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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Today starts with a rush and flurry of activity...

Today started with a rush of last minute packing and a long trip to Daniels town he is at camp in.  Not exactly sure how far away it is but I would guess close to 300 km. away.  Our thought process was to be close enough to him to stop having to use taxi and give him the moral support he might need from us.  2.5 hours later we arrive in a small wooded town were people vacation.  It's a four day weekend and there is not much choice for rooms here that are reasonable.  We are dropped off at Daniels camp and left to defend for ourselves as Nadia checks out our options for places to stay.  The camp is laughable  and disturbing all at the same time.  It reminds me of a cross between a rundown ancient amusement park and a concentration camp set in a thick forest surrounded by concrete walls and a guard at the entrance.  We try our best to communicate with Daniel and it is obvious to us the challenge and frustrations all of us are and will have with our language barriers.  No one speaks English except a few words by a teenager who seems a little  on the "crazy" side. He latched onto us and followed along for about 15 minutes.  He is obviously a bad influence and tries to communicate with us.  He knows we are American and we understand  words like cigarets, guns, money and some rap songs.  I finally tell him to leave but he leaves an impression on us that our presence at this camp is not going to be the best for Bogdan.  He says things to Bogdan that seem to disturb him and whispers things in his ear.  ("Hello!  We don't understand you when you speak loudly!!!" )  We already get the impression that the gifts we have been giving to him have been generally taken from him by other kids or adults.  Its very frustrating to tell him we will see him in ten days but we believe it's for his best interest not to have his new American parents their drawing constant attention to him and our American ways and preconceived stereo types.  We leave very frustrated but at peace that this is best for him.
         One of the most frustrating things here is you almost always feel your not getting the whole truth to anything.  The hardest phrase to learn here in Ukraine is "everything is fine" because it's always a very long conversation between your interpreter and someone else and the answer to your curious question of what was said.  I also feel like everyone's got their hands in my American wallet trying to get a piece of the action.  Which with this American you need to scrape the pockets. ;)
           We stop to see Lydia on the way home.  The usual hugs and time spent occur but this was an unplanned stop so we literally are not prepared with activities.  Mama has some pens and index cards in her purse so she begins to  draw her a stick picture of a home and of every member of the family including them.  She enjoyed it and understood she was apart of a big family.  It got funny when we started drawing pictures of each other.  Mama drew a stick picture of my head with no hair and as Lydia was watching, Monique began to put tiny stubs of hair on my head.  For whatever reason this struck her funny and she  started laughing and laughing it was so cute to watch her uncontrolled laughter.  Then she began to draw pictures for mama and papa.  They were all happy ones with sun, flowers, houses,trees and hearts.  Of course, we were analyzing them to find any clue of disturbing images but no such thing seem to show but who knows I'm no doctor.  
       Were heading back now to Donetsk to return to our old apartment.  It seems the best option is to hunker down there for the next 10 plus days and  not take taxis anywhere to conserve on our cash.  It would appear we will be in Ukraine for another 2 weeks and not sure if I might have to go home, so it's a good place to catch train back to Kiev and the airport.  
          After 3.5 hours more of driving home, our nerves are shot and our frustration levels have maxed out.  We haul all our gear back to an apartment we hoped never to see again and plop onto the couch exhausted.   It's then Monique has a melt down.  I don't blame her.  The feelings she is expressing are the same as mine but I do my best to reassure her that all is on course and going well, even though I am, not confident in what I am saying.   Long story short, a day later and messages to and from Facebook family and friends, we feel reassured there is nothing to do but relax and wait out the process.  We so appreciate the faith and support of all of you!  You have helped us in so many ways, from your words of encouragement, wisdom, prayers, friendship, humor and love. We thank the Lord for our community of friends!   Just such a non American thing to do to release control of a situation and relax.  

The day of court..

