Translate Blog

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just a few things we have learned along the way....

          Just a few things we have learned along the way.  Chronologically, this post should have been a couple back.  I just found time to finish and post.  Hope it's not too dry...
        These are things we have learned because we took more time to find history, meet with relatives and tour home towns.  We have taken everything with a grain of salt and a lot doesn't make sense to us still as we continue to piece  the puzzle together.  We have learned that Lydia was not born with a lazy eye but it was a result of a trauma.  What we were told is she was alone and "family" came back or into the room and she had hit something and that's when her eye became lazy.  So we suspect some muscle tearing.  Daniel just recently told us as well, that she was 2 or 3 at the time and that she ran into a corner.  They never took her to a doctor.   Today we went out for lunch and Monique asked about an inch and half scar over Daniels right eye.  Karen talked with Daniel about it and found out that his mother had cut him with a knife while she was drunk.  According to him she did not remember doing it after she woke up. I am sure the stories will continue to come out as the days, months and years go by. 
         Today Monique mentioned how nice it is to have a little helper around the house and Daniel proudly said He knows how to do it all because he did it all in his house.  Karen being our interpreter asked more questions about this and I asked what his mom did and He without a second thought said she just drank.  We are finding more and more that though we still believe he was loved by his mom, she was not a good parent.  So it sounds like she drank a lot and he took care of himself and his sister and the house. Dad was absent.  
         We now also know that before they were separated and sent to two different orphanages,  they also spent time at the towns shelter.  How long i don't know yet.  We found this out while walking in their town and Daniel took off to say hi to an older lady.  With the help of our translator she told us how special these two kids were when they were under her care.  Come to find out she was the director of shelter.  She also said Daniel was a hard worker, gentleman and took care of his sister while Lydia was, in my words, more of a princess and needed looking out for and taking care of. 
       Daniel is an amazing worker.  I haven't grasped the whole picture yet or understand the why but he is intense!   When their is a project to be done, put together or fixed, he becomes so enthusiastic and intense that it borders on crazed.  I can hardly communicate to him or bring him back from his drive toward completion of the project.  I seem to be having a slow but steady progress in controlling his almost panicky enthusiasm but it's a slow process.  He is a boy full of joy and happiness and an intense energy level.
             In Ukraine the men are often absent from children's lives, either physically or by alcohol.  So I suspect some of the meltdowns our kids have had, are related to me being a male authority figure and them not knowing how to deal with that.  So far I have caused or been involved in both melt downs the kids have had.  Tonight I put the kids to bed before mamma came into read a story and for whatever reason, something triggered our happy boy to shut completely down and roll away and get quietly mad.  Nothing worked in pulling him out of this.  His body didn't respond to tickles or any of my hilarious humor and so I said good night and went to talk with Monique and Karen.   After explaining what happened, Karen asked if she could try and find out what was wrong and of course I said yes.  After talking with him for awhile, she said he didn't know what he was feeling or why he was feeling the way he did.  He said nothing happened to trigger the response.  So Karen lovingly comforted him and told him to pray and talk to God.  Monique came in and read and cuddled with him and things improved.  I latter came in and spent a little time with him and he was back to his usual self.  We are now wondering if he might have had some sort of sensory overload.  Time will tell. 
       That's just the beginning but this is the end of this post for me...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Road Home.....

         Lattes that dreams are made of, people we understand and toilets, towels  and sinks that turn on and off by themselves.  Were in Munich Germany waiting for the second leg of our flight home to America to begin.  What a wonderful feeling it is to be served and understood.  The whole mind set of the customer is always right feels so good.  The kids are having a lot of firsts.  For instance, turning on a sink that doesn't have handles, flushing an automatic toilet or how about floors that move so you don't have to walk.  What an amazing new world of firsts.
         We have just finished seven wonderful days with Karen Springs and miss her dearly.  After spending five weeks in Ukraine in the Donetsk region with very little interaction with others of like mind, it was literally a breath of fresh air to be allowed to stay and spend time with such a wonderful lady.  Karens heart permeates with love and passion for the fatherless and her savior and that love and passion fills the rooms of her apartment.   It really was difficult to leave her hospitality and friendship behind.  It is our deepest desire to continue that relationship and follow her lead in continuing to help the fatherless and to spread awareness of the needs.  We look forward to the day we see her again!
         The last three days were amazing in how six weeks of work and a year of prep all magically came together.   Thursday we had our first appointment with US Embassy even though we still did not have the kids passports.   Even still they set us up for our interview on Friday.  All we needed was their passports which was suppose to be arriving by train from Donestk by the shake and bake (no Fedex priority overnight here).  Friday morning started off with Nadia saying she was off to pick up passports at train station and she had the final translated documents and so we hopped into taxi to go to doctors for medicals and after shelling out more grivna to get to head of the line and more US dollars,  I was finally done shelling out money for the adoption and off to the interview.  We said our goodbys to Nadia at the embassy and in we went.  At the gate, passports came out and again Monique had left her passport at home.  Just kidding!  This time I pulled out my passport to find I had grabbed Jeremiahs passport, fortunately they remembered me and graciously let me in.  Monique had been given power of attorney just in case I had to fly home, otherwise we would have to of gone home and possibly missed our appointment.  Interview was basically signing documents and taking oath.  The officer excepted my Colorado Drivers license as proof of identity and I signed papers as well.  Thirty minutes later we had sealed visa documents and we headed back to metro and home.  Tickets were purchased  for 645 am Saturday which meant we needed to be up at 4am.  Long story short, we had dinner with Karen and another couple adopting a special needs child and by the time we packed and went to bed it was a little after 3am which meant we took a nap before getting up to meet taxi.  Literally, the last three days have been a blur but wow, it is finished!  Only 7 hours more and we will be touching down in the good old US of A.

