Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update Coming Soon!

Sorry for being so quiet lately.  I'm working on a post about our trip home and the first few days.  Everything is going so well.  In fact, I keep waiting for things to fall apart because this just seems too easy.  Don't get me wrong, I am busy (but I was busy before), and there are a few things we are working on, but they are fairly minor and I know we will get through them.  I feel like Dasha was a diamond in the rough.  We are watching her come alive since we've been home.  She is learning so much and trying so many new things.  She is the sweetest child and I feel like we won the lottery.  One quick story...tonight we were in her room putting on her pajamas and she said to me "Brush teeth."  I had to ask her to repeat it because, at first, I thought she was speaking Russian; I was not expecting English.  I couldn't believe she said that because I hadn't said anything about brushing teeth up to this point!!  Until tonight, she only said "Mama hold", "open", "close", "on",  and "off".  We were so proud to hear her say this short phrase and she knew it!  She had a huge smile on her face and was giggling like she knew she had done something great.  What a smarty pants!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 30 Survival Mode

I just had a LONG post written all about our day and now it's gone.  To make a long story short, we got Dasha's visa and we are leaving in the morning!  It happened at the last possible second, but it happened, which is all that matters right now. Thanks for praying!

Dasha threw up again today in the car so I'm a little worried about the plane ride.  Also, I learned today that the girl needs her nap.  It was seriously bad at the Embassy when she missed it this afternoon.  Please pray that we have a safe and easy flight home tomorrow and that Dasha can handle all these scary things that are happening to her.  She's doing okay during the day but is having nightmares every night. 

Goodnight from Ukraine for the very last time!!  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 29 Back to Kiev

Our train ride last night went fine.  Dasha was a little scared once the train started moving and when I tried to shut the cabin door, she freaked out.  I ended up leaving the door open until she feel asleep.  She slept all night and woke up with smiles just in time to get dressed and meet Eugene, our driver.  We met up with Mary and Polina at the train station (they were on our train but we didn't see them) and the craziness started.  The girls act SO differently when they are together and their behavior is not the easiest to control.  The first stop was the US Embassy to drop off all my paperwork and pay for Dasha's visa.  The lady that helped me was so nice and friendly and I was so appreciative.  I had left some things blank on a few of my forms and she said she would fill it all in for me.  After the Embassy, we had to take the girls for their medical appointments.  This appointment is required for the visa.  As we rode to the medicals, Dasha threw up all over herself.  Luckily we had a bag within reach and were able to catch most of it, but I don't think our driver was too happy about it.  Once it was out of her she seemed much better, so I'm hoping she's not getting sick.  Dasha's medical appointment was horrible.  The doctor was completely uninformed and a total witch.  I walked out of the appointment crying and feeling so disgusted that I can't even put it into words.  I also left there very thankful for the wonderful doctors we are going to see when we get back home.  After that debacle, our driver took us to our apartment. I am not a fan of the new place, but I know it's only for 2 days so I'll survive.  It's on the 15th floor and I don't like elevators, plus it's about a 15 minutes walk to any restaurant.  That would be fine if it were just me, but it's not. 
Tonight Dasha and I walked to TGI Friday's for dinner.  There were about 8 or 9 Reece's Rainbow families who had planned to meet up.  Although the food there is bad (and that's putting it mildly) it was really nice to meet so many other familes and spend some time visiting with them.  Dasha was an absolute angel the entire 2 hours we were there.  She sat quietly and colored while she ate her chicken.  :)  Luckily Nico was dropping off some phones for some of the families and we were able to catch a ride home with him and avoid the long walk. 

Our 2nd Embassy appointment is tomorrow at 2 pm.  Please say a prayer for both Mary and me that they are able to get us the girls' visas.  Apparently they sometimes have trouble with their system.  If we don't get them tomorrow, we'll have to stay until at least next Tuesday and right now I'm not sure I can do that.

Sorry for no pictures tonight.  I'm too lazy/tired to upload them.  Hopefully I'll do it tomorrow and add them to the post.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 28 So Far, So Good