         Monique and I woke from a rough night sleep.  We haven't spoke much about it but she was uncomfortable with pain in her hip and concerns for the safety of her new children  and I woke up a lot with worries of court and financial pressures.  I don't know what it is about the night time but it seems to be the greatest point of attack on us lately.   Worries of the unknown and fear for the safety of your kids.  Funny thing, these two kids we didn't know anything about or worried about three weeks ago,except for a few occasions in which God prompted us into prayer, now occupy a significant amount of our prayer and worries.  Parental rights have kicked in.  
         Nadia has arrived by train this morning and is out shopping for an appropriate outfit for court.  There is a relative calm and quite as all of us are in our own worlds preparing for today's court.  Having no idea as to what will be the outcome,  there is the concern of the unknown. Will it go well, what will the questions be, will there be an unknown surprise or delay?  The last three weeks and a year of preparation hinges on this day or at least that's the way it feels.  We have been squeezed into this week and the last appearance before the court on Friday.  We hope this will be a blessing and the judge just wants to get us done and head off to her weekend.  It's actually quite a blessing we got in so soon.  Nadia told me she was concerned we might of ended up in court the following Friday.  I am very happy about that not happening.  As I  was saying it's mellow here as we are all dressed and watching the clock tick toward 1:30 when our driver will pick us up to go to our much anticipated 3:00 court appearance.  There is a great scene in Chariots of Fire where all these great athletes are in the locker room, having worked most of there life to this moment in time and they all know only one will take the gold.  I imagine that they are thinking of all they have sacrificed to get here,  letting down those who are rooting for them, and I am sure a little fear enters in at times of the what if I fail thoughts.  It's a very surreal and melancholic moment in the movie as there is a winner and many losers.  The real truth is they are all winners, having given it all to obtain greatness, they stand among the greats.  In a moment we will know if the prize will be within our eager and longing arms or still just out of reach.  As so many greats have done  before, we leave our apartment and head to court.  If God be for us, who can be against us.....
         We arrived with a half an hour to spare and like two other times the electricity is out.  We have been escorted out of the building to wait outside.  As I was sitting there in the shade of a tree and enjoying the cooling breeze I realized we were able to wait comfortably outside rather than like others who have had to wait in a cramped dark hallway because of the freezing winter conditions outside.  Finally, while waiting for what seems an eternity and with fear that court will be postponed, the lights come back on and we are escorted into court room.  Our group of four has now grown to eight:   A representative from the orphanage, social worker and two jury members all talking with each other.  This all seems a bit strange to me.  We briefly meet our judge and she stands out like a beautiful  gem set in a scrarched stainless steel setting.  She is in her 30's, upright,  dignified and posses a professional demeanor about herself.  She is a stark contrast to the lime green painted concrete wall, cheap linoleum flooring, old desks, pad less pews and iron bard jail cell on the side of the room.  The entire government building is painted  light royal blue and the concrete path entrance is the worst condition of concrete I have seen yet on an occupied building.  She is properly robbed and wearing her insignias of authority.  We all rise as she enters and sit as directed.  There is no air conditioning and the occasional fly buzzes past us.  Court starts with the usual questions.  What is our name, were do we live, why do we want to adopt, why Ukraine, what do our children think of adoption, how will we integrate our children into America and what do we like to do in our spare time.  She read us our rights and proceeded to read out loud every document in our dossier and all Ukrainian documents associated to our case.  We have seemed to have won her favor from the beginning as well as the two jury members and the occasional smile is directed our way.  Everyone is very pleasant to us.  The whole process seemed to take an hour and a half.  Then we are asked if we have any more questions and they leave for final disscussion on the matter.  When they arrive back we are read another lengthy document with the final results of our favorable acceptance as parents of Daniel and Lydia Green.  We were asked one more time if we still wanted to adopt and I stood and said "I was absolutely positive" with a big smile of thanks and appreciation.  Monique stood and and agreed with me and finished with a "We are anxious to bring them home".  The judge smiled and said something official and it was over.  I turned to Monique smiled, hugged her and we kissed our congratulations to each other.  We still have a ten day waiting period but the battle and rush to complete this adoption before the SDA closing is over!  
        Now we rush to get home and pack for early morning drive to the town Daniel is at camp in.  We need to find a cheap apartment for the next ten days....,

We got our court date!

So things have been repetitive lately but we have had enough happen lately to make an interesting post.  