Ps:  this is not my last post.  I have at least 2 to 3 more in me about our journey :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Morning coffee

I am no one special.  I honestly feel very inadequate most of the time for this job.  Maybe it's just me, but as I have gotten older, I have enjoyed the routines of life.  Point in case, this morning: I roll out of bed and hit the bathroom, do my business half awake and look forward to staying half awake while having a nice hot pot of French pressed coffee while the rest of the family sleeps.  Notice I didn't say cup, I said pot.  Plan to relax and enjoy the cool morning on the patio and slowly wake up.  Exiting, I unlock the bathroom door.  Notice also, I said unlocked the door.  I made that mistake once since bringing our new ones home.  Nothing like standing their going to the bathroom and your 7 year old girl is gibbering away about who knows what, while I am yelling: "Dear! Ah, dear! can you get Lydia?!?!!"  As it is, I get stage fright while going but I digress.   So anyway, I unlock door and their is Daniel doing the potty dance and me going, oh yah, forgot about you and were is mom?  Mom is out running with Karen this morning so I must be Mr. Mom.  I still think I might have a chance for a cup but before I can, there's Daniel half dressed wanting food.  Out comes the eggs and a Ukrainian bread with stuffed cheese and Daniel starting to crack the eggs into pan while I am getting oven lit for stuffed bread.  What happens next is a blur.  Daniel goes to get something out of fridge and I hear the Russian equivalent of Oops and we have salsa everywhere.  He quickly tries to clean up with every rag and sponge in kitchen and successfully spreads it all over fridge, into the drawers, onto floor and kitchen cabinets even into the freezer.  The kids got skills!  I externally remain calm and mirror a understanding, loving father as I try to keep eggs from burning and running around cleaning off jars and emptying the fridge and rebuilding the kitchen from the ground up with Daniel doing his best to help.  Somehow the eggs, bread and a clean kitchen all come together as Monique and Karen walk happily through the door to enjoy a morning cup of coffee and breakfast.   Well I got to go, Daniel was trying to fly kite off balcony and I it's now stuck in the tree across the court yard....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The wheat is ready to harvest...

