Morning of THE Day

Just one paragraph that I had written up already from yesterday:

Morning:
Morning is here! We had our good hotel breakfast again and have begun our 2 1/2 hour drive south from Zaporyzhya to Berdyansk before 8 a.m. It is more overcast and gray today. Cozy weather with moisture in the air but no rain yet. I feel a high level of eager anticipation mixed with peace. I suppose we could liken it to a birth after months of pregnancy and labor. Today is the scheduled induction or c-section. Not exactly sure of all the details between here and there, but that the outcome will make it all worthwhile. I guess I had an epidural too since I am resting, reading, and writing these last few hours.

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THE Day

It would be wrong of me to post nothing with such a cliff hanger of a day for those who are following along, but I can’t start in on details after such a busy day. I know all you really want to know anyway is that, yes, we got all three kids from the two orphanages today and are settled (finally 😉 for the night in a Zaporizhya hotel! I have a surplus of photos and more thoughts than you want to hear, but maybe tomorrow I can get some of those in blog format since we hope to begin our long drive home after going to the passport first thing after breakfast.

We have all have many adjustments we’d welcome you to pray for. Thank you!

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Legal Progress

It’s a long day of paper chasing. If you aren’t keen on the process or details then you may lose interest quickly. Bottom line is we hope to get all three kids tomorrow (Wednesday).

Morning:
Our day began sun shiny and pleasant. A clean and comfortable hotel, a nice breakfast, and a two+ hour drive from Zaporizhya to Berdyansk through the green countryside. The cows, sheep, and goats graze contentedly. The locals are tending their gardens the old fashioned way by the sweat of their brow using wood handled tools, wearing wide sun hats, and head scarves for the older women.

We just received the good news, while driving, that the court decision document is ready for us to pick up (at the court this morning)! Woo-hoo! Praise God. That is why we came and where we were headed anyway, but there was a bit of tensity as we heard AFTER we were already on our way south yesterday that the judge, who needed to sign the court decision now that the ten day wait period is over, was staying home yesterday and today. This would have had us sitting around waiting an extra day instead of Chris working at his usual job on Monday. So while we were frustrated at the possibility of it not being ready as it was supposed to be, and previously promised, we kept driving instead of turning around for home. Of course now we are glad that we stuck with the original plan and the court came through. But our incredulousness is with the Ukrainian system and that if a judge decides, on a whim, that she wants a longer weekend, then there is much uncertainty that another judge will be able to sign off on it. That there is no regard for the people traveling a long journey, taking off from their own work, booking hotels, buying train tickets, WALKING AWAY from their normal schedules and duties for an appointment that is held so loosely by the governmental power. Why? Is it because we haven’t given gifts to them for their flippant treatment of us? We don’t know for sure, but it unfortunately is a common mindset that we “owe” them for doing their jobs properly or on time. Us, being impatient Americans, perceive it as passive aggressive treatment, but this is just speculation. Either way, we are “at their mercy” but know that ultimately no judge on earth can alter God’s perfect timing for our adoption, our family, His will.

Afternoon:
Fast forward to 12 noon and we are now driving from Berdyansk BACK to Zaporizhya! Yes, it is a 2+ hour drive! And yes, we just left there this morning! BUT this is a good thing because it means we were successful in picking up the court decision (x 30 copies!) this morning. Praise God! It was quite a simple process as we went through their security entrance, showed our passports (which get documented in their hand written log book as part of the entry process), went up to the office and Chris signed saying we received them. Yippee! It took longer for our attorney to read them over the in the hall before we left (just to make sure things were properly written) than the process of receiving this document that we have waited for since the court hearing on April 30.

The wait period between then and now was a customary built-in ten day period. Should any (biological) family members have stepped forward to contest the decision to allow us foreigners to adopt the kids, etc. That would have been their opportunity. However, we didn’t fear or anticipate anything drastic like that happening as the orphanage staff has told us that they hadn’t ever had any family members visit in all of their time at the orphanage…which is sad, but good for us because family members still involved can slow down and complicate the process.

