Monday, June 25, 2007

Coming home

Well, this is the first chance we have had to get to an internet cafe. We left last Tuesday night from Poltava on an overnight train. We got through the medical exam on Wednesday and got the visa on Thursday from the US Embassy. All our papers are in order, so then we made arrangements to go out to the EEO camp. We have not been staying at the camp but moved from our apartment in Kiev to a room at the Baptist Church in Kiev. We thought it was closer to the camp than it is, so probably should have kept our apartment, but that's okay. We just know the next time we pack it will be to come back to the States.

We think the camp has been good for Svetlana in many different ways. One of the American's is a girl that is working on her master's degree for child/family counseling (can't remember the exact title), but anyways, she has worked in the orphanages and it was good to have her here to talk to about everything so that we have some reassurrance that we are on the right track dealing with various issues that happen to kids in orphanages, and that everything we are experiencing is normal. We hope the camp provides her with a better transition, since it is kind-of like being at the orphanage she was at, but in a full Christian environment so that she can see that not everyone treats each other the way she thinks, even in her own country. It will be a few months before she has some language aquisition, so the teachings have been very good so far. Respect, forgiveness and today, obeying rules (talking on the Commandments). At least she can see that we are not being as mean as she thinks we are with setting up her boundries. She is having a good time and looks forward to going back the next day.

So much has happened since we left Poltava, that time does not permit us to post everything, but we look forward to meeting with everyone when we get back.

Just to let you all know, we will be kind-of 'hermits' for a couple of weeks when we get back so that she has time to adjust to American culture and a lot of new thing and new rules. You are welcome to call us when we get back, but just wanted to let you know that we will not be going out at all for about 2 weeks, nor will we be having much company. I hope you all understand.

This will be our last post before returning to the States. Please pray we get through immigration and make our connection in New York. We are returning Wednesday evening (27th).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Saying goodbye......

Yesterday (Sunday) we were able to take Svetlana to church with us again. She was comfortable enough to stay by herself, so Suzanne was able to go in this week for service. We were able to spend a little more time talking with the team that just came in from Melbourne, and about the outreaches they would be doing while there. It's good to see a healthy/active church here in Poltava.

After church, we called Sergei and got good news. Neelya's family was able to get permission to take her from camp so we could have dinner together! We kept it as a surprise for Svetlana until just before we left. We had spent the afternoon trying on the clothes we brought (which have to be taken in - she'e pretty tiny) and took her to get shoes. You haven't seen anything until you take a almost 7 year old girl, into a store to buy shoes who has never been shopping before! (At least as far as we know and by her actions). Going to the store in America will have to be planed as an all day excursion - not because she likes to shop - but because we will have to take a lot of time to practice our manners! 'Reach, grab and drop' - too many choices! We did finally find a pair of sandals for her and then they didn't have her size for sneakers. We had to have a long conversation about why she had to wear sneakers in America after she told us - 'I'm not going to wear them and you can't make me'! It's hard to imagine having a life where half of it was spent on the streets fending for yourself, and the other half has been only with limited instruction. God has already given us a lot of patience - but we are certainly emptied at the end of each day.

We met with Neelya and her family at 5pm and a new restaurant that was recommended by someone at the orphanage. It had all kinds of things for kids to do there - lots of birds and animals in cages built into the walls, toys, computers with games for older kids - it was very uniques for Ukraine. Svetlana and Neelya were almost inseperable. They both new it would be their last time together before Svetlana goes to America, so we let them be together as much as possible. We got to know Neelya's foster parents better - Alla and Valya - and had a good talk over the girls. They shared a lot of information with us that we would not have been able to find out from the orphanage, because it came straight from Neelya after she has gotten closer to them. We took them after dinner to the cars in the park that Svetlana had been on about a week ago, and boy....Neelya got behind the wheel of her favorite 'vehicle' and we were in shock! What happened to the sweet little obedient girl at dinner? Crazy drivers is an understatment- with 4 hands on the steering wheel (Svetlana was the co-pilot)! We found out why it was Neelya's favorite - because it's one of the fastest! None of us knew what to do as she drove round and round and people had to jump out of the way! We finally got them to settle down and made then switch cars and things were quite more in control. We took a slow walk back to the orphanage and as the girls took time to say there final good-bye's, it was an emotional night for everyone. We are happy though the girls have such a close bond. We hope we can come back soon to visit so that they will continue to be close.

