March 27, 2009
Today was perhaps the longest day of the trip so far. Let’s just say sleeping on a train isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. We got off the train, somewhat exhausted, feeling a little gross, and a bit hungry. We waited for our taxi in the cold (it really wasn’t that bad). When the taxi arrived, we stuffed our luggage in the trunk, and back seat with us.
Another test: Place all your bags in the back of a Chevy Aveo; if your things only take up half the trunk, you’re packed light enough for the Ukraine.
On the trip we discovered that this area is the auto capital of the Ukraine. They make their own cars here, as well as manufacturing Chevy’s. Hmmmm…..
We headed directly to the govt office to pick up our letter of invitation. Sounds good. We got there and figured we’d wait at least until 8am to enter. I’m not sure what time we got there, but we ended up waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. Somewhere around 9am Igor asked where she was. Someone ended up calling her at 9:30am. Where was she? At the bank…she’d be there by 10am. Not a big deal for me. But when 10am came and went, I started to lose it a little. I was tired, hungry, had a headache, and felt pretty gross after not taking a shower in the morning. I started to literally not be able to stay in the hallway…it was making my head spin. So I paced, and went in to the stair well. At about 10:30am she finally came and we got our letter.
If you get Igor as your facilitator, thank your lucky stars. He has a lot of connections and is a very personable guy. Relationships are very important, and if you approach life that way, you’re bound to experience delays up front. But, trust me, Igor is on your side and is there to help you every step of the way. Don’t second guess him for a second. He may seem like he’s taking his time, or trying to make connections in place of helping you, but everything he’s doing is eventually for your benefit.
We got to the orphanage around 11:30am, and got to hang with this little fella for about 20 mins before he had to go to lunch. My first impression wasn’t bad, but wasn’t good either. I didn’t really feel a connection with him at first. He was exhibiting good signs, like not wanting us to pick him up, and running back to his classroom. He has a healthy connection to his caregiver. But he didn’t want much to do with the cute stuffed dog we brought for him to play with. The orphanage appears to be well kept, and well run. The workers we ran in to seem to genuinely care about these children, which makes a big difference. She showed us how smart he is by asking him to pick the biggest of the objects on the table, and put the red circle in the right spot on the puzzle. I compared him to my friend Lindsay’s 2 year old, and he seems to be just a little past that. He’s smart, focused and obedient.
After our meeting, we talked with the doctors about his diagnoses, which aren’t as bad as I initially thought. His feet will require some orthopedic care, but not surgery. And his heart condition is something that’s diagnosed in many orphanage children. The doctors seemed very up front about everything and answered our questions patiently.
Have I mentioned that we still haven’t eaten at this point? Carry snacks with you ALWAYS! I told Igor that I really needed something to eat or I was going to pass out. We got a permission slip to return again at 4pm just to spend more time with him. Normally, we wouldn’t get permission to see him over the weekend, too, until we made the commitment to adopt him. But we wanted an outside opinion from a doctor first. They will still allow us to see him this weekend. That’s where Igor really works for you. He has a great personality and is instantly liked by others.
We ate, although I didn’t eat much. The train ride really made my stomach go whoopsie daisie, and I wasn’t feeling all that great. Strange since I don’t get seasick or carsick. (Add Dramamine to your list of meds to bring with you.) One small bite at a time. Then we were off to find a place to stay for the weekend. Maybe tomorrow we’ll take pictures…the outside of this place doesn’t look like much, but this flat is beautiful. And the lady who lives here is an orphanage worker who has 2 children that live in the US…and even some grandchildren. She told Igor that the boy we visited was a good boy. She thought it was GREAT that we came from America and has treated us very well.
We went to our visit at 4pm and this boy was a different child. He was engaging and fun, and I even got a few chuckles out of him! He is so much like Dave, it isn’t funny. He thought it was a hoot that Dave would give him jumbo legos, which he stacked right away. He was determined to stack each one, and wouldn’t stop until he reached his goal. He also loves his cars, and even showed us how he pushes himself about on a 3 wheeler. He’s on the track to being potty trained. He and I played with a roller for quite some time. I would take the roller apart, and GASP, give them to the boy, who would gasp back, smile and very absorbedly put it back together (there were only two pieces).
After seeing his personality shine through a bit, we looked at each other and just laughed. I’m not sure a biological child would fit in much better. We told Igor that we didn’t need a doctor’s opinion, this is our son. Igor thought we were joking at first. He advised us to sleep on the decision; we’ll visit our boy again tomorrow and then go to the notary if we still want to proceed. I think it’s wonderful that Igor wouldn’t allow us to make a rash decision and it makes me trust his opinion even more. More to come…hopefully pictures, if they’ll allow it.