We had a better day today even though it started out discouragingly. Chris went to the court this morning for more official stuff and even though they accepted our court documents (vs. rejecting them for being incomplete or too full of errors, I suppose) there are four things that need fixing. Chris spoke with our attorneys and it is their opinion that it is the judge who needs correcting since they are current on all laws regarding this matter, but I guess nobody corrects judges around here. It seems simple enough in my American mind…just tell the judge why it is right already, he will see the error of his ways, and accept the package as it is. But not so in reality. It is definitely one of the ways I am completely dependent upon others for translation and doing what is told of us to get what we need from them (approval when we go to court-likely in a few weeks).
So, in short, we don’t have either of the things I was hoping for by today and an additional trip is needed. What I am unclear on is whether two additional trips are needed. The distance means a lot because original documents have to be hand carried and picked up either by us or our attorneys who have Power of Attorney. It is all part of the Ukrainian Non-Computerized System Adoption Game.
But I am so proud of Chris! He has dealt with the judge, judge’s assistant, the orphanage ladies, the social services ladies…always in Russian. It is stretching him to be in this part of the country, I think, because in Kiev many more people speak English. We rely on him to do so many transactions for us. I am thankful for his language skills and hope he realizes that he does better than he gives himself credit for. I’m also guessing that his yearly (military) language test scores will be up after this.
After a sour start to the morning, we got to visit Denya and Ana for about two hours this morning. The highlight, in my opinion, was their response to some little photo albums we created for them.
We picked the photos last night off of Chris’ computer and it was another of his early morning errands (putting in the order for three sets of each of the 26? photos). We slipped them into plastic pockets of those freebie type albums that used to come with photos when you picked up a developed roll of film. Does anybody still do that? (Ha.)
Anyway, they loved the albums. They basked in the possession of a personalized gift, as well as photos of them and their new soon to be family members. We want them to know we will be counting the days until we can return for them as well as give them a visual reminder of us and something to look forward to. Denya, in particular, sounds like he is bargaining with Chris for us to come sooner than our estimate of 3-4 weeks before court. Of course we would take them now if the law allowed, but we must follow the legal system. I think the soonest we could have them home is five weeks, but that would be with a flawless process and we are working with three cities instead of just two so I am trying to be realistic about it probably not being speedy.
We made some bracelets, played play-doh, admired the albums, played on the slide and monkey bars outside, frisbee and soccer. It was also special today because we got to see more of the orphanage than just the long hallways, director’s office, and classroom where our visits are held. Chris asked, and was granted, permission to see their rooms. We saw additional classrooms, big kids cafeteria, small kids cafeteria, play rooms. Ana’s sleeping room had maybe ten beds in a large cozy room. Denya’s room was more college dorm like set up with three twin beds in his room, a shared entry way, and another room with three beds adjoining. I think there was one or two bathrooms behind closed doors off of the entry way, but we weren’t too nosy since our teacher/tour guide was clearly in a hurry. All through the tour, any child or adult who crossed our path was subject to “ooh” and “aah” over the photo albums of Denya and Ana. They were so eager and proud to show them off!
We have seen other orphanages, but not many or enough to know how this one ranks in comparison. However, our initial assessment is that it is nice. The employees seem civil, the kids say they are treated well, and it is clean, albeit old and having the smell that accompanies that. The restrooms in the public area we saw aren’t up to American standards, but we aren’t in America. They are cleaner and less smelly than many bathroom facilities we have needed to visit while here (in Ukraine).
But with these externals of a nice looking place, Chris noted upon our departure that it is still a scheduled, impersonal existence run by workers, not family members. Even though they seem to treat the kids well enough, it isn’t a replacement for the love and security of belonging to parents and being part of a family.
We left for lunch, did some more document copies, bringing papers here and there, signatures, etc before we could return to the orphanage “after three” for our final visit. We did more of the same activities together before a hasty good bye supervised by an impatient employee who probably just wanted the large, American family out so she could get home on time this Friday evening. It wasn’t the way we planned our final departure, but we were thankful that we had had the tour and given the albums earlier in the day.
It is hard to believe we just met all three kids a week ago today. God’s timing was perfect because our big kids began spring break the day we first traveled down here to meet these children for (possible) adoption. During that time we have visited, revisited, weighed all factors in deciding whether or not to move forward with trying to adopt them, committed, accomplished paperwork, and kept visiting the big kids all week. Sadly, our week with them has come to a close and we must return tomorrow to re-group from adoption/vacation mode to resume school/work mode (Monday). We will miss them and hope it works out to Skype or at least regularly call them to stay in touch and keep our relationship progressing since, after all, we have begun to call them part of our family.
We are thankful that we are in the same time zone and only have a day trip separating us and them vs. the families who have to fly home, face jet lag again, and then turn around and fly back just a few weeks later for phase two. So let’s call this the end of phase one.
Tomorrow we expect to visit Edik in the other orphanage for a couple of hours on our way home to Kiev. Thank you for praying for our travels and this life changing experience called adoption. I don’t expect I will have as much to write for 2-3 weeks as we will be fine tuning the paper work and waiting for a court date, but it is far from over yet….