longing in her heart that she never really second guesses leaving. She wants a family and it is crystal clear that the odds are not good for her here. Very bad actually. The 'here and now' is not horrible. Their basic needs are met, they have good friends, at least some of the caregivers truly show them love, there are engagin activities with school, sports, music, and dance. Despite all of that, the children do not have their needs for family and unconditional love met. They beg for hugs and crave attention. There is a hunger in their eyes and actions that you would never see in children who are in loving homes. That part of the 'here and now' is horrible. But even worse is the future - at sixteen they will leave the internot. They will be on their own with no basic life skills to manage money, find jobs, or be taught how to handle relationships. They will have no guidance, no encouragement, no mom to call when sad, no home to go to on holidays, no lasting, significant relationships that they can depend on. Very simply - no family.
Philippians 3:7-8 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
So back to yesterday - we were given permission to go to the hospital to pick up Katya. And even better - Nastya was allowed to go with us all day! I had no idea we were going to get to spend the day with the girls out of the orphanage! So we picked Katya up and she was ecstatic - talking a million miles a minute to N, who loosely translated some of what she was saying. Zach, Katya, Nastya, and I cozied up in the back seat of N's car (her husband was driving and she was in the front). We had Nastya on my lap and Katya next to the window since the fresh air seems to help them not get carsick. Zach squeezed into the middle :) We literally drove in circles from one office to the next and back again. We had to apply for new birth certificates, have the new birth certificates legalized, and apply for new tax id numbers for the girls. Sounds simple enough except that we kept running into small problems that sent us in circles around the city. A typo here, someone having a late lunch there, a stop to get something notarized, oops another typo on one birth certificate - must retrace steps and get that fixed. But do it fast because if we aren't back in 30 minutes the person to legalize it will be gone until Monday! Unfortunately the tax id office would not issue the new number until Monday which means that we can't apply for the passports until Monday. We are still told that we can get the old, blank type (they recently changed the process) which will mean that we can apply Monday and pick it up Tuesday. If that is not the case, then it will take SEVEN days from Monday until we get the passports. Meaning that we cannot do the next steps in Kiev to get us home until then. Praying for the 'old' ones to truly be available.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Katya is STILL in the hospital. Day 9. The girl is waaaaaay more patient than I am in this regard. First we were all told 5 days and she would leave and that seemed crazy. Then we were promised that today she would leave. So we head for a quick visit to the orphanage. It had to be quick because we have to move apartments this evening and I have come down with a cold - I'm sure from the hospital!! Don't worry - I won't be coughing in front of anyone at the hospital or they might keep me too :) But at least I have antibiotics (thanks Dr. Nelson!) and other good drugs! But I am getting off subject...
So we arrived at the orphanage expecting to see both girls but only Nastya comes running up (in a sleeveless shirt - we tried to tell her that it at best 55 degrees!) and says that Katya is not back. So we head to the director's office and Alla is there. Alla is also surprised and they call the hospital but the doctors have left for the day!!! That means that she wouldn't be leaving and we couldn't get an update. Nor could we send her a message. So we did what any good parents would do :) We took a taxi to the hospital knowing that she would be very disappointed to still be there and doubly upset if we didn't come visit. Unfortunately we didn't have time to run by the market and get food. All we had was juice and a little candy. We were so wishing that we had food because she says the food there is horrible (I can only imagine). But the market was very far away and we had to rush back to pack up the apartment. Tomorrow we will take her more food - she wants fried eggs and spaghetti?!? I'll just whip that right up :)
She was sad to be there but so relieved that we came. She told us that she thought we wouldn't come and that she was crying earlier :( I wanted to cry for her. And scream too. So she has a little cough. That's it! She is barely sick - certainly no fever and not feeling bad. But she thinks the doctor said that now she is staying until Friday!!! That will be 11 days and will only give her one last night with her friends before leaving forever. So incredibly frustrating and no one will listen to us or for that matter understand us. There is more than a language difference in this communication problem!!! We are going to call in the morning and see if we can request her release tomorrow afternoon. Pray that they will do that. She really needs to have some time to say goodbye to her friends. Maybe we will be able to let her stay until Sunday evening before the girls leave with us... We are ready to take them now but also feel that she needs some time with her friends who have been like sisters the past few years.
The good aspects of this hospital stay are still good - we have had a lot of bonding time, she has felt very loved by us, I have felt very compassionate and loving to her, and maybe this frustration will actually help her be even more ready to get home to America!!! It sure does help me!! We know that this time truly is working for good and can see that even in the frustrations!
Monday, October 20, 2008
The Barrett's: An Amazing Adoption Story - This is a broadcast from Focus on the Family. It is an amazing story of a family that adopted four very difficult children from the US foster care system. Several of the children had severe RAD and lots of other issues. This story makes mine seem like a cakewalk and at the same time it is a story of hope and restoration. It really is a story of a very extreme case and most stories I hear of are not like this. The children that were adopted (many years previous to this broadcast) are interviewed as well. I remember listening over and over to it in my car and thinking, "Wow if God enabled these people to withstand these trials and has brought healing into these kids lives, then there are none without hope." And of course that is true but this brought it home in a tangible way. And they give very specific descriptions of how they responded to some very tough situations in the early years. It helped prepare us to parent older adopted children - especially not knowing really what we might face. I am fairly confident that we will not see the extreme issues that this family saw, but we may see similar root issues in much lesser intensity - if that makes sense! So, the link to order this is http://resources.family.org/p2p/searchResults.do?method=view&search=basic&keyword=barretts&sortby=shortdesc&asc=true&page=1
If for some reason that doesn't work - go to the first part - resources.family.org - and then search for barretts. An amazing story - worth listening to even if you aren't adopting!!! Only $9.00
Carried Home Safely by Kristin Swick Wong This book just does a beautiful job of capturing the beauty of our adoption by the Lord and how our adoptions of difficult, lonely, but precious children gives a small reflection of what He has done for us. I hope to devote a post to that topic more later... But it is well written and so very encouraging. You can find it on Amazon.
