Irina was COMPLETELY different in looks and health than we had been shown and told while in Kiev. The picture they showed us portrayed Irina like a child out of the Holocaust. Seriously. It was a terrible picture and they wouldn't even let us take a picture of it to keep even though we committed to adopting her. So I went to visit her not knowing what to expect - but nothing could prepare me for meeting little Irina. I had been praying continually that I would be able to know if she was our daughter. I wanted to know for myself and I prayed that God would bless me with that knowledge. Irina was in an orphanage in Donets'k, but was moved to Mariopol (spelling?) a few weeks before we arrived. When we went into the orphanage we met with the director, a social worker, and Irina's doctor. They told us about her history and health concerns. They said that she suffers from a problem with her central nervous system which was caused prenatally. I have no clue what this means, but that's what they said. They said that she is mentally delayed and doesn't talk much.
After all the information was given to us that they had, the door opened and in walked a very spunky little girl in a BRIGHT orange dress. She walked right up to me and looked me in the eyes and smiled. Then she asked if she could sing a song. She sang two songs and talked a LOT. She answered questions and knows her full name. She has brown eyes and short light brown/blonde hair. She is quite thin - they said she is malnourished. I'm eager to get her home and start cooking for her! Her eyes also have some problems - they are slightly crossed, but I am told that it is completely correctable and very common in orphans in Ukraine. We have committed to adopt little Irina (we are planning to change her name, but haven't completely decided upon it yet) Without further ado...picture time!
This is the picture in Irina's file at her current location. It is MUCH different from the picture they have at the SDA.
Irina LOVED the ball that we brought and she played with it almost non-stop. When it was time to go, she said: "Mama, I want the ball." :o)
She latched onto both of us very quickly and even called us by "Papa" and "Mama" during our visit.
Isn't she a doll? I love that smile! As for me, well, I was saying something...lovely, I know.
This picture says it all! Isn't she adorable?
I am going to see if I can buy this dress from the orphanage or replace it with another one - it's too cute! She loves glasses and kept saying that she wants some glasses for herself. I am concerned by her immediate attachment to us - which can be a sign of attachment disorder. It is something that I will keep in mind in the future - as for now, I am enjoying her fun personality!
After a very short visit with Irina in Mariopol, we drove 3 hours to Artemovsk where our sweet Nikita is and that is where we are now. When we arrived, Nikita was napping - but they woke him up to come see us. Poor thing was disoriented, but warmed up some to the car that we brought. He has a captivating smile:
Nikita (we will be calling him Keith - but only when we have returned home and are more accustomed, until then - we are calling him by his name, Nikita) has Cerebral Palsy. It appears that his legs are most affected by this, as he uses his hands and arms quite normally. He is walking with assistance and we have been told that he can sit up - but we have not seen him do it on his own yet. He is much more shy than Irina - but enjoys snuggles. I want to give him kisses all the time - but he isn't comfortable with that which makes me a little sad, I am assuming it is because he hasn't had someone kissing on him during his short life. :o( Of course, this will change very quickly, as I am an affectionate Mama!
Nikita LOVES to be tickled - especially on his neck and under his chin. His laugh is so addicting that almost the whole visiting time is spent tickling him! :o) Nikita is more hesitant than Irina in getting to know us, but I've been assured that this is very promising that he will not have any attachment problems. After two days, he seems to be warming up to us and even resisted leaving his Papa's arms when going back to the caretaker. :o) Today we were able to give supplies (diaper rash cream, etc) to his orphanage - it felt so good to give help to these kind women who serve and love these children so much. We are SO happy to finally be with our little boy. He is so precious! Below are two videos that we have taken of Nikita. The first one is from yesterday and the second one is from today. Enjoy:
Tyler thinks it's funny - but I want to remember the different foods we have eaten here in Ukraine.
Tyler ate this last night - sauteed onions and mushrooms inside mashed potatoes that have been breaded and fried with mayonnaise and parsley on top. He said it was tasty! I was not brave enough to try it...