Today, we spent all day in Globino (about 2 hours away) getting the birth certificate changed over and other misc. paperwork. The paperwork was a blur today - we finally got tired of figuring everything out and just said - tell us where we go next....When you have to do things like get the birth certificate then get it authenticated, but you have to go to the bank and pay the fee to get it authenticated because they can't take money of the government office, and then have to bring the receipt just can't keep track of everything. But - we got back to Poltava, did the other stuff we needed to do to present paperwork for the passport and got it all done by 5pm. Sergei is the best! Tomorrow, he will go to deliver the papers to get Svetlana's Ukrainian passport and we should be able to pick it up in the afternoon. So we will be heading back to Kiev tomorrow night - God willing. It will be hard to leave as we've become friends with Sergei and the people at the orphanage, and at church. I can't say we'll miss the Ukrainian style of driving on the long distances (nobody should complain about the drivers in America anymore - you haven't seen anything like this!).

So we will be picking up Svetlana sometime tomorrow, doing some last minute shopping and then we are off to Kiev on the train to finish our paperwork now with the U.S. Embassy.

This will be our first whole day AND night with us together as a family.......pray for our continued guidance and patience and for ALL OF US to make the adjustment easily....

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A little story (Today's 2nd post)

We found this on one of the website's we've been using to learn about attachment disorder. This little story describes it quite well from a child's anyone in Children's Ministry......consider this as we minister to the kids in our classrooms.....................


Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wearFor I wear a mask -A mask that I'm afraid to take off.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me..But don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure.
That all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well as without.
That confidence is my name and coolness is my game.
That the water's calm and I'm in command.
And that I need no one.But don't believe me.......Please.

My surface may seem smooth, but my surface is my mask.
Beneath swells the real me in confusion - in fear - alone - in pain.
But I hide this; I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness; fears and pain being exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind.
I need that is followed by caring from people who care enough to help me.
It's the only thing that can liberate me.
From myself; from my own self-built prison walls.
From the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me of what I can't assure myself - that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare.
I'm afraid to.I'm afraid you'll think less of me and that you'll laugh.
And your laugh would hurt me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing, that I'm just no good.
And that you'll see this and reject me.
So I play my game, my desperate game, with a mask of assurance without.
And a trembling child within.

I dislike hiding. Honestly.
I dislike the superficial game I'm playing, the superficial, phony game.
I'd really like to be genuine and spontaneous...and me.
But you've got to help me.
You've got to hold out your hand even when that's the last thing I seem to want or need.
Only you can wipe away from my eyes the emptiness and pain I try not to feel.
Only you can help me.
Each time you're kind, and gentle, and encouraging.
Each time you try to understand because you really care my heart begins to grow wings.
Very small wings; very feeble wings. But wings.

With your sensitivity and sympathy, and your power of understanding, you can breathe life into me.
I want you to know that.
I want you to know how important you are to me.
How you can be the creator of the person that is me if you choose to.
Please choose to.
You alone can break down the wall from behind which I tremble.
You alone can remove my mask.
You alone can release me from my shadow world of panic and uncertainty - from my lonely prison.
So do not pass me by. Please do not pass me by.
It will not be easy for you.

A long conviction of worthlessness and anger builds strong walls.
The nearer you approach to me the blinder I may strike back.
It's irrational. Sometimes I'm irrational.
I fight against the very thing I cry out for.
But I am told that love, caring, and kindness are stronger than strong walls; in this lies my hope.
My only hope.
Please try to beat down those walls with firm hands, but with gentle hands, for a child is very sensitive.

Who am I, you may wonder. I am someone you know very well.For I am every man you meet. And I am every woman you meet.

Party and picnic time!

