I'm feeling like an old dish sponge...I've been wrung out a few too many times.
I didn't get Maxim's new birth certificate today. The office was closed. But, in communicating with this office on Saturday, an error, or omission, was found in the court decree. This had to be fixed.
But the court is in Krivoy Rog...and I am in Crimea...
The fixed papers had to be sent to me by bus today. I had to go to the bus terminal, find the correct bus and request the papers. Easy.
The driver wanted a receipt from me. Acted like he didn't know anything. He ignored me. This bus was only stopped for a few minutes and then heading on to another city. I was NOT going to let this bus get away. I made a few calls, no answer. Finally, I called a Ukrainian friend and handed the phone to the driver. I was about to strangle him...block him from closing the door...anything to get what I came for.
Ah...finally he found the envelope WITH MY NAME ON IT...good grief. Funny, I forgot that I had a little package of chocolate for him in my purse. I came very close to causing an ugly incident.
Later on this evening I got a message that my awesome babysitter is sick...like REALLY sick. Not good...what can I do from here? I messaged a few friends to see if anyone could help. Mom came to take sweet Sarah to the doctor and that is all that I know at this point.
Please pray. We all feel like we are under attack. There is no way out, only forward. I've been so blessed on one hand and opposed on the other. It's starting to take a toll on everyone...and I'm not really that close to being done.
Monday, January 28, 2013
I'm feeling like an old dish sponge...I've been wrung out a few too many times.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I am so inept, like a child in this culture. I'm constantly being given opportunities to run blind, in faith that someone will catch me when I fall...and I fall, and fail, all the time.
Tomorrow morning some documents will be put onto a bus (It would have been put on the train, but the train arrives too early in the morning for me to catch.). I need these documents and there is no other way to get them. When it absolutely, positively HAS to be there...it goes on the train (or bus). I will have to find the correct bus from Krivoy Rog and request the papers.
How will I do this?
I do not know.
I must do this.
I'm really ready to be back on my own turf. I'm ready to be in charge again. I'm ready to be the mom. For me, this is the most difficult part of the journey...the absolute helplessness.
I'm getting "in touch" with my helplessness. Like a child.
This trip has completed many circles it seems. I find myself in Simferopol this morning, worshiping with the same group of people that I met and fell in love with two years ago. Only God could have orchestrated this as I am adopting a child from a completely different region of this country.
We are all older, some are taller, some are wiser...some have gone home to The Lord. I'm just feeling very sentimental about the whole experience. Just now a taxi driver dropped off a group of orphans at the church and refused to accept payment. It's enough to bring me to tears.
Why am I in Simferopol? I needed to be in Sevastopol first thing Monday morning to get Maxim's new birth certificate. It is a seven hour drive from Krivoy Rog, so I took the train here on Friday night. It is more convenient for my facilitator to pick me up here than it would be for her to drive to K.R. It is just a relatively short drive to Sevastopol from here. And I have these dear friends. It just worked out this way.
Since I am among friends, it made the news I received this morning a little easier to swallow. I will NOT be getting a new birth certificate tomorrow. The office is closed on Monday. It will be Tuesday morning. Sigh.
Here I am. I will do my best to bloom where I am planted. I have some ideas about what to do tomorrow...more later.
Monday, January 21, 2013
This morning I brought a little snowsuit to try on Maxim. In December, I measured his arms and lets to see if I could find something at the market here that would fit him.
His problem area, and don't we all have one of those, is his poor bloated tummy. 28 inches. I was worried that the suit would fit him everywhere else but the tummy.
Since we were trying out the snowsuit, why not ask to play outside for a bit? Maxim often looks longingly out the window in our visitation hallway. I bet he would love to go outside!
I put my lovely facilitator, Masha, on the phone with the ladies in charge, to do my asking for me. The answer was "yes, but only for 10-15 minutes. We don't want him to get cold."
I had a feeling he might not want to come back inside so I saved our outing for the end of our time. A sweet young nanny thought I needed help in dressing Max, (as if) so we teamed up to stuff him into the suit and put on some fleece lined boots. Then they rolled his wheelchair into the hall for me to use. I won't go into my feelings about the wheelchair now.
I plopped Maxim into the chair and we headed out the side door and down the ramp. We barely zipped the suit up and he sat like an overstuffed animal, unable to even move his arms.
My plan was to roll him around the building, because I really want to know what's back there! But as we headed to the left he started to whine. This was the path to his former home in the building next door. Was he traumatized by the transfer? Did he think I was taking him back?
