Tuesday, July 31, 2007

2nd post today (don't forget to read prior post)

I thought I'd take advantage of having a good internet connection to post twice (one from yesterday and one for today)

We are getting a little tired of the heat (40C in the shade) and with not AC...we're drenched. I can't believe I'm actually hoping for rain!! We visited Emma this morning and Lucas shared his markers and writing pad with her. It was cute to see them "share". We only spent about an hour because of the heat. We're back in the apartment doing some much needed laundry. There is a small front loading washing machine in the kitchen and it seems to be doing a pretty good job. The apartment has a small balcony where we can hang our clothes to dry. They dry pretty quickly in this heat.

Many of you are asking about Emma's size. It's hard to tell because the sizes are different here but she would probably fit into the same size Lucas wears. He wears 4T boys but I'm not sure if 4T girls is the same as boy sizes. I'll leave that up to your discretion. We bought her size 30 flipflops and they fit her nicely. I don't know the conversion but you can look online for conversion charts to see what size that would be in the US (that's what I did when we brought Lucas home).

Luba asked her what kind of toys she likes but she was too shy to answer...or it was a question too beyond her wildest imagination to answer so I imagine she will like anything. I specifically asked if she likes dolls and she said "da". Sooo that's all the direction I can give for now.

Well, I need to go hang out some laundry and then sit in front of the fan and cool off.

Love to you all.
L,C,L & E

PS: I've tried posting some pictures of our time in Kyiv but I keep losing the connection. I'll keep trying in the days to come. If I don't update daily, it's not for lack of trying...I MISS high speed internet!

Another day...

(Our internet connection is quite stubborn!! This is our update from yesterday...Monday)

We are setting into our daily routine. We walked the 2 blocks to the orphanage at about 10am. We are never sure where to find Emma everyday since she is not located in the areas that we are allowed entrance. We are able to walk pretty much anywhere on the first floor and we usually search for someone to ask for "Yana". We sign a register and then they go to get her for us. She usually arrives in shorts, no shirt, and a floppy hat. Because it is so hot, most of the kids we've seen are dressed without shirts on. We haven't had any interaction with any of the other children (except the little girl being adopted by the Greek couple). We are able to see them in the distance, playing at another play area. We have one of the play areas to ourselves and we spend our time playing on the monkey bars, swinging or playing hide-n-seek. Today, after playing for awhile, we sat down at a little table and took out some papers with some translated phrases on them. Emma would laugh at our pronunciation of these phrases but she would act out whatever we would say (ie...are you sad...she would make a sad face. Are you happy...she would smile etc). She has already started calling us Mama & Papa. When she wants us to lift her up to reach one of the bars, she will say "something something something Mama". She also likes to look at the little photo album that we made for her showing our house, family, school and friends. Any of the pictures with Lucas in it she will point to Lucas and say "brat"...that means brother...she's not actually calling him a brat! haha. She seems to be getting much more comfortable with us. She let me nuzzle her a little bit and her hugs are becoming much less reserved. We are trying hard not to favor one over the other and there seems to be no resentment between the two. Lucas does sometimes get a bit frustrated when she doesn't understand him but it is short lived and soon they are off running around playing together. We tried out her new name today to see if she liked it and she kept referring to herself as "Emma baba". We're not sure what she means by the "baba" (which is a form of Grandma), but perhaps we're hearing her wrong. She smiles when she says it so hopefully she likes it. When it is time to leave she starts to walk towards the other children and will turn, wave, cast her eyes down and walk away. I can't wait until we can take her home!! When we walk back to the apartment, Lucas always says "When can we go back to the ortinige". I think he's finally beginning to realize that he used to live in an orphanage too and he likes to talk about when we came to Ukraine to adopt him. This trip has done wonders for his comprehension of his story and he seems quite proud of the fact that this is "his" country. We're so glad we made the decision to bring him with us.