So, back we go to Zaporizhya to file this court decision document at the office that will create their NEW birth certificates. Best case scenario is that they will be ready today…. (And the reason it is this office is because they were born in Zaporizhya so that is where the original birth certificates are filed, and where the new ones need to be created.)

As for the 30 copies, seven were taken to Berdyansk social services office before we left town. They will keep one for themselves, mail three to Kiev Child Department (better known to me as the SDA although it now goes by a new acronym), and three to Kyiv a Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We arrived in Zap at the registration office shortly after two p.m., where we were quickly next inside the office. Much writing, signatures, and a nice lady behind the desk. I think she is working on new birth certificates. Yes!

We were next off to find the notary office which we used in March. A call was made ahead of our arrival so once again, we walked right in for quick service. There we obtained notarized copies of the kids’ old birth certificates, notarized copies of the new court decision, and two extra notarized copies of our (Chris and Wendy) passports.

Now shortly after four p.m. and we are once again sitting in the office of the birth certificate official. Can it be true?! Will we leave just a couple hours after our initial encounter with new birth certificates?! I think so and it is very exciting. There are so many built in wait periods that I was holding my breath for more delays.

I was told our next goal is obtaining new tax ID numbers for the kids. Perhaps we can eek that out today before close of business too?….

Yes! Birth certificates in hand. Trying to rush to the tax office. Just “.8 km” away, says the GPS. Will it close in five minutes at 5 p.m.? No! We quickly find it and the sign states they are open until 6 p.m. Our attorney begins the paperwork, one child at a time, Chris signs, submit, next two children, Chris signs x 2, they submit. Wow! It is 5:20…. 5:30 and they call Chris in for the signature on the Father line!

Evening:
Our attorney states there are two more places we need to go. Surely they will be closed for the business day, right? No, we make it to the immigration office at 5:55. Our attorney goes in to ask a question. He comes back with answers by 6:09: Foreign passports inquiry man said tomorrow we need to: bring notarized copies of new birth certificates, do something with new tax number, bring kids, apply for Ukrainian passport, plus some other stuff which I forgot.

We are now on our way to Ministry of Justice, they have a bit of difficulty locating the correct office on the street. I’m waiting in the car about 6:20. Are these government offices really still going to be open? This is absurdity to me. They just got more questions answered because the office was open until 8 p.m. On a Tuesday evening. Hooray. We are to return at 7:50 p.m TONIGHT to pick up the legalized (apostilled) birth certificates.

We check back into our local hotel (the one we left this morning because we didn’t know which city we’d land in for the night). A short break until we head back for the appointed pick up time.

We arrive on time and our attorney is back in the vehicle just 2-3 minutes later with the prize: 3 apostilled birth certificates with the children’s new names!

We are so thankful we drove for this portion of the journey. It would have made all the running around agonizing had we relied on arriving by train and finding public transportation…not that any U.S. adoptive families would do that for this portion of the journey. I think they most always hire a driver. Our GPS was priceless today since we were our own driver. A few streets were tricky to program at first, but it never steered us wrong.

What a day. Whew! We ended with a yummy dinner and have an early wake up call as it is the day we anticipate getting all three kids….

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Legal Progress

It’s a long day of paper chasing. If you aren’t keen on the process or details then you may lose interest quickly. Bottom line is we hope to get all three kids tomorrow (Wednesday).

Morning:
Our day began sun shiny and pleasant. A clean and comfortable hotel, a nice breakfast, and a two+ hour drive from Zaporizhya to Berdyansk through the green countryside. The cows, sheep, and goats graze contentedly. The locals are tending their gardens the old fashioned way by the sweat of their brow using wood handled tools, wearing wide sun hats, and head scarves for the older women.

