|Leaving Cherkasy. The orphanage is located just beside the radio/cell tower pictured.|
I was much less nervous going into this appointment, having already had a successful appointment last week for Kate. In fact, this time it was just a complete breeze. Olga, Igor, Adam and I met again in the same small room with the same wall of binders marked by birth year and even the same page protectors. It was all very familiar. Last time Olga asked us nothing about how we knew Kate or why we wanted to adopt, questions we had been anticipating. Yesterday she was very interested to know how our reunion with Kate went and if she was happy to see us. Thankfully, we could positively report to her that our reunion was beautiful. She seemed genuinely delighted to hear this.
This time Olga asked additional questions, one of which was how we know Max. We explained that while he was hosted by another family, we met him while the entire host group was in California together. She was content with that answer and we didn't elaborate to explain that we've also Skyped with him weekly for the past several months. We didn't share that we had planned to host him over Christmas as well until that fell through due to some changes occurring at the orphanage. And we absolutely did not share that I made a trip to meet him and spend time with both he and Kate back in January. So, for all intents and purposes, tomorrow should be our first time meeting Max. And yet, we can confidently say that we love him already just as much as Kate who we actually lived life with for a time over the summer. We have been incredibly blessed with Maria, the orphanage director, who ultimately was the one who allowed me to come visit the kids. She did not have to allow that, but instead she graciously opened the orphanage doors to me and allowed me time to bond with our kids that most adoptive parents wouldn't have before accepting the official referral. She is an orphanage director like no other.
Olga also mentioned to us that Max looks like Adam and that Kate looks like me and then stated that "God decided" for them to be placed with us. We took that as a very high compliment and were blessed by her recognizing, in whatever way, that God has a hand in this. Overall it was a great appointment with many smiles shared and even a bit of laughter.
|Waiting in Yuriy's Nissan Maxima outside the SDA building. Note the fancy GPS!|
|And we had to get cappuccinos from our favorite street coffee vendor.|
Later this afternoon we will pick up our referral paperwork and then travel back to Cherkasy to begin the paperwork for Max. Lord willing, he will complete his petition on Monday stating that he would like us to adopt him. This whole petition thing will forever remain strange to me. Wonderful, but strange. On Monday, an almost 11 year old boy will physically write a letter naming me and Adam as the two people (of all the people on the face of this planet) he would like to be his Mom and Dad. That's just plain backwards, but very cool all at the same time.
After our appointment, we walked across with street to eat pizza with Igor, Alla and another adoptive couple who also had a successful appointment just before ours. Igor mentioned several times, "I wish they were all this easy." We are so thankful, too, for wonderful facilitators without whom none of this would be possible. We ordered pizza with pepperoni to celebrate, but received pizza with pepperocinis instead. Oops, silly Americans. We enjoyed it nonetheless.
Our apartment for the evening was located about a half block from Maidan, or Independence Square. The strangest thing about being this close to Maidan is how completely unstrange it feels. Honestly, we feel safer walking around Independence Square than probably anywhere else. We've been told to stay away from the "crazies" down there, but the first thing we did once we got settled in our apartment was walk out the door and head that direction. When you walk around down there, besides the fact that you know it was once such a beautiful area, it feels like you are walking on sacred ground. People walk more slowly and time is spent remembering the heroes who lost their lives just weeks ago. And the more time you spend down there, the less strange it seems to see to see camouflaged men pushing chopped wood in a wheelbarrow down the torn up sidewalk as you are looking for a store to purchase a mobile wi-fi device. Quite the contrast.
|A vehicle equipped with a water canon used by the Berkut to douse the crowds during the protests.|
|Buildings still occupied by the people opposed to the government under Yanukovich.|
|A display that was not here a week ago. I believe it says something about "stopping propaganda" and "no fascism."|
|Huge flag covered in handwriting waved by chanting people.|
What I wouldn't give to know Ukrainian while in the vicinity of Maidan. When we arrived yesterday I knew that these men (and some women) would still be here, camped out. But to see it all a week later and to be reminded that they truly have no intentions of leaving. It's sobering. They are in this all the way. It's a beautiful thing.
And just up the street from all this commotion I sit in a very modern joint with free wifi called True Taste Coffee House. Again a stark contrast from the men sitting camped in their tents at the base of this street, who continue to make sacrifices to stand for the freedom they so desperately desire. This should serve all of us Americans as a reminder that freedom doesn't come for free. The freedom we enjoy in America was and is fought for. We don't even know how good we have it. Let us not forget to be grateful for the men and women who ensure our freedom daily...even when we cannot tangibly see the evidence.