Friday, February 12, 2010

The Joy of Boys!

Lance got up early this morning to go to McDonalds and use the wireless to check on our tickets. They boys slept the whole two hours he was gone and I slept some and took advantage of the quiet.

When he got back, he couldn’t believe that the boys were still asleep. He said he came back because he figured they were driving me crazy by then. We got to talk and visit for about another half hour before Dima finally woke up and joined us in the kitchen. I had started typing the blog so we could update it later when we went to the mall.
Lance cooked breakfast and then woke up Tolic. They ate and then the silliness started. They played all kinds of games, including hide and seek, climb on Poppa and anything else they could. I had to take a break to video some of this, because it was just too much fun! In fact, as I am writing, this, I had to stop writing and go watch the acrobatic stunts they were performing on Poppa!

We are waiting now for the landlord to come pick up the money for our stay here and then we are going to the mall to eat, use the Internet to upload the posts I’ve written this morning and buy the boys a film for being so good yesterday at the Embassy. It will be an interesting walk to the mall as the snow is really coming down and the weather is not so great here.
More than likely, I won’t be able to post anything else until we get home. I will however update you all on the plane ride and our adventures as we are coming home!

Finally, we are coming home. We will land in Dallas tomorrow afternoon and probably clear customs and immigration by 4:00 in the afternoon. Feel free to come by and welcome the boys home in the airport if you are around at that time. My plan is to come out ahead of them and videotape them walking out of customs.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

We Have Visas!

What a day! We started out early after breakfast to get to the Embassy right after they opened. When we got there, there were long lines outside. We went to the end of the line and were told after a few minutes that we didn’t have to wait in those lines because we were Americans, we could just go right in. So, we passed everyone up and went inside. The people waiting in lines were there for their appointment to try and get visas to America.
We went in and they took our backpack, scanned it and then we passed through metal detectors and then were wanded by security. We had told the boys that this was a very serious place and that they needed to be on their best behavior. They looked a little nervous when they had to hold out their arms and be checked by security.

Then we walked outside and into the main building and down to the area for adoptions. The nicest lady greeted us. While I was going over the paperwork with her, she told Lance that he could take them to another waiting room where they had some toys for them to play with. When we finished going through the paperwork we had, she gave me some other forms that I needed to fill out. Luckily, we found out a few days ago that we might need more tax information, so Lance was able to email our CPA and get a copy of last year’s tax return. It was a good thing, because we needed to turn that in too. We got our final interview appointment for 2:00 and she said we could just bring the paperwork back then. We decided to stay there and complete it in case we had any questions or messed up on the forms. It is a good thing we did, because we had both questions and messed up on one form. So, I went back to the window and got the answers and new form I needed. The boys were fabulous while we did all of this. They had all kinds of toys there for them to play with and they were loving it. They had large transformer toys, etch a sketches that they drew the most amazing pictures on and lots of other fun things to keep them occupied. Lance said they were so good while I was in the other room. While I was in the playroom with them, I couldn’t believe how good they were while we were completing paperwork.

By the time it we finished the paperwork, it was time for lunch. We called the taxi back and he took us to a McDonalds that was somewhat close by. Of course, the boys wanted McDonalds. We told them to enjoy it as much as they could here, because we don’t eat at McDonalds at home. Of course, they may have to change a little bit with kids in the house now.

McDonalds had wi-fi, but we couldn’t get it to work. I wanted to update the blog, but wasn’t able to connect. We are behind on the blog, because since we left Zaporozhye, we haven’t had Internet access. I know people are wanting to know what is going on, so I asked Lance to at least post a small update yesterday when he went to check on tickets. It is nice to know that so many people are interested in what’s going on in this process and are reading the blog, but it also makes it frustrating when we can’t get access to post. Plus, we love checking the comments because it makes our day to read what our friends post and be encouraged by their love and support.

Once it was time to go, we got back in the taxi and headed to the Embassy once again. We went through the same procedures and the boys didn’t seem as nervous this time. We were a little early so we let the boys play a little while we waited. They went right to the etch a sketches so we let them take them to the room we needed to wait in. It didn’t take them long though to get bored with those and start to be silly! We tried to keep them somewhat calm, but we knew they were just excited because they knew this was the last step in the process before we could go home. They entertained themselves with the water dispenser. We had to teach them how to take a cup from the bottom, as they wanted to open the top and get one from there. When they realized the red nozzle dispensed hot water, oh my! After about three cups of water each, we had to tell them that was enough. We were the only family in the room at this time, so at least we weren’t disturbing anyone.

Finally, they called us to the window for our interview. Again the most hospitable lady greeted us with a very kind and helpful demeanor. She went over some of the paperwork, asked us a few questions and asked the boys some questions in Russian. She even called Texas, “God’s Country” as the boys told her where they were going to live. I knew I liked this lady! She told us what the process for printing the visas and said she couldn’t promise anything, and might have to send paperwork to Washington before printing. If they had to do that, then we would get the visas tomorrow. She said she would update us on the process in about 30-40 minutes. So, we went back to the playroom to wait and let the boys expend some of their silly energy. When we left the window, they made sure to tell the lady thank you for her help.

It was probably about 20-30 minutes that they called me to the window. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She showed me the boys’ passports and inside of them were their visas! Slava Bogu! She explained that we would need to register the boys with the Ukrainian Embassy upon arrival in the US and that we would need to send them a report yearly about the boys and how they were adapting to life in a family and in America. We of course, promised to this. This is very important, because it makes it easier for other Americans to adopt from Ukraine if those that have keep the Ukrainian Embassy updated. She then gave me two sealed packets of information that we are to give to the USCIS upon arrival in America. The paperwork said that it could take up to two hours to finish the process we need to go through at immigration. So what! We will be in America and what is another two hours in this whole drawn out ordeal. But, of course, it is all worth it!

Once I went over to the boys and showed them their visas, they were so excited. Even more excited than Lance and I were. I think we were in shock that we got the visas today! They cheered and had to inspect their visas and then got up to give us huge hugs! Then, this is the amazing part, Dima looked at us and said, “God helped us!” You are right son, God has helped us, more than any of us realize!

They just could not contain their excitement and were looking in every window we passed and telling people thank you very much! Once outside, the cheering and jumping up and down continued. It was so great to watch their excitement! While we waited on the taxi again, they played in the ice and snow. They would move the snow off of the ice and then slide down the ice. Lance and I tried as hard as we could not to slide on the ice, but they tried as hard as they could to slide on it! It was fun watching them and helped me take my mind off the bitter cold!

We got back to the apartment and wanted to be ready to go as soon as we could. So, Lance took his computer and went to a local café to get Internet access so that he could check on flights. I stayed home and began to pack up everything. I had the boys take out two days of clothes in case we were able to get out tomorrow. We are all ready to go home and were so hopeful! We had laundry sorted in the apartment, but had forgotten to buy detergent, so we weren’t able to do laundry. So what, we will need to rewash everything once we get home as when you dry it on the radiators here (no dryers) they all get stiff and crusty. So, one bag is all of our dirty clothes. I packed our few clean clothes in another suitcase and another bag of clothes in case we stayed overnight in London.

They boys were again very good. The plan was for them to watch a movie while I worked. Well, they weren’t interested in TV or a movie. In a way this is good. We don’t want them sitting around watching TV all the time. They instead were very interested in the technology. They played with cells phone we had until the battery ran down. They played with mp3 players, the computer and anything else they could find that plugged in. They were not happy that we didn’t have the cables to charge my American cell phone. However, they played well together. I only had to remind them to share once or twice, which was good for the several hours it took Lance to try and get us flights. I took a break once and Dima and I played a game. We had a lot of fun. It was a dice game where you keep score according to the color of dice you roll. We played this on the train and it was a lot of fun. We kept score on paper this time and Dima was winning, then I was winning and back and forth. He was a good sport when he was winning and when he was loosing. This was something we thought we might have to work with them on as it is sometimes a problem in the orphanage, but luckily, so far, they have done well with winning and loosing.

Then he and Tolic traded places on the computer and Tolic and I played a game of cards where you had to build sandwiches with the cards. Tolic of course did a much better job than I did. About the time were starting a second game, Lance came home.

We were all hungry and headed to the Ukrainian café that was close by that the Houghtons had taken us too back in December. We went there yesterday and the boys really enjoyed it, especially the borsch. It was a cold walk, but worth it with the great tasting food. Again, the boy’s excitement turned to silliness and we had to tell them to calm down a few times. We will definitely have to teach them some skills to use when in public. Dima decided he wanted more drink, so he just called out for the lady. Luckily, she didn’t hear him and neither did the others around us, we think. Tolic was playing with a toothpick and flicked it into the booth next to us and onto a lady sitting there. Oh my!! Finally, when the food came, they calmed down some. It was a good thing. Of course, we know they are very excited and can only hold their excitement for so long! I asked them why they were calm in the morning and at the apartment and were acting like little monkeys right now. They didn’t really have an answer. They are so cute when they are excited, but in public, oh my. I’m sure it is not the first time they will need to be calmed down in public.

