Monday, March 30, 2009

The kids

We still haven't figured out a way to post pictures, sorry everyone. So we've been asked for a little more info on the kids and then I'll update the latest on our status in the A process.

Tatiana is the oldest of the three. She is 12 and will turn 13 in November... sorry mom don't have the exact dates on me, you'll have to wait till I get home. She has blondish hair and brown eyes and is quick to smile. She comes up to my shoulder or so. All the kids here seem pretty short. I think it's the lack of fruit and milk in their diets. They do get a lot to eat, but it is mostly soups and cracked wheat, potatoes or mashed peas with a sauce over the top. Tatiana is very interested in drawing and does draw people quite well. She really likes horses and princesses also. She enjoys reading a lot also. Both she and Victor will sit and read books/magazines they have found in our room. She likes to tell stories and will talk to us about anything even when we have no idea what she is talking about. She knows lots of bible stories, those are the ones we can sort of figure out.

Victor is very confident and likes electronics. He has figured out everything we brought with us and even showed Troy how to watch a slide show of his pictures on his camera with music. We had no idea his camera could do that. He has taken us on walks around the pond and forest and showed us where the boys like to build fires and bake potatoes in tin cans. He is quick to help and has started to use more English around us. He is 11 years old, birthday in March (if I remember right) and he's a head shorter than Tatiana, but taller than most of his friends so we aren't sure where he'll fit in with boys at home. He has blond hair and blue eyes. He is pretty excited to come to America with us and be in our family.

Anastasia is 8 in a couple weeks (April 2001)? She is in first grade, but she is tiny. I bet Ethan is a head taller than her. But she will do and try anything she sees anyone else do. She is so determined not to be left out or left behind. She's quite the fireball and she likes to purposefully break things and make a mess to get Tatiana's goat. Then she just laughs her crazy, happy laugh. She is kind of a boss around here. We haven't totally figured it out, but most kids old and young will do pretty much whatever she wants them to do for her. Pretty funny. Don't know that that will fly in the states. She had dark dark hair and brown eyes. Her teacher cut her hair yesterday (a really choppy job) and Tatiana was pretty ticked off with how it looked. We told her it would grow out and we'd cut it straight.

Yesterday we piled into Vladimir's car with the kids and drove to Odessa to see the sea shore. Natasha was so worried that one of the kids would throw up so she kept pulling out a plastic bag and asking them every two minutes if anyone needed to use it. It was stressing me out and I was the one who almost needed to use it. But we arrived safe and sound and walked through a park and down to an aquarium where they have dolphin shows. One had already started and so we got tickets to the next one and went to lunch. Troy wanted to take them to McDonalds but we couldn't find one right off so we stopped and had pizza, which they have never had before. Boy they are in for some surprises with American food. The pizza was good, very different with sour cream for the sauce. They all seemed to like it and Anastasia had her first soda pop, Fanta. We walked around and got some things to do with the kids in our room. Tatiana picked out a Disney princess book, Victor a remote control car and Anastasia picked out a cell phone like Natashas. I picked out some clay and coloring books for when those items loose there apeal or batteries.

We went to the dolphin show and the kids couldn't figure out how we were going to see dolphins in a building. Once we finally got in and they saw the dolphins in the pool they got pretty excited. They did a good job with the show, it was about 30 minutes long and everything was set to music. The kids were in awe most of the time and they have had to show the videos we took to all of their friends.

So today we returned to the inspectors office to try and get the head man to sign all of our paperwork. Third times a charm and we actually caught him trying to leave the building. He was really nice to us, but had about 30 minutes of questions. When we left the secretary said he liked us because we were only there for 30 minutes, usually it's about 3 hours! We figured we lucked out because it's some city holiday and everyone was getting off work in the afternoon. So Vladimir is zooming to K to submit our papers and get our court request drawn up and return before 3 pm Wednesday when we are scheduled to see the judge. Keep your fingers crossed for him. We bought tickets to fly home Friday, so I can spend spring break with my kids! I miss you guys tons! Happy Birthday to Ethan : ) Love you buddy.