Today is an absolutely beautiful day.  High of 75 blue skies and puffy little clouds.  If I was to make a stab at it, I would say it will rain in the evening.  We decided today to see Valeriya first and then Bogdan.  One of the big reasons is I am tired of driving all hot a sweaty from
 Bogdans to valeriya's.  I feel I am in a constant state of  feeling dirty, hot and  wet  from hard play, humidity and sweat.  We stop at a market on the way out to pickup balloons and superglue for jeremiah's glasses and walk into the most beautiful clean organized store we have been in yet.   It's hard to explain the feeling of order and logic in the rows of supplies but it felt like heaven to me.  I felt like I was in the Whole Foods of Donesk.  An added bonus, not once did any security guards follow me through the store! Then we hit the checkout and I ended in pergatory not quite hell but not heaven, as we waited and waited for the typical slow as molasses cashier to ring out the ever increasing line.  The cashiers all have a chair to sit on as they ring up the customers( I think they are way to comfortable to care). Also, when making a purchase we must either bring our bags or pay for theirs. We pay for them and use them as trash bags later on.  Oh well nothings ever perfect and  I still love that store and it's half the walk we have been doing.  We still haven't found a good wine that doesn't taste like it could also be used as a bathroom cleaner but we keep trying.  I have always tried to not buy wine based on packaging but to know the grape and region of origin but packaging is all I got here and so it's a little like Russian roolet.  
        So if things progress as they have been, it looks like we will be moving again.  Personally,  I am looking forward to it.  Donetsk is not cheap and the taxi driving is eating up the money quickly.(an expense we didn't count on).  It costs more each day for our taxi than to stay in our expensive apartment)   The reason for the move, is that Bogdan is heading off to summer camp this Friday.  The camp is 60km away from Valeriya and we are hoping there is a train or bus that we can take to see her.  We will be moving close to the camp as we have been told Bogdan might be able to spend whole days with us.  We shall see.  Monique is feeling more at peace today because we finally got a big to-do item done.  We bought the kids their clothes.  We have done a lot of window shopping but either the clothes were over priced or we just were not both happy with the outfit.  Yesterday, we decided that we would buy two outfits we both agreed upon but first we would stop at a second hand store (how Monique even new it was a second store I will never know) after our morning coffee.  We hit the jackpot and for the price of two new outfits we scored jeans, shorts, swimsuits,shirts,dresses and light weight jackets all brand new looking or near brand new.  Our new kids are going to look sharp!  The biggest challenge were shoes for each of them.  Bogdan's shoes piece of cake, Valeriya's required "discussions" if you know what I mean.  We finally compromised on something between combat boots and stiletto heals. Funny thing is after struggling to find her a pair of shoes, we are returning them on Thursday to get a different pair lol.  All in all, we are both happy now with the shoes and clothes we have chosen.  Glad that's over with :)
         We still have no court date and are hoping to hear good news today.  I have heard to many horror stories on court dates or lack of court dates  for me to rest but we keep putting our trust in Gods divine plan.   We pray that His plan allows me to be able to afford to stay the whole length of the stay with Monique and Jeremiah and not need to return home early to work.  
           Let's talk about each of the kids for a bit.  Valeria is all girl but a tom girl at the same time.  She loves all things girly and princess but she is tough and plays hard.  She definitely has a lot of spunk and she has given us clues to our challenges that lie ahead.  Many of the challenges, I believe are based on a need for attention and love.  Nadia told us one day that Valeriya told her she gets frustrated because she  just wants to talk to us.  She loves to talk, talk and talk and we have no idea what she is saying.  It's so frustrating because she looks at us like we should understand and we so want to but we can't.  We desire,  like her to talk about all the things that parents communicate and share with there children.  She is so cute though, one minute she is playing ball games and jungle gym stuff and the next she is wrapping my arm around her and she is hugging my arm.  She loves hugs and kisses.   Some language is universal!  She wants to always look her best around us.  We got here this morning and she was wearing her eye patch and glasses but as soon as she could, she got permission to take them off.  You could just see her happiness at looking her best.  Such worlds apart for each child's language of love...
          Bogdan on the other hand is all all all boy!  He plays hard and when we are done both Jeremiah and I are pooped.  He loves games, wrestling and technology.  He is also very kind and generous.  Any type of food or treat we give him, he will also ask to give to his friends when they pass by.  He seems to me to take on a protective role to some of the children.  He is sometimes quite deep in thought with the cares or concerns of his and maybe our world.

We interrupt out post!  We just got call from Nadia that we got our court date for this Friday at 3pm!!!! What a relief.  God is good!  That means if all goes well, our ten day wait, will end on July 4th.   Our gotcha date will be independence day!  I can almost see the stars and strips waving in the distance.  I understand a lot more how it feels to be an immigrant and the intense joy they must have felt when they saw the statue of liberty in the distance!  What a relief!
           Nice segway, Monique and I truly enjoy Ukraine on the other hand,  if it was not for the intense difficulty with our language barrier.  Language is what makes it so hard for us to integrate into this culture and create relationships.   There is so much diversity in Ukraine and if you really look, you can see the determination of a people striving to be great.  I will add though, there is absolutely nothing nothing like our home in Colorado and the great US of A!!!!!  
          So now we have turned around and headed back to Valeriya's orphanage to get a letter from the director so they don't have to be in court.  Apparently, it's a long drive.  No kidding!!!!  Bogdan is scheduled to go to camp on Friday so it's not clear if he will need to be in court.  He is still at an age where it may not be necessary for him to be there in person.  My guess is after court we will pack our things and on Saturday relocate to the town the camp is in.  We will be working with Nadia to find a residence there.  It's suppose to be a nice resort like area were Ukrainians go to relax.  That sounds very nice to me and it is suppose to be in the forest even better.  So that's about it for now.  I will post you on Saturday from our new location God willing.  We will Facebook how things go at court on Friday!  Thanks for all your love and support and continuing to follow us on this journey.

