Thursday, August 30, 2007

Good news/Bad news...

Well, the good news is...Luba has the passport! The bad news is...she's still in Dnip. She will arrive tonight at 11 pm by train. Sooooo...we missed our appointment at the embassy today. BUT we got another one for tomorrow at 11:30am. Hopefully we will get the visa tomorrow evening because we had to book the last 4 seats available for Sunday. There isn't any seats available until after Sept 10 so we are praying that the US Government is speedier and more efficient than the Ukrainian government (the passport part anyway) haha. I will let you know tomorrow if we get the visa and are able to fly home Sunday. I'll give flight info then as well but I think it arrives around 5pm.

Thank you all for your support. Those of you who have been through this know exactly what we are feeling. We are keeping positive and trying not to let it get us too down. The past few weeks have felt like a roller coaster ride with huge hurdles. But it will all be just a blip in our memories soon enough.

On a good note, Emma seems to be adjusting nicely. Although I'm not sure what she is thinking. We've changed apartments 3 times since she's been with us and hopefully she's not thinking that this is IT! I can imagine she is saying to herself "Wow, I've joined a family a vegabonds". She is getting along well with Lucas, but he is feeling the reality of having a full time sister. There have been a few minor scraps but nothing too major. Emma is picking up english quickly and she says everything that Lucas says. She says "night, night Mama...I love you" when she goes to bed. It is so cute. I really can't wait for you all to meet her.

Well, my family is waving for me to finish up. I will let you all know about Sunday. We're off to walk the streets of Kyiv.'s quite cool in least it's not hot...we're very grateful for that!

Lots of Love,
L,C,L & E

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We're still here...

Hi everyone,

We stumbled onto an internet cafe on our walk today so I thought I'd give an update. Thanks Ang for posting yesterday...sorry we got cut off. Anyway, we spent 4 days in Dnipropetrovsk in a nice apartment with nothing much to do in the area. It was actually 30 min outside of the city so it was quite boring. We were hoping to have the passport on Monday but it was not ready so Chris, Lucas, Emma and I headed back to Kyiv by train and Luba stayed in Dnip. We had to return to Kyiv by Tuesday to change our plane tickets...otherwise we'd have to pay for new ones and I don't even want to think about how much that would cost! So, we expected the passport to be ready yesterday (Tues) but it wasn't, so we are praying it is ready today. We have an appointment at the US Embassy tomorrow and we need the passport to get the visa. If it is not ready today, we will be stuck here until next week. I've cried many tears at that we are so ready to come home. If we make the appointment at the embassy, we will hope that the visa will be ready the same day. If not we will have to stay until next week...again...more tears at the thought. There are no flights out until next week and we have tentatively booked our flights for Friday. We want so much to be on that plane!!!!! Please, pray, pray, pray. We are holding up ok but the kids are getting restless and Lucas is very homesick. He misses his friends. I will let you all know if we can fly out on Friday. We won't know until Thursday night so it will be a little short notice. Hopefully many of you can come to the airport to welcome our Emma home. I've been at the airport to welcome home 3 adopted children of friends of mine and it is a truly wonderful experience.

Well, I'd better post this and get these kids fed. They are hungry...AGAIN. We're going broke just feeding them both! haha.

Love to you all,
Hopefully we see you soon.

L,C,L & E

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Update from Kiev

I am posting this comment for Lisa. She called and left me a message that they are trying to catch a flight Friday. She said to tell you all that she is in Kiev and they are all fine. The message cut off at that point but she got to the important stuff. Sounds like we will be seeing them soon.
Angela Cowart

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Last post from Nicopol...

We’ve had an exhausting, but lucrative day. Luba, Emma and I headed to Dnipropeprovsk this morning to apply for Emma’s passport and the legalization of her birth certificate. I won’t bore you with the details (actually I'm too tired to go into it...sorry), but we returned back to the apartment in Nicopol at 7pm…totally exhausted. Now all we have to do is wait for the passport to be delivered from Kiev to Dnipropeprovsk. The earliest we can expect it is Monday…so if you are so inclined to pray…this would be a great time. If we get it early next week we could be home by the end of the week (Thursday 30, Friday 31 or Saturday 1). We are leaving Nicopol tomorrow at 7am to move to a new apartment in Dnipropetrovsk (not in the center of the city but in a smaller area outside the city). Once we get the passport we will take the train back to Kyiv. We will then need to get Emma a physical at the American Clinic in Kyiv then have our appointment at the US Embassy to obtain Emma’s immigrant visa. Then we are free to fly home. Our return tickets are scheduled for August 29 (next Wednesday) so we will have to change them and buy a ticket for Emma when we know the exact date of our return.

