Help outfit Michael, Sarah, and John

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're in Ukraine, baby!

Greetings from Kiev, Ukraine. We left Ohio on Sunday and flew from there to JFK, New York. In there Ohio airport there just happened to be an Outback Steakhouse open…and we figured that they could really use our business, so we grabbed a nice meal there.

We flew from JFK to Kiev, Ukraine. On the airplane was a huge group of devout Jews on their way to Ukraine for a vacation. It was very interesting to see them wear the clothing, speaking Yiddish, and reading from their scriptures on the plane. Plus they were very nice to us and one of the girls (9 years-old) particularly liked talking to Tyler. It made the trip more enjoyable – although I was ready for a real bed before long into the 9 hour flight!

We arrived in Ukraine and went through customs. We were nervous because the officer wanted an address of where we would be staying while in Ukraine – but we did not have such an address to give him. After he huffed and puffed, we were able to go get our luggage. After that we went out into a sea of people, mainly taxi drivers looking to take someone somewhere, and we were relieved to see a man holding a card with our name on it. The driver’s name was Vajim (spelling?) and he has since been our main driver while in Ukraine. He is VERY nice, but speaks ZERO English – which makes for some fun communication. He took us to a nearby market to buy some oranges, deli food (very scary looking) and some Sandora mixed fruit juice – which I’d already learned to love while on the plane to Ukraine!

We then went to our apartment where the two landlords were waiting for us. The apartment was very nice – the main color was ORANGE, even! Here are some pictures:

living room

Me very tired and ready for bed!
kitchen, complete with washing machine and drying rack.

toilet with button on top to flush.
sink without a faucet - we used the shower faucet which worked just fine! Plus there was a heated towel rack - we need to get one back home! So neat! Power outlets in Ukraine - interesting!

Sandora mixed fruit juice! YUM!
Views from our apartment

We unpacked and made ourselves stay up until about 8pm and then crashed HARD. Our facilitator, Olga, arrived in Kiev on Tuesday. She took us around looking for a converter for our computer (we only brought an adapter and the voltage here in Ukraine is 220 whereas in US it is 120). We didn’t a converter but ate lunch in a small coffee house-like cafĂ©. I had the “chicken sandwich” which consisted of a HUGE bun, some lettuce, avocado, hard cheese that had no flavor, and 2 almond sized pieces of chicken. Yeah. So, they should probably call it “the sandwich with a hint of chicken”. ;o) After this we went to Independent Square where we saw the Ukrainian citizens celebrating a Russian Orthodox holiday. Olga left us to do some sight-seeing and we ended up eating dinner at a REAL Ukrainian restaurant! The poor waitress had NO English skills so we did some body language communication like acting like a chicken or moving our hands like a fish. It was actually pretty entertaining!

Russian Orthodox Holiday celebration

Tyler eating ice cream near Independent Square. We later learned that there were 2 internet cafes near this McDonald's...wish we would have known that earlier!
dark picture of the elevator in our apartment complex - only held 2 people at a time. I was impressed with all the REAL WOOD I see everywhere in the buildings and architecture - it's lovely!
Sightseeing in Independent Square
We went inside this church and saw many people inside. I am pleased to see so many religious people here in Ukraine - I did not know I would find that.
The wishing well - people would stick a coin in the dirty water in the water fountain and then stick the coin on the the sides. Then they would hold it there while they made a wish and then if it stuck when they were done - then their wish will come true. I think. Actually, I don't know for sure - that was my guess!

A beautiful description of Christ praying while the apostles slept.

The building structure around the wishing well.

What I affectionately call an accordio-bus! They are 2 buses joined together by an accordian-like rubber belt that helps them go around corners. Very unique.
Ukrainian restaurant: chicken cordon bleu (I think), potato wedges, salad, sauerkraut, bread, carbonated water (YUCK!) and a lovely whipped cream pastry! Yum!

