Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And just because my other kids are so good looking.....

Just wanted to add a picture of my other son and daughter. This is Danielle and Cody!

Little Catch Up.....

Everyone is doing pretty good here. Cole is healthy as a horse, eats like a horse, etc. He is the sweetest, most loving child in the world. He is going to special preschool 3 days a week and absolutely loves it. He is like a little sponge just soaking things in. He is almost completely potty trained and that is amazing to me. He is very gentle and likes things very neat and tidy.

Caden, on the other hand, is a holy terror. He is now very mobile, almost walking, but can get anywhere in the house he wants to be. Gone are the days of the pitiful, little helpless baby that can't do anything! He has found his voice and is not afraid to use it. He will do something that he knows that he is not suppose to and look at you and pucker his lips for a kiss, knowing that kiss will most likely result in his misbehavior being ignored. Smart one, huh? He is really fun to watch come alive. It is like he has been awakened from a coma! He starts a specialized structured day program 3 days a week (has PT, OT, ST, etc.) next week and it will be exciting to see what they can teach him (or what he teaches them). Sorry for the lack of posts, but days are BUSY around here and we just don't have much computer time, but everyone is THRIVING and they are such a blessing to have!

Stephanie

Caden found the Christmas Tree!!!

Now, you tell me that is not the cutest thing you have ever seen! The pouty picture was after a nice, firm "No Touch" was said!




Monday, November 15, 2010

Worst Blogger Ever!!!

I know, I know....I could win an award for worst blogger ever. Just wanted to let everyone know that we are still here. The boys are doing fine. They were both circumcised last Tuesday and did very well with it. We were only at the surgery center about 2 hours and then we went home. You wouldn't even know that they had surgery. Both did absolutely fine.

They are doing so good. They have adjusted so well, just like they have been here forever. Both are healthy and strong. They are getting more comfortable everyday. It is so fun to watch them explore and learn new things. Cole is so smart. He understands everything you say to him, follows directions, and LOVES to entertain you. I guess my favorite part of the last couple of weeks is watching the boys play together and love on one another. At first, they had nothing to do with each other. They didn't even acknowledge that the other existed. Now they play with each other, even fight over toys. The cutest thing I have ever seen is when Caden was coughing, Cole ran across the room and patted him on the back. It was so cute!

They have both been evaluated for ST, PT, OT, etc., but we haven't made a definite plan. Caden has gained so much strength since he has come home. He is so close to walking. I can't wait to see him walk his first steps. He is the sweetest child in the world. He will be contently playing with his toys, spot me across the room, stop and crawl and strain/moan/groan until he gets to me....just to plant a big, sloppy, wet kiss on me and then crawl back to his toys and continue where he left off. It will melt your heart!

I was rereading some of my posts and when I read the "I don't feel like these are my kids yet" it sounded like it was coming from someone else. Those feelings are definitely gone and I feel/know these are my babies that were placed here in my home by God himself. I love them so much. I am back to work and I miss them so bad while I am gone. I call and check on them 20 times a day! Not only do I love them, but they LOVE me. They light up when I walk in and both are knocking things down to come and get me. They are identifying me as numero uno and I LOVE IT!!!! They are such a blessing and I am so happy that we said "yes" to the calling to go get them.

Now, to things that keep me up at night.....I can't get the other children that are left behind out of my mind. One in particular that I have never seen, never held, never knew. I find myself thinking of him several times a day, wondering if he is hungry, if he is being taken care of, wondering if he is being abused...wondering how I can go get him. Wondering if he is suppose to be my son, wondering if it is fair to the ones already home, wondering if it is fair to say no when I could so easily say yes....lots of wondering, suffering, anguish...I can't even pray about it. I don't know what to say, I don't know what to pray for. I am as broke as I have ever been and I don't know what to do with all of this. Please pray for me and my family that something will happen that will let us know what HIS plan is for us. I want to say yes so bad, but I don't know for sure if that is what is suppose to happen. Please pray that HIS plan will shine through, and if I am suppose to go on this journey again, then everything will fall into place so that can happen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caden's Turn!!

I don't even know where to start with this little maniac. Caden just turned 2 this past week, but he is more like a 9 month old baby. He can sit by himself, but cannot walk, crawl (can do some kind of scoot thing), hold a cup, or really can't do much of anything, but boy is he CUTE!!!! He was sick when I first got him from the orphanage, so I held him A LOT and had lots of cuddle time with him on the plane rides home (don't recommend this). He is very sweet and loving, but I can't believe these two boys came from the same orphanage. They were literally across the hall from each other, but their caregivers must have been on opposite ends of the world. While Cole was MADE to be independent (feed, dress, sooth himself), this little man can do nothing and will make no attempt to do anything. If you put a cup or bottle in his hand, he just lets it go and sits and looks at you like you are the dumbest person in the world. It is quite funny. He also must have never heard the word "no" before (or "nyet") in his life. When you tell him no, he puts his hand over one of his eyes and it usually takes about 2-3 minutes and then you will hear the most pitiful sounding cry that has ever been made. (What he don't know is that I love it and think it is so cute-ssshhh-don't tell him that, though).

Eating-oh my, oh my! He wants to eat really well, but has no idea what to do with the food or how to chew it. He swallows whatever you put in his mouth down whole, like a pill. Believe it or not, we have not had any major choking incidents, but I don't know how we have not. His favorite foods are mac'n cheese and yogurt. He continues to have the gut issues and MAJOR issues with constipation, so only one yogurt a day and he savors every bite of it and then cries for about 10 minutes when it is gone. I have been giving him a 1/2 dose of miralax everyday and that is seeming to help quite a bit. I have taken him to the pediatrician and cardiologist, also. Our ped was not convinced the immunizations were correct, so we are just starting over and poor babies got three shots a piece on our first visit. Heartwise-he has what is called an aberrant subclavian artery, which is just a variation of the artery being in a different place than it should, and he is bradycardic (slow heart rate). The aberrant subclavian could be the source of his swallowing difficulties, but we have not had that checked yet. The cardio doc thinks that all of his minor problems (sluggishness, low heart rate, constipation, fatigue, etc.) are from a low thyroid. We had the blood drawn for that, but haven't heard back yet. Speaking of fatigue, this little guy requires many rest periods throughout the day, even though he sleeps about 10-12 hours a night. He just tuckers out so easily and will just fall over and go to sleep. (Still pretty cute)

Caden has his early intervention evaluation this coming Tuesday and I am anxious to get that started. He needs a lot of therapy and assistance on just catching up. I hope this will help him with his strength and endurance.