This will be my last post for awhile since there doesn’t seem to be an internet café near our new apartment so I will write again once we are back in Kyiv. We are very excited to be close to coming home and we can’t wait to see everyone.

Have a great weekend and hopefully I will be back online Tuesday or Wednesday.

Love from Nikopol (for the last time)
L,C,L & E

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 last

Whew…what a day! Yesterday, Luba arrived and she met us at the orphanage during our morning visit. She was running here and there making sure everything was in order to pick up our court decree today. She talked with the director of the orphanage and she asked if we wanted to take Emma with us tomorrow (which is today) or wait for the passport to be completed. The director asked us because the Greek couple have decided to keep their daughter in the orphanage while they wait for the passport and she wanted to know if that is what we wanted. We said “We will take our daughter with us tomorrow!!!”. We cannot imagine leaving her there when she is legally able to leave.

This morning we woke up and started the flurry of activity that can only be described as the “wait in the car” phase (though a nice diversion from our usual routine). We remember this well from last time. The only difference is that it is now 100 degrees F instead of 10 degrees F. Not sure which is worse. Our nice driver picked us up at 8 am and he took us to the courthouse where Luba picked up the court decree. It was pretty quick since she had made all the preparations yesterday. With the court decree in hand, we headed to the small town where Emma was born (I don’t know how to spell it but it starts with an M). It is approximately 40km from Nicopol so it was a nice drive through farmlands…which looked like it could be “anywhere” USA. We arrived in a quaint little town…well quaint for Ukraine standards…and we headed to the birth certificate office. Luba got us in quickly (ahead of the several people waiting…don’t know how we always seem to get to the front of the line). I took about an hour to get Emma’s new birth certificate listing us as her parents. When we were ready to leave, Luba translated it for us to ensure it was correct…but they listed me as a citizen on the USA…oops! Sooo back in she went to change it to list Canadian as my citizenship, which only took about 20 minutes (not bad in Ukraine time). Luba then checked the court decree to see if they made the same mistake and they did, so we headed back to Nicopol to the court house. That took about 30 minutes to make the changes then we were off to the notary. Not sure what we were notarizing but we do what Luba tells us and all is well. We made a few more stops for a few more documents before our driver dropped us back a the apartment so we could eat and relax before picking up Emma after 3pm. Luba was off doing some more paperwork (changing tax ID number, and to the Nicopol passport office) while we relaxed. Not sure I’d want her job.

At 4:45 Luba called from the orphanage and asked us to bring Emma’s clothes. We took the 2 block walk for the last time and met her at the front door. We had to sign a few documents to make it official. They brought Emma to us and we dressed her in her new clothes. She was smiling ear to ear!!…and so were we! We went to find the Italian couple to say goodbye. They still have a while to wait yet and they were genuinely happy for us. Our Greek friends were not there because they finally got their passport and they are in Dnipropetrosvk. We are sad that we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Luba wasn’t feeling well so she returned to the apartment and we walked hand in hand (picture the four of us walking up the street holding hands…it was a moment indeed!!) to the restaurant we went to before court. Unfortunately they didn’t have anyone working that speaks English but so we did our best to order what we had eaten previously. I was able to get our order across by the universal language called “farm animal noises”. …yep…I moo’d, oinked, and clucked!! Our waitress laughed so hard she almost dropped her tray….but it worked…Chris got the steak, I got the pork chop, and the kids got chicken. See, you don’t need to know the language!!

After dinner, we walked passed an outdoor concert that was set up in the main square. Lucas and Emma danced in the street and we stopped for an ice cream. We then returned to the apartment where Lucas immediately introduced his new sister to the lure of DVD’s. Right now we’re enjoying the sounds of laughter from the bedroom and the peace in knowing that our family is finally together…at last!!

Love from Ukraine,
L, C, L & E

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More pictures.

I finally got these pictures to load. Enjoy!!
Love from Ukraine,
L,C,L &E

Friday, August 17, 2007

1 week into our 10 day wait...

Hello everyone. I can't get the pictures to load. I'll try again tomorrow.

