Thursday, July 29, 2010

Major Progress...

We submitted the paperwork for 2 passports today. We received the tax number for both kids.

It was a grueling day. 4 hours in a cab with 5 children. One benefit of the day was that we were able to be with Sherry White and her kiddos. So, 4 adults(counting Liesel), and 5 kids in a 5 sit Skoda. I nice Skoda I might add. Sherry, we love you! You are an amazing lady! Its been so nice to have you here with us walking through the process together.

The stress began when Zoya decided to pull, push, inspect, stress test every knob, handle feature of Nico's, "FOR SALE" vehicle. His cab is in TOP condition. After ripping the elastic head rest, I decided it was time to exit the cab for the playground with both kids.

Here, on the playground, I found out an interesting fetish with Joseph. He loves dirt and sand. In his nice new cloths for the passport photo, he laid down in the sand face first and licked it! That boy loves DIRT and WATER. I guess they each cancel the other out. I don't mind.

Playgrounds here are dangerous. I might blog about the playground and how they violate just about every safety law known in the US.

We arrived at 1pm, just in time for their lunch hour. Lunch is from 1-2 for government offices. The follow it religiously. So, we waited. Walked. Shoulder rides. Playground. Kicked bottles.... Zoya would be a great soccer player.

We were finally called in for photos at 4pm. I child at a time. Zoya and Joseph both were reaching for cameras, umbrellas(for light), pens, papers. All with scowling ladies who didn't seem to have any desire for children in their office. But they were gracious and got us through quick.

After this, we dropped the kids off back at the orphanage. If you ask why we don't take custody of them now, there are many reasons. The number one reason is I do not want to disrupt their systems before our long trip home. I want everything to stay stable until the night before. This way, we are home to break them in. Kiev is not a place for special needs kids. It is not really kid friendly at all. Its really a bit dangerous. So, we'll keep them safe and sound at the orphanage until the day before we leave.

Anyway, we made great progress today. Nico said, these were 2 big things we got done. Now, we wait. Maybe Passport Monday, Medicals and US Embassy Tuesday-Wednesday. Leave Thursday. Maybe.

These photos were the highlight of our day! Aren't they darling! We hope you enjoy them as much as we did making them!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Liesel Charlotte

I'd like to brag about my oldest daughter. She has been amazing. I've not heard one complaint from her the whole time. Well, I take that back. She has complained of not being able to go see the kids every day. I am so happy that she loves seeing them, every day. Sometimes we don't get to because of paperwork.

She keeps herself busy on my other laptop playing games, writing emails or blogging. She is such a mature girl. We have fun walks to the subway together. We look at the pigeons and dream about the days when we get Joseph and Zoya home to all of the their brothers and sisters.

Liesel, I love you. You have surpassed all of my expectations on this trip. You are joy to have.

Today will prove to be exciting. We will pick up the tax number at 2pm. However, this morning we may be able to start the passport process. If we do, we'll be picking up the kids, taking them to the passport office. This will be fun seeing the kids out of there element. I'll keep you posted.


Thank you...

Charissa here...

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who donated to Reece's Rainbow for Burke's adoption fund! We raised $310 and that is a really nice start for him. Please pray with me that Burke's forever family will find him soon!

Just to clarify, the donations were made straight to Reece's Rainbow on behalf of Burke and not towards the Urban adoption fund. There was some confusion as some saw the chip in button and assumed we were short on money and were asking for donations. That was not the case at all. I had started the chip-in fundraiser on my birthday on June 25 to raise money and awareness for one special orphan and I picked Burke because he has similar challenges as Zoya. We are doing OK on funds and have not asked for any donations towards our adoption. But thank you for those who have asked.

Also, I have received 3 boxes in the mail of clothes for Joseph and Zoya, and I just want to say what nice blog readers I have. Joseph will be thrilled with his new Sponge Bob swimming suit, and I absolutely cannot wait to see Zoya's face when she sees her closet is filled with pretty dresses!! Thank you Jan, Lisa, and Kelly! And of course Marlita too!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beautiful Tuesday

My brain is constantly calculating our return date...

