Feb 29th, 2008

OK, so I tried to post this video while I was in Ukraine and it wouldn't work, so I'm going to try it again. It was really cool, we got to see the groupa have their music class, which all of the children, especially Lera enjoyed quite a bit...the audio isn't very good...can you spot Lera???

The weird thing is, now that I have the video player working on this post, it fixed the old one, so if you scroll down to Feb 4th, you can see another video of the groupa dancing. I hope you enjoy them, Sheila and I certainly did!

The long and winding road, part 2

Okay, does everyone remember our Kyiv driver? Well he was also our driver Kyiv to Odessa to Izmail to Odessa. I highly recommend this man if you are in a hurry. His name is actually "Roma". The train going to Odessa that we were supposed to take left the station at 10pm - we finally arrived at the airport at 1am and we passed the train outside of Odessa at around 6am. My dad and I did manage a few hours of sleep but around the time we went to pick up Lera from the orphanage, I had had 4 hours of sleep in the last 54.

We went straight in and sat in the doctors office. We gave them a set of clothes for her to wear and a pair of Caelia's shoes that she had outgrown. I wasn't sure about what her real size was but I figured Lera's foot was similiar in size and shape to Caelia's and these were her favorite shoes. They have lights and little mermaid on them. There was an Ukrainian couple there that were adopting a sibling pair, so we got to see more really cute kids. I had wanted to see her groupa and throw a little party for her but the staff said that Lera would cry and that they would just bring her away to meet us.

I did get to take pictures of the staff and pick up some medical information from the director but I stayed in the office the whole time we were there.

Valentina was Lera's favorite caretaker and she was almost in tears as she went to get Lera. I think she called Lera "mine". Everyone at this orphanage seems to genuinely care about the children under their care and it must be very hard to see then leave.

Valentina came back with Lera. I was prepared for a tearful, unhappy little girl who was not going to come easily. Instead she was all smiles as soon as she saw me. She loved the shoes (although, they were a bit wide and long) she kept stomping her feet to show everyone her lights. She is also quite the girly-girl and loves new clothes. In the midst of her excited babbling, Irina said she asked where's papa?. The doctors gave me her glasses, which needed mending and instructions on vitamins she needed and then Valentina told us they were very happy and thankful that we were taking Lera to a new home. I thanked them for taking such good care of her and doing such a good job raising her.
Lera held my hand and Valentina's all the way to the director's office so that we could say goodbye. He is a very nice man and I have to applaud the excellent way he uses the small budget he has to make this orphanage a place where the children under his supervision thrive. He asked for us to keep in contact and send pictures via email. He has several pictures in his office and he has a couple of scrapbooks that families have sent him of children who have found new, happy homes.

Lera hesitated at the door to the outside, Valentina gave her another hug and a kiss and told her good bye. We kept telling her "macheena" and she went with us outside. She did try to pull back at the gate but once she was outside and saw the big "Macheena" waiting for her, she was pretty cooperative about getting in. She kept giving me big smiles as we headed back to Izmail.
The roads are rough and even though Roma started out slow, it was a bumpy ride. Lera loved it! She kept saying OPA everytime we hit a good bump. I think it means something like "Wheee!" or possibly "OOOPS!" but she smiled and didn't become sick (which is a real concern when you are picking up a child that has never been in a vehicle before). We had pizza at Randy's favorite place to eat in Izmail and made a stop at the toy store. This was definitely sensory overload but she through herself into everything with enthusiasm. We then drove to Odessa. I slept finally and so did Lera and even dad caught a few zzzzs.

Feb 27th, 2008 Home Alone

Sheila and Grandpa have been crazy busy in Odessa trying to get everything done, so she hasn't had time to blog. They got Lera's birth certificate changed today(after a brief delay regarding what line was supposed to have our home address!) and can apply for her passport tomorrow. So if everything goes smoothly they should be able to make the flight next week on the 6th. It sounds like they have been having fun so far, Lera is all smiles and seems to be taking in everything with a wild eyed enthusiasm. She seems to be picking up english pretty well and can say Michael, Caelia, Daddy, Grandpa and anything else you throw at her. I've been able to video skype them a few times and see her...it's like looking at Caelia and I think Caelia is trying to figure out how she can be here with Daddy and see herself on the video with Mommy...too cute, I can't wait to get these two face to face!! And if you can believe this...Lera really likes to eat...she's definitly a Green...here is a cute shot of her at a restaurant...all smiles!

