SDA Appointment - January 29, 2008

We are having a great time in Ukraine. The streets are really slippery and we are doing a lot of walking. We walked to the McDonalds and really ENJOYED having fast food! Randy is amazed by the way people drive and park. You can park on the sidewalks - which means you walk in the streets a lot. All of the streets by our apartment are one way - this does not mean that they only drive one direction. The signs say one way but Randy is of the opinion that all traffic laws are suggestions, not actual laws. Seat belts are always fastened and behind the seat, where they do absolutely no good. Yelena looked at us a little askew when we put them on.

The churches here are absolutely beautiful and are our favorite landmarks to find our way back to the apartment. All of the buildings here have amazing architecture.

Our apartment is within walking distance of the SDA building. Right next to another lovely church. We met with an interpreter and a social worker who showed us the girls (as babies) and told us that they are indeed available for adoption. They were both abandoned at the hospital at birth. Lera's birthday is September 2nd and Lena's birthday is May 4th. They asked how our kids felt about new sisters and we asked if they had any medical information on them. The medical information is sketchy at the SDA. The orphanage has better records about this. They did say that Lera was diagnosed with Cardiopathy and Lena was diagnosed "congenital heart disease and hypotonia". Not really news.

I showed them pictures of our kids and showed them a few photos that we have from Wendy Saunders. They said our referal will be ready tomorrow between 5 and 6pm tomorrow. We have train tickets for tomorrow night to Odessa and then we will be taking a taxi to Izmail! I can't wait to see our girls!

We're Here!

We made all our connections. Paris was kind of a mess, too early in the morning for alot of things and we were transfering to Ukraine Airlines, so finding information was difficult. Alot of the staff speak english which is fortunate because I can't speak a word of french. Carryon restrictions are different so we had to check our luggage for the last leg of the trip. They do want to see a copy of your prescriptions, even though it was explained that the US doctors and pharmacies don't do that. The attendant at the counter said to put them in our checked luggage and perhaps they wouldn't notice. Carryon bags can way no more than 7kg or they need to be checked. Mine was 12kg but our laptop bag which is probably about 10kg with all the electronics, wasn't even weighed.

All of our flights were business class up until this flight. Our flight to Kyiv was crowded and we sat on the runway for over an hour. Long enough, that when we took off, I got rained on by the condensation that had formed during the wait. I had the middle seat, between to men and couldn't budge. We were given customs documents to fill out on the plane, which required an act of contortionism to reach my passport and a pen out of my bag in front of me.

While we were in line to go through customs, I reached for my passport and discovered that it was not there. After a long search, I concluded that it had tumbled out during the flight. I found a lovely gentleman in uniform who called the crew and had them check my seat and fortunately, it was found.

I had visions of Tom Hanks in The Terminal while waiting. We then needed to fill out declarations because of the amount of money we had and finally, they let us out. Poor Ileana, we had her so scared. There is no way to contact anyone until you clear customs, so she was panicking. I don't think they even are told that the flight is massively delayed, added it to customs woes and it was 3 hours late before we actually got to see Kyiv.

We did make it and we are safe. We have our appointment at 3pm on Tuesday. Our apartment has internet (you need to go sit on the unheated balcony because the walls are so thick, but its internet!) so we will post later.

January 27, 2008

Just a quick post while we are still in the USA. We got off to the airport fine - more of less. Michael woke us up yesterday at 5am because he was having an asthma attack. He is definitely getting sick and I know that he is very sad that we are leaving. We had 3 more episodes during the day. I feel so awful leaving him when he is feeling so bad. I know that he will have a blast with his grandpa but it was so difficult to leave that sad little face. I can't even write about my Caeli-bird without crying.

I didn't sleep at all last night, so I slept most of the way from Minneapolis to Washington D.C. We are waiting for our flight to Paris. Our flight # is AF 039, leaving Dulles at 4:55pm. We'll be in Paris for breakfast.

January 22, 2008

We leave in 5 days and I am running about like a madwoman trying to get all the things done that I should have been on top of way before now. It has been an eventful time since I last blogged however.

Michael has moved to his new room and has announced that next Christmas we need to get him a fridge and he will never need to surface. His room is still missing closet doors and the last bit of faux painting for his ceiling but it is pretty universally agreed that he has the best room in the house!

Our plan was to tear out the wall between Caelia's room and Michael
s old room to make space for the girls. That was the plan. Then we discovered that the heat duct going upstairs to our bedroom was hidden in that wall. The good news about this discovery is that we found insulation stuffed in the ductworks and that really explains why our bedroom always seemed so icy...The down side to this is that the girls room is in danger of not being complete by the time we leave.

