Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Finally I am getting around to writing up a follow up post to our adoption experience!  Since we have been home we have been really busy jumping back into life.  A lot of things had been put on hold while we hosted and then fundraised for the girls' adoption.  We have been catching up on some of it.  It has been an adjustment realizing that we aren't adopting and things won't be like we had thought that they would be when we came home.  It feels like our family is so small now!  After thinking that we would end up with 8 to 10 children in our house, only having five is really different and easy.  We definitely have more freedom now than we would have had if the girls had chosen adoption.  Every once in a while I'll realize another sacrifice we made to work to adopt them.  But all of the sacrifices and the momentary loss of freedom that we would have had now are all (and would be) worth it for the girls.  We have no regrets and still love the girls very much.  Jay and I both still feel that something is wrong with the picture and only time will tell what will happen with the girls.  They can still use all of our prayers.  

We still feel like they are our children, but our hands are tied as far as what we can do for them.  One thing that has come to mind is hosting them again.  It would be great for Diana to have a chance to visit America.  I think it would help her not be so jealous that her sisters have come before.  It would also be great to spend some time with them again here.  It's too late to host them this summer.  Maybe we might be able to host them this Christmas, or maybe the next, we'll see.  It's a lot of money to host and I don't feel good about fundraising for hosting them after so many people have sacrificed for them and they said "no."  We have a little left over from the adoption.  We'll save what we can while still living our lives.  We've also been working on our business since we have been home with the thought of increasing revenue to set aside to host them.  If this is the correct path for us and the girls, I am sure it will work out.  We don't have the same time urgency as the adoption because they are staying in the orphanage.  We'd like to be able to bring them over here one time again before Lyuba ages out.

I will soon get a post out about our experiences in Ukraine with the adoption and will include some of the details that we had to be silent about when they were happening.  I have been mulling things over and it has taken some time for things to settle in my mind.  We are still 100% sure we were supposed to pursue their adoption.  They are good kids who are in a really bad situation and had to make a very hard decision. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sad news...

Court was on Friday.  Unfortunately all three girls choose not to be adopted.  I have had to keep quiet on what has been happening, but now am free to write about it.  The girls' mother lost her rights to them four years ago after horribly abusing them.  Sadly the orphanage director let her be in communication with the girls during our attempt to adopt.  She was even allowed at one point to come talk to them to convince them not to be adopted.  It worked at first, but then the girls choose to proceed with adoption.  It is against Ukrainian law, and common sense, to allow a parent whose rights have been terminated to communicate with the child.  The girls' mother told them that she would come and get them out.  At court Lyuba stated that her mother had said that and that her mother would not lie.  We know that Lyuba's dream has been to be adopted, but of course her number one dream would be to have her mother take them back from the orphanage.  That won't happen, but Lyuba doesn't realize it, although our facilitator and translator have talked extensively about that to her.  The judge was concerned about Lyuba's decision to not be adopted and told her that her mother had poisoned her mind.  That someday when it will be too late Lyuba will realize she made the wrong decision.  Lyuba still stuck with her decision and the other two girls followed her.

We are okay, but heartbroken for the girls.  We have had inspiration and miracles happen in association with the adoption that it is hard to believe this is how it ends for them.  I plan to do a write up of our entire experience with the adoption here in Ukraine.  I am so worn out from it all right now, but plan to do it soon.  Before I couldn't write much about the separation process for fear of the orphanages reading the blog and messing up the adoption.  Then I couldn't say much about when court was going to be in the chance that the girls' mother would catch wind and come or send their older sister.  The older sister still did manage to come to court and influence the girls.  We are now in Odessa waiting to go home.  Our returns flights were scheduled for May 4th from the beginning and we can't find earlier flights to take.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Things are going well here.  We have been able to visit the girls every day since we arrived back from Lviv.  They are happy and doing well.  Court is coming up soon and we are excited to be at that point in the process.  After court there is a 10 day waiting period before we can pick up the girls.  Then we will have about two weeks here in Ukraine to get their birth certificates, passports and other paperwork.  Because things up to this point here in Ukraine have taken longer than we anticipated we have decided to go home soon after court until school lets out for the summer at the end of May.  Then we will come back to Ukraine to pick up the girls.  We will be able to visit with our kids at home who miss us a lot and who we miss, we will be able to attend our son's high school graduation, see our new grandson who is due any day now, get our house and yard ready to bring the girls home to and we will be able to leave Sara and Sam home while just Jay and I return to pick up the girls which will make travel and lodging in Ukraine a lot easier.

Because things have taken a few weeks longer than we anticipated, and who knows for sure how long things will take when we come back, we have decided to fund raise a little more by selling some of the fun things we have found here in Ukraine.  We are trying to raise $3500, the cost of our tickets to return to Ukraine.  After court we will post more information about the items for sale.

Blossoms are now on the trees at the orphanage.

We discovered lots of puppies.  Lyuba fed them part of her dinner.

Sara and Lyuba

Sam, who loves absolutely loves any dog, is in heaven with all of the puppies here.

