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Ukraine Adoption

Can't wait to bring Andrew home!!

Our Journey began on June 12th, 2001. Brian and I met with an adoption agency in Rockville, Maryland called "Adoptions Forever". We attended their monthly meeting for "prospective adoptive parents" and had the opportunity to hear about all of their different adoption programs. That very night as Brian and I were driving home we made our decision to stick with this agency and adopt our child (ren) from Ukraine! After everything we had been through with the unsuccessful tries of in-vetro and my hospitalization which was a complete scare to everyone, we decided that what God had in store for us was to find our children and make our family complete through adoption.

The next morning, I called Jeff Berman, the Executive Director, and we scheduled a meeting the following week. When I called to make the appointment for the initial meeting, Adoptions Forever had sent me the packet of information on what papers we needed to begin collecting. I immediately knew that whichever agency we had chosen, we would need the same paperwork. So I began collecting everything that we needed....birth certificates, marriage license, home sanitation inspection, home fire inspection, obtaining passports, fingerprinting, child abuse registry clearances, state criminal record checks, FBI clearances...(to name a few....). When we met with Jeff, he basically went into more detail as to how our adoption process would work.

After the meeting, I had several other documents to obtain. Once we received all of our documents, I mailed them to our agency for review, and scheduled our home study. A licensed social worker, Kelly Caraballo with Adoptions Forever came to our home and "interviewed" Brian and I separately about our marriage, our families, our work, our philosophy on child rearing and some other little things. Once we had that meeting, we had another at their office in Rockville. We had a few friends and my mother write letters of "recommendation" to her as part of our home study as well. She met with one couple, Keith and Kelly Brewer and just asked them the same basic questions. She then called my mother and our other friend John Dillinger to ask them some questions too. Once that was complete, she typed up our home study and mailed us a copy. Then things really took off!!

Our paperwork was sent to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC for "approval". Once we had that approval, it was sent back to our agency then sent to Ukraine for translation and approval from the Adoption Center. After the approval came from the Adoption Center we received an appointment to visit the Adoption Center in Ukraine. Our appointment with Ms. Kunko ("Head Mama") is Friday, April 5th! I cannot even begin to explain the emotions we experienced when we received that call. I just about immediately called and booked our flight. We fly out of Washington Dulles International on Wedneday, April 3rd directly into Vienna, Austria then arrive at our final destination- Kiev, Ukraine We will do the normal airport stuff...customs, baggage, purchase health insurance (that's kind of weird...but necessary).....then off to our hotel- Hotel Bratislava. We will get settled in, grab a little bite to eat (wonder what that will be...) then get a good nights sleep to make sure we are ready for our "BIG DAY" at the adoption center (AC). We were told that since our appointment is on a Friday, that we have a 50/50 chance to be able to visit the orphanage that very next day (which is Saturday). Otherwise, we will have to wait until Monday to hopefully meet our son! It doesn't really matter to us either way- I guess it would give us some time to become acclimated to the time difference (7 hours ahead) if we waited, however- it's really not up to us. Besides, too it will give us the opportunity to travel to the city where we receive the referrals too and take in the sites (and lots of photos too!)

Today (March 21, 2002) as I write this, we are only 14 short days away from our travel date and 14 days closer to meeting our son/ daughter or both. I cannot begin to express the feelings we have felt throughout this entire process. It is very emotional, exciting and depressing at the same time and for a lot of different reasons. Brian and I were talking the other night, and I said to him that I already love our son. Even thought we don't quite know who he is yet, I love him with all of my heart!

MARCH 25, 2001
T - (minus) 10 DAYS AND COUNTING! I really can't believe this is all happening. I spent the weekend packing my carry on bag...I never realized how involved that was going to be until I started doing it. All the little things like shampoo, soap, kool aid mix, crystal light mix, toothpaste, Advil, Imodium, Kaopectate, pepto bismol (all the stomach medicine), Excedrin migraine, toilet paper, film (and lots of it), books to read magazines, my Ativan (like Xanax) to help me "get through the flight (I am a bundle of nerves!!!) the little Raggedy Andy doll that Liz and Larry (Grandmom and Pop Pop) put in our Christmas stocking, and just some other little things. So much to do.....and it seems like so little time to do it! (I'm sure we'll manage!)

This afternoon, Brian and I have an appointment to meet with an international adoption specialist (doctor). His name is Dr. Patrick Mason, and he is in Fairfax, VA. I'm excited to meet with him to find out what things to look for developmentally, physically, emotionally so that we end up with the healthiest child we can find. He said he'd give us developmental/ growth charts to take with us to do an assessment of the child on our own.

MARCH 26, 2001
9 DAYS TO GO! Our meeting last night with Dr. Mason went really well! He had so much information to give us, growth charts, developmental charts and checklists. It was actually very exciting to learn so much about child development. (I'm ready to give a seminar!! ha ha ha) I would definitely recommend that any adoptive family visit with Dr. Mason if not for the general information, but the peace of mind that he will be there throughout the entire process (even when we are there) to help guide you and answer any questions that we may have.

Something must be getting into me today, because I am BOUNCING off the walls. (Could it be the espresso I got from Starbucks.... hmmmm. :) Or my nerves.....I'm thinking a bit of both!) Anyway, when we were driving home last night I told Brian that it felt really weird being at that Children's Hospital. I mean weird in the fact that I already felt like a parent talking to my child's pediatrician. He said, "I know, I feel it too!". I'm so happy that he is so happy, and I can't wait to be a happy family! How goofy am I...? :) (It's the coffee again!) Back to work.....keep praying for us- the closer we get the more nervous I am about flying.

