Friday, February 29
Monday we'll do that then head to Donetsk for passports, then hop the plane to Kiev! Becky Gantenbein (a friend from church who is willing to give up her week, vacation days, and fly around the world for me- WOW!) will be coming over on Monday which means she'll get to me by Tuesday. We'll have the kids' medicals on Tuesday and apply for the Visas. We hope to be on an airplane HOME on Thursday!
The end is near! :)
From the birth certificate office we went back to the orphanage and I was able to take a little ‘tour’ of some areas of the orphanage. More about that later too. And then Natalia went home and I went and got the kids for my second visit. I’m getting better at communicating with the caretakers and they understood me when I asked them to come back and help me bring the kids back in an hour. They were right on time and instead of one caretaker to help with the second child, they had two people come and get the kids. Quite efficient. It’s nice that I was able to get the point across and I didn’t just get scolded for carrying both kids on my own!
Ok, about the kids… Micah is doing well. He hasn’t progressed a whole lot during the time I’ve known him but he does smile a little more, especially when they first hand him to me. He also likes to grab the opening on a balloon and play with the balloon and he will lay on his stomach raised up on his arms and bat at balls. Otherwise his favorite place to be is up against my chest in a close snuggle- no matter HOW HOT it is in the room (usually VERY HOT). I’m so glad I brought the sling with me because he absolutely loves it and I can have both hands free to interact with Emma that way. I almost feel bad for not giving him tons of great visual stimulation and getting him rolling around on the floor every visit (we do some visits still!) but then I realize that even just being held is much more than he’s getting in his crib every day, and knowing he is secure and safe is just as important right now. He likes to be massaged and has decided I’m not TOO evil when I put lotion on his little forehead and cheeks. He doesn’t all out cry very often and it usually is more of a scrunched up face and a little squawk. I’m sure given time it would grow but I haven’t let him cry enough to really know.
I’ve tried Micah in the swing and although he doesn’t object, he’s not all that excited about it either. He likes to lay his head back and stare straight up at the dangling chain pieces about a foot or two above him. That must be mesmerizing! He really is very alert and calm for the most part. I can’t wait to see his happier emotions take a stronger role and see him smile and show pleasure at things that he likes to see and do. I know he’s taking it all in he just doesn’t express that he likes things other than by quieting down.
Emma has come out of her shell. Each visit we usually start on this big foam mat- of which she immediately rolls to the side and off of (with help, since it’s 4” thick and I don’t want her to fall off!). She laughs a lot at goofy things like a hand coming like a spider at her face then gently ‘attacking’ her entire head. She thinks that’s great! She also likes to have me rub her cheeks with one hand (like a squishing movement) and then to bend down and kiss her cheek. That almost always gets a giggle. Some times she’s very ticklish and rolls around as she giggles and other times she grinds her teeth when she gets tickled. One of the things she’ll do if she’s in a good mood about being tickled is get onto all fours- and her head. Usually her head is on the ground but she will pick it up and look around. She just doesn’t have the strength to stay like that a long time without using her head to support some of the weight. Emma does the cutest little thing on her stomach- she’ll cross her arms in front of her and put her head down and just watch everything else going on in the room. It is absolutely adorable to watch her like this! I have several pictures that I’ve shared, but it’s when she’s sitting like this that you can look at her and say “yes, she really is 5.” Emma has been making more sounds lately. Just random, but she will do “mamamamama” and “emmamama” which is cute since that’s her name . She has a few other sounds but I can’t come up with them at the moment.
Emma absolutely loves the swing especially when she can drag her feet a little on the floor or if the big mat is behind her she likes to be gently bumped into it. Whenever another kid runs through and a collision takes place (we try to avoid this, but it happens!) she giggles about it. She is doing much better holding her head up for longer periods of time but either tires quickly or is a bit lazy. Probably both! She has been diagnosed with Nystagmus (I think) which is a disorder with the eyes where they sort of dart back and forth horizontally occasionally. I see this more when she is tired but it really doesn’t seem to affect her attention to things or her vision too much. We’ve also been told that she’s near-sighted and that I believe 100%. She brings everything right to her nose to look at it and doesn’t seem to focus well on anything too far away. That doesn’t keep her from watching everything going on around her though! Emma is very interested in other kids and if she’s nearby Micah she likes to take his hands- or his hair or his face if those are closer- and hold on to him. She loves to be held and cuddled and only pushes away after several minutes of being held. If it’s Micah’s turn in the swing Emma likes to sit in my lap and push the swing. She has it all figured out and really likes to do it.
Both of the kids are so sweet and loving and they each have very distinct personalities which I can’t wait to see grow and blossom. They will each add a new aspect to our home life and enrich our family ten fold!
After the visit we met up with Beverly and Dave went off to get train tickets. They had successfully gotten their birth certificate, passport, and were ready to go to Kiev! They arranged tickets for tomorrow’s noon-day train! They’re going home! I say this with great joy and excitement for them, but I also am sad to be left behind. Not because I have to spend more time here (although that’s some of it) but because it means that I won’t have their company. I have REALLY enjoyed having them here more than they can ever imagine. I have said it to them but I’m sure they think that I jest- that there is NO WAY I could have made it through this whole thing on my own without them here. They have been my lifeline and not only that, but my counsel as well. I have depended on them for medication, companionship, and an ear to listen. It has been quite an experience being in a foreign country without anyone that I really know, but having them here has made it as if I am here with great long-time friends. It’s hard to believe we met only 3 weeks ago. I know that our friendship is a lifelong bond. It’s not every day that you live with people for a week and a half only 2 weeks after meeting, but our “thrown together” relationship has been wonderful.