Lyuba, Sam and puppy

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting closer

We have been here in Ukraine for about six weeks now.  Most of the time has been spent waiting interspersed with appointments.  Court is getting closer.  I still can't give out much information about it because of what is happening behind the scenes.  Eventually I'll write more of the details.  Thankfully we are seeing progress and know that our court date is drawing nearer.

Most of the time we have spent in Balta, a town of just under 20,000 people.  We seem to have become well known there.  There is some kind of joke going around about our 6 year old son being a better English speaker than any of the Balta residents.  Our taxi driver thought the joke was hilarious!  We have also started recognizing and being greeted by different people when we go to the market.  As much as we have enjoyed Balta, last week we decided that we really needed a break, so we booked a train compartment to Lviv and have been in Lviv for almost a week.  It is a gorgeous city and has been a nice diversion for us.  Tomorrow night we head back to Balta.

The girls are doing well.  We had a talk with them a few days before we left Balta about what to expect in America with our family.  We discussed some of the rules that our family lives by.  We strongly feel that the girls should have some kind of an understanding what they are getting into.  Lyuba and Snezhana already had a pretty good idea of the rules because they lived with us for five weeks last summer.  But we could see that plans were being made for things that we are not going to allow!  All three of them seem to still plan on being adopted.

Overnight train to Lviv.

Galician restaurant.  I love being inside these medieval buildings!

Sara eating her Galician pie.

Part of the old wall and tower surrounding old Lviv.

One of many beautiful cathedrals in this city.

Our apartment building.
Our apartment the three windows on the floor just under the top floor.

View from our apartment of Market Square.

Home from an outdoor folk museum in Lviv.

Inside of a 1977 home at the folk museum.

There are several of these "golden" people on Market Square each day.

We took a ride on this bicycle contraption one night.  It was really wild!

Another old city wall and tower.  A restaurant is now located in this tower.

I thought it was so cool to see cobblestone being re-layed.

Salo - Ukrainian's favorite!  Pork fat.  I have had some on bread!

Another view from our apartment.  We picked the most entertaining
corner of Market Square.  We are serenaded each night.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Separation is approved!

We heard from our facilitator that separation is approved!  After some paperwork is submitted, separation will be finalized.  Then we wait approximately 10 days before we go to court with the girls.  After that there will be a 10 day waiting period.  Then we take the girls out of their orphanage.  They can't wait for that day!

A day in the life of the crazy Americans... 

Our days are pretty slow with not a lot to do.  A usual day follows.  We wake up late for us, about 9 to 10 a.m.  We're becoming lazy!  Then we will shop for groceries if needed and explore Balta a little more.  We read and play games and cook our meals.  Then about 2:30 p.m. our translator comes by and we travel 17 miles to the girls' internat (boarding school).  We have a driver who drives us.  We visit with the girls for 1 hour and 15 minutes (used to be 2 hours until director cut the time down.)  We work on their English, give them a snack and then, if it's warm enough, go outside and play on the playground.  The girls love to play tag with us - doesn't require a lot of words and they have a lot of energy.  The person who is it is called "salo" (pork fat) and when they go to tag someone they might say "Privet salo" (Hello pork fat.)  It is so funny.  Thank goodness I have been running, although you'd never guess if you took a look at me that I ran a half marathon almost a year ago!  Then we are driven back to our hotel where we might shop if we didn't earlier and need groceries, make dinner and then read or play games.  We'll stay up until about 11 p.m.  We want to go to bed earlier, but the pizza place next door is busy, loud and open until 11.

A lot of little things happen throughout the days.  For example, one day we decided to deal with our light at night situation.  The pizza place next door leaves a light on at night that shines directly into our bedroom window only about 10 feet away.  Our curtains aren't thick enough to stop enough of the light so we put up a couple of our empty suitcases on the window sill.  We laughed to ourselves that people would think we are crazy.  The suitcases block the light a little, but the window is big and rises far above the suitcases!  So we took our translator over to the pizza place and spoke with the owner about it.  Come to find out he owns the hotel too!  He told us to shut our curtains.  We told him that we do, but it's not enough so we had put up the suitcases.  At that point he told our translator that he had thought we were crazy Americans when he saw the suitcases in the window!  The owner grumbled a bit about turning off the light and said he'd do it for one night.  Thankfully it has been turned off most nights since then.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We are still plugging away at the adoption.  I can't believe it, but we've been in Ukraine three weeks now.  Things are taking a long time because the girls' case is so complicated.  I wish I could post exactly what has been going on, but I have heard that orphanages read adoptive parents' blogs so we need to be careful what we post.  We have two orphanages involved, and I don't want to take any chances.  If I feel comfortable about it when all is done, I will post more about our experiences with the adoption.

We had a meeting for seperation of the older girls from the younger ones today.  Nothing really was resolved, but some direction was given and our facilitators are working on it.  I am really hoping that separation happens this week.  We don't want to separate the girls, but from our vantage point, we can see that it may be for the best for now.  We plan to help the three older girls call their younger sisters regularly when we are all home.  They haven't had contact with them for 5 years, so that will be wonderful for them.  Then, when the opportunity opens up, we plan to begin the adoption of the younger two. 