Sheep dogs

Today back at bagdons orphanage.  I lovingly refer to as hotel Ukraine (you check in but you can't check out) welcome to the hotel Ukraine, such a lovely place, such a lovely space etcetcetc.  We come daily so their lies and seeds of doubt of wether we will come back or not have no power over him.  We are getting fatigued and I am running out of play but every day  we do it again for these little guys.  It's funny to watch but I feel like sheep and our kids are our sheep dogs.  No matter the situation, when other kids are present we somehow end up somewhere else.  Though these kids are kind and share with others,  they are reluctant to share us and we find ourselves in other places away from kids.  Valeria is very jeleous of my attention to other kids and constantly  demands my complete attention as I assume she feels a need to win my love.    Monique and I realize we are in for a lot of work and a long haul but we didn't choose this we were chosen for this!

The battle rages on today!

The battle rages on!  Today we go back to get Bogdan and bring him to hospital and get his check up and health signed off.  It takes an hour and a half and we are back at the orphanage.  Nadia does more business and comes out to say she has more bad news.  The assistant director lady has arranged to have god mother and daughter come and visit.  We later find out that I was the one who gave approval for this visit. Which was not the truth.   Even though he has signed paper and verbally said yes, it is another attempt to have him change his mind.  When they arrive what a battle raged on.  2 hours of heated conversations while Bagdon sat head bowed looking at the ground.  They constantly try to change his mind. You could tell this was wearing him down.  This language barrier is such a pain.  In the states this would not have happened I would have stopped it and removed my son from this onslaught of harassment but instead we stood helplessly and watched as his chin started to quiver and tears roll down his cheek.   Monique Jeremiah and I did have time to pray and do spiritual warfare until we had some peace that victory was ours.  Slowly you could tell things were going better for us.  The god daughter began to soften and realized this was best for Bogdan.  I had showed her on my iPhone, Valeria telling her brother to say yes.  I watched her as she began to melt and be converted.  She began to work on her mother and then we began to show them pictures of family, home and America.  We answered all their questions about our faith and family.   I tell her I value family and appreciate her commitment to him and my children go to college and are given opportunity.  I tell her that we go to church every Sunday and I pray for my family a half hour every day.  Monique and I understand her commitment to the children's mother but she has been lied to and doesn't realize by letting him be adopted by us she is fulfilling her commitment to his mother to protect him.  Then all of a sudden it was done and I think the godmother  left in peace.  It was brutal to say the least!  Nadia said she will never forget us because of how tough our trip has been.  She says she usually gets in and gets out and things go fast.  I can tell she is fighting tooth and nail to get Bogdan out of this orphanage.  I promise her lots of sugar and candy.  That might help but I am not sure. We wait around as it rains, I  play hacky sack with Jeremiah  and wait some more for the orphanage to get the papers finalized and thre directors signature on his release.  My tip for those who follow, STARBURST CANDY ;) you can give them one at a time, their individually  wrapped and easy to pass out.  The young kids love to run up and shake the funny fun American man's hand.  So this time i shack there hands with a starburst hidden in my hand and that was a hit.  Fortunately I had unwrapped two packs and stuffed my pocket because it didn't take long for the game to be discovered and I shook every girl and boys hand as they quickly stick the candy in their pockets and head off to lunch. Little did I know the director was there but I think we were sneaky enough to get away with it.  I think he thought the kids were excited to see me only but I don't really care what he thinks.  I bring smiles and hope by those little pieces of sugar. It's hard to leave today because they have wisked Bogdan away and the last we have seen of him was with the assistant director talking to him with his bat and baseball in hand and sadness and hurt in his face.  We hope to see him but he is not with any of the other children going to lunch and so we get into taxi to see his sister.  The rain is pouring as we get into the car and begin to close the doors and all of a sudden he is standing their smiling, soaked and saying good-bye to us.  We drag him into our tiny car loving on him and giving him hugs and kisses.  Our hearts are renewed and we drive off confident that even though the harassment will continue against him he is staying strong in the face of it all!
      We have seen Valeria again and I will write about it latter but for now its been 15 hours of driving and battling for these guys.  It's raining and lightening more spectacular than any storm I've seen on the front range in Colorado.  Were beyond tired and long for some rest.  All in all it's been another good day.
Ps: we have decided on their American names....

