Monday, February 28, 2011
Yesterday we managed to find a mattress for one of the girls’ new beds, but realized after we got it home that it was an extra-long twin. Mark got two mattresses today after I left that will actually fit the beds he is making. We’ve moved the boys into their new room (what used to be the playroom) and they are so excited. They have now built a cardboard door to keep everyone out. I think “everyone” particularly refers to sisters. We’re going to be splitting up Danielle and Emily which I hope will work out well. We’ve had lots of problems with them waking each other up at night. Now we’ll either solve the problem or have four girls awake at night. The current plan is to have Emily and Julia in a room together and Danielle and Bianca sharing a room. That’s always up for adjustments if we see things aren’t working.
My flights were pretty uneventful. The St Louis to Chicago flight was delayed by almost an hour but I had about a 3 hour layover in Chicago so it didn’t affect me. My flight from Chicago to Dusseldorf was on an Airbus, and I highly recommend it over the 777s. The entire Lufthansa Airbus fleet has the individual seatback screens and you can pick what you watch. I had requested an aisle seat this flight as on our last flight Mark and I were on the inside seats (against the wall of the airplane) and the gentleman on the aisle did not get up once during the entire flight from Chicago to Frankfurt. I take that back, he got up the two times I asked him to get up. But I prefer getting up during the flights much more often than that, and I like to be able to get up without asking permission. ;) So I made sure to get an aisle seat this time. After I was seated, the flight attendant came along and asked if I’d like to move towards the back, as there was an empty aisle seat with another empty seat next to it. Moving gave me and the three gentlemen I was originally sitting with all more room, which was great.
The disadvantage to the seatback screens is that I had no incentive to sleep. :) :) I watched an episode of Mr. Monk, Disney cartoons, and the movies R.E.D. (better than I expected), Easy A (cute, very funny in some places), and Megamind (cute, but nothing spectacular). Nope, I didn’t sleep at all. It’s 8:35am here in Dusseldorf and I’ve been awake for 19 hours. I’m hoping not to sleep in the airport, but I’m sure I’ll sleep on my next flight to Kyiv. And then there’s always the overnight train to the girls. :)
Saturday, February 26, 2011
It's also allowed us to get some more things done for the girls. I had saved a lot of 4T clothing that Emily had outgrown, anticipating that any new kids would be younger and smaller than she. However, Bianca is older and Julia is definitely not smaller!
Right now we're guessing both girls will be in size 5 clothing. I definitely did NOT have enough size 5 to split up among the three girls (Danielle is in size 6/7) so we hit the Walmart clearance. Plus one of my coworkers went through her daughter's clothes and brought me a lot of stuff (most of which will be going back with me to Ukraine!).
It's been nice to be home in my own bed, be able to pay bills and get things taken care of here, and hang out with the kids and enjoy their week with them. Mark's mom has still been here too (which has been WONDERFUL! :)) and it's been fun to watch her get to know the kids better.
Tomorrow, I head back to Ukraine. Mark will join me in another week, but there's no reason for both of us to go paperchase. I doubt I'll even get to see the girls until Wednesday, because Tuesday will be a crazy mad driving-around-the-Donetsk-region paperchase day. We have to go where the girls were born to get their new birth certificates, and not only were they not born in the same place, both of their birth cities are a few HOURS from where they are now.
Satan has tried a few tricks to derail us this week, but I've just sat back and let God handle it. And all of it has been handled. Thanks, God! :)
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I know some special needs seem more daunting than others, and Down syndrome is often one that people shy away from. I don't think it's the day-to-day living that concerns most people, but worry about what will become of their child when he or she is older. Will he be able to live alone? Who will take care of her?
But these questions are not necessarily any different questions than I have for my children now. I believe at this point in time that they will all live independently. But who will care for them? Make sure they are on the right path? Watch over them, make sure they eat well and get enough sleep?
At some point, we have to trust that as the future unfolds, so will clarity for our children and their futures. This is not to say that we can't plan, but more that it is easier to plan as you get to know your child and what will work best for him or her. Many people with Down syndrome live more productive lives than some of the non-special needs adults I know. They graduate high school and college, find employment, live independently, and enjoy life just like the rest of us.
But here's the bigger question.
Are you really concerned for their future, or yours?
Are you worried that there won't be someone to care for them, or worried that it will still be you when you were wanting to be done parenting and enjoying the golden years of your life?
Are you willing to let a child die--unloved...alone...
Or worse, suffer through a life of indignity, waiting to die, doing nothing...so that you can have the life you think is best for you?
Yes, it's harsh. And so is the reality of life for these children. Sadly, many of them are not adoptable because they are social orphans and their parents have not relinquished their rights. They will never know a family's love and care.
But what about the rest? What about the others, who only wait for someone to step up...to step out in faith...believing that it is more worthy to serve the least of these instead of ourselves?
