Sunday, February 21, 2010

Relaxing on the weekend

We arrived in Kiev yesterday morning by train. It was a long day on Friday and a long night. More paperwork to do at the orphanage and the notary, and a lot of time sitting and waiting, but we were able to get both passports and make the train, which was the important part. Also had dinner (at McDonalds - again!) with my friend Oleg and his parents. I had plans to go to a nice cafe somewhere and have a relaxing dinner but we just ran out of time, and McDonalds is close the the train station and it's fast.

Oleg has been very helpful over the last 2-3 years, and it was good to see him again. He runs an awesome ministry in Kharkov that works with the older kids who are ageing out of the orphanages, teaching them life skills and trying to give them some preparation for the future. The girls adore him. He is an incredible guy, and his dedication to helping orphans is all the more remarkable because he is physically handicapped. It's very difficult to get around here in a wheelchair! We had a hard time getting him into the McDonalds for dinner. The economy here is very bad, like everywhere, and he was sharing that he is struggling to find enough funds to continue his work. He makes a living as a translator for businesses and funds the ministry largely himself, but his business is slow right now. He says the up side of that is he has more time for ministry, but less funds to run it. He is looking for Christians to partner financially with him so he can continue helping kids. So if anyone is interested, let me know and I'll give you more information.

The train was ok, it was one of the older slower ones. I mentioned the other day that Vika was not feeling well during the drive back into Kharkov and I thought it was just nerves and stress. Turns our she may have a little trouble with motion sickness. She was sick on the back back and forth to town on Friday and again on the train Friday night. (We were up until midnight with her) It's not a virus as she is fine the rest of the time. So when we go see the doctor tomorrow we will ask him about some medicine for the plane. Could be a very long day!!

So we were all exhausted when we arrived back in Kiev yesterday so we have been taking it easy watching TV and listening to "musica". We have also been having some fun. We are staying with some friends of Halya and they took us ice skating yesterday and today to see a live children's musical called Chipolina - or Onion. Think Veggie Tales Russian style. It was cute and fun. I actually managed to get around the skating rink twice, holding onto the wall the entire way. Really large rink, about twice the size of the roller rink back home. This afternoon it snowed and the girls and I went for a walk to the "magazine" or convenience store, and bought some gum and snacks.

Well, tomorrow we are off to the embassy to submit our paperwork and then to get the medicals for the girls. Another day of walking in Kiev. I'll have to write about walking on the ice again sometime. Suffice it to say that it is very difficult and I wish I had invested in better boots. The ones I have keep my feet warm - as long as I don't step in the water - but they have really bad traction. I have fallen three times but my angels are working overtime and so far not even a bruise.

Thanks for all they prayers and the emails. Things are going so well and it's such a relief to be almost done!!

Love to you all!


Friday, February 19, 2010


Good Morning!

They call it "Gotcha Day" the day you actually take your kids out of the orphanage to go home. That's what yesterday was for us!! And what a wild ride it has been!

Wednesday was easy, running a few errands in Kiev and then even time for a nap and working remotely online for a while. A nice day of rest, which I really needed!

We arrived via train in Kharkov at 6:30 am on Thursday, had breakfast at the McDonalds by the train station, and were to the passport office by 9:00. By 10:30 we had applied for Irra's passport and they promised to have it for us today!! It was so fast as to be almost unbelievable. Here we've been working on getting this crazy passport since early December and Halya works in out in less than one ane a half hours! She's wonderful!

Then we picked up the inspector from Child Services and went to the orpahange. The director greated me with a hug bear hug. He wounldn't let me go! He had been expecting us, and was really really happy I was there. The inspector gave him the paperw I needed to sign to take custody of the girls, and he made a big show of kissing them. He said they had been in the middle of a visit by the local authorities and they had to hide the girls, since they were not really supposed to be there. Having me finally take them is a big item off his plate!

The girls however, were not expecting us yesterday and were a little shocked that they were leaving - right then. It took a while to get them packed and all the good byes said. It was really difficult to say good bye to Tonya. I pulled her aside and told her that we loved her and that God loved her and we would keep praying for her. She said that she wanted us to know that she had chosen not to come only because she was afraid and not because she didn't like us. I understand perfectly and told her that. It was a huge step for all of us yestday and a little scary for both the girls and me. Halya asked me on the way home "can you believe it, they are finally yours" and I had to say no, that it was still hard to believe. It still seems unreal. This is the beginning of end of the adoption, and the beginning of a new life for our entire family!

By then it was almost dark and remember that there is snow on the ground and the roads are slippery. We managed go get back to the main roads with only a little trouble. We had 6 people piled into a car that seats 5 and the roads were really bumpy. Vika got a little overwhelmed by the excitement and the motion of the car (and for some reason she never had lunch, never did find out why) so we had to pull over twice for her to get some fresh air. We finally made it back to McDonalds and had dinner. Why is it that I never eat McDonalds in the US but always in Ukraine? :) We then tried three different hotels before finding one in downtown Kharkov and getting settled about 9:00. It was so nice to be able to clean up and get some sleep!!

Vika is rooming with Halya and Irra is with me this morning. She's watching Joyce Meyers on TV while I type this - a good sign!