A wedding we saw outside the SDA before our appointment.
Tyler outside the SDA.
Wednesday at 2pm was our SDA appointment. At first they wanted to know more about it – we had our family photo book, which was very helpful. (If you’re going to adopt, I highly recommend having a family photo book and for you to bring it to your SDA appointment) After that they showed us the file of Nikita, with this picture:

Isn’t he sweet? We took a picture of the original picture, as I’ve heard we won’t be able to see it again even after we have adopted him. They told us information about Nikita, such as his mother’s name, her birthdate, they said that she was “alone,” which made me very sad. The SDA and our facilitator continually refer to Nikita as an “invalid” which upsets me very much. This is all the information that they have on Nikita – but I have heard that I will learn more throughout the process.

As for the girl – there aren’t many girls available in Ukraine due to the surge of their new foster care system. Most girls under the age of 2 that are healthy are in the foster care system. The SDA presented us with 2 files of girls. One was a girl that we recognized from Reeces Rainbow. Her name is Daisy and has already been committed to by another family. So we did not accept her referral, although there was some strong persuasion to do so. The other girl, Irene, is 4 years old and has some mental delays, which they say are severe. I know that everything is relative, but that is what they said. I have heard of other children being labeled as this or that and when they bring them home – the evaluation was incorrect. We asked if there were any other girls available for adoption and they brought out two sibling girls. The older girl, Victoria, is 6 years old and very healthy. Her younger sister (they didn’t give us her name) is 3 and has severe mental retardation. Our facilitator, Olga, knows Victoria personally and suggested her as an excellent match for our family, being a healthy girl. However, our dossier is only written for 2 children, not 3. So we would not be able to adopt both of these girls. But Olga is suggesting the idea of splitting up the girls. This idea doesn’t settle too well with us since we know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of splitting up siblings with Nikita’s twin sister, Nastya, being adopted separately from Nikita when we wanted to adopt them together. So, we do not know if we are comfortable with the idea of splitting up Victoria from her sister, but we have been assured that if we do not adopt her, someone else will split them up and adopt her anyhow.

It was very emotional being in the SDA appointment. Tyler & I had been fasting all day to be directed to our daughter, but when we saw the pictures and files – nothing felt right except for Nikita. It was very disconcerting and I felt very lost and confused. Tyler & I came home and prayed and prayed and prayed for direction. We finally came to the conclusion to explore all of our options.

So, our current plan of action is to go visit Irene and see if we have any feelings towards her. If we do not feel that she is right for our family, then we will ask her orphanage director if there is another child available in that orphanage – if we do not find anyone there, then Olga will go visit Victoria’s orphanage to see about splitting them up. I am asking for your prayers and faith to be with us to help us find the daughter for our family. We are praying for the way to be opened up to us and that God will direct us as we search for the little girl who needs us and who we need. I will keep you posted – we don’t have internet access because we don’t have a converter for our computer, but will try to post new information very soon.


Note to Anna: my dear daughter, I miss you SO MUCH! Your daddy & I pray for you every day and hope that you are having fun. We love you and hope to talk to you very soon. Hugs & kisses! ~Mama~

Tyler, myself, Olga (facilitator), & Oksana (translator going with us to Donets'k)


Julie said...

LOVE THE PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I Can't wait to get there!

Valerie said...

I miss it!!!! Keith's referral picture is SO precious!! I just want to give him a big kiss (and I hope to do just that in about 6 weeks or so). Praying for safe travels to Artemivsk today! I can't wait for you to meet your little ones!!!

Valerie said...

PS- LOVE the picture of the stilettos! Isn't it crazy that the women walk around in those all day on those cobblestone streets/sidewalks!?! I'll take my tennis shoes any day, thank you!

Sarah C said...

Wow! That is a beautiful place. The buildings are amazing. Keith looks so cute. It looks like you and Tyler are having a great time together. I am glad there is a good place for you to stay. Thanks for posting pictures. I have been thinking a lot about your journey. Good luck with everything.

Charissa said...

