About Me

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My husband and I, the Dynamic Duo, have been married since 2003. We've weathered the storm of chronic disease (diagnosis 2006), infertility (diagnosis 2007), turning 30 (2006/2007 respectively) a first adoption (2009) of a tender hearted, compassionate Ukrainian BIG boy (born 2006), who has told us he'd like a baby sister, baby brother, big brother, and REALLY big sister. We recently completed our second Ukrainian adoption journey, which brought us a daughter (born 2005). We'll see what else God brings our way!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

On the Road again!

Just to update you - We had court on Wednesday and it was a breeze.  I even made the judge chuckle when I told him that Eli wanted to know if she would play Batman.  We have a sneaking suspicion that if we had asked for the 10 days to be waived he would have.  But because Dave really needed to get home (he's out of his medicines) and my mom wouldn't have been able to get here to help (she's in CO visiting my brother and his family) we decided to rescind our request.  So, as of Wednesday we are a family of 4!  I'll come back around July 10th ish and take her out of the orphanage on the 11th.  Then the paper chasing begins!

We hopped on the overnight train and arrived in Kiev this morning.  We ate a breakfast at McD's and then headed to the embassy.  We signed the papers and then were off to the airport, where we've been ever since.  I think we got here around 11am.  There's a great Italian restaurant here with WIFI and charging stations, which was super nice.  We are exhausted and really, really want to get some sleep and take showers!  But all in due time!  Pictures when we get home!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Yippee!

First of all, I want to thank all of you that comment on our blog.  I read and appreciate each one.  You lift my spirits and help me in a challenging and lonely time.

Next...we got word that everything is ready for us to have court Wednesday!  We've already emailed the embassy to get an appointment Thursday and once we receive our confirmation from them, we will change our plane tickets to Friday!  If we're able to keep the same flight, we'll leave at 6:50am (I'm sorry, but I didn't know there was such an ungodly hour!) and arrive in Detroit at 1:30pm.  Then we hitch a ride home, get a good night's rest and head to Buffalo to get Eli.  I can't wait to see him!  He told my sister in law yesterday that he misses us and wants to give us lots of hugs and kisses when he sees us :)

Of course, that means leaving Amelia behind, but we're going to take a translator with us after court (or before depending on what time it is) to explain what's going to happen.  And we also have to figure out if this region counts 10 business days or 10 calendar days for it's waiting period.

We see the light at the end of the tunnel and we couldn't be more excited!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Signature Granted

First, the good news.  We finally got the signature we needed!  Now we just need to clear the hurdles of the SDA approval letter and interpol clearance and we'll be set for court.  Of course, nothing in Ukraine goes as planned :)

About the FAS- I am really paranoid about that, so we made sure and had the doctor look for signs.  And we don't see any concerns in her personality...she is really opening up to us!  She is cautious, yet daring and is always making sure things are OK before she tries them.  Ok, not always.  She's been testing her boundaries with us a little bit lately, but it's a good thing.  I think the facial features you're seeing might just be the picture.  I'll put more up after court.  I also don't see signs of hyperactivity or aggression, which is good.  We were also told by her previous orphanage director that her mom was "Strange, but didn't do drugs or use alcohol."  I'm taking that at face value hoping that it's the truth!

Celeste - We don't know what's going on with her mental status.  The orphanage told us she has a "mid level mental retardation" but we aren't sure what that means.  We don't know if she has a diagnosable mental issue, or if she's suffered a lot of loss and is dealing with that, or if she hasn't gotten the education from the orphanage she needs.  That's one of the things we're going to find out as soon as we get her home.  A 3 year mental delay, even for an orphan, is quite a bit considering she'll be 6 in 1.5 weeks.  But she seems very normal in her interactions with other kids, even a little motherly to the boys.  She is also very sweet to her best friend, Natasha, sharing her toys and showing her all the cool stuff we bring her.  And she talks.  A lot.  We don't know what she's saying, but she's telling us something!