Since there isn’t really anything new to report, I thought I’d tell you a little more about our times with Emma at the orphanage. We tend to stay at the front of the orphanage with the Greek couple and their newly adopted daughter. Sometimes the Italian couple is close by and the all the kids play together. We kind of take turns entertaining the kids while the parents take a break and chat. The Italian couple doesn’t speak English but their interpreter speaks a little. Yesterday we were told we needed to separate by one of the orphanage workers so each family played alone. It is difficult to find things to occupy our time since there is only limited space and things to do but we find we’re becoming quite imaginative. We spend time throwing a medium size ball to each other, which Emma is able to kick quite nicely. Lucas, on the other hand, hasn’t quite mastered the art of foot to ball contact. He’s improving though. Sometimes we’ll play with the Lucas’s matchbox cars and slide them down the big slide, causing great delight all around. We also like to sit on a big bench swing and sing songs. Emma seems quite musical and she will sing a sweet song that we have no idea what it is. She joins in songs like “Twinkle Twinkle little star”, and “Take me out to the ball game”, but her favorite is “The stars at night, are big and bright…clap, clap, clap, clap…deep in the heart of Texas”. We will sometimes hear her humming it when she is doing other things. She also sometimes walks with a kind of “strut”…similar to John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”. It’s as if she’s got some music bee bopping in her brain that only she can hear and she walks along strutting. It is so cute. We also bring water with us and a snack at each visit. Sometimes it is fruit, yogurt, cookies, or crackers…depending on what we have available at the apartment. She LOVES to drink the water! I don’t think they get much water to drink so she gulps it down quickly. We brought sippy cups with us since we didn’t know the age we would adopt and they were difficult to find when we were here last time so we use that for her since she tends to drink so fast, it ends up all over her. When she eats, she tends to go off by herself and concentrates on her food. We’ve had to slow her down a bit since she sometimes eats too fast (puts a whole half banana in her mouth at once). She seems to trust now that there will be something to eat so she has slowed down considerably since the beginning. We brought a blank paper book (with Dora on the cover) for her and she has written/drawn on every page. She still has a long way to go to catch up with her peers but she seems to really want to write her letters. She tries so hard to copy them, and she sees that Lucas can do it so she tries and tries. We also play “Stop & Go” in which one of us (we all take turns) yells “go” and we all run around. Then we yell “stop” and we have to stop…mid step until the person yells “go” again. It sounds a little on the simple side but admittedly we are getting quite desperate to find things to do…and this one passes the time nicely. It’s cute to hear Emma say “yo” for “go” and “stup” for “stop”. I betcha wish you were here with us don’t ya??

Well, I’d better get this posted before we start watching “Monarch of the Glen”. We miss you all and can’t wait to see y’all soon!

L,C,L &E

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another day

Thank to all of you who brightened our spirits with your comments. We really appreciate it! Our chins are up and we are facing the immediate future with a positive attitude. Well, we may slide backwards every now and again so keep those comments coming!
Yesterday was an interesting day. Lucas (yes…our sweet Lucas) had the mother of all temper tantrums! It was nearing the end of our afternoon visit with Emma and out of the blue, Lucas decides that now would be a good time to throw a huge fit…we’re not even sure what caused it…and I took him thrashing, screaming and throwing himself on the ground, back to the apartment. It was quite comical in a way because he was doing this all the way back to the apartment and everyone in sight was looking at us and all I could do was smile, shrug my shoulders and give that look that says “kids…humph!”. The ladies that sit outside of our apartment, whom we say hi to everyday, gave me that sympathy look that only another mother can give. He cried it out and we talked about it when he was calm. The disturbing part was the fact that Lucas has only had maybe 5 tantrums and 4 of them were the first year we were home. Seeing him so out of control was very out of character for him. We realized that he may be feeling our stress and he manifested it in the only way he could. He seems to be handling everything well on the surface but it’s got to be difficult for him on so many levels. Today he was back to his happy self and played well with the other kids. Hopefully we’ve all learned something from this.

Some of you have asked if Emma is staying with us. We cannot keep her with us until the 10 day waiting period is up. We could take her out for a few hours but since our translator isn’t here, we aren’t able to communicate this with the orphanage director. It’s ok though, she’ll be with us soon enough and we continue to visit twice daily. Luba returns on Monday so we can start the paper chase and rush to get the new birth certificate and passport. We aren’t able to start this until we obtain the court decree, which is issued on the 10 th day after court. We aren’t sure whether we will stay in Nikopol or return to Kyiv sometime next week. We have to wait to see what happens. So, we are looking forward to moving forward but not looking forward to the impending delays that seem inevitable. But, every day we are closer to bringing our little girl home so that is something to be thankful for.

Our visits remain constant and we are communicating better and better with Emma. She understands a few words and she is repeating numbers and letters. She now says “shake your booty”…and well…shakes her booty! She learned that one from her brother! She seems to be catching on but I think it will be a lot quicker once she is only hearing English. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to have a little birthday party for Emma next Wednesday. We may be in Dnipropetrovsk doing paperwork but we’ll mark the occasion somehow.

Well, I’ve got to go look for Chris’s wedding ring. Lucas was playing with it this morning and now it is nowhere to be found. We’ve searched everywhere but no luck. Who is the patron Saint of lost things? We may need some help!