Today we have run into our first paperwork snag. Luba and Ruslan were off trying to gather the appropriate documents that the judge had requested prior to granting us a court date. She had to travel to 2 different towns in order to achieve this. Upon return she visited the judge and got our tentative court date of August 13 (yep…that’s 2 LONG weeks from now…sigh). Luba and Ruslan left Nikopol at 4:30 to head back to Kyiv to submit the documents to the SDA to get permission from them for us to adopt. She cannot submit them until Wednesday, as they only accept these documents on Mon/Wed/Fri. They have 5 days to sign the appropriate permission documents then we can go to court…but…our judge is requiring that we wait 7 days after the SDA approval (there are reasons that we can’t go into). After court, we will have to wait the mandatory 10 days until we can be issued the official court decree, then obtain Emma's new birth certificate and passport. Sooo...we are here for awhile. Other than the heat, we are very comfortable. We have plenty of movies to watch on the laptop in the evenings and many places to explore on foot during the day (between visiting the orphanage).

On a good note, we are enjoying some the most fantastic fruits and vegetables from the market. The tomatoes are to die for but unfortunately Lucas doesn’t share our enthusiasm for them. The grapes are spectacular and we are going to try some of the other fruit on our next visit to the market. Yep…that’s what we’ve been reduced to…raving about the fruit!

Well, that’s all for today. I’m afraid our posts may get a little boring due to the lack of anything new occurring. But, we’ll keep it up…so you’d better write back…we absolutely LOVE reading your comments.

Love from Nikopol
Lisa, Chris & Lucas

PS: Tracey, Chris wants you to tell Dad that “Apparently, lightening can strike twice”.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

One day at a time

Hello everyone,
Our day started with us sleeping late and eating a light breakfast before going to the orphanage (Detsky Dom) to visit Yana/Emma. We played outside with her for awhile in one of the play areas. She seemed happy to see us this morning but she remains somewhat shy and reserved. after about an hour, Luba and Ruslan arrived to take us to an open market to buy Yana/Emma some clothes. Luba had asked permission to take Yana/Emma with us and they graciously agreed.
We arrived at a large outdoor market with many stalls filled with clothes, shoes, toys and other such things. We searched for stalls with children's clothes and managed to find 3 outfits, 2 pairs of shoes and underwear...for about 150 hrv (grivna)...which is about $30. Yana was quite excited to get new clothes and she was beaming when she was trying on a new dress to check for size. She was a little awestruck with all of the people and commotion going on. I believe this was her first experience in a market and she was taking it all in.
We then drove to a lake located in Nikopol, which is a local beach area where many people go to swim and lay in the sun. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We were told that Yana does not have much of an appetite which is why she is so thin...well...she had no problem eating more than Lucas...which in itself is quite a feat!! We should have no trouble putting a little meat on her bones! We had the opportunity to ask Yana some questions since we had Luba with us. One thing she said was that she has never been to a restaurant and that she was enjoying it very much. It is so overwhelming to imagine how much this little girl has not experienced. She smiled, and laughed...and even burped...after tasting her first Coca Cola! We will have many firsts with her in the near future but this first was very special to us.
We then went back to the market to get some meat, fruit and vegetables to last us for a few days. Then we drove down to the beach and the kids went swimming in this man-made lake that was cool and inviting. It is hot...so the cool water was very refreshing. We didn't have our bathing suits so the kids went swimming in their underwear while we waded near the shore. Ruslan, had his bathing suit with him so he took the kids out further than the shore and splashed around with them. I think it was the first time we'd seen him smile...I think he's got a soft spot for both the kids...though I doubt he'd ever admit it...haha.
It was time to take Yana back to the Detsky Dom and during our drive back, Luba asked her if she was happy to be going to America with a new Mama, Papa, & brother. She smiled, looked at each of us and said "Da". I think she's worried that we will change our minds but we've tried to have Luba explain to her that we will not leave her here. She nods her head in understanding but I don't think she really believes it yet. She seemed so sad when we dropped her off but I could tell she was trying hard to be brave. We've got many more days to earn her trust before taking her with us for good. She really is such a sweet little girl. We are extremely blessed!!!
Well, that's all for today. I'm tired from our busy day and am going to take a nap...or read. We miss you all.
Lisa, Chris, Lucas & Yana/Emma

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Our dream has come true...

A wise man once said "Life's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get". Well, our box of chocolates just got a little sweeter. We found our daughter!!!