I suppose I can finish it when I get back, before I go back to get the girls. I will probably be returning by myself to pick them up. Randy really wants to save some vacation for spending with the girls when they arrive. I am sure we will have lots of appointments right out of the box and the extra hands would be wonderful!

We picked up our Russian to English phrase book. Nothing like learning as you go. Randy has been listening to Ukrainian radio and trying to learn for months but they speak so fast.

I have more packing to do, for my kids. Michael and Caelia are staying with their Grandfather while we are gone at his house so I am trying to pack some toys for Caelia- Michael does his own packing - I guarentee that he will pack twice as much as Randy and I combined.

I will try to post more frequently once we are traveling. I know of a lot of very anxious RR Aunties waiting to hear news from far away.

January 8, 2008 - Pictures

I think we are close enough to traveling that we can share some of our favorite pictures. We have some pictures of the girls we hope to adopt, taken this summer when Wendy adopted Macey from the orphanage that Lera and Lena are in.

Lena is the oldest and she is wearing the baby bonnet. All of the children had very short hair for the summer. Izmail is very hot in summer. Lena's was exceptionally short and would not accomodate the puffy bows that are so very popular in their culture. Her expression reminds me of Michael. I think that perhaps she'll be a clown as well.

These pictures are of Lera. She was very nervous in the Nurses office where she has the puffy bows (I need to find out what they actually are called) but in the courtyard picture she was just coming over to say "I know you!" This is the picture that Michael is still convinced that it is Caelia and that he has been to that place.

January 7, 2008

This is where we are going in 20 days. 20 days until we leave (I think its 19 days because I'm not going to do anything productive the last day but Randy says its 20 days - and he is taking prednisone, so he wins.)

We need to pick out some reading for the plane and a "seat adapter" (has nothing to do with what you sit on) It's actually a plugin adapter to charge our laptop on the plane. I also am debating whether to be optimistic and take pullups and coming home clothes for the girls or do I save the room and pack with the more probable outcome of having to return to bring the girls home?

I think we'll have to pick out clothes there, if we are to bring them home this trip. I really don't know what size they are - I know from Wendy (adopted Macey this summer from Izmail) that both girls are tall, Lena is very thin and Lera is more stocky. However this is very subjective. Tall for here or for the orphanage? Both girls are older than the other children at the babyhouse; they are being kept there for us instead of being sent to the institution where conditions are much less favorable.

Any suggestions that anyone has for communicating back home would be greatly appreciated. I am so going to miss my kids. Michael can read and will like getting emails. Caelia really needs voices or pictures to communicate. We have a webcam, if we can figure out how to make it work in Ukraine. I've heard that Skype can be used with varying success. This is where we are going on a map. We fly into Kyiv and then travel to Izmail after our SDA appointment. Izmail is the location of the babyhouse.

January 3, 2008

Today is a brighter day! For one thing, it got above 5 degrees today. (That is 5 degrees fahrenheit not celsius.) Its still cold, but that should just make Ukraine feel that much warmer.

Michael is beginning to talk about how much he is going to miss us while we are gone. I keep reminding him that his Uncle Ryan's xbox 360 is wide open while Ryan is at school. I somehow think he won't miss us until after Ryan gets home.

I keep hugging my Caeli-bird and thinking about how hard its going to be not to snuggle with her. She loves her Ryan and Grandpa and they spoil her so I know she will do just fine.

And now that I have convinced myself of this maybe I can go back to figuring out what DVDs I am willing to watch repeatedly. Randy is going to rip several to our laptop's hard drive so we don't have to hassle with discs.

January 2, 2008

I haven't really been blogging lately. I seem to have a hundred things to do before we leave and I keep wondering what I might miss. I keep triple checking the papers we need to have with us. I have this recurrent nightmare, that we can't leave the embassy in Kyiv because I forgot to pack our tax returns.

I am reorganizing Caelia drawers so that my Dad can find the clothes that I have for Caelia. I am holding onto clothes that she has outgrown for Lera and Lena. I have the emergency numbers that need to be left here and I am trying to put together a list of meds, movies and words that my Dad might not be able to interpret.

I am very thankful for my fellow travelers. Meredith and Charissa have been very helpful. They have great advice and are wonderful listeners as well. Its nice to know someone else who will be in the same hemisphere at the same time.