Overall, Caden is just like having a new baby. He is content, laughs a lot, likes to be held, draws attention everywhere we go, and is pretty healthy, all things considered. He has 6 teeth and will definitely bite you given the chance. He says "ma ma" and "bye-bye" and it is so stinking CUTE when he does. He waves bye bye, too. He cracks up when I try to get him to sign or show me where his nose or ears are. He thinks that I was put on this Earth for his entertainment.....and he may be right!

My husband asked me the other day if I loved these boys...and I sat for a minute and thought. I do love them, but not the same way I love my bio kids, yet. I still feel like we are babysitting someone else's children and that they are not quite mine. I don't know exactly how to explain it. My true momma love has not come into full bloom yet, but it is there and growing. I know that sounds awful, but some days I just want to bury myself under the covers and HOPE that these kids parents come and get them....and then I remember that I am their parent and well, I get out of the bed! I have read other blogs where people meet their children and instantly connect and have that mother/child bond and that amazes me. I know our day will come, but it isn't here just yet.

Stephanie

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update!

Ok, some updated information on Caden and Cole. Sorry for the lack of posting, but I can honestly say that I have never been more exhausted in my life!

Things are going really, really well for the most part. The whole family is adjusting to a WHOLE new schedule. We went from two teenagers that are rarely home, finally having a date night once a week, with lots of alone time to not one extra second in the world to do anything. I am just now finding out how to shower/bath daily and there have been many pajama days that regular clothes just never made it to our bodies. BUT that is ok. Cole is such a good kid. He is very nervous and you can tell that he has been *disciplined* many times with many different methods. I swear he knows exactly what you are saying. He truly tries to do everything that you ask him to do. He is signing "more", "thank you", "thirsty", "hungry", and "potty". Granted he has never ASKED to go to the potty, but he will use the potty if you take him frequently. He wasn't a fan of the bathtub at first, but is now coming around. He has been to the pediatrician and cardiologist and has a clean bill of health, thus far. He has an opthamologist and urologist appointment next week and we should be almost done with doctor's appointments. His gut is much better, only pooping a couple times a day, but this boy can EAT. He weighs 30 lbs. and eats like a grown man! I have never seen anything like it. I am torn between letting him have all that he wants and what I deem a "safe" amount and we haven't quite got that down yet and we have had a couple of "eat til you puke" moments, which scared the little guy to death. He doesn't play well with others:( He kind of growls at them and he HATED Caden at first, but now he will just randomly come up and kiss him and pat on him. He also had an incident with our little dog. Let me preface this with my dog, Troy, is very sick (lung cancer) and is on high dose steroids right now. Cole has been really rough with the poor little guy several times, then put him in a choke hold and picked him up by the neck. Well, Troy had had enough and almost bit Cole's lip off. It was awful, but Cole learned to leave him alone. Both of them were quite pitiful after the incident. Cole sleeps so good. I let them both hang out with me in my bed for about 30 minutes before they go off to their rooms and when they are "soothing" themselves to sleep, it breaks my heart. You can really see how independent they are and how they have had to count on themselves for any and everything. They both will let us rock them and love on them, but sometimes Cole just "checks out". When he had to have blood drawn, he fought and screamed for about 15 seconds and then he just went limp and literally just checked out. His eyes were blank and he was sucking on his tongue and he was gone. It was so pitiful. It took the rest of the afternoon to fully get him back and it was just heart breaking. I know he thinks we were being mean to him and I guess that was his coping mechanism. I hope we can work it out were he feels free to express himself without fear of punishment. His little body (including his buttocks) are scarred and you can tell that he has been punished quite a bit. It is hard to correct him when he just checks out like that. I would love any advice that you veterans have out there for this.

I will update on Caden (aka "Bucket") soon....

Stephanie

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We are HOME!!!!

Yes, we finally made it home. This week has been something like I have never experienced before. We literally got off of the plane in UA and hit the ground running, went straight to the train, hit the ground running again and literally....never....stopped. We were in UA for 6 days to finish the process and get the boys home. We ate 5 meals the entire time we were there, the rest was bananas, granola, etc. We did "paperwork" for 12 hours a day and I think all of us was sick at one time or another. There was no time for a party at the orphanage or anything, we again, literally just ran in and picked them up. The boys have done great. I actually can't believe how well they have done. After we picked them up, I had physical custody of them for about 10 minutes and got car sick and had to have the driver pull over 3 times and hurl my guts out (actually mostly dry heaves because there was absolutely nothing in my stomach to throw up). You would think that my puking on the side of the road would make my driver drive a little slower or better or something. Not so. So we were rushed to the train two hours away to make our way back to the capital to finish up. So, I had the kids for 2 hours and then got on a train for 15 hours with them....Not so smart and not so fun. I was so sick, Caden was sick, the train was hot (because God forbid we have some air movement going on in the dead of winter---it was 65 degrees and people were dressed like Eskimos) and we had two bananas, 6 McDonalds chicken nuggests and 2 fig newtons (remember that Caden doesn't eat/chew very well). I am not a crier, but by the end of the train ride, I was in tears. Anyway, we made it back and after a 12 hour paper chase, we got to go to our apartment, where I was so thankful and thought that we would get to rest and such. Well, the bed (the ONLY bed) had bugs in it and they bit Cody and Cole all over while Caden and I were on a food run, so all 4 of us slept on the couch and floor. Caden was too sick to sleep and had a fever, runny nose, diarrhea, shaking all over, banging his head, screaming at the top of his lungs. I swear I think he was withdrawing from some meds. I have been a nurse for a long time and I think that is what was happening. The only thing I had to give him was benedryl and Tylenol. It did nothing for him at all, but after day 2, he was much better. He still isn't eating very well, but he is drinking good with the Honey Bear cup. Cole is doing really well, except that he doesn't like Caden very much. He growls at him if he gets near him and lets him know who is in charge. We have had a couple of trips in time out over that.