Lance explained the mess he had gone through trying to get us tickets. Since we have been without Internet or American TV, we didn’t know all the weather problems that were going on in America. We didn’t know about the delays at the airports. Lance tried several options to get us home. One of the problems is that if we use American Airline miles, we have to layover in London. The boys are not yet US citizens, therefore, they would need a visa to stay overnight in London. We have been told both that yes, they can stay overnight and no they cannot without a visa. When we came through London in January, we asked about it at customs. The agent told us that it would all depend on the agent and what kind of mood they were in. Lance could get us tickets using miles leaving on Sunday, but we weren’t sure if we wanted to chance the boys not being able to get into the country or not. Considering some of the issues we have had with this adoption, we didn’t think it was something we should chance. So, we decided to go with tickets that the travel agent found for us going through Frankfurt and getting to Dallas all in one day. Pray for entertainment on the plane! The flight to Frankfurt is about 2.5 hours. The flight from there to Dallas is a 12 hours flight! If there is not entertainment on the plane, I have no idea how we will contain their excitement cooped up for that long. Pray for entertainment!

Since we made that decision, Lance went back to McDonalds to email the travel agent that we would take those tickets. I guess paying $3,200 for all of us to get home is not that bad considering that we had only spent $500 or so on flights thus far because used our American Airline miles.

While Lance was gone, the boys showered, then we read our Bible together and decided to wait to pray until Papa came home. The boys then played some more and Lance was home. We prayed together and then all settled down in our bed to watch Kung Fu Panda in Russian. There is just something funny about animated characters speaking Russian! I was thinking the boys would fall asleep during the movie, but uh, no that didn’t happen. After the movie, we passed hugs all around and the boys went to bed.

I don’t know how long it was after this, but eventually, Dima came to sleep with us in our bed. And because they roll all over the place, it wasn’t long before I was hanging over the edge of the bed. I decided I would get a better nights sleep if I went to the bed were Tolic was. He was sprawled all across the bed, but I managed to move his legs over and crawl in next to him. I don’t know how they move all over the bed considering that the beds they are used to sleeping in at the orphanage are so small.

Finally, sleep!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our First Day in Kiev

The train arrived in Kiev a little before 6:00AM. The boys were both easy to wake up and even woke up with smiles on their faces. When I told Tolic that we were almost there, he was so excited and a huge smile covered his whole face.

We got our shoes and coats on and met our taxi driver outside the train. It was the same guy that had taken us to the train station the last time we were in Kiev. We crammed all the luggage in and headed for the apartment. The boys were amazed at all they were seeing. It was still dark so the lights on the building and some leftover Christmas decorations were catching their attention. They just couldn’t take it all in. Everything was so new to them and they asked if we had things like this in America. The drive from the airport home is going to be so interesting for them.

We got to the apartment and they were amazed. It is a pretty large apartment with two separate bedrooms and even a living room area. The toilet is in the same room as the bathtub so it is pretty big too. A lot of Ukrainian apartments have the toilet in one room and the bathtub in another.

We all took showers and got ready for the busy day ahead. Not long after we were finished, Nina and our taxi driver were back to pick us up. We had to take the boys for another medical exam that is needed for the Embassy. We waited for a little while to see the doctor. Lance went in with them, because they had to get undressed for part of the exam. Lance told me that they were pretty good in the exam, but nervous when they had to take their clothes off. They are so small that they just had to pull their jeans straight down without even unbuttoning them. Dima had on size 10 jeans and Tolic had on size 8 that were falling off of him. I imagine that when we get them home and they start eating a variety of fruits and vegetables they will grow a lot. Then, Lance said they were told to take off their underwear and were extremely embarrassed and asked, as if to make sure they heard correctly.

The appointment was over and we had something to eat in the cafeteria. We hadn’t eaten since the night before on the train and we were all hungry. Once the paperwork was completed, we left the hospital to go to pick up the final translation of the court decree that we would need for the Embassy. It took a long time to for Nina to get this and the boys fell asleep in Lance’s lap. It was so sweet, and so quiet. The boys had nervous silly energy at the doctor so a little bit of quiet was nice. I think Lance and I even dozed off a little.
Once Nina came back, we headed to the Embassy only to find it closed for the day. Apparently, they were having some kind of staff development. So, we went back to the apartment and then headed outside to see what we could find. We walked to the main square in Kiev, which our apartment is close to. There was a McDonalds outside and the boys wanted to grab a snack there, but we told them no, we were going somewhere else. We went to the underground mall and you should have seen their faces when they walked in and saw all the fancy stores. They just kept looking all around in amazement. Then, we got to the escalator and they had no idea what in the world to do. They were a little afraid, but watched to see what to do. Then of course, they didn’t want to get off. Just like all kids when they experience an escalator for the very first time.

We went to the food court area and they couldn’t believe their choices. They settled on a drink and then some fries from McDonalds. Surprise, surprise! There was wi-fi at one of the restaurants in the food court, so Lance logged in to make sure we had copies of our last six months paychecks in case we needed those for the Embassy. I walked around a little with the boys and let them choose a couple of pieces of candy from the candy stand. By this time Lance was done, which was good because the Internet was in and out the whole time.

We walked around the stores some and then went outside and walked around there. We went to another large store with small stores inside and looked around. We found a toy store and of course, they wanted everything inside. We had wanted to buy another game to play together, but they were so expensive in this store. We walked around outside some more, and Dima spotted a kiosk selling phone sim cards. He wanted us to buy him a sim card so that he could call his friends. We told him no that he was too young to have a cell phone and that it wouldn’t work in America anyway. Of course he argued both of these points. We told him he could use Lance’s phone and his friends could call that. This was an argument we have had several times a day for several days running. It was nice to find out that Dima did leave his cell phone for Babushka the night before. We didn’t know this until today while waiting for the doctor.
We decided to go to a small store and get some drinks and stuff for breakfast. The store I had seen in the morning on our street, was actually out of business. So, we walked over to the street we had stayed on before and to the store we knew was there. We bought a few things for breakfast under the watchful eye of the store workers and headed home. By this time, it was getting cold and slippery again. We went back to the apartment and played a little before leaving again for dinner at this great Ukrainian restaurant up the street. Dima was quiet on the way there, we thought because we had to ask for Lance’s cell phone back that he was playing on before we left and he again asked for his own and we told him no.

Tolic, however, was enjoying the walk to the restaurant because he was having a blast throwing snowballs at me. When we got to the restaurant, Dima had decided he didn’t want something to eat and was sitting and pouting. We asked a few times if he was sure and he said no. So, we let him sit there and pout because we thought he was just mad over the cell phones again. We got our food and offered him some and he just pouted even more, so we just left him alone. As we were eating, he was just staring at the food and we knew he was hungry. The waitress asked a few times if he was sure he didn’t want to eat that the food there was very tasty. I think she was a little worried about him. We of course, ordered a little extra and were saving some for him. Finally, he spoke up and asked for some of my blinchicki that I wasn’t going to eat and my borsch as well. Lance told him of course, he could eat, but that when he had a problem or was upset that he needed to let us know. We can’t solve a problem if we don’t know what it is. We love him and of course we will let him eat. A few minutes later, he said that he was just sad and missing Babushka and that when he is sad, he doesn’t want to eat. We said we understood and knew how hard it was to miss Babushka and that if he didn’t feel like eating right then it was ok, but he needed to let us know what was going on. He was so excited to eat and cleaned up everything left on my plate and the rest of my borsch. He loved the borsch and said if we come back there again that he already knew what he wanted to order. Then a few minutes later, he looked at Lance and said, “Poppa, I’m sorry for earlier when I wasn’t sharing with Tolic and when I didn’t listen and give you the cell phone when you asked.” Oh my heart! Some parents never get that kind of apology from their kids. He did this on his own and we did not force him to. What a blessing! Another kind heart we have been given the pleasure of raising. Lance told him we accepted his apology, kissed him on his forehead and told him we loved him. He then turned to Tolic and apologized to him.

We walked home in the cold and snow and continued to have our snowball fights. I told Tolic that if he hit me with a snowball that I was going to sit him in a big pile of snow. He continued throwing them, and one time, tagged me right in the forehead. Ouch! You little rug rat, that hurt! I chased him, but couldn’t catch him because, 1, he is fast, and 2, I can’t run well on the snow! By the time we had gotten back to the apartment, we were being watch by police that were walking around the area, so Lance wouldn’t let me sit him in snow! Man! He’s no fun! So, I grabbed a hand of snow and as he walked in the apartment, got him on the head. We all laughed and it was fun.

