Thursday, November 5, 2009

Update on K's Progress

Hello Everyone! I know I said I would update the blog when we returned home, but in my defense, I didn't really how busy I would be as a new Mom with a very eager 13 year old.  Two hours after we landed (on October 23rd), she was asking when she could start school.  Naturally, we just assumed it was because we are just another pair of boring parents!  :*)  Actually, it was more about wanting to start her English lessons as soon as possible.  I think she is growing tired of not knowing what everyone is talking about!

So...she started her first day of school last week, after getting several more vaccinations that weren't fun for her.  G-d, I am so happy that we live in such an amazing school district.  K's school is awesome & the teachers there are very patient & accepting.  Of course, we're not too happy about all the Math homework we're having to help with now...I forgot how much I hated 7th grade Math.

Her vocabulary is growing more every day and we always celebrate those little moments when she/we realize she's remembered a specific word or phrase.  It's all about small victories!  But we are also having to be more cautious about what we discuss because she also understands a lot more now as well.  She still talks to our animals in Russian, and I have to admit that it's pretty cute to hear "baby talk" in Russian; it's a nice change, and the dog's have no clue, but they love her very much & they are now getting much more hugs & kisses than ever!

Halloween was a blast this year!  R & I dressed up, along with K who was a cute little Vampire girl (minus the complicated fangs).  R was a mexican who looked more like Juan Valdez than Juan himself, and I was going for the Lilly Munster look, but wound up looking more like Elvira!  Nevertheless, K had so much fun celebrating her 1st Halloween!  She came home with a bag full of candy (my waist line hates me for it), and I think we all slept in the day after.

Now, we're looking forward to Thanksgiving, as this will be her 1st with the entire family.  We will be hosting the festivities at our house, so I'm a busy bee these days trying to get things ready for the big event.  This year, we have so much more to be thankful for!

Well, that's a rough overview of the past 2 weeks, but stay tuned because there will be much more to come!

PS:  We'd like to say Thank You to our wonderful friends who came to meet us at the airport with lots of hugs, kisses, flowers, and other awesome presents!  We love you guys & we cannot tell you how thankful we are to have such a great  group of friends!  Also, thanks to Mark & Linda who hosted a very fun "Welcome Home" party for us, and to Suzanne who is hosting a "Welcome Home Shower" for us this coming weekend!  You guys ROCK!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Final Countdown....

We are finally starting to see the finish line.  Today, we applied for K's U.S. Immigrant Visa and completed the medical checkup.  Unfortunately, she had to have one vaccination for Measels, Mumps, & Rhubella (MMR).  Not an inexpensive injection, I might add. So, tomorrow we will return to the US Embassy to pick up her new Visa & then, we'll be ready to head home!!!  Of course, with only 2 flights out of Kiev every day, we wouldn't be able to make the late flight, so we'll be leaving Friday morning.  We should arrive in Houston after lunch time.  It will be a long day, but much celebrated (at least by me)!!!

So, this will be my last post until after we arrive in Houston.  I will continue to update this site with K's status & progression to American life.  So, stay tuned....

Thanks to everyone for all of your love, support, friendship, guidance, advice, patience, and many other adjectives I might be leaving out.  You are all wonderful & we value you more than you could ever know!

See you on the flip-side!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A tough day for K & me

Today started out as normal as the rest of our days here.  Got to the orphanage around 12:30 and it was a very busy place today.  Today is Thanksgiving Day in Ukraine.  There is no turkey, not even a football game to watch. What’s up with that? Here in Ukraine, people do not celebrate with turkeys or football. The only group of people who really celebrate this holiday is the church. Kids do not get out of school early for the holiday because it is not a national holiday.  There is no specific day when they celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally, individual churches decide when they are going to celebrate Thanksgiving. This special celebration is called Zhatva. On the Sunday that the church celebrates Zhatva, everyone tries to make that Sunday special. The entire day centers on the theme of thankfulness. This is done in many different ways, from showing people what they should be thankful for, to a strong message about the meaning of thankfulness. There is no turkey or pumpkin pie on the table. Instead, there are cakes, sandwiches, and, sometimes, different kinds of soft drinks. No matter how much or how little there is, the people all have a great time because they are together.  I can honestly say that being in another country makes you really think about what we should be thankful for.  

Anyway, a group of children from a local church came to the orphanage & sand songs of Thanksgiving & then the children at the house participated in several games of giving thanks.  It was an interesting event!  They stayed for about 4 hours with the children.  It was very sweet.

Then, we had more visitors...S's boss, who is the head of the Department of Ministry & Youth, and one of her coworkers & spouse.  They said their goodbye's to Karolina after having tea & cake, along with a lot of different fruits.  After they left, K's brother & his father came to visit.  Unfortunately, they only stayed for a few minutes & were not very supportive of K's decision to live in America.  This upset her very much.  We didn't even get to take a picture of K with her brother.  This made me very sad.  Fortunately, her brother's grandmother came soon after & was very happy for K.  She was dressed in traditional 'babushka' attire, and was the picture of a Ukrainian grandmother.  She presented K with two small pictures of Mother Mary with baby Jesus & another of Jesus for her room.  It is Ukrainian tradition to have these by your bed to watch over & keep you safe.  She also gave us two pieces of "Holy Bread" to take with us to America & to have communication in a traditional Ukrainian Orthodox church.  Guess I'll be needing to research that one.  Upon leaving, she gave us both hugs & kisses, and left us.  This was a highlight of our day.  