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Poor Emily put her hands on her hips when we got home and said "Where are my sisters??" She is very proud to tell you she has two new sisters names Julia and Bianca. All of the kids are really excited to get the girls home, which is so sweet.
Now it's back into the swing of things for a week. We had lots of school papers to go through and we let the kids sort their Valentines yesterday--that was on hold until we got home.
We've had two meltdowns since getting home from two different kids. I was just happy they were at two different times. I fully expected this since they are all on emotional overload with us being gone for a couple of weeks and then being home again.
And while we were traveling, Bianca turned six. So for those of you keeping track, it's 8 (Alex), 7 (Tim), 7 (Danielle), 6 (Bianca), 5 (Emily), 5 (Julia). And yes, we've already nearly had heart attacks at the thought of what our household will be like in 10 years!! ;)
Friday, February 18, 2011
First answers to questions: yes, Mark is planning to play without a second baseman. :) :) We've been here for not even two weeks--we arrived on Feb 6, had our SDA Feb 7, and will be returning home Feb 19. It will be exactly 2 weeks door to door traveling. We haven't done anything unusual to get such a short timeframe. It just worked out with our court date. The French couple who was at the same orphanage met their child the same day we did and had court the same day. The Italian couple met their child the day after the rest of us and have court scheduled for the 28th. :( You're at the mercy of the system here. It could just have easily been us with court on the 28th.
The train ride was great; quite possibly the best train ride I've ever been on in Ukraine. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I'm serious. It was quiet, COOL (very uncommon for Ukraine trains), and not smoky. Both Mark and I slept. I love the motion of the train--it's actually hard for me to stay awake for any length of time while the train is moving!
Once in Kyiv, Nico picked us up and took us to our apartment. We have a great view of the Kyiv skyline. I took a panoramic picture but haven't downloaded it off of the camera yet.
Then...we went walking. ;)
We walked to the Lavra (the monastery caves--I've always wanted to go and in the 5 trips we've made to Ukraine hadn't ever gone), then back to our apartment, then to Independence Square, then to the SDA. Along the way we got pictures of the girls developed, bought souvenirs for the kids, exchanged pictures of the girls at the SDA, and had dinner with Serge and Luda. It was great to finally meet Luda since we've exchanged lots of emails regarding adoption documents. :) We got to show Serge pictures of Danielle and Emily--he knew them both when they were in Khmelnitsky and couldn't believe how much they had changed.
Now we're back at the apartment getting ready for our very early wakeup to go to the airport. This time tomorrow (sort of) we'll be home in bed!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Court was great!! 30 minutes, and a super friendly and nice judge. We were asked lots of questions (even by the jurors) but the judge said she liked all of our answers and couldn't find any reason not to approve the adoption. :)
After court we went to the orphanage to see the girls and tell them we were going home to get things ready for them. Bianca cried. She told Sasha (our interpreter) she was afraid we won't come back for her. :( :(
We then went to a notary for a POA and passport application for the girls. Our tentative plan is for me to come back here next weekend by myself and Mark will meet me and the girls in Kyiv to do the Embassy part after we have finished the rest of the paperwork (birth certificates and Ukrainian passports), so we needed a POA for me to be able to do that without Mark here.
Now we're back at the Amstor for lunch (at 2:30; was very happy we had packed some granola bars for today in anticipation of no time to eat!) and we'll be heading to the train station shortly for the overnight train to Kyiv. We should be able to update again from Kyiv. We'll get there in the morning and will leave early Saturday morning to head back to the States. Our kids don't know when we're supposed to get home yet, just in case we run into some flight delays.
Providing everything goes as scheduled, we'll be at church on Sunday as a family! :)
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Both the French couple and Mark and I have court tomorrow at 10am. We aren't quite sure how that's working (since both the city social worker and the orphanage lawyer have to be at both of our courts) so we may actually have court together. My French is gradually coming back but I'm hoping to brush up a little while we're home. Both of the other couples are staying the whole time, so they will be here for our return trip.
I have eaten so much that every day I swear I'm not going to eat anymore. And then we smell some yummy Ukrainian food and I'm hungry again. It's a vicious cycle. ;)
Today we took the mashrutka (bus) to the orphanage with the other couples. They had tried it the other day but had gotten lost, so we had to convince them to try again. Mark and I have never ridden a mashrutka in all of our times in Ukraine so we really wanted to. Now we have, and it was definitely worth the 2 grivna ($0.25) each versus the 20 grivna ($2.50) for the taxi. We have a bit of a walk after we get off the mashrutka which wouldn't be bad if it was something over 19F...it's a bit cold, and the windchill makes it even colder. I have been VERY glad for my thermal tights.