So your probably wondering what Dad's been doing this whole time...well the first couple days were a breeze, the kids have been having fun and have been well behaved. I've even managed to figure out how to use the washer and dryer! The last couple days have been rougher though...Michael has been throwing up after every meal and can't hold anything down and Caelia has the sniffles(thank god she's not throwing up too!!) The doctor said Michael had a stomach bug and should be better pretty quick. Lunch today so far has been pretty stable. Although I have enjoyed the extra time with them...I strangly feel myself wanting to go hide in my cubicle in the safety of my office...the kids snuck off while I was on the the phone with Sheila and came up from Michael's lair fully armed and ready for combat! All I have to say to Pam our babysitter is..be ready...they are coming tomorrow! After two days home caring for the wounded..Dad is going to work for sure if I survive the night! Boy, I miss my better half!!

The long and winding road...

Hi all. I don't have alot of time left on my laptop battery - I can't find a place to plug in. I wanted everyone to know that I am on my way to pick up Lera. My dad is taking this journey with me and Randy is home with the kids.

My dad has been great throughout our whole adoption process. He has been very supportive, he tackled watching the kids while we gone the first trip and he even found away to get us back home when I just had to see my babies and get a shot of junk food. I have always been thankful for him and thought he was going above and beyond, but today he needs to be knighted.

We left Minneapolis at 6am on Saturday morning, into Detroit and on to Newark for a 6 hour layover before leaving for Milan, Italy. This went well but I didn't really manage to sleep on the plane and was really happy when we arrived in Milan early - almost. Actually we arrived in the airspace above Milan early and circled because Milan was fogged in. And circled some more. And some more. Finally, the pilot came on and said we needed fuel and were being rerouted to Genoa to take on fuel and wait for the fog to clear. I think Genoa would have been a lovely place to visit, if I could have gotten off the plane. 3 and a half hours later, we left Genoa, flew 25 minutes and landed in a chaotic Milan. Twenty minutes after our plane had left for Kyiv.

I have seen riots that were more organized than the check in for Alitalia. There were hundreds of people trying to check in, reschedule, etc. An hour and a half later we finally made it to the counter and asked about our flight. We leave at 8pm and arrive in Kyiv sometime after midnight. This creates massive problems. Our translator had already bought our train tickets for Odessa for the night and we definitely missed that. This throws off our whole schedule. We tried to find a way into Odessa directly but there were none to be had. Only solution $600 taxi ride - Kyiv, Izmail, pick up Lera and back to Odessa to start the paperwork first thing Tuesday. Wish us luck.

Randy, I love you. The next time I get to SKYPE, I should have our other daughter with me. Kiss my angels.

About Taxi Drivers...

We had 3 different taxi drivers in Ukraine. Our first driver was nice, quiet, didn’t say much but drove quickly – I think he spoke more English than he let on but rather tame. He alternated odd and even days with our second driver. His name was Andj…something. I never could remember it and his style of driving earned him the name of Mario Andretti. Most memorable because of the fishtailing, tire screeching stop that he made when he stopped in front of our hotel to pick us up. Randy always said, in perfect Nintendo fashion, “it’s a Mario!” He spoke zero English, turned corners without slowing down and passed every thing that got in his way with a beep of his horn.

Our third driver was our most impressive. This man was tall, stout and resembled Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes --- and drove like the stuntman from the Bourne Ultimatum! He drove a van and managed to traipse the streets of Kyiv like he was on a skateboard. He cleared tunnels with less than a foot in any direction, drove the wrong way down the street, pulled around obstacles in front of him utilizing sidewalks and wicked u-turns Truly, if you ever need someone to drive a getaway vehicle – this is your man! Did I mention he was armed?

You might wonder what would ever possess a sane person to get into these vehicles, but the simple truth is that you really have no choice. I couldn’t have driven in Ukraine and I used to drive an ambulance. Taxi drivers can always find phone cards ( and will add minutes to your cell when you can’t figure out how it’s done (we tipped 5 grivna for this service) and men who will exchange your dollars for grivna ( and generally at a better rate than the local bank). Our translator was good at judging the honest ones, I think.