20100722 THU - Arrive Kiev
20100723 FRI - Got Zoya's Birth Cert
20100724 SAT -
20100725 SUN -
20100727 TUE - Submit Birth Cert Doc for Joseph
20100728 WED - Pick up Birth Cert, Submit for Tax ID's
20100729 THU - Pick up Tax ID, Submit for Passports
20100730 FRI - Wait day 1 for passport
20100731 SAT -
20100801 SUN -
20100802 MON - Wait day 2 for passport
20100803 TUE - Pick up passports
20100804 WED - US Embassy + Medicals
20100805 THU - Come Home...

This is why...

Over and out. More great updates tomorrow. JU

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Saturday

On Saturday I promised the kids that if they would help me mow the grass and get the porch cleaned up we would buy and set up a little Walmart blow up pool.

They did a fabulous job, so we went to Walmart, bought a pool and a pump, and got it all the way home and halfway filled with air AND water before we realized one of the caps was missing from the box. I called Walmart and they said  no problem, just bring the receipt in and they would take a cap out of one of the other pools and replace it.

So we cleaned the car out real quick and ran to Walmart. Only to realize that we had just thrown the receipt away when we cleaned out the car. Went back home, dug through the trash can, and returned to Walmart with the receipt in hand.

Only to find out Walmart is totally out of pool supplies and will not be getting any more in this summer. They looked on their computer though and found another Walmart across town that had 3 pools still. Drove across town.

Only to find out that there was an error in their system, and that they actually have NO pool supplies either.

So we went miniature golfing instead.

Beautiful Monday...

Liesel and I ventured out to the orphanage today. Heather is about to catch up from jet lag. She also wanted to stay back and rest up for her big afternoon. I'll let her tell about that on her facebook page.

We learned we have another step we didn't know about, so here are the steps:

step 1 - get court decree - 90% complete
step 2 - birth certificates - 50% complete
step 3 - get taxid - 0% complete
step 4 - file for passports - 0% complete
step 5 - us embassy and visa paperwork - 0% complete
step 6 - get on plane and come home


Today: See J&Z, Nothing, birth certificate office is closed
Tuesday: Joseph's birth certificate and start tax ID paperwork
Wednesday: Pick up tax ID and submit documents for passports
Thursday: See J&Z, wait
Friday: Maybe pick up passports, US Embassy is closed
Saturday-Sunday: See J&Z, relax and wait.. uggh


Monday: J&Z, Submit documents to US Embassy
Tuesday: US Embassy interview and get travel documents
Wednesday: Go HOME!

Pictures from today...


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beautiful Sunday

Well, we are into our 2nd day of 3 days of paperwork log jam. Here is how it works:

Step1 - Get court decree and a notarized letter from the judge
Step2 - Get 2 birth certificates
Step3 - Submit birth certificates to Ukraine State Department for passports
Step4 - Get medicals for both children
Step5 - Submit passport and all supporting documents to the US Embassy
Step6 - Get completed documents from the US embassy
Step7 - Come home

Step1 is complete. We did this on Friday. Step2 is almost done, we obtained 1 birth certificate on Friday. We tried to get the 2nd birth certificate on Saturday, but they were doing weddings all day and they were too busy. We can do nothing on Sunday or Monday. Birth certificate office is closed for 2 days. We start early Tuesday getting 2nd certificate. If we can obtain that early, we can submit papers for passports. Passport photos ARE done, they were done yesterday. The passports will take 3-4 days. This gets us to Thursday or Friday. The US Embassy is closed EVERY last Friday of the month, so even if we did get the passports, we could do nothing until Monday morning. So, I am estimating we will submit all of our papers to the US Embassy on Monday. Tuesday we should get cleared to leave. Wednesday August 4th, we should be on our way home, arriving in Tulsa Aug 4th late with the Heather, Liesel, Joseph and Zoya.

Now, here are some fun photos from today:

Joseph's hang out for just a few more days!

Zoya... she loves earrings and necklaces. She knows how to put them in ears too!

Joseph LOVES his new big sis! I know he's going to love HOPE and AVA too! Just don't wear necklaces or earrings around him. He'll pull them off!

My son! Simeon and Jude! You are going to love this guy! He likes to play rough!


Saturday, July 24, 2010


We went to see Zoya and Joseph again.These are some pictures we took.

We only took a couple of pictures of Joseph(that I found).In this picture Joseph is falling asleep on Heather. We will have more pictures tomorrow.

Joseph and Heather...