Love from Ukraine,
L,C,L &E

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just another day or two

Hello everyone. I wish there was some good news to tell you…like we’re coming home soon but it seems we will be here for quite a while longer. Our Greek friends (they are 10 days ahead of us) are having some significant difficulties with their progress in obtaining their new daughter’s passport and it seems we will probably face the same problems. We’re not exactly sure of all the details but we estimate we will be here for at least another 3 weeks. We recognize that 3 weeks, in the grand scheme of things, is not a long time but we are truly ready to come home and the thought of 3 weeks (or longer) has gotten us down a bit. We’re trying to stay positive and counting our many, many blessings. We have had a few moments where we are overwhelmed with it all but thankfully we are keeping those moments to a minimum. We really can’t do anything about it so we hope that we stay positive and keep moving forward. Our beautiful Emma is worth it!!

On a lighter note, the other day Lucas and Chris were playing with his matchbox cars at the orphanage (waiting for Emma to come out) and they were imitating Lightening McQueen from the movie “Cars”. His catch phrase is “Ka-Chow” and they were saying it to each other over and over. As this was occurring, the new Italian couple, adopting a little boy, walked by unseen. When they heard the “Ka-Chow” they answered “Ciao”…thinking Lucas was saying hi to them. Perhaps you had to be there but this has made us chuckle for days now. Another funny moment….as some of you know, I have what I like to call “a small bladder” which makes me have to make a pit stop frequently. Lucas said to me one day “Mama, you sure do have to use the potty a lot”. Chris, without missing a beat, said “Yeah! Eddie Murphy even wrote a song about your mama. It’s called ‘My girl likes to potty all the time, potty all the time, potty all the time’”. Lucas didn’t get it but I thought it was hysterical (remembering the song “Party all the time” from the 80’s). It’s still making me laugh as I’m writing this!! Ahh yes…we have been reduced to potty jokes!!! Chris didn't think I would actually post about it but when something is's worth sharing!
The 2nd picture is our feeble attempt at a family photo. Perhaps we shouldn't try to do it at the top of a slide. The 3rd and 4th are of Lucas teaching Emma her numbers (yep...she's a southpaw).

Well, I’d better get this posted. Please keep those comments coming…we love reading them and it really gives us a boost. We miss you all and can’t wait to see you.

L,C,L &E

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hello from Nikopol...

Hello everyone. All is….the same here in Nikopol.

On Saturday we had a lovely afternoon with our new British friends, Carol and John. They picked us up in their car which had AC and SEATBELTS…what a luxury! Lucas would tell John “Don’t go yet” until Lucas had his seat belt on. They took us to a wonderful restaurant (Monte Cristo) and the food was a delight. It was so nice to have an enjoyable meal with great company. Johns recitations of his youthful travels kept us in stitches! Lucas kept telling them that they “talk funny” and carol would try to pronounce things in an American accent…she’s pretty good at it too! After lunch, we took a walk along the lake front to the beach where we waded in the cool water. Lucas was mesmerized by a group of girls doing a “girl band” routine on an outdoor stage. We had to literally drag him away! After our walk, they took us to their favorite supermarket where we bought some food including a rotisserie chicken…what a treat! They drove us back to our apartment and we ended our visit with hugs and promises to get together again. They are such a wonderful couple and we are so happy that we have had the opportunity to spend some time with them. They have lived an incredibly interesting life, globetrotting and experiencing so many things that the rest of us can only dream of. Thanks Carol and John!!!

Today, I went with Emma and one of the orphanage workers to get passport pictures. They dressed up Emma in a cute halter dress with a straw hat and the shoes we bought her a couple of weeks ago. She behaved so well and she was so cute sitting in the chair, carefully following the directions of the photographer. I couldn’t help but beam with pride at our little girl…she is so amazing!!! She loved having mama fix her hair beforehand and kept asking to look in the mirror to see if she looked just right. She is all girl!!

We taught Emma to say “cookie” since that is a VERY important word in our household. She soon realized that it rhymes with “Lukie” so she has now started calling Lucas “Lookee Cookie”. He seems to like it. He said “She keeps calling me Lukie Cookie”. I said “it’s because she likes you” and he said “Yea, that’s why I picked her”. You can’t ask for better than that. I’m sure they will be fighting like regular siblings soon enough, but for now we are enjoying the blissful harmony between them.

We met up with Carol again this afternoon. She is leaving for England tomorrow for 2 ½ weeks so this will be our last time to see her. We went to a pizza place that served really good cappuccino’s and latte’s. She gave Lucas a Ukrainian police car and he was thrilled! We are going to miss her greatly. If any of you that are traveling soon end up in Nikopol, Carol will be a great resource for you.