The Journey Home

We left Izmail right after the visit to the orphanage. The orphanage that Lera is at is a great one. The children are genuinely cared about and it shows in their love for their groupa. This is a wonderful thing. The orphanage is maintained well but it is poor. We decided to purchase a nebulizer ( a really good one with a ten year warranty) when we discovered that theirs was broken. We weren't asked for anything additional but it was something we wanted to do for the children.

We didn't stop to see Lera. She really doesn't understand and we decided it would be easier for her this way. Its hard that she doesn't instantly adore us because we love her already and she really does look and act a lot like Caelia. We start each day that we visit her, getting her to be happy again, which can be hard. I think that they have told her that we are coming to take her away and she understands that away is away from her groupa never to return but she isn't capable of understanding that the place she is going is a better place than where she is or where she would eventually be sent. It was very difficult while we were there because there isn't much to do in Izmail and the beds didn't allow us to get much sleep. It starts to depress you. I really just wanted my kids and the comfort of hugs and happy "mamas!"

We are not really concerned that she won't come to love us the way we do. We understand that it's very hard to be shuffled between strangers that are going to take you away and your brothers and sisters that you have been with all your life and dearly love. We had hoped that having down syndrome would insulate her a bit more from this but we're certain that she will adjust (she is really a clever little girl).
We took the taxi to Odessa and then the overnight train to Kiev. We went to the US Embassy in Kiev to get a power of attourney. They said that they couldn't issue one but they did take the other paperwork that they required. We still need to have her medicals and visa. By the way, did you know that if you are a US citizen, you get to cut to the front of the line at the Embassy. Felt a little unfair but it was a HUGE line and this is the accepted practice.

We then made a trip to Souvenier Road (right out front of the SDA) and picked up some maTROSka for my son and sisters and mother-in-law. Michael's has fifteen dolls and the others were more intricate but fewer dolls. Oh! maTROSka are nesting dolls. The vendor attempted to sell us a really pretty maTROSka (to remember our Ukrainian trip) but Randy told him we were bringing home a little girl to remember Ukraine by. He thought we were nuts I am sure. Oh and they will make deals if you buy multiples of something.

Then Irina took us to the airport hotel. It was expensive but it was great to have a real bed and it was just across from the airport, so we could make our incredibly early flight out.
Alitalia is a nice airline. I prefer it to Ukraine Air. We arrived in Milan without a hitch. Nice airport. Really liked it better than Charles DeGaulle in Paris. The flight to Atlanta was really turbulant. You are fighting the jetstream the whole way. I definitely need to bring dramamine for Lera. I generally don't get airsick but I think I got food poisoning, so the last 5 hours over the Atlantic were not pretty. I think it had to be something I ate because it lasted after we were on the ground - and we had a 6 hour layover. I took anti nausea meds twice and dramamine so I really could'nt tell you much about the flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis. Randy took this really cool picture over Austria for me.

The best part of coming home is seeing my big lumbering baby brother walking through the airport baggage claim followed closely by my son tearing up behind him and getting my hugs. My dad came out of the family bathroom because Caelia had managed to wet her clothes and needed a complete change. It was great to hear her little voice squeal DADDY! and then MAMA! and come running.

Feb 12th, 2008 - Court

We had our day in court. It was very cold(I didn't think they had heat). When you are before the judge you are required to take off your outerwear, so I was shivering and nervous. The courtroom is very different than in the US. for of all there are 3 large chairs in the front(the center one the largest) and this is where the judge and jury sit. The jury is what they call the two witnesses who have no claim and are completely impartial. There are 2 tables which face each other perpendicular to the judges table. One table is where the Inspector and the Director of the orphanage sit and the other table had 2 other people who have some say but never excercised it. Directly behind them, next to the wall is the cage. Yes, I do mean a steel, iron bars type cage. This is a little unsettling for some reason. Randy was told to stand, state his name, address and birthdate. I was told to stand, state my name and address, and birthdate(all through our interpreter, mind you) I watched as the people in the courtroom, including the director who we had spoken to and has been very friendly, looked surprised.