We just received the good news, while driving, that the court decision document is ready for us to pick up (at the court this morning)! Woo-hoo! Praise God. That is why we came and where we were headed anyway, but there was a bit of tensity as we heard AFTER we were already on our way south yesterday that the judge, who needed to sign the court decision now that the ten day wait period is over, was staying home yesterday and today. This would have had us sitting around waiting an extra day instead of Chris working at his usual job on Monday. So while we were frustrated at the possibility of it not being ready as it was supposed to be, and previously promised, we kept driving instead of turning around for home. Of course now we are glad that we stuck with the original plan and the court came through. But our incredulousness is with the Ukrainian system and that if a judge decides, on a whim, that she wants a longer weekend, then there is much uncertainty that another judge will be able to sign off on it. That there is no regard for the people traveling a long journey, taking off from their own work, booking hotels, buying train tickets, WALKING AWAY from their normal schedules and duties for an appointment that is held so loosely by the governmental power. Why? Is it because we haven’t given gifts to them for their flippant treatment of us? We don’t know for sure, but it unfortunately is a common mindset that we “owe” them for doing their jobs properly or on time. Us, being impatient Americans, perceive it as passive aggressive treatment, but this is just speculation. Either way, we are “at their mercy” but know that ultimately no judge on earth can alter God’s perfect timing for our adoption, our family, His will.

Afternoon:
Fast forward to 12 noon and we are now driving from Berdyansk BACK to Zaporizhya! Yes, it is a 2+ hour drive! And yes, we just left there this morning! BUT this is a good thing because it means we were successful in picking up the court decision (x 30 copies!) this morning. Praise God! It was quite a simple process as we went through their security entrance, showed our passports (which get documented in their hand written log book as part of the entry process), went up to the office and Chris signed saying we received them. Yippee! It took longer for our attorney to read them over the in the hall before we left (just to make sure things were properly written) than the process of receiving this document that we have waited for since the court hearing on April 30.

The wait period between then and now was a customary built-in ten day period. Should any (biological) family members have stepped forward to contest the decision to allow us foreigners to adopt the kids, etc. That would have been their opportunity. However, we didn’t fear or anticipate anything drastic like that happening as the orphanage staff has told us that they hadn’t ever had any family members visit in all of their time at the orphanage…which is sad, but good for us because family members still involved can slow down and complicate the process.

So, back we go to Zaporizhya to file this court decision document at the office that will create their NEW birth certificates. Best case scenario is that they will be ready today…. (And the reason it is this office is because they were born in Zaporizhya so that is where the original birth certificates are filed, and where the new ones need to be created.)

As for the 30 copies, seven were taken to Berdyansk social services office before we left town. They will keep one for themselves, mail three to Kiev Child Department (better known to me as the SDA although it now goes by a new acronym), and three to Kyiv a Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We arrived in Zap at the registration office shortly after two p.m., where we were quickly next inside the office. Much writing, signatures, and a nice lady behind the desk. I think she is working on new birth certificates. Yes!

We were next off to find the notary office which we used in March. A call was made ahead of our arrival so once again, we walked right in for quick service. There we obtained notarized copies of the kids’ old birth certificates, notarized copies of the new court decision, and two extra notarized copies of our (Chris and Wendy) passports.

Now shortly after four p.m. and we are once again sitting in the office of the birth certificate official. Can it be true?! Will we leave just a couple hours after our initial encounter with new birth certificates?! I think so and it is very exciting. There are so many built in wait periods that I was holding my breath for more delays.

I was told our next goal is obtaining new tax ID numbers for the kids. Perhaps we can eek that out today before close of business too?….

Yes! Birth certificates in hand. Trying to rush to the tax office. Just “.8 km” away, says the GPS. Will it close in five minutes at 5 p.m.? No! We quickly find it and the sign states they are open until 6 p.m. Our attorney begins the paperwork, one child at a time, Chris signs, submit, next two children, Chris signs x 2, they submit. Wow! It is 5:20…. 5:30 and they call Chris in for the signature on the Father line!

Evening:
Our attorney states there are two more places we need to go. Surely they will be closed for the business day, right? No, we make it to the immigration office at 5:55. Our attorney goes in to ask a question. He comes back with answers by 6:09: Foreign passports inquiry man said tomorrow we need to: bring notarized copies of new birth certificates, do something with new tax number, bring kids, apply for Ukrainian passport, plus some other stuff which I forgot.