It's June 14th and the battle has been won!

It's June 14th and the battle has been won but the war still rages on!  Bogdan said YES and it is in writing and the Ukraine social worker has it in hand.  What a hard day for bogdan, as he commited to us yesterday,  he had his answer for us and he said yes!  Once  that happened peace fell on him and me!  The weight he was caring just seemed to fall of  him and he became a kid who must have felt freedom.  Oppression is engrained into this place and their keeper has been trying all day to herd him away from us and they did. What they said is not clear but it appears to be more effort to pursuad him to say no.  What a battle we are in.  Nadia did battle for us and she said they keep trying to have him not get adopted by us.  The assistant director absolutely does not want him to leave this place.  When it all came down to the questions,  bogdan answered decisively and wrote his letter.  Once all done mama and papa held back our tears and mama hugged him proudly.  I will always remember a little smile on his face which I interpreted as being proud of himself.  We played more afterwards as Nadia did business.  We left to see Valeria but I am concerned for his safety.  These people don't seem to care for these children but only in there own self interests.  I whisper prayers to God for his safety and leave Him in his care.  
     There is bad news involving one of the social workers leaving on holiday.  I don't know exactly what's going on but it's sounds like we might be here for another two weeks before our court appearance and then the ten day waiting period.  


Today starts like the others....