Last night I set my alarm for 8:00 just in case Dasha slept late.  Ha!  I would not have needed to bother with that because she was up at 5:45 am!!!  That was a bit early for me, but I dragged myself out of bed and got her some breakfast. We spent the first few hours of the morning packing up the apartment and getting ready to leave.  When that was pretty much done, we walked over to the open market to buy her a pair of crib shoes.  At the baby house, the kids are never allowed to go barefoot or be in just socks.  They have outdoor shoes and then they have a pair of inside shoes that are more like slippers.  We found her something very similar to what she had at the baby house and she seemed happy with them.  After that, we went to lunch at the Ukrainian buffet.  There was hardly anybody there and they didn't have their full selection ready yet.  I couldn't figure out why until I realized it was only 10:45 am!  I thought it was 11:45 and it sure felt like it should have been.  We went ahead and got lunch because we ate breakfast so early that I figured she would be hungry and she was; she ate great!  After lunch we walked around and found a park.  It took Dasha at least 20 minutes of watching the other kids and assessing the scene until she felt comfortable playing.  When she finally did, she went down the slide over and over until it was time to leave.  There were lots of kids there with motorized ride-on toys and bikes or tricycles.  She tried climbing on one and started to take off until I grabbed her.  She's going to love the Powerwheels jeep at home!  When we got home I told her it was time for a nap (in Russian) and she went straight to the bed and layed down, but wanted me to stay with her.  I layed beside her with my hand barely touching her arm and she feel asleep quickly.  She's still napping right now.  When she wakes up we're going to walk to the store and pick up some snacks for our train ride tonight.  I don't know how great my internet connection will be in Kiev, but I will do my best to post an update after the Embassy tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 27 Happy Birthday/Gotcha Day!!!

Today has been one of the happiest days of my life, but I am so tired.  I have so much I want to write, but some of it might have to wait because I don't think I can do it all tonight.  Things could not have gone better today.  Everything fell into place and went off without a hitch.  We started the day at 7:45 am and headed to the courthouse to pick up the court decree and copies.  Then onto the baby house to deliver one of the court decree copies and pick up Dasha's original birth certificate.  While we were there, Sasha saw Dasha and wished her a happy birthday.  The orphange staff didn't even know today was her birthday.  :(  As we were pulling away, I saw her in the parking lot and yelled out the window, "Happy birthday, Dasha.  I'm coming back for you today!!"  She was waving at me.  Next we went to Kramatorsk, the city where Dasha was born.  It's about 1.5-2 hours north of Donetsk.  We needed to have her birth certificate changed to her new name and have us listed as her parents.  This typically takes at least an hour, often longer.  Today we got it done in about 20 minutes.  Then it was back to Donetsk to notarize some paperwork and get her passport (again, thank you God for the one day passport!!).  Next was the bank where we closed her account.  Finally, we arrived at the baby house and picked her up!!  I had to give them clothes to dress her in and they brought her to me dressed and ready to leave.  We were in the director's office and she walked in and sat on my lap.  She started to wimper and looked like she was going to cry as everyone was telling her she was leaving, but she never did start crying.  Sasha helped her into the car and there were no problems.  She sat next to me the entire ride and looked out the window. As soon as we got back to the apartment, she started exploring everything she could find.  I had packed over the weekend and she completely unpacked me.  :)  After Skyping with her brothers, we went to McDonald's for dinner and then stopped by the supermarket for some bananas and yogurt for breakfast.  When we got home, I gave her a very good scrubbing in the bathtub and she loved it.  We even washed her hair!  At first she didn't want to sit down, but eventually she did, although not for long.  I gave her a cup and she had fun dumping water on herself.  She brushed her teeth about 6 times tonight and I think she would have eaten the toothpaste had I let her.  I let her watch 10 minutes of a Baby Einstein dvd before bed and then it was lights out.  It took her about 2 minutes to fall asleep and I discovered she sucks her thumb.  So sweet!  I truly couldn't have asked for a better day or a smoother transition tonight.  Dasha is so adaptable and really just goes with the flow.  I feel like I have won the lottery and I am so very grateful for this little girl.  Today the orphanage director told me that people here don't understand why, when we have 3 healthy biological children, we would come to Ukraine and adopt a child like Dasha.  I am so sad for people who would feel this way.  They are really missing out on something special.  For us, Dasha is the realization of a dream.  She is the answer to so many prayers.  Even though she was born in Ukraine, she was made for our family and we would have traveled to the ends of the Earth to get her.  We are so blessed!!

From left to right-assistant director, head teacher, me and Dasha, director



In the car...kind of nervous, but not crying

She turned every light switch on and off about 100 times (at least).

Trying to pull the stickers off the TV.

Opening her birthday present.  She had no idea what a present was or what to do with it.

4th Birthday dinner at McDonald's.  She had chicken nuggets and liked them!



In her new pajamas after her bath.  She wouldn't take off her hat or shoes.