Sorry this didnt post yesterday the power went out. We are set for court at 3 pm on Wednesday so I hope it goes smoothly. Then we'll head to K to submit papers to the Embassy. Then we will head home Friday to wait out the 10 day waiting period. Then we were planning on one of us coming back, but Natasha thinks we both have to be here to pick up the kids in this region! I wish there was a standard format for the entire country. We'll have to see. She also said it will probably take us a good week or more to get passports and paper work done when we pick up the kids...

Today we are just hanging around. It is raining and the kids are in school so not much to do for the moment. Till tomorrow.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday at the Orphanage

My turn to provide an update. We finally got our court date (more or less) pinned down to this coming Wednesday or Thursday. So we are likely to come home next weekend, though are trying to sort out with airlines.

We had another meeting with the relatives yesterday and even gained a bit of respect for them. We started off being very frank and said we would not fight for the children if they had an intention of supporting them as family. They backpeddled a bit on that one and said they now believed the children would be better off in America, and wanted only to be sure that we were good people. Their main question for us was to confirm that we were not organ peddlers. I think they realized after a bit how silly that question was. They also asked us a couple times if we were "believers" to which we nodded fiercely. It ended up a friendly meeting and they signed documents saying they would not oppose our adoption. We took a lot of pictures and exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. So it was nice. One would think this would have grease the skids, but the local administration is still a bit nervous about everything. However, things are looking quite a bit clearer.

Things remain kind of fun at the orphanage. Mealtimes are the best at the cafeteria. Usually some mixture of potatos, cracked wheat, sausages, shredded cabbage and tea. We drank a lot of hot water for the first several meals until our facilitators found us some chamomile tea in town, and now we drink that, loaded up with sugar. Although I look forward to the lunchtime drink which is some kind of fruit drink made from boiling dried fruit and letting it cool. The kids file in in their groups and eat rapidly. TThe two orphanage dogs roam around the cafeteria hoping to pick up scraps. The whole thing seldom lasts longer than 15 or 20 minutes.

The kids are doing great. They love the digital camera and we let them take pictures. They take about 200 a day. We will have some deleting to do. Victor in particular takes great care in snapping photos of inanimate objects, like light sockets, eyeing them up for a good minute sometimes before finally pulling the trigger. Anastasia is a rascal, and we will have our work cut out for us. I'm getting my exercise on the soccer field. I am really bad at soccer. Though I am holding my own at ping pong. Carlin is learning elaborate forms of patty-cake.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


We have access to some of the computers the have at the school, but we cannot upload our pictures or hook up Troy's laptop to their computers.

We really like the children, but we are dead by 9 pm. It is their spring break and we are staying at the orphanage and so we have to entertain 24/7 and it wears us out. But it is good. So we came up on Tuesday to see the kids and the first thing they tell us is that some cousin and her mother came and wanted to take them for spring break. They said they didn't even know who they were. Just our luck. So we couldn't do any paperwork or anything on Tuesday because they were coming back on Wednesday to meet with us and the kids. We kept asking what would happen to the kids after spring break, if they were going to live with them and they said no. They tried to tell the kids that we wanted them for their organs. This has been the strangest month in our entire lives.

When the director asked them if they wanted to go with their relatives for spring break, Victor immediately stood and said, "I don't even know them, why would I want to go with them? No." Tatiana just hid her head and said she didn't know and didn't like have to answer these questions. Nastia, Anastasia, wanted to go as she was curled up on the cousins lap eating candy. So after a day of ups and downs the kids said they wanted to go to America and signed the paperwork. Troy, Natasha and I had gone for a walk to give them some time with the director. I think we all needed a little space. Although the weather was beautiful Tuesday and we walked around the pond and around the orphanage, yesterday was cold and rainy so we were jumping over puddles. And last night once again it snowed. So we ate dinner with the kids and then they readied the shower for us. It was a small square room with the shower head in the middle of the ceiling. At least we had hot, hot water. It sure felt good. So Troy and I got to spend some alone time in the shower. The kids didn't understand why Natasha and Vladimir weren't showering with us!! Pretty funny. They all line up in their underwear and the woman over their building runs them threw and scrubs them down and kicks them out in a long procession. Glad we didn't have to join them.