Its hard to read other cultures expressions and it is a bit unnerving to try. All I could think was that there was some rule that said that the woman needed to be younger than the man or that our paperwork had been messed up but no one said anything. It still gives you the jitters when you don't understand and can't ask.

The director stood up and told the court that there were no opportunities for a child like Lera in Ukraine and that she would receive these from us. He said that we were experienced with the needs of a child with down syndrome and that we had come to this specific region because of another family that had adopted a child with down syndrome. He told the judge that this was a good opportunity for all the children in orphanages to find homes because we would go home and tell the very strong DS community that these children needed families and care. The inspector said that she could find no fault with our application and agreed that this adoption was in the best interests of the child.

I thought I would not get a chance to speak but the judge asked me why I wanted to adopt Lera. I kind of froze and then explained that we wanted a companion for our daughter who also had DS and wanted to have another child like her. I showed them Lera's photo and Caelia's photo. They were all impressed by the similiarities between the two girls. Just a note - if you want your interpreter to have a heart attack - start walking toward the judge with a book. He seemed amused. Maybe Wendy got to him first. Anyway, Randy got to say the important stuff about how we would love her and show her a world that she cannot begin to dream about.

Adoption approved. BIG BANGING STAMP and then we were done. We have a ten day wait and then we can get passports and bring her home.

We had unfinished business at the orphanage. Before we left Izmail when went back to order a nebulizer for the orphanage. We talked to the director and he will have the medicals on the other children with DS when we return for Lera. He also teased me and Randy about the difference in our age. He said I don't look my age and that Randy did but he hadn't caught it until the court. I said thank you and smirked at my husband the rest of the day. For the record, he is 33 and I will be 41 in April.

I've got to go, we are leaving tomorrow morning for home and to see my kids. I'll blog more later.

Groundhogs day.....

Have you seen the movie with Bill Murray where he keeps living the same day over and over? That’s how my time here has begun to feel, we have become ritualistic in our daily activities, wake up, have breakfast, walk to the market, have a light lunch, read, cab to the orphanage, play with Lera, cab to the internet café, walk to eat dinner, walk back to the hotel, read and sleep, then the same thing all over again. I wish I could say we were exploring a new and different country, but the reality is, it’s cold and we miss our kids! So we haven’t done any exploring other than what’s close to our hotel and the outdoor market…the first couple days we thought it rocked…but now even that is old hat and we are going through the motions. Some have asked what it costs to be here, so here is a little bit of a breakdown:

The current exchange rate is about 5.10 Grivnas to a dollar, for simplicities sake, lets just say a 5 to 1 ratio.

Our hotel is 200 Grivnas a night = $40.00
We have a daily breakfast at the hotel that is 10 grivnas each, our breakfast is a ham and cheese omelet, bread, a cup of coffee for me and a cup of tea for Sheila 20 grivnas = $4.00
Lunch is usually something light, either a candy bar or a pc of fruit, so about 10 grivnas for lunch = $2.00
Dinner is usually either pizza and beverages or a place we call the cafeteria, either way, we usually spend about 35 grivnas for our meal = $7.00
We spend about an hour and half at the internet café, which usually costs us 5 grivnas = $1.00
The taxi that takes us to and from the orphanage everyday is 40 grivnas = $8.00
Lets throw in a late night snack of another 10 grivnas = $2.00
So our total daily expenses run about $64.00 dollars…not too shabby….there are nicer hotel rooms and worse rooms, we tried to pick the middle of the road, our basic requirement was our own bathroom.

Our accommodations in Kiev were more expensive, we paid $65.00 a night and the food was a bit more expensive, but not horribly. We were quoted between $65 and $75 a night, so not bad. The train ride from Kiev to Odessa was $100.00 to rent the whole cabin…you don’t want to share with strangers, so it’s worth it to pay extra. The cab ride from Odessa to Izmail was also $100.00. All in all it’s pretty cheap here, I budgeted $80.00 a day for the whole trip, so we’re doing pretty good. We will be buying some things for the orphanage, they need a blood pressure monitor, a nebulizer, some medication and they always need diapers. We are not required to get these things, but we want to.