Well, that’s all for today.
Love from Ukraine,
L,C,L &E
PS: Lucas wants me to write: "I miss everyone...and...I love them".

Saturday, August 11, 2007

More pictures...

Yeah! The pictures are finally loaded. I changed the camera setting to "e-mail" size (decreasing the pixels...thanks Juan) and voila!
We had a great morning visit today. We got a video on our camera of Emma saying "Houston, Texas, Papa Bush (which sounds like Boosh), Mama Bush, Emma Bush, and Lukie Bush. We call Lucas "Lukie" sometimes and Emma has taken to calling him that. It sounds like "Lookee" with the emphasis on the "Kee". Lucas has decided that he no longer wants to be called Lucas and he has requested the we only refer to him as "Lukie".
We're heading out to meet up with Carol and John. Enjoy the pictures.
L,C,L & E

Friday, August 10, 2007

Introducing...our Emma!!

It's official!!!

A family of three no more…we are now a family of four!

It’s official! We had court today and we are emotionally exhausted and relieved beyond comprehension. It’s not like I thought that they wouldn’t accept our petition to adopt…it’s just such a huge relief to have it all official. Luba’s sister came at 11:00am to be our interpreter for court. Luba needed to stay in Kyiv but we were in good hands. Court was scheduled for 2 pm and the judge arrived at 2:30. The court house is located in an old dilapidated building that looked nothing like an official court house. The courtroom was a room with 4 rows of benches, two tables on the side and one table at the front with a big chair for the judge. The people involved were 2 jurors, the prosecutor, the judge, the inspector for the region (we met her the first day) and the orphanage representative. The judge and prosecutor asked us several questions about our lives and about Emma. The inspector and orphanage rep also spoke on our behalf and said some very nice things. The orphanage rep said that Emma is doing great since our arrival and she stated that she asked Emma if she liked having her name changed. She said that Emma stated “Oh yes! I like to have funny new American name”. We thought this was funny. After about 30 minutes, the judge retired to another room to deliberate with the jurors and to make her final decision. During this time, Lucas took the opportunity to flirt with every woman in the room, showing off the photo album we brought for Emma with pictures of our home, her school and soon to be teachers, our family and friends. They were all taken with him and the prosecutor was especially impressed with him. I think he went a long way in showing them that we aren’t complete misfits as parents and that we could be trusted with another of their precious children. After 5 minutes, the judge returned with her decision and as she read the findings “the court accepts your petition to adopt Emma”…I started sobbing! I couldn’t help it. It was such an emotional moment…something I have been waiting a long time for. Chris squeezed my hand and together we took in the moment we became parents for the second time. It is beyond words to describe the feelings. After the judge left the room, everyone came over and congratulated us and told us they were so happy for us all. Even the prosecutor, who seemed quite stoic during the proceedings was gushing with happiness for us. She was especially taken with Lucas and his schmoozing her was beyond her ability to resist. So, it is over…and now we wait for 10 days.

After court we went to the orphanage to hug our daughter (that sounds so good…our daughter). On the way Lucas stated “those people were really nice…they let me have my sister”. When Emma arrived he took her hands, looked her in the eye and said “now you are a part of our family”. She didn’t understand but he did and it is a memory we will remember forever.

During our visit, Carol (the lovely British woman that Jenny put us in touch with…Thank you Jenny!!) arrived to meet us and we were thrilled to make her acquaintance. We played for a little while then she took us to a lovely café for coffee and tiramasu. Her husband John arrived later and we had a wonderful visit and we made plans to meet tomorrow. They are going to take us to lunch and show us around a bit. They have lived here for 2 years so they know the lay of the land and we are so thankful to have met them. Life is good in Nikopol today!!!

Well, I’d better send this before this internet connection has another temper tantrum. I’ve already had to rewrite this twice so hopefully it will post this time.

We miss you all desperately

Love from Ukraine,
L,C,L & E

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Another day...or two..

Hi Everyone,

Well, it seems we have lost our ability to connect to the internet from our apartment. I've been trying for 2 days to connect with no luck. Perhaps you heard my expletives...they were certainly loud enough...haha. We finally found an internet cafe inside the hotel that the lovely Greek couple are staying at (the ones adopting another little girl). Unfortunately, it does not have the capacity to send I'll keep trying to get you your first glimpse at our precious Emma.