        The wheat has turned golden and is being harvested today.  It's hard to believe when we first arrived in the  Donetsk region that the wheat was still green and growing.  This is our last day and we are leaving this area.  We are currently on the shake and back and we are baking!   We are in third class and swimming in sweat.  Everyone has wet clothing, dripping foreheads and wet hair.  It is a heat you cant escape and the vinyl seats don't help.  It's suffocating and Jeremiah and I have tried to find patches of coolness by standing in between the train cars.  The day was close to 90 and this train car has one window in each compartment which cracks open a mere 4 inches.  Jeremiah and I have become Ukrainian and our shirts came off.  Monique wanted to do the same but we felt it might not be the best idea.  We have gotten used to the day to day struggles of Ukraine life and try to take this 11 hour train ride in stride.  
       This week started out with the hope we could leave on Tuesday but its Thursday now, so much for hope!  Everyday was filled with necessary things to do that always took longer than expected.  There was just nothing you could do about it but try and keep your patience.  My patience though, has been wearing thin.  I have gotten to the point that I just can't stand it anymore.  So even though it is hot as hell in this train, I am so glad to be doing something different and that feels like progress!  
       Yesterday started like any other day but this time we were going to visit some family members of our new kids and visit their homes and areas they grew up in and ending with a stop at their parents grave site.  For those who have been here they don't need any description of those stuck living in poverty but as the day wore on it became clearer to us. We now have pictures of Daniel playing in his small yard as a baby with no clothes, playing in the dirt with the dogs. We stopped at their old house and  very little remains of it now as thieves have taken what was of any value.  What remains show very little comfort and a very harsh way of life.  Both parents passed away due to TB related complications .  Which is a poverty related disease and usually  a curable disease if treated.  Many die because of a lack of knowledge, money and basic care.  Visiting their uncle and seeing their grandparents house left me with feelings hard to describe.  It was as if the horror of it all permeated my whole being.  It was a feeling that you needed to take a shower to attempt to clean it off but no shower could wash it away.   It took thirty days of living here to get the full impact of life  in Ukraine.  The former socialist communist past has left this country in so many different levels of  devastation.  We have spent most of our times in big cities that have every level of success and poverty but you can see progress and beauty slowly taking hold in these areas.  Yesterday allowed me inside of what lies outside the progress.  It was filled with deplorable and overwhelming lack.  Whats amazing to me is people who have had so little for so long because of their history,  that I believe a lot of them don't even realize their living in such lack and need.   Because of this, the sad reality  is the children suffer, parents die early, alcoholism runs rampant, desperate girls wanting out of this life, willingly and unwillingly end up in the sex trade and young boys end up in crime.   It is vicious cycle with very little hope of change without a people and a society that is willing to open their eyes and make a difference.  Small or great,  it is all necessary if we are to start reversing poverty in our world.  It doesn't take much to start the change.    
       Our day ended with a trip to their  mother and grandmothers cemetery.  Tall grass,weeds and tombstones covered the hill overlooking ancient factories, old towns  and sprawling countryside.  The sky was blue and the air was still.   Slowly driving up the dry rutted dirt road we stopped at the site.  Two hand made orthodox crosses marked the overgrown plots.  Their family names painted and nailed to their crosses marked mamma and grandmas tombs.  For a moment we all stood in silence and then walked a short distance away to allow Daniel and  Lydia time alone.  Ten to 15 minutes passed as they silently dealt with grief and then  Daniel  fell to the ground and wept with Lydia crying behind him. It was a moment that left us all in tears as we watched two kids whose lives had been turned upside down by the loss of their families grieve. The trip home was quite as their grief continued.  Somewhere along the way it was done and they became little kids again.  
            Jeremiah had been left at home because he couldn't fit into the taxi and I believe in part he also wanted to have a day by himself.  But the day had lasted a lot longer than expected and he was getting tired of his house arrest.  We still needed train tickets and it required an hour and half wait in line.  It was deemed best for me to take kids home and Nadia and Monique would stay in line to buy tickets.  I didn't argue.  The taxi took kids and I home and as fast as we could we all high tailed it to McDonalds and the park!  Neither of them have ever been in a McDonalds nor ever been to a big city so this was a huge moment.  Jeremiah is now used to lines here and with me close behind, he shoved his way to the front of the line and found an open teller ( he is adapting to Ukrainian methods).     We ordered 3 Big and tasty meals, large fries and coca cola!  I don't think they even new what a burger was, let alone know how to pick one up and eat it!  Fries were easy and they loved them.  Burger was something new.  Daniel followed my lead and took his half and started in, Lydia on the other hand, would not even try it.   I told her I wanted her to try one bite and that was all she needed to eat before she could have her coke.  Frankly, Jeremiah and I wanted whatever was left over!   She finally gave in and ate a bite.   Next time I looked,  her burger was gone and she was happily eating fries.  McDonalds was a hit and not a fry was left uneaten.  Off to the park we went and with a little education about family stays close, look both ways and hold hands while crossing street, we made it to park.  The rest was more fun and with us all exhausted, they quickly fell asleep at home.
         Its now 11 at night and the train has finally become bearable.  Train lights are on low and everyone is sleeping to the rocking clickity clack of the shake and bake.....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The wait is over....

