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International Adoption Stories

Ukrianian Adoption Journal (pg.13)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 2:50 Paris Time

We made it on the plane--- I can't believe it! What an adventure to get here.

We were up and ready to roll by about 8:30am. Yuri and Max arrived at 9:15 and we were off to the American Embassy. Consulate, actually. We arrived a little early. The 2 prior appointments had to cancel because they could not obtain their passports in time (poor guys are stuck there thru the long holiday weekend—Score one for Max!). Mary went in to the small room to complete the paperwork---everyone is behind glass—there will be no passing of germs (or anything else) at the American Consulate. The place had a huge line of folks wanting US Visas—Some leisure, some work, a bunch of old, bald, fat guys (sorry if that applies to you--it does to me too) with their Ukrainian "wanna be wives", then there was us. Max did an awesome job with the packet for the embassy--all the papers in proper order with proper translations and the proper stamps and authentications. We were in and out of there in 45 minutes (and if we had filled out our paperwork ahead of time (I'd recommend that) it would have been a 15 minute process.

Then the bad news. Tanya is the first adopted child that they've processed that needed to be fingerprinted--(everyone over 14 needs to have biometrics on their visa as of April 15th). They said come back at 3 to pick up the visas--we begged.pleaded,even tried to shed a tear (but we do really like it in Ukraine). They agreed to process the paperwork as soon the fingerprints came back—could be 10 minutes could be till 3--- we waited--- hung out-- made ourselves known (and gave the very nice ladies the last of our Las Vegas gifts.

We decided to grab our last Ukrainian meal (hopefully) and come back at about 12:30. (Hoping that the American Embassy does not work on "Ukrainian Time" (where everything is at least 30 minutes late))

It's 12:50 and Mary comes running out with the packets--they are done--Okay Yuri--will we make it? It's up to you.

In Kyiv, lunchtime is rush hour.. So here we are in Yuri’s Lada (he sold the Honda for a nice profit--yay Yuri!) trying to speed (Ladas do not speed well) through the street of Kyiv--We get stuck in a couple of traffic jams—the road to the airport has construction. are we ever going to get there??

We arrive at the airport at 1:55—We have just over an hour to get through customs, passport control, ticket line and 2 sets of security. Max and Yuri do their thing, pushing us through the lines (I do mean pushing and shoving and acting like the French-- we never would have made it otherwise—Thanks guys)

We bid an all too quick farewell to our new friends and assure Max and Yuri that we will return for salo and rye bread (Ukrainian snickers) and vodka shots very soon (we still have our other tickets on Northwest to use or lose within the year—so a long weekend in Kyiv is in order)

Ticket counter was fine "then passport control" all the documents are in place but they want to see the adoption decree (10 minutes seems like an hour as the plane is boarding). It is 2:55 and we are through passport control and more security. We make it to the plane at 3:00 for our 3:05 departure. Tanya and Dima are glowing. Our frazzled rush through the airport did not faze them at all—they are going to America (be sure to trill your "r"). Semolot (sp?) and machina are everywhere—Dima is in a dream world!


We are on an AirBus A-320—seats are 3 and 3. We have the middle and isle in row 18—both sides. A nice Ukrainian fellow offers Dima his window seat. Tanya is stuck on the aisle.. We switch them after our lunch (Pork, salad, roll, torte and coke.). Tanya likes looking out the window--Dima is furious -- it is HIS window--(we have some de-spoiling to do). Tanya gives into young Dima and after 30 minutes they are back in original places.

We are surrounded by adopting families- A couple in front of Mary could not get the 30 days waived. They will have to come back for their new family member. Same for a lady next to Mary. In front of me, is a new father. His wife and new little girl are a few rows back. Another couple with a little one behind Mary (and those are just the people in our immediate area). The folks in front of us did not know they needed a transit visa to spend the night in a hotel. Looks like we have airport sleeping buddies.