It has turned hot again and the small bit of rain we received today only added to the humidity level. My hair can attest to that...can you say Q-tip head! We're looking forward to Friday when Emma finally officially becomes our daughter. She cried for the first time today. She hit Chris and he made her sit down for a minute and her little feelings were hurt. But don't worry...she got lots of hugs and kisses after her episode. She has started saying a few things in English. She'll repeat what we tell her and she sounds so cute with her accent. She seems to catch on pretty quickly so I have no doubt she will catch up to her peers in no time.

We have been walking alot and taking in the limited sights. We've also been trying to find some more clothes for Emma since we may have to wait for an additional 10 days to get the passport. We saw an old, army green van ...circa 1952is and it was an ambulance. We thought...uh oh...hopefully we won't need that! It is so interesting to see all of the different things and experience all this city has to offer. Lucas still insists that he is going to "clean up" his country and he has begun to refer to everything in Ukraine as "his". We were looking out the balcony in our apt and he said "you know what? My trees are old!"...referring to the large trees that tower over our 4th floor apt. He is just so darn cute!!

Well, I'd better end this as I'm running out of time. I will do you all to head this warning...if any of you talk about food again...I'll come through your computer and throttle you!!! haha. I can't wait to eat for pleasure again...and not just for sustinence. was pretty pleasurable eating my perogies again tonight...yum!

I may not be able to post every day but I'll let you know how court goes.

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

Monday, August 6, 2007

Day 14!

Hello everyone. I took a break from posting over the weekend…simply because there isn’t much to write about. Our routine has become quite monotonous and we are feeling the strain of idleness. It’s not that it is all bad, it’s just not home. We are counting down the days but they seem to stretch on forever. We have been here for 2 weeks and in some ways it feels much longer. We are looking forward to court on Friday when Emma will officially become our daughter. But that is just paperwork, we already feel like she is our daughter. After court, we will wait for the mandatory 10 days and then we will receive the court decree. We can then obtain her passport….BUT…there has been a change in the passport system here and we may have to wait an additional 10 days (after our 10 day wait) to obtain her passport. Sooo we continue to wait.

Chris and I have spent a lot of time talking about how blessed we are and how well Emma fits into our family. I can’t imagine a more perfect fit. Lucas still loves her and he can’t wait to take her home. We never expected to find a child so like Lucas. Their gentleness and heart shines through both of them equally and they seem to be a perfect match. Yesterday, while in our little playground, they found some sticks and were swinging them at the low hanging branches of the trees (this is what we have been reduced to …having our kids play with sticks…haha), and Lucas’s stick broke. He soon was off looking for another so he could continue with this exciting game. While he was looking for another stick, Emma watched him for a few minutes. She then took her stick, and after a few attempts broke her stick in half and gave him one. She didn’t know we were watching her so this was a true example of her sweet nature. Another example was today. During our snack time, Lucas and Emma each got one cookie and one pretzel like cracker. Emma ate her pretzel first, saving the tasty butter cookie (absolutely fabulous by the way…I wish we could get them at home) for last. After a few bites into her cookie, one of the small dogs that roam the orphanage came over to us. This dog is very docile and so very cute. Well, little miss Emma decided that the little dog needed her cookie more than she did. Not only were we surprised, because she loves to eat anything we bring, but we were proud of her caring enough for another creature, even a dog, to give the last of her food. She is quite an awesome little girl.

Food is becoming quite a tricky business for us. We are having some difficulty finding a variety of food to eat and we are eating many of the same things, which as you can imagine is getting old. At the supermarket the other day, Lucas saw ‘hotdogs” in the meat section. He begged for us to buy them and we relented. Today, he asked for them at lunch. I took them out of the package to boil them up and they actually were a liverwursty sort of mystery meat that was quite gross looking. Well, Lucas with his iron stomach insisted he would like it. After boiling them I put them on the plate, cut them into pieces…and then promptly went running to the bathroom….dry heaves! It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever smelled and it took me several minutes to recover. Lucas of course tries it and says “It’s good mommy…wanna try it?” I suppressed the urge to say “I’d rather eat dog poop”. So, Chris and I enjoyed a delicious lunch consisting of bread and butter, and an apple…yummy! We actually were able to find my beloved perogies in the grocery store and we feasted on them last night. I was all smiles during dinner. So…with every negative…there is a positive.

Well, that’s all for today. I’ll keep trying to think of things to write. It’s a beautiful day today so we will probably go for a walk.

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

Friday, August 3, 2007

Our day...

Hello everyone. Today is a beautiful sunny, breezy day with no humidity. It is about 90F in the sun but not unpleasant.

