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Ukrianian Adoption Journal (pg.10)

Thursday April 22, 2004 6:45 PM

Didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted with the kids today, but I’m really glad we decided to go to the Delta ticket office in Kyiv. They had to book the fare through London to get the adoption rate-it took several hours, but the kids are all ticketed. We changed our flight to be on an Air France plane. I HATE Airbuses, but it has in-seat entertainment AND gets into Cincinnati almost 2 hours earlier, so we'll have more time to visit with family there (and eat some Skyline and Greaters).

We spent our anniversary wandering around Kyiv-window shopping, (found Harry Potter in Ukrainian), Internet café and TGI Friday’s again for lunch (I feel like such a dirty American). Met with Max to get some papers signed and back to Delta to FINALLY get the tickets. We hoped to be back in Ivankiv by 2-ish-it's now 3:30.

Back to the bus stop (avoiding the man with a monkey on his back-no really!) and we decide to be "local" and take the trolley-bus. 10 cents from downtown to the Ivankiv Bus terminal. From there into a shared cab and back to Ivankiv. Stopped to get some fruit for the kids and made it to the orphanage by 5:30. The kids were very excited to see us and to see their airplane tickets to America. Spent 45 minutes or so with them playing and talking about court-time for them to eat-and, sadly, time for us to head back to the hotel.

We have quite a stash of food accumulated from today-Packi (rich and heavy jelly doughnuts), leftover chicken fingers (actually more like chicken Lincoln Logs) from Friday's, a Ritter Sport bar, The Infamous Bacon Loops, Milk, Coke and fruit-you’d think we plan on being here for a while---NO-PLEASE!

Side note-----

Other than the occasional soccer, match my favorite new hobby is watching the Ukrainian Music Video Channel, M-1. Hotel California in Ukrainian sung by guys in train conductor uniforms is fun. The ring tones commercials are a hoot-they play 10-12 ring tones in all their ring tone glory and give you the number to dial to download your favorite. A GREAT Idea-many soft drinks and beers have cell phone text message numbers on the bottle caps-punch in the number and see if you won (airtime charges will apply). George Benson is coming to town next month-every commercial break has a commercial for the concert. Oh, and my favorite video-Baby Ticket-It's "Lola Rennt" in a 3 minute techno video--- hope we can download it at home so I can drive Mary nutso some more.

Side note 2---

Bring Note cards and Thank you notes from home-They do not exist in Ukrainian culture-not even at the Hallmark Store in the underground mall.

Humm-court is late tomorrow-nothing to do in the morning. Maybe we should go do some vodka shots to celebrate 21 years together-Just what my tummy needs.. pardon me judge while I step outside and barf.

Friday April 23, 2004 11:00AM

We were up at 9 today-went to the market to buy some souvenirs and some breakfast stuff. Anything to take our minds off of court today.

The terrible things that could happen:

They say "no". I've never heard of that, but we could be the first.
The judge refuses to waive the 30 days. Not the end of the world, but it would be very disappointing.
I take out all my frustrations on the inspector and accidentally trip her on the way into court-no better to wait till afterwards.
Actually, I almost popped Mary in the eye last night-I don’t remember it, but I was sleeping with my arms over my eyes (since Mary won’t turn the light off for fear of the “mean ole mouse”) and she and I both turned over at the same time and she almost got an elbow to the eye-try to explain that one in court.

Okay, one more meal in the diner of death--- Potato pancakes for me-I know that is safe. Mary will go for fried meat.

Now we'll get packed-either way we’ll be in Kyiv tonight. Picked up a Nike (sure it is) gym bag for under 7 bucks. That should be enough luggage space for everything

We’ll update again after court today..I'll try to get to the internet café to post tonight (as long as we get to Kyiv before they close at 10pm)

Saturday April 24, 2004 12:19AM
It is done! We can now play full court basketball as a family (roll faster grandma, roll faster)

As of 4:48pm Kyiv time Tanya Catherine Stolz and Dmitri James Stolz are officially members of our family!

Court was an Experience. Very formal. In the court, Mary and me, the judge, the local prosecutor, the orphanage director, Minister of Child Welfare for the district, our “dear friend” the inspector, Max (since the inspector challenged Max as our interpreter he played the role of our council) One of Max’s facilitator friends was the translator-more on the Inspector AFTER we are back home. Tanya and Dima were also present for part of the hearing.