So today the paperwork is together and Vladimir and Natasha are finally off to visit with the judge to see when we can get a court date. After Vladimir gets back from Kyiv with the properly signed papers saying we can have a court date here. It is an insane process. Hopefully all will go well and we can come home next week/weekend. Then one of us will head back after the 10 day waiting period to pick them up and bring them home. We'll have to post pictures when we get home.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Papers in order, ready to go

We met up with the Lawrence's for breakfast/brunch this morning at our favorite little bakery (pictured below). We've enjoyed eating there and they have yummy chocolates and pasteries.

We then spent the afternoon at the SDA and notary offices. This is what Troy looks like while waiting for 40 minutes at the notary office. The picture below is the add we thought was pretty funny -- the fish in the corner are 14% off. It makes you wonder how fresh they are. Actually on one of our road trips we passes a few trucks on the side of the road with metal tubs of live fish that people were stopping to buy. They picked out their fish and the guy would hit it with a hammer until it was dead then wrap it up in paper. I guess you know you have fresh fish that way.

Lori and Michael joined us on our second trip to the SDA and we did a little shopping. Most the booths were closed, either because it was 5:30 or because of the snow. It's the first time we had seen everything shut down. Maybe Monday's aren't as busy. We went to three notary offices before we found one that was open today.

So we are heading out at 3 am and the Lawrence's are heading to the airport at the same time tomorrow morning. We are going to meet some kids and hopefully start some paperwork. We don't know that we'll have internet or phone access if we end up staying at the orphanage. There isn't much around and they offered us beds at the orphanage. That should be interesting. I'm probably not allowed to say that. So we don't know when we'll post again. We are hoping to have a court date early next week and to be home next weekend. Then one of us will return to pick up the kids after the 10 day waiting period! There may be a light at the end of the tunnel....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

We heard that the Lawrences landed, were a little delayed or something. Maybe it was the snow... yes it's snowing again. Big, white, fluffy flakes. We were hoping to see them but it doesn't sound like that will be happening. Who knows. So I thought I'd take some pics of our apartment and post them on the blog. This is where we have been staying. This is the tv/living room, also Natasha's room. There is an enclosed balcony behind that pink curtain.

I didn't realize this one was so dark. This is our room. The best bed we have had this entire trip : ) Yes, those are our clothes drying on the radiator. There is a drying rack on the balcony, but it's so cold it takes two days for things to dry. It doesn't take quite a day to dry them on the heaters.

Our lovely little blue kitchen. There is a washing machine under the counter.

This is the view of the sea of apartments out of our kitchen window.
So yesterday we decided to go for a drive through the country side, very legal. While driving we got into a bit of an accident. Poor Vladimir's car! This little blue car pulled onto the highway and his signal was still flashing and he started coming into our lane only a few feet infront of us. Vladimir hit the horn and the car just kept on coming over (they were going to make a U-turn at the break in the road). So Vladimir ended up going around them in the island, where they hit the end of his car. Which pushed us into the left lane of on coming traffic. Thankfully no one was in that lane and Vladimir was able to get us back into the island between the two roads. The little old couple were to blame when the ------ came because it was not a designated U-turn spot. They were "gypsies" according to Natasha and so we waited an hour and a half for their son to come and check things out and then to go get money to pay for the repairs, otherwise his dad would have had his lisence taken away. It was interesting. The ------ held both parties driver lisences and car titles until they came back with the money. If they hadn't of come back and we left then they would have pursued ticketing the old man and taking him to court (where he would have lost his lisence and maybe his car). Vladimir said it would have been about five years before he would have seen any money. So we put the donut on while we waited and then stopped in the next town to get a new tire.
(Troy didn't want me to say anything about the P-----, so you'll have to fill in the blank)

Trying to pull the dent out a bit so it would stop rubbing on the tire.

The poor, damaged car with the spare tire on.

Little blue car that hit us while trying to make a u-turn.