The boys then showered and we had our Bible reading and prayer time. This time, they decided we would all pray, but as it turns out, Lance and I were the only ones praying with a few phrases being repeated by one of them. Lance had prayed for success at the Embassy and asked the boys to pray when they went to bed that we get our visas soon so that we could go home.
We took the boys to bed, kissed the and tucked them in and told them to go to bed. Yeah, right! Lance had to tell them a few times to stop laughing and being silly and go to bed. I’m sure will be one of the first of many times we have to tell them this. Lance had fallen asleep and I needed to get something to drink. When I got to the kitchen, Tolic was sitting at the table with his heads laying on his arms just looking around. A few seconds later, Dima came in and said that they couldn’t go to sleep because they had slept on the train and also had fallen asleep in the car that morning. So, I talked to them for a little while and then said, they could come sleep in our bed. I figured if they got still for a few minutes that they would fall asleep.

When we got to the room, Lance had heard the conversation and said, ok. I was right. Tolic was asleep in less than five minutes and Dima wasn’t far behind. It wasn’t long until the wiggle warts had pushed me to the edge of the bed and I got up and went to the boy’s bed where I had lots of room to myself!

Made it to Kiev

We made it to Kiev. We have no Internet so will post when we can. The American Embassy was closed today so we will try to get visa's tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Last Day in Zaporozhye

We thought our last day in Zaporozhye was going to be calm and relaxing. Well, it was anything but. We started out leaving the apartment at 8:15 to be at the passport place when they opened. Tanya went in and out a few times and after a few hours and $1400 later, they told us the passports would be ready between 3:00 and 4:00.

We went to the bank close to the orphanage to get money that they boys had in their account. The bank told us that they didn’t have that much money. The boys didn’t have a lot in their accounts so we thought it kinda crazy that a bank didn’t have that much money. Tanya, being as good as she is, asked them to call another branch and see if they had the money. So, then we went across town to that bank. She went in with me to withdraw the money for them. At first, they didn’t like that I wasn’t talking and ask why she was doing the talking for me. She said she was my translator because I didn’t speak Russian. I then heard her say that I spoke Russian very badly! Yes, I know this. They asked for several pieces of paper. We had a copy of the translation of my passport, but they didn’t want a copy of the official paper, they only wanted the original copy of the translation, which we didn’t have. Initially, they told us that we would have to go somewhere to get it translated and notarized. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, they came out and had me sign the copy of the translation several times in several places. They had Tanya fill out paperwork and it wasn’t until she filled out the original form three times that they said they could accept it. And, when you have twins, you have double the paperwork!

Once Tanya got them to say that yes they had the money and would give it to me, she had Lance and the boys come in the bank and Hasan take her to catch her train home. She was really ready to go home. I told her that was fine with us because as soon as she went home, that meant we got to go too. They finally gave me the money for the boys and we went outside to wait for Hasan to return. Our plans are to open an account for each of the boys and put this money in it for them. A start to college funds! It’s not much, but every little bit helps and hopefully will earn good interest over the years for them.

It was cold outside and Hasan had to help Tanya at the train station so he was going to be awhile. So, we walked down the street to go to City. com, a Circuit City type of store. I had been wanting to go there anyway. It is hard to just take your time and browse in stores here, because there are security guards and other workers that watch you like a hawk. Lance was with the boys making sure they didn’t touch anything and I looked for keyboards. I wanted a keyboard with Russian and English letters for the boys to use. The Houghtons had told us that they had bought one at this store in Kiev and it helped them to be able to type and communicate with the young girl they adopted. I found the keyboards and was deciding between which ones to buy when the boys found me and got all excited. I found a small one that had a USB connection and only cost 99 grivna. That was about $12.50 each. Knowing that each boy would want to type at the same time, I decided to purchase two. A black one and a silver one. That way, they could tell which one belonged to whom and being USB, they would connect to any of the computers we had. I’m so excited that they are both into technology, but it sure does make it hard for me to get anything done on my computer. We walked around another large building with small stores and kiosks in it and the boys were amazed at what they saw. We had so much fun just watching them.

Hasan then picked us up and we went to McDonalds for lunch. The boys were excited since this was the first time they got to eat there since our court hearing and they had been looking forward to it. We didn’t have much time, so after we ate, we headed to the orphanage to have their “sweets table” with their classmates. They were just coming back from lunch when we got there, so they weren’t too excited about the sweets, but spread them out anyway and left them for later.

At first, the boys just kinda visited a little, we took group pictures and then they got excited telling about the big Amstore that they had been to the night before. The kids were asking them all kinds of questions about what they had seen and done since leaving the orphanage. All the kids were excited about what the boys were experiencing so far. Lance started early telling the boys that they had 15 minutes left, then 10 and then 5. Once the boys started realizing it was almost time to go, they started getting very emotional. Some of the kids had already given them small presents to remember them by. Hugs were being passed around along with well wishes and reminders to keep in touch. Tolic, being the emotional one, couldn’t take it and had to go out into the hallway. He started crying a lot and his friends followed him out into the hallway to give him hugs and tell him just how much they loved him. It was very emotional for all of the kids. They have become a family and spend everyday all day together. Leaving each other and never knowing if and/or when they would see each other again was more than some of them could take. I told all the kids that they were very special, that all of us would never forget them and that the boys would stay in contact. I have lots of pictures of very special kids in that class that sure would love families! If you are interested, I’ll be more than happy to share them with you so that you too could fall in love and bring them into a loving family and a home. The entire class is beautiful and most of them are calm and would be wonderful to raise as your own .

The tears were more than I could tolerate. Tears were streaming down my face as well and for the first time, I realized how when your children hurt, you feel their pain immensely! Being a parent, for even just a few days has given me insight into how God must feel toward us, His children. Amazing!

They said their good-byes and even the gentleman that watches the door and hallway came down to say his good-byes and tell the boys he would miss them. I was glad to see this because, even though we had invited the director, office staff and nursing staff to come to the sweets table, none of them showed up. We did invite Jessica, the lady from America that teaches them English to come, and she even braved the bad weather to show up. I was so glad she came and so were the boys. She was emotional too as she loved the boys too. We promised to keep in touch. As we finally, made our way down the hall, a few of their very best friends walked out with us. Igor, a great kid that is Tolic’s best friend, followed us all the way to the end of the hall. They said good-bye at the door, then again right outside the door, and then as Tolic started walking down the hall, he turned back around to see Igor one more time. Igor, was in total tears as I was too. Tolic asked Lance if he could give his new mp3 player that uncle Jimmy bought him to Igor. Lance said that if he wanted to that he could. So, with giant tears streaming down his face, he went over to Igor again and gave him his new mp3 player. Igor couldn’t believe that he gave him this great thing and cried even harder. With tears streaming down all of our faces and dropping on our shoulders and even all the way down to the floor, we turned one last time to leave. I was last to go out the door, so I turned to Igor, gave him a huge hug and told him that he was a very good friend and Tolic would write to him. He hugged me harder and we turned to go. I tried to videotape my boys walking down the stairs, but it was hard to do. As we got outside, boys were looking out all the windows and saying good-bye and telling the boys they loved them. It was so sad and my heart was breaking into pieces for all of them. Even now as I write this, there are tears in my eyes.

My three guys got in the back seat and I got in the front. It was a very quiet ride for a while as we were all crying and sniffling and wiping tears. Lance had his arms around the boys in the back seat to comfort them. Once I was able to talk again, I told Lance that Tolic giving away his mp3 player that he loved so much was one of the most pure and beautiful things I had witnessed on this trip. What a heart of gold to give away something he loved so much for someone he loved so much. No wonder God tell us in the Bible to be like little children. It reminded me of the story of the girl with the pearl necklace that her dad asks for and she doesn’t want to give it to him because she loves it so much. Finally, one night she does give it to him, and then he is able to give her a real string of pearls. The moral of the story is that God wants us to give us so many precious things, but sometimes we have to give up something that is so near and dear to our hearts to be given the real gift! I wanted to go out and buy Tolic his on iPod because of his generosity. Of course, we can’t do that here and we don’t have the money now to do so anyway. We did tell him later what a precious thing he did for his friend and how we are so very proud of him. He hasn’t even really wanted to borrow Dima’s mp3 player much and we can’t tell that he regrets giving his away. I’m sure he doesn’t because he gave it to someone so precious.

We went to purchase tickets for the train, so that we could leave tonight. They didn’t have tickets on the late train that we wanted because we wanted to have more time to spend with Babushka. They didn’t have the normal compartments with four beds that we normally purchase. They only had business class compartments for the 7:30 train available. So, wanting to leave so badly, we booked those. They were more expensive of course, but it was worth it to be able to go to Kiev tonight.