As for her adoption story, it's still unfolding!  I think I'll wait until we get home with her until I share.  I have a feeling there's more to her story :)  (Just a taste:  Both girls we visited were Anastasia's and both had bio moms with a first name of Natalia...Hmmmm....)

Today was really cute.  She likes to take Dave's cell phone and hold it up to her ear and walk around the area we take her to...so adorable!  And she's a climber...we're going to have to watch her.  She's quite daring, but doesn't overdo it.  Quite the opposite of our super cautious Eli.  I think they'll be really good for each other.  She also LOVES the sandbox and a musical barbie camera we got for her.

We've been working on numbers up to 5 and she's doing great!  She likes to repeat things we say, so we try to help her understand new words.  It's amazing how much we can communicate non verbally in just one week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Court...

A bad storm came through and knocked out our internet last night, so we're at a restaurant waiting on some yummy food while we connect to the outside world.

We just found out that the administrator that was supposed to sign the paper that has been ready for almost a week hasn't signed yet.  Which means we won't have court Friday.  Our next goal is Wednesday, since Monday and Tuesday are holidays.  We're both pretty disappointed, but I guess we should expect it.  After all, Ukraine is very unpredictable!  So the earliest we would leave here (with court on Wednesday) is Friday...just get us home!

So please pray with us that court would be able to proceed without problems on Wednesday.  We're both ready to get home and rest up.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Court date and Sneak Peak

We've been visiting Amelia every morning from 10-noon, then coming home.  I make lunch, then we sit around watching TV or skyping family or whatever floats our boat.  Tomorrow we're going to take a walk and check out our surroundings after lunch.  It will be nice to just see what's around here.

We're still waiting on one paper to be signed before we can submit everything to the SDA for approval.  It usually takes the SDA 5 business days to process this paperwork and issue an approval so we're praying hard they will complete it at least on time, if not early.  That would truly be a miracle.  Most likely our court date will have to be moved back, which is not good.  Next Monday and Tuesday are a holiday, so the next available day would be Wednesday.  Even if we took the overnight train Wed night, that puts us in Kiev Thursday, sign papers at embassy that day, the leave Friday.  And that may be a challenge since it's the 4th of July weekend.  Sigh.  I know it will all work out in the end, but it's so exhausting to have everything so up in the air!

We're both going home for the 10 day waiting period.  I initially was going to stay because it made more sense financially, but I realized a couple days ago the toll this adoption has taken on me emotionally.  I really feel like I need to go home, regroup, and come back energized (with my MAMA!) to get Amelia for the long trip home.  This will also allow me to schedule doctor's appointments, and get information from our school district about what will be best for her.  Technically she should be in 1st grade all day next year, but I just can't see myself doing that to her.  I really don't think she'll be ready.  Not to mention we have no idea why she's delayed.  It may be a mental challenge, orphanage delay, or a result of some trauma she's experienced.  We just don't know.

I just can't hold back any longer...here's a sneak peak at our daughter!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Prayer!!

We just got a tentative court date of June 24th.  It's tentative because we're waiting on one form from the inspector to be finished before the SDA (social services department of Ukraine) can register the application and get some paperwork back to the court.  I'm sure I'm getting all this wrong, but the main point is that one piece of paperwork may hold up the show!  Please pray that God would work a little miracle (And, yes, mom, I know that's the day you close on your house...what a strange coincidence!).

Strange Happenings

Last night we lost power.  No big deal.  But the floor in our bedroom was warm.  No, scratch that, HOT.  As in I moved our things off the floor because I wondered if there was a fire below us.  So I call our landlady at 10:30pm and said "Hey...we lost power, not a big deal-we really don't need it right now.  But...is it normal for the floor in the bedroom to be warm?"  So she sent over our driver (her exhusband) who checked.  Get this...the electricity was only out in half the building....our half, of course.  And there was some kind of water leak or something involving the central heat in the basement (we're on the bottom floor) which was on, which it isn't supposed to be,  and there was scorching hot water filling up the basement!  It was so humid in the bedroom.  So we lit candles and hunkered down in the living room, which has a comfy pull out sofa, opened all the windows and went to bed.  I just had to laugh.  What a strange time we're having!

