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International Adoption Stories

Ukrianian Adoption Journal (pg.9)

Tuesday April 20, 2004 3:30pm

Mary here,
Warning---skip this entry if you do not want to read a whiny diatribe!

I think I've hit my psychological limit today. Don't know what will happen now, but I’m definitely at my limit!

I woke this morning to a "sound". Of course, I looked. Bad idea! I saw it---a mouse!
Jim very, very quickly awoke, and was immediately pressed into service. I don't "do mice"! A bug, while not my favorite, I can handle. I live in the desert, and have had 2 scorpions (O.K, they were in the garage, but the garage is attached, so they were "in the house") that in one way or another, I handled. (Went and got a neighbor the first time, the 2nd time, we doused him with vodka, which they absorb through their skin, rendering them unable to attack, and therefore easy to remove).

I just cannot handle mice. Ask my kids. I not-so-affectionately refer to all of those little things as "rodent in a cage"-or they SHOULD be in a cage if they are in the house, and preferably NOT in MY house.

Let me say it again, I just don’t do mice!

I looked, he looked back at me, I screeched and he ran. I don't for a second believe the adage that "he was more scared than me". Impossible.

OK, fine, we have a mouse, but today should be court-when Maxim gets those papers early this morning from the NAC.

After thoroughly mouse checking all items of clothing, twice, we dressed and took a walk to the market. Jim fried his electric shaver, using only the converter, not the transformer, so we had to get a razor for him, and I saw a leather purse I liked and wanted to check it out again. Purchases made, we headed back, wishing we could find a "cat store" at the market. I'd bring a cat back here with me to protect me.

And we waited. And waited. Maxim called around 12:30-he still does not have the papers signed by the NAC director. Seems that since there were mistakes on a couple of the papers, she wants to go over it with a fine tooth comb, which she is supposed to do and sign by 5 tonight. I've heard this one before. Since last Thursday, I believe, we keep hearing that either the next morning, or noon, or by 5 that day, the signatures will be obtained and we will be ready for court. (WAH, WAH, WAH) Jim reminds me it has not even been 2 weeks yet, and we are doing ok time wise, but I guess I’m just in a whiney American mood today, and in case there is any doubt, a mouse being in my room at any time, is totally unacceptable to me.

Back to "Diner of Death" for lunch-I'm even tired of what they have there---where they were all laughing at me. After talking to Maxim on the phone, I decided to let the hotel management know that we had a mouse in our room. I didn't have our translation book, not that it has THAT complaint in the "hotel" section (I looked). To get the idea across, I drew a picture of a mouse. An artist, I'm not, but they got the message. And, apparently, they found it amusing. And shared this amusement with the restaurant staff. They were all laughing when we arrived, and I caught the word for mouse in their conversation. So, not only am I traumatized by having said mouse in my room, looking at me, but I am now the butt of the entire hotel staff’s jokes. WAH, WAH, WAH (I told you I was going to be whiney)

No court today. But, on the upside, Maxim does "almost" have the background check on Tanya done, which is needed to secure her passport, since she is 14 years old. When he told us about this requirement, he said he was checking on getting it and most places took 10 days to get this document! AAHHH, 10 more days!??! But he found one place that can secure it in 1 day. Sounds good to me. At this point, he is picking that document up at 4:30 this afternoon, then going to the NAC to hopefully pick up the signed packet so we can schedule a court date. He told us to take the kids to get passport and visa photos taken this afternoon. He spoke with the director of the orphanage, who was supposed to assign one of the workers to accompany us to wherever the photo place is, but when we got to the orphanage, the director was gone, and no one there knew anything about it. They said to wait until tomorrow when Maxim is here. Fine.

We came back to the hotel to transfer photos from the digital camera to the laptop, while Tanya took a nap. We left the camera with her yesterday, thinking she would like some pictures of her aunt who came to visit her yesterday. After downloading the pictures, we noted that the only picture of the aunt was the one we took. All of the rest of the pictures were of friends.

Just for the record, I'm ready to go home. Or to Kyiv. If there are other delays past tomorrow, I think we will tell Maxim that we want to base out of Kyiv and we will bus here to Ivankiv every afternoon to see the kids. We cannot see them all day they are in school. We've done all there is to do—seen everything there is to see -- in Ivankiv, including chasing a mouse, and if we have to sit and wait, it may as well be in Kyiv, where there is more than one restaurant.