Watching Baby Einstein before bed

Sound asleep...the most adorable thing in the world if you ask me.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Days 25 & 26 My Last Weekend in Ukraine (hopefully)

Our 10 day wait ended Friday night, so Dasha is officially ours!  I learned something about the 10 day wait since I've been here.  Initially I thought it was imposed to allow the adoption to be contested by the child's biological family members.  Our facilitator told us that's not what it's for, instead it's a time to allow the adoptive parents to change their minds.  At any point duing the 10 days we could have backed out of the adoption and said we didn't want to proceed.  Once you do this, you are pretty much banned from adopting from Ukraine ever again.  We obviously had no intention of calling it off, but most regions do not waive the 10 days.

This weekend was spent preparing to leave!  I did some laundry, started packing my suitcase, and got everything ready for tomorrow.  I also spent a lot of time working on Embassy paperwork.  I'm scared I'm going to fill it out wrong, but I want to try and have as much of it as I can done up ahead of time to make things go quicker.  I really don't want to be sitting there filling out all these forms with Dasha.  I'm sure she'll get bored waiting and it will be difficult for me to concentrate.

Polina's mama, Mary, is back in Donetsk and we spent some time together this weekend.  It was so nice to have English speaking company. :)  We should both be leaving for Kiev on Tuesday night and we have Embassy appointments at the same time on Wednesday morning.  It will be nice for Dasha and Polina to be together for many of the new things they will experience this week.

Well, I'm off to sleep.  It's going to be a long day tomorrow.  Check back tomorrow for pictures of Gotcha Day!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 23 The End is Near

Sorry about not writing anything yesterday and being so late today.  Yesterday wasn't my best day and I didn't have it in me.   I just wrote a belated post with some pictures and video.

My visit today was really, really good.  Maybe the best one yet.  I'm wondering if the break over the weekend set us back and maybe Dasha needed to warm up to me again.  Maybe that's why she seemed a little off earlier in the week.  She was so happy today and we had a great time together.  We're both pretty much done with the stuff I brought to play with, so we didn't even bother to get it out today.  She ate her snack and I took pictures of the playground so she would have them to remember.  Then the rest of the visit we just acted completely silly.  We made silly sounds and silly faces, I tickled and chased her, she chased me.  We laughed and goofed around...it was fun.  She is still wanting to be carried and held quite a bit and I don't mind at all.  She even layed her head on my shoulder while I was walking with her today.  She's such a sweetie!  The visit passed by very quickly today and at the end she did not want to go back with the groupa and was pulling me by the hand to the playground that is farthest away from the orphanage building.  The past few days I have noticed that she has definitely been distancing herself from the other kids. 

I learned that tomorrow will be my last visit with Dasha!  YAY!!!  Early Monday morning, my facilitator will pick me up and we will begin a full day of running all over the place gathering all the documents we need to complete the adoption.  We will travel to Dasha's birth city to get her a new birth certificate, we'll get her passport, and we'll close out her bank account (all orphans have a government issued bank account).  If everything goes according to plan, we will end the day by signing Dasha out of the orphanage FOREVER!!!  And guess what?  Monday is her 4th birthday!!  I can't think of a better way to spend the day than starting her new life with her new family.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 22 A Better Day

The visit today was fine and Dasha seemed a bit more upbeat and happy.  To be honest, I'm tired of these daily visits and I'm so ready to finish this up and get out of here with her.  Hopefully soon.  I don't really have much to write about today.  The only noteworthy part of the visit was when we walked over to Sergei's car and sat with her in the front and back seats.  We were in each for less than 30 seconds and she wanted out.  She is very scared of the car so Tuesday should be an interesting day.

Going through my purse...a favorite daily activity

Love the big bow!

I love it when she talks.  She's doing it more and more around me and it's just so darn cute.

Today has been a blah day.  I have a bad headache, I'm tired (no clue why since I'm not doing anything), and I want to go home.  I took a walk this evening just to get out for a bit and move around.  It's no fun walking because my clothes are all too big on me now and I'm constantly tugging at my pants to keep them up.  I'm sure I look like an idiot wearing these baggy clothes compared to all the women here in their skin-tight stuff, but it's all I have. Ugh...I want to go home (did I mention that?).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day 21

The sun was finally shining today so we had our visit outside!  It was nice to return to our usual little red table on the playground.  Dasha was probably the most mellow she's ever been today.  She was very, very low key and barely spoke.  In fact, she didn't even move around much.  I carried her quite a bit and she watched the other kids play and the construction workers move sand.  I don't know if she's not feeling well or if reality has hit.  Today as we were walking, I told her, "Mama, Dasha, machina (car), paka (bye-bye)" and I pointed to the gates of the baby house.  I asked her "Da?", but she just looked at me.  I tried to get her to walk over to Sergei's car, but she shook her head and said, "Nyet!".  I think maybe she thought we were leaving today.  Poor little thing.  This is her world and we're taking her from it and I know she's scared.  My hope is that she will find a tiny bit of comfort in being familiar with me, but sometimes I don't think even that's going to be much help.