This will be my last blog, I’m handing it back to Sheila, she does way better than I do. I made the mistake of reading a bunch of Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels, so I feel like everything I write sounds like “The Lord or the Rings”(dost thou agree???) She insisted I take over for a while since I sent our blog link to half of Target Corp. I have to admit it’s pretty stressful trying to think of things to say when your in a room full of teenagers playing first person shooters and watching You Tube while some old Americans sit in the corner Skypeing their kids and trying to blog! We’re off to court tomorrow then the late night train to Kiev and with any luck a flight home!!

Thanks for reading my ramblings…I hope you enjoyed some of them…so with that I say Adieu….Auf wiedersehn…..Geshundheit!

Feb 8th, 2008

Today’s a long one….I’d like to call this one…”How we got kicked out of the groupa’s playroom”….now that I have your attention we’ll start at the beginning, Sheila and I are feeling marginally better…we slept most of yesterday…dealt with bathroom issues, did some laundry in the bathtub and were awakened 4 times last night by our hotel neighbors. We decided since we only have 4 days left in Izmail we really needed to spend as much time as possible with Lera and we needed to get some much overdue photo’s of some cuties in the orphanage.

First up was Timur...he’s a cutie!! This little dude is gonna be something special…we didn’t have much success getting photos of him smiling, but we got to see them for ourselves and he is precious to say the least, very good natured and seemed to like both of us. He had a little bit of a cold and they said his cheeks rash from juice.

Next up was Slava…this little dude is a tank and has some serious energy! He quickly took command of the room and demanded that all be aware of his presence and trust me…we were. He, like Timur, had an adorable smile that was easier to see than to photograph…he reminds me a lot of Caelia…very sturdy and sweet. He wanted to play and would not be denied!!

Last but not least Alina...she is a little peanut…she is so sweet and cute and oddly enough reminds me of myself…I swear I have photos of me from childhood that look just like her…she’s tiny and has a prominent nose…much like myself(when I was little, now I’m prominent and have a big nose!!) I would take them all in a heartbeat if given the means…but alas Ellen and Timur are already spoken for…Slava on the other hand needs his forever family….someone needs to adopt this boy!! We took a bunch of photos and some video we will forward on when we get back to the US. The Director is going to give us their medical information and will forward them onto Andrea or Victoria for those who are interested. To the best of his knowledge none of the 3 have significant medical issues.

Next onto Lera, we were a little later than usual due to our visits with the 3 cuties. When we got to her groupa’s room they were all sitting down for a video(yes! A TV…I hadn’t noticed it before) Lera was not happy to see Momma and Poppa…she wanted her video, so we pulled up a piece of floor and sat to watch…this was fine in theory…but these little orphans were way too excited by visitors to sit still….I assured Lera we were staying and she could watch, so she calmed down and took her place on the floor. Sheila went over to the playpen and picked up Lena…making many in the groupa jealous….I’m not sure but I think a few of them have been attempting to get us to adopt them instead…they say “Nyet Lera” “Mya Momma, Poppa” It’s cute, but heartbreaking at the same time. Lena became way to excited by the stimulation and was raising heck…Lera in the mean time had worked her way over to my lap(mostly because a caregiver had given me candy to bribe her) Soon one of the caregivers left the room and came back a few minutes later…while she was gone half the groupa had surrounded us and the other half had begun All-Star wrestling…needless to say, the caregiver insisted we take Lera elsewhere….and that is how we came to be kicked out of the groupa’s room…we sulked away luring Lera with the promise of a cookie(I conveniently left out the part where she kicked another girl on her way to the door) and took her to one of our favorite spots in the orphanage for some play time…Things went good and she had fun…although we failed to recognize Lera’s plea for potty time…so she wet herself…I have a feeling her potty training is more ritualistic at this time…with them giving her regular scheduled potty breaks…we’ll work on that more when we get home…She gave us waves today…but no kisses…maybe tomorrow!?!?!

