Our Adoption From Ukraine

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Wow, it’s hard to believe we have been home for 11 weeks. Sometimes it feels like it’s only been a couple of weeks and sometimes it feels live Lugansk was years ago.

The first few weeks at home were crazy. We had been gone for a total of 8 weeks and it felt like there was a million things to do. We needed to get the kids settled, get clothes for them and school supplies. Try shopping for school supplies a month before Christmas….not the ideal time. I am sure when we got home Nadia and Stasik thought that all we did was go out to parties. Because it was so close to Christmas there was so much going on. They we surprised when we were no going somewhere.

Nadia and Stasik started school on Monday December 4th at a local school that has a Ukrainian/English bilingual program. Half day is taught in English (math, science and language arts) and the other half-day in Ukrainian (social studies, art, health, etc.) Music, gym, library and computers are English. They also have one day in the six-day cycle where all the Ukrainian classes (K-9) have Ukrainian choir. They kids have really been enjoying school. They seem to be getting along well with the other students. The classes are smaller, Nadia has 18 and Stasik has 17, so that is really nice. I we driving them to school every day, about 15 minutes each was but on January 25th the started taking the bus, and believe it or not, they like the bus, crazy kids!!! Brad took the bus to school as he grew up in the country, just down the road from us….but I am a city girl…born and raised in Winnipeg and can’t stand the thought of taking the bus! Because there school is not our school they actually have to take two buses, and spend about 55 minutes each way on the bus….hopefully they will continue to enjoy the bus as they have years and years ahead of bus rides ahead of them.

They both stared taking swimming lessons after Christmas; they both seem to be enjoying it so far. Nadia started gymnastics after Christmas and goes every Wednesday night and loves it. She absolutely refused to take Ukrainian dancing, but now says that she wants to taking dancing, but not Ukrainian, so I guess we will look into it next fall. Not sure what she wants to take….tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, not even sure if she knows. Stasik started Ukrainian dancing after Christmas and goes Monday evenings to the local club. He is in a class with his cousin Kaelan and our friend’s son Alex. He gets along great with both boys and is soooo excited to go to class. We went to a family fun night school fundraiser a couple of weeks ago for B & S kids school (our friends who were in Ukraine the same time as us) and Stasik was dancing up a storm to the Ukrainian polka band music. Even Nadia got up and started dancing…. that’s when she decided she wants to take dance lessons.

Christmas was a very busy time for us, we had 18 for supper and then another 13 joined us later in the evening for desert and to visit. Yes, I did it pot luck….there was no way I was cooking for all those people. They kids did really well, they had meet less then half of the people before then….guess all those parties came in handy!!

The kids English is coming along really, really well. They fight like crazy sometimes. One night they had a fight before supper and at supper time Nadia announced to us that she was not going to speak to Stasik in Ukrainian or Russian anymore, only English!!! She seems to have forgotten about that. They do speak to each other in Russian a lot, but we are finding more and more that they are speaking English to each other.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Well I don't even know where to start. It's hard to believe that we have been home for 7 weeks. I am going to back track a bit and go back to Lugansk.