So on our drive to Kr in the red van we hit a BIG pot hole and it messed up one of the front tires and we had to stop and have that fixed. On our first drive down south earlier this week Vladimir got pulled over for speeding and would never think of paying off the cop to get out of it. That would be illegal. This little drive down south we got in an accident. We still have a couple drives left to take... what is yet to come?
So we didn't go see any children on our drive because that would be illegal. Tomorrow we are doing the paper work to see a couple kids down south. If all goes well we will travel on Tuesday to go meet them. Hopefully they will be excited and want to hang out with us and we can start some more paperwork.
Troy wants to go shopping for some really warm sweaters before we leave because he is always cold and we will be in the middle of who-knows-where for a week or so. It is pretty farm land, but in the middle of no where. Good chance we won't have internet or cell coverage. The U phone had cell coverage in different areas out there, so we'll load it up before we leave.

This is the turn off of the highway to who-knows-where. About 20 minutes down and around and through two very small villages was where our drive ended and we turned around and came back to the city. We got in about midnight. A very crazy, but in the end, eventful day.
So we attended church again at the K English speaking branch. I took the camera and forgot to take a pic. The cab dropped us off on the other side of the buildings and stores and we got a little lost, but a nice teenage boy that we showed the address to took us too the building. He was really nice, spoke a tiny bit of English. Everyone in the branch is so kind and it was nice to see them again even though we just met them last week. We met Dave who works at the US Embassy and he told us to write an email to the embassy explaining our situation. We will do that and after hearing about more problems in Plotava, once we get names, we are going to call him and see if it would help if everyone adopting sent in a complaint... we'll let you know today/tomorrow.
Thanks again to everyone for your comments, thoughts, prayers, etc. We have had our ups and downs but this has been really difficult and the only thing keeping me from falling apart (aside from Troy) has been all the support at home.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Week in review

Last weekend we went back and had a tour in English of the Lavra grounds. I hadn't realized till I was looking at the pictures that the week before there was still a foot of snow on the ground and last weekend it was almost all melted. Our tour guide was named Vladimir who shared with us the history of the place and all the different chapels (28) on the grounds. We went into 4 of the churches. 6 are little chapels in the tombs where services are held for monks/nuns. One they hold a service at 6 am every morning for anyone who wants (or can fit in the tiny, tiny area).

Monks used to live in these apartments, now most of them are museums.
Inside the main Cathedral that is being refurbished.

Troy lighting a candle to take with us down into the tombs so we could see the dead monks in glass coffins. Everyone would walk by and kiss the tops of the coffins, can you imagine the germs.. especially of the coffins where the monks hand was showing, those got more kisses. They were pretty mummified even though they had never been embalmed... that is the miracle and why so many people go visit. The tombs were so crowded and hot, a little too wierd for us. Troy really liked the story of the monk that was locked into a chamber down in the tombs for seven years as part of his monkhood. He was fed through a slit in the door.

Troy reading some old slavic bible, that is the font for baptisms behind him.

The women had to have their heads covered and wear skirts to go into the tombs, here was my cute little blue and red head covering. We just rented our skirts and returned them at the end of the tour.

This is the path that leads from the cathedrals down and around to the tombs. The whole area is like a little town. This path, paved now, is the same that people have taken for hundreds of years to go to the tombs. Our guide told us thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the tombs every year.

View of the Dnipro river and the chapel over the tombs (I think).

Troy thought he'd grow a gotee/goutee during the week, but gave up and shaved it off... this is the scruffiest he got.

Our second apartment in Kiev. No internet, but it was better than the Dnipro Hotel and had a washing machine.

Monday we toured our neighborhood a bit and then went shoe shopping and wandered around some mall. This is the gate to the city. The gate itself is one the side. This was the first king of U.

Tuesday we had our second SDA appointment and picked up our signed paperwork that said we could travel to another O. This is the back of the very cold hotel we stayed in that night. The one in which Natasha got sick. We then went to the orphanage and turned around and came back to K.
Wednesday and Thursday we were back at the SDA offices and so we hung around and did a little shopping on souvenir street. Today we went to lunch with Wendy and James and it was so bitter cold we returned to the apartment. Troy had a two hour conference call so I read and knitted a wash cloth. Really exciting things going on over here!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Third Thursday at the SDA

We headed back to the SDA this morning after a quick trip to the notary. We had to get another document notarized explaining why we are not adopting this second set of children. Not much fun. But guess who we saw at the SDA? Yes, Wendy and James. It was the ray of sunshine in my day today (past couple days). It was so nice to see a familar face and chat for a minute. Then Natasha wisked us off to lunch while we wait to find out our next appointment date.