Now the fun stuff, the trip home.....Cole had massive, massive, can't explain it in words diarrhea. He pooped so much that we ran out of diapers and the flight attendants had to give us some diapers. It was absolutely unbelievable and disgusting. Remember, I am a nurse and am extremely hard to gross out, but he did it without a doubt. Caden on the other hand was so severely constipated that he was straining constantly and grunting until I thought he was going to pass out. I had to take him to the bathroom on the plane and "help" him use the bathroom, and when he did, Lord have mercy!!!! This child has some serious GI issues. He has a dilated rectum from straining so much and poops like a grown man, a really, really, really, big grown man. He became a different child after our pooping incident. He was laughing and playing and so happy. They both took a 2 hour nap on the long flight and stayed awake the rest of the time. By the time they arrived at their welcome home party, they were both passed out. Cole woke up and entertained the crowd, but Caden slept through the party, through the night, until 9 am this morning. They are both just happy as can be and just walking around like this has been their house forever. (FYI>>>My mother fed Cole an entire hot dog with chili, a whole banana, and a piece of cake when we arrived and I will just let your imagination tell you what happened after that). I will try to update again soon.

Stephanie

Friday, October 1, 2010

Codys view

First off, I met the first driver. They drive reallllllllllly good but really fast lol. Somehow no one ever wrecks. The first train ride was good and we slept for a whole 17 hours. Sevestapol was fun but I like Kiev more! I sat in the car for 3 days playing tetris in sevestapol which made me a master at it lol. Then I met Anton and David!! Anton loves me and he's very very playful and eats soooooooo much. Well after we got them we went on the train again and then it was awful because we had two babies. When we fell asleep Anton woke up and ate a banana peel trying to get to the banana. It was gross. We didn't get to throw a party at the baby house because we were in such a hurry. My mom had 5 minutes to dress and wash them. After we left the orphanage my mom puked two times in the car. It was funny because yesterday she said, "If I do puke, what would I puke up"? Then when she puked she puked nothing lol! Then when we arrived at Kiev we went to a doctor. This is where Anton decided he loves me :). We played in the room while David (caden) fell asleep. Anton laughs at everything and then when he fell he cried and he hugged and kissed me and then fell asleep. I was like awwwww. The Lewis's daughters there adopting and the mom took care of Caden they're really good with kids and put him to sleep for me. Btw my mom was at the U.S embacy with The dad of the girls so We were alone. Anton pooped and luckily Olga was there to change him :). Olga is really awesome. David (caden) is more of a blob. He just watchs everyone and waits for yogurt lol. My mom is so funny. She can't get any sleep or rest because one of thems always awake. Last night me and Anton took a nap and there was a bed bugs in it so we got bites which is gross. So we all share a couch in this little apartment. Anton growls when he is mad too and it's so funny cause he laughs so much u can't take him serious. Also, he hates david!! lol. My mom already taught David how to drink and swallow but he is so sick. He has the snottiest nose ever and my mom wipes it constantly lol. Right now he is beign fed yogurt (his fave). They are the cutest babies ever and Anton never is bored until he sleeps. David gets mad if u can't feed him yogurt fast enough and says "ba ba ba ba". Anton also says "ba ba ba" but usually growls when he is mad lol. My dad didn't pack Davids clothes so he wears antons which are to big. Anton goes cross-eyed alot so my mom calls him cross-eyed cricket. My mom has gotten 4 hours of sleep. We are about to go to the U.S embacy and get Visas and we leave saturday (tomorrow morning at 5 am). Well David is crying now cause he ate all his yogurt and my mom is taking a picture of his cute crying snot face. They are very happy with us and I think they'll like it better with papa and danielle mamaw cousin elisha and briana and lollie and dale (uncle and aunt).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Off we go again!!!

Ok..so I know I am a bad blogger. Heck, I even missed days while we were in UA and I had nothing else to do. Well, since we have been home, I have worked at least 12 hours a day, and sometimes 16 hours and I am tired, too tired to try to type something interesting up when there isn't really anything interesting going on here. But anyway, I booked tickets for me and Cody to leave Saturday at 1200 and we should arrive in Ukraine on Sunday at 415 pm. Hopefully, we will go straight to the train station and get to Sevastapol by Monday morning/afternoon and get the paperchase started. I am super excited for Cody to be going with me and I think it will be important for him to experience and see where the boys come from. Plus it will be cool for me and him to get to spend a whole week or so together. I can't wait to see how he does with the food. He is a very particular eater (and a very big eater). He has about 10 different foods that he loves and he eats over and over and over again. He will either change his weary ways or loose some weight while we are there...hehehe!

Anyway, I have been super busy at home, but can't seem to make any progress or get anything done that needs to be done. I have decided that I will not go to bed tonight until the boys room is sleep ready. Their sheets and blankets will be downy soft and their clothes will be all organized and ready to go! I promise this to myself! (It is so much harder than you think)

Now, for how I feel without having Cole and Caden here with me. I hadn't put a lot of thought in it before I had to do it. Leaving them there, knowing that they were not getting the love and things they needed, has tore a hole in me. It would be the exact same as leaving Danielle and Cody somewhere for a month that I knew was a bad situation. I miss them. Sean cleaned out our backpacks and suitcases and I saw there little pack of animal crackers on my dresser and I almost burst into tears. I hope and pray that they are ok and I promise that once I get my hands on them, I will never leave them again. I can't wait to get the home and get theirs lives started here. Please pray that everything goes smoothly and please pray that we get the QUICK passports. The office in Sevastapol will either have the red (fast-1 hour processing) or the blue (slow-4-10 days processing) passports and we won't know until we get there which one they have. PLEASE PLEASE have the red passports available so that we can get the heck out of dodge!

Will try really hard to keep everyone updated! I will leave you with two reasons why we are doing this......Caden thought Cole was getting more yogurt than him!

Stephanie


Saturday, September 11, 2010

More Pictures!



Pictures!!!!!!!!!!