This is a picture of Zoya and me on the teeter-totter.She is so beautiful!

Here is another picture of her. She has on all the jewelry in sight. She is such a girly girl.

Zoya is taking off my ring and playing with her little doll.


Friday, July 23, 2010

A few more photos...

Joseph.... he saw me from far off, broke rank and ran to me! I was able to capture the moment...

And, lets not forget little Zoya... She ran to me too! Here are those moments:

She loves Heather too! Later, Joseph gave Heather the same necklace and hair treatment he gave Charissa when they first met. I think he was just super excited.


5 minutes with Joseph and Zoya

Today we got to see Joseph and Zoya(we as in Dad,Heather and me... I am the guest blogger).It was short, but it was fun. Joseph and Zoya came running to Dad.They were both smiling.Joseph also loved Heather. he would go to Heather and she would pick him up. One kid named Charlie who is getting adopted(I think)would hug me and hang onto my legs.It was so cute! Zoya came up to me and was really interested in my bracelets so I gave her 2.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The status

John, Heather and Liesel arrived in Ukraine today. Tomorrow they have appointments to pick up court decrees and birth certificates, to initiate the process of getting the kids HOME. A couple of people asked how long they will have to be there. We do not know for sure but I am guessing a couple of weeks at least. It takes 10 days just to issue the passport, then a few more days for visa, medicals, etc. We are excited. I'm looking forward to reading the next blog post which Liesel promised to write for me, after she meets the kids for the first time. :)

Adoption Question #7 Shouldn't children be raised in their own culture?

It is my opinion that children should absolutely be raised in their own culture when at all possible. Sometimes however there is no place in a culture for orphans, and therefore the children end up raising themselves on the streets as beggars, drug addicts and prostitutes. Some cultures send their handicapped children to institutions where many die because of the poor conditions. While I most certainly believe in the importance of culture, I believe family trumps culture, and therefore as a last resort for children with no family and no chance of being adopted domestically, I support international adoption. I think it is important for adoptive parents to maintain their adopted children's culture as best as they can.

Adoption Question #6 Why do people choose international adoption when there are children right here in the U.S. who need families?

Well I can only speak for myself on this one but I know everybody has their own reasons for choosing international vs. domestic adoption and vice versa.

We actually started out with the intent of doing a domestic adoption. As we began to make phone calls and take classes (Remember the wrong classes we took because of a miscommunication between departments?), we started realizing that our family was really considered too big by most standards to be seriously considered for domestic adoption. There was a particular boy we inquired about, only to find out that there had already been over 100 inquiries about him. We were told to go ahead and fill out the paperwork, to start the classes all over again, and just hope that we would be picked. Instead we opted to go the international route, and discovered Reece's Rainbow with all the many faces waiting to be adopted.

Pros and cons of international vs. domestic adoption:

International adoption:
-Sometimes less expensive than private domestic adoption
-Get to travel, experience a new culture
-Less chance of failed adoption

-Usually older and special needs children
-Less medical and family history available
-No birth family contact
-Unknowns of culture, adoption process, language, etc.
-Institutionalized children sometimes exhibit institutional behavior

Domestic private adoption:
-Healthy newborns available
-Full medical and family history
-Birth family contact encouraged

-greater chance of 'failed adoption' usually because mother changes her mind
-adoptive parents must meet the criteria of the birth family.
-sometimes takes longer as you have to wait to be picked by birth family

Adoptions through child welfare:
-inexpensive or free
-state benefits for adopted kids such as health care and college scholarships

-can be very slow and difficult
-relatives can suddenly claim the child, even if they have been absent for years

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adoption Question #5..What happened to their real parents?

With every adoption there is a very deep and profound loss for at least two people, a mother and a child. Sometimes there are other family members affected, a father, grandparents, or siblings. Every adoption story is very unique but we must always remember that the only reason adoption exists in the first place is because a child has suffered the ultimate loss, the loss of his or her family. For this reason I believe parents considering placing their children for adoption should have extensive unbiased counseling and should never be persuaded by anyone to give up their child. There is nothing sadder than stories of birth mothers who spend their whole lives regretting a decision that they were forced into by husbands, parents, or anyone else, to place their child for adoption.

That said, there are many, many reasons parents are unable to raise their own children.