Tomorrow, Sasha will be here about 9 and we will pick up the social worker and the orphanage lawyer on our way to court. Court is at 10am (4am CST in the US) so we should be done by the time most of you wake up!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Don't believe me? I have pictures to prove it. :)
Oh, you don't believe we were really there today? Here's the sea behind us.
Mark says his face looks like that because it was so frozen that was as close to a smile as he could get. My face had been wrapped up in my scarf so it was still thawed (mostly). The high today was supposed to be 18F, but I guarantee it was NOT that warm on the beach!
Happy Valentine's Day! Hope yours was WARM! :)
Sunday, February 13, 2011
And one little boy was left all alone on the soccer field.
It cut to a screen advocating adoption in Ukraine and giving the sirotstvy website.
YAY for promotion of adoption IN Ukraine!!
We've had a couple of great visits with the girls. It's been good to see especially how B tests boundaries and how she responds to discipline (which is pretty limited in our current setting). We've been doing mini-timeouts with her sitting next to me in a little chair. We have her sit quietly for about 60 seconds. This has only been after deliberate disobedience where she has been instructed numerous times not to do something (or to stop) and has understood and has continued (or returned to) the behavior. It's been fun to watch how she tries to "negotiate" so that the discipline is on her terms. She's a smart little girl!
J has continued to pep up as she's beginning to believe we really are her mama and papa. As soon as she saw the photo album today she grabbed it and started pointing at pictures asking "mine? mine?" in reference to all of the family members and rooms in our house. She was wound up today--I think the correct term would be giddy. :)
We won't see the girls tomorrow as they have some visitors to the orphanage and don't want any adoptive parents there. But we were able to communicate to both of the girls' caretakers that we wouldn't be there tomorrow so they could help the girls understand.
Other than that, we've been hanging out at the Amstor a lot. :) They know us by sight now and are so friendly. I think they like the funny Americans (or at least like to laugh at us when we order food). We Skyped with the kids yesterday which was great. They wanted to know when we're coming home, but we won't know until we hear about court.
And we've made friends! There is a French couple and an Italian couple adopting from the same orphanage we are. They are all staying in the same hotel and we are going to ride the bus with them on Tuesday. We've had some fun conversations with them, especially the French couple. I speak about as much French as the wife speaks English, so we have some really fun conversations, and we're both translating for our husbands. And of course, the Italian couple speaks Italian, French, German, AND English! :) Both couples are adopting "older" boys which I am so excited about. Most people don't want older kids and they usually don't want boys, so this is great for those kids. And both of the boys look really sweet.
Tomorrow will most likely be a couple of trips to Amstor if it's not too cold--it's supposed to be super cold here for the next few days!
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Since we get to visit the girls twice a day during the week and once on Saturday and Sunday, we’ve decided to split the weekly visits so we visit each girl individually once a day and then have them together on the weekends. This way we get to know the girls individually but they also get some time together (they used to be in the same groupa but they aren’t anymore). This morning we visited with J. It was a really good visit since she’s been a little hesitant with us. As far as we know she’s never had anyone visit her for adoption but she’s seen plenty of friends be adopted. She’s not quite sure what to think of us, or even dare to hope that it might be her turn. The first time I referred to Mark and I as her mama and papa she just stared at me. But by the end of our visit she would smile and giggle when we said it, and would say my mama and my papa when looking through the picture book. :)
We visited with B in the afternoon, and she was SO excited to see us. While she is more energetic than J, she sat and colored, and looked through books, and sat and played with us without a problem. She is definitely no more energetic or hyperactive than any of our other kids have been when we’ve visited in the orphanage.
For those of you who may not have been through an adoption with us before, we won’t show any pictures of the girls’ faces until after court. We didn’t hear today when court will be so we should hear on Monday.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Today we got up and went to see the girls again at 9am. Sasha had to get more paperwork signed at the orphanage as well. We played with the girls for about an hour and a half and then took them back to their groupas. Then we had to wait for Sasha...until 1:30pm (yeah, again no eating or bathroom--prepare yourself, adoptive parents!).
We left the orphanage and went to the social worker's office again. We walked over to Amstor while Sasha stayed and worked on documents. They finished with those at about 3pm, and then we went to get the head lady's signature. I don't know who she was, but she didn't want to sign our documents! Finally they were signed and we hurried to the courthouse to file our documents before 5pm (it was 4:50 at this point). We dropped the social worker back off, then drove to the bus station to send our documents back to Kyiv.
We are allowed to visit the girls twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, but if you're following our schedule you'll see we've only been able to see them in the morning. However, we are done paperchasing for the moment and should be able to see them twice tomorrow. We are hopeful to maybe hear our court date tomorrow!
Okay, so backing way up (at least it feels that way on this end)...