After all of this activity, we talked to Pappi on Skype (we miss him very much), and decided it was time to say goodbye to everyone.  This was heartbreaking for me to see her so upset & not be able to do anything to make it better for her.  I guess this is my first lesson in motherhood teaching me about how to help your children through life's hurts & disappointments.  It was not an easy lesson for me, but one I know I will learn many times in my life as K's mother.

Tonight, we are back at the apartment.  She is now sound asleep, as all of those emotions put her out pretty quickly.  I am praying for a passport tomorrow, but according to our facilitator, that would indeed be a miracle.  So, tomorrow we are planning a day of packing & just being together.  We hope to be home on Friday, God willing!  If you do not see a post from me tomorrow, you will know that we got the passport & are heading to Kiev & you'll hear from me soon.  If you see me here again tomorrow, you'll know I'm probably going crazy!  :0)

Until then...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Long Day

I tried to sleep in this morning since R has left & K routinely sleeps 12 hours every night (we need to change this), but I could not sleep.  It seems that I am now missing more than just home...I miss R also.  Today is his birthday, so it is especially difficult to be separated from him. I think this is the first year since we have been together that we've not celebrated together.  Fortunately, some very good friends of ours, L & M, have taken him in for the evening & are preparing his favorite meal...fajitas!

So, once I was finally able to wake K this morning, we got ready to spend another day at the orphanage.  The days seem to be getting longer as we wait for her passport.  We are hoping to receive it on Monday or Tuesday, but we will be saying our goodbye's to everyone tomorrow, in hopes for a Monday delivery, so I thought that it would be a good idea for K to spend one last night at the orphanage with her friends; I needed an evening to myself anyway.  Of course, she was very concerned about me staying by myself...that I would be lonely, scared, or bored.  She even called me as soon as they returned to the house after dropping me off; she wanted to make sure I was ok.  (This scenario seems backward....isn't the parent the one that should be concerned when the child stays alone?)  She is most precious!

Several of the caretakers thought that today we would be saying goodbye to everyone, so even though they were not on the schedule to work, they all came anyway to see us off & give K her special presents.  Once they found out that she is staying the night there & I will be back tomorrow, they gave us hugs & kisses & promised to return tomorrow.  One of the caretakers started crying, which was like a domino effect; another started crying, then me, then a couple of the children.  It was time to leave.

I have no idea how to say goodbye to these most special souls.  Even though we're only bringing one of them home with us, we cannot help but to feel like 'mother & father' to all of them.  We have come to love them all in different ways.  One little girl told me tonight that K is getting a very special family.  It was too much for me. I started crying again.  This trip has changed me in ways I cannot explain and I almost feel guilty for leaving the rest of them behind.  Before we left on our journey, we were given the following piece of advice: "Enjoy every moment".  I can honestly say that what we have enjoyed most are these children!  When people have asked us if we like Ukraine, our first thought is of them & how much we have come to love them & enjoy their company. So tomorrow will be a difficult day for us, especially K.  Being her mom, my heart will be doubly sad...for myself, and for her.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Missing Papi...

Ok, so you will get two posts in one day since I've been slacking the past few days.

Today, Papi has been in the fore-front of our minds as we have been without him for two days now & are missing him as he travels back to America today.  We are hoping to talk to him in the next couple of hours, provided his flight arrives in Houston on time (it's actually scheduled to arrive about 17 minutes late).

Today, on the way to the orphanage, the director was stopped by the Police for not allowing a pedestrian cross when they had the right-of-way.  This was total crap since there was no one in the crosswalk when we turned, but because someone showed up at the corner AS we turned, they stopped us.  This took about 30 minutes.  Poor S is not having a good week with the local government.

Today was a pretty normal day at the orphanage, with one exception.  One of the older girls gave me a note that she had written in English for me. Now, this wouldn't normally seem like a big deal, but this girl, who is 17, very standoff-ish and quite shy, who paid us little attention in the beginning, cannot even say 'Thank You' in English...took the time to write me a note in English.  Upon her request, I will not divulge the contents of the letter except to say that it was very kind & it really touched my heart!  After she gave it to me, she kissed my cheek & gave me a big hug!  I cannot say it enough...these kids are amazing!!!!

Tomorrow, the children are having a celebration in honor of R's birthday & K's departure to America soon. It won't be the same without R here with us, but he will be here in spirit, I am certain of that!  R, if you are reading this, we love you & miss you!  K has said this at least 4 times today.  It's precious!

That's all for now.  I'll let you all know how it goes tomorrow!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We've finally applied for the Passport!!!

