Wednesday, December 24, 2008


We made it!

In Kyiv, we got yelled at mostly in Ukrainian for 20 stressful minutes about a stamp missing in the kids' passport. In Paris the security line took us 1 and a half hours, putting us dangerously close to our connecting flight's departure time, and we arrived home to an ice storm, taking us 2 hours to get home from the airport. Who CARES? WE ARE HOME!!!!

I'm thinking a beautiful friend from Delta worked some magic, and got us upgraded to BUSINESS CLASS for the ride home. Have you ever ridden in business class internationally? It was heaven. Vadim had a personal movie screen with video games. They waited on us hand and foot. Before the plane took off, the flight attendant handed me a freaking mimosa. It made me so happy that I literally busted out crying over the mimosa. Vadim loved it too, He's had a very hard few days with all the running around for paperwork, grueling lines and waiting and flying etc., and he appreciated being pampered like that so much. If you are reading this Jerlilyn, you are my favorite person ever.

Vadim is so happy. About 2 hours before we landed, he put his hand on my face and smiled, and said in his darling little accent, "You are my family, and I am American boy."

I don't think I've ever been happier in my life than last night. The Bottos and Oksana and Kristen and Todd, mom, and Jake were at the airport with signs and cheering. Lots of crying and hugging. Then, my dad, Jill, Ab and Hutch came over with pizza, and I told them stories about Ukraine until I passed out about 9:00.

I love my tiny home. It seems ENORMOUS and Oh so very wonderfully clean. Jake and mom put up decorations and made more signs. Jake is even more beautiful and funny and wonderful than I've been remembering him. The boys laughed together right up until bedtime. They are so happy to be together.

Thank you for following my blog, your encouragement, and most importantly your prayers. I appreciate you being along for the ride and helping me hang on as God saved Vadim.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last full day in Kyiv (?)

Well, at 4:15, we got the visas and completed all of our paperwork. The embassy closes at 4:30, so it was very stressful. It looks like we're on for our 6;30 a.m. flight. We leave for the airport at 4:30 a.m.

Tonight, I'm headed out to meet Vadim's sisters and have him say goodbye. This will be really hard for him.

Thanks for your continuing prayers, and see you very very soon!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday--Day 30

What do you do for little money, with a 13-year-old boy, in snowy cold Kyiv for the day to get out of a 2-room apartment? Please? Anybody?

Vadim had his very first visit from the tooth fairy. He lost a 12-year-old molar, and I talked him into putting it under his pillow, and lo and behold, he woke up with 8 grivna under there. That's only about a dollar. He thought it was hysterical.

Yesterday, he went ice skating and played in an arcade at the mall. We feasted on Beth's mac and cheese. V and Z ate 2 whole packs of freeze dried calamari that smelled disgusting, but they "ooohed" and "ahhhed" like it was the best thing they had ever had.

God willing, it's 44 hours until my plane leaves. Monday, I need some serious praying for paperwork magic.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday--Day 28

Constant, constant, constant tackling, wrestling, poking, sitting on each other, etc.
Tough morning for goodbyes yesterday.

This bottom picture is common in Kyiv. The outsides of these buildings and their balconies are deteriorating, so they put up these fences to catch the debris from the balconies. People own individual flats, but no one owns the building, so the outside and hallways just go to pot. For example, ours has the lovely smell of boiled cabbage, garbage, and cat pee. How do builidngs like this get maintained in NYC, or do they?

You can probably tell that my posts are losing some of their zest.

The kids are living in our little 2-room apartment now. It’s tight, but it’s nice to have them around. Lots of loud music that I really hate and lots of running after each other shrieking, pushing, tackling, poking, wrestling etc. Anybody got a tranquilizer dart handy? They are bouncing off the walls at times, but I’m glad they get along well and are friends. I think it made it a lot easier to leave the orphanage, although as you can see in the pictures, it’s still really hard to say goodbye, especially to Igor and Lorscht, a volunteer.

We missed our chance to say goodbye to the other kiddies at the orphanage. Many are leaving to spend the holiday in Italy. Who knew? I wanted to get in a few last hugs, but I’m glad many of them get to have a change of scenery and hopefully a family to love on them over Christmas and New Year. We sent along some gifts.

There’s this dog at the orphanage that hangs around the cafeteria, and the kids feed him occasionally. I didn’t like it b/c it looks a little wild and scraggy. Of course, I thought I was being overly neurotic about it. Especially earlier this week when I went through a door and screamed to almost run into it. But today, Ilona showed us her ankle where the stupid thing “Blini” bit her ankles. It was a bad bite--bloody holes on her ankles, and Ilona had to go the hospital for shots! We asked if it ever bothered the kids, and she said, “sometimes it bites them, but usually they give it food, so it leaves them alone.” Can you imagine?