Today started out just like the others and off we went to see Bogdan and Valeria.  We picked up a little princess purse a cute frilly flowered red one.  It's not the big purse she wants but we will find one later.  Weather is warm and  humid because of the brief rain through out the days.  I like this way better than hot.  We got a nerf like baseball bat and ball and played for a couple of hours intermittent with him taking pictures and us looking at scenery and exploring .  We also brought a little plane that glides either by shooting it from a rubber band sling or by throwing it.  He is all boy and a lot is communicated like boys do with grunts, yells and laughter.  At an appropriate  moment of resting and eating fruit, candy and juice, Nadia starts talking to Bogdan about getting a yes.  We talked for an hour but could not get a yes just I will think about it. He knows it's a good thing and we are good people and will be good parents.  I truly think he knows that but is dealing with lies.  He is a good kid and I see signs of integrity and rightness in him.  He is and will be a good kid.  We just got to get him out of this %#€><*^•?! place and into an environment he can thrive in.   I can honestly say between the four of us we could not do more in our efforts to get him passed his resistance.  I have a lot of respect for his resistance because I know down in his heart and by his reactions that he wants to be our son.  I see his resistance as a sign of integrity and strength of character and will.  Cant wait to develop and mold that strength.    He promised us an answer tomorrow.  As we were leaving,  our driver asked if he could walk Bogdan back to the door and talk with Him  We said yes.  He is known by the children and he pretty much repeated everything we had been saying but sometimes it's important to hear it from someone else.  We were encouraged by his positive reactions to what Bogdan said to him.  He told our driver that he thinks he will say yes.  I really appreciate Vlad (taxi guy) stepping up like that.  Nadia also said the director has warmed up to her and will encourage Bogdan to say yes.  I don't care how it gets done but that it gets done!
           Here police stand off the side of the roads (like our speed traps)  with a white stick with black strips on it.  If they wave the stick at you, you pull over and pay what they want for whatever you have been doing wrong.  While going from one orphanage to the other we were waved at and our taxi guy got out. Naddia explained you have two choices go to court and pay 350 grn and waste  who knows how long waiting or pay 150 grn on the spot and off you go.  He paid and off we went.  We are now driving to see Valeria and I look foward to seeing her run and skip.  As we drive through this truly beautiful country with it's rolling hills, trees and green grass it brings me home and I long to see our snowcapped  Rockies in the distance.  Apparently, just like Colorado the sun will dry up the grass and things will turn brown as the summer progresses .  
     So I interrupt this flow with a couple of thoughts.  Ladies get over your need for a clean white cool porcelain toilet if you plan to come here.  So far, Monique has had to stand and squat over the most horrific out houses with a stench so bad you don't close the door for fear of passing out (no joke).  She has had to do her business in the grass and trees and gotten very familiar with turkish toilets (squatting over hole in floor).  Be prepared with toilet paper in purse  and to pay for the privilege of using a toilet.  Many bathrooms have sinks and soap (bar soap) but no way to dry your hands.  Occasionally there is an electric hand dryer that is ridiculously under powered and you will give up and dry your hands on your ever present pants or with toilet paper.  Jeremiah and I  feel blessed as men because we can take care of business standing up.  Another thing is that food is never hot enough here. It's alway luke warm! I long for hot food and seasoning.  They have salt and pepper but the salt has lost a lot of it's flavor.   I poured so much salt one time on my potatoes it was laughable.  Its dark everywhere and if there are lights on its just the minimum you can get away with.  For instance every apartment we have been in has had a chandelier type light with 6 plus bulbs and never more than two of those light bulbs work.  Many lights just don't work at all.  I suspect they don't even put lights in them.   Hallways are never lit and streets can be very dark but  not necessarily dangerous.  It's just the way it is.  One last thing for now, your shaken up every were you go!  Train rides shake constantly, taxi rides shake you constantly with weaving and pot holes and roads that are never ever ever flat or straight!  After we had taken the train to Donesk and taxi all day visiting our kids the world never stopped moving for us.  You stand still but you feel like your moving up and down constantly because your equal librium is shot.  Now there are exceptions to all these things  but these are pretty common.  
        We just spent 3 hour with Valeria and what a different girl she was today.  We came just as she was walking to have snacks so all she could do was wave at us.  Me being me, I  was not content to sit and behave and so off I went to see her eating.  The babushkas in charge  put up with the silly man sneaking a peak at his little girl.  I went back to get Monique to come and take a look at her eating too but she all of a sudden jumped in surprise as Valeria ran and gave her a big hug from behind.  We gave her gifts and she liked her cute little red princess purse but I almost think she liked the little puzzles we got her more.  We put both of them together and mama combed her hair and put hair clips and head band in her hair. She was shy as usual but enjoyed her time watching Monique, Jeremiah and Nadiah draw pictures.  I don't have skills in the drawing arena so I just watched Valeria, she is precious and I sense she wants to be free from her shyness but doesn't know how.   I wanted to hear the word yes from her even though I knew she would.  Nadia asked her the questions and she said she wanted to be adopted by us and after hearing the word dah (yes) I looked into her eyes and lovingly said spaciba (thank you) to her.  She eventually wanted to play outside so off she went and picked the area and toys.  There were many toys made of steel with at least an eight inch of layered paint all pealing and cracking.  It would seem no one every thought to sand or strip 30 years of paint off.  We played on old jungle gyms and slides and laughed at each other.  She talked constantly to us in ruski and busted out of her shell.  She got a football (soccer ball) and we played ball games for a long time.  She played hard and she at times got bossy with me telling me were to stand and what to do and stop doing silly stuff.  You don't have to know the language to understand these things.  She is a very good girl but she has.... I wasn't going to say it but when Monique said it I said it.  This girl has a lot of piss and vinegar in her or you might say grit!  I told Monique that she needed it to survive through all she has and is going through.  Personally I like seeing that in her because shes  going to need it.  Nadia continues to leave us longer and longer by ourselves with these guys. I am not sure if it's on purpose but I am beginning to see what a challenge we are up against with our language barriers.  I begin to feel a bit of a panic inside and realize how scary this is going to be for these two kiddos in such a strange world and I can easily visualize Valeria having complete melt downs and panic attacks.  I feel the need to escape for awhile and to leave and Monique said she could sense my internal panic and my fight or flight mechanism kicking in.  We got what it takes but today I felt and saw the reality if it all and it was very scary. I felt it the moment I walked into her orphanage.  A part of it is my own fear of lossing her to an unknown decision from Bogdan.  
         It's now eight pm and we are approaching the end of another 12 hour day of driving and visiting and persuading our children.  I am sore, tired , sweaty and long for a shower and to just veg!

I am fatigued today...