We had Svetlana's little party for her group on Friday. It ended up being only 10 kids in her immediate group and we were able to do it at their normal snack time. Grant brought her flowers and we had lots of fruit, juice and cookies for the kids. The Deputy Director (Supervisor of the teachers) - Tatianna - made a little speech and had Svetlana stand up and all the kids clapped for her to wish her well in America. It was really cute. We also brought her a 'ball/paddle kit'. Not sure how to explain it - the ball has suction cups on it, so when you throw it, the paddle is like a mit, and the ball sticks to it when you catch it. She is very athletic - we're not sure what sport to get her into - gymnastics, soccor, or softball - she can throw really well! And she learns really fast.

Today, we were able to take Svetlana to the church picnic. We meet the American missionaries a little ways from our apartment and then took a taxi out to the place along one of the rivers. We got a chance to meet some of the Americans on the team that just arrived yesterday from Melbourne. We have a feeling that we will be coming back here in the future for more than just visiting Svetlana's sister. We had a typical Ukrainian lunch with sausage/keilbasa on bread with vegetables and fruit. Svetlana wanted to go on the water and really wanted to find the 'mattress' to float on. Someone was using the one from the church and there was a second one but we couldn't find it. Well, while we were talking and watching her, she looked like she was making friends with people - she's not shy for most things. Then, she comes up to us and says that she wants to use the mattress to go in the water. When we said we didn't know where the other one was at, she said - Ihra can take us to it and then I can use it. She wasn't making friends - she was on a mission - a mattress mission! She was going around asking everyone where it was until she found someone who knew. She is very determined!

It was also very cool that we were able to be there for the baptism of 7 people from the church. Anything we can expose Svetlana to we are grateful for. It was like being at home - but we stood there and thought - here we are in the middle of Ukraine, with our new daughter, witnessing a baptism at our sister church....who would have thought we would be doing this? It's pretty awesome the things that God has done to bring us to this point.

Before we went to the picnic though, we gave Svetlana her computer. She loves it! We showed her how to do the ABC's in both English and Russian - but it looks like she is more interested in learning how to add and subtract. She will be able to use this for a long time!

We haven't been able to find out about meeting with Svetlana's sister before we leave Poltava. Her sister went to summer camp, and the director is not a very friendly man. He usually doesn't let any of the kids leave the camp for any reason (not even if there parents come to get them). So, please pray that we will be able to have this time together before we leave. The Poltava inspector wrote a special letter to request that she leave for a day since her sister is permanently moving to America. They went today, but the director was not there, so they are going back tomorrow morning. This is the hard thing to deal with in Ukraine - when someone has this much control over a person's life and there is nothing you can do about it - except it makes you learn to be real nice to your opposition real fast! We hope that we will be having dinner tomorrow night.

Sergei was able to get the person at the vital records office in Globino to handle our request for Svetlana's birth certificate on her day off (yeah!) so we will be able to go down there Monday to get it and should be able to complete everything else on Tuesday, and then be able to head back to Kiev.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Time flying..........

We can't believe it's Thursday already! We have been busy wrapping up paperwork and trying to schedule things to do. We have still been going to the orphanage everyday - sometimes twice. Keep in mind it's a little over a mile each way we walk - so we get a good work out! We were down in the woods with the kids this week as they collected grasshoppers and flowers....and mosquitos! We're surprised these kids aren't one big mosquito bite!

We went shopping yesterday and actually found a billingual learning computer for kids - Russian and English - to help her learn English from it and get her use to computers. We can use it to practice our Russian too! We were able to get the tax number today that we had filed for on Tuesday. This is like a Social Security Number, so we had to have Svetlana's name changed on it in order to get her Ukrainian passport. This is good. Now all we need is the new birth certificate and official court decrees. We have to go to her place of birth to get the birth certificate - Globino - about 2 hours away. Sergei will be going tomorrow to make a request in person that they prepare everything in advance and ask someone to come in on their day off (Monday) so we can go and pick it up. So we may be finished here in Poltava on Tuesday - Wednesday at the latest.
Yesterday while shopping we ran into our Italian friends and we all got together to have lunch today. We just happened to pick a restaurant that has menu's in Ukrainian, English and Italian! How 'bout that! Their translator was out of town, so some conversation went like this: We speak, Sergei interprets to Ukrainian to Nadia (their daughter) who interprets to Italian! and vice versa! Nadia is 8 and has been to Italy 3 times already with a host family and speaks very good Italian! We actually somehow can understand each other - learning some new Italian words (we are really going to be mixed up when we get home!) Svetlana and Nadia had a good time playing afterwards between tennis, frisbee and soccor. We have noticed there is some sort of bond that happens between the kids when they are being adopted. The other girl Olya, who hopefully is being adopted, now they seem to be pretty good buddies as well.