Once we had tickets in hand, we went back to clean the apartment and to pack. We didn’t know this morning if we would be leaving or not, so we still needed to pack some. It didn’t take too long, and luckily, I had already cleaned the kitchen this morning.

We wanted to go to Ashan, the large grocery store to purchase some more movies that were not boot-legged, had English and Russian on them and were on sale. However, we ran out of time to do this. It was way more important to go to see Babushka than to purchase movies. We called Dasha, their aunt, to let her know we were coming when we first got to the apartment.
I knew that if the orphanage was so emotional a good-bye that Babushka’s was going to be 10 times worse. While we were packing, the boys made cards for Babushka. Dima drew hearts etc. on his, while Tolic drew a little on his, but wrote a large paragraph to her. I didn’t ask to see what he wrote, but I’m sure it was very touching. He tucked both cards away in his pocket on his sweatshirt to keep them safe before giving them to her.

We got to Babushka’s and right away, I had tears in my eyes. Before I let them fall, I tried to contain them and asked for pictures with Babushka and her quilt with the boys. It was so emotional when we gave it to her that I forgot to take pictures of them with it. Luckily, I was able to get a few pictures before the tears came flowing. Babushka had already taken the quilt to work to show her friends and she said they couldn’t believe how wonderful it was and that they cried too. She already had it hanging on her wall in her bedroom. She says she looks at it everyday several times and is so thankful to have it so that she can remember the boys and see them all the time.

We told Babushka and Dasha that we were leaving tonight. We had warned them the day before that we might, but that we didn’t know for sure. They were so sad that today would be their last time with the boys for a while. I could understand. They tried to locate their other Babushka, the father’s mother, but had a hard time finding her on the phone. They wanted to the boys to be able to say good-bye to her as well. She is 74 years old, so there is no way she could care for the boys.

The boys were just kinda playing around the house, I think to avoid the fact that they were there to say good-bye. Tolic, even went into the other room to be alone. I had to pass through the other room to do something and asked him if he was going to give Babushka her card. He said he was saving it for when he left. I think it is easier to give it and go than to watch her read it and have to deal with that emotion. As Lance started to give the warnings of how much time was left, they started getting more emotional. Babushka and I didn’t have to wait for the countdown, we were already emotional and had already been crying and hugging for some time. I think it might have in some ways been harder for the two of us to say good-bye than it was for the boys. Dima came in the room and said that Tolic was on the couch crying. So, Babushka went in there to sit and talk with him. I wanted to videotape it, or take pictures, but we stayed in the other room and decided that it was their moment and that we shouldn’t interfere with it. I don’t know that I would want someone taking video of me crying with my grandchildren if I was saying good-bye as they were leaving to move to another country.
We said good-byes as well as we could. By this time, tears were everywhere and Dasha and I hugged and cried a little together. I promised that we would keep in touch and I apologized several times tonight for the time we had before leaving was so small. They understood, but it didn’t make it any easier to say good-bye. Babushka walked out with us, and we didn’t realize that she was going with us. The car was full of luggage, even in the front seat, so all five of us had to squeeze in the back. She proceeded to tell Hasan where the other Babushka lived. He said we didn’t have time and Babushka said it would be quick. Lance said he didn’t know this was happening. As far as we knew up to this point, they had not been able to get in touch with her. We walked down the walk to her house and she came outside after bundling up to say good-bye. She looked like what a Babushka is supposed to look like. 74 years old and in her scarf and dress, she was a typical Ukrainian Babushka. She gave all hugs and said she was sorry we were leaving tonight. At least she had recently spent some time with the boys when they were at Babushka’s over the weekend. The boys hugged her and said good-bye and she walked out into the dark alleyway to say another good-bye, wave to us and watch us walk away. I of course, couldn’t contain the tears any longer. When we got to the car, we had to say our final bye to Babushka, Lance just had to make me get in the car. Which was good because we didn’t have long to catch our train. Tolic pulled out the cards and gave them to Babushka. They hugged as tears streamed down both their faces and the crying couldn’t be contained. He then climbed in the car and waved to Babushka as we pulled away. I knew the long walk home for her would be a cold, sad and lonely time. I prayed for her and the boys as we drove away.
This is the first time that I heard Dima crying. He was sitting on my lap and I could hear him crying, sniffling and wiping his nose. What a huge roller coaster ride this must be for these boys. Babushka is really the only person that has cared for these boys over the last several years and the only person that ever visited them at the orphanage.
The ride to the train station was another quiet time in the car. The only thing you could hear were quiet cries, sniffling and the wiping of little noses.

We got to the train station, gathered our luggage, and weaved our way through the crowds and to the train that was waiting outside. Hasan helped us board, carry our luggage on and get into our compartments. The boys were amazed at the compartments as they had only ridden a train once before and then they were in the wagon with lots of beds scattered about. Having two beds in each compartment was so cool to them. Once we took off and the lady took our tickets, Tolic and I joined Lance and Dima in their compartment. We had a little to eat, we had some left over’s from the night before and purchased drinks from the lady as she came by. The boys picked out a snack from her basket too. Tolic chose chicken flavored peanuts. That was an interesting combination that I wasn’t expecting when I plopped a few in my mouth! The boys were so excited that it was all they could do to sit still, well, I don’t really think they sat still for more than 30 seconds at a time. We decided to play a game to calm them down a little. But, when it wasn’t their turn, they were all over the compartment, even climbing up into the top area where the extra blankets were kept.

Finally, we decided it was time to calm down. The boys went with me to my compartment and I let them play for 3 minutes each on my computer. Three minutes goes by very quickly! Then Lance got Dima and we tried to go to sleep as we were going to get into Kiev very early and needed to get some rest. Well, trying to get 10 year old crazy excited boys to sleep is not so easy. Lance finally relented and let Dima listen to his mp3 player and I pulled up iTunes and Tolic and I listened to music until he fell asleep.

Tolic slept through the night, but Lance said Dima was up several times to go to the bathroom because he had drank almost every drink we bought. The train was pretty comfortable even though Hasan had told us that business class on the early train really wasn’t anything special. We did find that the lines were much better and the service people in the business class were much more friendly and helpful.

Monday, February 8, 2010


The most important thing about today is that we have our boys with us! WOO HOO!

It was a long and tiring day, but a day with the best outcome ever. We started out at 8:15 to get everything done we needed to do. To make a very long story shorter...we went from office to office to office to office. My job was to sign here, initial here, sit and wait, sign this, initial this, etc. We made copies, legalized papers, took passport pictures (again), went to banks, paid fees, waited on people to be at work, and drove all over the place getting everything done. Tanya was a saint! She worked so hard today to get everything we needed done. She is tired, and I don't blame here. She has worked non-stop since she got here last Friday. And, it is really hard when you are having to think and talk back and forth in two languages.

At 2:00 we went to the director's office. The inspector came at 3:00 and official paperwork was signed and sealed and copies made. Lance went to get the boys and help them change clothes since their clothes belong to the orphanage and other children need them. Lance said that Dima asked right away when they were getting to leave. Lance told him, "right now" and Dima jumped up in his arms and was so excited. They changed and got their small bag that we left them in December and came to the main building where I was. They were so cute when they walked in with their new coats, hats, and gloves and carrying their "suitcases".

We signed all the official paperwork, left our donation for the orphanage, and waited for the accountant to give us an official receipt. Then we took pictures with the director. After pictures, she explained to them that they were very lucky. They now have a home, parents and a family. She told them to study hard and make the best of their lives. She told them also not to forget the children in the orphanage. She said there are a lot of children here and most of them will never be as lucky as you to get a new family! At this point, Tolic, the one who doesn't show emotions much, began to get tears in his eyes. The director told him not to cry, because then she will have to cry. And, I told him, then I would have to cry with him. I did let him know though, that it was ok for him to cry if he wanted. I'm sure that when we say good-bye to the orphanage for good and to Babushka, I will shed a lot of tears.

Tomorrow afternoon, we are going back to the orphanage to have the "sweets table" party with the boy's class. Then, if we are able to get the passport tomorrow, we plan on leaving tomorrow night to go to Kiev. Tomorrow, when Babushka gets off of work, we will go to her house and spend some time with her. This will be our time to say good-bye to her. That will be a hard thing to do for all of us I'm sure.

At exactly 4:10 today, we left the orphanage with our boys! They were so excited, and so were we. We went to get new passport pictures taken as the ones we had printed early today, were not good. The gentleman taking and printing the pictures said it would take him 40 minutes to do so. We took the pictures, then left to make sure we had groceries for the boys for dinner and breakfast tomorrow.