Here are some pics that I promised. I will do the rest later!

We made it home safe and sound....17 hours on the train, 3 flights for 22 hours straight (including lay over time) and we are home! Thank GOD!! Very uneventful travel so I will leave you with the pictures.

Stephanie

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Court Results!!!!!

Court has came and went and it was a great success. We arrived at the courthouse at 845 am and were led to a small hall to sit on a bench outside of a room. Some papers were exchanged from our facilitator and the lady in the office and then we were told to wait back on the back. I was so nervous that I ate a whole pack of tic tacs sitting there.

We were then called into the "court room", which was just an office. There was the judge, a transcriptionist, two jurors, the inspector, the facilitator and us. The judge was a pretty woman, about 40 years old, with typical Ukrainian clothing. We immediately started and the first question that was asked to us by the judge was "Do you trust us?" My gut was screaming, uhhh..."No, not really" but my mouth said "yes". Ok...I am 6000 miles away from home, in a small, dark room with complete strangers dressed like strippers, with more money strapped on my body that most of them make in a year's time, and NOW I am starting to get really nervous. I look over at Sean and think "Well, I know he can physically get us out of here if things go south, but what would we do once we got out of the building?" I don't have time to stay nervous because things are proceeding and the judge is talking a hundred miles an hour and Angelina is semi-whispering to us about what she is saying. We had to stand and introduce ourselves (which by the way-is your full name, date of birth, address and occupation). We showed our passports and sat back down. We were then asked if we had our own children and if they were healthy. We said yes and then we were asked a few questions about whether we were aware that these boys were not healthy. Again yes. We were asked what their life would be like, including where they would sleep, etc. Answered and moved on. One of the jurors had a question. She asked "Are the boys going to live in the same house as you or are they going to live in a separate building?" Uhhmmmm....No, they will live in our house and stay with us. Ok. Everyone was happy. Sean finished up the interviews with his one answer. They asked how we were familiar with people with DS and he said that he was raised with his Uncle Mac from the time he was little until the time Mac died and that Mac was his best friend. I heard the bell for the KO. That summed it up and we could have been finished right there, but the inspector wanted to speak. She was very nice and said that she could tell immediately that we would be good parents to the boys because of how we first interacted with them on our first meeting. She said that most kids like ours would be scared and not let us touch them, etc. (plus the fact that they were sleepy and had been awoken from their naps to meet us) but that they came to us and sat on our laps and interacted with us. Then the judge looked at the calendar and said we could come and pick up our decree on September 20 and take them home. Court lasted about 10 minutes and it was over. We thanked them and left.

Thanks for all of the prayers and well wishes. They worked!!! We are now packing up and getting back on the train at 5 pm to go back to Kiev. We will arrive in Kiev at 11 am tomorrow morning. I am not sure what we have to do about the power of attorney at the US Embassy because Angelina thinks it is closed for 9/11, but we will see. Will update as soon as possible.

Stephanie

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Final Countdown!

Well, it is 9 pm on Tuesday night here in UA. We have court in 12 hours. This is the final countdown. Sean and I went out for dinner and just got home. While waiting for our food, I said, "What if the judge said no and we couldn't get the boys?" Sean looked like he had seen a ghost...he said "Can they do that? Have they done that?" I said, "This is UA; they can do anything they want and I don't know if they have done that before or not." Then, I got to thinking about it....what if they wouldn't let us come home with the boys? My heart broke and I said a quick prayer to plead with God to let things go well at court and let it be quick and easy. Still very scared of the court process.

Since the list was a hit, here are some quick tidbits about the boys....

Caden......

sucks like he has something in his mouth all the time, but refuses to suck a pacifier or bottle or sippy cup.

says "Momma" and tries to get to me anyway he can (crawl, scoot, fall toward me).

LOVES to eat yogurt (strawberry favorite so far).

can pee on the potty.

can take 8 steps sideways holding on to the monkey bars/metal thingy in the playground.

can do 12 crunches/sit ups.

can go from a lying down position to a sitting up position on first try (couldn't do this at all when we got here).

He can hum/sing a song with you.

He is very, very, very ticklish and laughs with his whole body.

He likes to dance.

He can army crawl (but we are not suppose to put him on the ground, but I might have accidently let him and happen to video it at the same time-promise to download video and pics as soon as we get home).

Now, for the big boy...Cole likes...

everything..anything...he doesn't care what you do as long as you are doing it with him.

He runs to us when we go pick him up from his groupa and clearly hugs and KISSES (sometimes with a little tongue action) us when he sees us.

LOVES to swing. They are taken outside almost everyday, and play NEXT to the swing, but we have never seen a child actually in the swing.

loves to eat, so far anything that I have brought from bananas to pudding to yogurt to cookies, crackers...he doesn't care.

Can feed himself with a spoon and holds his own drink, etc.

Will give you five and a thumbs up on request.

Doesn't cry when he gets hurt:::(((

Can say "Poppa" and looks for Sean constantly.

Loves for Sean to throw him up in the air.

Loves for me to hold him very tightly and squeeze on him. Will sit on my lap forever and just let me hold him (as long as I do it firmly).

Has the biggest "outie" belly button in the world.

Is very ticklish.

Is so capable of learning if just given the chance.

Leaving the orphange was much harder to do today than I thought it would be. There have been several incidents that I haven't blogged about that have happened there. Everyday the boys have a new cut, scrape, black eye, something and I don't know how that it is happening. I hope it is just from them being kids and falling down, etc. One incident was when I picked up Cole and he was on the potty, but did not use it. It was horrible. I will blog about it later...after we get them home.

I just pray that God takes care of them and that they will be safe until I come back for them. I will go home this Friday and stay home for about 2 weeks and I am coming back by myself to pick them up. That is kind of scary, but hopefully it will be a very quick trip. Please pray for us as we prepare for the most serious part of our journey-court and picking up!

Stephanie

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Not sure what day it is anymore....

I just want to say to people that are coming over here....bring books, movies, something to do. You can only walk around the city so many times.

Here are some fun Ukraine facts:

For all of you Joe Dirt fans, do not dismay...the mullet and rat tail are alive and well.

Underwear IS an option.