A bit on Maxim. What a guy. Maxim is an English teacher by training, but is continuing his education with hopes to work in international relations--perhaps one day at the UN. His English is impeccable. Actually Mary and I are embarrassed to say that Max speaks better English that do we—complete with a wonderful British accent that he picked up by listening to English audio tapes. He has worked on many adoptions over the past 3 years as a part of an agency. We were his first "start to finish" adoption. He did an incredible job. Had we not run into the Inspector problems in Ivankiv we would have completed the process in just over 2 weeks door to door. He is married to a Pediatric Cardiologist named Larissa (who makes the best borshch on the planet). Larissa works in a hospital several hours by train away from Kyiv, so they only get to spend time together on the weekends for now. In short--we've heard the horror stories and we check out references the best that you can from 10,000km away--but there is always leap of faith with the selection of a facilitator…Will they be there with you the whole time? Can they actually do what they promise? ON time and Legally? And Legally was a big deal for us. There are other facilitators who are well known to get things done quickly by offer bribes. Ukraine is trying to go legit. We want to do our part to help this fledgling democracy break away from the cycle of petty (and some not so petty) bribes. Max proved that the system DOES work without Buying your way through. Did we pay “expediting fees”? Sure. If a notary stayed late to turn a document around for us we gave them a little something for the extra effort. The state stops paying them at 5—If you ask them to stay until 8 and process paperwork we are simply paying them "overtime". BEWARE of facilitators tat promise the world (and demand a large price to deliver it) Odds are they are dirty and they make the process harder for Ukraine and for all Americans who come after. (case in point--the previous adoption in Ivankiv caused some concern with the "auditors". The entire system was inspected and it made everyone very uncomfortable to make it look like things were going "too fast" (even though things are supposed to be fast with older kids. I don't blame the parents before us--I do think their facilitator need to be taken to the Diner of death and fed raw chicken upon her return to Ivankiv. (lots of raw chicken)

About 30 minutes left in the flight I'll write more after we get settled in at CDG!

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 9:22pm Paris Time

I don’t know how she did it, but Mary convinced the passport control cops to give the kids transit visas. (YAY) We went to the Hilton but that hotel was tooooo expensive (600 Euros a night—are you KIDDING) We went to the Formula 1 but that hotel was too cheap--- 20 Euros per night but a couple of steps down from Motel 6 (bathroom down the hall)---- naw We want our own pottie—so we settle for the Motel 6 suites--90 euros including breakfast---done deal.. Juuust right! Tanya wants to take a bath in peace rather than eat--Mary Dima and I go for a good Parisian meal—Steak and Fries. 35 euros. Back to the hotel and into bed--WE WILL BE HOME TOMORROW!! In Cincy at 1:30 (should be out of customs by 3..We need to be back to the airport at 6 for the Vegas flight. How bout we meet at the new Larosas by Joe's house? We’ll just rent a car and meet you there? (sure hope somebody can come).

Kids, we'll be in Vegas as scheduled--Please bring flowers for Tanya (odd number) and a small truck or something for Dima. See ya there!

Hopefully the next time you hear from us we’ll be home sweet home!


Thursday April 29, 2004 10:00am EDT
Jim
Greetings from 39,000 feet above Newfoundland.

The night at the hotel was wonderful. A great hot shower, wi-fi internet access, croissants and hot chocolate for breakfast. It was 100% worth the money and the effort.

I was totally wrong about getting back inside CDG airport. We laughed when the lady at the airport said just be sure to be back an hour before the flight. We didn't want to have to rush through security again. Well, the folks in Paris continue to surprise. We got on our hotel shuttle at 7:10 and we were at the gate by 7:40. Passport control and security were detailed, but very fast.

CDG is a great airport and despite the fact that we had to ride a bus to a remote plane parking lot (whatever they call it) and up stairs to the plane, everything was fast, easy, and smooth. Oh yea-- we’re happy to report that the cleaner's strike is over—the airport is spotless. If you can connect here, we'd recommend it.

We are 5 ½ hours into the 8 ½ hour flight. The kids have been very good (so far) on the plane. They did not have the kid meal as requested for Dima--so he picked at his salmon pate (as we all did). In-seat entertainment is a good thing. Lots of channels of movies and TV. Plus music and games-- and my faves the --where are we? GPS screen-- and --the nose camera so you can watch outside screen. TIP: Check your flights before you go to make sure you are so equipped. (sometimes you'll need to switch airports— last we checked, Northwest has in-seat on the Detroit flights—but not Minneapolis, Or just a different flight out of the same airport will work. (Usually 777s, A320s and 747-400s have the in-seat stuff. 767, DC-10/MD-11 do not)


Thursday April 29, 2004 9:18pm EDT
Jim
It was an uneventful flight from Paris—nice actually. There were a few "antsy Dima" moments, but for the most part both kids did a great job.