We set out from Kyiv at 1 am Friday morning with Luba. Our driver's name is Ruslan, and he is a very accomplished driver. Perhaps he drives a little on the speedy side but he can swerve around pot holes like no one I have ever seen. He does not speak English so our conversations are limited. The trip to Nikopol took approximately 6.5 hours, of which neither Chris nor I got any sleep. Lucas, on the other hand was able to sleep at least 6 hours so he was bright and cheerful when we arrived. As you can imagine...we were not! We were tired, hungry, and looked quite unkempt. We stopped to have coffee and tea when we arrived because we were a little early and we needed to wait for the region's Inspector to arrive to work. Nikopol is located in the Dnipropetrovsk region in the southeastern part of the country. It is a small city with approximately 150 thousand residents (I googled it...) and it is a large exporter of manganese (also googled).

We visited with the Inspector at about 8:00am and she asked several questions, mostly about Lucas, and then she signed the paperwork to give us permission to visit the orphanage. We arrived at the orphanage at approximately 8:45. The orphanage is not too large but is well looked after and with several play areas outside. The inside is being remodeled (new paint and some new furniture) at the present since the majority of the children are in Italy...at summer camp. We waited in the corridor then we were shown in the Orphanage Directors office. She also asked a few questions, then at approximately 9:10am, a little girl entered the room. She was shy and quiet at first and she would steal looks at us occasionally when she thought we weren’t looking. We were taken to a separate room in order to give us some time to interact with her. There were some toys in the room and Lucas started building a house with the building blocks. She soon joined him and they began communicating through the international language of “play”. They were so cute together. Each would hand the other a piece to build with and we were struck with the apparent similarities in their personalities. She seems sweet, kind, and shy and she soon began to open up with us and smile (she has a beautiful smile) and interact more and more. She really loved it when Chris would lift her up in the air so she could see the top of the cabinets. During one of these “lifts”, she gave Chris a kiss on the cheek. The most interesting look flashed across Chris’s face. I believe I could actually hear the sound of her wrapping him around her little finger at that moment. Luba spent time talking with the orphanage doctor and director. When she joined us, she asked us how it was going. We said “We’re not leaving Ukraine without her”. It was funny, we didn’t even talk about it, all we did was look at each other and we knew she is the one. Lucas said “when can we take my sister home?”…he was hooked.

Luba found us an apartment 2 blocks from the orphanage so we will not need a driver during our 2-4 week stay here. We went to the apartment and were happy to find a 2 bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom & balcony awaiting us. It does not have AC but it has fan and the windows have screens so we can keep the windows open without bugs flying in. It also has a washing machine and AN IRON!! Whoohoo.

We took a much needed nap in the afternoon, then returned to the orphanage at 4:00pm. The director asked us if we wanted to adopt her and we said “YES!!”. She asked Lucas as well and he said yes too. She also asked the little girl if she wanted us to be her Mama, Papa & brother…and she smiled shyly and said “da” (yes!!!). We then took her outside and played on one of the many playgrounds and Lucas was so happy to have someone to play with. They are soooo cute together. Lucas said “I picked her picture. I want to take her home”. You can’t ask for anything better than that!!

We left her at the orphanage and made our way to a supermarket…of course it took us an hour because…yep…you guessed it…we went the wrong way…sigh. We bought some food and carried it home and made dinner. Luba and Ruslan returned and we put Lucas to bed. Chris and I set off to try to find an internet cafĂ©. After an hour of searching (and asking about 5 different people in our limited Russian) we were unsuccessful. I was bursting to tell you all the news but finding internet access proved to be impossible.

This morning we woke up and went to the orphanage at 10am. The kids played for awhile and we met another family from Greece who are adopting another 5 year old little girl. They were very nice and the wife was able to communicate in broken English. She is originally from France but she now lives with her husband in Greece. We spent awhile with them and all the kids had a great time playing together. We then returned to our apartment and Ruslan was able to get our laptop hooked up to the internet!!! WHOOOHOO. I was so happy when it worked and I immediately kissed him on the cheek. I think he was a little embarrassed…he’s not an emotional type person. He actually reminds me a little of Tony Soprano. I wish he could speak English (or we spoke Russian) so we could communicate better with him. I think he’s a pretty interesting fellow. Luba cooked us a wonderful meal (chicken, potatoes, salad) and we feasted on the wonderful food. We are heading back to the orphanage as soon as I post this.