Sometimes, although rarely, a child is an orphan because his or her parents have died. Sometimes a child is lovingly placed for adoption by a young mother who does not believe herself to be financially or emotionally prepared to raise a child. Sometimes mothers leave their babies in the hospital or on a church doorstep with no real thought of plan of their future. Still other times children are removed from their families because of abuse or neglect. Social issues such as poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism, domestic violence, and teenage promiscuity all contribute to the orphan crisis. Also, in the case of many special needs children, ignorance has played a big role in the high numbers of children who are languishing in orphanages. In many cases doctors are actually encouraging mothers to abort or abandon their handicapped children.

Sometimes, when asked, adoptive parents choose to not disclose details of their adopted children's history to spare them any shame. Other adoptive parents want to educate others about the social problems that have hurt their children in order to help someone else. You should not be offended if an adoptive parent chooses to keep their child's history private.

Packed and ready

As I was zipping up the kids' suitcase last night I had to stop and smile. I decided I needed to take a photo. What a sweet thought. Two children in Eastern Europe with NOTHING to their name, now each have a family, their own clothes, toys, toothbrushes, etc., and soon to join their very own forever family.
The sweet purple hat for Zoya was hand knitted by 10 year old Liesel.  Isn't she amazingly talented? She did not learn this great skill from me but rather from her grandmother. Thanks Oma.

This is John's niece Heather who will accompany him and Liesel tomorrow on trip #2. The original plan was that I was going to go with Heather but that planned CHANGED a couple of weeks into trip #1, when we had been in the country for two weeks and I still couldn't find my way from the subway station to our apartment!! So sorry Heather that we couldn't have the girls' getaway like we planned, but at least Uncle John will make sure you don't get lost. Something that I could not guarantee.
John promised he would blog for me while he is away, so look for updates. We are all so excited to be together at last!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Question #4 Do you really love your adopted children as "your own"?

Well I suppose everyone might answer this question differently. I can honestly say I love my adopted children as my own, because they became my own as soon as I adopted them! As we try to teach all of our children, love is an ACTION more than it is a feeling, and sometimes we love when it doesn't come easily. I can honestly say there are times I don't necessarily feel love for a loved one but it wouldn't change the fact that I would do anything for them. With adoption sometimes it is love at first sight, and sometimes it is not. I read once the advice "Fake it until you make it" concerning what must sometimes be done during the transition stage until the feelings come. I remember being SO worried about this before we adopted Ava, just like I worried that I wouldn't love my second child as much as my first, and my third as much as my first and second, and my fourth as much as my first, second and third, etc. This time around I can say without a doubt, YES I love my adopted children as much as my own. I think adoptive parents should know that it is common to feel at first like you are babysitting more than you are parenting. And I also think adoptive parents should expect that their adopted children may not appreciate being adopted as much as we expect them to. We should remember that every adopted child, no matter how 'mild' their story, has suffered enormous loss, and we should be understanding if and when our adopted children need to grieve those losses. We should understand that it may take a very long time before our adopted children can learn to trust us and maybe even longer before they are ready to love us back.

Adoption costs, cont'd

One thing I want to add to my last post, sometimes there are people who can't adopt for some reason but have very big and generous hearts and would give up a family vacation or a nice car to see that one special child gets noticed, as is the case with Monroe, a little boy waiting in Eastern Europe. I just want to mention, as I just wrote about how expensive adoption can be, that a very generous donor has given this little boy a full grant. Now he is just waiting for someone to say yes to him. Could that someone be you?

Monroe (12)
BOY, Born February 4, 2005
Monroe is a sunshine of a little boy!  He is already 5 and blessed to still be at the baby house.  He needs a family right away!  
From a missionary who visited with him in June 2010:  I met with the doctor in his Groupa House who brought me back to meet him. The Head Doctor wanted me to meet the children who needed equipment. While measuring him for a chair, she explained to me what was more important was that he get a family. He will be traferred in six months to the worst institution, restrained in a crib in a dark room. She broke into tears! Monroe has spastic  cerebral palsy in all four limbs and is globally delayed. He is able to recognize the voices of his careworkers and understand simple directions. However, due to his spasticity he is unable to do much of anything. No speech.  With therapy he can improve but will always have limitations. I measured his head circumfeence and once home will check with a doctor regtarding whether ir not he is microcephalic as well. I will  try to gather more information on him today. His temperament was sweet and his eyes twinkled. He needs a family fast! 
From an adoptive family who visited with him in June 2009:   Monroe has CP.  It appears that he is unable to use his arms and legs and is not sitting up on his own.  He has the most beautiful smile and I don't think there is much of a cognitive delay.  He loves to be held and his whole face lights up when you come near him."
*** Monroe has an incredible benefactor who has offered a FULL GRANT of $20,000 for his adoption.   He is facing imminent institutionalization, and will regress quickly once he is transferred.  Families who are qualified ( to adopt internationally and who are approved to adopt a significantly delayed child should contact Andrea for more information.  This is a very fast program and it is very possible to have him home before the end of 2010! ***
I have $20,000 in my grant fund towards the cost of my adoption!