November - On November 15th Brad and Y went down to pick up the kids passports, I did not go as I was not feeling 100% and only one of us needed to go. Of course one guy was looking for more money.....it seems that someone always had their hand out. Y held her ground....saying that he did nothing to help us so Brad & Y just hung out thinking that the guy was not going to release them for a couple of hours....but he did about 15 minutes later, I guess he realized that they was no more money coming his way. They came back to the hotel and we checked out. We took our bags to the orphanage and left them there. We went to the internet cafe and them to Y out for a late lunch to our Pizza restaurant. We headed back to the orphanage just before 4. We went up to the kids room with our stuff for the going away party. We had hats for the kids....they went crazy for them, cookies, candy, bananas, oranges and juice boxes. They loved the fruit....can you believe it? I guess they do not get very much fruit at the orphanage. Nadia and Stasik helped set up for the party. I was trying very hard to get them to eat....but they wanted nothing to do with it, they just wanted to change into there new clothes and get out of there. P & P showed up just as we got the party going. We headed down to the directors office to finish up and headed off to the airport early....the kids just wanted to leave. Of course it was raining out....which is going to lead into our airport experience. Well Lugansk has the worst airport I have even been in in my whole life!!!! We have to lug all of our luggage up to the second floor. Once we checked in they send you to this little holding room with all your stuff. So here we are with P & P and their 2 kids and all of our stuff. It was packed in there and the 4 kids are going crazy....they just want to get onto the plane. So once they are ready to put us on the plane we walk outside to the plane. Remember we are on the second floor, it's raining out and we have all of our luggage 6 pieces and 3 of them are heavy. So we have to walk across the tarmac to the plane, go around to the other side and lift our heavy bags up to the guy on the plane to put them on the plane....gotta love Lugansk airport!!!!

It was a relatively uneventful plane ride. We managed to keep our two kids away for P & P's kids. Stasik fell a sleep for the majority of the ride. We arrived in Kiev and headed off to our apartment. When we pulled up our diver was killing himself laughing....our friends B & S from Manitoba are in the same building as up....needless to say we were ecstatic as we were spending Friday with them.

We woke up Friday a.m. and headed off to McDonald's for breakfast.....you have NO idea how happy I was to see Rotten Ronnie's!!!! We hung out on Khreschatyk and then hooked up with B & S and their two kids for lunch. They have adopted a boy the same age as Stasik and a girl the same age as Nadia. We sent the rest of the day with them, the kids got along great. That evening we went to the Canadian Embassy for their pub night. The eight of us had a great time....it was so nice to hang out with a group of Canadians. Most of them are in Kiev working at the Embassy. We even meet one girl from Manitoba who is married to a Ukrainian and living in Ukraine. And of course she know people that Brad knows. For those of you how know my hubby, he always runs into someone he knows....ie. on the street in Las Vegas.

On Saturday we went to the KLM office to confirm our flights for the next day, this was a recommendation by our friends B & S.....thank goodness we went....what a mess!!! Well it turned out that Northwest airlines messed up and did not process Brad and my flight change....so we were not booked on the flight. Also, talking to the gentleman who gave the kids their Visa's to come to Canada...he brought up a good point....did the kids need Visa's to fly through the US??? YES!!!!! AAAAHHHH!!! The lady at Northwest told my sister-in-law when she booked the flights....and she told me, but my ignorance....I said the kids will have Visa's....for Canada.....duh. So needless to say I was freaking out. We held flights for the 4 of us for the Tuesday with hope of getting the US Visa's on Monday.

We went to the US consulate on Monday and discovered that the Americans can get their visas for their children in a day and it would have taken us 2 or 3 days....and I did not want to rebook the flights until we had them. So we bite the bullet and purchased 4 one way tickets for us to go home on Tuesday....

On Sunday we spent the day with P & P and their boys. The eight of us meet at McDonald's for lunch and then went to the circus. We had a great time with them and the circus was great.....and super cheap, about $4 a person. The show was amazing and was about 3 hours long....the best $$$$ we spent in Ukraine.

On Monday after getting the tickets settled up we ran into P & P on the street and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with them. Crazy being in Kiev and running into people you know never mind when we were at McDonald's in Kiev on Monday we ran into a couple (Ukrainian) that we always saw at the internet in Lugansk. They spoke a little English and would always try to talk to us a bit. Small would, even in Kiev.

We flew back to Winnipeg on Tuesday Nov 21th via Vienna and Toronto. 2 days in Ukraine. One of my closed friends Loretta and her hubby Dan and children Jacob and Julia live in Toronto. We had a 4. hour law over and they meet us at the airport and took us to Outback Steakhouse for a wonderful meal. Brad was so excited to eat a steak...everything in Ukraine is minced. Poor Stasik was so tired, but that time we had been up for about 1 8 hours and he fell a sleep at the table after he ate.

check back next week for updates on life in Manitoba!