I turned him around and headed back to where we had come from and parked him in front of a bench. He wasn't happy there either. I needed photos, so I quickly snapped some. Then I picked him up and took him for a little walk. He wasn't happy like that either. I tried putting him down to walk holding my hands. He attempted to sit down on the ground and that is a HUGE no-no here...and so I picked him up again.
Maxim, is whining loudly now and I'm thinking that the whole facility can hear him. I looked at my clock and ten minutes was up, thank goodness! I plopped his stuffed sausage behind into the chair and wheeled him up the ramp and back into the side door.
That's when it happened.
The whining stopped.
The ugly cry started.
I'm talking huge, authentic, sparkling tears hanging on his cute cheeks! And wail, oh he can wail! I had ladies all over us trying to get him out of the suit and happy again. And then I started to cry, too. I must be the very worst, meanest mom ever, in the history of the whole world. I held Max and snuggled him for a bit. Didn't really help.
One of the older ladies stopped in front of us and he practically leapt into her arms. "Paka!" She told him to tell me bye-bye. I walked out of that place with my tail between my legs today. These are the hardest days. He's mine, but not really, yet. Stink.
I'm still wondering if Maxim just didn't want to come inside so soon, or...
...you knows he's pretty bright, don't you?
...part of me wonders if he thought we were leaving that place forever today. I think he understands that will soon happen. I think that is why he was not happy anywhere we went on the grounds of the home. The more I consider, the more I think that he expected to leave with me today.
Soon, little bubs. Soon, I promise.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
One week down...more than two weeks to go. I'm fighting the urge to feel sorry for myself and become inpatient.
When I get this way, I think of how long Maxim waited for me...and how the other children sit...and rock...and wait...and wait...
There is no comparison. My life is easy and blessed. Their lives are marked by continual rejection and the brutal nothingness of orphanage life. So I will wait. And I will thank The Lord. I will continue to share these precious children with you in the hopes that their stories their faces will pierce your heart and you will be moved to action.
In my waiting, I have been blessed. Blessed to serve and blessed to receive hospitality. Tonight I was treated to some sightseeing by a new friend. Her husband drove her all the way across town, and that is a long, long way here, to pick me up and show me the center of the city. We walked in the park, visited an art museum, had a bite to eat and shopped a souvenir shop. I shared photos and stories of my family. She gave me some history lessons and encouragement and praise. Good times!
Here are some photos from this afternoon. Sarah, the crochet art photo is just for you!
Evgeniy and Alexandra, love forever! (or something like that)
Saturday, January 19, 2013
No Visits with Maxim today. :(
I'm nursing a mammoth blood blister on my foot. I don't even want to put on my boots. These boots were fine last time I was here and I did just as much walking then. The blister has gone down a bit from last night so I think I'll be good to go tomorrow. I'll bandage up and head out anyway. I prefer to be more a more disciplined visitor for the sake of my son.
Yesterday was busy and fun. I did two long visits with Maxim. Even though we are still stuck in the hallway outside his grouppa, they added an exam table for us to sit on now! Maxim is warming up to his masked momma, getting a bit more comfortable. I was able to ask the carers some questions last night. I asked if Maxim has a special friend or just another child in the grouppa that he likes to hang out with or play with. Their answer was, "no...his friend is the ball." So there you have it, he prefers to play with balls and doesn't care about other children. We have some real work to do, don't we?
I also visited an orphanage for disabled youngsters, ages 3-7. It was a NICE place. Fancy furniture, fancy toys, well kept. I was told that most of these kids have "parents." In fact, many of the kids were ready to go home for the weekend. Ukraine. One sweet blind girl sniffed me thoroughly when I met her. It is how she distinguishes different people. I know that I smelled like Maxim at that point, I'm wondering if she could tell the difference between him and I if we were to visit her together?!
Later on in the evening, I had a full language immersion experience at a home Bible study. After sharing, praying and studying (I was completely lost most of the time) I learned a new way to play UNO and also learned how to play Dutch Blitz. It was a really fun group of young adults and I had a great time.
While on my way to the bus stop yesterday, I met this woman, Neenah, who claimed to have been robbed. She was standing on the sidewalk praying to God to send her someone to help her. She needed a couple of dollars for bus fare just to get to her home in another village. I only had big bills, so I gave her the equivalent of $6. We both praised God right then and there on the sidewalk!! Pray for Neenah if you think of it. Life is rough here.