A little more information on our little girl: She has beautiful, long brown hair & brown eyes. She has a tan from her time at camp in Italy and she tans like Chris. I guess Lucas and I are destined to be the pale ones in the family. Her birthday is August 22 and she will turn 6 years old. She is slightly taller (maybe ½ an inch) than Lucas. She is very thin…she actually makes Lucas look chunky…and anyone who knows Lucas, knows he is nowhere near chunky!! Her name is Yana and we are going to name her Emma Yana Bush. We will post some pictures when we are a little closer to our court date. This is a public site and we aren’t comfortable posting her picture until all the paperwork is done…sorry!

Well, I’d better post this so Lucas can go back to see his sister…he’s asking “how much longer?” (whine) Thank you for all of your messages. We really love reading them. I’m sorry I can’t answer everyone individually. It really helps knowing you are all out there reading this and joining us in this adventure. Your prayers have helped to guide us to our daughter.

Love to all,
Lisa, Chris & Lucas

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Relaxing day

Hello everyone.  We are LOVING the comments!  Keep them coming.  

We are leaving tonight at 1am to drive to Nikopol.  Well, we're not actually doing the driving...we have a driver to do that.  I wouldn't dare attempt driving here.  It is so crazy!  We thought the parking on the sidewalks last time was bizarre, but here in Kyiv...they actually drive down the sidewalks.  Heaven forbid you are walking on one when a car is coming.  It seems that the drivers have the right-of -way and pedestrians are just moving targets..haha.  Not that we've actually seen anyone get run over but we sure do hear alot of honking.

Anyway, we just spent a lazy day in the apartment.  It is a little chilly (no snickers from you Canadians eh!)  so we just ate and took naps and read.  It was a nice break from all the walking.  Lucas set up his "office" in the living room and spent the afternoon seeing clients or something.  I spent the time reading the latest Harry Potter (which I picked up at the airport in Houson).  Chris and Lucas did go for a short walk to the park while I took a nap.  They ran into another family that I have been in contact with, who had their appointment the same day as us.  It is so weired that he would run into fellow adopters in a city this large.  

We decided to make one last trip to the internet cafe since we didn't know when we would get another chance.  We stopped at McDonalds (Old McDonalds as Lucas calls it) and ate dinner.  So all that is left to do is pack up our stuff and head out at 1 am.  We should be able to meet the little girl sometime tomorrow morning.  We're very excited to get this show on the road!  

We'll update as soon as we can.

Lisa, Chris & Lucas

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A great day indeed...

Hello from rainy/partly sunny Ukraine. I won't keep you in suspense. We arrived at the SDA (2 minute walk from our apartment) at 2:15. Luba arrived shortly after and we spent time talking about what to expect in our appointment. At 3:00, a very nice young lady greeted us at the door and explained that she would be our translator for our time there. Luba waited for us outside. She took us to a room and introduced us to our "'psychologist". She was another young woman who was also very nice. She asked us a few questions about Lucas and what we were looking for (age, health, gender). After we answered her questions she brought out a few files. She went through each one, explaining age, location, known health, and known family history, etc. She answered any questions we had with each child. All the files were of girls ranging in age between 2.5 and 6. We narrowed our choice down to 2 (the two oldest) and we had some difficulty deciding between them. We asked Lucas but he wasn't much help...he kept picking "this one"..."no wait, that one". So, we talked as a family and made our decision. We chose to visit a little girl in Nikopol, age 5 (almost 6). The whole appointment took no longer than 45 minutes and we felt very happy when it was over. There are many more details that I really can't go into but I will tell you that we are very, very happy. Actually, relieved is probably a more appropriate word to describe how we are feeling right now. We will receive our referral paperwork tomorrow evening and then we can travel to Nikopol either by train or by car...we haven't decided yet. So, if all goes well, we could meet this little girl on Friday.