As we were landing, I pointed to the ground to show Dima America--- he was soooo excited. "Tanya, Tanya--America, America" Tanya replied in Ukrainian "no Dima, France" Straight face--Dima was heartbroken--our entire section of the plane got the joke--poor Dima didn't. He was convinced that we never left France. I was finally able to convince him that indeed that was America out the window.

Immigration in Cincinnati was a snap (I'm a little disappointed. I missed the "event". I went to get the luggage and was going to meet them back at immigration—we were told it would be about 20 minutes until they could get to us--- about 10 minutes later James and Catherine came with mom to meet me at the baggage claim. Brand new Americans.) Customs was easy (for all the shopping we did, we got very little stuff--I am on family leave ya know—no paychecks). We rechecked our bags to Las Vegas and went up to get a rental car to visit with family. Papa machina??—(hey dad, you're not supposed to be driving a car--that's Yuri's job).

First American Meal--French Fries at LaRosas. Somehow wires got crossed--we waited and waited and we were alone at the restaurant. No Cincy family. We never did confirm with everyone, so we figured everyone was busy or didn't get the word. Decided to drive to my sister Kathy's house to see if she was home--Nope--she went with everyone else to meet us. Sing it Dr John. "It must've been the right place but the wrong time.." Okay--we'll try again. Scratch lunch--we ate--how bout ice cream? Deal--We meet everyone for Greaters.. It's great to see one and all. Sorry, my one sister couldn't make it, but the rest of the “fanm damly was there! It was a great time- Catherine and James (we can't convince them to use the diminutives yet) got to meet their Meemaw and the aunts, uncles and cousins. They were great --impressive, especially considering how long we've been on the road.

5:45 Time for pictures, hugs and back to the airport, through security and onto the plane. The nice lady at the gate was able to change our tickets so that each of the kids could have a window and (bless her heart) gave us a couple of the only empty middle seats on our 737-800 to Vegas—Room to stretch out and nap--a good thing--it's 4:18am in Ukraine.

Thursday April 29, 2004 11:34PM
Jim We are HOME!!! All the kids met us at the airport. Very nice! Bags arrived--No problem.. Dima thinks it's cool that Julie has a car—he wants to ride with her. Marie bought a 1973 muscle car (oh great). I went with her to see the car (it's really cool, but I warned her that the 70s were not a very good time for American Cars and expect it to be a money pit) We continued our tradition of stopping at In-n-Out after airport pickups. The kids are not crazy about burgers--they ate fries for the second meal in America.. I'm sure they'll be happy to have home cooked food (we're going to try to keep it close to Ukrainian for the first few weeks).

Dima and Matt are in bed.. Tanya is upstairs but we decide it’s time for the big people to hit the pool! Julie, Emily, Tanya Catherine, mom and I swim for an hour or so. We let Tanya call back to Ukraine and let them know she made it…


It's good to have our family all together!


Thank you for following along--- and stay tuned. We’ll continue to update on progress and I'll work on getting the web site in order over the weekend!

June 20, 2004
Jim Well it's been 2 wonderful months with Catherine and James at home. We keep waiting for the honeymoon to end, but so far there have been no issues.
Language is coming along. Catherine understands much more English, but James is fearless in using his new language skills.
The two of them are certainly different people. Catherine has a strong, quiet determination. James is relentless in his pursuit of everything.
Just back for the International Adoption clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Other than a few cavities and pending adenoid removal Catherine is in perfect health. James will need surgery to bring his previous craniostenetosis surgery to western standards and assure his brain has the proper room to grow as it should. He has a bone infection in his jaw from bad teeth. That needs to be resolved before the skull surgery. We plan on heading back east to have his surgery late summer/early fall (NO WAY would we have anything major done in Vegas---medical care here is a joke).

Page: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13

Read more about the Stolz's journey at: www.martythompson.com/Ukraine.html



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