Question #3 Why does adoption cost so much?

Adoption costs can range from $0 to $40,000. The least expensive way to adopt is through the child welfare system, which is free except for the cost of your medical exams. Private domestic adoptions can range from $8,000 to $30,000, and international adoptions range from $10,000 to $40,000, Russia being one of the most expensive countries to adopt from.

There have been a lot of talks lately in the adoption community about reforms that are necessary to ensure that deserving orphaned children get families while loving families are not torn apart to fuel the adoption industry. Some have suggested taking money out of the equation altogether by mandating, say, a $5,000 cap per adoption. This seems like a pretty good idea to me not only because it would be so much more affordable for people who want to adopt, but it would ensure that only children who really need to be adopted are being placed for adoption. These are all points for another post, however, so back to the costs of adoption:

Ukraine adoption costs between $20,000-$25,000.

The general cost breakdown:

$2000 homestudy..(required for both domestic and international adoptions). This is where a social worker makes 3 trips to your house, interviews each member of the family, inspects your home for safety, reviews your medical exam, checks references, looks at your community resources, etc, etc, and decided whether you are mentally and physically prepared to care for the kind of child or children you are wanting to adopt. She then types up a 20 page report detailing every significant event in your life that led you to your decision to adopt.

$1000 I-600a and fingerprinting. This is required for international adoption only. It ensures that adoptive parents do not have a criminal background, and also requests that an alien orphan child become a US citizen through adoption.

$5000 airline tickets (would be more obviously if you adopt more than one child or take other children on your trip with you).

$8500 facilitation fee for first child plus $2,000 for each additional child....This is what we paid towards the people who handled all the adoption paperwork in Ukraine. It really seems like a lot of money but when you consider how many people are working for you it makes sense. These people did a lot of work weeks before as well as for the entire month we were in the country, driving all over the country collecting documents, birth certificates, translating, setting up appointments, making phone calls, driving us everywhere, etc etc. This fee also includes a donation which is made to the orphanage.

$4000 rooming and food (80/nt, 20/food/day) for 2 1/2 weeks then 3 weeks in country
$2000 transportation- in country, trains, taxi, etc.
$600 visa and medical

For more information on adoption cost comparison click here.

One thing I want to add, there are grant opportunities available, special low interest loans, etc. Some companies help with adoption costs, and don't forget the tax credit. So although adoption can be expensive, it is still do-able, even for average people like us!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Question #2 Why did you adopt?

My grandmother taught me the art of carrying on a conversation. She said when you try to engage someone in communication it is important to ask questions. She said to ask who-what-when-where-and how questions, avoiding using the word WHY, which she says tends to put people on the defensive. WHY questions are very hard to answer, my grandma says.

Now isn't that the truth?

However, most people did not have my grandma and therefore 'why' still tends to be one of the most common questions adoptive parents get asked about their reasons for growing their family unconventially.

So this is my attempt to answer the question about WHY we chose adoption, and particularly special needs adoption. There are so many reasons that I guess I will just list them, in no particular order of importance.

Question #2 Why did you adopt?