I need to give props to Lucas for a moment. We were really worried that this trip might be a bit much for him but much to our surprise, he has handled himself better than we could have ever imagined. We must have walked at least 6-7 miles yesterday and we expected him to complain about being tired (like at the mall!!) but he would only say "Let's sit down and take a rest". We found several playgrounds on our travels and he has had a blast playing on the old, metal slides and equipment. He has also been cracking us up constantly. Everytime he sees the Ukrainian flag hanging somewhere (there is a huge one on one of the official looking buildings) he keeps saying "Why do they hang my flag?". He doesn't quite understand that the flag belongs to this country and it isn't HIS personal flag.

Oh, Lucas just walked up and wants me to tell you "Her's a girl and I picked her". So there you have it. He's taking all the credit for picking her.

Well, I have to go. I'm not able to send any pictures on this computer but I will try to send some soon.

We miss you all.

Lisa, Chris & Lucas

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We're here...

Well, we made it. The flights were long and tiresome but were uneventful and successful...meaning they got us here in one piece...and our luggage made it too. Lucas was GREAT on the plane. He was able to sleep for about 4 hours. However, his pillow (that would be me) was not quite so fortunate. When we arrived at the airport in Kyiv, we had some difficulty at customs...OK...I had difficulty at customs. Apparently, I am quite capable of completing a complicated adoption dossier 4 times, but I seem to have some difficulty with filling out a simple customs form according to the instructions. But, we made it through. We were met by our lovely translator and our driver. Our translator's name is Luba and she is very nice and is very experienced in adoptions so we feel we are in great hands.

We are staying in an apartment overlooking a street vendor haven. It is a great location (though quite expensive) and we are very comfortable. We spent the evening last night looking for a grocery store and ended up going in the opposite direction of where we needed to go (this seems to be a theme for us as you will soon read). But, we found our way and got water and juice and went to bed early (which was really late for us from our time zone). I tried to get our laptop hooked up to the internet but wasn't successful so that is why you have had to wait so long for an update...we couldn't find an internet cafe until now.

We woke up late and left the apartment at about noon to explore our area. We were particularly looking for Independance Square. Well, as luck would have it...we went in the opposite direction and spent 4 hours (YES...4 hours with a 4 year old) walking all around Kyiv. We did see a McDonalds...which I will tell you felt like the heavens had opened up and the angels were singing...we were starving. Nothing like the big M to make you feel at home...well...except...it was CLOSED!!! But we wouldn't let that get us down. We found our way to a tram that would take us back up the long hill that we had come down in our travels. Lucas charmed his way into the company of 3 sweet young ladies. 2 were from Arizona...in Kyiv to teach English for the summer, and the other was Ukrainian whom they had met through their youth group. Anyway, Lucas sure can pick up the ladies. And speaking of ladies...apparently I packed way too many clothes. It seems clothing is optional for the female population here, or at least the amount of material is kept to a minimum at all times. I feel quite frumpy in my kacki's and t-shirts. My attire screams "tourist" at every turn. Oh well, Lucas seems to enjoy the sights...and I dare say my husband is too. Can't say I blame them though. I've never seen more beautiful women in my life. Breathtaking really.

Well, after partaking of a sparse ham, bread and cabbage perogi's for dinner (I wanted potato and cheese but somehow that got lost in the translation...imagine that!), we decided to try to find an internet cafe. On our journey we came accross St Michael's Basilica and were moved by the sheer glory of it. We each lit a candle and enjoyed the silence. We then decided to keep walking and low and behold...Independence Square!! For the love of Pete...we found it!!! It is a mecca for tourists and natives alike. There are beautiful fountains and one you can walk in. Lucas loved that one. So here I am, we finally found an internet cafe so I could update you all. I told Chris that you would all be mad at me if I didn't update soon.

Our appointment at the SDA is tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3pm. Please pray that all goes well. We have waited for this appointment for 2.5 years and now that it is here, we are feeling the pressure. We will update you as soon as we can. We are meeting Sveta (our translator from our last trip) tomorrow night after our appointment. We can't wait for her to see Lucas. She is so special to us and we can't wait to see her.

Anyway, the boys are telling me they want to go to McDonalds (which incidentally, there is one here in Independence Square..yeah!) so I'd better go.

Miss you all and love to everyone. Keep those prayers coming (and you might want to add a little side prayer for us and better senses of direction...A. Monie...that means 2 candles)

Lisa, Chris & Lucas

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Too cute...