We are having a party for Svetlana tomorrow at the orphanage with the kids in her group. We were asked not to bring cake, but fruit and juice (gee - you think they don't want to deal with 30 kids on a sugar high?) I guess cotton candy is out of the question! Saturday we have the church picnic to go to, and Sunday we hope to get together with Svetlana's sister and her caretakers/family. Then Monday will be the big day, when we can remove Svetlana from the orphanage. We really think that even with all the long process in Ukraine, it really helps the kids make a slow transition into a family, which means less initial shock. We know it's helped us to make a transition into being parents.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Need to contact you Deb........

To our neighbor said you might be able to pick us up when we return - we can't find your e-mail address or phone. E-mail us at If someone in the neighborhood sees this..........could you let her know for us?


Monday, June 11, 2007

Calvary Chapel Poltava + Comedy Central

We were able to take Svetlana with us this morning to church. We also had met the other couple that we had posted before about praying for them, whether or not they would be adopting 2 girls at the orphanage. It appears they are proceeding, and we happened to run into them in the grocery market, so they ended up coming to church with us as well. They were going to another church as well later in the day, so it worked out good, since there is still an American Pastor at Calvary and she really needed to hear other people in English!

When we got to church, Grant went in to find someone who could translate for us for Svetlana, to see if she wanted me to go with her to Sunday School - since this was her first time there. When Grant had gone in, he felt someone tap him on the was a very familiar face! When I turned around as Grant came out - he said - look who I was Sasha! Our friend who use to run the EEO camps when we went before and who had stayed with us a few years back on her visit to the U.S.! We were all in tears to see each other again. She doesn't even live in Poltava but in Kiev. She had come in early for something else she was handling this week. She had asked why we were here, and when we told her we were adopting she was in tears again and we were able to introduce her to our daughter. God is soooooo good! We hope to be able to get with her in Kiev when we go back and spend some time with her.

On the way home, we stopped at the park in the square, because we had seen some really cute things there before. We let her take a ride in one of the powered cars. She picked the one like a big stuffed dog! I would stay off the road while she's driving though! Then we let her pick out a balloon/toy and she picked a cow, which she has now named Dasha. So all they way back to the orphanage she was telling us all about her cow and the good milk it gives. The rest of the day, she had it with her everywhere and was showing everybody her cow! She took it for a walk, and made sure it was fed by grazing in the yard by the playground.

We are in day 3 of our 10 day wait before we have full custody of her. So sometime next week we will be going back to Kiev, visit the Embassy, and then hopefully on to the EEO camp for a couple of days before our scheduled return.

COMEDY CENTRAL (we have joked with Sergei, so feel we are safe...)

1. In America, we say - everything tastes like chicken
In Ukraine, the chicken tastes like beef ("Is it chicken or is it beef? We call it chow!)

2. How many Ukrainians does it take if you want to purchase a loaf of bread? 4
One to tell you what line to stand in
One to ask you what kind of bread
One to take your money
and one to give you your bread

3. How do you mow a lawn in Ukraine?
You pull the lawmower behind you while smoking a cigarette

4. What do little Ukrainian girls like on their peanut butter sandwich?
Salami (Fu! - translation - Yuck!) - (Yes - she really likes this)

5. How do you know when a Ukrainian translator has been in the refrigerator late at night?
The cheese has teeth marks on it and the mayo is half gone

Yes - we are having a lot of fun and have a translator with a great sense of humour!