So… that leaves me tomorrow with an empty house but hopefully only for a day. I know that the ‘original plan’ for me was to stay here alone for the time between when Mike left and when I could take the kids home, but since it didn’t end up that way I’m not even looking forward to the time that I have to be alone for just a few days until I am back home again. I know I’ll survive and that I’m in a safe place, but it’s definitely not something I’m looking forward to. I know I’ll be pining for home even more, missing my children and my husband, and wanting to be anywhere but here. I’ve already considered the decision between a solo taxi and skipping the afternoon visits and I’m thinking I might just do one visit a day the next two days (yes, it’s only two days that I know of!) so that I don’t have to take a taxi alone at night. I’ve done it once but it was a little unnerving and especially since I don’t speak the language it was not an experience I’d like to have over and over again.
I’m hoping, though, that Thursday morning Natalia will be here and we will do some things up at the orphanage, then Friday we will get the court decree, birth certificates, and passports and be on our way back to Kiev over the weekend. I’m hoping and praying that that is how it works out! Once in Kiev there are medicals and visas to get and then I’m on my way back to the good ole U. S. A. and my family of 6.
I know I’m not strong, I’d love to just break down and I actually have on occasion, but I sure hope to make it home quickly and without too many days on my own. My sanity may depend on it!
Wednesday, February 27
I'm feeling better and at a friend's apartment (not the Internet club) to access. More later but I wanted to give a quick update anyway!
Sunday, February 24
Things haven't been great here but I'm surviving. I have been sick for about 4 days and spent the first 2 of those in bed pretty much. I didn't dare go to visitation with the kids and get them sick but I did go up yesterday and once today. I hate that they were sitting in their beds for those 2 full days when I couldn't go up there. They were glad to see me the next day though and enjoyed playing. Micah especially was glad to be HELD and didn't want to be put down. Emma wanted to roll to her heart's content and was very giggly and ticklish.
It's been a rollercoaster of a week between being sick and Mike heading home (he is home safely, by the way, and Kristopher and Brianna are very glad to have their Daddy home!). Things are going better now though and I'm hoping to be back in the swing of things tomorrow.
I have no idea how I would be surviving if it wasn't for this WONDERFUL Christian American family that moved in with me the day that Mike left. They not only put up with me but also bought me meds when I was home dying and finally got a medicine name from my facilitator. They have been so great and I seriously don't know what I'd do if I was here alone all this time, especially having been sick. Dave and Beverly's kids and Bev's brother joined us on Friday morning (daughter Neely is 11, son JohnHunt is 8, and her brother is Gary). It has been a busy household but fun as well. Much better than sitting around an empty apartment by myself!! I am forever grateful for their generosity and welcoming spirit because that really has gotten me through. They will head out on Tuesday or Wednesday and then Natalia (my facilitator) will be back on Thursday to complete our adoption paperwork.
Tuesday, February 19
Today I brought up something new for the kids and it was the hit of the week. I’d brought a small standing mirror that has two sides to it- one regular one magnified. I haven’t taken it out of my bag even because there’s been plenty of mirrors in all the places we’ve been. Last night I ran across it and thought to bring it with me today. What fun they had! Emma and Micah both loved not only looking at themselves but also seeing everything going on around them in the room through the mirror. Emma kept pulling it up to her face to see it REALLY close.
This morning when I went to the special needs area to get the kids they told me that Emma was sleeping and that Micah was good to go. So I asked to take Micah and said I’d come back for Emma in a few minutes. They also said she needed to eat when she woke up as well. Off I went with Micah and we sat and played for a little while. Then I put him in my little Baby K’tan on my hip and went back for Emma. The caretakers looked at me at first like I was crazy. Then they offered to take Micah back from me. I showed them that he is fine with no hands even in the carrier. They (reluctantly, I think) handed me Emma and I was on my way. When I brought the kids back to them I had Emma in the hip sling and was carrying Micah and they seemed a little less anxious about it all.
Oh, and since Mike wasn’t with me, I got the ‘questions’ I was waiting for today. Emma’s doctor was in the room when I went both times to get the kids (first for Micah then for Emma). She asked where Mike is and I told her he went back to America. After a few attempts she understood. Another caretaker came and was trying to ask me- I think- if he is coming back. I’m still not sure about that one. Since I wasn’t sure what she was saying I didn’t try to answer. I didn’t want to answer the wrong question, and the thing is, it’s not all that easy to explain since no, Mike’s not coming back- but I will have someone come back to help me out.
Also, the caretakers not only knew that it was Emma’s birthday today, BUT they also TOLD ME! They wanted me to know it was her birthday and this one older lady with curly white hair that is very friendly and likes to try to talk with us- she looked so happy So did Emma’s doctor. The lady with the short hair that doesn’t ever let us take the kids to the playroom was working too but the doctor is the one that greeted me so I was able to take them out.
We had a nice time playing today. I hung out on a big mat like a tumbling pad but it doesn’t fold up and it’s about 4 inches thick. I plopped down on that with my two kiddos and my bag of toys and we stayed there the entire time. The other families sang Happy Birthday to Emma and we all played with the semi-deformed balloons.
One of the other American families that’s here adopting moved over to our apartment yesterday so I’m not completely on my own. I moved over to the ‘office’ and I’m sleeping on what makes-up to be a twin bed. It’s better than a comfy bed by myself to sleep in a semi-hard couch-bed with other people around. I slept ok until I heard a dog going crazy at about 6am and then popped some earplugs in a little later. After the morning visit at the orphanage I made my first solo trip in Kramatorsk and survived. The other families have to bring their kids back a half hour before I do and I enjoyed that little bit of quiet time with the kids.
During the time right after the other families left the person who I’m at this point guessing is the director’s wife maybe? came in and sat down at the desk in the room. Then Dave (the husband of the couple I’m living with) came back in and asked her if she was looking for him. She said yes and gestured that he’s sick. He said a little. She shamed him. He said he’s getting a mask. She said ok…. I think that’s about it. Then she came and bent down by me and the kids on the other side of the room on the floor. She looked at the kids a minute, then she asked about Dave. Dave and me. No I said. She held up 3 fingers and said apartment. Oh…. Yep, there’s three of us in the apartment, including Dave. She said ‘ok’.