February 7th, 2008

No orphanage visit today, Sheila is under the weather and I feel something coming on as well....time for some Zicam! We did venture out today briefly, we thought we had lost our translation book...I felt completely lost without it, luckily it was hiding in one of our bags. We tried a different resteraunt today...they had a 20 page menu...after spending about 20 minutes trying to decifer the first page, a smiling partron came over and asked in very good english if we needed help with the menu...minor crisis averted, sort of...the patron left and the server, thought we ordered two of everything! Somehow she understood and we didn't get charged for both meals. I felt bad and tried to tip her...they don't seem to get the concept, but I just said Spasiba(thank you) and walked out...she was gonna take the tip whether she wanted it or not!!

Let's talk coffee today...some of you know my love for all things Caribou(or Starbucks in a pinch) there is nothing like that here(there were some coffee shops in Kiev) so I have been content with the very strong coffee they serve us at the hotel everyday...It's actually grown on me...the problem is the size...I'm going to have to stop ordering the larges! Sheila must be ordering right, because her cup of tea is always bigger than my coffee.

It's a good thing Sheila Brought sunblock!

We'll be back at the orphanage tomorrow and hope to get those photos we've been trying to get...it all depends on how sick we are....it's not the best place to spread germs and I would feel awful if we got the kids sick!!

Feb 6th, 2008

Another good day at the orphanage, sorry we didn't get to take any photos of the other little ones, we will try again tomorrow! It's amazing how difficult it is to communicate your intentions when you can't speak the native language! We did bring a few packs of diapers for the orphanage and hope to pick some more up at the market tomorrow, it seems to be the biggest need they have.

I can't recall if we mentioned this already, we have our court date set for Feb 11th, we are planning to leave Ukraine on the 13th and spend some time at home with the kids and then Sheila will return around the 22nd to finish up the adoption.

So back to our day with Lera, at first it was kind of the usual story, the groupa was getting ready to go out and play, so Lera did not want to see Momma or Poppa, she wanted to play. We're ok with this, the caregivers seem to really try to push her to hang out with us, but we prefer to let her play, which worked out really good today. We hung with the groupa for about a half an hour, Lera was excited because we brought crackers, which she very diligently passed out one by one to the groupa(of course 5 for her) Then her and Sheila kind of snuck away playing soccer..that left me to the groupa...which tried to mug me of everything I had...we eventually got her away and had a great time, we played with her Kookla(dolly) for quite a while and then broke out the bubbles for some serious fun...we had to stop when we realized we had a huge audience looking out the window at us...I don't think the caregivers were to happy to have their charges jumping up and down at the window.

The coolest part for me was the army that marched through our fun time...I saw the advanced scout round the corner first...he appeared to be a little undsteady on his feet...then the rest of the troops wandered by on the wobbly mission, this apparently was the 2 to 3 year olds out for a walk...a guard brought up the rear...I made the mistake of saying zzdrastvituye(Hello) to her...she quickly lunged for the attack...but luckily her caregiver grabbed her before I could be hugged to death...and then they rounded the corner on this mission, it was quite the sight. I have to say this orphanage does not seem to be short on love and affection for the children, everyone knows everyone and smiles are a common sight.

The rest of the day was spent pushing Lera around on a little pedal car, she didn't quite have the pedalling part down, so we(Sheila) pushed her around the grounds, she loved it and was all smiles. We wrapped up the good times and returned her to the groupa's room and got the glorious hugs and kisses we live for. She is a sweetie and I can't wait to get her home to play with Mike and Caelie!

Feb 5th, 2008

Too tired for a long post. We had a great time with Lera today, she laughed and played with us for a couple of hours. We discovered she is extremely ticklish...hahahaha! She gave us hugs and kisses goodbye, which was a big breakthrough...the last couple times were stressful for her, but today she was happy, we can't wait until tomorrow!!

The director said that perhaps tommorrow we will be able to photograph Timur, Ellen and Slava. We are planning to stay longer just in case we can get the opportunity.

Feb 4th, 2008 part II

Not sure if the video below works...if not here is a still shot of the groupa in action!!