After a bit more waiting we were told they could slip us in between a couple people on Monday. Troy and Natasha were really hoping for Friday, I will admit I'm glad we'll be in K for the weekend and not in the cold town in the forest. But instead of meeting the kids and starting our paperwork on Monday it will be Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. So we shouldn't have changed our plane tickets the first time because we'll more than likely be out here another week by the time we get papers to K and back to schedule a court date. So we are looking at the first of April again.

So we headed back to the apartment so Troy could do some work and I could take a little nap, I've been warn out and grumpy today. I had just woken up and Wendy called! Where there was such a rush to get us to Kr we just assumed they wouldn't be around, but they said their appointment went well and they go pick up their papers tomorrow. So we decided to meet for dinner. We went to a place that ended up being right by their apartment. The foods fine, not the best and they have free (SLOW) internet. It was good to visit and chat, Troy said it was just a good venting session for me. I had been harboring a few frustrations and they did get the brunt of it. They burned out their transformer and borrowed one of ours so they could charge their computer and blog. She got a picture of us that I'll have to add later. We left our camera in Vladimir's car... we aren't sure if we'll see him or not this weekend...

So, me being in much better spirits and Troy just saying that the Richharts just got here and they are futher a head of us in the process, we had a nice walk home in the rain/snow. We got back and Natasha is really sick. She woke up with a sore throat but she now has a fever and chills. It's probably a good thing we are staying in K again this weekend instead of the really cold forrest town.

Days in Kr

These are in no order, just in the city of Kr. Here is Troy in front of our apartment. Sorry I don't know what to do yet to turn pics on Troy's laptop. I'm still figuring out how to manuver around on a laptop.
One of the buildings at the O.

A park.

Here is Anya our wonderful pen pal.

On womans day we went to the beach and had shish ka bobs of pork, beef and turkey. Vladimir was our chef and marinaded the meet and cooked it. It was incredible and delicious, the best meet we've had so far out here.

The offices in Kr where we met the inspector.

Our first night in Kr. Vassilly, Vladimir, Natasha, Troy and Carlin eating dinner. We were too late to meet with the inspector so we went to our apartment that was supose to sleep all five of us but was really only two bedrooms. So Natasha said no way and jumped on the phone and while we found another apartment we headed out to eat. I'm always hungry here, or at least it seems that way. The food is pretty inexpensive so we've bought food for breakfast and snacks and then tend to eat out the rest of the time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

back in the city

We just arrived back in the city of K. Just thought I'd send an update for everyone to read this afternoon (back home).

We decided on two children at our appointment yesterday. For family that didn't understand we cannot ever see our Marina, Ivan and Anya again because they said no and the director asked that, "those foreign people do not step onto the grounds of the O again until Autumn". So we couldn't see them at least until the fall, I guess. But everyone here keeps saying it is over because the kids signed the papers saying they didn't want to be adopted out of the U.

So yesterday we had an appointment to see children that are available to be adopted. We decided on two (they looked just like keller cousins) and by some miricle got our paper work signed the same day and we headed down south. We stopped at 1 am to sleep at the scariest hotel we have ever stayed in. Poor Vladmir didn't even have a toilet in his room (it had been removed) and Troy thought that the fact that our shower had been ripped out was pretty bad, until he found that there was no hot water and only a trickle of cold. Needless to say none of us showered this morning. Beside the fact that Vladmir had us on the road at 6:15 am. We headed off of the freeway through beautiful farm country, but it was a good half hour of tiny winding roads before we found the town with the inspector. She was great and very helpful even though this only would have been her second international adp. We met the kids and they were great also, but last year they thought they would like to be adopted and when it came down to it they wanted to wait for their mom to come back and get them. We found their father passed away 18 months ago and they were taken from thier mother. So, I'm ok with that, I couldn't adp kids that would only have regrets.