It was supposed to be a photo, but my friend had it set it video. Oh well...
Thursday, January 17, 2013
So, when can Maxim come home?
I'm asked this all the time, so here is how it works in Ukraine:
After passing court, being awarded the adoption by a judge, there is a 10 day waiting period. This waiting period applies to all civil matters and is not normally waived, except in certain cities and for a fee...I don't want to get into that! Our court was on the 15th, so the waiting period is over on the 25th.
On the 25th, a stinking Friday, I'll be able to pick up the decree of the court naming me as Maxim's mother. This will be the official date of his adoption. Once I have this decree, actually several official copies, each one tied and glued with red thread, in my hands, I will be able to apply for Maxim's new birth certificate. This must be done in his birth city. This a an all day drive from here. I will likely not get to apply for the new birth certificate, replacing his birth mother's name with mine, until Monday. *sigh*
With a new birth certificate in hand I can travel back to Krivoy Rog (another full day of driving) to apply for Maxim's passport. This has taken five business days for others here...more if bad weather affects transportation. You see the application is done here in the region and the passport is made in Kiev and sent back down here. Bad weather can cost time. See how the little delays add up?
With a passport in my possession, I can take custody of Maxim and travel to Kiev, probably around February 4th if all goes well. He will have an immigration physical and a visa appointment with the US Consulate. Then we can fly home. Can't wait!
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
After landing in Kiev Monday afternoon, I was able to spend some time with some old friends before heading to the train station. We met in this city EXACTLY two and a half years ago...July 15, 2010. Coincidence? I don't think so.
Do yourself a favor and go read their blog: http://letitbetome.blogspot.com/
I ate a wonderful dinner with these great friends at a Crimean restaurant. What could be better than fantastic friends and a plate of plov? Well, I'll tell you what...how about a glass of champagne? A celebrating couple sent a glass of sweet bubbly to everyone in the place!
Here is a chuckle for you...when you think of salad, you think macho, right? Check out the "Salad for real men" on this menu! It's a delicate mix! ROFL!
This is what I get for skipping my morning visit.
In spite of my efforts, I was unable to sleep well last night. Up at 3am, 7pm at home, I could not fall asleep. Not until the morning that is! Me? Jetlagged? Oh yes.
My remedy for this was to just stay in bed all day long. Will that help? Probably not, but that would never happen at home, would it? I took the opportunity to be lazy and rest.
So I missed my morning visit with Maxim. And so I also missed all the friendly faces that I generally see in the daytime. I half expected to be well received after having a successful court hearing yesterday. The night shift didn't even know who I was. Sigh.
I was confronted by a woman in blue scrubs...a nurse? Who knows, but she was trying very hard to communicate something to me...cover my face? USA? Epidemia? Oh, I got it. Due to the flu epidemic in the USA, I am required to buy and wear a facemask when I visit.
I don't blame them, with so many children in such a tight space. For me it's just a pain to go to the pharmacy and buy masks. Minor inconvenience.
Maxim seems to have another syndrome...white coat syndrome. He took one look at me in a mask and started to wimper and reach for any arms but mine. He wanted nothing to do with me tonight. I finally snatched him from the caregiver's arms. My young friend Sasha crawled over to us and closed the grouppa door!
As long as he didn't have to look at me, Maxim was fine. I laid him face down on my lap and patted his back, trying to work out a little gas. Poor sweetie has been very bloated. I made up different tunes for pat-a-cake. He relaxed, passed a surprising amount of air, and nearly fell asleep!
Through a crack in the door I could count 13 children, some in wheelchairs, some on sofas, some on the floor(!!), all watching some TV drama. Soap opera perhaps? The clatter of dishes and the scooting of chairs broke the spell after awhile. The grouppa was preparing for dinner. Maxim started to wimper once again.
Using charades and best please, I asked to feed Maxim. They absolutely would not let me into the grouppa room, but sent out a bowl of food (bread, fish and potatoes) and a cup of kefir for me to feed him. The caretaker demonstrated the proper way to shovel massive bites into his mouth without allowing him to catch a breath. I said thank you, took the spoon and proceeded to give him tiny bites, making sure that his mouth was clear before giving another.
I'm not sure that Maxim appreciated my feeding style, but we both lived and I'm grateful for the experience. Spooning the kefir into his mouth was much more difficult and even more sad. I cannot even describe the way he swallows. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before.
Then it was time to go. I never want to leave him, but it's best for him until he learns to trust me better. I must not miss any more visits.