Jim here--I am not having a whiney day. The weather is wonderful—trees are budding, there is a nice warm breeze, spring has come to the motherland, and I don't have food poisoning. And I don't like mice either--but he was really cute.

The hardest part right now is communicating with the kids (especially Tanya). We have gone through all the phrase books for things to discuss—but with long days at school and the strain of wanting to get out of here (even more on their part than ours) It is difficult. Some of the other kids treat Tanya differently now that they know she is leaving and that seems hard on her.. The sooner we can get them out of there the better. Best case scenario: Court Tomorrow (wed) morning. Pick up court papers by early afternoon. Birth certificates tomorrow-late afternoon. Going away party at the orphanage after that, then to Kyiv Wednesday night. Doctor and passports Thursday morning, US Embassy Thursday afternoon (we have an appointment for mid afternoon). Drop by the NAC late Thursday afternoon and get a late flight to either Prague or Paris to connect home Friday morning—hey ya gotta have faith

Mary here--Ok, yes, the weather is BEAUTIFUL. Jim is right. I need to snap out of this, and focus on the positives.

We have only seen Tanya for a few minutes this afternoon, but even that much made me feel much better. I feel so bad for her that it is taking so long. We explain as best we can what is delaying (more papers to be signed, more stamps to be procured) but to look at her every day and say "no 'sude' (court) today, maybe tomorrow", well, it just breaks our hearts.

I like Jim's timeline, and I think I'm going to focus on it for a while. I'm so glad I have him here-for those of you who did this solo-I don't know how you did it. Jim's support is the only thing getting me through today (And seeing Tanya, and looking forward to seeing Dima this afternoon)


Tuesday April 20, 2004 8:35pm

Jim We had a good visit with Tanya and Dima today. Got back to the orphanage just before 5. Sat with Tanya and talked—Dima got back from kindergarten about 5:10. Played with a slinky and Mary tried to get sympathy from Tanya about the mouse—didn’t work. About 6:15, it was time for them to get dinner. We headed back to the "Hotel Happiness" --wanted to try to stop at the "fast food Kiosk" and get something for dinner. They had "chicken on a spit"--- not ready for that yet. Looking for some sort of sausage, but nothing looks like the words we know for sausage or hot dog on our menu decoder-- I guess it's back to the "Pectopah of Pain" aka Diner of Death for dinner (we have just been eating one meal a day, but we both have the "hungries" today).

Dinner was the now famous "fried meat" (Pork sautéed in onions) with some mashed potatoes--have we mentioned that potatoes actually taste like something here?? Mary had a beer--My tummy is still not ready for alcohol--Shame, because they have great local beer here.

While we were at dinner, Max called the hotel--we missed it. Spent the last half hour trying to get through to him. The pay phone at the hotel is on the fritz. We went to a couple of shops and found a phone, but all of our phone cards were out of minutes. Argh. The wonderful lady at the front desk offered to call her home and have her daughter call Max and have him call the hotel (the hotel reception phone can only call in Ivankiv). The little girl was having trouble getting through, so the lady ran home to call him. I guess he got all the needed papers because he will be here at the hotel tomorrow morning at 8---YAY!!! My timeline is intact (so far).


A Chicken Story (no, it has nothing to do with Mary and the mouse).

Chickens are high culture in Ukraine. Chicken humor is rampant. At the Circus the funniest acts (to us and the natives) involved the gratuitous use of chickens.. Picture LARGE St Bernards. 2 on a carousel, 2 on their hind legs pushing the carousel—pretty funny stuff.. Add to that a couple of chickens on top of the carousel and the audience goes wild. Don't know why it’s funny but it is. There were several other appearances of the feathered fowl when the room needed a lift.

There are 2 ways to go to the orphanage from the hotel. "Live Chickens" or "Dead Chickens"-- "Dead Chickens" is through the marketplace where can you buy all imaginable chicken parts in various stages of freshness (or spoilage depending on your perspective). The other way we pass down a residential street where every home is complete with a Lada in the driveway (many up on stumps-- rather than blocks back home) and chickens in the yard. The "watch roosters" announce your coming and going and the Babushkas are often in the yard tending to the garden and chatting with the chickens-- not just making chicken noises, but in deep conversation that drifts from "Ukrainian" to "Chicken" and back. Chickens are let in and out of the yard--- usually they stay close--- if one gets locked out you will see them pecking at the gate to get back in. Neither dogs nor cats mess with the chickens, because Chickens are high culture in Ukraine.