The O. was amazing and the director was wonderful, such a different feel from Kr. Staff and everyone were super nice and helpful answering all of our questions. The director asked us to see if a sibling group had come available yet at the o. So we drove home (to the city) tonight and have an apartment with internet! Yea! So hopefully tomorrow after our busy morning I'll be able to upload some pics... nothing very exciting but pics. So when we turn in our paperwork tomorrow we have to decide if we want to schedule another appointment to look and some more children. We would like to see the siblings if they are available... again who knows what tomorrow will bring.

So we decided to not type out key words so that it won't pull our blog up in specific searches. Sorry for the guessing game. For the Horlachers, I had salmon on black linguine with shredded mango (in sunday's picture). It was fine, I don't know why they put a bib on me and I did have to take the plate off of the stand to even cut it. It was good, had flavor, a lot of things here are a bit on the bland side. : )

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday in Kiev

Here is our sunday dinner, yes Grant we are at a restaurant and it is ok : ) I'm hoding my eyes open for the flash... as you will see, if we can ever get more pictures up, that I always blink. We attended the Kiev English speaking branch today and it was so nice to visit with everyone and to sing the hymns and partake of the sacrament. Very peaceful. We even negotiated a cab ride home. Annie says hello to the Garretts.
This was the Natural History Museum/Museum of Lenin that we went to Friday. We toured through the display of the oldest statues that have ever been found in the Ukraine. It was interesting. We also saw photographs of statues by a Russian artist, Zurab Tsereteli. I really enjoyed most of his works.
We went to a few more museums yesterday... killing time as Troy would say. We're just waiting for our Tuesdays appointment now to see where that takes us. We will post more pictures it just takes forever and dinner is over so we have to go. By the way Wendy it has snowed yesterday and today so bring a hat or coat with a hood : ) Tomorrow it should stop, or so we were told by one of our guides yesterday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

This is Troy posting so forgive the brevity, but wanted to get a few pictures up and a brief update. Most of you will have heard the news that our adoption was blocked by the orphanage through some manuevering. The politics behind it are many and complicated. We are waiting in Kiev to see if by some chance anything can be changed and to possibly pursue adopting a child in need at another orphanage, of which there are many. Needless to say it has been a rough couple of days.
The above is a picture of the inside of a cathedral in Kiev at the main monestary called the Lavra (no doubt my spelling is wrong). There are 28 different chapels in this complex and a good bit of history.

This is the picture of the kids as we were leaving. They would only let us see them together once we had agreed to leave. The women in back are just some of the army of orphanage staff that accompanied us and the kids while we were there. The kids were clearly intimidated and scared the entire time.
Independence square in Kiev.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

We made it

We arrived at 11:45 am. All is well. We dropped our bags off at the apartment and did a little sight seeing with N. We saw the gigantic Motherland statue and toured the great war musuem (ww11). All very interesting. It was a nice day but as the sun went down it got colder and colder. We saw a monestary and cathedrals in the braoque style. very beautiful. Then we went out to dinner with N. it was her Birthday! what a way to spend your birthday, being a tour guide.

Friday we headed in early for our apt and all went well and smoothly. N was hoping that we would be able to pick up our letter later that day and visit the kids friday, but with the holiday it was very hard to get in to see people. finally friday at noon we were able to pick up our letter and we headed to Kr. We did not arrive in time to meet with the person we were to see before trying to visit the kids. so we are hanging out here and as most have heard by now spent a lot of our time trying to find internet access here. Hopefully we'll be able to come here and use the computers a little more often. Today is the holiday and so they have work off tomorrow so we won't see anyone until Tuesday. We sort of wish we could have stayed in K and seen some more of the city. so many beautiful buildings and history to see.

so we are not naming places and names until we get home and when we can blog will treat this more like a vacation, hope that isn't too confusing, but we didn't want to go private so family can see pics. so we won't be too specific. Also it takes a long time to upload pics and can only do one at a time so I don't know how many we will get on.