          I feel like the expectant father of old who waits in the waiting room, as his wife is wisked away to give birth to his children in another room.  I anxiously wait for any news of her condition and the health of our new ones.  
        Ten days of waiting have gone and since the last post not a lot has changed.  3 days ago our neighbor had one of the loudest parties I've ever experienced that lasted all night long.  Monique and I didn't sleep a wink even with earplugs.  It was miserable, we even moved to a couch in the living room to distance ourselves but to no avail.  Unfortunately, the next couple of days were filled with "tension" as Monique and I just couldn't get along.  I like to declare that it was cabin fever!  I felt like a lion in a cage pacing  back and forth.  We have since made restitution but I am still recovering at the local sanitarium from the bruises and lacerations given to me from my every understanding and loving wife.  I jest of course and as she has repeatedly claimed, it was all my fault.  So again dear, I am sorry.  What's a blog without complete honesty. LOL 
         We did get out everyday to shop or site see.  I have concluded that you don't necessarily need a refrigerator here.  Little markets everywhere allow you to shop everyday if you need and we do.  If nothing more than to grab a couple more jugs of water for drinking and cooking with.  I did some research on water pollution  in Donetsk and well, you just don't want to know my findings.   We saw the first Beatles Monument in Russia and was happy to cross that off my bucket list.  Entertaining but not impressive.  When I hear monument, I imagine marble and statues like the Greek or Roman statues of old but that was not the case.  As we took pictures in front of the life size Beatle members, I kept telling Monique, this couldn't be it and I think these are made out of plastic.  As we left to meet up with Nadia for an update and celebration of July 4th at McDonalds, I told her I think we must have been close but maybe it was around the back of the building etc.  Well, I was wrong, it was the Beatle Monument.  I was correct though, in that it was made of plastic with a coating of bronze.  We also went to the Donetsk Soccer field which might host the 2012 World cup.  It was an absolutely beautiful area with 70000 plants with 35000 of those being rose plants.  Well worth the walk and visit.  
           Meeting up with Nadia at McDonalds, we found she had good news and bad.  We have gotten used to the good and bad being  used together.  One must always follow the other here in Ukraine.  The bad news was that the camp Daniel was in, would not release him without a representative from his orphanage in attendance.  That meant unless we had a van, only one of us could pick up the children.  The van option was out of the question due to cost.  Neither of us expected that after a year of work we would not be together to pickup our children. Monique was very heavy hearted this morning not understanding why this had happened but nothing could be done and so alone she went this morning to pick up our kids.  The good news is we had no issues with orphanages playing cat and mouse as we tried to get release signatures from them!  What we were hoping for was to get all the running around done today but in the haste of leaving Monique left her passport at the apartment.  Fortunately, most of the events planned today could be accomplished without it but we will need to go back tomorrow and show all those concerned the original passport.  We are still on track though for getting out Wednesday evening by train for Kiev.  We are hoping to fly home the weekend of the 16th if all goes well.  We should receive the kids passports next weds and then we can start getting their visas for travel to US!  I say this as long as I don't hear more "I have some good news and some bad news" statements.  
              Daniel is now in the care of Monique!  He is very happy and ready to leave camp with mama.  We brought gifts for him to give to his friends and he eagerly passed them out.   Mama said his new cloths fit him and that he also has a black eye.  No one is telling us why yet but I am hoping their is another kid recovering from like injuries.  I know its not Christ like sounding  but if he had to defend himself, this father hopes he did a good job of it!  In our last post, we mentioned a kid that followed us around at the camp.  Today he found our interpreter and asked if we were here to adopt a child for their body parts.  More evidence  of the many  lies feed to orphans here about Americans.  The stories we hear are horrible and its amazing we can get through the lies, fears and constant harassment these children receive, just to get them to say yes to being adopted.  
            As I continue to wait pacing back and forth in our apartment for the next phone call,  I feel an overwhelming inability to raise these children.  I feel that nothing we have gone through is compared to what lies ahead.  Fear, insecurity, the unknowns and what ifs are setting in and I wonder if we have what it takes to raise these little guys.  Like a father holding nervously and awkwardly his tiny newborn son, I am scared and in awe, all at the same time.  God help us!
           We now have our little girl!  They are driving home now. When Daniel saw Lydia for the second time in  15 months, he ran to her, gave her a big hug and swung her around  in a circle.  Classic!  This orphanage was night and day compared to the other one.  When we gave our donation to them they were so appreciative  and began to show Monique all that they do with the donations.  The party was not what we were expecting and ended up being a pass out gifts and leave treats and fruit for latter kinda party.  When I was done talking to Monique on the phone, you could hear Lydia and Daniel  talking constantly to each other in the background.  Asked what was being said, they were telling each other how much they missed each other.  Monique is so happy and relieved to finally have them together.  They are so happy together and seem to have a genuine love and concern for each other.  Daniel is also quit the gentleman and refused to let mama carry anything and hauled a very heavy suitcase around for her!  Thats my boy!  One more day here and we leave to Kiev to stay with Karen Springs!  Pass out the cigars, this Dad is now a Papa of two new kids!

Ps:  Monique will probably post her first hand take on today later but I expect it might be awhile due to the crazy schedule we are now entering into.