1. We love kids. We talked about adoption while we were dating, during pre-marriage counseling, and again with a church counselor when we were closer to making our decision. 
2. There are a LOT of kids who will never know the love of a family without the possibility of adoption.
3. There are more people unable or unwilling to raise their own children than there are people able or willing to adopt. Which means millions of children are being raised in orphanages, foster homes and on the streets.
4. Older, minority, and disabled children (and boys in general) have a much harder time finding families.
5. We saw a gift in our children, a heart for people with disabilities.
6. When we tried to imagine ourselves at the end of our lives, asking ourselves if we had any regrets, not going through with our call of adoption was the one regret we would have. I think laying on a hypothetical death bed looking back on one's life is a wonderful way to decide your life's calling. 
7. We have a lot of love to give to a child who has nobody to call their own.
8. Jesus' love  and the Word of God compel us to reach out to the widow, the orphan and the stranger. There are many many references to this in scripture. Adoption is one way to do this but there are many other ways..baking cookies for a lonely neighbor, visiting the elderly at a nursing home, inviting a foreign exchange student for dinner, mowing the grass for a single mom, showing hospitality, sending a kid to camp, etc. etc.
9. Many people wrongly assume adoption is a last resort for infertile couples. Our decision to adopt had nothing to do with fertility. We have 4 biological children and have decided to shut the factory down and open our home to kids without families.
10. We have a great home and property perfect for a lot of kids running around. And our floors are ruined anyway.

FAQs about Adoption

While I wait for our two newest blessings to join our family I thought I would open up this blog to questions about adoption. I know that everyone is not called to adoption and that it must seem pretty bizarre to most people that we would intentionally bring children of different races from another country with disabilities and ailments into our family. So I thought I would do a couple of posts about adoption and try to answer a few of the questions we have been asked directly or indirectly. I'll write each answer in a separate post so I can spread it out over a few days and so it won't be too long. Feel free to ask away. 

Starting with the most frequently asked question about adoption.

Question #1:
"Did you hear about the Russian boy that was sent back to Russian on an airplane by his adoptive mother?"

Answer: "Yes. Yes, I did". 

ha ha Seriously. Almost every person we tell our news to seems to respond with that question. 

Monday, July 12, 2010


We are home at last and getting caught up on rest, laundry, hugs, scheduling, playdates and kisses. Man that trip home was brutal! Makes one glad to not have been a passenger on the Mayflower or in a covered wagon!

Here is how we were greeted at the airport.....Can we say AAAWWWWWW! (This one was posed by the way. The real one contained a lot more hugging and kissing. OK and a little crying too.)

My niece Evi and nephew Sebastian. hee hee

The kids were separated while we were away, Ava with my sister and her teachers, and the 4 others with grandparents in Mexico. 
We owe our gratitude to so many people. We never would have been able to pull off this adoption had it not been for Opa and Oma, Juan and Marlita, Buddy and Danielle, Kimberly and Cameron, Brooke and Brent, Alana, who took shifts watching our kids (oh, and Becca too). 

And last but not least Kasey Marrs, our very dear friend who kept all of our animals alive, collected the mail, and even mowed our monstrous yard. We are truly and deeply grateful to all of you who sacrificed your time and efforts so that two children could finally know the love of a family.

Thank you!!!!

I got an email from Sherry White, who is still visiting her kids at 'our' orphanage every day. She sent me this picture and this email, titled "Zoya!" :
Look what she had on her head yesterday! She was totally rocking your scarf as a Ukrainian hair bow! :) They walked by and I pointed to my head and said she was beautiful like Mama, and she did this little runway strut and gave her shoulders a little cha-cha. Even the nanny laughed and repeated the little cha-cha! :) It was priceless!

This sure made me smile and I thought maybe you would too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Introducing Joseph Levi and Zoya Caroline....URBAN. Long post.

It was a crazy and beautiful day. We had been told three different times about our court time so we felt that just to be safe we should stick around the apartment and wait for clearer instructions. We got a call two hours earlier than we expected saying there was one document that we needed to sign and notarize before court and that our driver was on his way to pick us up. Good thing we had already showered and ironed our clothes, just to be safe.

Turns out the Whites had to sign the same form so we rode a taxi with them to the notary's office, none of us really knowing for sure what time court appointments were (Whites had court today too!).

So we get a call about 3:00 saying our court appointments were for 3:30 and 4:00, and that a taxi was on its way to pick us up. We got to the curb just in time to see our taxi driving away. I guess he had gotten impatient waiting for us, so we had to call another taxi.

