Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A 2nd "Yes" and The Great Outdoors

Today was a good day.  It was a long day filled with lots of paperwork and too much waiting, but that's just the name of the game at times and we are very much along for the ride...whatever it takes.

The day began with a 7:30am pickup from the apartment.  Ivan took us to the orphanage where we waited.  We knew we were there to begin paperwork for Max, but beyond that we don't even fully understand what's going on.  There are lots of petitions and lots of requests for patience.  We smile and nod a lot and then later ask one another, "Did you follow that?"  To which our conclusive answers are most often, "Not at all."  But we stay the course and obey each directive given by our "bossy" facilitator, Alla.  It's okay that we call her that because that's precisely how she describes herself.  Quite honestly, that's the way you want a facilitator to be anyway.  She gets things done and is not satisfied with "we'll see" or "we'll get that to you later."  Nope.  Now is the way she asks that things be done.  And they are.  She also tells us she has "friends."  I don't think we have even the slightest clue to how extensive her network of friends really is, but we are grateful nonetheless.  Alla pushes, demands, argues (although they would consider it merely conversing).

Here Alla has taken over the notary assistant's desk and is working on the paperwork herself.
I digressed a bit.  Alright, so we were at the orphanage waiting on Alla and the inspector, Natalia, to arrive for our meeting with the two of them as well as Maria, the orphanage director, and our boy.  They locked us in the teacher's room to wait.  For some reason being locked in a room doesn't phase me in the least anymore.

Then we were ushered into Maria's office where all the necessary people were present.  Then Max came in to answer some questions from the inspector.  I wish I could tell you what the questions were, but unfortunately my Ukrainian is still in progress.  Natalia is a very kind woman and Max smiled quite often during their brief conversation.  Although I will say that he appeared nervous upon first entering the room.  He sat down next to me and I was sure to put my arm around him to remind him we are unified...we are family.

I noticed on the table that he had already written out his petition before we arrived.  I really wanted a photo of him writing it, but had to settle for getting a quick pic when, at one point, everyone left the room.

Max's petition made official by that blue stamp.
Once the paperwork compiling was in full force, we were escorted back to our waiting spot.  About a half hour later, Maria retrieved us and we waited a brief moment while Yelena, the orphanage lawyer, and our kids appeared from the hallway.  And we got to leave the orphanage!

Together, the five of us walked to a huge park located just beside the orphanage.  It is gorgeous, the ground covered with gorgeous tall pines, statues of all sorts and kinds and wildflowers sprouting all around.

Bouquet hand-picked by our kids.
I can't even tell you how amazing it was to spend time together beyond the orphanage walls.  Even with a chaperone, it was a little bit of heaven.  Speaking of our chaperone, Yelena is one person that I have really grown to love throughout this entire process.  She is the orphanage lawyer and she is the one who, each Wednesday morning would answer the call when we Skyped with the kids.  If they were not already seated at the computer waiting, she would rush off down the hall to bring them into her office to talk with us.  It wasn't until I visited in January that I realized that the "Skype computer" is her computer...and one of the only computers in the orphanage at all.  So, for her to make her computer available to the kids each Wednesday was a sacrifice.  She really loves and enjoys the kids and we couldn't be more grateful for her.

Yelena and Kate

Our time at the park was so sweet, we just wish this is what our time could look like every day with the kids.  There's something to be said for the freedom found beyond the orphanage.  It's like the kids come alive.  I think it's the fresh air.  I believe kids were created for play, for adventure, for climbing and skipping and jumping, for discovery.

A father and son stroll.

Beautiful view atop the "Bridge of Love."

Married couples secure padlocks to symbolize their love as they cross the bridge.

Beach on the Dnieper River.

Quite the view from above.

Couldn't love these two more.

Posing for Mom.

A little man to man time.

Discovery in action.

A message from big brother: "I love Andee and Charlee."

Pondering what she should write.
Her name in shyshka (pine cone).

Only Dad can make her smile like this.

When our time at the park was over, we returned to the orphanage and we were essentially snuck into Yelena's office, out of sight.  The orphanage is being inspected by the government this week.  They come to count underwear and make sure no crumbs are found.  Apparently they don't need to see any Americans either.  We are typically ushered into rooms, but this ushering was even more greatly accelerated.  Once in Yelena's office we watched Donald Duck for our remaining 15 minutes together.  Now that's what I call bonding.

Warner Bros. transcends language barriers.

Once home, we walked to McDonald's and enjoyed some fried food.

Once home, we will be petitioning to have this tasty item added to the American McDonald's menu.
And that concludes the excitement of Day 15 of Ukraine life.


Grandma, Grandpa and the girls continue to do well at home.  In fact, they are doing so well that Grandma mentioned to Charlee yesterday that we were going to Skype and her response was, "We just did that!"  Feeling the love across the ocean for sure!  I choose to look at the bright side of this and be thankful that they are getting along mostly well without us.  The challenge is greater with Andee, as I anticipated, given her age.  But all in all, things are going better than we expected and that makes the waiting slightly more bearable.

And the daily pictures from Grandma certainly help too.  There is no shortage of fun being had back in the good ol' US of A.

Homework is completed...

...water play ensues...

...secrets are shared...

...greeting with Grandpa is enjoyed...

...and naked, after bathtime laughter is enjoyed.

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