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Ukraine Adoption Journal

The Weston Family

Jan 25th, 2005

We had our appointment with the National Adoption Center today. Don't picture a huge government building with marble floors... This is in an old run down building that is drafty and cold. The center consists of about 7-8 offices. We would guess that there were about 10-15 employees. The hallway outside the office was crammed with adoption translators and facilitators from morning until evening. They wait outside the door hoping to either get in to see someone or to hear some news about paperwork. There were a few other couples there either waiting for an appointment or hoping to get another appointment because they turned down the first referral for a child.

We were very disappointed to hear some of their stories. Some couples had asked for two siblings under 3 years old. Ukraine is not the place to adopt from for those age ranges. The youngest available for adoption must be older than 1 year old to begin with, so to ask for siblings under 3 is really asking for twins, and of course, they want fat healthy babies that smile just right. It was sad to hear about how hard they had pushed the National Adoption Center workers for a healthy referral at those age ranges. It seems to set a bad tone in the minds of the workers about Americans. Ukraine is very up front about the limited availability of young children. These couples were going back to the NAC for additional referrals while people with reasonable requests await appointment dates. These repeaters seem to bog down the NAC to the point that they can't handle any decent volume which in the end seems to impact children older than 3 that need to be adopted. We saw several hundred beautiful children in the books today that fit that criteria. But it seems that every day they deal with obstinate couples who demand babies. And not just one healthy baby, but 2. Anyway, off of our soap box....

We waited for about 30 minutes past our appointment time in the hall and then we were let into the offices. We waited in the hallway for another 15-20 minutes and then we went in to see the psychologist. She asked us to tell her about ourselves. We told her our ages and where we were from. We then pulled out our photo album and started showing her pictures of Sonya, Nikitta and Alex. When we showed her the pictures of Leeza and Katya and told her that we wanted to adopt them because we had come to know them and wanted them to be a part of our family, she stopped us and said that she liked the ages of the girls we were asking for, smiled and left the area for a few minutes and returned with binders from the city of Kharkov where Leeza and Katya's orphanage is. We had hoped we would be given the opportunity to look through all of the books and our translator, facilitator and us all started frantically looking through all of the books. Each page had a small photo attached to a one page profile. The books all contained children that seemed older than about 10 years old. Each book contained about 50-100 children in them. Julia quickly spotted Leeza's photo and we all had a few quick tears and hoped that we would soon find Katya's paperwork. The pages kept going by for the next hour and a half as we desperately searched for Katya's paperwork. While we searched the books, the psychologist took Katya's name to the computer room and searched the computer. The psychologist returned and said that they could not find Katya in the computer. We looked through every book 2-3 times before they told us we had to leave because it was lunch time. At this point we were very worried that this was not going to end well. We went to lunch at a cafe down the street and when we returned the entrance was packed with people again and we had to wait outside. We talked some strategy with our facilitator and translator and decided we needed to get a hold of the inspector in Kharkov that had said she filed her paperwork. We called her and she confirmed that she had filed it several years ago. We obtained a registration number and approximate filing date. Our facilitator went in and gave the information to the psychologist who said that her day was now too busy to allow us more time to search so she said we could come back tomorrow morning at 9:30am.
We left feeling happy and sad. We are 50% of the way there. Several things were accomplished. We found Leeza's file. They seemed to have no problems with us adopting 2 children who were unrelated because they were older. This was a hurdle we were unsure about. Also, they let us search the books ourselves. The only problem is that who knows how many books there are for that region. We searched what we were given. We noticed that there were no younger children in the books we looked through. We think it is possible that Katya's file could be mis-filed in a younger children's binder.

We feel certain that the Katya's paperwork is there. We have been allowed to return to continue our search tomorrow. So we are keeping our hopes up that we will find the paperwork.

We discussed with our translator the possibility of calling the inspector and having her recreate the paperwork and get it to Kiev. This is still an option, but there is one problem, the law says that the file must be on the books at the Adoption Center for one year before a child is available to be adopted by a foreign couple. We think we may be able to have them accept the original registration number and date, but we are not sure. So there are still some options if our search tomorrow is unsuccessful. We are not giving up easily. The adoption center as been very helpful to us so far. They are working with us to make this work and for that we are very appreciative. They can only do so much because of the law and if they don't have the paperwork, they don't have it. It seems a cruel twist of fate for an orphan's future to hang on a missing piece of paper.

We appreciate everyone's support and emails. We will update you as soon as we know anything. We have good access to an internet cafe here.