I am fatigued today from giving and receiving and love being taken from me.  Being with bogdan this morning was physicly draining.  We played football (soccer) until I couldn't play anymore.  Bogdan is shy, scared and reserved.  I don't know exactly what he is thinking or desiring.  We get the impression he wants to be adopted but there is a feeling that others may be lying to him about adoption by a foreign  family.  We talked, ate snacks, showed our family pictures and gave him the gifts we bought him ( a small car and a firetruck).  We then gave him our camera to shoot pics of friends and his room.  Once that got started kids came out of the woodwork and Jeremiah and I played football til we were told we needed to go which was fortunate because I don't think I can keep up with all these guys.  I am glad  i brought moleskin for the blisters. Monique, meanwhile, was surrounded by girls and later she painted all of there fingers with nail polish.  There is such a great need for love not necessarily in gifts but the kind that gets dirty and sweaty playing with them at there level.  The girls need to know they are beautiful and special and they are needed.  I feel so inadequate for this task and rely on God to give me direction and guidance.  It does help that I am just a big kid at heart but there is so much need.  The goal in this stage is for them to say yes to adoption.  So far I am not sure we have a yes strong enough to last through this process.
      We head off to see Valeria and we are overwhelmed by her longing to be loved by us.  She definitely wants to be apart of our family.  She gingerly gives us hugs but is excited to see us.  Apparently everyone has told her she is special because she has been chosen to be adopted.  We brought her gifts of a doll and a crayon sticker book apparently it's the nicest coloring book she has ever had.  Cost us maybe a dollar US.  So little to make someone so happy.  We played on the floor and took crayons and colored a page together.  Occasionally I would purposely rub her little arm lovingly and her face would brighten up and a smile would spread across her face.  She longs to be special and be considered beautiful.  We played with a 500 piece puzzle that I guess had only 300 which is why I couldn't find very many pieces that fit, at least that's what I tell myself.  Valeria is amazing with puzzles.   She see things differently and puts them together in ways I don't understand but it works perfectly for her.  I dont know how to explain what i see but i am in awe.  She is very smart and it is very obvious.  I have felt loved and in love with her.  She is all girl and loves to dress up and to look at herself in the mirror or in video and I love that about her.  She runs and skips everywhere and is such a pleasure to watch.  I long to fix her weak eye and to take her from this place and to heal her broken heart.  
       Nadia, in a very shrewd moment, decided to ask her if she would want to record something to her brother on my phone.  Valeria said yes but she wanted to go to another room because she was too shy in front of us.  She is so precious to watch on video as she lovingly tells her brother to say yes to being adopted by us because she likes us and wants to be adopted.  I need to have the whole thing interpreted but that is the gist of the video but it was her own words.  I asked if we could see her room and she said yes.  She held our hands and brought us to her room.  It's a cute efficient room with 10 tiny beds all perfectly made and tidy.  Their caretaker told her to make her bed with her freshly cleaned obedding and she quickly did and stood erect at it's side as if for an inspection.  She passed and off we went to look at pictures of her in an album and of her in a play.  Meanwhile a little girl whom at first I thought was a little boy because of her butch hair cut, started showing me pictures of her as well.  I wish I could have taken her and her little brother home as well.  They longed for a father in their lives.  Her younger blond haired brother came up to me and would not let me go.  His arms locked around my neck and his little face rubbed against my unshaven face.   Every kid instantly was fascinated with my bald head and rough face.  Monique thinks it's because men don't visit much and it was strange to them.  It was heart retching then and now to think of it and all it implies.  Before I knew it Monique and I were mauled by little guys and girls all wanting to talk to us and be hugged.  I showed them my phone and wow I could hardly keep my phone in hand as they wanted to see their friends in video format and to look and touch the pictures.  Technology crosses all borders to these guys. I started picking them up two at a time and they laughed and laughed.  Somewhere in this time, a little boy came up to  Valeria and said, "Your man is very strong!" She said, " He is no man, he is my papa!".  If my heart needed any more retching, her comment to the little boy threw  it over the edge and it is forever lost.  I fear her hearts loss if her brother says no and my heart forever will be at a loss as well.  She later left the room and Nadia thinks she was jealous of all the other kids being with us and getting our attention.  She said it is good, like when your dating and you play a little hard to get.
      Donesk is not like Kiev and I don't enjoy it as much.  It doesn't feel the same and I sense danger more here.  I am never bored and there is so much to do.  I feel spread thin as we have to win two kids hearts that live 200 km apart.  When we are done visiting we are hunting for food and gifts they want from us.  12 hour days just visiting and driving between the two.  After securing a yes from Bogdan we will have to visit them every other day because of the taxi fees are killing me.  It is all worth it but I am concerned about running out of money and ending up stuck in Ukraine for ever!