Actually, full clothing IS an option.

Don't worry about laundry....it is overrated!

You CAN drink a beer at 8am while you are walking to work.

Michael Jackson's legacy will carry on for many years, especially his pants.

You can eat pizza, pizza, pizza if you want.

They do NOT sell Skoal (or any type of chewing tobacco) in UA.

If it drops below 80 degrees, you better get your winter coat out.

Borscht (sp) doesn't look good at all, but very, very tasty.

Cokes and drinks are served warm or room temperature.

There is no such thing as free refills.

ANTEKA (with green writing)are pharmacies.

Cars have the right of way no matter what-whether you are on a crosswalk, sidewalk, doesn't matter...

They make high heel shoes for little girls (sexy high heel shoes).

Don't be upset if your husband's purse is bigger than yours.

There is no age limit for sheer clothing.

You can only drink 1/2 cup of coffee at a time, apparently.

Watch the Groundhog Dog before you come.

Stephanie

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen....We have a court date!!!

Thanks Goodness that we have had a productive day (and it is only 730am at home). We got up, went to see the boys, went to the court house and we finally got a court date!!!! Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We go to court on Wednesday, September 8th at 9am and then we can immediately go back to Kiev that day, sign some papers at the US Embassy for Sean to give me power of attorney to complete the adoption by myself and then we can go home on Friday. Praise God! I was so nervous waiting in the car for my translator to come out of the court house, then she got in the car, looking all sad, and said that the judge wanted to take 3 weeks to look at our dossier and paperwork. I was speechless! All I could think of was "at least I am going home now", but then she said she was kidding and told me the real court date! I could have killed her.

I feel so much better knowing we have a planned day that we are leaving and getting out of here. I have to say, though, that this trip could have been so much worse. The weather is fabulous, the apartment is nice, and we haven't had any "real" problems. Yeah, the food is not all that great, but all in all, it has been a nice trip (just a little long for my taste). Having said that, I dread that dang train ride back to Kiev. Definitely going for 1st class and definitely taking all the medicine I can fit in my stomach!

Thanks for the prayers and well wishes and thanks for leaving comments. That really helps when you are stranded on the other side of the world!

Stephanie

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 17

Still the same as the previous days...no news. I just called our translator to see if she has heard anything about court. She says that she will call back at 5pm to see if we have a date, but as of right now...no date.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 15

Sorry...no news to report. This is definitely a big, drawn out remake of Groundhog Day!!!! We do the same thing everyday, eat the same food, go to same place....boring. But we did manage to walk down to the Black Sea Beach and see people swimming. Oh My..is what I can muster up. The average age of the swimmers were about 75 and the average weight was about 250-300lbs....and the MEN and women both had on speedos. I took pictures. I could not resist. Sean's face was red and it was so funny that we could not stop watching.

I got sick yesterday, really, really, sick...I was planning on going back to the baby house at 3pm, but couldn't even hardly stand up, so I went back into the apartment and slept from 3pm-7am, without getting up. I still don't feel much better this morning.

The visits with the boys are getting better and better. Cole is very smart. He has finally started playing with the toys we bring. He loves to take stuff out and put it back into his Toy Story backpack. He doesn't quite understand the concept of coloring, but he is trying. His pincher grip is not quite as good as Caden's and he has a hard time holding the crayon. This boy loves to eat. I bring him a banana and yogurt every morning. I thought I would change it up a little and see if he liked eggs. I boiled him an egg, brought him some cheese, and a banana. He ate every bite of his and wanted Caden's too. Caden wasn't so impressed. He hated the cheese, tolerated the egg a little, but cried for more yogurt. He only has 4 teeth and doesn't really chew. He just swallows whatever you put in his mouth. I am still very concerned about his fluids. He doesn't drink well at all. I am literally squirting fluid in his mouth from a bottle (he won't suck at all) and getting what I can in him. I have ordered the Honey Bear cups (I think that is what they are called) but I am worried about his hydration. His mouth is so dry. He has never had a wet diaper while we have had him. He is so funny and tired!!!! He falls asleep during our visits almost every time (probably because he is dehydrated). Cole drinks about 12 ounces of fluid every time we see him. I am afraid to give him more because I don't want him to get in trouble for having a wet diaper! How sad is that.

Today is Wednesday, Sept. 1 and we are picking up our translator at the bus station at 930 to go to the court house to see if we can get a court date. Please, please, please pray that we get a quick and easy court date so that we can go home, see our other kids, and catch up on the world. I miss home so badly and my other children are acting out like little babies throwing a fit for their momma! They are in so much trouble when I get home, but after I hug their necks off. So, I will blog later and let everyone know if we have a court date or not. We must get some food today. I was sick and only ate a boiled egg and a banana yesterday and poor Sean just sat here with nothing to eat because I was in bed.

Anyone that has any comments on Caden's fluids, please feel free to leave them. Any tidbits of info would be appreciated and helpful.

Stephanie

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 12

Well, well, well...where to start???? We finally have interent access in our apartment....YAY!!!

I guess I will start of the happenings of Friday. We waited and waited on Olga (our facilitator) and Angelina (our translator) to come to Sevastapol. We walked around, went down to the board walk, went to a little flea market, etc. I was really needing a haircut and we passed by a salon and I thought what the heck, so we went it. They said they would cut my hair for 50 grivnas (around $6), so I went for it. I have to tell you, it was the most thorough hair cut I have ever gotten. I thought she would never get done. It is very, very short, but I like it and my hair grows so fast that it will need cut again by the time we get home.