We visited Amelia today.  She's really starting to open up and show us her personality.  We were asked not to wander too far from the group today.  They said the director doesn't like it.  But it's hard because the toys we bring for her cause a little disruption with the other kids.  And we're trying to get to know her, but it's hard when you're being watched!  The caregivers are all very nice to us and love our pictures.  We also had a visitor...a Ukrainian who wanted to practice her English.  They don't get a lot of international adoptions from America in this region, so she doesn't have opportunities to converse.

We keep getting asked some very similar questions.  Mainly "Why do you want to adopt a girl and not another boy?"  I'm wondering if they're really trying to get a feel for who we really are and our true intentions. I try to reassure them that we simply want a daughter and that the issues Amelia have are treatable or manageable in the US.  We have lots of programs for special needs children and she'll fit right in wherever she ends up going.

Because of the sensitivity of the orphanage I won't be posting pictures of her until after the court date.  I want to be very careful with this director, making sure the rules are followed and she is happy until the day we leave.  Continue to pray we can gain favor with her and that she would have peace about us adopting Amelia.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Amelia Nastya Moser

No pics yet...quick post.  We decided to adopt Amelia!  More information coming, but we're at a cafe and will leave soon to see her this afternoon.  We already know our judge (it's all automated now) and will have court in the next few weeks.  Pray everything falls in to place and we have no more hiccups!  And pray that we can soften the orphanage staff to us...long story.  Even longer if you lived it.  We might have WIFI in the next couple of days and I'll be able to fill you in more.  Oh, and our apartment has a washer AND dryer and they have WASHCLOTHES!!!  Oh, I am in heaven!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Train! The Train!

We're heading to the train station later today and I'm not excited...at all.  The train and I have a history, a bad history.  I get nauseous when I get off the train.  But it's cheaper than a car so we'll take it.  We're meeting girl #2 tomorrow and, while I'm not sure she's the one, God has been showing me that we're headed in the right direction.  I've made some really interesting new connections the past two days that have confirmed something I wasn't ready to accept until now.  God is so patient with us!

Other than that we're doing great.  These new friends have really lifted up my spirits and given me the socialization I needed to get me through the next phase of our adoption.  And I think we've decided that either I'm going home after the court date or Eli's coming here.

Eli is doing great.  My mother in law sent a very sweet email letting us know how polite and sweet he is, and told us how busy he's been.  Looking at pictures I wonder if he's going to sleep the first week he gets home!  I'm so glad he's having a great time.  I can't wait to skype him on Saturday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

There's a fire burnin'...

No, seriously.  About midnight we start hearing all these rumble rumble sounds, lots of honking, then people showed up on our street.  They were pointing to our side of the street, but the other corner.  Two buildings down there's an actual fire burning.  And it's pretty bad.  We're going to wait until things calm down a little, then maybe hit the hay.  What a strange adoption journey this has been!

Visiting Girl #2

We had a very interesting meeting at the SDA on Thursday.  We decided to go see a 6 year old girl, but we can't see her until Tuesday (Monday is a holiday).  So our train tickets are being purchased, we're bringing a doctor along for this one, and I'm gearing up for another long trip there and back in a few short days.  This place is about as close to Russia as you can get...as in you can throw a stone and it will land in Russia.  I'm not very optimistic about this visit, but Dave seems to be excited.

I think I've been going through a little depression lately.  All I want to do is sleep and I'm pretty much on the verge of tears at any given moment.  Today I got a little reprieve, though.  While waiting at the SDA, I got to talk to FOUR American adoptive families.  We're headed in all kinds of directions, but it was nice to spend an hour chatting with someone!  That's what's going on now...not much else.  Sigh.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

SDA Take Two

Our second appointment is today at 3pm (8am for all those in the Detroit area).  I'm really, really nervous about it because I know that I won't be able to handle a third appointment.  We could have had an appointment yesterday at 5pm, but our facilitator told us we'd have a better chance today at 3pm, and we agreed.  That means our travel paperwork won't be ready until Friday between 4 and 5pm and we'll stay here over the weekend (which happens to be another 3 day weekend for some Ukrainians, not all) and either travel Sunday or Monday to whatever region.