Love,

Wade and Julia

Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 21:23:44 +0000

Whew, what a day! It started this morning with our appointment at the adoption center to continue the search for Katya's paperwork. When we arrived at 9:15 for our 9:30 appointment we were abruptly stopped by the guard at the ground level who started yelling that we could not continue on up the stairs. (Think of Boris Yeltsin.....) After a heated exchange with our translator and facilitator, we found ourselves returning back down the 5 steps we had come. When we asked what that was about our translator told us that the director of the National Adoption Center had decided that today nobody would be allowed to enter unless they had an appointment. Now you would think that we had one, but no, an appointment is a special thing that you get "one" of. It is given to you on a specific date usually a month in advance. Our "official" appointment was yesterday, and now we just had a request to return at a specific time, which is not an appointment. So we waited......
Our translator stopped one of the psychologists entering the building and explained our plight. She said she would go upstairs and look for Katya's paperwork, but that because the director said nobody without an appointment would be let up, she would have to do it and let us know. This was a bit disconcerting because it was now out of our control and we had no way to look through the books carefully ourselves. After waiting for another hour and a half she returned and said that Katya was never registered at the NAC and that adopting her would be impossible. She asked is we still wanted to adopt Leeza and if we would be seeking another referral instead of Katya. We were prepared for this and had spent much of the evening discussing this scenario and what we planned to do. When we left for Ukraine we decided that we were bringing home two children. We knew Leeza and Katya and were very much committed to doing everything we could to bring them both home, but we knew the risks. At the same time, we knew that there are tens of thousands of children in Ukraine without parents. We had spent the last two years preparing for adoption of two older girls. So, it was an easy decision. We let them know that we would like to seek another referral. They told us to come back a little later and we could look through the books of the kids available at the orphanage where Leeza and Katya are located.

We still had more options. We planned to continue to look for Katya's paperwork while we found another referral. We went and ate lunch at a restaurant down the street. During lunch we ran some ideas we had by our translator and facilitator. We told them that we would continue the search for Katya's paperwork once we were inside, and that we would also find a referral. We also asked them to call the local inspector in the Kharkov region and ask her to expedite the creation of new paperwork for Katya. They called the inspector during lunch and she agreed to expedite the paperwork and immediately submit it. The problem is that once the paperwork is registered and on file the clock starts and children must be registered for one year before they are eligible for adoption. We had decided the previous night that even if her paperwork was not found we were returning to get her once it was all updated. So, the good news is that we will be adopting Leeza and Katya. Leeza will most likely be coming home with us in a few weeks and we will return for Katya as soon as she is available. The worst case scenario is one year from when her paperwork is redone. We brought an extra dossier and we will be submitting that for immediate approval. We are also going to write a petition to the Director of the National Adoption Center to waive the one year wait based on Katya's age and the circumstances of her paperwork being lost. We will bring both of them home eventually, just not at the same time. We are fine with this.

We returned to the Adoption Center and this time the guard was away from his post so we sneaked upstairs. About a dozen other people had the same idea and they were waiting outside the doors as well. We ran into a couple from Tennessee, the Moss family. I won't blow their news for them before they have a chance to tell people that are on our adoption newsgroup, they are the couple standing in the pictures we will send. It was good to have someone to swap stories with.

Occasionally, someone would appear at the door and call out a name and several people would go inside. We waited there until 5:30 pm. (the center closes at 6:00pm). We were finally ushered in and huddled in some chairs and were given several books to start looking through. Of course, we hurriedly went through the books quickly in hopes of finding Katya's paperwork, which we did not find, but we were very excited when we came across the picture of a girl we had met at the orphanage on our last trip named Masha. She is 10 years old and was with Sonya in a dance group that traveled to Kiev to perform. Her and Sonya's picture is actually sitting on our fridge in the US as we type this. When we saw her picture, we knew that we could not pass up this opportunity and asked for her referral. I guess it is going to be 6 kids instead of 5. I think everyone is going to think we are certifiably crazy by now. But we are really excited. We are going to see Leeza and Masha soon. We are not certain that Masha is completely available right now so we are in a little limbo still, but we are excited. We will also be seeing Katya at the same time and we are going to try to get the blessing of the NAC and the orphanage director to let her know that as soon as her paperwork is fixed and the NAC lets us return for her, that we will.

It has been a long and difficult day that ended beautifully. We are very happy with the outcome. It will be difficult to adjust eventually to 6 children, but we will find a way.

Our next hurdle is to ensure Masha is in fact available and to travel to see them once we are issued official referrals, hopefully tomorrow.

Wade and Julia

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