So, anyway, Olga and Angelina call and say let's go. I thought we were just going to the notary to sign some papers. We have been out walking all day, we have on shorts and T-shirts, I just got a haircut and we were all nasty. To our surprise, we have an appointment with the head of the inspector's office, the orphanage director, the inspector and some other person (I forget). We are going to be interviewed by the Head of the Department to see if he will sign our application for a court date. So, here we go in, totally unprepared, look like crap, to talk to a middle age man that speaks no English to see if he will "allow" us to apply for a court date....GREEAATTT. He starts off and ask "why do you all want a child with so many problems?" I mean, how do you answer that..."we don't like easy ones". Seriously, I said that we felt like having these children would enrich our lives and that we have had experience with children and adults with DS and they were all such blessings and even though we know it will be hard work, we feel like the good will outweigh the bad and we will be better off having them. He then asked many, many times about what our families think about it. I told them that they were happy and supportive. He wanted to know how much money we made, what kind of resources would the children have access to and would they be "trainable" for any kind of jobs in America? That last question blew me away. I said that there were places available for people with developmental delays to work, but no specific ones, but that is was more for socialization than money earning potential....Awww, then the last question..."Will you profit from these children? Does your government pay you to have them?" Uhhh...that is a big negative. He looked very sternly for a few minutes, and at first, I thought he was not going to sign the paper. But then he said, "Good luck, and I wish more people were like you all and I hope everything goes well. Please send pictures and updates on the boys and let us know how they are doing." At just like that, it was over.

Now, for the court date. All of the paperwork is completed and we have officially applied for a court date. Olga has been fabulous. She has been talking to the judge way before we even got here trying to work on a court date. The judge goes on vacation for 60 days starting Sept. 1. Another judge will be handling cases while he is out, but NEVER international adoption cases. She has been working her way for several weeks into talking him into letting the other one handle it while he is gone. He said "yes" and so did the other judge, who is described as "good and laid back" by both Olga and Angelina. The new judge will start Sept. 1st and we should have a court date assigned that day. Hopefully it will be this week, but don't know anything for sure yet. FYI-I can't wait for you to be able to see a pic of the court house. It was scary. It looks like an abandoned building with grafitti(sp) and weeds all over it...nice.

Now, to the boys. I don't know if I mentioned the gash on Cole's eye last week, but anyway, he had a huge gash over his eye. Then Friday, he had a big, fat lip. Saturday, we pick him up, and his other eye is now black. So, he has two black eyes, a huge, busted lip and about 20 different scrapes and bruises on him. I have been calling him "Tyson" because he looks like a boxer. His balance is really, really bad and he is quite a danger to himself without careful supervision. He looks so pitiful. He has been so sweet our last visits. He loves to eat, no matter what it is. He sits and just waits for us to bring out the food.

Caden is a ham! He is coming to life before our very eyes. He is completely a different kid since we got here. For the first several days, he did nothing but lay there. No sounds, no emotions, no nothing. Now, he cracks up, he tries to sit up for long periods of time, he stands and dances. He plays with toys! He loves the keys and loves CARS. Little matchbox cars are his favorite thing so far. He laughs and laughs at them. Still having a lot of trouble with his drinking/swallowing. I ordered both boys a Honey Bear cup when I got home from the orphanage today. They are something else when it comes to fluids. Cole can't get enough and Caden chokes to death on one drop. I hope the cups work.

BTW, Cole says "Poppa" when he sees Sean and follows him around like a puppy dog. It is the only word that we have been able to understand so far. And....Caden cries for me when someone holds him. He has done it three times so far and instantly stops crying and starts laughing when I get him. So, I guess the first choices have been made...interesting, I thought it would be opposite.

Well, another trip to the "baby house" today and we will have Groundhog Day again in the big city of Sevastapol. We may change it up a little today and have Pepsi light instead of Coke light....he he he...

Stephanie

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 10

Ok....I am still confused on what day it is. We did get our referral for David on Wednesday. We had to go to the SDA at 9 am, back at 2 pm, then back at 530 pm for our referral. I have no idea what or why we had to do that. We went in for our "interview" but they did not ask us any questions or even speak to us, so not sure what the purpose of all of that was...but anyway, we then headed to the dreaded train. Yes, another 17 hours on the train. I made a tragic mistake. I did not take any medicine and it was awful. This was by far the worst of the train rides. I strongly suggest ALWAYS getting a first class ticket, even if it is another $125 more. It is soooo worth it.

Anyway, we arrived back in Sevastapol on Thursday at 1pm. We were met my our driver and our translator and the running began. We went to the inspector's office, the notary, the orphanage, and then back to the inspector's office. For Lydia and Liam's moms.....I asked the orphanage director about them. She said they were both here and both really healthy and happy babies. She also said that we could see them, but they were napping right then. I told her that families were on the way for them and she was so excited. I truly believe the director really cares for the children and wants them to have families. She was tearful when I told her that you all were coming and she said that we could get updated pictures for you all. Hoping that happens soon. I also asked about little Emory. She said that he was well and gaining weight. She also said that he was going back to Kiev in a couple of months to have his colostomy reversed and that they think his GI system will be fairly normal after the next surgery. I can't wait to see all of the babies. It is so weird because you can hear them crying or just making noise, but never see them. Even when I pick David up from his groupa, there are no babies visible. I think they are just all laying in their cribs. So sad.

So, after the running around for paperwork, we took our translator to the bus station. She said all of our paperwork was completed and we could apply for a court date on Friday. She was very excited about this and said it usually takes 7 days to get everything together for a court date, but we did it in one day. I didn't have the heart to tell her that it has been 10 days, not one, but whatever...the paperwork is done and Olga is coming to Sevastapol on Friday to talk to the judge as request a court date. Please Dear God let it be soon. I am so homesick. I miss my Cody and Ducky so bad. I couldn't sleep last night thinking that we were out of our minds leaving our kids behind. I should have insisted that they come with us, but then they would have been miserable with all the travel and plus, they would have missed school. It doesn't help that we haven't had internet access for 3 days and we haven't got to talk to them.

We had our driver take us to a real grocery store and OMG! We found an Ukrainian "Walmart" called "FoxMart". It was hysterical. We bought $75 worth of groceries and it should last us for many days. Our apartment is like out of an Austin Powers movie. The landlord was showing us around so proudly of the lime green and black leopard skin rug, the multicolor dimmer lights, and all of the other funny stuff. I almost lol, but could see that she was extremely proud of all of it. It is nice, though, expect no internet access. She promised to have it fixed by Friday.

So, we haven't seen Anton or David since Monday and we are at coffee shop down the street for the internet access. Hopefully, we will see them today. Cody and Danielle-be on the computer tonight. We will walk down here this evening if the apartment internet is not working.