I really didn't take many pictures today because I was pretty much holding Dasha the entire time.  About 20 minutes before the visit ended, one of the nannies set up a big bucket filled with water on the playground picnic table.  She had little wind-up fish with magnets and fishing poles with magnetic hooks.  The kids were brought over in pairs to take a turn fishing.  It was so cute and they were really having fun.  Dasha liked it so much she invited herself to join and didn't leave, which was fine with me since I had been carrying her and my arms needed a break.  The caretakers at this orphanage do an excellent job teaching the children and providing them with great developmental activities.  This fishing game was a wonderful activity for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.



She found my glasses in my purse.


These two nannies are so patient and kind with the children.





Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 20 A Rainy Monday

My driver overslept this morning and was almost an hour late picking me up, so I had a shorter than usual visit with Dasha today.  It was raining again this morning and we played inside  When I arrived, Dasha was wearing a blue dress that was way too small.  As soon as they saw me, they grabbed her and took her to change her clothes.  They then led us to the offical visiting room.  I know several of you are quite familiar with this room, but today was the first time we had a full visit in this area.  It took Dasha a few minutes to warm up to me, but it's definitely happening much faster each day.  It was a good visit and we did the usual snack, bubbles, going through my purse routine.  Today she brought me the picture album to look through.  She also used the words "off", "on", and "up" all by herself without me telling her to say them.  :)  There is a set of large vinyl blocks in the visiting room and we played with those for a long time.  I'm not sure we were supposed to, since they were on shelves with sheets covering them, but nobody saw us so we were fine.  Dasha's favorite is being chased, picked up, and tickled and we did a lot of that, too.  That wears me out!  :)  We had a very bizarro ending to the visit that involved the orphange director and staff, but I'll spare you the details because it's really impossible to make sense of this craziness.  Only 5 visits left and then she's out of there!

The little monkey with her daily banana

 She loves playing with my Nook (and when I say "playing" I mean pushing every button she can find and rearranging all my books!).

 This is my little portable fan.  We needed it today.  It was hot in that room!

Today they didn't have her hair in any sort of pigtail or bow.  Her hair is really pretty.  It has lots of natural body to it, especially in the back. 


We spent a lot of time rolling these circles across the room.  She loved that.


One of the stairwells is decorated with pictures of Elton John's visit to this baby house in 2009.  He  wanted to adopt the little boy in this picture but wasn't able to because of Ukrainian law.

I found this picture today and thought it was cute.  Dasha is third from the left in the front row.  Kris and Molly, I think you might recognize a couple other little faces.  :)  Sorry it's not the greatest picture, but I had to turn the flash off so it's a little dark.

It poured all afternoon but finally stopped long enough this evening that I was able to go out for a walk.  I need to buy Dasha a pair of shoes and I found a children's store with sandals that were $350!  I still can't get over that somebody would pay that much for a pair of kids shoes!  I'm going to check out the open market tomorrow but if any of you have suggestions on where I can get reasonably priced shoes, please let me know.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 119 (at least that's what it feels like)

Man it feels like I've been here a long time!  The past 48 hours have crept by very, very slowly.  It certainly doesn't help that I lost my internet connection in my apartment yesterday.  I think it's a problem with the server, so who knows when/if it will be fixed.  I am currently sitting at my favorite Ukrainian buffet using their wi-fi.  There have been very severe thunderstorms here the past day and a half so I had to wait for a break in the rain to go outside.  While walking to the restaurant, I noticed that this city does not have any drainage system to get rid of the rain water (that I could see) so there are small ponds everywhere you look.  I hope it's done raining for awhile. 

I think I get to visit Dasha tomorrow, which is VERY good news.  My facilitator called but our connection was bad (imagine that) and I could barely hear her.  I'm pretty sure she said I could go tomorrow, but I'll double-check with her tonight.  Right now I'm enjoying the prospect of having something to do tomorrow and I don't want to ruin that happy thought.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 17 Best Day Yet!