There are several other resources I want to mention but I will leave you with these for now.
This chocolate is amazing!!! Dolci and Roshen. And coming from me - a girl who doesn't really like chocolate... If you are really lucky I might bring a few extra boxes home to share... If you come to Ukraine don't miss it. Actually there are lots of good chocolate and foods here - we are happy. And they really practice portion control here :) Hard to get used to but very healthy! The hardest is when you order coffee - it is good and strong (just like I enjoy it) but very small (like maybe two ounces for an Americano)!!! I make Zach order one as well so that I can have both!
We love a soup called Sole-yanka. We also like their Greek Salads with white cheese, ukrainian pizza (it really is better than american pizza), fried potatoes with mushrooms, veal steaks, chicken steaks with cheese and mushrooms inside, roast beef with yellowish rice, roast beef with potatoes and cheese, buckwheat, chicken with prunes and cheese on top, and lots of other things that are so yummy!! As you can see, we are not hurting in the food department! It really is a good thing that the portions are small and that we walk about six miles a day or we would seriously be gaining weight. ****One disclaimer - we are in a nice city of over 600,000 people - if you travel to a smaller village or even another city (I haven't seen any others) there may not be the same choices of restaurants or food to choose from - just so you know!!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The worst part of it all is that she does NOT need to be there but now that she is there they won't let her leave until her 'treatment' is done. I shudder to think of all diseases she is being exposed to! I think the rest of the kids have figured out that this is what happens if you complain too much, but I guess she didn't realize that this was what would happen. I can't even imagine how long they would keep you if had something seriously wrong like surgery or having a baby. One person was shocked when we said that even when you have a baby in America you only stay one or two nights!! It is pretty crazy. Praying that they will let her out soon so that she can spend a few good days with her friends and can say her goodbyes before we leave. We really wanted this week to be a time of closure for her as she prepares to leave this chapter of her life behind. All venting about the hospital aside - the only thing that really saddens us is this lost time for her to spend with her friends.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Here are the girls with their good friend Tanya. She is such a sweetheart! Is my suitcase big enough?!?
This statue of Lenin is right in the center of the city, in front of an old Soviet building. Why this statue is still here is quite a mystery...
A gorgeous Ukrainian Orthodox church first built in mid 1800s
We are still doing well - we will find out for sure today, but court is tentatively scheduled for Monday sometime... It seems we've been here awhile but really that is pretty fast. Nastya and Katya are enjoying us visiting everyday. We play hours of Uno, have Ukrainian lessons from some of the girls, give English lessons in return, play silly games outside (such as a Ukrainian version of duck-duck-goose and a shoe game where we all exchange shoes and chase each other), just hang out and talk, take walks (yesterday we helped their group clean up trash in front of the orphanage), hand out candy, and just whatever comes up.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Oh, that brings me to the apartment. It is cute and quaint and roomy. I was singing the praises of it until this morning when I got up (after 10 lovely hours of sleep) to make coffee in the coffee maker that I brought. I connected it to the converter and turned it on. The lights flashed, I heard a clicking noise, and that was that. It blew a fuse in the converter. So, we replaced the fuse and tried again. Same thing. Those who know my love of coffee can imagine the panic I was now in. I mean just the fact that I brought a small coffee maker from the US gives you an idea... I thought I had it made with my coffee pot and converters.
So and I decided to take a shower. Bad idea. First there was no hot water b/c we didn't know to plug in the water heater last night. After freezing and jumping back out, I waited a bit for the water to heat. Then there was NO water at all!! Eventually it came back on, but there was no time to wait for heating, so I shivered through an incredibly cold shower. At least I was awake :) Who needs coffee when you have cold showers?!? Zach put his Aggie engineering to work and proceeded to boil water to pour through the coffee pot and I had my coffee after all. Day saved :) Yea Zach!!
So now we sit and wait for N to arrive and take us to lunch and to the appointment. I'm really not that nervous but I'm sure I will be once we are there.
A little about Kiev ~ It is beautiful!!! It is clean and the architecture is amazing. Independence Square is so impressive with gorgeous old buildings and cobblestone roads. Beautiful domes on buildings and lots of granite and rock arches. The streets are clean and nice and there is an abundance of nice restaurants and shopping. Besides the difficulties of this morning, we are certainly not roughing it!! Of course outside the main areas it is very rundown and the apartment buildings look to be in very bad condition with broken windows, ect. The two public bathrooms I have attempted to enter are more dirty than I can put into words here. People told me, but really nothing quite prepared me for that experience!
I will try to post pictures soon, but so far we have been pretty busy!