It was much more formal than I expected-this was like Law and Order and for a while, I thought we might get the "chair". The Translator was to the left of Mary who was to the left of me. All rise-the Honorable Mikhail Gorbechev (minus the stain) was presiding. (He was wonderful-no non-sense but wanted what was best for the kids) I stand and answer questions--- BIG problem-I am nearly deaf in my left ear-the translator is one person away from me on my left--- I can't hear a thing. Twice I had to turn to him and ask him to repeat what the judge said. Oh great-more stupid Americans. Questions would have been easy-- this was a “tell me how you came to adopt these kids in Ukraine--- argh and the translator said be brief..

After my grilling it was Mary's turn (and it is now too because there is a hot bath waiting for me)

Mary here,

I wasn't grilled as much, just asked if I had anything to add. I added to our list of why the adoption should be executed immediately. Everyone in the court room had the opportunity to ask us questions. The prosecutor chose to, the Minister of Child Welfare chose to, (but they were the same questions she had asked us before, and she was very nice-definitely kind of prompting us by her questions as to what to say), then the inspector asked a few questions.

The judge then called Tanya and Dima into the room, and asked them a couple of perfunctory questions-Dima does not know when his birthday is. They were excused and a couple of statements later, the hearing was finished. The prosecutor asked that the 30 days not be waived, not because it was not in the best interest of the children, but because there could be problems with investigations later. The orphanage director gave a wonderful statement, urging the judge to waive the 30 days.

He said he would leave to deliberate, and the court reporter said he would be back in 3 or 4 minutes. IT was 50 minutes! All rise, court is back in session, and he reads through the entire 3 page declaration, out loud, with the final statement being that the 30 days were waived! Thanks, Galina, for your eloquent speech! You are the one who got it done for us!

I took the kids, went back to the hotel for a quick change of my clothes (I HATE dress up clothes) and stopped at the shop for some cake. Took the cakes and some “lemonade” back to the orphanage while waiting for Jim and Maxim to do the birth certificate runs.

Jim's turn:

What a rollercoaster in the court-as the judge was reading the decision, talking about the kids prior social situation-it is so sad and I feel for them and how it must have torn them up.. then relief that it is done and the joy of all being a family-and totally ecstatic when the judge decided to waive the 30 days-(I was NOT expecting it to be waived after what was said by the prosecutor during hearing). We are a family-I can’t wait to get them home to meet their brothers and sisters!

Now we have a mission (and I am at my best when on a mission) It's Friday nearing 6pm when we finally get the copies of the ruling. We have to get both birth certificates (in 2 separate towns) before we leave for Kyiv tonight-If we can't, there is no way we'll be able to leave on Tuesday. Max and I RUN to the Ivankiv records lady (who offered to stay a bit past 5)… there is some chatter-a few problems that Max gets around (the ruling did not mention that the kids were citizens of Ukraine). And we are off to Tanya’s birth town-a little dorf about 25km from Ivankiv. As we are riding up there in our "Lada Taxi", I get an eerie feeling.. Everything is spooky and still-there is a thunderstorm off to the south.. but where we are perfectly calm. The air feels "funny". Then the driver starts talking about how we are just a couple of kilometers from the "dead zone" Zone 1-all the land evacuated after the Chernobyl accident. No people-no livestock-no farming-just still. Very eerily still.

Tanya was born in a "dead county" the county seat was evacuated. All the records moved to a small village that now serves this once large county-now population 6,000. The record's lady is very nice (her 3rd week on the job and she got audited today-fun) She agreed to stay and do the birth certificate if we could drive her home. Deal! No computer.. Max writes the request by hand. She types the document on an old Soviet typewriter. 45 minutes and we are outtathere! Then the drive to her home--- even closer to Chernobyl. The spookiness gets even spookier. Burned out homes from looters. Shells that were once apartment buildings. It was very still and quiet. Dogs are everywhere in Ukraine-but I did not see or hear a dog the entire trip up there.

After dropping her off, Max and I notice a couple of storks tending to their young in a nest atop a power line (one of the lines that used to lead from Chernobyl to Poland). Storks and their young-kinda cool coming back from getting the birth certificate!

It's 8:45pm-there is NO WAY that the record’s lady in Ivankiv is still waiting for us. It's now pouring rain. Max and I jump from the car and dash past Lenin’s statue in the square and follow the techno-beat of what sounds like a disco--- wait-it is a disco-A Teen Dance in the town hall.. I wonder if Mr. Lenin is enjoying the beat??? Across the dance floor. Max and I decide not to dance-and back to the records office-SHE WAITED!! She had heard what a hard time we had with the process and decided to show us that not all people in Ivankiv were like the Inspector (at least that’s my take). 9:15 Mission complete. 2 new birth certificates-

Back to the Orphanage (where I'm sure they think we are out drinking it up on an Ivankiv Friday Night) to get the kids and Mary-- What a day! (more...)

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