Thankfully, we went yesterday morning to get K's photo & application for her new passport with her new name.  We hope we will receive her passport on Monday afternoon, but it is more likely to be on Tuesday.  Either way, we won't be home now until Thursday or Friday.  R left Kg yesterday to head back to Kiev.  He had to go to the US Embassy & sign a couple of documents before heading home today.  He should be in the air now somewhere over Europe heading to Amsterdam & then on to Houston.  I feel horrible that he will be alone for his birthday on Saturday, but very jealous he will be spending it in America.  As for me & K, we'll just be visiting the orphanage every day this weekend, up until we get her passport.  We will try to see her brother (he lives with his biological father here) before we depart.

R went to the orphanage by himself on Wednesday evening to say 'Good Bye' to all the children.  According to both he & the director, it was just awful.  All of the children were very upset & crying because he was leaving & they stayed awake until 2:00am crying even still & talking about us and how much they are going to miss us. Several of the children gave R presents for his upcoming birthday.  I cannot even imagine how hard it will be for me & K to say good bye to them, but especially for her because these children have been her family for so long.  Last night, one of the girls, whom I've become extremely fond of, asked me to spend the night there with them before we leave.  Maybe....

Anyway...back to yesterday.  After completeing our passport application, our attorney's asst (who helped us there) drove me & K to the orphanage.  When we arrived, there were several inspectors there from the Kg. Prosecutor's Office. This was the first time that they have ever showed up there, but they were asking lots of questions about our adoption proceeding, along with the adoption proceeding of one of the other children.  Hopefully, they will not throw a monkey-wrench into anything.  The director must go to their office on Tuesday to give them a written explanation for both adoption proceedings.  (Hopefully, we'll be outta here by then & heading to Kiev.)   This was the first time since we have been here that there was tension in the air at the orphanage.  It was quite un-nerving.  K & I, along with several other girls (& one boy) heading to her room to sort through her things to decide what she will bring back to America.  It was amazing to watch how was like being at an Auction, but the price wasn't money, but 'need' (which one needs this more).

After the ladies from the PO left, it was back to normal.  All of the children had arrived home from school by this time and went directly to the kitchen and started cooking.  We had some mini-pancakes, scrambled eggs with wieners in it (they call that 'sausage' here), mashed potatoes, and salad.  I know...weird combination, but trust me; you eat whatever you've got access to here.

After getting back to the apartment last night, K & I spent the evening at the computer, talking (via online translator).  Of course, we called dad first to make sure he was ok...we won't be able to talk to him again until Saturday afternoon...we're missing him so much already.  Today, back to the orphanage for another long day of waiting.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Well, it is official...we are now the proud parents of a wonderful 13 year old girl!!!  Today was the best day of our lives!  Court was interesting.  We were slotted for a noon court time, but I think it was about 40 minutes late getting started.  Of course, the official language of the hearing was Ukrainian (not Russian, even though that's what everyone here speaks) because the Judge is an official for the Ukrainian government & that is the official language.  So, his first question to us was, "Do you know Ukrainian?".  Well, kind of....  From there, he asked us questions from our paperwork that we submitted, about our family, our home, jobs, pets, etc.  Then, he asked K some questions about her decision to live with us, whether she was sure, if she was going to change her mind, etc... Then, the city inspector (social worker) gave a short speech on why we should be her parents, followed by the orphanage director, then our lawyer made her closing statements.  It lasted about an hour.  Mainly because the judge reviewed every document between his 5 cell phone calls (keep in mind that we were asked 3 times to make sure ours were turned off). After the hearing, we left the room for maybe 3 minutes, then they called us back in & read the court decree to us.  It's 5 pages, so this took a while also.

We are very lucky; we will have K's new birth certificate tomorrow & we will be applying for her new passport, with her new name.  We have a hiccup with getting her passport, as there was a clerical error on a previous passport that had her listed as 'male' instead of 'female'.  I mean many boys would have such a girl-y name?  Anyway, this will delay her passport for 1 day, but luckily, not our trip home (we hope).  Once we receive her new passport, we'll be off to Kiev to complete everything here.

Tonight was a big celebration at the orphanage.  In Ukraine, it is tradition that when a child finds a family, the other children will celebrate this day, as if it were his/her day of birth with the new parents, so from that day onward, the child will celebrate 2 birthdays.  It is a great celebration for the children.  So, from now on, K will have two birthdays that we celebrate each year.  Also, the new family buys a plant/tree for the orphanage & they name the tree after the child that found their family, so tomorrow, we will be shopping for a plant/tree for K to give to the orphanage in her honor.

Today was also the (natural) birthday of one of the other girls in the house, who was 15 today.  Presents were given, and a big feast of mashed potatoes, potato salad, crab salad, pizza, fish, bread, & regular salad was served for all the children, followed by cake & ice cream.  (We missed out on the ice cream because we needed to leave the festivities to head home, but they are saving some for us to have tomorrow.)

So, tonight we are back at the apartment with our new daughter & still cannot believe it is now official and that she is finally ours!

We hope to be seeing you all very soon!