We are now on our way to Ministry of Justice, they have a bit of difficulty locating the correct office on the street. I’m waiting in the car about 6:20. Are these government offices really still going to be open? This is absurdity to me. They just got more questions answered because the office was open until 8 p.m. On a Tuesday evening. Hooray. We are to return at 7:50 p.m TONIGHT to pick up the legalized (apostilled) birth certificates.

We check back into our local hotel (the one we left this morning because we didn’t know which city we’d land in for the night). A short break until we head back for the appointed pick up time.

We arrive on time and our attorney is back in the vehicle just 2-3 minutes later with the prize: 3 apostilled birth certificates with the children’s new names!

We are so thankful we drove for this portion of the journey. It would have made all the running around agonizing had we relied on arriving by train and finding public transportation…not that any U.S. adoptive families would do that for this portion of the journey. I think they most always hire a driver. Our GPS was priceless today since we were our own driver. A few streets were tricky to program at first, but it never steered us wrong.

What a day. Whew! We ended with a yummy dinner and have an early wake up call as it is the day we anticipate getting all three kids….

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A Long Awaited Trip

It is Monday and Chris and I packed up and departed for the highly anticipated trip to Zaporizhya and Berdyansk this morning. Today is the big week because we are expecting to pick up a court document tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, get Denya and Ana from the orphanage, drive back to Zaporizhya, get Edik, file the court document to receive their new birth certificates. These will call them by their new names and legally state they are now part of the family Bergstrom! We have our own desired order of events, but don’t exactly know in what order things will have to legally happen.

We stopped at Ocean Plaza Ashan (new mall, big grocery store) on the way out of Kyiv this morning to purchase coffee and chocolate gifts for the appropriate people, as well as to find one pair of shoes for Denis. I realized last night that although we have been collecting clothes and shoes for him, we didn’t yet have the size we expect him to actually wear at this time. There is an assumption that we need to provide all shoes and clothes for them when they leave the orphanage and come home with us so getting shoes was high on the list. We erred on the side of caution by buying three consecutive sizes just to make sure of his actual size once and for all as he has been wearing various ill fitting shoes at the orphanage. While at the mall sporting goods store, several soccer balls and a basketball also found their way into our cart. We know they will be well loved by the kids at the orphanage. (Adeline left her personal soccer ball in Denya’s possession at the end of our spring break trip. We shall find out this week if it survived these weeks of heavy use amongst so many skilled young players or if we will be replacing hers as well!)

Now we bounce along the lush green country roads, and from time to to time through a city or village. The pictures and commentary below are from our spring break trip (that I never published) so it is considerably more lush, green, and overgrown now than during the third month of March when these were taken. There are now bright yellow fields of canola that stretch far and wide that were not revealing their vibrant color on that trip.

At times typing and reading are impossible because of the patches upon patches in the road. There are plenty of unfilled potholes too. We are certain to need work on the shocks, at least, when we return home. But for now we anticipate seeing some or all of our new kids tomorrow and it is exciting. There will be so many “firsts” together, just staying in a hotel, going into a grocery store, or even a restaurant.

Mom B. runs a tight ship and the kids will be well cared for in our absence. The dishes, laundry, and mending pile has never seen such discipline. We are so thankful for her willingness to come so far to fill in during our time away.

Please pray for things to continue going well with Mom B. And the kids as well as for Chris and I. We have these couple days of continuing the paper chase to make everything final in Ukraine’s eyes. After that, once back to Kyiv, it should be smooth sailing obtaining final things for the USA side. I’ll keep you posted!

****************************

And now for those (previous trip) photos mentioned above.

Just a glimpse at some of the sights in the Ukrainian countryside as we traveled from Kiev to Zaporizhzhya to Berdyansk, back to Zaporizhzhya, back to Berdyansk, and final stop in Zaporizhzhya on our way back to Kiev. (There seem to be several English versions of Zap…-Chris didn’t like the spelling I was previously using. Here are some other options: Zaporizhia, Zaporozyhe.) The first 11 were taken from the moving van so while I didn’t have time to compose the perfect picture, there were many sights worth remembering!