I was a little startled at what they girls packed. Very few clothes, Irra only brought the boots she was wearing and a pair of flip flops for shoes. They brought a few stuffed animals and other personal things, and a few clothes, but they easliy fit into the suitcase I left for them in September. I'll have room to put some of my stuff in with theirs and condense the amount of carry on luggage we have. It's sad that their entire lives fit into that suitcase with room to spare...

Got to run. We have to go back to the orphanage for a little more paperwork, then to get the passports, and I'm going to try to reach my friend Oleg and maybe we can see him today. Then the train back to Kiev tonight.

Hey, Beth and Mary, where is the Ukrainian Bible Society that you told me about? Irra has a Bible in Ukrainian but I want one for Vika before we go. We visited a bookstore on Wed and I got them a couple of books to help learn English but couldn't find a Bible suitable for teens.

Thanks so much for everyone's prayers and support. I can't wait to get home and introduce you to our daughters!!

God is SOOO Good - All The Time, God is Good!!


Sheri, Irra and Vika

PS - Laurie and Erika, the girls loved the video you sent!!

Arrival in Ukraine - Feb. 17, 2010

I arrived last night about 5:00 pm after an uneventful day of flights. It's cold here for a Florida girl, about 20 or so. There is about a foot of snow on the ground, which i knew there would be, but still, it's a little startling for someone who hasn't seen snow in over 10 years! The sidewalks are hazadarous in dry weather, but covered with snow they're really a challenge. No one here has the concept of shoveling their sidewalks, to put it mildly!

Halya met me at the airport and I liked her instantly. She told me she was pleasantly suprised that I didn't have much luggage, two large carry on bags, but that made her happy. I really tried to keep the luggage to a minimum as know from experience how hard it is to get around here with too much stuff. We don't think of such things in the US, since we always just shove our stuff in the back of the car, but when you have to haul it on buses and subways and trains it become another matter all together.

She had great news for me - she spoke to another facilitator who is working with a spanish couple in Kharkov and that person said they just obtained two of the old style passports in 3 days for their children! They paid $1,500 for two passports, (ouch!)but I was expecting something along those lines anyway. So we have proof that the passports are available. Halya is hopefull that we can get the passport in a day or two, which is like a dream!

We stayed last night with her friends here in Kiev. Very nice couple with four children, three sons away at school in Poland (they are from there) and an adorable 13 year old daughter. It's the first time I've been in the home of an average Ukrainian family. They live on the 4th floor of a highrise somewhere in Kiev (one bus ride and two metros away from the airport, I couldn't find it again if my life depended on it) and it's very nice. They have been very friendly and served us fried potatoes and pork for dinner last night. And they have hot water! We'll go to Music Mission Kiev this morning and run some other errands, then tonight we take the overnight train to Kharkov to see the girls. I can't wait to see them again!

Off to brave the snow and ice. You guys have a great day!!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Didn't realize this marathon was going to be so long!

Well, we knew this was a marathon, not a sprint, but boy, I never dreamed it would be such a long one with so many hurdles! We were planning for Sheri to be back in Ukraine by now, but here I sit in sunny Florida.

Edward went to the passport agency in Kharkov as planned this week and asked them if he could please apply for Irra's passport on my behalf. He had all the proper documents giving him authorization. The advantage of this would be that I spend the 10 business day waiting period here in sunny Florida. However, the passport agency said no, I have to be there, in person. This does make me very happy, but I guess I'll live. It's a beautiful country, but not in the dead of winter.

Then, and much worse, they told him that the passport agency in Kiev is not even accepting applications for international passports at this time! Evidently they didn't pay the printer who makes the blanks, so they've gone on strike! I found the blog of a family who is currently in Ukraine and this is obviously causing havoc with many families in Ukraine who are trying to come home with their adopted children. And evidently there is at least one creative way to get around this issue, so I'm watching closely to see if it works for them!

So, for now we keep waiting and praying. I'm off to call the girls via Skype next, so that will be fun. At least we are able to keep in touch!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Delay is not denial

Well, it looks like I won't be able to go get the girls before Christmas after all. I spoke to Edward yesterday and it turns out I mis-understood the time table, and it will take longer to get the passport than I thought. Even if I leave immediately, the passport will not be ready in time for me to make it home before Christmas. Greg and I have discussed it, and we just don't feel like I can be away from the family here for Christmas. It's been a difficult decision because we so badly want the girls home as soon as possible, but I my kids have already sacrificed so much, and it wouldn't be fair to them to be gone.

Edward is going to call the passport office tomorrow and see if there is any way they will process the passport faster, but he says he asked that when I was there before and they told him no. They will "expedite" the process in many places, but evidently not in Kharkov. Kind of figures, Kharkov is known for being hard to work with in general, and I can certainly confirm that!

Edward did say that he will call again tomorrow and double check, but at this point I don't think he will get a different answer. But you never know!

So I will wait until the government offices open in January, around the 10th. At least we have some time to plan this way!

I wish everyone a Blessed Christmas, and if things change, I will let you know!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We Have Irra's Birth Certificate

Hi Guys! Quick update, I'm on the way out to work. Spoke to Edward today and he HAS THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE FOR IRRA!! Obviously I'm excited!! So now we're checking into plane tickets and timetables and money! We are still short but I know God will provide! I need to leave as early as Sunday if I'm to be home for Christmas - scary! So much to do!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009