It is a moment I am sure I will never forget: Sitting in the back seat of a slow taxi in bad traffic on our way to a very important 3:30 appointment that we had worked so hard towards and waited so long for........stuck in bad traffic over a bridge, realizing it is 3:32pm and not knowing how far away the court house was, and realizing this important meeting was happening without us. Sherry White was sitting next to me and I looked over to see her writing this note on her hand. ha ha. I am sure going to miss her.

We walked through the court doors at exactly 3:40pm only to see a very panicked Yulia who informed the Whites that they were missing a document which Nicolai had run to get. Meanwhile our prosecutor hadn't shown up so the Urbans couldn't go to court either. And by the way, when are your return flights in case we need to reschedule? Can we say stressed out?

Finally it was decided court could proceed for the Whites even though their document was still on its way. The Urbans sat in the waiting room with white knuckles waiting to hear the verdict. Whites came out about 30 minutes crying. Thankfully it was happy crying, and there were now three less orphans in the world.

It was our turn.

We did indeed get the 'good judge'. She was very lovely, amiable, smiling. She asked about our family, if we were 'strong enough' to take on more kids. She wondered if our other children would be jealous and whether we were financially prepared to raise so many children. She wanted to know were we aware the children have significant special needs and how are we prepared to handle them? And by the way, why do you want 'these' children and not 'healthy' children? I guess we answered to her satisfaction 'cause she smiled and nodded in response.

Present was a jury, a social worker, the orphanage director, our translator, the judge, and the prosecutor. Another moment that I will not forget: The orphanage director stood up to talk about the children and gave his reasons why he believed adoption was in their best interest. First Joseph: He told a brief history of his almost six years at the orphanage and said he was barely saved from the mental institution because of the timing of when we came for him. He was already due to be transferred but they held him when they knew a family was coming for him. Praise the Lord he will NEVER see the inside of one of that place! There were a lot of chuckles when he spoke about Joseph's energy level, and how much he understands for a boy with Down Syndrome, and how he has his 'own way of doing things'. :) I could tell this director knew Joseph very well.

Next Zoya: The director began by telling about the day Zoya came to the orphanage 5 1/2 years ago. She is clearly very special to him. He broke down crying as he spoke of how tiny she was, and how nobody thought she would survive after being born 12 weeks premature at less than two pounds, and how she fought to survive even without a mother or father at her side. He held his hands to show how tiny she was when she first arrived from the hospital at 5 months old, and how hard it was to find somebody to do surgery on a little orphaned baby with no means to pay for it. He spoke so fondly of her, and said how happy the staff at the orphanage was to learn that she was getting adopted. Even the prosecutor, who should have been trying to find reasons for her to not be adopted, said that when she told her colleagues at the office that Zoya was getting a family, the whole office cheered. :)  It was sure a tearful time for many people in the room. I will certainly never forget it. He also said that "Zoya has changed" since we have been coming to see her, and that she is very excited to be coming to live with us and in fact is inviting some of her nannies to come along. ha ha.

I don't think I've mentioned this but Zoya does have a cleft palate that has not been repaired. Only certain people very familiar with her can understand her, so on top of the already complicated task of having to teach her a new language, we are going to have to learn to decipher what she is trying to say through her speech impediment. We do not know anything about cleft palate repair, or what this means for her future as far as speech goes, but we are committed to get her fixed up as best as we can. You may have noticed that like Joseph she is missing a top tooth. That is because there is nowhere for the tooth to grow. Google cleft palate to see what I'm talking about if you don't already know. As I told you before a missionary here arranged for her to have cosmetic surgery of her lip but the palate is yet to be repaired.

OK I'm way off the subject now. Back to court. So after we had all had our tears, the judge left the room and came back with her decision granting us approval to adopt Joseph and Zoya. The orphanage director hugged and kissed us both and thanked us for taking care of the children. It was a really, really special time.

We had just a little bit of time to visit the kids one last time, and then out to dinner to celebrate with the Whites who also passed court today, the Enbergs who also passed court today, and Michelle Zoromski and the Heims who are at various stages of the process here. What a blessing to be able to celebrate with other Reece's Rainbow families.

