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Ukraine Adoption Journal

The Weston Family

While we were in Ukraine for Sonya and Nikitta's adoption in 2003, we met two girls who were in Sonya's groupa that we fell in love with. These girls were 12 and 13 years old at the time. We watched them quickly bond with Alex in the short week we were there, and they are the reasons that we decided to adopt again. We were not sure at the time that they were available for adoption, but we hired our translator to check this for us about a year ago and she informed us that they were available. Unfortunately, you can never be assured that you can adopt a specific child in Ukraine. So we are returning to Ukraine to attempt to adopt Leeza and Katya, but it may not work

out. If they are not available, we will find 2 children who are meant to be part of our family. But because of the relationship we have built with these girls from our time in Ukraine and through subsequent letters, we hope that we can bring them home. We just feel very blessed to have the opportunity to adopt children from Ukraine. We are comfortable with letting the process play out as it did with Sonya and Nikitta and we trust that things will work out. With Ukrainian adoption, you kind of have to take that step into the unknown and understand that things may not always turn out exactly as planned.

Sent Jan 20th, 2005
We are en route! We left Wednesday (19th) in the morning. Our flight arrived in Prague a few hours ago. It is Thursday (20th) morning in Prague. We are anxious to head on to Kiev for our adoption center appointment. We will relax and get acclimated to European time. The internet cafe in Prague is great. It is a very fast connection and I am updating the web site faster than I can at home with a cable modem connection. Our hotel is only about 300 meters to the St. Charles Bridge.

When we left, we were surprised at how we felt. We are much more prepared this time, however, it was really hard to leave the kids at home. On the last trip, we had Alexia with us. It feels like we should have the whole family together on this trip. Instead we have kids at home who are thousands of miles away, and we have 2 children who we are still several days away from seeing.

We are a little nervous about what lies ahead. Hopefully, the adoption center in Kiev will give us a referral for Leeza and Katya, however, there are no guarantees. It will be difficult to deal with if they say no. We have pictured these girls as part of our family for almost 2 years now.

Sent Jan 22, 2005
We are set to leave Prague for Kiev tomorrow. We have enjoyed our time here. We have walked for hours around this city. It has lived up to its reputation as the most beautiful city in the world. One highlight was the boat tour on the Vltava River. We also climbed to the top of the Old Town Bridge Tower which was built in 1380. We took some great photos from the top of the tower.

It has been raining and is cold, but not unbearably cold. It is around 33 degrees. We are looking forward to leaving for Kiev in the morning. We are hoping our translator set us up with an apartment close to Independence Square. The inauguration of the new president Viktor Yushenko is expected to take place tomorrow and there should be hundreds of thousands of people in the square tomorrow celebrating. It will be exciting to witness this historical event in Ukraine's history. We are sure our translator will not want us to go to the square, but we are going to get there one way or another. It would be a shame to miss this, so we wont.

Here are some additional pictures taken from the Charles Bridge tower and Old Town Square. Enjoy.

Posted January 24th, 2005

Hi everyone!
We are in Kiev! Our appointment with the National Adoption center is tomorrow morning at 11:am. We arrived in Kiev yesterday (Sunday). One of the first things we noticed was Colin Powells US government plane parked along with dozens of planes from various countries governments parked on the tarmac.
We were met by our translator, Nina, and our facilitator, Luda. We had so many donations in tow from the orphanage that our luggage almost didn't fit into Luda's small car. We took the maximum allowable baggage to carry all of the donations from our friends for the orphanage.
Nina and Luda dropped us off at our apartment which was downtown. We asked to be close to Independence Square. We are not as close as we were last time, but a 10-15 minute walk to the square will work. After unwinding for a while we left to go to the square. Ukraine has been in some political turmoil over its presidential elections. The pro-Russian candidate, Yanukovich, was declared the winner almost a month ago. Western election observers reported massive fraud. Yushenko, the pro-western candidates supporters poured into the streets of Kiev and other cities to protest the fraudulent outcome of the election. Independence Square was full of hundreds of thousands of protestors who set up the now famous tent-camp and they refused to leave until the election results were overturned. For some time the world wondered whether force would be used to break up the protests or if Ukraine would plunge into civil war. The protests received world-wide attention and the supreme court of Ukraine overturned the election results based on the proof of fraud and mandated a new election. The election was held a few weeks ago and this time, after some new election laws were passed to prevent fraud, Yushenko, the pro-western candidate won by a large margin.
Ukraine has never really been a free country. After it declared its independence from the Soviet Union it has been run by a powerful president and a parliament that has been very corrupt. Journalists have been murdered, TV stations tow the government line and The corruption has permeated all
aspects of the government to a point where Ukraine is listed currently as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This has hurt investment in Ukraine's economy and as a result it is one of the poorest nations in europe. The average monthly wage is approximately $70 per month. Yushenko promised to end the corruption and move closer to the west and democracy. Early in the campaign Yushenko was poisoned with Dioxin. There is much speculation about who poisoned him. The theories include Moscow, powerful and wealthy Oligarchs in Ukraine as well as the government of Ukraine that did not want his rising popularity to enable him to win the presidency. Yushenko survived and the dioxin poisoning disfigured his face. The majority of Ukrainians understand what this election means. They finally feel that the people have won and that this represents the first steps to true democracy. Yesterday (Sunday) Yushenko was inaugurated as the new President of Ukraine. A massive rally and inauguration party was held in the same square, called Independence Square, where the massive street protests were held that ultimately changed the course of the country and resulted in the elections being overturned.
When we went downtown one of the first things we noticed was the energy of the people. People were smiling and very animated. This is definitely different from two years ago when it was rare for people to break a smile. We also noticed the range of people celebrating. Very young kids on shoulders as well as old men and ladies who were rocking to the Russian Rock music playing on the main stage. It was a very surreal atmosphere because of the expression of excitement from Ukrainians.
We will soon have 4 children from Ukraine in our family and since the American born in our family are outnumbered and Russian will be the predominant language in our family for at least the next six months, we feel like this was a great opportunity to witness and be a part of a monumental and historical moment in Ukraine's history. The heritage of our children and future grandchildren and posterity is now part of us. Hopefully, one day our grandchildren will see the pictures and video of their grandparents standing in the middle of Independence Square celebrating the results of an election that spawned an awakening of a true democracy and the re-birth of a nation
that has seen decades, if not centuries of oppression. We want our children to remember and understand where they come from and be proud of their Ukrainian heritage.
As the hours pass we are more and more nervous about our appointment. In the next 24 hours we will know whether we will be able to adopt Leeza and Katya or if we will be adopting other children that are meant to be part of our family. It is the unknown that is making this really difficult. Our facilitator spoke with the psychologist at the National Adoption Center and was told that they will look for Leeza and Katya's paperwork when we arrive for our
appointment. If they can find the paperwork, and it is all in order, then we should have very few problems. If they can't find it, then we ask them to keep looking.
If they still can't find it, we ask again and again. When we are told they won't look any longer, we will ask again and then we will go to plan B which is to accept that Leeza and Katya can't come home with us and that there are other children that are to be a part of our family.
Love,

Wade and Julia

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