The Rest of “THE Day”

I left off last time right before we got the kids on THE Day in anticipation on our drive. Moving on: (Give me grace on changing tenses, over using the commas, other punctuation, and cringe worthy errors. I am going for general content and these writings have been pieced together as I’ve had down time while traveling, but not without interruptions. Sometimes “now” was actually “then”, etc.)

It was still morning when we arrived into Berdyansk where we went first to the downtown Social Services office. We waited around for the social worker to be ready to ride along with us to the orphanage. She was kind and happy for us. Her job was to help with all of the final paperwork, and I can’t say I understand anything I was signing or that we took the time to ask. There was so much going on and we trust our attorney(s) completely so we left that part up to him and just signed away. I remember everything happened really quickly once we got to this point. So much waiting and close supervision leading up until then, but now, FINALLY, they were telling us the kids can change their clothes into whatever we brought them.

Chris made several trips out to the van between the kids small suitcase that we brought with clothing size options (not precisely sure what was going to fit as we had been guessing based on the tags we stole glances at during our previous visits), as well as sports and clothing items donated to the orphanage.

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The good-byes began. Denya with his class, Denya and Ana with their orphanage director and two teachers. Daddy holding Ana. It was sweet. I could tell certain people were teary-happy for them/us. I felt the same way. Happy, but sad at the quick good-bye, thankful for these adults who seem to be employees with a heart for the kids. I think Denya and Ana had a best case orphanage scenario. More photos, more good-byes and hugs. We asked as many quick questions as possible, but it was clear that the director was on her way out and we were free to call anytime, especially since we live in Kiev. Phone numbers and email addresses exchanged. For some reason we couldn’t go take a photo of Ana with her class so I don’t know what sort of closure, if any, she had there. But when we asked to go take a photo of her class they began the task of filling a thumb drive with photos for us to take home in the office. I haven’t seen it yet, but  was so surprised.

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Then it was time to load into the van where we almost instantly had protest from Ana. I haven’t purchased her car booster seat yet so I figured Niya’s Britax Roundabout was better than nothing for the long trip ahead. (I had a different one along for Edik.) She identified it as Niya’s and we heard on again, off again comments about it the rest of the way to Zaporizhya (babyish, uncomfortable, etc.) In her defense, she has probably never ridden in one, let alone one that is a bit small, and at this age. I understand. Both she and Denya clearly were not car or seat belt trained prior to this. We had Denya in a standard adult seatbelt, even though he needs a booster too, due to his small height. Both of them felt they could unclip and pop in and out of the seat on a whim to get this or that (it was only a 2 1/2 hour drive). Thankfully today has been much better in the car. Edik wasn’t an issue with the car seat. He is younger, his is properly sized, and he sees Ana accepting it today.

They are previously used to a different sort of freedom that my other kids didn’t have. Our other four kids are trained to obedience, coming when called, stopping when told, etc. You know, just basic safety, respect, and all the other things you expect from Chris and I. Well, as I mentioned yesterday, we all have a lot of learning ahead of us. Them to listen and obey the first time as well as the repercussions from not listening and obeying. And us patience and keeping in mind that they, perhaps, are not being naughty, just wild from not being taught things like: street safety, the importance of “STOP”, knowing mom or dad mean business when they call my name, or say “no” to something, etc. We’ve had whining (which seems to be cultural for some reason as well as something mom can’t stand), nagging, disobedience, teasing, kids talking over one another, talking over adults, and more.

Yes, it is somewhat overwhelming for me as I like things “under my control”, but I keep remembering they are clambering for hugs, being held, and attention because they are so starved for it. Despite a “good” orphanage, it doesn’t substitute for the love of parents or a family. A teacher working a shift doesn’t have the same attachment, despite being kind or having fondness for the children.

Back to our day. We got gas in the van on the way out of town as well as some snacks (lunch) and water bottles. This was a great treat to them! Pretzels, snack bars, cheese triangles, and probably something else I forgot. We looked at the countryside and called out “goat”, “sheep”, “cow”, etc. as opportunity arose. Of course, I was the only one saying those words since Chris and our attorney know the Russian forms.

We drove into Zaporyzhya, straight to Edik’s orphanage. We didn’t need a social worker this time. I don’t know why. Overall, his orphanage has been less warm toward our presence, his departure, etc. More paperwork, then it was the moment Denya and Ana had been waiting for; seeing their brother for the first time in maybe two years (we still aren’t clear on the dates). They picked him up, hugged, kissed, commented on how he had grown, etc. He accepted them, but in a more business like way (he is the most reserved of the three).

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Our immediate goal was to take a walking excursion to a passport photo type place. We had barely been let out of their sight with him and now we were suddenly all holding hands and walking several blocks away. It was probably overwhelming to him as nap time had just ended and everything on the outing very well could have been new too (because of orphanage life). Passport photo successful. We journeyed back to the orphanage where they said we could change his clothes now. Back to the van with the three kids to select his items. Back to the orphanage to change his clothes.