Monday, November 27, 2006

We are officially home. We arrived home on November 21st. This is the first time that I have been able to get onto the computer. The one we had in the house has gone to computer heaven...we have once in our shop, but it's outside and after spending the day with the kids...I just don't have the energy. Nadia and Stasi are starting school on Thursday, so I will get on line then and tell you about the last few days in Lugansk...our time in Kiev....and our problems getting home!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I know everyone is sitting around waiting for the next posting. I have tons to write about the last three days....but may not get around to doing it until later this week. I only a have a few minutes....it's been crazy the last few days....so many fun things, crazy things, a minor, but fixable problem that I will write about later.
Letters to Brooke....I know exactly who you are. I followed your blog. We have to talk!!! I though the kids orphanage name was Lugansk Children's Orphanage #1, but I looked though a couple of your pictures....it's the same orphanage. There is even a picture of our Stasi in one of your pictures....from what I can see by the room pictures and mamas, it's the same groupa.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's been a crazy 1 1/2 days. Y came in by train about 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday. She crashed on our sofa until about 7:30 and then took off just before 9 to pick up the court decree and start the paperwork. She called us just before 11 a.m. and at 11 a.m. we left Lugansk and went to the town that the kids were born in, not sure of the name, but it starts with a S, to get the kids new birth certificates. What I do know is that we are in Lugansk, which is about 50 km from Russia, the town is farther east and were we only about 5 km from Russia. It was poring rain out. Everyone here drives like a crazy person....and the cab driver that took us was no better. His wipers were not going fast enough and Y told him to make them go faster. He was passing on solid lines and Y even gave him heck about his driving a few times!!! I was so happy!!! The roads suck. It was a single lane highway. There is no shoulder and the sides of the road was crumbling so they like to drive down the middle of the 2 lanes. I was having a heart attack!!! The speed signs I saw said 45 km, and he was doing anywhere from 70km to 120km.....the best part....they do not have daylight running lights and they do not put their lights on!!!! Gotta love it.

We arrived there about 12:30. The ladies at the office we so nice. They took us next door to a cafe for lunch. We hung out there until just after 2 and went back to the office. They pretty much gave us the new birth certificates and we were out of there about 2:30. We arrived back in Lugansk at 3:40 p.m. I must have calmed down about the driving because I actually fell a sleep for a while. We had to go to this office to get new registration numbers, then to the notary, to 2 passport offices, local and regional. And no, I do not know why 2 passport offices. We were told that the kids new passports would be ready on Thursday morning, so much for flying out on Wednesday night. By the time we were done it was 6 and to late to go visit the kids. The air line office was also closed. We headed back to the hotel and went to the supermarket and got some supper. It was a long tiring day and we were crashed shortly after 9.

Y took off today about 8:30, the air line office was still closed....nothing here opens until 9 a.m.. At 9:30 she called us. There are only 5 flights left on the Thursday night flight. Holly crap, we need all five. She called a cab for us, we rushed over to the Rada office (Ukrainian parliament) and picked her up. We rushed to the travel agency and got the last 5 flights on the Thursday night flight. YAHHHHHHHHHHHH WHOOOOOOOO!!!!

Y took off and left us to get the tickets. We headed back to the hotel and just had time to use the washroom before we were on to the bank and passport office. We headed to the orphanage to make our donation and we were back at the hotel by 1 p.m. Y went home for the night. Her home town is about 1/2 an hour form here. Brad & I headed back to the grocery store to pick up some lunch, went to the internet for a few minutes and then walked back to the orphanage for 4 p.m. for our final visit.

