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.