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Our attorney walked/ran to a nearby office (social workers?) for more business. Suddenly it was time to go “hurry, hurry” to accomplish more legal stuff before business hours ended. We requested to take a photo of him with his group. The answer was negative because we aren’t allowed to photograph the other children. Okay, “What about with his teachers?” The nice lady declined. Drat! She was the one I recognized and was nice to us, and seemed to be sad to see Edik go. Another teacher did accept. “Click, click.”

“Good-bye, good-bye.” We were on our way out.

“Oh wait, now we can take a group picture.”

Okay, “One, two three. Good-bye, good-bye.” (Hurry, hurry, we need to accomplish this important paperwork before business hours are over for the day.)

Again, it seemed strange to me after waiting so long, and such strict conditions leading up to this point, and now it seemed to happen too fast.

Edik, just like the other two kids leaving their orphanages, came trustingly and willingly. I didn’t see tears or sense hesitation from any of them.

We waited in the van while our attorney went back to the previous office (Social Services) Chris procured water, and a much requested bag of sunflower seeds. Don’t know why it seemed so important to the kids (requesting this specific item), but it was. The seeds occupied them although I learned I will not be providing sunflower seeds, in shell, ever again for kids in the van. We had many bouncy roads which spilled containers unintentionally, as well as childish hands.

Next we hurried back to the notary. (Wait, wait, wait.) We didn’t make our previously scheduled appointment so were being squeezed in.

One translated conversation in the van was Denya asking, “Edik, do you remember when I helped you do everything?” So sweet and so sad. We assume Denya filled the role of care taker on many occasions due to the family situation. He remembered his little brother as a baby and was very concerned about him from our very first meeting. He has shared his sunflower seeds (and patiently peeled them for his little brother), let his little brother backwash in his water bottle without batting an eye (because Edik finished his own and had to use the restroom no less than four times in a couple of hours. -oi!), helping him dress, and more. I see love and sharing between the three of them that will hopefully be a good lesson for our other kids.

After the notary we rushed to see about passports and that is where our business day ended. They were, indeed, closed after six p.m. The sign showed that they opened at 9 a.m. The following morning (Thursday/today) so our game plan was to be the first ones in line the next morning.

We checked into our hotel, left again for a dinner pizza celebration, and I cringed several times through the meal thinking we had made a mistake with choosing a sit down restaurant. We had kids up and down from the table, little guy eating dropped sunflower seeds from pockets off of the floor, jacket (that he wouldn’t remove) sleeve in salad dressing plate. It wasn’t the worst sort of terrible, but they don’t know restaurant behavior doesn’t include clearing your own dishes (like it does at the orphanage) so they paraded behind the waitress before we could stop them to help when she began clearing. Yes, it was cute since I knew where it came from. We explained a bit about the difference in paying at a restaurant vs. helping at home. Edik wasn’t impressed with the he pizza. He willingly ate salad, but all we could coax into him was a bit of crust and a little pizza with the cheese removed. Denya and Ana, on the other hand, ate until they were content and wanting no more.

Journey back to the hotel. We make the pull out couch bed with the sheets, introduce the new pj’s toothbrushes, toothpaste, teeth brushing timer.

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Lots of excitement about the new…everything. Hotel, mama, papa, siblings reunited, sharing a bed. Oh boy! It took longer than mama wanted for them to settle down. There were multiple lectures, lots of Ana tease touching when the brothers were drifting off to sleep, and I ended up turning her head down to their foot of the bed which brought tears, but she finally drifted off to sleep (which was my “finally 😉 ” comment last night. They were all in the same positions this morning, but more bunched together. Maybe because of sharing the one European style duvet which usually isn’t conducive to sharing with two people, let alone three. Or maybe they were just comfortable and content.

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6 Responses to The Rest of “THE Day”

  1. Anne Marie says:

    Wendy – this whole story, all the events, your story-telling abilities are just phenomenal. The pictures are SO FANTASTIC and just add SO MUCH to your story. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing all of this. I find you all to be amazing and I am just SO HAPPY for all of you. The children are ALL adorable! YAY! 🙂

  2. AC says:

    How wonderful! I cried at the end of your beautiful day! Sending hugs for all of you! Love, AC

  3. cousin Andrea says:

    Thanks so much for documenting all of this, Wendy! It makes it so easy to share in your life-changing adventure from far away, and makes me feel like I can at least start to get to know these new cousins of mine – even though I can’t imagine what meeting our extended family would be like for them! So happy for all of you in your joy of finally getting to bring home your 3 kids….and praying lots for God’s strength, wisdom, and peace as you all learn to settle in to this new part of life!

  4. Carol Tavris says:

    Had to reread your blog this morning! Hope your day goes well!

  5. Tara G. says:

    Oh, the whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnne!!! And why do the women retain it?!!? 🙂 SO happy for you, praying for the transitions and learning and for patience. Deep breath, right?!?!

  6. Kat says:

    Cannot imagine how this day must have felt. Surreal maybe? So happy for these brothers and sisters, and the rest of you!

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