We went to Amstore, a large German grocery store, because they have a deli section with lots of great choices. We let the boys pick out what they wanted for dinner. They wanted chicken wings. We also got some rice and salad and some chicken kebobs for us. It was so fun watching the walk around the store. They saw so many things they had never seen before. And they were so interested in the small birds that were flying around the store. They asked lots of questions including if we had large stores like this in America. Just wait until they see Wal-Mart! Everything was so new to them.

When we got home, we let the boys play a little on the computer while I cooked dinner. Ok, well, put it in the microwave and set the table! We had a nice family dinner and Lance prayed before we ate. Tolic repeated each phrase of the prayer that Lance said. It was precious!

After dinner, they each took a shower. I kept hearing knocking. I finally figured out it was Dima in the shower. He would get out of the shower, knock on the door, and then jump back in the shower. Lance was in the other room on the phone with our facilitator. So, I opened the bathroom door very slowly and carefully and asked if he was ok. He was so cute, his little wet head peaking out from around the shower curtain. Tanya had to help me understand what he wanted. I think his pair of clean underwear had fallen either behind the washing machine or into the tub because he needed a new pair.

Then it was Tolic's turn for a shower. They each came out smelling so clean and looking so cute in their new pajamas. We bought some pjs on clearance at Wal-mart for $3. I thought they would probably be too small because they were a size 8, but they fit them perfectly. They look so cute.

After we all showered, we gave them their new clothes. Lance did a great job making it a big deal like Christmas and each new thing was a new present. They did a pretty good job of choosing between the options without arguing over who got what. Then, we saved the best present for last. Uncle Jimmy bought them MP3 players and we had them loaded with Russian and English christian music. They were so excited. I recorded them on video saying, "Thank you Uncle Jimmy" in English. So cute! They were beyond excited to each have their own MP3 player. We told them that while we are waiting in the car tomorrow, that is what they could use to entertain themselves. We let them play with those for awhile and then I gave them their new toothbrushes and toothpaste. Tanya overheard them talking about if they could clean their tongues with their new toothbrushes. They were so cute to listen to in the bathroom. I could hear them asking each other how to open their toothbrushes and toothpaste and helping each other out.

Then, we started what we hope will become a family tradition. I have a children's Bible that I bought here my first year in Ukraine. On it each page it has a small Bible story in Russian, and then is repeated in English at the bottom. So, Lance explained that we were a Christian family and that it was important for us to read the Bible together. Tolic said he wanted to read first, then I read the English, then Dima read and I read again. Each page has a question and they answered them all. I was planning on stopping with just one page, but they wanted to read more, so they read another page each. Lance then prayed as we held hands together. They seemed to really enjoy this.

We then told them we were going to go to bed because we have to get up really early in the morning to be ready to go get our passports at 8:00. So, we put in the movie Cars and they cuddled up with us on the bed to watch it. My three boys are in the bed watching the last of it as I finish this post. Well, two of them are in bed watching the movie. Dima, just came into the kitchen on his cell phone (no, we didn't but it for him). It is 10:30 at night here, and he is receiving his third call from a friend, a girl, tonight. The first time he got a call and went into the hall to talk, Lance and I looked at each other and said, "What have we done?" Welcome to parenthood!

There are so many details I'm probably not putting in this post about our time with the boys, but I want to get in there with them. I'll come back and add some more of the details later, so that we can all remember our first day as a family!

What an amazing day! We are now parents. Oh my!!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Thank you God for moving mountains that seemed so insurmountable this morning. You are an awesome God and we give you all the credit!

What a day! It has been a very long, tiring, stressful day that finally at 7:30PM ended with us becoming parents! PRAISE GOD!

We started out early to head for the courthouse to see if the judge would change the court decree. Tanya went in at 9:45 and we didn’t see her again until 10:45! When she came out, she said the judge was mad, very mad. She asked Tanya how she knew they were working today and explained that they were working for the election and not for the Atchison family. She then read the letter from the Registration Office and some articles of law. She told Tanya that we would have to have another court hearing and then another 10 day waiting period. You can imagine how our hearts sank! Our thoughts went to how in the world could we afford this, how could we stay this much longer, what would we do about my job, but more importantly, how could we tell the boys that they have at least another month in the orphanage. My heart just couldn’t bear the thought of it.

Tanya explained to the judge that everything was legal in the way our paperwork was completed. She explained to the judge that she could just rewrite the paperwork to make the registration office happy and we would be ok with that. Doing the court decree this way, means that we will have to readopt the kids when we get back to the states. We just wanted to get birth certificates and our kids. The judge told her to wait. So, she left her phone number and joined us in the car.

We might not have attended a church service in a church building this Sunday, but I can tell you, there were a lot of prayers going up to the Lord and a lot of worshipping in the back seat of Hasan’s car. We waited about an hour and Tanya decided to go back in and see what was happening.

About 10 minutes or so, she called and asked us to go to the store and get some coffee and chocolate for the secretary. So, we went and bought these things to give to the secretary. Lance and I have both thought that the secretary was a nice lady. Tanya said that is was Marina’s, (the secretary) persuasion that did get the judge to do the new decree today. The judge was not happy about having to do it, and didn’t want to work today. Luckily, Marina had a heart of gold and persuaded her to help us.

Tanya came out at 12:20 with three copies of the new court decree. Thank you God!! About that time, the judge walked out in her fancy fur coat and with her husband. She just kinda looked at us and you could tell that she was not happy about having to do the court decree for us.
The passport office was the next place we went to get some information. The boss was out, but would be in later. Tanya got his number and was going to call later in the day. We went to the restaurant that have been to a few times and really like for some lunch and to use the restroom. Sitting in the car all day, you don’t really have access to a restroom.
When we walked out after lunch, we were amazed. It had begun to snow and the it was really coming down. It was coming down so heavily that we could hardly see in front of us. Hasan had to wipe the snow off the windshields and before he could make it all the way around the car, the front windshield was covered again. Even though it was really coming down, it didn’t last too terribly long.

After lunch, we dropped off the pictures for the passports that we had taken yesterday to be printed. They said they would be ready by tomorrow morning. At least something accomplished thus far.

We got home at 2:00. I turned on the TV for a little while, but I had seen and heard all the Animal Planet and Discovery Channel in Russian that I could handle. Sometimes my way of handling stress is to sleep it off. So I covered up on the couch and took a nap. It was the best one and half hours of sleep I’ve had since we returned to Ukraine. I really needed the nap and it helped to refresh my spirit, mind and body.

We got to the passport office at about 4:45. The boss in this office told us that we had three options: 1. Wait until Tuesday to see how the elections go and if the passport office will be printing again. 2. Contact the US Embassy and see if they will place the visas for the boys in the light blue children’s travel documents that they have here in Ukraine. We don’t think this will work, because since 9/11 the US is pretty strict on entering the country only on passports, but we will call them tomorrow and see. 3. He said he would think over giving us a red passport. A red passport is the old style of passport that can be done in a short amount of time and nothing has to be sent to Kiev. Pray for red! Pray for red!

It was about 5:30 when we got to the registration office and it looked pretty dark inside. Tanya went in and about 30 minutes later came back out to get us. She had to fill out applications and would need our signatures. The first form she filled out, they found a few wording mistakes, so she had to redo it. And, because we are adopting twins, she had to fill out two of the forms.

Believe it or not, there was another problem in the court decree. Our address was left out of this new copy. This is a big deal here. Somehow though, they let us complete the paperwork. Thank you God!

The boss of this office came out after the paperwork was done and showed us the rest of the building. It was beautiful. This is where couples get married and it was very nice and classy. She let us sit in the waiting area since it was warmer there than where we were sitting to fill out the paperwork.

Finally, at 7:30PM, we were given the birth certificates! SLAVA BOGU! She gave us the birth certificates as she explained that our long drawn out adoption was just like a pregnancy! No doubt!! I feel like I just gave birth to two ten year olds! It was interesting to hear her say that, because while we were waiting, I was thinking the same thing. I was also praying that this “birth” would be similar to stories from other mothers I’ve heard. I was with my best friend Ashley in the labor and delivery room until they kicked me out with the birth of her first daughter. I can very clearly remember, her grabbing my arm very tightly and saying, “Debra, never do this! NEVER do this!” Of course, once she held that baby and as she has watched her grow into the most precious young lady, all of that pain and torture seemed to pass from her memory. She has since had another precious girl and says it was all worth it. I sure hope the pain and torture of this “birth” will too fade away and I will be given the strength to birth another adoption again!