When I got back to the apartment Dave and Beverly still weren’t here. They had taken a cab and left 20 minutes before I did, so it had been a good 40 minutes since they’d left. They are adults though, so I just let it be but I was surprised when a few minutes later they walked through the door with a face mask on Dave and a box of medicine in his hand. Their driver, a very sweet Russian man, had called the orphanage and told them that Dave was sick and that he needed a prescription. Somehow they worked all that out, got him a mask, and got him some meds.
I do wonder, though, whether I’ll be able to bring the kids out tonight if the orphanage knows that the man with the mask is there. Oh well, maybe a visit in the kids’ room won’t be so bad! If only I could figure out how to put two kids on my lap while perched on a chair and actually DO anything with them? I guess it’ll be a short visit if that’s the case. Or else I’ll have to lay one in a crib and play with the other and switch off. Should be interesting. I hope they’ll just let me take them out! The kids have so much more fun when they have other things to watch and explore and the freedom for Emma to get down and roll around to her heart’s content!
Oh, I almost forgot- yesterday we got a quick video clip of Emma rolling the entire length of the playroom floor. She is quite fast about it too and although I think that’ll be her primary mode of transportation for quite some time, she’ll be up and crawling before too long as well.
Poor thing though, Emma has a big mark down the front of her face today. I have no idea what happened, but it looks like a scrape or something like that. It wasn’t there last night and is this morning. I’m thinking maybe all her rolling skills got her a ace on the crib rails, but I really don’t know. I guess it’s good in a sense that it doesn’t seem to bother her but unfortunately no pain seems to really phase her yet. She smacked her head on the wood floor and didn’t wince. She’s had her foot and hand stepped on without a reaction… I hope she’ll learn that it’s ok (good even) to react to pain and that she WILL be comforted when she is hurt or needs something. This is when you can see that being in an orphanage takes a toll on a kid.
I almost wonder at the reactions we get from Micah because they still seem very innocent. He cries to be held, doesn’t like to be put down. He scowls when he’s hurt. He is not like a typical 17 month old by any means, but his emotions and reactions don’t seem much like those of typical ‘orphanage behavior’. I hope that is a good thing in the long run!
Monday, February 18
The irony in this is that her fifth birthday, about 3 weeks ago, was a dreaded date. It was to be her transfer date to an institution known as Torez. Instead of being moved, she will stay 10 more days in her current home then come home to be the eldest of 4 children. We are celebrating what God has done to bring us together and that her fifth birthday can be a day of great joy and rejoicing instead of heartache and sorrow.
I cannot help but think of little Sergey who was transferred to Torez in the summer and died in November. He was a healthy and happy little guy, but unfortunately the lifespan is not long there. As we celebrate the gift of life for Emma, say a little prayer for all those that cannot help themselves and are living out their days as we thought little Emma might. Also, consider a gift in her honor to one of the many waiting children found at www.reecesrainbow.com/giftoflife.htm
The 10 days weren't even brought up in the court proceeding as our facilitator wasn't in the room and that would be her place to mention. She opted to stay outside because there weren't enough chairs. Lots of questions about our family, home, income, jobs, but all expected. The judge asked me how I feel about the new children and after I answered he stared at me... um... is that odd? Anyway, so I said more... then more... finally that was enough I guess! I told about how they are very sweet, loving, we've enjoyed playing with them, they have changed a lot in the little time since we met them and we are looking forward to seeing the potential that they will have as they learn and grow.
They stuck Mike with all the rest of the questions and he did well with the "why are you in Ukraine" and "why not more biological children" questions.
Mike will leave for Kiev tonight on the 10pm train. He'll arrive around 10 tomorrow morning in Kiev and do his paperwork at the US Embassy. Then he'll spend a night at the Bed and Breakfast in Kiev with our friends we came through with the first time and begin his flights home at 6:50am on Wednesday.
As I type here I think I'm being harassed by an 8 yr old but I have no idea because I can't tell a thing he's saying... Life is good! LOL
Sunday, February 17
Please pray for a good hearing for us! Mike takes the train at 10pm to Kiev and will fly home on Wednesday morning.
My next post will be as a mother of 4... hard to believe at 26? It is for me!!
Friday, February 15
STUFF we bought for the orphanage (mobiles) and clothes for the kiddos to come home in **The punching bag and gloves are for KRISTOPHER though! When Daddy gets home!**
On our way home from our morning visit with the kids we walked almost all the way to our apartment without anything unusual. But two doors down from our apartment building there was a small crowd gathered. In front of each building entrance there are two park benches. This specific entry the benches had no backs. On the park bench that we could see as we approached there was a board with a nice covering like a lacy tablecloth or something. It had flowers in a pretty vase and a little statue-like thing. A little unusual, but nothing all that disturbing. Then the group of people was gathered between the benches so we didn’t see the other park bench until passing a portion of the group. On the other park bench was another board much like the first with a cloth draped over it except on this one lay a dead body. Yes, a human being. The person was covered up to the chin with a blanket-like covering that was pretty. There was a pillow under the head. And no color whatsoever in the face. There is no question in my mind that this person was deceased. How’s that for something you don’t expect to run across on a park bench two doors down on your way home for lunch?
I think we’ve had enough weird circumstances while here in Ukraine to seriously write a book. Know what it would be called? “We didn’t sign up for this”. It would be a very good book too, I’d like you to know. Not because I wrote it (obviously- you’ve been reading my blog so you must realize by now that it wouldn’t sell!!) but because it would show the power of God in such a real way. That’s what I want to tell. And seriously, we didn’t sign up for this. We signed up for 2 weeks in Ukraine with another trip for 5 days. We signed up for a 5 yr old. One, a girl, that was walking and healthy. We signed up for a debt that would be paid off in about three years. We signed up for a very different experience.
But the greatest thing is, that this trip- all of it, seriously- has shown us time and time again that it’s not about us. And not only that, it’s shown us that what we THINK is best for us is so far from the truth. What God has is better.