Last thing, the boys finally have their names...Anton's new name is ...... Cole Elijah Carmichael (tribute to Miss Elisha Janeway) and David's new name is.....Caden Sean Carmichael (tribute to you know who). Will try to update ASAP.

Stephanie

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rest of Day 7, some of Day 8

I am loosing count of what day I am on, but I am pretty sure it is Day 8. We rode back on the train to Kiev on Monday night. It was 16 hours and it was a first class cabin instead of the 2nd class that we rode the first time. It was much cleaner and more comfy. They had a TV in the cabin, but it only played one channel in Russian, so we didn't really benefit from it. I slept most of the way from my antivert, phenegran, and scopalamine patch combo. Sean hates the train most of all, but he did ok this time.

We made it to Kiev at 9 am on Tuesday and we were greeted at the train station by our driver. He doesn't speak any English, but he is very nice and carries my luggage for me (up and down hundreds of steps). He took us to our apartment, which is pretty nice. It is much bigger than the other places that we have stayed. We paid $75 a night for it. We ate breakfast at McDonalds, which is only about a block from us. We then rested for a while. We ate at a little cafe for dinner. We ordered these fried flour things with cheese in it (meat and cheese for Sean). They tasted like a really greasy grilled cheese. I didn't like it much and won't order it again. The picture looked much better than the food tasted.

The the Nalles called us and we met them at Independence Square. They are adopting Aaron. They were jet lagged, but they were very good company and they showed us around Kiev a little. they have court on Thursday and then again next week. No one has ever adopted any children from where Aaron is, so please pray for them that everything goes smoothly.

Today I wonder if Anton and David missed us visiting them. I wonder if they know that we missed visiting them. I don't think that David cares or not, but I bet Anton was wondering where in the heck we are with his banana, yogurt and water. He also thinks that Sean is his personal servant and play toy. Poor thing won't get to swing until we get back.

We didn't have internet access last night when we got home because the landlord didn't pay the bill, even though we paid our $5 to have it, but it was back on when we got up this morning (Wed). Olga and the driver picked us up at 830 am and then we went to the notary for about 45 minutes for some type of paper to be filled out. We then went to the SDA and officially applied for David's referral. We are suppose to go back at 2 pm and see if we can get the referral today. This process is just so crazy and I can't understand why it is so difficult to get kids that no one wants, that not one person has ever came and visited their entire lives. It just doesn't make sense and the process is so difficult that no wonder that aren't a lot of people trying to adopt these kids.

We did find some funny things on the road to the SDA. I bought some nesting dolls, a Kiev display egg, and wait for it....wait for it....A set of nesting Dallas Cowboy dolls with Tony Romo and other players on it. Sean's face lit up like a Christmas tree. The only thing that could have been better is if they had the triplets on them (Troy Aikman, Michal Irving, and Emmett Smith). Remember my dog's name is Troy Aikman, so can you see the pattern here? LOL!!!

So, here we are waiting for our appointment (that we have already had because they told us about both boys at the first one), to get the same paper that we already have to see the same boys that we have already seen. Crazy! But, it could be so much worse. I have read hundreds of blogs about times in UA and I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that....it is not 105 degrees and the weather is pretty nice, the food is easy and accessible, the region we are staying at has apartments with a/c and internet, the translater in region has a great relationship with everyone involved with the adoption, the boys look healthy and happy, and that we are finally going to start the court process.

May be getting on a train this evening if we get our referral, so may not update for a day or two. Please pray that everything goes smoothly and we get the referral that we need to move forward.

Stephanie

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 7

We went to the orphanage for a brief visit today before we head back to Kiev for a couple of days. Anton was so much better today. We brought some pineapple yogurt, bananas and cold water. Both boys ate and ate. Then they played really hard for about an hour and then both of them crashed. Of course, David fell asleep on Sean again. Everytime Sean holds him, he goes to sleep. He is a snuggle bunny. Anton was very sleepy at the end of our visit, also. He just sat in my lap and let me rock him for about 10 minutes and only tried to get my glasses once. That is much better than before.

After the visit, we went and exchanged money, stopped at Mickey D's and got lunch for us and the driver, came back to the apartment to finish packing up to head out at 1pm. I dread this train ride like nothing else. Luckily, I haven't had too much motion sickness while I have been here and I hope that continues.

Will update from Kiev tomorrow.

Stephanie

Day 6

As Sean said, this is starting to be like the movie "Groundhog Day". We get up at the same time, go to the same driver, go to the same stores, blah, blah, blah.

Today, we got to the orphanage a little early, so we only went to Anton's groupa at first. All of the kids were doing what they are always doing...sitting on a big rug. They have all kinds of toys in cabinets (like curio cabinets) but I have never seen anyone playing with them. It is like they are on display. Anton had a gash over his right eye. It looked like he almost needed stiches, but they had that blue medicine on it. We played outside and he absolutely loves to swing. He is very content just sitting in the swing, even if it is not swinging, but he cracks up if you actually push him in it. He likes to play with the ball a little, but nothing like he likes the swing. We will definitely have to have a swingset when we get home. I fed him some more fruit and let him practice drinking out of a sippy cup today. He does pretty good until he figures out that he can pour the water on his head. He was still a little rough at times, but much better than yesterday. He just gets so excited. He has no idea what to do with all of this attention.

I have decided that David looks like a little monkey. He will wear you down holding him. He doesn't even try to hold any of his weight on his on. He does stand up if you put him on the ground and let him hold on to something, but only for a few minutes. I tried some tummy time with him today and scooted all the way off of the bench. He has the potential, but just needs his muscles built up. Sean rubbed him down with lotion and gave him a deep tissue massage and he passed out! He was out like a light. We knew we would get in trouble with the nannies if they saw him asleep, but couldn't wake him up. He is sooo cute.

Anyway, came back to the apartment and cleaned a little and did some laundry, then went out to eat and back. Nothing exciting to report today, but we are leaving tomorrow afternoon to go to another city 2 hours away to catch the train to Kiev because there are no train tickets available from here. Our train tickets to Sevastapol were $100 for 4 second class tickets, but we are paying $215 for tickets back (that is 2 hours closer) because we are now traveling first class and it is a holiday Monday and Tuesday. It is Independence Day here. It will be interesting to see how they celebrate that.