The boss asked to see pictures of the boys, so of course, we were proud to show her! When she handed us the birth certificates, she handed one to me and one to Lance and said, “One for Mamma and one for Pappa!” HOORAY! SLAVA BOGU! We have birth certificates. She also gave another type of birth certificate that is for adoptions. They normally give just the one certificate, but since we will have to readopt when we get to America, she gave us one saying that the children were adopted. Just give me whatever we need to go get our kids! It feels like such a weight is lifted off of our shoulders. There are still smaller weights there, but a big one was removed today. Thank you God!
Hasan said in the car afterwards that he thought it was more than likely because of Tanya that we were able to get these certificates. That when he looked at our court decree, he didn’t think it was going to happen. Tanya has worked so hard these last three days for us and we are so glad to have her in our corner. Hasan also said that, “We narrowly escaped a dangerous situation today!” Praise you God!

All the way home in the car, we were praying a prayer of thanks to God for His amazing power in getting things accomplished and moving forward in our adoption today. I was humming praise songs in the car on the way home. You know the song, “God Is So Good”, well; I made up some new verses of praise to Him.

He understands,
He understands,
He understands,
He’s so good to us!

He made us parents!
He made us parents!
He made us parents!
He’s so good to us!

In the elevator on the way up to the apartment, Tanya just laughed and told us, “I’ve never gotten a birth certificate at 8:00 on a Sunday night before!” Thank you God!
There is a lot to do tomorrow, we have many papers to legalize, registration numbers to get, orphanage paperwork to sign, donations to make, passports to apply for, etc. It will be another very long day.

We don’t know if we will be able to get the boys tomorrow or not, but we sure hope so. Someone earlier today told us that there is no reason to get your boys until everything is done. Oh yes there is! We want to get them out of the orphanage the very first minute that we can. We don’t care if the four of us will have to sleep on the fold out couch, or if Lance and I sleep in the chairs. We want them out and with us. Not just selfishly because we want them with us, but for their benefit as they are so ready to say bye to the orphanage.

Thanks for your prayers…please keep them coming.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

10 Days Really DOESN'T Mean You Will Have Your Kids in 10 Days!

UGH!!! So, here we are again at the end of another day and nothing more accomplished towards getting our kids or getting out of here.

Lance is feeling better physically today, but not emotionally. It has been another long day, more money spent, and a lot of frustration. Luckily today, Tanya is feeling better (she was not feeling well yesterday, which we didn't know about until today). So, I apologize if I was kind of hard on her in my post yesterday.

When we got back to the apartment yesterday, we all kind of kept to ourselves because we were so exhausted. So, we weren't really sure when we were leaving today. Lance got up early and found that there was no hot water for his shower, so he let me sleep a little longer. I got up around nine and went into the kitchen. I don't think Tanya had been up too long either. I asked her what time we were leaving and she said 9:30. So, I only had 30 minutes to eat and get ready. I hate to admit it, but I went without attempting the cold shower. In reality, we didn't end up leaving until about 10:15. Oh well. We left all excited hoping that today we could get one step closer to getting the boys. We did a lot of praying and soul searching, and we know that God has a plan and that only His timing is perfect. So, we have tried to adjust our mood today and not sound so frustrated in our posting. We might accomplish that, and we just might not.

The first place we went was back to the Regional Office of Vital Affairs. This is the office that the folks were all leaving yesterday to go to the funeral. Tanya was in there for almost an hour and then came out with bad news. The way we had to position to adopt was different than normal due to the age difference between Bogdan's older brother and Lance. Everything is totally legal and our facilitator is the one that had us file the paperwork the way that we did. All rules were followed and the judge even spoke about the reasoning behind all of this in the court hearing. The folks at the Registration Office did not care. The person working today was afraid that she was going to get in trouble if she accepted the court decree as it is written and wanted clarification from her boss. Tanya told us that even the new court rules that deal with the new Interpol background checks confirms that all is ok with the way our petition is written. This lady still was not budging and told us to leave and she would talk with her boss. When she got information from him, she would call us and we could come back.

Since we were close to Babushka's apartment, we decided to go wait there. We called the boys and then Babushka called right back. She said they were at the cemetery and that they would be home in about 30 minutes, but that Dasha was there so we could go up if we wanted to. We decided to go grab a quick bite to eat instead. So, we went to a Mexican restaurant close by that Tanya knew of it. It was not a cheap restaurant, but we weren't eating much anyway. Lance had a burrito that he said was pretty good. I, being an emotional eater, decided to have blinkchicky (pancakes) with ice-cream. I agree with Michael, the dad of another couple we met here adopting. Ice-cream helps solve a lot of problems. That is probably why I have put weight on during this trip...lots of stress....lots of ice cream!

As we were done, the boys called and said they were home now, so we went a few blocks back to their house. Tanya came in with us to say hi and stayed for a little while and then went out and visited with Hasan in the car. The boys and Babushka were so excited to see us and we were thrilled to see them too. We told Babushka she couldn't come in the room for a few minutes and the boys signed the quilt that I had made her. Then we let her come in and the boys gave her the present. She was so thrilled. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. She told me she couldn't believe that I did this for her. She said it was the “most beautiful thing anyone has ever done for her.” And, “that she’s never seen anything like it before.” She said the pictures were fabulous and said that she was going to show it to everyone at her work. She was crying and even more tears came out when she realized that the boys had personally signed the quilt. The boys were beaming. They were so excited that she loved their gift. She gave me the biggest hug. I just love her so much and we hugged and cried together! She told us that we were her family too! She was a little embarrassed because her face was red from crying with her present and also from crying at her daughter's (the boy's mother) graveside. What an emotional roller coaster poor Babushka has been on. Loosing her only daughter 18 months ago and now having to give up her grandsons that she loves so much must be so hard. She knows that she is giving them the opportunity to have a better life. I sure hope we can provide that for them!

We sat and visited for as long as we could. Babushka brought out the boys baby pictures and I took a picture of each of them. I don't know really how good they will turn out, but I tried hard to get a good clear copy of each of them without a reflection from the light or window. We now have baby pictures, some of them growing up and some of them with their parents to keep as memories for them. I told Babushka that I wish I had those when we went home because then I could have added some of them on her quilt. Well, I'm sure she will get another one sometime.

She served us tea and a snack and we enjoyed our visit. We asked her some more family information that we could share with the boys. We really didn't get a whole lot of new information, but we did find out that she will be turning 55 on her next birthday, May 30th. I'm already planning a present that we can make in the next month or so and send to her in plenty of time for her to get it on her birthday. She is family and we want to make sure the boys never forget her, as if they could.

Tanya called and it was time to go back to the Registration Office. So, we put our shoes and coats on, got the electronics back from the boys and said our good-byes. Everybody had smiles as we were saying good-bye this time, because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. (As my sister says, I sure hope the light at the end of the tunnel is not another train!) We were passing hugs all around when Dima, stood on the area where you sit to put your shoes on, leaned over and grabbed me around my neck and leaned down and kissed me on the lips! Ahh, what a sweetie! Tolic even smiled a large smile when we were saying goodbye and Lance kissed him. Maxim, was reaching for Lance, because he needed his hug and kiss too! We told them we would let them know something as soon as we knew something.

We got to the Registration Office at 2:45. Tanya had gotten a letter that she needed to take to the judge asking for an explanation of why the decree was written the way it was. I'm not thinking the judge is going to be too happy with this! In America, once the judge signs a decree, it is the final word. But, anyway, we have to take this letter to the judge tomorrow and get her to redo it! (Luckily, because of the elections, the judge and other official offices will be working.) I asked Hasan why do they work because of the elections and he said that someone may need an official ruling on something so they work. He said that in the past election that his name was not on the list at the polling place. So, he had to go to the judge and get a decree allowing him to vote. This took about an hour. So, the judge works tomorrow for things like this, I guess. Anyway, we have something to do tomorrow and hopefully, the judge will be able to fix this mess.

Tanya told us she did have good news however, about our passports. She began to explain that because of the current election something to the effect that the political authorities are sharing responsibilities at this time. So, for the whole, yes the entire, country of Ukraine, the offices that print official papers such as visas and passports have ceased printing. This was not sounding like good news. Who knows how long this printing will be ceased because who knows how this election will turn out. Ukraine doesn't have the most positive record when it comes to elections. If you recall, several years back, one of the candidates running for president poisoned the other candidate. Anyway, Tanya said the only way for us to get out of here would be if we could get the old style passport, the red ones. Basically, the old style of passport don't have to have a scanned photo that is sent to Kiev and then resent to the region. They just glue a picture in the old passport and seal it and it only takes about 30 minutes or so to do, which was the god news. If we aren't able to get the old style passport, who knows when we will ever get to leave here.