Would we, 6 months ago, have signed up to come to Ukraine for 4-8 weeks? No. Would we have volunteered to come for a 5 yr old immobile child that needs major reconstructive open heart surgery immediately? No. Would we have come for two immobile children which will bring our count at home up to three immobile little ones, knowing that I have only 2 hands? No. Would we have volunteered to go meet two children that could never be ours and have to walk away from them both? No. Would we have known that God had a bigger plan for our lives? No. Would we have been blessed as incredibly with fingerprints of God’s goodness and grace in our lives? No. Would we have found the children that God had for our family? No. Would we have arrived late enough to get the blessing of a little boy that’s not been released for adoption very long? No. Would we have arrived early enough to keep a little girl from being transferred to Torez? No. Would we have had the financial blessings that He’s poured out on us in the midst of all of the turmoil? No. Would we have turned to Him in grief, fear, and uncertainty and heard His calm and quiet answers? No. There’s so much we didn’t sign up for, and there’s so much we would have missed out on!
Ok, done with that. Today we walked to an open air market as well and bought a few outfits for each of the kids. Another day soon we’ll get them some snowsuits when those shops are open. It was snowing today so there weren’t very many open. One of the other families that is here, Dave and Beverly, thought that they’d be bringing home someone a little smaller than their sweet Lillia, so they had an outfit that they’ve given us for Emma along with a bib and some formula. So today Mike and I went out with the intention of ending the day with 2 full outfits for each child (one to wear one to wash ). We did really well!
We bought another outer layer for Emma- a cute FUZZY outfit with pink pants and a white top. It has a little vest and hood that is really cute. We also bought a one-piece pajama with feet that is similar to those that we have in the US that are a thick t-shirt material to go under the other two outfits or to wear to sleep in.
We also found a thinner outfit for Micah to go under the other outfits or for sleeping and 2 outer layers. Both of his outer layers are one-piece sleeper type outfits. One is blue and fuzzy with dogs on it and a little had to match. The other is a white shirt and soft overalls that button closed. Both are very sweet!
One of the things I was disappointed about a little while back was that I wasn’t finding any really cute clothes for little ones anywhere and I didn’t want to have to bring the kids home wearing clothes that weren’t cute. I know it’s petty and stupid, but I wanted to be able to dress the kids up in sweet adorable clothes (for the first time- sorry, but most of the clothes they wear include drawstrings that come up and tie behind their neck over top of their t-shirts and it’s just not that cute!). I wasn’t finding anything. Not unless I went to somewhere that sold only name brand clothes and they were $15-25 per outfit! So I was ecstatic to find this little shop at the open market that had adorable little kid’s clothes. Our two new little ones will go home looking sweet and adorable regardless of their clothes but I’m so happy that I found ones that will help them look their best!
Oh yeah, and this morning one of the kids’ caretakers told us that Emma really likes the mobile and when they wind it up for her she watches it really carefully! Did I post that I bought mobiles for the kids’ cribs? Anyway, last night they put them in their beds and today commented on her watching. Micah- not so much- but Emma likes it. So I asked them how many other little ones they have in this area. They had no idea what I was talking about. I broke out the Russian-English dictionary and got “many” and “children” and a few hand gestures. They told me how old my kids are. Hmm… not working. So finally I found “how much” and children. I don’t think that was what I was going for! They looked at me like I was nuts. I think when I asked “how much” (skolka) they thought I meant MONEY! Anyway, I never did find out how many kids there are, but I was able to ask if I could give them 3 more mobiles as a gift for the other children and they said “da” (yes) and “spacibo” (thank you). So we bought three more mobiles at the open market and they were very happy to put them in the other babies’ cribs tonight!
I’m not sure what else they really need at the orphanage, and I know that a portion of our adoption money will be given as a gift to the orphanage, but at the very least we’re trying to fill a few of the needs that we see can change the way a little one spends their days. Blank walls or a mobile—hopefully that will make a difference! I was so happy to hear that the caretakers had wound it up to sing for Emma. They really do love those kids!
We have had a pretty low-key time the last few days with the kids. Emma is wearing out really quickly. Yesterday morning she was really sweaty (so was I) but in the evening she seemed fine. She LOVES the swing, especially when it spins a little. She sits in there and just GIGGLES! On the floor she hasn’t been getting around much except for rolling the last few visits but we’ve also had to stay in the special needs area several times lately, so she hasn’t had as much time on the floor to play. She definitely has MUCH better head control than she did just a week and a half ago and her trunk control is improving as well. If only we could get those legs and hips stronger just as fast! All in time… Emma loves clapping games and singing. She let me rock her and sing to her yesterday. Sometimes she ‘hummms’ along, but she’ll also just listen. She learned to clap during one of our first visits and likes to use our hands to clap as well. Yesterday we did “trot trot to Boston”- which is a little poem where the child bounces on your knees, facing you, then at the end dips back or falls in between your legs- and she LOVED it. She likes to put her head backward and see things from a different perspective. She’s actually pretty goofy about it and we generally try to keep her from doing it because we don’t want her flopping backward when we’re carrying her.
Little Micah is still a little love. He likes to cuddle and be held, but he’ll roll around a little to see what he wants to see when he’s on the floor too. He loves to watch people. If there’s anything going on in the room his eyes are on it. You can tell he’s taking everything in! He is ticklish under his chin if you just touch him gently we almost always get a tiny smile. But then his little smile instead of turning to a laugh it usually scrunches up and he looks like he’s about to wail. I wonder why this is, but I guess we’ll find out in time. I know he’s not hurting in any way, but he does this a lot. I’ve yet to hear him REALLY cry. He’s scrunched up his little face and squeaked out some noise, but no real noises. He’s smiled longer and gotten a little giggle out without the sour face a time or two but not often. I think Micah christened me as “his” yesterday when he returned his entire feeding to my shirt. You know you’re a mommy when your kid throws up on you and you remember only when you are getting together with company and you realize you still smell like spit-up a few hours later. Oh well…
Yesterday we found 3 little toy stores that are nearby. Two have strollers, so we finally found somewhere we can buy one. They also had mobiles for cribs so we bought two and asked the caretakers last night to put them up on Emma and Micah’s cribs. They seemed ok with that idea so I’m hoping to find that they did today. If I can find a way to ask I want to find out how many other kids they have there right now so we can get a few more. Emma and Micah loved them when they were watching me put them together! The other older kids in the playroom enjoyed winding them up for us too .