Feb 4, 2008

We had fun today with Lera, we spent about an hour with her playing with dolls, machinekas(cars), blocks and other assorted toys, she seems to be having fun with us, although she has her moments where she tears up a bit. She is really attached to her groupa, so I know she misses them. The caregivers brought us to the Musika room to watch Lera and her groupa dance, it was really cool and Lera loved it, she smiled ear to ear, I can't wait to get home and have some dance sessions in the living room with Lera and Caelia!! When Lera's groupa was done, they left us in the Musika room with Lera....not a happy girl!! She wanted her Groupa...not Momma and Poppa! Luckily I had taken some video of the festivities and showed it to her on the laptop, she really liked that! Then we asked her if she wanted to show her groupa, so she quickly led the way back to her groupa's room. They had all lined up and were set to begin another activity, when we walked in...I set the laptop on a chair infront of the groupa and mayhem ensued when I hit play!! they were like pirahna on a steak...it was a little scary to have 16 4-5 years olds screaming with glee in a language I don't understand...I had to pick up the laptop and gesture for them to sit...which sort of worked, they really enjoyed seeing their dance performance, I have no idea if they have ever seen anything like it, I have yet to see a computer in the place, nor a television, so this was very exciting to the little ones....good time ensued, I think Lera enjoyed Momma and Poppa being so popular, she feels a bit protective of my laptop...only she is allowed to push buttons(which she does constantly) everyone else gets a firm shove and sharp "Nyet" from her. We got some kisses and a few waves Da svidanya from her today....It's gonna be really hard for her to leave her groupa, she loves them dearly, I have a feeling there will be many tears when we take her away, but soon she will be with us at home with Michael and Caelia...two very worthy replacements for her groupa!! FYI....our Comcast emails are not working, we are receiving but cannot send if you need to get a hold of us, please leave a comment or email my work email: Randy.Green@target.com

February 2, 2008

It is a wonderful thing to be able to see your kids on the other side of the world. It makes the roughest days tolerable. It is also a great comfort to have so many people supporting us and praying for us. Thank you all for everything that you have done to help us through this.

I will remember the feeling of being in a land where I understand so little and everything is so foreign to me so that I may help Lera when she arrives in her new world.

Today was a much better day for us. Yesterday, Lera was very upset and didn't want to even hold my hand. She wanted to play with her groupa and every time we went to play, the other children mobbed us. They are all wonderful. I brought bubbles to entertain them and did not count on how excited they got! I had to look up "sorry" very quickly to apologise to her caretakers for the stampede. I worried all day about playing today. She was a bit stand offish at first, but we started by insisting on staying inside with her for the first half of our visit. Randy brought our laptop and we had picked up a russian version of MULAN at the market. I don't think she had ever seen anything like that. We played two of the songs and she recognized the words that were being spoken so she became excited. We then brought out the camera and started taking pictures of the mural on the wall. I let her push the button and then we looked at the picture that she took. We did this for quite a while and then Randy loaded them into a slideshow for her. She loved pushing the buttons and the pictures of herself and of the "macheeena" in Kiev. That's cars to you and I. We then took her outside to play. She was actually smiling and happy and talking to us by the time we went outside to play. I got a kiss goodbye!

Randy was great all the while. I know he wanted to play with her as well but her let her warm up to me today. I know he will steal her back once we are home.

February 1, 2008

Not too much power left in the battery, but I wanted to post pictures of what makes the heartbreak worth taking a chance:

Meeting Lera and Lena

We arrived in Izmail and met the girls...we met Lera first, she's beautiful and reminds us much of Caelia. We accepted her referral immediately. We met Lena second, she's beautiful as well, but unfortunately we are not going to be bringing her home, we were both shocked at how small and fragile she was. The way her heart condition was explained by the staff at the orphanage (and consulted through an interpreter with another physician) it is unlikely that it could be repaired. She has multiple issues which would make her unsuitable for surgery, even in the US and we don't even have confidence that she would survive the flight. It's heartbreaking for us to have to make this decision knowing what fates may be held for her here, but it is one we had to make for our family. If we were to attempt to bring her home, she would require everry bit of Sheila's attention to care for her and being the one who goes to work everyday, I can't ask her to do that alone, there would be little time left for the other children. We also worried at what this would do to Michael, he is very sensitive and if we were to bring Lena home knowing that so little could be done for her and he were to get attached and something were to happen to her, he would be absolutely devastated as would we. It was a hard decision we did not make lightly. We ask that everyone respect our decision.