Now they will be brothers for life.
If you say MACK-sum, this little boy will not know who you are talking to. They way his name is pronounced here is more like Mock-seem. Once he is settled into the family, we will likely give him a nickname that has nothing whatsoever to do with his actual name
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
If you have adopted a child from Krivoy Rog, then you might know what these items are:
If you have not adopted a child from Krivoy Rog, let me tell you:
It's a boy!
My flight to Chicago was packed, as usual. I had plenty of time to make my connection, so I didn't rush to stand up and grab my stuff and stand in the aisle when the plane arrived at the gate. We were 30 minutes late and many of the other passengers had tight connections. I would let them go first.
As I was sitting there a small boy appeared in the aisle from behind my seat. Must have been in the restroom in the back of the plane. He grabbed my arm and gave me a sweet little hug. Surprised, I hugged him back, but have him a funny look. He gave me a "what's wrong with you" look right back.
I mouthed the words "is this boy with you" to the woman standing behind him in the aisle. She said that she thought his mother was a few rows in front of me.
Sure enough, the little guy came to his senses and pushed his way through the standing folks to find his mother.
While waiting for my planeside checked bag, I noticed the boy and his family. The boy and his mom walked up the jetway, while his dad and brother waited for their bags. I stuck up a conversation with the dad and told him the story of mistaken identity. We had a little chuckle. I hope the dad didn't give his son too much crap about it. I thought it was sweet and made my afternoon!
Sunday, January 13, 2013
It is just another Sunday afternoon sitting at the airport. Just had a Great American Bagel. I'm charging my phone and iPad for the last time for the next two days.
I had an interesting time getting checked in. One bag was 65 pounds. I could have paid $400 for that, or repack and redistribute my stuff. I got it down to 51 and the agent let me slide. I was very sorry to have to leave a few precious items behind.
The agent also had a problem with my one-way ticket. He wasn't sure if he could let me fly or if he just needed to give me a warning that the country to which I'm headed may not admit me. He ended up calling an immigration hotline to find the answer...warning. Ok, so I'm warned.
I know that there are some items that I have forgotten to pack, but God willing, I have all the necessary paperwork completed to bring Maxim home with me in a few weeks. It's almost like completing a while new dossier, only with less guidance. The documents are a bit trickier if both parents are not present at the US consulate for the visa appointment.
Packing and document preparation has consumed the last few days of my life, but I cannot forget to mention that Zhen had a birthday!! We had his party last night after Sarah arrived from the airport. He was so funny with his cake and candles! He made the sound of blowing, but without the actual air coming out. Some trick, huh? Ralph and daddy helped him blow out the candles.
He was NOT interested in opening his present after that. He had ice cream and cake on his mind!! So now I have two six year olds until April when I'll have three. Fun times!
The next time you hear from me, I may have a brand new, bouncing 8 year old as well.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
I'm comfortable sharing freely about our adoption of Maxim. In fact, if there are any questions you have, or something I skipped over, leave me a comment. It would be fun to answer questions!
As free as I am, there are some really cool specifics that I just can't share quite yet. I'll be very relieved when I don't have to think so hard about what is safe and beneficial to share and what is not. I'd prefer to just let it all hang out!
I did a little shopping for Max today. I found a really nice coat on clearance at J.C. Penny, when everything at Walmart was MUCH more expensive. I also got some cute jammies and a new outfit for him there. I'm going to grab a few other pants and shirts from Theo's drawer and call it good.
I was able to chat with our pediatrician today about how to handle Max's health issues for the 4-5 days he'll be with me before we get home. I went out and bought the supplies that she recommended. More about that after court.
I'm getting closer to feeling prepared for this trip. I have an IEP in ten minutes and another one in the morning. After those are done, I'll be in a much better frame of mind.
Maxim, I'll be back soon!!
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I'm leaving in four days! Wow!
I'm terrible at preparing for a trip. I would like to be one of those people who makes lists and packs things up ahead of time. I shouldn't be so hard on myself...I don't have everything I need to pack yet!
I still need to assemble a traveling wardrobe for Maxim. Yikes! I have his measurements but I can't really remember how big he feels...every piece of clothing I pick up looks "wrong." So I thought I would measure Theo and compare. Max is about the same height, same arm length, but significantly bigger around the chest and tummy.
The tummy. It's my greatest concern, clothing-wise and health-wise. I'm really reluctant to spend $25 on a coat for him only to find I can't zip it up over his big belly. I have to show up with a coat, tho', or they won't let us out the door!