On our visit to the orphanage this morning, the other children were playing in “our” playground. We were surprised to see them but it was a lot of fun to have some interaction with them and see Emma in her real environment. There are about 12 kids ranging between 3-6 (I think…it’s hard to tell). The rest of the kids are away at camp so this seems to be the remaining group. It took them awhile to warm up to us but after a while they were climbing all over us, brushing my hair, & clamoring for any little bit of attention they could get. Emma seemed to handle it fine at first but occasionally she would push one of them aside if they were getting too friendly for her taste. There is one little girl who took a particular fancy to Chris and Emma said something to her which I think was “Natasha…get away from him…he’s MY Papa”. It’s funny, because she doesn’t have any kind of jealousy of Lucas but her friends are a different story. It really is survival of the fittest and they tend to all be a bit on the rough side (completed understandable). I took some pictures and they would each take turns looking at the photos on the camera. They were so amazed to see themselves. Lucas didn’t seem all that enthusiastic to have our little area invaded by these loud and boisterous kids. He kept pretty close to either Chris or I or he was off collecting shells by himself. He wasn’t jealous of our attention to them…I think he was a little scared of them. He kept asking “when are they leaving?” They are so cute, funny and so independent. I wish all of them could find families of their own. It is hard to know if any of them are even available for adoption since that requires termination of parental rights (if parents are alive). It is so apparent how starved for one on one attention these kids are. They were all calling us Mama and Papa and it is hard to imagine what their future holds. They are all so cute with the potential for great things. It breaks my heart to know that their future is probably bleak and there’s nothing we can do about it. But…we have our Emma and that is something we are so grateful for.

We ventured out to the local pizza parlor last night for dinner. We’d passed it a few times and decided last night that it was time to try the infamous Ukrainian pizza. Fortunately for us they have a menu in English so we were able to make an informed decision. We settled on the ham, garlic & cheese pizza. We were tempted by the “tongue” or the “chicken’s liver” pizza’s but thought that was a little out of our comfort zone. Well our pizza arrived with ham, garlic and cheese…and mushrooms (yuck!). It was pretty good…we ate the whole thing, but that might be due to the fact that we were really hungry. The whole meal including drinks cost about $7 so we’re definitely not complaining. Food is pretty cheap to buy, but we are finding it difficult to find things we are familiar with. We finally figured out which container was milk so we’ve been successful in that endeavor…something we were never able to accomplish on our last trip!
We got a phone call from Luba today and she said court is scheduled for next Friday August 10 (instead of the 13th). This is good news!

Well, that’s all for today. It’s time for a quick nap before heading back to the orphanage to see our sweet girl.

Love you all,
L,C, L & E

PS: Bob- Ukraine is divided. Western Ukraine speaks predominantly Ukrainian (we adopted Lucas from Lviv and they spoke Ukrainian) but the East (including Kyiv) still speak predominantly Russian. During Soviet times, Ukrainian was not “allowed” so the majority of people learned to speak Russian. Many people can speak both and the “Official” language has been declared to be Ukrainian but the East still holds onto the Russian language. The east vs. west dilemma was the main reason for the Orange Revolution in November 2004 when Yushenko and Yanukovich were battling for the presidency.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Special day

We awoke to a beautiful breezy day that dropped the temperature to 80F. On our way to the orphanage this morning, Lucas said “Ohhh…it’s winter in my country!”. Having experienced winter in “his” country, we thought this was extremely funny.

Emma seems to be opening up more and more every day. Today she was more talkative than she had been and she was singing and talking in Russian so fast. She didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t understand her, she just talked and talked. It was nice to hear. We played a game of hide-and-go-seek and she is so funny when it is her turn to be “it”. We use a tree to lean against and count and we catch her peeking to see where we are each hiding. It’s not like there are many places to hide in our little playground but it is fun for the kids and Chris and I get a kick out of watching them scream gleefully when they find each other. We also spent some time coloring and drawing in some books we brought from home. Lucas, with his meticulous nature, doesn’t seem to be impressed with Emma’s lack of coloring skills. I imagine she hasn’t had much practice. We also bring water and some sort of food item with us when we visit. Today we brought some pretzel-like biscuits and she enjoyed them very much. We are trying not to give her too much since we don’t want our visits to be associated with food only. We have to slow her down sometimes…yesterday she stuffed a large piece of banana in her mouth and ate it just to ensure she would get some more. We also have to keep her from eating the crumbs off the very dirty picnic table. This is something we experienced with Lucas so we are well equipped to deal with this one. She’s also getting more and more comfortable with us and she will climb up on our laps and give hugs and kisses…and she wants tickles!! Her laugh is infectious and she is keeping us in high spirits.