In other news, our new apartment has two A/C's and is super nice!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Walking Tour of the City

I haven't posted much because we haven't really done a whole lot.  We go to the grocery store every couple of days or so, but other than that we've been staying close to the apartment trying to save money.  However, we decided to bite the bullet and pay for a tour of the WWII museum on Monday.  However, the museum was closed :(  So we did a walking tour of the historic part of Kiev instead.  And I'm so glad we did.  I've learned a lot about the history, but I also gained more confidence to find my way to the SDA.

Our first stop...the opera house, of course!  It's at the end of our street and I recognized it immediately from other blogger's pictures.  You can read more about the history and see more pictures here.  It's beautiful!



Across from the opera house is the German embassy.  On the very right side of the picture you can see what looks like a graffiti filled piece of art.  That's actually part of the Berlin wall! 


The next stop was the "Golden Gate" which was the main entrance to the city.  This cat sits near the road as a tribute to a cat who died saving his owner's restaurant.  Here's the rest of the story!


All over Kiev, you will find statues.  They love their art!  This is a cat made out of plastic forks.  Very inventive.


This beautiful building was built by one man and named by another.  Apparently the guy who built it spent twice as much on the decorations as the building itself!


 And this a side view of the "Golden Gate".  Information about this is here .


RAVENS!  In the city!  When heads will roll, ravens will follow :)


And we couldn't pass up a picture with the Ukrainian folklore Hedgehog!  Hedgehog Info AND Movie of folklore on this blog

The tour guide said this monument was funny because the Kosak is standing and the portions are a little off.

Saint Sophia survived soviet rule :)  Here's the complete story



Saint Michael's...we'll see more of this church in a minute.

A pagan statue.  Don't know much about this.


Princess Olga Monument



And Saint Michael's.  It's very ornate and it actually still functions as a sort of church.  While we were in there, a priest was reciting something.  And as women go in, they cover their heads out of respect. Read more here






And here is an amazing playground, something our tour guide said she would have never imagined during soviet rule.  She said all playgrounds were exactly the same (how boring!).  But this one is themed from Alice in Wonderland.


And just like the Belgium Peeing boy and Peeing girl, Ukrainians have their peeing dog!




Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Tour of our Apartment

In case you were wondering, things are a little different here in Ukraine.  Apartments are better to rent than hotels, I've already mentioned the driving, and the fashion is, um, M C Hammertime?  I'm seeing those Hammer pants come out in full force and it cracks me up.

But I wanted to show you a bit of our life here in Kiev.  Our last apartment was more modern than this one, and had an air conditioner.  But it also cost us out the wazzoo!  This one is more affordable, and has everything we need (no air conditioner, though).

This is the door when looking at it from the inside.  Welcome to our humble abode.  Glad you could join us!


 Immediately to the left is a sitting area.  What, might you ask, is behind the door?  Why, that would be the light switch to the kitchen, of course!


The kitchen is furnished with a nice dining area, an oven, microwave...


and a fridge!  We currently have chicken and ham waiting to be eaten.  Mmmmm!



We'll save the middle of the apartment for later.  First, let's explore the right side of the apartment.  That's where the excitement begins.  Just to the right of the door is the toilet room.  Yep, a separate room for the toilet.



 Just outside the toilet down the hall is a coat hanger and the lights for the toilet, again, on the outside.
 

This is our bathroom at the end of the hallway.  The washer, and tub...


And the "shower".  Ukrainians don't take showers everyday.  They take baths as needed.  This is very european.

And the sink.  Mirror, mirror on the wall, is my girl here after all?

The next door you enter, accross from the coat rack and next to the bathroom is the bedroom.  Excuse the mess, but we aren't at home :)  This is the dresser.  In Ukraine (as well as most European countries) they don't have closets built in.  Instead they buy these storage units and use them as closets.  I'm not sure how they fit all their clothes in them!

 Our bed, which is pretty hard, but it's not nearly as bad as the first bed.