So, I have these planning issues looming. So what do I do? I obsess over a huge ink spot in the carpet. I need something to obsess over to help me avoid planning and packing, right?
I'll be cleaning the carpets if you need me...
Monday, January 7, 2013
As frustrating as Maxim's paperwork issues were in country, I was never worried or bent out of shape over them. I went through a period of time early in this adoption where I felt like I was in complete control of matters. I soon learned, painfully I might add, that I was nowhere near having any sort of control.
Once I gave up that illusion of control, things did not go easier. I still encountered road blocks, insane paperwork issues and then, ultimately, Maxim's paperwork problems. The road didn't get smoother, but my ability to cope with the potholes increased.
So now, I'm facing a longer than expected 2nd trip. I've not had a favorable court hearing. My family is not particularly happy with me. But I'm coping. And I'm looking for silver linings. There must be something good to come out of this, right?
I'm actually still very excited about the people I was blessed to meet in Maxim's city last month. I will share more about them here as I have an opportunity to organize my thoughts. Since my 2nd trip will likely be longer, I'll have more time to connect with these new facilities and new friends. Much more good could come out of this.
Here is one really special person I'll call "Sam." He is heavy on my heart. Dare I say that God has asked me to help him find a family? I'm afraid to say it, because I'm afraid I'll fail him. I know I have no control.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
I've not been doing a very good job of journaling our adoption journey for Maxim. I'll just do a little recap...
At my appointment with the national adoption authority a mistake was uncovered in Maxim's file. Considering how carefully this agency checks and rechecks every single letter of every single document, this error was very surprising. The only logical explanation, in my mind, is that no one ever really looked at his file...no one ever thought he would be wanted.
I picked up the referral paperwork and set out to meet little Max. He is a fantastic kid! He is a tiny fellow for his age, and he has obvious health problems, but he is sweet and fun and SMART! I was able to teach him to perform pat-a-cake already. Zhen and Theo can't even do that yet!
In a perfect Ukrainian adoption scenario, I would meet Max and have a court date about a week or a week and a half later. This would have been the case if not for the mistake in his file. Fixing this mistake involved a trip to his birth city and lots of driving back and forth from the court house to the social worker to the baby orphanage and over and over...and a last minute expedition fee. Yuk.
Legal papers aren't legal in Ukraine until the 5th day. The signatures that we needed to schedule court would not be given for an additional 10 days. This little mistake cost me two whole weeks. I decided not to wait it out and return home as I had originally planned.
Being in Ukraine isn't just as easy as hopping on a plane. I've got nine children at home that need attention and a husband that travels way too much. I had the first trip covered thinking that I would have court before coming home. This would have made the second trip a short and sweet one since I would spend the legal 10 day waiting period at home.
Now, I'm headed back for court in a couple of weeks. I'll be spending the waiting period there, then applying for a passport for Max, and a new birth certificate, and a visa to come to the USA. This trip could be three weeks long. I am happy to report that we have great childcare in place for this second trip. More about that later.
As much as I will miss my crew at home, I'm excited to spend so much more time with Maxim before I bring him home. He needs to get to know and trust me better before I remove him from his comfort zone. He is well liked and has many friends. I believe that he will mourn this loss. He cannot know that this adoption is for his ultimate benefit. He cannot know that he would have otherwise been transferred to a place that is not so cozy and friendly. I'm preparing for a tough transition.
Along with my continuing visits and bonding with Maxim, I'm excited to have the opportunity to visit children in other facilities in the city...dorms, orphanages, and handicapped facilities. I hope to bring some good cheer and a message of hope with me as I tag along with the folks from True Hope Ukraine. Check out their ministry video:
I'm packing a bag of donations to bring with me. I'd like to bring vitamins, postcards, and other small items. I'm waiting on a list of specific items, but if you would like to participate by sending items or making a donation to cover the cost of checking an extra suitcase ($100) or purchasing small gifts, please email me at email@example.com.
I have two specific project requests:
1. I need pen pal families for some of the children I meet. I would love for your children to write letters monthly, but I need the family to make the commitment. These children have been repeatedly let down by the people in their lives and we handle their hearts carefully. Letters will be translated and delivered monthly. Email ProjectTLC@cox.net if you are interested.
|"Samuel" would love to have a pen pal...but he really needs a family to believe in him.|
|Some of the bigger boys at a Christmas performance. These kids are incredibly sweet!|