We’re off to visit with the kids, I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s day!
Wednesday, February 13
How will you get the kids home? Do you have a stroller?
We have a 'sling' with us which is a Baby K'tan (www.babyktan.com) and we LOVE it, as does Micah. We will buy a stroller here for Emma since it will make life a LOT easier!
Is someone still meeting back up with you in Ukraine to help you home?
Yes, we think so! I keep forgetting to bring Becky's e-mail, but the plan is for her to meet up with me in Kiev and fly home with us. I'll be on my own with the babies just a few days and then she'll help us with the 3 flights to make it back to Titusville. If she cannot come then we will search out another willing soul or Mike will come back again.
What size clothes do the kids wear? Do you need clothes? Diapers? What else do you need?
Emma is right around a 24 months size, we think. We have a lot of this size since it's the next size up from Brianna. I think there are only 2 specific things we need in that size and it's shorts and pants. We have lots of little rompers, t-shirts, and dresses.
Micah is between a 3-6 and a 6-9 months size. I'm counting on a huge growth in him immediately so I'm not going to get any 3-6 months clothes. We have a few outfits that are 6-9 months that we've saved from Kristopher as well as a few 12 months. We don't have much that is any bigger than 12 months until the 4T that K is in now. We've given away those sizes to other families in the church. We didn't think we'd be having another BABY anytime soon!
Diapers- I'm guessing that Emma and Brianna are similar in size and a 3 will fit them both.! Micah is likely in a 2, but probably not for long! Soon all 3 will be in size 3 diapers- that will make life a little easier :)
Other stuff- We are SO BLESSED to have been given 2 cribs (Thank you Sandy and Bob!!). We have carseats for all the kids thanks to a friend of Cindy (THANK YOU!). We have a double stroller, playpen, toys, a swing, a bouncy seat, all kinds of good stuff for the kids to play with!
I think the only thing that we haven't dealt with before that we will be with the two new kiddos is bottles and formula. They should both be on "stage 2" or "older children" formula for kids over 9 months. And they both are solely bottle fed at the moment. Neither of our other two ever took a bottle so we don't have any of those yet.
Does Mike have a ticket home yet?
Yes, Mike has a flight home. He'll leave here at 6:50am on the 20th! He's flying Lufthansa. THANK YOU to our local FEDS of Brevard and to the donations to our Reece's Rainbow account which have together paid for all of our airline tickets and hotel/apartment stays!
To those that offerred toys for our "big girl" Sasha
Many people had offerred us "big girl" toys for Sasha before we left for Ukraine. We want to thank you all for your generous offers and I hope you will find another "big girl" that will benefit from these gifts!
Tuesday, February 12
Dasha is ready to go PLAY. Yesterday and today we haven’t been to the playroom because of illness of either our kids or someone else’s- not exactly sure. So we have had our visits in Daniil’s room instead. Unfortunately that means no floor time whatsoever for either of the kids which Dasha really enjoys. Hopefully later in the week we’ll be able to go back to the playroom again with the kids and roll around, swing, etc.
Tonight Natalia will be taking the train back to Kiev and will come back on the Saturday night train. We have court at 9am on Monday morning and Mike and Natalia will both take the Monday night train back to Kiev. Mike is going to try to get an appointment with the US Embassy for Tuesday morning and a flight home for Tuesday night or Wednesday.
It looks like I will be bunking up with one of the other American families while Mike’s gone. One couple has court on Thursday and then begins their 10 day wait. They have two children that will be joining them over here 7 days after their court. But there are still 3-4 days that it will just be the 4 of us then 7 of us for 3 days before they are ready to head off. I’ll have another 3 or 4 days before I can get Emma and Micah after that. It’s better than 12 days by myself though! We’ll see what happens, but this is the idea we’re kicking around at the moment anyway.
Here’s the basic timeline from here:
Monday, Feb 18th- our court date for Emma and Micah
Tuesday, Feb 19th- Our day 1 of 10 for the appeals period (and Dasha’s 5th birthday!)
Wednesday, Feb 20th- Mike flies home
Monday, Feb 24th- Kristopher’s 4th birthday!
Friday, Feb 29th (LEAP DAY!)- Emma Hope and Micah Daniel leave the orphanage for the last time! Begin paperwork for Birth certificates and passports
March 5-11th- hoping to fly home around this time…. If I understand everything correctly!
Monday, February 11
In case you hadn't already noticed, this is Mike filling in for Meredith. So today I have officially made my first and longest post ever. Have a great day!
Sunday, February 10
Ok, now that I've got that off my chest, here's a little update :)
Dasha is in need of extra calories but not because her care is lacking in the orphanage. Her heart is working overtime and her body needs more calories just for that than any other function. Plus she’s never been as active (I think) as she is now and that will expend a lot of energy and calories as well. I was so surprised to hear that she has a complete AV canal because she is still with us at 5 yrs old with it uncorrected. She sure is a fighter! And that says great things about her care at the orphanage as well. She is on 3 medications (I think). One is the digoxin, one is a diuretic, and another is like enalapril but a different name. Blood thinner to make the heart not have to work as hard. The fact that she has been seen regularly for cardiac care and receives these medications to prolong her life and keep her healthy speaks wonders for her facility, director, and caretakers. We are so pleased with her care and blessed that her first 5 years were as pleasant an experience as possible. There is the fact that she didn’t have parents, one on one care, and had limited exposure to things that would help her develop, but they were doing their best by her and that’s all we can ask for.