The window in the bedroom is very large and tall.  It has two window panes on each side (one for the outside and one for the inside), both that open in to the bedroom.  I don't know why this is.  It's the first time I've seen  this.


Looking straight ahead once you enter the apartment is the living room.


We haven't figured out the TV yet, but we have one if we ever do!


And we have a balcony, which is super nice.


This is where we dry our clothes (although at our last apartment we dried our clothes in the bedroom on the carpet).

Looking straight down from the 5th floor in to the courtyard.


Our view.  This is a nicer outside to an apartment.  Usually they look like you're living in the slums.  The inside of the stairwell is a little run down.  But Ukrainians own the apartment, the government owns the buildings, so why put money in to something you don't have to?



And the best thing about our apartment?  It has a ceiling fan in the living room!  We spend most of our time there, and keep the windows open all night.

No luck, schmuck

What an interesting couple of days!  Tuesday we packed up and met our wonderful driver, Andrea, downstairs who drove us down to the SDA.  We got our paperwork and headed off on a 5.5 hour roller coaster, er, I mean drive to Kharkiv.  The roads are being repaved because of Eurocup (Soccer) coming to Ukraine next year.  I would describe the paved vs not repaved roads like this:

For East Michiganders-Post (smooooooooth) vs Pre (watch out for that hole!!) M59 construction
For East Texans-Any major highway (Turn up the Brooks N Dunn, baby!) vs the "speed limit is 55, but I should go slower because of all the bumps in the road" back roads of the piney woods (Was that an armadillo I just ran over?  Nope, just a bump).

So most of the trip was pretty smooth.  But very interesting...VERY interesting.

This is a two lane portion of the highway.  People pass FAST and sometimes the 2 lane highway becomes a 3 way highway, with one vehicle straddling the middle as they pass, but that only happens when there's a paved shoulder...at least from what I could tell.

video


And while you're on a 5.5 hour drive in intense heat, you drink water, which makes you have to pee.  So you stop at a rest station (which is very different than ours) and find a toilet.  Which costs 1.5 grivna per person (less than $.20).  You should always bring your own toilet paper (or in my case tissues) because Ukrainians don't use toilet paper as much.  You walk in to a stall and this is what you see...


That's right, folks.  The squat pot!  You can see the tip of my shoe on the very bottom left of the picture.  This is the infamous hole in the ground toilet.  You step up about a foot on to the concrete, squat down (not touching anything because it's too low) and let it flow, let it flow, let it flow!  All the time making sure you're not getting any on you!  The toilet paper goes in the trash can and, yes, the toilet flushes.  Where it goes, nobody knows!

We got to our hotel and settled in about 11:30pm.  We woke up at 7am, got ready and were out the door by 8am to drive about 30ish minutes to a small town outside Kharkiv.  I was shocked at how well maintained and beautiful the orphanage was.  We met the director, who was an exuberant woman and absolutely wonderful to us.  She, the doctor and the inspector sat and talked to us about the girl, tearing up about the prospect of her finding a home, and then introduced us as doctors from another country so the girl wouldn't be confused.  She really, really wants a home so the inspector told us she would be too clingy if they told her we were there to possibly adopt her.  After reviewing all the information and meeting girl, we decided she isn't our daughter.  I won't go in to the details.  But the inspector told me that it was OK.  They only want the best for her, and we will find our daughter.  She even gave me a sweet memento, which is now one of my treasured possessions.

Wendy, I tried to get a picture of the heels I was talking about, but this picture is a little fuzzy.  I'll try to take some more when I get a chance!

We arrived back in Kiev last night, got a good night's sleep, and went grocery shopping today.  So now we wait for appointment #2 and pray and pray that this one will be it.  Hopefully the appointment will be next week.

Oh, and for those of you who kept telling me that it was quick to dry clothes here and I was crazy because it took days for our clothes to dry, I figured out the issue.  I was hand washing clothes while in Zaparoscha.  We have washers for the first time, and they are awesome!  Our clothes dry in about an hour outside-a much different experience!