Our plan was to leave on March 6th but as is typical for Ukraine, that is changeable. Unfortunately for my sweet husband back home, he will be holding down the fort for another week. Lera's passport will not be ready in time for us to leave. Maybe Thursday, more likely Friday - this is how appointments are made and how time is scheduled here.
The airlines do not use this way of measuring time and we had to make a decision about our return flight with a mixture of blind optimism and perhaps a touch of cynicism. My dad surrendered his AMEX points for our adoption flights. All of our flights - a total of 4 round trip tickets and 1 very special one way ticket were courtesy of his generosity. We've only had to pay fees and changes. The only downside to using skymiles is there are only a small amount of reserved seats available. Which means it can be a logistics nightmare to change these things last minute. Blessedly for us, the customer service reps at Delta are great people who really went the distance to find us a flight home. We leave Kiev on March 12th and fly as far as Paris where we layover until morning and then fly home to Minneapolis (via Cinncinnati).
This will create a wrinkle for us. We need to go to the Ukraine Consulate in Kiev and get a document (maybe its a visa?) so that Lera can leave the airport. I cannot even imagine trying to hang our in an airport for 19 hours with a very busy 5 year old. But hey, it's Ukraine, it's an adventure. That should be the motto for anyone adopting from Ukraine.
I hope the Consulate doesn't have a problem with her name... believe it or not, the woman in the passport office, told me that Lera's name was too long for their form. WHAT!?! Sounds like a joke but that is what she said. Her name, by the way, is now Valeria Elizabeth Green...it used to be Valeriya (something) Pascichenko. Go figure - but hey, it's Ukraine.
I suppose I should write a little bit about the paperwork. Before you pick up your child after your 10 calendar day wait, you must return to the courthouse to proof the information in the court decree and make any changes. While these changes were being made, we took some papers to the orphanage to get Lera. I signed several papers in the director's office and then went to the doctor's office. This is your last opportunity to ask questions about her health, routine, fears.
I gave them clothes for Lera and they went to change her and bring her down. When a child leaves the orphanage, they do not have any possessions. You will need to supply everything - clothes, shoes, underwear - coat, if its cold. Valentina gave Lera a small teddybear that was in the office, because it matched her outfit. Lera sleeps with it now.
On the way out of town we picked up the court documents and headed for Odessa. We went straight to get her birth certificate and this is where we encountered the first snag. It seems that this particular individual didn't like where my address was. Not that he had an issue with Minnesota - he thought my address should be in the last paragraph - not the second to the last. I'm serious. The papers needed to be changed - in Izmail (2 1/2 hours away by taxi, one way) and re-signed by the judge (who wouldn't be in until the next day)and brought back to Odessa. Our driver from Izmail, Igor, picked up the rejected paperwork with corrections from the bus and took it to the courthouse the next morning, had it corrected, had it signed, and then put it back on the bus. Irina picked it up from there and we rushed to have her name changed. From there, it is registered at a building across town. This takes hours.
The next morning we had to apply for her changed birth certificate. I filled out the information and signed the papers - then off to a special bank to pay for it. You get a receipt that you take back to the office and then you take her official birth certificate to the notary to fill out her passport application. Snag number 2. Irina has a power of attorney that we submitted with our dossier and I had an apostilled, notarized POA that I brought with me - just in case. Her POA did not list a specific child by name and he wasn't willing to accept this. Fortunately, mine did have Lera listed by her name exactly as it appeared in the court decree. But it had not yet been translated into Ukrainian. Irina argued and finally convinced them to take her interpretation of my POA. I don't want to imagine what would have happened if he didn't accept that. By the way, notaries are a big deal here. You must complete 7 years at university, followed by 2 years apprenticeship. I told her that for a small fee and a couple of hours of school, anyone could be a notary in the US. Now, I understand why they want things notarized, I wonder if they know the difference between their notaries and ours?
So after all of this you pick up the papers from the notary and take them to the passport office. You try to get a little girl to sit for a picture in a cramped room with 2 desks completely covered with passport applications and 2 dozen people who are looking annoyed at you because you cut to the front of the line. All of this was accomplished in less than 3 days. And after all of this effort, we were told her passport wouldn't possibly be ready until the day we were scheduled to leave.
It makes a girl very tired...