The kids totally understand what is going on. We were not sure how much Stasi understood, but with P & P got there Stasi told P that we are leaving on the plane tomorrow and we are taking 4 planes. Which is true. The funny thing is P & P and their 2 kids and their facilitator are also on our plane. Only 2 flights to Kiev a day. 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.....and the plane only holds about 40 people...we are going to over run the plane.

After our visit we headed to our cafe with P & P so a late supper/snack. The last meal for the 4 of us before the influx of kids tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Day 10 is now officially done.....WOOOOHOOOO

Y is coming to town tomorrow, arriving on the train at 5 a.m. so we expect her to be at our door for a shower around 5:30 a.m. and then we start the paperwork. First the court decree needs to be picked up, some paperwork from the orphanage needs to be signed off and then it's off to the kids home town to get their birth certificates redone and then new passports for them in their new name. Once that is done we can head off to Kiev for the kids Visa's. We expect the paperwork here to take 2 days. He are hoping to head to Kiev on the Wednesday night flight.

We went to the orphanage from 4 to 6 tonight as usual. Yesterday when were we there they were cutting the kids hair from one of the groupas. When we got there today they were cutting kids hair from what appeared to be our kids groupa or the one in the next room. Thank goodness they did not cut our kids hair. We told them that if they come near them with the scissors to say nyet (no) - Canada!!! His hair is fine, she only needs her bangs cut. She specifically told us yesterday that she does not want the back cut. When we were waiting for them I pictured her walking out with her hair short and her in tears!!!

As I have said before I think she understands more than he does. She thinks that we are going to Kiev tomorrow, but I straightened that out. Last week we gave them each a comic book/magazine. When she came out of their room today she put the book in our bag....I think she is packing the stuff that she knows is hers, which is very little, jut the stuff we gave her. She also has a small photo album, which is nice because of course we do not have any old pictures of them when they were little.

As usual we are still feeding the cats on every visit. We started out feeding 2, then 3 and now we are up to 4. You should see the cats come running as soon as they hear our voices outside. We have named then Fox, Eliza, Tiger and Spot....no, spot does not have spots. These cat are going to have to go back to table scraps and the garbage can soon....it's so sad. There are so many stray cats and dogs here, it just breaks my heart, thinking of my dog Ben who whines to you if you are not sharing enough of your popcorn with him.

Yesterday, as we do every day, we went to the hotel cafeteria for breakfast. It was packed because they were feeding a Ukrainian soccer team that was staying in our hotel o we shared a table with a man from New York. In error I left my small change purse with under $30 and some ID in the cafeteria. Well when I realized I lot it I had no idea where it was and was freaking out, it a looking everywhere. Well the gentleman had picked it up. He tried to leave a message with the ladies at the front desk that he was trying to find us. He did not know our names or our room number, but knew we had been there for 3 weeks and were Americans (he did not know we were from Canada)...he did not want to leave it at the front desk with a fear of us never getting it. Well he found us at breakfast this morning....needless to say I was ecstatic!!!

On a side note, I am really needing to get out of here, the pushy people on the crowded buses are driving me crazy. They congregate at the front of the bus and never move to the back. They are small buses, so there is only one door at the front. Today on the way to the orphanage a few people got off from the back, but no one moves to the back. I jut wanted to scream "move to the back of the bus". Brad was sitting shot gun with the driver. There are 2 seats in the front with the driver. If someone get out of the front seat Brad dashes for it....I have never seen anyone more so fast!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I guess you can tell we are very excited. We are so happy to think that at this time in just a week at this time we will be getting ready to descend into Minneapolis and then one short flight home!!!

Since the kids did not have school yesterday of today we visited them twice. I am 99.9% sure she knows what is going on, but I am not sure if he does. I think he just follows her and is on for the ride!!!

Since it was out last Saturday night in Lugansk and without kids Brad & I went our for dinner with P & P from Colorado. They are starting their paperwork tomorrow, today is day 19 for them. Unfortunately they were unable to secure flights home next weekend so they are not leaving Kiev until Tuesday November 21th. They are a little disappointed but they are flying to her parent in Indiana first and will be there for Thanksgivings and then will be going home to Denver on the following Saturday the 25th.