The adoption still could fall apart for a couple reasons.  But today we feel that it will work as long as we hang on and stay in Ukraine long enough.  We also remember the inspiration we were given at the very beginning and all of the miracles that we have witnessed so far.  This gives us hope too.

For the most part we are enjoying our experiences here.  The people of Ukraine that we have met are friendly and welcoming.
Cobblestone street in Balta.

Open air market in Balta.

House that we had church in.

Well and fire wood in front of house.
Open air market in Balta

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Snezhana, Jay and Lyuba

Lyuba, Diana and Jay.

Odessa apartment

Odessa apartment stairs.  We were starting to get in shape going up
three flights of stairs several times a day!


Road to Balta.

"Hansel and Gretel" type well.  There is one in front of most homes in
in the countryside here.  They are still in use.

Road to Balta

Another well

Bathroom in orphanage.

Don't let the frown fool you, she was very
happy here!  This was just before the girls
signed the statement saying, "yes" to adoption.

I added this picture mostly because of how cute Snezhana is in it.
Snezhana hugging the director.

Lyuba hugging the director.

All three girls with their director.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's been a difficult week.  I will update with edited journal entries.

Monday, March 18, 2013

We got up around 9 this morning. After breakfast we went shopping a little. We bought some more chicken from the butcher store where we had bought the pelmini a few days ago. The lady there remembered us and asked if we liked the pelmini. We told her we had. She is friendly. Walking down the street a woman caught my eye and said, "Good morning!" with an accent. In a little bit of shock I said, "Good morning!" back. We came back and had lunch. Then David came and we went to see the girls. Snezhana's class was outside playing on the playground. Diana and Lyuba came out and we played around outside for a while. Then we went in a played. The orphanage director (or maybe assistant director) talked to David for a bit. He told us that she was asking him what the girls are choosing to do. He told her that one minute they want to be adopted and then another minute they don't. He said that she wants to make sure that they aren't being too persuaded by us.

The girls say that their mom is coming tomorrow. Lyuba says that she wants to meet me. I've talked to Alyona, our Odessa translator, and she and Svitlana (Odessa facilitator) are coming out tomorrow morning to go to the orphanage with us to talk to the girls. Tomorrow will be a big day I would think.

We really like David, our translator. He really could have a great future if given opportunities. He is from Balta and is one of the few people here who has pushed to learn English and get a higher education. He has almost graduated from a school with some kind of degree, but not a bachelor's degree. He's 18 years old.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Because of what happened this day, I don't feel good posting it and possibly hurting the adoption.  I will post the full details when the adoption is finalized.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We woke up to an early phone call from the kids back home. It was so nice to talk to them. They sound good. I think our calling plan is working for all of us. We went back to sleep and I couldn't drag myself out of bed until about 10:30! Alonya called to see how we are. She said that Lyuba has called her and Svitlana several times already.  I am editing out the rest for same reasons as Tuesday's post and will give full details later.

We went on a walk today and found the opera house and the Black Sea. We also were able to find a Kiev Star to add minutes to our cell phone. We seem to have to break the mold with this adoption. Our Kiev facilitator told us when he gave us the phone that people don't usually go over the minutes that are put on the phone. Between us not knowing the cheaper phone numbers to call and needing to call lots of people to help with the girls, we are using minutes too fast.

Because I'm lazy, I'm going to copy and paste something I wrote on Facebook:

I am getting the funniest looks from people as I slowly sound out loud the cyrillic letters in the labels of food at the grocery store here in Odessa. Today it was a young girl who I caught staring at me as I sounded out some kind of bread! The most embarrasing time was when I kept reading out loud labels in the deli section in the first grocery store in Kiev. A woman tried to help me and only later did I realize what I was reading was the brand, not what the product actually was, lol! I've wised up just a little.

I have a Russian lesson book that I studied on the airplane here. And then I ask our facilitators what different letters are that I don't know. It helped us find a Kiev Star today to add minutes to our phone. I'm a super visual person which helps. It is really interesting. We found two supermarkets today from reading signs because when you sound out the cyrillic characters it sounds like supermarket. We've found other words that are the same. I'm just very slow. It's also embarrasing at times when I read street names. For some reason, I can't seem to just read them in my head!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

We woke up this morning with not a lot of hope for the girls. I've talked to the translator several times today and at this point can't remember the exact order of things and the details. They kept calling the facilitator and translator today again.   I am editing this portion too and will post it later.  We have really appreciated all of the support from everyone back home, the McGhies and our facilitator and translator.

Today we decided to really explore Odessa more because we leave for Balta for the long term tomorrow. We went to the huge outdoor market Seventh Kilometer. We were able to find some gifts for the girls and kids back home. We also were able to find some Disney movies and a portable Ukrainian dvd player. We then went back to hotel to pack up a little. Then out to Baskin Robbins. Then walked to the Opera House and through the park nearby. We were able to see the remains of an ancient settlement.

Playground at orphange.

Diana and Sara

Eating dinner at a cafeteria on the 6th floor of a mall in Odessa.

Sara and Lyuba

Odessa opera house

Baskin Robbins

Drying clothes in Odessa hotel room.