I had the BEST time with Dasha today!!  Before I start the recap, I just have to say that I love this little girl so much already!  She is the sweetest, dearest little thing and I feel sooooooo lucky she's ours.  Now on to our morning.  It was raining when I arrived so we couldn't play outside like we usually do.  Except for our very first meeting, we've played outside every single day so being indoors was an interesting change.  At first the nanny was going to let us stay in the playroom and I was excited about that, but then she changed her mind and put us in the dressing room with the cubbies.   It was hot and dark in there but we made the most of it.  Dasha was in a really happy mood today and we laughed and smiled a lot.  She was also very clingy to me and wanted me to hold her and carry her.  She had her arms wrapped around my neck and I was able to snuggle her and give her some kisses.  It was sweet and I could tell she liked it.  At one point, she even called me mama when she wanted me to get something off a shelf for her.  This was a first.  My cell phone was out of money so it wasn't working.  I let her play around with it and she tried calling Norm and was saying "Papa" into the phone.  I feel like she's slowly beginning to understand me sometimes.  She remembers the words "open" and "on" and can say them and I'm sure she understands "off" and "smile".  One thing I find really interesting is that she doesn't want to look at the photo album I made anymore.  It has pictures of the boys, our house, car, pool, playground, playroom, her room, etc. and the first week or so she looked at it several times daily.  Now if I get it out she usually closes it up and puts it away.  I think she understands what it's all about and either is fine with it or finds it scary and doesn't want to think about it.  Wish I knew which it was.

Drinking my lemonade

Happy girl

We joined the groupa for snack time.  It was so interesting to me that they gave the kids oranges.  We were told we could not bring her oranges and I know a lot of adoptive families have been told their child was allergic to oranges.  That's Alex from RR sitting next to her.  He is absolutely the most adorable little boy and he smiles ALL THE TIME. 

The nanny told her to share an orange slice and bite of applesauce with me.  The applesauce was so yummy!  It tasted homemade.

She found this on top of the cubbies and claimed it as hers. 

This is their little bathroom.  Each child has a hand towel hanging on a numbered hook.  The thing above her head is their toothbrush and comb holder.  Each pocket is numbered and she knows which one is hers.

We snuck into the playroom for a few minutes and she joined one of the little ones playing with the stacking rings.

Mama and Dasha wearing our sunglasses.  :)

She was having fun washing her sunglasses and then drying them.  This girl is into being clean!


Trying to call Daddy (Papa)


There's a slight chance I will be able to visit on Monday even though it's a holiday.  My facilitator hasn't talked to the orphanage about it yet, so I'm hoping they say it's okay for me to come.  Three days is a long time to go without seeing her.  :(  In the meantime, I'll just be hanging out at the apartment with my new BFF, Youtube.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 16 Just an Ordinary Day

This morning when I stepped out of our apartment building I was suprised by how cool it was outside.  It was also very overcast and looked like it could rain.  Except for the afternoon we arrived, it was the first time the sun wasn't shining brightly.  I am enjoying the ride to and from the baby house each day.  Sergei and I briefly chat for a minute as best we can and then I sit back and look out the window and take in the sights of the city.  I've driven to Makiivka enough times now that I almost think I know the way!

The groupa was outside playing when we arrived.  I schlepped upstairs to the third floor to sign in and I waited, and waited, and waited for someone to see me to ask for "the book."  I am supposed to wait in the stairwell and am not allowed to enter the actual building (we were yelled at for having one foot inside the hallway the other day).  I am finding myself increasingly frustrated with the weirdness at the baby house.  The top-secret feel is extremely suspicious to me.  It's all very strange.  I don't want to be negative, so I'll leave it at that.

Dasha and I had another really good day.  Before I left the apartment this morning, I looked around for anything I thought she might like to play with.  The toys we brought from home lost their appeal long ago and we needed something new.  I ended up throwing a mini battery-operated fan and a hairbrush compact in my bag.  She especially liked the little fan and played with it a long time.  I also brought her a pair of sunglasses.  She really loved these and wore them for most of the visit (she only took them off to look at pictures of herself on the camera).  There was no running over to the groupa at all today, which made me happy.  There were five or six young Ukrianian woman visiting the baby house and they were playing with the groupa and swinging the kids around and having fun with them.  I was kind of surprised that Dasha wasn't more interested in the visitors, but she seemed content to hang out with me.  One of the nannies called her over to change her dress (and I was so glad because the one she was wearing was about 2 sizes too small) and as soon as she got the new one on, she lead me back over to our area.  No hanging around the other playground even for a minute!  Tomorrow is the last visit for a few days.  I won't see her over the weekend and Monday is a holiday here and I can't visit.  It's going to make for a LONG few days for me but when I return on Tuesday we will start the countdown to get her out of that place!

Such a sweetie!

More lip gloss, of course

Brushing her hair.  She also likes to file her nails...such a girl and I LOVE it!

Reapplying her lip gloss

She is holding the cardboard backing to a pack of stickers.  She had it when I arrived and would not let it out of her sight.  I have seen several of the kids carrying around what looks like trash to me, but to them it's a valuable possession and probably the only thing that's "theirs" (until the nannies make them throw it away).
 


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