MARCH 29, 2002
6 MORE DAYS TO GO! Today was my last day of work. I had originally scheduled my last day to be Monday, April 1, however my grandmother passed away the night of March 28 unexpectedly, so I just worked a half day on the 29th to tidy up. I am very sad; then again I guess I am thankful that this happened now instead of while we were gone. Gram, may you rest in peace, I love you.

APRIL 1, 2002
2 MORE DAYS TO GO! I packed my suitcase last night, so I am ready to go. All I have left is some tidying up of some things. Yesterday was Easter, my mom and Charlie were here for dinner along with my grandparents, Mimi and Pop, Brian's brother Matt and another couple Nikki and Scott who are getting ready to travel to Ukraine shortly after Brian and I! (Check out their site, link is above!) Nikki and Scott, if I don't talk to you and we cross paths over the Atlantic, much luck and love to you both in finding your children too! Can't wait until our Ukrainian children meet!

APRIL 3, 2002
IT HAS FINALLY ARRIVED! Our plans are to go to my mother's house around 10-10:30 in the morning, grab a quick bite to eat and be on the road no later than noon to arrive at Dulles by 1- 1:30 pm. That should give us ample time to get through customs and security- with lots of time to "hurry up and wait". Brian and I would like to take another moment to thank everyone again- especially our parents! We appreciate your support and prayers over this past year and we are very thankful to have all of you. We love you from the bottom of our hearts!

APRIL 5, 2002
We arrived yesterday at 1:30 pm Ukraine time, 5:30 your time. CULTURE SHOCK STARTED IMMEDIATELY!!! The airport is definitely different, and customs was the most "fun" there... We finally got out of there and met Lena and Nikolai (our project specialist and driver). They drove us to our flat which is an apartment. Two bedrooms and a bathroom. We went there for an hour and then Yuri the office manager came to take us for a walk. (A lot of walking in Ukraine). We went to the market, then to the bank to change over money and to get dinner. It was...interesting. We went Italian. After dinner we had a chance to call out parents then back to the flat. By that time it was 7pm our time and when we laid on the bed, we both passed out!

Today was our appointment at the Adoption Center. It went very well. We were with the director for maybe 5 minutes, and then with the psychologist for 2 hours- that is where we looked through all of the photos. WOW! What an experience. It seems that they are all sick, so you have to be very careful. Anyway, we found an orphanage that had 3 referrals. We decided to drive to Kirovohrad instead of take a train because by train it would have been 5 or 6 hours and by car it took us only 3 hours 10 minutes. (We love Nikolai!) We went directly to the orphanage and met a little boy. Only one because the others were sent to a different region. He is so adorable. We have sent some photos of him to the international adoption doctor for evaluation before we make any kind of decision. He loved us, he came in and hugged both Brian and I. He is VERY talkative, very active, loves to dance and tries to sing! :) We had to leave, however we are going back tomorrow at 10 am to read his medical records and family history. Then we will go from there. After the visit we went to check into a hotel and went to another Italian restaurant for dinner. (Tonight’s dinner was very good!). Now we are at the internet cafe, and getting ready to leave to go back to hotel. (20-30 minute walk). Very cold! Anyway, will try to update more tomorrow or next day, all depends on time. (We feel like we are on the Amazing Race!! :) Our love to everyone, we miss home already!

APRIL 6, 2002
Today was a big day for us. We had an appointment back at the orphanage this morning at 10am to review the little boy’s medical records and if everything was alright, we decided that this would be our son. So, everything was fine! We have made that all important decision that we came here to do- Kyle will be coming home with us! Kyle is a small little 4 year old boy about the size of a three year old. We will get his birth certificate later this week to verify his age. We just fell in love with him! Everyone will love him- he is such a lover. He loves to hug, he loves to run, and he loves music! We do not have a photo to put on the site as of yet, but will try to do that tomorrow. We were only able to visit him today for about an hour and then tomorrow we can go back tomorrow for another hour and a half. After out visit today, he blew us kisses! Tomorrow after out visit we will go to the market to buy him some clothes and shoes. Now the process will be hurry us and wait! This morning before we left for the orphanage we met Sergei for breakfast. It consisted of pancakes stuffed with cottage cheese and some sort of meat that you eat on top of a small piece of bread. I took one bite of the pancake and left the rest and ate the meat. As far as lunch...we slept through that today. We came back to take a nap for an hour and fell asleep for three (JETLAG KICKED OUR BUTT TODAY!). Sergei was starving! So as soon as we woke up, we went to dinner. The food so far is really not that bad. All you have to do is just stick to the basic meat and potato type of meal. It is still kind of early here, about 5:30 pm our time and we will be leaving to go get some bread for the peanut butter and jelly that I packed for snacks! Plus this internet cafe is rather busy tonight so we are on a time restriction. Yesterday it snowed in Kiev on our way here to Kirovohrad and this morning we woke up and it was snowing here.....it is still snowing! It is so very cold here!!! We have taken so many pictures of Kyle and cannot wait to share them all with all of you! Keep us in your prayers for a fast court date, we will continue updating.

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