Both Dasha and Daniil’s caretakers care for them SO MUCH and are very happy and good with them. There are actually a lot of caretakers in that area and the babies are all very happy and healthy looking. I haven’t seen a single caretaker, doctor, or administrative person that wasn’t looking out for the children’s best interest. Oh, and the facility- it is always CLEAN. It always smells like food cooking, and the kids have always been cleaned up before being brought to us. They are in cloth diapers (not really diapers, but a rag stuffed up in their clothes- like a receiving blanket in their pants!) when they are in their cribs but they put them in disposable diapers for them to come out and spend time with us.
We intend to continue bringing a pack of diapers each week because we know that their stocking up on them will help them in the long run. I’m sure they need them for things like doctor visits and similar outings as well. They did ask for them once and we brought some. That was the day we learned what they used to diaper the kids in the rooms because Dasha wet through her outfit twice in one playtime. The second time someone had brought us a disposable diaper from somewhere to put on her so we were set after that.
As for us and our timeline, we will have the inspector’s paperwork today and it will be on the train to Kiev tonight. Natalia (facilitator) has told us we will go to the court and apply for a date on Monday- the same time as our paperwork is submitted in Kiev to the SDA. I really don’t know what that means in terms of a timeline (people don’t like to give those here!!) but it’s good news that we’re moving forward at the very least!
Our visits at the orphanage have been pretty low-key so far. Daniil tried out the sling yesterday when we brought them both to the playroom and he was very content to face out and watch the world go round for a while. Then we tried putting him in the ball pit with us and he freaked a little. The first emotion he’s shown us other than getting upset about us putting baby food in his mouth! So I positioned him facing in on my chest and he was content the rest of the visit. He’s a snuggler and a watcher, so that was great. Plus, they’d woken him up to bring him out to us so I’m sure he wasn’t in the best of moods anyway.
It seems that in the mornings the staff want us to visit back in the special needs area for just about an hour but in the afternoons we can take them out to the playroom from whatever time we get there until 6. That’s just the trend I’ve noticed this far anyway. It also seems that this changes from caretaker to caretaker, so I’m not really sure. We just do what they tell us and visit where we can J. It is difficult to entertain 2 kids up on your lap for an hour though and there’s no interactive toys in that area so we’re down to just the things we’ve brought with us. It makes for a little creativity on our part and an hour is really about as long as Dasha wants to sit there. She knows that she wants to be out in the playroom!
Oh- and yesterday she was crying when they were getting her ready to come out. I bet they were cleaning her nose because it looked a little chewed on (but clean!) when she came out. Then she saw us and immediately stopped crying and even began to LAUGH as we walked down the hall! I’m sure it’s not US that she’s attached to yet- that would be pushing it- but she at least enjoys coming with us and playing and seeing the other children!
Yesterday we spent a good portion of the day with the other two American couples adopting from Antoshka. Their apartments are about 2 blocks from here and we spent a little time there in the afternoon then we visited at the orphanage and got back together for a “pot luck” dinner and watched the movie Transformers (on a laptop- with 8 of us huddled around!). It was a lot of fun though! We also did a little more clothes swapping. One family had brought cloths that were a little smaller than their daughter and gave us an outfit that will fit Dasha and a bib with pink letters that says “I love my big brother”. We had jeans, 2 shirts underwear, a pair of tights (I held on to one pair even though I think they’ll be huge on little Dasha), a hairbrush (her daughter LOVES to have her hair brushed!), some little rubber bands and clips for the hair (I did keep one set but I doubt they’ll stay in Daria’s fine hair), and a sippy cup. I’ll be able to pack a lot lighter on the way home J. Except that somehow I’ve got to get ahold of things that DO fit the kids… which may prove a little challenging.
Friday, February 8
So our papers will all be in Kiev on Monday!! YAY! God did it again!
Luckily we had some water in the purifier from yesterday that did enough for oatmeal (after being boiled) and hot cocoa. And we have a little drinking water still for brushing our teeth. Wet wipes for the “important” shower areas and face and hands. Tada! Ew.
We’re on our way to the orphanage in a few. We’ll pick up 2 jars of baby food on the way and see if we’ll be allowed to feed either or both of the kids. I am hoping and praying that at least Daria will be allowed to try it, but I really have no idea what their reaction may be to our request. Doesn’t hurt to try I suppose!
We also met two AMERICAN families! It was wonderful getting to know them and both are on the same time frame that we are. Both came to Ukraine about the same time and had two SDA appointments. Both got to Kramatorsk on Monday/Tuesday. We’re excited to spend some more time with them and enjoyed dinner together at a nice little (inexpensive) restaurant tonight. We plan to watch a movie together sometime over the weekend. They share a facilitator and have already spent a lot of time together it seems. What a nice little blessing!
Ok, so the 2 other American families is a very nice blessing we wouldn’t have had 2 weeks ago and here’s another thing we wouldn’t have had… Daniil. By my own calculations, he was registered in November or December of 2006. Likely the end of November or beginning of December. He was in the hospital for several weeks after his birth on September 10th and I’m sure he wasn’t registered until he’d settled in to the orphanage after arriving in mid-November. So let’s guess at the 25th or so of November. Count forward 14 months. January 25th. AFTER our first SDA appointment. One week before our second. He’s meant to be ours, and it was worth waiting a little while. Plus, it could have been even later in the month and a closer call. We may never know. But it’s interesting to know that this COULD be a case of what God orchestrated for us to get our little boy!
Today we changed over from the hotel to an apartment then visited with Daniil in the morning. He is very sweet and snuggly and still a little under the weather.
After lunch we went to the office of the notary to do some paperwork. Have I already written Cornish in cryllic? It looks funny J. KOPHIW. The KO is pretty much the same, then the P makes the R sound, the H is like an N, and W is something like an SH. You should see how they write Hope. It’s weird. Something with an XO then I don’t remember the next letter and a Y. And apparently they don’t have the name Micah around these parts often. Even the notary’s translator couldn’t figure out how to say what was written. Oh well.
