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.