You are making me miss Ukraine!! So many tough choices ahead, I pray for wisdom and grace for you both. Can't wait to see you with that sweet boy.

Mandy said...

Praying for you Jill :)
BTW - If your computer cord has a "little rectangle box" on the cord, that's the converter (I didn't know this the first time around) You will see that it does say 110--240V on it, which would make it safe to plug in if you get the right little end to plug it into the wall.
Have a safe trip and know that many are here praying for you.

JUST A MOM said...

I am so excited to follow your journey! Keith's picture is darling! We are praying that God will give you wisdom and discernment as you move forward with finding a daughter.

Much Love,

Alison RR
Tate's mommy

DoveFamily said...

Oh, I love seeing all the pictures, makes me want to go back!

I'm praying as you guys seek the right decision for your family.

Blaine said...

Oh, it all looks so familiar, although it has been 1.5 years since I was there!

That looks like some nice Chicken Kiev (Cordon Bleau) and I learned that the Ukrainian for chicken is "kooka" for future reference :-)

Enjoy the Sandora juice! The sinks, showers, and toilets all look very familiar and very Ukraine-like. Enjoy!

schoolmother said...

Jill, it is great to see an update on your blog and all the pictures. Like many have said, it makes me want to go back (soon, I hope) I am definitely praying for clear direction for you guys

Julie said...

I wanted to comment again and say thank you so much for not going with the temptation of adopting Daisy. I would have understood if you did, and would know that she would have a wonderful home with you. I am so glad that you have such a wonderful heart. Once again, we are truly thankful for you and your husband.

Saquel25 said...

What an exciting and emotional journey you are experiencing. I will be praying that you can find your daughter and that you will know. I really enjoyed seeing all those pictures. xx

Carina said...

Wow, what an amazing experience! Thanks for the pictures and for sharing what an exciting time you are having. We will keep you in our prayers that you will be led to the daughter that is right for your family. Can't wait to hear more about your Ukrainian adventure. Take care!

Carson's Mom said...

I am praying for God to guide you and let you know what is right for your family.


RML said...

That is one of the most beautiful and heart rending baby photos I have ever seen! An invalid indeed, scoff, scoff. I can´t wait to see him home and walking :)

Blessings from a long time lurker

Jeri said...

Jill and Tyler,

I don't know if this will help or not but there have been families in Ukraine who were able to get permission to adopt one more than they were approved for on their I171 (at least I think that's the US gov't. form's been almost eight years for us and some painful things to go away with time). Just an fyi, jeri

Kathey said...

Wow. Wonderful pictorial tour. We are so glad you arrived safely. We are praying for your guidance as you search for your little one.

Kathy C. said...

Everything looks very nice--aprtment and city. I bet they got a laugh out of the funny Americans taking pictures of their food : )

Wow. Hard choices. I pray you will have wisdom as you talk to people and meet the children.

MamaPoRuski said...

Great post! Will your socialworker change your homestudy to include 3 children and send the update to the USCIS? That would solve your problem of splitting them up...
Praying for you, for wisdom and health this trip!

Tami said...

Love the post! It brought back so many memories! :) I second Mamaporuski. If you are interested in adopting the little girl's sister, having your social worker update your homestudy and then getting the USCIS shouldn't take too long - about the same amount of time as waiting for your court hearing and the 10 day wait, I would think. Probably quicker, if you put a bug in the USCIS' ear.

Missy and Kevin said...

My husband and I stayed in the same apartment while we were there last November adopting our daughter. It was surreal looking at the pictures. It seems like yesterday. I wanted to let you know that there is a delicious restaurant called the Fish House near the apartment. Take a right out of the little alley way then your next right and you will see it on the left. It is italian and has wonderful pizza. Never understood why it is called the Fish House. Also another one is to the right of the SDA and not expensive. I pray your adoption goes well and will continue to follow your blog. God bless!

nicole said...

Wow!! How exciting. We are all thinking about you and praying for you back home. What an amazing journey for you guys... just keep having faith and it will all work out! xoxo