At the train station we met up with Sasha, our in-region facilitator. She actually missed us because we blend in so well :) :) and called us frantic that we hadn't made it. We were standing in front of the train station, patiently waiting. :)
From the train station we went to the social worker's office. He is hysterical! Probably the most animated Ukrainian I have ever met and so funny. From his office, we went to the orphanage to meet the girls. We heard their medical history and then they brought in B. We were a little concerned about what to expect based on her description from the orphanage nurse and director. She is tiny and very sweet. The first thing she asked was if we were her mama and papa and if we were going to take her home that day. :( After a few minutes they brought J in (known to many of you as Candace) and she was quiet but playful. We then took the girls to another room to play for a little while. We really wanted to observe B in action based on what we had heard, as we weren't sure we were going to accept her referral. However, we saw nothing that led us to believe there would be any problems with her joining our family, so we accepted the referrals for both girls!
From there we went to the notary and then to McDonalds for lunch (we've had more McD's in this week than we ever do at home!) in the hopes of finding wi-fi (nope). Then to a post office, then to the notary, then to the social worker's office again, then to Amstor (like Walmart) while Sasha stayed at the social worker's. Then to our apartment (about 2:30pm). Then we finally got to go to the bathroom (yeah, we really hadn't gone since 8am that morning). :) :)
I did take pictures of the girls but I'm not posting those yet. Patience... :)
We didn't visit with the girls again that day since we were running around (we went back to Amstor when Sasha got back after more running around). Then a little bit of internetting and bed before getting up again to Skype with the kids. That brings us to today...
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Our driver picked up our luggage at noon. The apartment service had called and said we could stay until 2pm, so we wandered around a bit before meeting back at the apartment to return the key. We then walked to the SDA. Right as we got to St Michael’s, Nicolai (Nico, our driver) called and said that our papers were ready and he would meet us at the SDA in 10 minutes. Of course we were already basically there, so we waited a few minutes for Nico, then went inside with him to get our papers. We also received from him money for Sasha (our in-region facilitator) and all of our documents to give to Sasha. On the way out we very briefly saw Luda, who I communicate with on a daily basis for RR. We didn’t actually meet, so I am hoping we can meet her on our way back through Kyiv.
We then went to the train station, hoping to make the train that would take us directly to the girls’ city. We were unable to get 2nd class tickets (4 to a compartment) but we were able to get 1st class tickets (2 to a compartment) for a little less than $200 total. Nico had to leave us at the train station to help a couple of other families get their referral papers. He was more than a little concerned that we would not be able to get on the train, but we reassured him that we were fine. After he left, we grabbed some food from inside the ticket hall (to the right of the main hall) and headed out to check on our train. Once the track was posted, we headed to our track and boarded the train. We knew what car number from our tickets (and Nico) so we got on and found our compartment. Now we’re sitting on the train, blogging (in Word) and playing games. I’m debating whether to leave the door open and deal with the smoke, or close it and deal with the heat. ;)
Sasha will pick us up in the morning and from there it’s on to the social worker and orphanage!
If we are able to get our referrals early today (before 4pm) we will be able to take the train directly to where the girls are. If not, we will take a train to close to where they are and then drive another few hours.
Things are complicated by the fact that we need to be out of our apartment by noon (just got a call, now 2pm) but our train doesn't leave until this evening. We've got the luggage worked out (we're leaving it with our driver here in Kyiv since he'll take us to the train station) but it would be great if we could get our referral early and just take one train.
I probably won't be able to post again until tomorrow, but I'll update as soon as I can! :)
Monday, February 07, 2011
Parking on the sidewalk is the norm here.
Traffic. Wouldn't want to be the cars in the middle!
One of the cathedrals at night.
Our apartment building!
Sunday, February 06, 2011
We only had an hour in Chicago between flights, so we were a little worried that we would need to change terminals and try to get the boarding passes.
You can’t imagine our relief when we landed at gate B22 and were heading to gate B17 for our flight to Frankfurt! And then when we checked in there weren’t any problems with the boarding passes at all. We were issued passes for our flight to Frankfurt and the connecting flight to Kyiv.
The flight to Frankfurt was uneventful but really HOT. I watched “Morning Glory” (cute!) but didn’t sleep much due to the heat. Now we’re hanging out in Frankfurt waiting a couple hours for our next flight. Soon we’ll be in Kyiv!
Our cell phone number is 380995483941 and incoming calls to us are free. If you're on Skyp*, my name is mcolmsted11. Please don't be offended if I'm online and you call and I don't answer--I'm probably talking to the kids. :)
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Thank you for your help and for the many generous donations that were given! I am ending the giveaway early since the Lanes do not need additional donations and I will be drawing for the Amazon giftcard soon (once I get all of the entries tabulated! LOL). I am so excited to see how God has worked in this family's adoption and to see His love for orphans, yet again. Thanks to those of you who have also showed that love, not only through donating but also through praying and spreading the word.
There are still many, many children on Reece's Rainbow that need grant money and, more importantly, families. There are also many families in process who could use help.