While we're at it, some phone tips (at least these will work if you are in the sticks)---

1) Buy a phone card--they are cheap--you can get them around town--The post office or any of the Ace and Base stores. Get a lot of minutes because if you call out of the city (and you will be) the minutes go FAST. (our 120 minute card—gives us about 10 minutes to Max's cell phone and it costs just over a dollar)
2) Dialing out of the city? You must first dial 8--- wait a moment for the next tone and continue with 0 then the city code, then the number--dial S-L-O-W-L-Y.. they are still on pulse dialing and the phones get confused easily. After you have dialed all the digits, you will (hopefully) get a ring (rings here are like western Europe--two long beeps, pause, 2 long beeps). After your party answers, press 1. That completes the call and the seconds start ticking off your card. Be patient--it takes 30-45 seconds after you have dialed all the digits to get through.
3) Look for phones in post offices, grocery stores and all the usual places (Train stations, airports)
4) Many payphones are broken--as the husband of our Hotel manager says in broken German "Es ist Ukrainia nicht arbeiten".. As if to say "hey it's Ukraine- what do you expect?"


Language thoughts--

Learn to read Cyrillic. I can't, Mary can and it has been VERY helpful. Many everyday words are close enough to English to figure our—But if you don’t know Cyrillic you'd never know that Pectopah is Restoran--- close enough to get it!

Learn the "polite words" Please, Thank you, I don't understand.. and be able to count to at least 3 (helpful when ordering pastries --or whatever) in Russian or Ukrainian--- seems like everyone speaks either and they are used interchangeably where we are.


A LOT of people over 40 speak German as a second language We have probably been able to communicate more complex concepts with my German, than with Mary's Russian or anyone in Ivankiv's English (except Max). The Orphanage Director, one of the caretakers, the Hotel Manager, Tanya's track coach all speak pretty good German. If you know it you're in luck!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Just added a BUNCH of new pictures! Check them out!

Thanks again for following along on our progress-- just ran a stats report and we've had over 24,000 hits since April 1. Keep the hits and the prayers coming!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004 1:15pm
Mary We are in Kyiv right now-more disappointing news from Maxim this morining. We were up and ready to go to court at 8 am, fully realizing that we probably would not be going that early, but wanting to be ready, just in case.

He arrived with the bad news-no court today. The judge is booked with 2 major trials, and no time between them, plus, he wants to give notice to the inspector. We are now really hoping for court sometime tomorrow, but not sure.

I won't go into details, but I did want to pass along this bit of information.
'Know that when you are here, whatever you and your facilitator do, has repercussions on everyone to come after you.

We decided to come into Kyiv today for a while. Maxim arranged a car to bring us to the square where we wanted to be, and we just ate a yummy lunch at TGI Fridays. That alone lifted our spirits (although I would have probably been just as happy with some cabbage rolls from our cafeteria)

I'm in much better spirits today, despite the further setbacks. If we could just get the court thing done by Friday so this weekend we could spend in Kyiv with the kids, at an apartment (with a bathtub, a kitchen, and hopefully no mice) I would be one very happy camper.

We will be out of here soon, then back to Kyiv so that we can see the kids this afternoon.

Please, please, keep the prayers coming. Thanks to those who have signed our guestbook. Please do so again. Reading those posts really lifts my spirits and makes us know you are all pulling for us from home.

Until later.....


Thursday, April 22, 2004 10:45am

MaryJim may have already posted an update. We are at an internet cafe right now, but we are in separate rooms, so I'll go ahead and post-maybe double. Sorry.

We will also work on the dates being in order from now on. Once home, we should be able to get all of this in chronological order. If reading, just watch the dates.

Today is our anniversary, so we are in Kyiv. Still, it impresses me as one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen.

It feels great to finally have thing moving in the right direction. By tomorrow night, we should be in Kyiv with the kids-provided the judge waves the 30 day waiting period. Please pray for that.

Thanks for signing our book and thinking of us. The positive thoughts really do help.

Keep checking back-we will not get into a cafe tomorrow, probably, unless Jim goes in late tomorrow night after we all are back in Kyiv. Otherwise, it will be Saturday that we will do our best to get the update on the court proceedings posted.

Off soon for our anniversary lunch. (more...)


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