We tried to go by the passport office, but they were closed...again. We tried to go by another passport office where Hasan has a friend that works, but they only work a half of day on Saturdays. The good news about that office, is that while he was inside, we got to watch several kids sliding down the hill across the street on their sleds. That was a fun moment and made us wish we had our kids with us now so we could enjoy the not so cold day outside together. At least we did get to see them, hug them and love on them today.

So, please pray that tomorrow, the judge will agree to give an explanation to go along with her decree, that it will be reprinted and bound together quickly. If we can get this done by 4:00, then we will still be able to go back to the records office and get our birth certificates. If this happens, then we can get the other paperwork started on Monday and Lord willing, be on a train to Kiev by Tuesday. Please pray that the judge doesn't have a problem doing this. Tanya told us that in this region before they had a problem similar to this and the judge filed paperwork in the Attorney's office against the registration office because they were not accepting her court decrees. If this happens, it could be forever before we can pick up our boys. We can't get them from the orphanage without this court decree and their new birth certificates. Please join us in prayer about this. God can move mountains and we are asking that he moves this one!

We stopped by the store again to get a few things. Lance, of course, needed to get more dingy (money) from the ATM and put more money on his phone. We were out of milk and I was out of ice cream bars! ;-) Lance was in a very depressed mood and just stayed at the front by the ATM while I went in the store. I didn't really care to go back to the apartment and wanted to walk around the store, and then just walk back to the apartment. But, since Lance was encouraging me during my meltdown, I decided to make it quick in the store so that we would be ready to go when Hasan and Tanya were through shopping. I talked him through it and reminded him of God's timing and love just as he had done for me. By the time we were back at the apartment, he was doing much better.

Hasan found the remote to the DVD player, so we may actually be able to watch a DVD and be able to change the language from Russian to English. Let's hope so. We need to veg out to a movie tonight. Tanya went to have dinner with Hasan and his family and Lance is cooking while I write this. What a team we are! We are having a much better dinner than Lance's Ramen noodles and my cereal last night!

God is good, but the offices here in Ukraine are not. Thanks again for praying us through another rough day. I wanted to share this post from yesterday in case you didn't see it. It is from Eileen, a missionary friend of ours in Russia. "blessed are the (adoptive parents) who perseveres under trial for when (they) have been approved, (they) will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who trust him.

Thanks everybody for all of your prayers and encouragement. That is what is keeping us going. Love you all!

Friday, February 5, 2010

We Should Have Known!

We were up early, even before Tanya got here from the train station. We were too excited to sleep and ready for the day we get our boys! Well, we should have known! Not long after Tanya got here, our excitement turned to disappointment or well, should I say frustration. I almost titled this blog entry, "It's only dingy!" Dingy is Russian for money. As is customary, we knew that most couples adopting leave a gift for the orphanage. When we first talked to the director, she stated that a nice gift would be dishes for the kitchen that a church group built the past summer. They planned to use the new kitchen to teach the kids how to cook, but needed some supplies. Ok, so we were prepared to buy what she asked for, pots and pans and other cooking utensils and supplies. Since we weren't real sure where the best place would be to purchase these things and exactly what we should purchase, we were waiting on Tanya to help us with this. Well, one of the first things she asked us was if we had the donation ready. We mentioned we thought we were to buy kitchen stuff and were waiting for her. She said, well it is customary for couples to leave a donation and that $1,000 was what we should be prepared to leave! WHAT??? One thousand dollars? You’ve got to be kidding me! We don't have an extra $1,000 and will more than likely have to borrow more money from Lance's parents to feed the boys when we get home! She had said $500 was the minimum anyone ever leaves, but to decide what we think we could afford. Well, we couldn't even afford the $500 but took that with us and planned on giving them that. Of course, we would love to get them more, much more, but we just don’t have it. Later in the car, she asked us what we were planning on giving. She said that we should at least leave them $750 since we were adopting two kids! It's only dingy, right? Only money, time, paperwork, more money, time, paperwork and more money, time and paperwork! We're Americans right? We all have lots of each of these things, especially money! Don't we wish!

We left at 8:45 to head for the court building. We went in with Tanya and a few minutes later, she said she was looking over the documents and didn't need us so we could wait in the car since it was cold in the court building. She finally came out at 10:00 and we were so excited. But, she didn't have the court decree. She said the secretary was working on binding them. Here, they bind them with string, then place the ends of the string on the back, cover it with a label and then stamp the label. So, if it is tampered with, they know that it is not an original official document. Well, it takes some time to sew them all together, so she suggested we go buy the Judge some flowers. Ok, so off to the flower store we go. We got back at 10:30 and went in to present her with the flowers. After waiting for a little while, we got to go in and see her. We were told to tell her that we were very grateful that she made us parents today. Well, we are extremely grateful, but we know that God is the one making us parents! We did tell her we were thankful for making our dreams of being a parent come true. She told us to raise their kids to be educated, sophisticated and good citizens. We assured her that we would do our best. We gave her the flowers and she said that as a judge that she can't accept those, because that would be corruption. But, as a woman, she could accept those because everyone knows that women like flowers. I did like the judge and the fact that she tried really hard to go by the rules and be honest in all she did. We then went back and waited in the car for the papers to be finished.

We were getting excited and I was getting silly in the car. I sang for Lance and Hasan a part of the Russian music video I saw the other night while cooking dinner. "Gavarilla, Mamma, Gavarilla, Gavarilla, Mamma Gavarilla!" The song basically was singing about Momma said. Momma said something about not falling in love with everybody, but all that stuck in my mind was the above. And boy does it stick in your mind and is hard to get out. Be glad you can’t hear me singing it in this blog!

At 11:25, Tanya came out and we saw papers in her hand. So, I was cheering and all excited. She said she only got three copies. We needed 12 more so they were working on those and we would come back later to pick them up. Boy, they sure could use a Kinkos here!

The boys texted us to call them at around 11:45. We did and they told us they were at Grand-ma's and wanted to make sure we had their new number. In the next five minutes we sent several text messages back and forth and talked to the boys twice and Grand-ma once. We told her we still didn't know the plan, but would keep her posted. The boys weren't supposed to go to Grand-ma's today, but we were glad that at least they didn't have to spend the night at the orphanage if we didn't get all the paperwork done to pick them up.

We arrived at the District Registration Office to get the court decree checked for accuracy. Well, it was around 12:00 and everyone in the office was leaving at 12:30 to attend the funeral of one of their coworkers. They said they couldn't read and verify the 8 pages in 30 minutes so we would have to wait. I understand that funerals can't be helped or planned for, but 30 minutes should be enough time to read 8 pages I think. UGH!

We then headed to the Regional Registration Office to see if they could verify the papers. Since it was lunchtime, they would not be back until 1:00, so we decided to stop and get some lunch ourselves. Hasan and Tanya ordered soup and the daily special so it didn't take them long to get their food or eat. They were finished before we got our food, so they decided to leave us there while they went to the Regional Office to be there when they opened at 1:00. Lance and I enjoyed our lunch and got to vent about our frustrations of the day to each other. It was nice to get some of the frustration off our shoulders.

They didn't have any luck at that office and so we headed to the Local Ministry of Justice Office to see if we could find help there. The Main Ministry of Justice people were out of the office because of the elections that are going to be redone on Sunday. They already had elections, but a candidate didn't capture a majority of the votes so there are re-elections on Sunday. This changes a lot around here. Tanya came out of that office and immediately lit up a cigarette. We knew she smoked, but she had never smoked around us. She rolled down the window, so it was cold and the smoke was blowing back on us. We didn't say a word about it. I did say, when she first got in, "Oh, it must not be good news if she is smoking." Hasan laughed and agreed with me. At this point, a few more minutes of second hand smoke was nothing compared to the amount we had already absorbed here in Ukraine.

Basically, we found out later from Hasan that the people in that office said they would not touch those papers as it was the Regional Ministry of Justice's job and not theirs. Tanya was worried that one of the paragraphs was written in a way that it would not pass at the Registration Office and the whole document would need to be re-worded and wanted someone to clarify if that was true or not. The paragraph mentioned both names of the boys side by side, then their birthday listed once and then their passport numbers right next to each other. Nowhere, did it mention that they were twins. Tanya thought the paragraph should list one at a time with their own birthdays and passport numbers listed separately. To me, I think it should be ok. I would think they would figure it out that they were twins. But, of course, none of this mess is up to me and everything in the paperwork has to be done a certain way according to whoever is reading it at the time. The trees they kill here in this country to make paper must be of an astronomical amount!

So, we went back to the court to see if the judge would change it. The court, of course, is all the way back on the other side of town, again. Surprise, surprise! By the time we got there at 2:45, the judge had gone home for the day. UGH! Tanya did however, get the other 12 copies of the document and, if it is ok, then we at least have all the copies we need.