I am grateful that potatoes are a common food here - these potato wedges are found at almost all restaurants and are quite tasty!
This was our breakfast at a hotel in Donets'k. It consists of hot porridge (salty - not sweet - but VERY good!), chicken, juice, peach yogurt, and bread. They always put butter and cheese on their bread = YUM!
Thank you all for your prayers on my behalf. I'm not sure why my tummy is so upset - I haven't tried anything crazy here and I don't drink the water...so...I don't know why I feel nauseated. It's a small price to pay to be here - but I wish it would go AWAY! There are also times that I feel light headed and that is a bit disconcerting - but again, I can handle that. I hope. I haven't fallen down (yet) so that is good. I know that this post is already long, but there are some general things about Ukraine that I want to blog about so I won't forget them:
The Ukrainian women are afraid of being short: everyone under 60 years old is wearing HIGH heels. Everyone but me, of course. Why increase the chance of falling down?
The wallpaper here is foam. I think that little children should "wallpaper" their rooms with thick foam. It seems like a smart idea to me.
If you're planning to adopt, try to communicate to your facilitator that you are NOT rich because you're an American. We've been taken to nice restaurants and hotels because the facilitator assumes we are rich because we can afford to adopt. I don't know about you - but we had to take out a loan to do this adoption and money is already tight for us, so we're doing this with faith that God will somehow help us through. We finally figured out that this was why our facilitator was taking us to more expensive restaurants than we wanted to go to. Of course, if you are rich - then you won't have any problems.
Crisp banknotes. What a nightmare! We ordered our money from the bank a week before we wanted to pick it up. Tyler called them 2 days later to confirm that order. He goes in to the bank and asks for the money. They claim that we didn't place an order - so they gave us the money that they had - which wasn't brand new. Unfortunately for us - Ukraine is EXTREMELY picky when it comes to American money. If the bills are not CRISP, they don't accept them. This has been a HUGE frustration during our trip because some places have not accepted our money and it's all that we have. Very frustrating. Don't make this mistake! Order your money IN ADVANCE and MAKE SURE that the bills are free from any and all stains, markings, creases.
Our second major problem this trip has been the converter/adapter problems. We brought an adapter and it blew shortly after arriving. We have a laptop - but cannot use it. We have been searching for an adapter - but to no avail. Thank goodness most places have an internet cafe where we can use the computers and pay hardly anything at all. However, we brought movies to watch and cannot see them because we cannot plug in our laptop - that has been frustrating for us.
I highly recommend bringing traveler's checks with you and credit cards for any unexpected purchases. We ended up having to fly from Kiev to Donets'k - it's a good thing they accept credit cards!
I think that everyone smokes in Ukraine. Seriously.
Traffic lanes. One car per lane - this is optional in Ukraine. Usually there are two cars squeezed into one lane. I find it best to close my eyes and not watch the road, it keeps my blood pressure down.
Everyone seems to be very friendly here. In the evenings people are outside talking and I've been greeted by some nice people while in Ukraine. Some people even know some English, which has been nice. We've met 3 other adopting families here - 2 from US and 1 from Italy.
People (especially women) talk at the same time. Our facilitator and translator would talk at the same time. I'm not sure if either one was listening...it's bizarre to witness.
People believe in no privacy. All the curtains I've seen in our hotels have been SHEER. One would think that others wouldn't want to see everyone in all their glory, but again, this is Ukraine after all, and modesty is a thing of the past for those who live here.
There are many signs with English on them, as well as music that is played. I've heard Toni Braxton, Britney Spears, and Dido since being here.
The stairs here in Ukraine aren't even. It's wild - you would think that they would make all the stairs even and the same height - but each is different.
Ukraine is not built to accomodate special needs or those in wheelchairs. The ground is uneven, there are many hills and the sidewalks all have holes or cracks in them.
That's all for now...any questions?
Dear Anna - did you see the pictures of your brother and sister? We have shown them pictures of you and they are excited to meet their big sister! We love you and pray for you everyday! We love our sweet Anna girl!
Love, Mama & Daddy