Our friends B & S from home are also starting their paperwork tomorrow, there 10 day wait ended on Saturday....we look forward to hooking up with them in Kiev. They are booked to come back to Winnipeg on Saturday the 18th.

It' starting to get cold here. We still have no snow. It's hovering around 0 and we were told but P & P that it's even colder in Kiev. Needless to say we are anxious to get home to our warm cars and houses. No more crowded buses full of rude pushy people and hotel room that it's heating system seems to shut off when it's cold. I am not sure, but I think it shut off at night. It's OK for sleeping but I need it on to dry my clothes...radiator work great from drying clothes.

Brad is starting to get stir crazy. We have not been watching any TV at all, just movies and reading. Well Brad has been watching movies, soccer games and even caught a pre recorded NHL game today...all without the sound!!!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Day 7 done.

We went to the market again today with P & P....we are pretty much ready to go now. We had to buy a duffel bag to take all the extra stuff we bought home. Things for the kids, new jackets and a few souvenirs. I know you are all shocked, Kim the organizer is not prepared and did not think of bringing an extra bag with her.

We took the kids there ski jackets, hats, mitts and boots to try on. They seemed very happy....he was very adamant that his hat got put into his jacket sleeve and put back into our bag for Canada.

Of course....they made sure that we know that there is no school tomorrow and we are to come for 10 a.m. and not at 4 p.m. We told them today that we are going to Canada in 9 days...but I don't think that they realize that they only have a few more days at the orphanage and either 2 or 3 days of school there depending how fast we get our paperwork done here.

There are 20 kids in our kids groupa. Five 5 girls including ours and 15 boys including ours. There is a group of boys that are what I call Brad's fan club. There are two little girls, I would say about 5 or 6 that are so cute and sweet, we would just LOVE to take them home with us. Every once and a while when we get to their groupa at 4, the kids are not there. They are in a different room, I assuming doing some sort of activity. There is this adorable blond little girl who is very sweet, she always has a smile for us. She always wants to go get our kids for us. We sit just outside the room, she runs by on on her way, says something in Russian and gives us a big smile. Brad always says that she looks exactly like my friend Loretta. Loretta....you have a child in Ukraine!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Day 6 done - 4 to go

We were blessed with some nice weather today, not like yesterday when it was cold and rainy. Brad has had a cold for a few days, but is feeling better now. Thank goodness, he is like a typical man when he is sick....I know you woman know what I mean. We went shopping to the outdoor market with P & P today and then for lunch to the Ukrainian restaurant. We had great weather for shopping outdoors. I got a winter jacket for each kid and a pair of boots, PJ's and slippers for her and a hat for him. We are going back with them tomorrow as we still need a few more things, they do to. We as running out of time. Boy, that was great to say!!! We will have very little time on the weekend and it also super busy on the weekends, it's closed Monday and then we start our paperwork on Tuesday....yeah. We are having a good bye party for the kids groupa on Tuesday night. Probably will just get juice boxes, fruit, cookies and candies....healthy!!

P & P's kids were trying on some of there new clothes lat night so tonight I brought some for Nadia and Stasi to try on. Stasi is 7 and just took everything off right there. Nadia is 9 and we had to go to the bathroom. They are so funny. I brought him a pair of jeans and two sweaters to try one...you would think it was Christmas morning and he was opening up toys....just wait until it is Christmas. I took her two pairs of jeans, two sweaters and and long sleeve t-shirt....she said "wow". Wait till she gets home and realizes that's a very, very small part of her wardrobe. Just wait till I take her to Old Navy (my favourite store) and let her pick out a few things....she is going to faint. I know I brought more for her, but I have no clothes for her a home and I have tons of stuff for him that will fit him. Some new and tons of hand me downs from my nephew Jordan.