We meet Bogdan and Valeriya today

Shake and bake.....
Here is another long winded post ;). But it's my therapy and way of journaling this event in my life.....
         Today started out with me unable to sleep and getting up at 4am. Had three cups of via Starbucks coffee and worked on yesterday's blog.  Its been a long day.  I am now on upper berths of whats called a business class train car with Jeremiah writing blog.  Business class is basically a car with 4 berths.  Like everything it's a small area but efficient.  It reminds me of  camping as a kid in a volkswagen camper. There is no wifi on this train and  I think it must have been made in the 1950's the conditions are amazing and surreal.   It's laughable the condition of this train.  I often think how American civilization would on the whole,  handle the normal everyday living conditions of the Ukrainian people.      I can tell you what,  lawyers would go crazy in a place like this.  Point in case, the doors on the elevators and the furnicular train should be lovingly called the human guilateen.  I have never seen doors slam so fast and so hard in my life.  In fact,  I was trying to enter our apartment elevator at the last second and the elevator decided no more people allowed. One second longer and my hand would have been waving at me from the floor of the other side.  On the other hand ( no pun intended ) the same door will decide not to close or reopen at all.  Nothing is consistent except the inconsistent in this country.  I digress though, we met Nadiya our facilitator  who will be assisting us in Donesk.  She is a delight and a great travel companion she understands our humor, which is a plus!  We shall see how long she can stand us.  About 430 pm today we received our two referrals for the orphanages we are traveling to.  Grabbed our luggage and heaved them on taxi and through crowded train station.  For those who follow, pack light cause ya going to have to haul it all over the country!  Unless you are a world travelor there is nothing that can prepare you for ukrain it is a landscape of constant change and surprise.  I often feel like I am in a world WWII movie and I am on a mission in a foreign land.  I would say the best prep is to be patient, changeable, curious and willing to risk and make mistakes. Every turn has a surprise and even now the clickity clack of the shake and bake is lulling me to sleep......the night has past and were about an hour from our destination.  I have heard so many stories of this phase in the adoption process of things going wrong that I find myself reserved as well as very anxious.  What will it be like to meet them for the first time and will there be a connection from the beginning or will that happen in time. Will they say yes or will it be no?
          Getting off the train was something else one mass of cars luggage, vans and people people and more people one big mass of us pushing and honking our way out.  
He could only fit 2 bags in back and so one piece got to sit up front and watch the view while the four of us squeezed into the back seat.  Thankfully we are all skinny and this wasn't too uncomfortable.  We found our apartment and again they have a scary elevator but I am getting used to the rediculous small space and take the second one up with the luggage.  The apartment is very nice but a little pricier than we were expecting. We are planning to negotiating or relocate closser to the kids or maybe find something in the country.  Still up in the air, we need to find a map so i can get our bearings. Got taken for 200. American by taxi for all day driving and 120 km but I comfort myself that in America it would have been a lot worse for your own private chauffeur.   The siblings have been split because of age and the fact that bogdan needs to go to school.  The drive is fast and furious but it doesn't bother us in fact I feel quite at peace with this insane driving. We travel through beautiful countrysides and little villages and through towns all showing years lack and disrepair. There are slow signs of merging economic progress but things seem to take a long time.  Funny thing in donesk everyone we buy from is trying to practice there English due to a ver big soccer game this year with lots if international visitors.  One lady said in closing  our transaction: thank you, hello ,goodbye, and your welcome all in one sentence she was very sweet and doing her best to communicate. 
          We met bogdan at his orphanage  and I could not be happier.  He is such a beautiful young man.  He was so scared and never looked at us but in time he relaxed a little.  He started coming alive after seeing pictures and playing with iPhone.  We gave him a football (soccer ball), small car, and starburst candy.   He let Monique put her arm around him and he gave me a real good hand shake which in this country is not something you give easily like Americans do.  By the time we left his breathing was much more normal.  I can tell he is a brave boy even though he was scared.  He loves math and wants to be a fireman.  He also said he likes the grey  Lanos a Ukrainian made car that is everywhere here. my first thought I can afford this car when he starts to drive LOL.  We are coming up to a three day holiday so we are rushing over to see his sister Valeria just in case the holiday delayed us til Tuesday.  It sounds like we are going to be able to see bogdan again on Saturday he is going to be a goalie and he will teach me to play soccer.  We want to buy him some little cars because he likes to collect  them. We are off at 90 mph to see her (no kidding) in tiny little taxi.  
First impressions of orphanage was horror at outside conditions but the second you entered in the place it was  beautiful and full of warmth, color and fun a stark contrast to the orphange bogdan is living in a grey concrete stone cold environment.  Apparently,  as our facilitator said, rich people like to help the cute young kids and not the older ones.  Thus the stark contrast between the two orphanages, makes you think.  We talked for awhile to the directors assistant, nurse and social worker and in short she is healthy with some  minor correctable issues.    She is very shy but such a little princess.  She is all girl and loves to dress up.  We asked her questions, put puzzles together, with and walked outside and played on toys until it began to rain.  She had a beautiful pink dress on and did not want to get it dirty.  She wants juice, cookies,  and a doll.  This took awhile to get out of her but a necessary step for us to show we will do what we say and follow through with our commitments with her.  I am overwhelmed with compassion for these two kids and realize how much God loves and cares for these two.  Enough for him to send us half way around he world to find them and to present ourselves to them as a gift.  All they need to do is say yes and they will become our children.  A familiar sounding story.  A simple yes can change there life and remove them from the awful conditions they will and live in.