We had just a little bit of time to head over to the orphanage for our last visit and give the kids their own photo albums to remember us by while we go home and wait to see whether any relatives suddenly and miraculously decide to pay them a visit. :(

We also brought a couple of little things, sunglasses, rings, hair thingies, trinkets to leave with them. I also brought that silly scarf I had to buy for the catacombs with the intention of fixing up the swing with a child safety restraint:

I thought it was a brilliant idea but Zoya would have nothing of it! Scarves are made for wearing, not repairing swings with! So I left it with her to wear instead:

These two photos make me think of Zoya's future wedding day. I wonder if her daddy will cry like he cried at her court hearing today? :)

And Joseph: He was far more interested in John's tie than the toys we brought him. Note to self. Pack a backpack with loads of zippers full of ties and scarves and jewelry for the airplane ride home.

Our dear facilitator Yulia took the time to meet us at the orphanage to explain to Zoya that we would be leaving for awhile to take care of our other children in the photos, her new brothers and sisters, and that when the time comes we will return to pick her up and bring her home to leave with us. She asked if she understood and Zoya said, "Da, da". (yes, yes) :)

I asked to take one group photo of Zoya's groupa. Aren't they adorable? Please somebody come adopt some of these kids. SO many boys that need families!

We gave hugs and kisses and said Paka-paka (bye bye). When I walked away and turned around this is what I saw:

We are heading to bed and will wake up in just a few hours to board our flight home! 28 hours of travel which we will start out with the Enbergs of course. Why wouldn't we! It is very bittersweet leaving the kids here. But we will be glad to be home for a little bit and will wait out our 10 day wait -actually it is a twelve business day wait in this region- I'm not surprised! We are now just about halfway there and will be altogether in a month or so!

Thanks to everyone who followed along! It's not necessarily over yet but the hardest part is now behind us, and that is certainly worth celebrating! Thanks for celebrating with us!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Today's history lesson

Are you as weary of following our adoption progress as we are of experiencing it?

Today I decided it was time to quit being a baby about being homesick for my kids, and John and I spent a couple of hours after the orphanage visit doing some sightseeing. My feet are doing SO much better by the way. We walked 7 miles today. I have decided that the Europeans really have it right. It really makes so much more sense to do most of your transportation by foot. After a month of being here it seems perfectly natural to do all our shopping on the side of the road, a little bit every opposed to a weekly trip to the Walmart Supercenter, by van. There are vendors everywhere selling bandaids, aspirin, bras, shoes, calling cards, coloring books, roach repellent, bread, flowers, toothpaste. YOU NAME IT and you can find it on the side of the road.

I also have decided I really love the idea of people making a living by sitting by the side of the road and entertaining onlookers. There are plenty of beggars everywhere, anybody can do that, but what I really love is the sight of two little old ladies sitting by the side of the road, one holding a plastic cup, singing a sad duet together. Or the blind man at the metro who plays the accordion. We have seen mini rock bands, guitarists, singers. Some who are really talented and some who are....well.....not. It seems that there is a general sadness here. People are not talkative at all, most everyone looks ahead and minds their own business rather than making small talk with the people around them.

After being here so many weeks I think I will really miss this place.

We opted to not pay $40 for an english tour guide and as a result I really have no idea where we went today or what exactly we saw. Just the same, here are a few of the pictures we took.

A couple of the many very old Orthodox churches in the city.
I snapped this photo inside before I saw the "no photo" sign. Ooops.
This is an old building scattered with bullet holes, from WW II I believe.
I have no idea the significance of these two monuments and part of me was wishing we had paid for that tour guide after all. :(
This was a very beautiful place that is a lookout point over the city and the Dneiper river, a place seemingly popular with lovers.

More churches....

The Monastery of the Caves was very interesting. It's a very narrow cave under one of the churches containing the mummified bodies of several Orthodox saints. Women, to enter you must have your heads covered. Also, you must carry a long candle like so:
The mummified saints can be seen through their glass coffins although they are covered with ornate cloths. The practicing Orthodox catholics come to pay tribute to the saints. We saw many people, even young children bowing and kissing the tops of the coffins. It was a bit uncomfortable for this protestant girl, but also very fascinating. I know my children would have enjoyed it as at least the boys have a fascination with mummies.

I wish I could have given you a stronger history lesson today, but we saved $40 instead.

We enjoyed Skyping our kids this afternoon. They are back from a wonderful time with Opa and Oma in Mexico and are now home waiting for us. It is so nice to know we are at least halfway through this adoption journey. And we will be home SOON. Tomorrow is court, at 4:00. Praying all goes as it should.