We spent a tense day riding around in a freezing van trying to get things done really quickly after the court paperwork is ready in time to fly home. We were ready for pick up at 8:30 a.m., left at 9:30, drove around until around 4:00. Beth and I signed our name twice. The kids got their picture taken. We waited in the freezing van for hours. An interesting thing happened, when an adminstrator wrote our information in a very official looking book/register thing, but wrote the birthdays in the wrong slot. She proceded to scrape them off with a rusty razor blade before writing in the new ones over top and then applying a dozen or so stamps. So many documents here. Everyone you see on the street is carrying documents, and there are notary offices on every corner for the millions of documents needed for everything.

There is a glaze over Kyiv today. We watched a number of people slip around and slide and almost fall down. The kids were really patient. Until 4pm, Beth ate one piece of toast, M&M’s, and a few chips. I didn’t do much better. Vadim and Zhenya had king-sized Snickers for lunch. Now, that’s parenting at its best. For about 45 minutes we thought we weren’t going to get the passports today. Ilona made calls with increasingly higher up people and smoked. Finally, were heard the beautiful “korocho, korocho” and we knew it was good, and she took the kids in for their photo. Phew. One hold up like that, and there goes the flight on the 23rd, a huge change fee, and Christmas.

We were warned that there would be days like these.

I‘ll meet Vadim‘s two sisters and their babies to say goodbye on Monday evening. I think it will be emotional for him.

We had dinner at our favorite restaurant called Momentos and had delicious potato pancake things and salad. Vadim had pizza. I was too tired to make conversation and just spaced out during dinner.

Three days left, I hope and pray!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wed. Dec 17th

No pics today. I lent the camera to Vadim to keep until tomorrow. I bet he'll have a million of his friends, and maybe out of that, 10 or so really good ones.

Hope all is well in CVG/NKY.

I hate to say it, but I'm so sick of talking about dates, court, paperwork, money, taxis--the LOGISTICS of the process. I don't mind the chatter about the kids themselves, their adjusting and parenting etc, but the talk about the process is just nonstop, like who is putting in which piece of paper when. It's becoming kind of like the background thump, thump, thump in every semi-pornographic video showing on a TV in every store or restaurant. But of course, we're hanging onto every nugget of information about each step, so it makes sense that we analyze every development like this.

Slow day today. We meet with our facilitator later to plan out the running around that needs to be done on Thurs, Friday, and Monday.

Love to everyone! I'll put up Vadim's best shots by tomorrow night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tues Dec 16th

We did some walking around and visited the orphanage today. As you can see, Kyiv is lovely in some ways despite the smoke, dirt, traffic, and greyness. It's cold today.

This afternoon, I had a moment when I watched my son laughing with his friends that I was just absolutely overwhelmed with joy that he gets to come home with me shortly. I love him and am honored to get to be his mom. I will get to be mom to the best two boys in the universe.

I had a few Stella's tonight, and I'm feeling happy. I am looking forward to a fabulous Christmas and New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Monday Dec. 15th

Hi everybody. I'm hanging in there. Yesterday, we went to a mega-church called Hillsong in the morning. These were the happiest people we've seen yet. Very welcoming people, enthusiastic for Jesus. The service had 40 minutes or so of really loud music that was good, but not even close to as good as CR. There were edgy, artistic videos. Then, there was a sermon about how all things are possible with God, provided you work your butt off first. It somehow segued into a theme about friendship--to get a friend, be a friend. The similiarities with CR were more notable than the differences. I suppose the mega-church experience is a global phenomenon.
Then, we took a taxi to the orphanage. The driver got lost, and we could not be helpful, b/c I have no cognitive map of Kyiv, and a lot of the neighborhoods look the same. Anyway, we had a very pleasant afternoon of hanging with the kiddies. I played balloon volleyball with Vadim, Annya, and Igor. The kids have itneresting ways of entertaining themselves that explains a lot about how this summer went. They constantly pick at each other--flick, pinch, slap, kick, tackle etc. Then giggle, run away and get chased. They always do this right up to the threshold of pain, and then mostly stop. I suppose when you don't have toys, you use your body. I can see how Jake did not understand this game and either got irritated by the picking or else took it too far and end up hurting Vadim. I will have to figure out how to minimize the game, or else help Jake figure out how to play it. Understanding this would've made summer a lot easier.
Sabina hung on Beth, and we just don't know how we are going to be able to take these kids' friends away from them and leave them behind.
Today looks like a day of nothing much, maybe going for a walk. Vadim tried to convince me yesterday that he doesn't have school Mon thru Wed, but I think he might be making that up. The story changed a few times while we were there. He certainly wants to spend days with me, instead of at the orphanage. I need to call the facilitator for clarification.
At the end of the week, the kids will be with us for the final round of paperwork running around. Our flight home is confirmed, and we are counting down.