DSC_2513 It’s a cemetery. DSC_2512 DSC_2511 The sign is for a cafe, not coffee. Coffee is “kava” or кофе. DSC_2510 Chris says during the right season you can see people harvesting walnuts from these trees that line the countryside highways. Those driving by can stop and purchase the nuts from the person who has already done the labor of gathering them. DSC_2505Large garden spaces being prepared manually. DSC_2527 DSC_2503 Eggs for sale! See the little blue table in the foreground? I don’t know if you bring the money and knock on the door or leave it somewhere, but it was windy on this particular day so it can’t just be left on the table and there wasn’t a jar. We see these tables with things for sale by the hundreds in Ukraine. It is a very common practice. Whatever is in season will be placed on a small table or basket. Apples, eggs, dairy products, etc. Sometimes it is attended, but often is not. DSC_2500 Lots of free range chickens. I didn’t see any crossing the road or dead on the side of the road. DSC_2496 Goats. DSC_2498 Many cheerful shades of blue and green on the village homes. DSC_2494 City of Berdyansk. Looking down over a neighborhood from a hillside park. DSC_2467 At the same park looking over the same neighborhood and the Sea of Azov. DSC_2465 Back seat photographer. DSC_2521 Bye-Bye!

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Edik, Home Again, Mom B. Works Hard, and We Depart Soon

There! Now you got the short version so feel free to skip the details if you are late for work or something.

Apparently I never closed the loop on the remainder of the trip Chris and I took for court and visiting the kids last week. Thanks, Mom F., for pointing out that I never wrote whether or not we visited Edik, as planned.

Yes! We did get to see our little guy on Friday, although the visit didn’t go the way we would have liked. Everything with him was as expected, and it was great to see him again. Our problem was with the short duration and supervised nature of the visit.

I won’t get into our issues with their rigid rules right now, just that we felt frustrated with only about 45 minutes to visit before lunch and 45 minutes to visit after nap. He was happy to see us and compliant when his teacher abruptly ended the visit. 😦 She even had the audacity to tell Chris that it was okay that our visit was short because we “will be seeing him all the time once we pick him up from the orphanage next week”. Humph. Clearly she does not have a son that she only visits for short periods of time every couple of weeks.

Thankfully, we had a timely return on the overnight train from Zaporyzhya back to Kiev and were reunited with our four kids at home and Mom B.

Speaking of Mom B., she successfully held the fort down in our absence and for that we are very thankful. Not to mention all of the mending and sewing projects she has worked her way through. She says she likes to stay busy so we keep finding more. I wonder if she’ll flinch when anybody mentions mending socks for years to come. She also makes a mean pot of chicken and dumplings. Aiden (aka Bottomless Pit) even admitted to being full at dinner the other night. I ate too much and another family member was overheard saying they shouldn’t have had that third helping.

But we are counting the days until we can journey down for, Lord willing, the final time. I think we will leave on Monday….

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New Names

Did you know Chris has a blog? He writes from time to time too. This time the latest update is his…. Feel free to read on and catch up on his past adoption posts as well!

Projects Unfinished

Well.  We had the “court hearing” which is the main target in this whole process.  Bottom line:  the judge did us the “favor” of letting us adopt three Ukrainian children.

I say it that way because of the stressful situation they put Wendy and me in on that day.  Without whining about it for too long… I’ll just say the problem with Ukrainian customer service in the restaurant and retail world carries over to the courtroom as well.  There we were, for two and a half hours, in a tiny courtroom.  There were 10 of us in the room.  Approximately seven of the people were ticked off and annoyed.  (hint:  Wendy, I, and our attorney were the three who were glad for this day)  Too bad there’s no “Yelp” reviews that I can do for the Berdyansk courtroom… because they’d get 1/2 a star and a terrible review.

During the hearing…

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