I was heading to bed and Lucas (apparently too excited to fall asleep in bed) fell asleep on the stairs waiting for us to come up. I couldn't resist posting this.

We are "go for launch"

We are leaving tomorrow (Sunday) at 3:30 pm. We will arrive in Kyiv at approximately 1pm Monday (local time). We are ready...the bags are packed, the house is clean, the dogs are being spoiled as we speak (thanks Nancy!), and all that is left to do is get a good night sleep. Lucas's last words to me before going to bed tonight were "I'm so happy to be going to Mycraine". I can't imagine not bringing him with us. I would be a wreck right now if I had to leave him here and not see him for up to 6 weeks.

We will try to get our laptop connected to the internet in our apartment, but if we are unsuccessful we will update from an internet cafe. If you don't hear from us, it's because we can't find a connection...not because we don't want to talk to you all...haha.

Please keep us in your prayers. We are very excited...and scared...and nervous...and delighted all at the same time. We can't wait to get there.

Talk to you all soon.

Lisa, Chris & Lucas

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Not long now...

Only 8 days to go. All that is left to do is pack! Lucas's suitcase is done and we plan to have ours packed by the end of the weekend. This is a different concept for me because I'm usually a last minute packer, but making sure we have everything we need for 6 weeks in Ukraine is an exercise in organization, patience, and compromise. Do I really need that travel iron?...you betcha! There are certain sacrifices that need to be made to ensure I don't have too many wrinkles...it's all a matter of priorities. Since we will likely have to handwash our clothes (we can't count on having a washing machine in our apartments), wrinkle reduction is a major issue for me...haha. I figure my quirks all balance out. I'm not a germaphobe, I don't mind using the squat toilets that are popular in Ukraine, the bathrooms on the train don't gross me out too badly, and I don't mind sleeping on sheets with a low thread count...but by golly I'm not about to wear a t-shirt with wrinkles in it...that's just uncivilized! Ok, perhaps a travel iron IS a bit on the "you've got to be kidding me" side, but I've come to terms with the fact that I have some issues and it's just easier to accept them than to...well...actually deal with them. Chris has learned to accept them too...when I showed him the newly aquired, dual voltage, compact travel iron, he actually said "Oh, what a great idea". That is why our marriage works...he knows just the right thing to say!

Lucas's surgery went very well. He was so brave and he could hear perfectly after he woke up. We were also brave...not a tear was shed by mama and daddy. I'm so glad it is over and my baby can actually hear me whispering. Well, it's actually been a difficult adjustment for us, since we had gotten into the habit of having conversations (usually about him) while he was in the room. Now he says "what are you saying about me??" or "stop talking about me". I guess selective hearing only works on his terms...not ours. Nevertheless, we're thrilled to have his hearing back to normal.

I will post again next weekend before we leave.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July

We had a wonderful (and wet) time at the Kingwood 4th of July parade this morning. Lucas was so excited to see the police directing traffic and the fire trucks leading off the parade. He even asked one of the firefighters if he would come to his birthday party...it was funny. The parade is comprised of local businesses, teams, groups (scouts, Masons, churches etc...) and they all throw candy, toys or beads from their "floats". It was rainy most of the time but that was better than the usual Texas July day of 1000 or so degrees.

We are leaving for Ukraine in 18 days and we are taking advantage of the time to clean out closets and do some much needed maintenance to the house. Well, actually I'm making the "honey do" lists and Chris is marking them off one by one as he completes them...haha. He is off work until after we return so he is using his time (or rather I am using his time) wisely.

Lucas is having minor surgery on Friday to put tubes in his ears and to have is adenoids removed. He has had fluid in his ears for quite a while and it isn't clearing on its own. He has 35-45% hearing loss because of it...which explains why we have to repeat everything 3 times and his most used word is "huh?". The tubes should help make the flight a little more pleasant for him as well. I'm not looking forward to sending my baby into surgery...no matter how minor the procedure...but I will handle it like any self respecting nurse would...I'll probably bawl my eyes out! Oh well, at least he'll be able to hear clearly again.


PS: Shelley, we look forward to meeting you on the 25th at the SDA :)