We stopped by the passport office to at least get the paperwork started for the passport. Well, wouldn't you know it? They were closed already. They weren't supposed to be, but they were! What a day! We finally gave up and headed home.

Tanya said that the Registration Office would be working tomorrow so we can at least get that part of the paperwork done. I don't think the place where we can get the new birth certificates will be open, but at least we can do something tomorrow. Then, because of the election, the courts are open on Sunday. Don't ask me why, I have no idea! Things work very differently around here. So, if the paperwork is not approved tomorrow, then at least on Sunday we can go back to the court and spend all day there again getting them changed and re-sewn together.

We got home around 3:15. Tanya and Hasan ran to the store. We were glad because this gave us another much needed time to vent. Tanya was in the court building a whole hour this morning and we thought she was proofing the document for mistakes before it was printed and finalized. Why was it not until later that she found the paragraph that she didn't like the way it was written? It has been such a frustrating day. In the car several times we heard Tanya say that she didn't want to be here. That she wanted to wait to come until Monday, but Nina insisted she come today. Well, at least we were able to get something done today and hopefully Saturday and Sunday as well. If she had waited until Monday to come, that would have put us three days later getting started and much longer that the boys would have to stay in the orphanage. They want out and we want them out. Hasan mentioned once today that we had waited so long that what was a few more days? Exactly, we have been waiting for a long time and have spent two months already in this country (well, almost) and are ready to get out of here! It has been two months and two days since we first met the boys. That is long enough to wait and do paperwork! It is not like when we lived here. We are not in the town familiar to us with friends we know, and we have to pay well over $100 a day to be here. Whereas, in Mariupol, we would have had to pay $5 each a day to stay at the church apartment, and no taxi fees every day. Speaking of taxi fees, Hasan charged $80 today for all the driving around. He said he wouldn’t charge for his time today, just the driving. Well, yes, we did a lot of driving, but not $80 worth! It’s only dingy, right? Plus, back to the time discussion. If they were your kids you were waiting so long for, wouldn't you want to get them out of the orphanage and with you the very first minute that you could?

We are not going to be able to see the boys today, but will call them later and explain why. Praise God (Slava Bogu!) they are at Babushka's and don't have to stay at the orphanage tonight.

I've already changed into sweats and wanted to post this update right away. As I was writing this, Lance became really sick to his stomach. I think he is nauseated from all the stress of today. He is now resting on the couch. We got to bed late last night and it has been a long and very stressful day. Sleep will do us both some good.

My plan is to take something for my headache, maybe something for anti-anxiety, eat an ice cream bar and hopefully fall asleep. The sooner this day is over with, the better.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Soon They Will Be Our Twins!

Nothing exciting about our morning.  Lance spent the morning trying to wrap up work as this will be his last day to work online, since hopefully tomorrow we will have the boys.  And I spent the morning fighting with my computer and trying to get the blog to work and a back up blog at
The boys were very excited to see us when we walked in the orphanage. Their first question was whether or not they would be leaving the orphanage today, tomorrow or when.  They know that on Fridays they go to Babushka’s and were planning on going there if we were not able to pick them up.  Lance was trying to explain that they had to stay at the orphanage tomorrow, because depending on the paperwork and how long it takes, we may get to pick them up. We just don’t know what tomorrow is really going to hold.  Is had snowed some today, so the weather could keep some from working tomorrow.  Who knows! The boys were very sad, because they were counting on tonight being their last night at the orphanage.  Lance called Nina and asked her to explain the situation, so that they could understand it better. She did, and the boys realized that we would get them as soon as we could and that they would get to see Babushka this weekend. We definitely are not leaving without seeing her. Plus, we still have her present to give her. It is so hard for them not knowing exactly what is going to happen when, and we can totally understand, because we are in the same boat.
Tolic seemed to want to be around me more today, which was good for my ego. And Lance, being the wonderful husband that he is, just sat back and let me play with the him.  We looked at the videos on the camera and Tolic had a few good laughs at some of them.  This lead into the other kids coming and laughing at them too. Then, Sergey, a wild child for sure, was interested in the scuba diving video that had been on the computer and that lead us all into a scuba diving and shark conversation that was pretty interesting.  Then Roma, came in and got to see the videos and they decided to make some more funny videos. So, they went into the hallway and took turns dancing. The videos were quite hilarious.  I was going to share parts of them with you, but the boys deleted them off the camera without me knowing.  So, they are gone, but oh they were funny.  
I then asked Tolic where they slept, since we had yet to see their living quarters.  He told me upstairs and I asked if we could see it. He asked the teacher and she said yes.  So, she gave us the key and upstairs we went.  Well, we learned why they are always in their classroom. They don’t really have a living quarter like the classes in Mariupol do. They have bedrooms and that is about it. We went into their bedroom and there were 12 or 13 beds in this one room.  That is where all the boys sleep.  There was one wardrobe in the room with all of their clothes in it and two or three end tables and that was it.  I can’t imagine having that many boys in the room at one time, because there was barely room for us to walk around in it.
In the hallway there was a couch that folder out into a bed.  When we went up there, they started doing flips on the bed.  At first, I tried to stop them, because I didn’t want them to get in trouble. But, I think this is used for their normal gymnastics mat all the time.  I took a short video of them on my camera and will post it here if the computer allows me to.
It was a great day with our boys.  And, silly me, I feel needed today so I’m back to normal.  On our way out, we met an America Jessica that had been living in Ukraine for one year. She teaches at the school. She teaches the boy’s class English, piano and arts and crafts. She said that the boy’s class is always busy doing something else, and so it had been awhile since she had seen them.  She brought in two letters, one for each boy that was written by a girl that had visited and fallen in love with them a few months back.  I gave Jessica our contact information and told her that we would love for this young lady to keep up with the boys in America if she wants to.   
We talked about her mission work, the mission work we did, and believe it or not, she knows Jenny!  Jenny is the person that started first home similar to what we lived in here in Ukraine. She married Andrew, our friend and co-worker in Mariupol.  What a small world.  She was from New Hampshire and us from Texas. We met in Zaporozhye, Ukraine and knew the same person.  God works in mysterious ways.  We had told her we sure wish we had met her earlier when we didn’t have much to do. Now, our busy time is going to start and we won’t get to know her better.  We did exchange contact info though and look forwpastedGraphic.pdfard to corresponding with her.  I’m glad she was able to bring the letters today since hopefully we will be taking the boys tomorrow.
Saying good-bye today was fun! First, it took several minutes to get the camera away from the kids. They were enjoying watching their flips in slow motion!  Then we walked out to the hall and they did not want to see us go.  We told them hopefully one more day and then we would get to be a family!  They were so excited. The excitement was growing in them by the minute.  We laughed, tickled each other, hugged, and played hand games before we could say good-bye. Lance gave them both a kiss and the look on Tolic’s face was priceless. I had to make him do it again so I could get a picture.  He was happier in this picture, but it still drives him crazy!  Dima, is such a love bug!  He hugged me and kissed me and he even kissed me on the lips. I had only been kissing them on their forehead or cheek, but he wanted a kiss on the lips. So, we did and then we had to do eskimo kisses where you rub your noses together!  I have to admit. I loved every moment of it and it brought back memories of me giving my mom eskimo kisses when I was young.  Now, I’m gonna be a mom that can give her kids eskimo kisses!
We again told the boys that we didn’t know what time we would see them tomorrow, but that we would see them.  Tolic then grabbed Lance’s hand and acted like he was walking to the door and said, “Good-bye Orphanage!”  He is so ready to get out of there it isn’t even funny.  Due to his excitement, he was more like the outgoing Tolic that we met the first day at the hospital.  He is ready!  We are too!
We had to go to the large grocery store tonight to buy stuff for the kids to have a sweets table tomorrow.  A sweets table is a celebration that is exactly what it sounds like.  You gather around a table and eat sweets!  As if we haven’t eaten enough junk on this trip!  He has been so excited about having a sweets table before they leave. Also, we needed to buy the two packages of paper that the judge requested we bring them so that they can print our court decree.  Who cares.  If $10 worth of paper will get us our court decree so we can get birth certificates and pick up or babies, you got it!
Lance finally wrapped up all his work just a little bit ago.  It is now 11:00PM and he is finished!  Since his FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) time off goes into effect when we get the boys, he had to have all his projects wrapped up and forwarded to the person that will be taking them over while we are gone.  Yeah, now he doesn’t have to work anymore of our trip.  And, with my computer being finicky, I don’t have to wait for him to finish work before I can check my email.
I think I might have the blog back up and working. Well, a work around.  There are now two parts to the blog.  If that doesn’t work, then we will be posting to our blogspot blog that we haven’t used until today.  Hopefully, we can keep you updated and I can continue to document this whole story for the boys.