She seems to be understanding some of what we say as well. Perhaps not the words exactly but the meaning. Lucas discovered small sea shells under the brush in the playground and he was having a marvelous time collecting some to “take home”. He would find a few and put them in my hands to hold onto. Soon Emma was helping him find some as well. Chris said to her “Look Emma, Mama has all the shells and papa has none. Can you get me one?”. She was off looking as she had previously and we were sure she didn’t understand. Well, a few minutes later she plopped a tiny shell into his hands, smiled and skipped away to find some more. I think she’s a smart cookie!!

(I warn you that the following is perhaps a little on the sentimental side so readers beware!! Haha,)
Well, today is August 2nd. August 2nd is a very special day to me. It isn’t often that we recognize specific moments in time when our lives are altered and our direction is turned towards an unknown path. My life changed forever with a simple click of the mouse. Five years ago, on August 2nd, I was sitting at my computer contemplating our future. The week prior, our third cycle of invitro had failed and I was feeling hopeless and incredibly sad. I started surfing the internet for information on adoption. Chris and I had talked a little about adoption but only peripherally. Our plan was to have biological children and then adopt. He always wanted to adopt to give a child the chance he was given. I didn’t know the first thing about adopting domestically or internationally but I searched that night for any information I could find. I found much of the information to be confusing, scary, and not very helpful. After about 2 hours I was ready to call it a night. Just one more website, I said to myself, then I would go to bed. That website was Ukrainian Angels. I spent the next 2 hours browsing through the hundreds of pictures of beautiful children that had been adopted from Ukraine through the IUAFN (International Ukrainian Angels Family Network). That was the night I first read the name Cathy Harris. Her story was inspiring and I found myself awakening to the idea of adopting from Ukraine. I can tell you honestly, in those 2 hours, my want and desire for a biological child was wiped away forever. Truly…gone…never to return. That night was the beginning of our journey. A journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. I wish everyone was as fortunate as we are to experience this incredible ride. Our dreams have come true…who knew that all it would take was one simple click of a mouse.

Ok, enough of that! I’ve wiped away my tears and I’m ready to get back to the present. Lucas is wanting to eat (big surprise) and I need to go do what I was born to do…be his Mama!

Love to you all from Ukraine,
L, C, L & E

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A day in the life...

We’re enjoying the slight drop in temperature today…only 92F…whoohoo. Nothing like a little cold front to put a little pep in your step! (Thanks Mindi for looking up the forecast for Dnip. We’re looking forward to the cooler weather.)

We’re continuing to spend our days in essentially the same way. We visit Emma at 10am-12noon, then home for lunch, then back to the orphanage at 4-6pm then home for dinner. In between, we sprinkle our day with a variety of different things…just to keep it interesting! We either go to the supermarket, walk around, nap or read. In the evenings, Lucas watches a movie and falls asleep and Chris and I watch our DVD’s and enjoy a spot of tea. This will be our routine for the next couple of weeks. It is a comfortable routine, albeit a bit on the boring side.

We were sitting at the table eating lunch today when Lucas said out of the blue “I have a great idea! When I get big, I’m gonna get a truck and a big box from the big box store and clean up my country…because it’s dirty”. He of course is referring to the trash bins located in front of the apartment buildings as well as some discarded bottles and trash discarded on the some of the streets. He says he’s going to come back and clean up his WHOLE country. He says it will take 100 days. We laughed…and admittedly there was a small tear formed in my eye with the image of our sweet boy cleaning up HIS country. He says he “Loves his country” and we hope he never loses his pride in his homeland.

  1. For those of you waiting to travel, I thought I would tell you about a few of the essentials we brought with us that we have found indispensable.
    Laptop: We are so glad we brought this. Not only for the ability to access internet from our apartment (tenuous as it is), but for the DVD’s. We brought the entire 7 series of a BBC series “Monarch of the Glen” which is set in the Highlands of Scotland. (yes Margaret P…the father dies at the end of series 3...bummer). We also brought another BBC comedy as well.

  2. Portable DVD player: this was left over from our last trip (we didn’t have a laptop) and this is great for Lucas to watch his movies on.. He loves having his own “puter” that he can operate on his own.

  3. Coffee singles: coffee in single serving tea bags. Really good and easy to pack.

  4. Baby wipes: I wish we’d brought more. I can’t tell you how many times they have come in handy

  5. Granola bars: great for in between meals and on the go times
  6. Positive attitude: This is the most important!! I imagine this could be a dreadful experience if we let it. We’ve chosen to make this a positive experience…no matter what. Things are really different here but it’s not forever so we can take any kind of adversity…and do it with a smile…that goes a long way too!!

    Well, it’s time to brew the tea and pop in a DVD. Gotta see what happens next at Glenbogle!!

Love to you all,
Das Vidanya
L, C, L & E
PS: Ang…you crack me up. I sure do miss all my girls…the canines and the humans!!