In the afternoon we went to see Daria and she was SO FUN! She came alive for us in the ball pit and liked to smile, laugh, and play. She’s gonna be a Daddy’s girl!!
Wednesday, February 6
Anyway, it was a fun thing to do and they asked lots of questions about the surgery, the feeding tube and machine, and our community and involvement with Ds.
Ok, so here's the info we have, mostly as translated through our facilitator who does not have any medical background...
Daria's heart issue is with the Mitral Valve. The right side of the heart is enlarged because of the issue with the mitral valve. She has a higher pressure in her lungs but it is stabilized due to medication (not rising, but already elevated). She is on "glicositis" group meds for lung pressure and Digoxin which is to "strengthen the muscle and prolong the time of the muscle that relieves the heart". We were given another paper which, roughly translated, says "combined hypertrophy of miocardic of the right lower part, right upper part, and left upper part. Disorder of circulation inside bottom part".
If anyone can make sense of this please let me know! I have that paper (untranslated) and will be taking digital pictures of it and an EKG they gave me to send on. I just want to know if she will make it home without issue. Then we will do what we need to from there. I just don't want to endanger her further by taking her on a plane.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. I will post more (lots) next time, but this time was unprepared for posting. Daria is smiling and LAUGHING with us and was so happy to be able to go back out with us when we thought we had to bring her back. It is so sad though to see her so hungry. Today she was grinding her teeth a lot and was sucking her three middle fingers so hard. We are sure she was hungry. It breaks your heart! Tomorrow we will bring something with us and we will ask if we can give her something to eat. Maybe some baby food or some little crackers. She has a full mouth of teeth but they feed her nothing but a bottle of mixed gunk (meat, egg yolk, milk.. EW) every 4 hours or so. I'm sure a lot of it is water too and she is 5 yrs old and HUNGRY. I'm sure that attributes a lot to her size.
Ok, off to read the 67 replies to the past two days :) You guys are awesome :)
We are doing well, settled into an apartment with a kitchen, and enjoying visiting with the kids :)
Monday, February 4
Today started out ROUGH. A train ride where I couldn’t sleep, Mike couldn’t sleep, and I had horrible heartburn then felt sick. What a way to travel! And what a way to spend the night before you are to meet the director and inspector over the children we want to meet! Luckily we got to town early enough to find a hotel and get settled, nap a few minutes and take a shower. Then it was off to the inspector’s office.
The meeting there went well. We showed her the photo album and she signed off on our documents needed to meet Dasha (Daria) and Daniil. She didn’t accompany us to the orphanage as the other two inspectors had though.
When we got to the orphanage we initially noticed how clean, happy, and professional the orphanage looked. All the workers wore ‘nursing’ garb, the building smelled like lunch (and later on like fresh bread), there were colorful pictures on the walls and photographs of the children on them. The director was kind, happy, and very personable. He asked a few questions but wasn’t like an interrogation as we’ve gotten before. He was surprised, however, to hear that we wanted two “sick” children. Our explanation must have sufficed because that was all it took. There was a woman that spent a lot of time with us- either an assistant director or maybe a secretary? And she went into a room and brought back with her--- a laminated POSTER of the adoption of Daniil! The older boy that was adopted after leaving this orphanage! They were very pleased to know that Daniil had such a good home and when they heard that we knew of him too they were very pleased.
Also, the director smiled when I told him that Lynn with Life2Orphans was who had given us the information on Daria. It wasn’t long before they told us to go into the playroom area and there she was! Daria was laying on a changing table and they sat her up and were holding onto her. She was a doll!
We went and put our bag and jackets down and went over to her. At first she frowned at us and I squatted down (she was on a changing table, so she was then higher than I was). She looked at us for a minute and wasn’t sure she liked us invading her space. But after a minute we asked if we could hold her and they said yes. They did caution us that she doesn’t hold her head up well. Wow, was I surprised! Daria is NOT a little limp thing. I was expecting a mushy child with a blue tint, difficulty breathing, and a spacey glare. Instead we found a TINY, strong, attentive little girl! She is not nearly as strong as she could be, but if she spends much of her time in a crib then that’s easily explained. Her head will become strong very quickly, I think, when given the opportunity to use those muscles more often. She was not quite as bony as I was expecting either. Her muscles were far from strong, but she wasn’t all skin and bones with nothing holding her together. She was sturdy, strength-wise, and way more attentive than I thought she would be.
Although we didn’t experience any smiles from Daria we are told that she is expressive, smiles, laughs, cries, and pouts. She doesn’t sit up, crawl, or walk, but she does roll over. She likes people, babies around her that she can touch, and likes toys only a little bit. She had several illnesses in her first few years but after 2 has been pretty healthy.
Daria was given up at birth by her birthparents. She was the first live-birth of her mother (second pregnancy) and they knew that she would have problems early on in the pregnancy (but… they continued their pregnancy!). She came to the orphanage at 1 month old and has grown up there. She was born full term- around 38 weeks or so and weighed 3k, 150g (anyone have a conversion for me??). Her mother gave her up at birth. From one to two years old she was sick a lot with “the flu” (I think this is a general term- it’s used a LOT). After 2 she has been more healthy. She is not yet sitting or standing but she “turns around” (rolls over maybe?). They told us she doesn’t support her head but we often saw her doing it so in time I think she will be doing it more (when she has more time to practice!).
She likes other kids and enjoys touching them and watching them, and has a slight interest in toys. Dasha shows when she is happy/sad by laughing or crying. She plays, holds her own bottle (exclusively bottle fed because of the room she is in but we are told that she will likely learn to spoon feed easily—how sad)
Daria has had some vaccinations- which surprised us- and a major heart defect. She is on medication (maybe digoxin?) to help her heart. We were told the hole is between the upper and lower sections, but that doesn’t make sense because they said she has some “mixed blood” in her heart, so if it is between upper and lower it must be at the direct center… which would be similar to Brianna’s. Maybe a partial AV canal? Or else a poorly translated ASD or VSD (also a possibility). She had an echocardiogram done in November that will be available to us. It was also explained to us that one part of the heart muscle is somewhat distended (?) because it is working overtime. We’re not exactly sure what that means.
Lastly, Daria has “crossed eyes” (which we didn’t notice) and nystagmus (eyes go back and forth left to right- which we didn’t notice). So who knows. They also say she is near sighted. I guess n ophthalmologist will figure all that stuff out once we’re home!
After some cuddling with Daria we were brought into a ward to find Daniil. He apparently has “the flu”- again. He was born September 10, 2006 and is 16 months old. His mother is a year or more YOUNGER than me and the father born the same year as Michael. He was tiny at birth, 2k 700g (anyone converting again??), 50cm long. He received a 7 on his initial Apgar after birth. He was also a first child. He was born full term but tiny and was “hypotrophic” (light weight?). He was in the hospital for 1 or 2 months after birth and during that time his parents gave him up and his heart defect was found. It is a relatively small ‘open window’ in the upper part of the heart and it wasn’t seen as needing surgery or affecting circulation.
We are told that Daniil gets sick often and has had “the flu” 9 or 10 times including bronchitis, ear infections, stomach virus, and a strep infection. He’s had many rounds of antibiotics that are “4th generation” (very strong). He too has had vaccines but has just started them. He was diagnosed with Ds at birth upon visual inspection but hasn’t had any genetic testing done.
Daniil is far sighted (supposeably), has difficulty gaining weight (sound familiar?), often has loose stools, and is now on a probiotic and something that sounds like “ferments creeon” for his stomach to get it to digest vitamins and minerals. I don’t know. He gets Calcium, Vit D3, and B group vitamins now too. He has a prescription from a neurologist that is to improve neurological and muscular impulses (sounds odd to me) that is called something that sounds like “pieratsetam”. He also has received massage and PT. Daniil’s current weight is now 6kg and he is 65.5cm long. He army crawls on his stomach and is not yet sitting up.
So… after all of this (slightly overwhelming) information, we now know that Daria is ok, Daniil will be fine, and our family is about to grow by TWO! We have “said yes” to both children, but the orphanage lawyer (actually, a guy that’s about 24 and has a big ego that says we have to do things by the book, and he has the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in law) said we have to visit with the children every day from 10:30-12:00 in order to get the written documents that state we’ve made initial contact. We aren’t sure how MANY days we have to do this before the papers will be signed, but we’ll do it! You don’t really have to talk us into coming to visit these two cuties! Unfortunately each day that the paper isn’t signed is another day we wait. Oh, and he also said that the 10 days is NEVER waived here. So I guess we won’t be getting our hopes up for that even tho the orphanage doctor says she needs immediate treatment…
So, Kristopher and Brianna, I hope you can begin to accept the idea that there will be two babies joining you in the house. Dasha’s name will be Emma Hope and Daniil will be Micah Daniel. So little Emma and Micah will be coming home soon.
Now we can think about fun things like baby clothes and cribs :). I think Micah will be in about a 12 months size (maybe een 6-9 mos) and Emma’s probably in 24 months. Her little feet are SO TINY. I think they might be the same size as Brianna. For that matter, Brianna has probably grown in the 2 weeks since I’ve seen her and it’ll be another 2 weeks or more, so I’m sure she will look so big to me when I finally see her again.
At the moment, knowing that the kids are ok, the orphanage is ok, and that I miss K and B terribly, I am considering coming home for the wait. I may change my mind and end up staying, but I could not have guessed any of this would happen and I’m thinking a short refresher at home would’t be bad. Plus I’m definitely going to need a completely different set of clothes than we brought and another 2 hands to help out in getting us home.
Lastly, here’s a little blessing story. On Saturday Joy, Kevin, Mike and I went for a nice LONG walk and were able to meet up with Charissa, John, and little Ava that they just finished adopting! She is SO ADORABLE, and it was great to have the 6 of us together. When we first met up with Joy and Kevin I’d brought a bag of clothes to them because we’d packed for a size 3t girl and a 3t boy. But here we are with a TINY boy and a TINY girl. So in talking with Joy previously I found out that she is now going to stay during her wait and needed some clothes for her little Caleb. I do believe ours will do the trick! In the same outing after we met up with Charissa, I was given the ONE ITEM that I needed so badly- a hairdryer! So thank you to Charissa and to Valarie who aparantly sent it to her initially :) Mine died soon after arriving in Korosten and blew out our converter at the same time. I've been borrowing one from our host in Kiev, but needed one to go in region today. Blessings :)
Saturday, February 2
Not sure when we'll have Internet access again, but we have enjoyed reading the well wishes and comments and want to thank everyone who has been praying so hard for our family and for little Daria. We cannot wait to meet her and Daniil!
We should be meeting the kids on Monday after arriving in Kramatorsk. I know we are well-covered in prayer and we continue to thank God for the journey He's brought us on and we will thank Him no matter what we find in Kramatorsk. We hope and pray it will be 2 little ones ready to come home with their forever families :)
Friday, February 1
We got our appointment and boy were we surprised! We got referrals for two children, a 5 yr old girl and a 16 month old little boy! We are having a BABY! Daniil (his birth name) is 8 months younger than Brianna. Both children have heart conditions and we don't know how healthy they are. We are so glad to have them both and are looking forward to meeting them on Monday :)
We plan to name the little girl Emma Hope, but you all might know her better as DARIA :) Since both children's conditions are unknown we will wait until we meet them to formally accept their referrals and to know if they are healthy enough to travel home.
So no rearranging the house and buying cribs yet (OKAY MOM???) but we are glad to be able to meet them soon!
Pray for some train tickets, if you will... We aren't able to buy any right now so we need someone to turn theirs back in for a refund in order for seats to open up for the Sunday night train. Otherwise we'll be riding an overnight bus for 11 hours. Not quite so pleasant. But we'll get to meet the kids, and that's the goal!