I will probably not have internet access for a couple of days, but will update soon.

Stephanie

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 5

Day 5 started off about the same. We got up and went straight to the orphanage. We got Anton first, but they wouldn't let us have David. They said to come back at 9:30 after "yum, yum". He was still waiting his turn to eat and he was not happy. I did finally get to see another baby with DS there. Sorry guys (no Liam or Lydia yet, but our translator is going to ask for us). I saw Evan today and if anyone is considering him, please know that he is a doll! He has the brightest blue eyes that you will ever see. He was sitting and trying to feed himself. The older lady in David's groupa was not very happy at all about us being there and wasn't afraid to let us know, but I didn't care. I just stood right there and waited.

The caregivers in Anton's groupa today asked us to bring diapers to the orphanage. Funny that they are asking for diapers for my "completely potty trained" boy. HA! Anyway, Anton ran out and held his arms up for Sean to pick him up. He is really happy to see us. Poor thing has had on the same outfit, well, actually the same shorts on for three days. Today is the first day that we have seen him with a shirt on. He is pitifully filthy. They definitely need a good scrubbing! Anton was totally wild today. I fed him some fruit and animal crackers and brought him some grape juice. I tried a sippy cup with him and he can't really use it at all, even without the little flapper thing in it. So, I took off the lid and let him use it as a regular cup. He sounded like my English bulldog drinking that juice! It was pretty funny. We will definitely have to work on his drinking. They are both so thirsty.

I don't know if it was the sugar in the juice, or if it was just being a little hydrated, but Anton was like a wild man today. He would grab my face and squeal and run and run and run. You tell that the caregivers were not happy that we just let him run around. I finally went and held his hand and we walked around. He does really well walking while holding your hand, but if you let go, he goes nuts. He did find his way to a poor cat today and put a WWF move on it. Poor Troy (my dog) will have to hide from him for a while. He was much more verbal today and was chatting up a storm, but, of course, we had no idea what he was saying. He listens very well. I patted the bench and told him to sit and he climbed right up and did what I said. He is not quite understanding this new found freedom. I am trying to keep a good balance between letting him have some freedoms that he has never had and not making him want to do more than he is used to and get in trouble in his groupa. The kids in his groupa are soooo cute. That same little boy that cried for us yesterday did the same thing today, but not trying to fight his way to us. Just a real quiet pitiful cry staring at me saying "momma" over and over. It is heart breaking. I am kind of glad that I applied to adopt two or I would probably be bringing him home with me.

We finally got David after yum yum. The lady that hates me should try out for the NFL because she football tossed him to me when I came back to get him. I was kind of stunned and just turned and got the heck out of there with him. They had him dressed in a girl outfit about 3 sizes too big with little girl flowerdy sandals on. He is too funny. I brought him a vibrating teether and he loved that. He picked up on how to make it start and stop pretty quick. I fed him some fruit and juice, too. I tried a bottle and a sippy cup with him. No go~ so I took the lid off to see what he would do. He also drinks like a bulldog!

We didn't stay very long this morning, about 2 hours, and then had our driver take us back to the apartment. The driver had his son with him. He was about 3 or 4 years old. I gave him some cookies and he snatched them from me and kept holding on to the back of his daddy's seat. You would think the driver would be a little more careful with his kid in the car. That would be a wrong assumption. He drove faster today than ever before. The driver had on a seatbelt. The little boy stood in the back seat holding on to the head rest. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when he passed a bus about 70 mph and the bus was leaning on its side toward us. But we made it back (Thank God).

We decided that we would walk around and see the city a little today. We walked and walked and walked. We actually ended up walking all the way to the Black Sea, which is probably about 3 or 4 miles from our apartment. We ate lunch at McDonald's-yes, there is no place on Earth that does not have a Mickey D's. We tried to find a tranfer cable for my camera and diapers. No luck on either. I don't know where in the world people buy diapers and stuff. We probably went in 20 stores, but no luck. There are thousands of stores and people here. This is a "resort" town because of the beach. We went into a Columbia store and it was very nice. Lots of clothes and shoe stores, cell phone stores, and you can buy beer on every corner. Either bottled beer or fresh out of the keg right on the street.

For people coming to Crimea (Sevastapol), please carry your address to your apartment with you at all times. After walking this 3 or 4 mile trek, I was tired and thought we would get a taxi back. Well, I forgot our address paper and had no idea how to tell them where we lived. So, you know what you do???? You get to walk the 3 or 4 miles back!!! Sean was no impressed! Also, the hype about the high heels, etc., forget it! You need some good walking shoes. We have to walk everywhere we go, except for the orphanage, so be prepared. My shorts were hanging on me today. We have probably lost about 10 lbs. or so. Between the first couple of days with no food and all of the walking, you will loose weight! (not complaining)

Anyway, Angelina arranged for our driver to take us to get diapers in the morning before we go to the orphanage and we will see how that goes. I hate it that I can't download any pictures. I will keep looking for a transfer cord. Good night, all!

Stephanie

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 4

Day 4 went much, much better than day 3. We got up at 7 am and were showered and out the door at 830 to meet our driver outside. He was a different guy from the day before, but smelled the same. Actually, he was very nice and stopped at a little store for us to get some snacks and drinks to take to the orphange with us.

No one met us at the orphanage, so we were on our own. We walked in and everyone started speaking in Russian/Ukrainian to us. Not one person there understood any English. GREAT!!! I found Anton's groupa and I just kept saying his name over and over again until they brought him to me. He was smiling and happy as could be. They make them switch their shoes to go outside and put a hat on. The caregiver was a were a little rough with him, screaming at him over and over, to what I am assuming was to change his shoes. He did it, though. He went to his locker, got out his outside shoes, sat on a little bench, took off his inside shoes, put on the other shoes, and then put his inside shoes in his locker. Pretty smart, huh? Then we tried to get David. I couldn't understand them and they couldn't understand me, I just kept saying "David, David, David" over and over again. They kept trying to make up go outside with Anton and Anton was already down one flight of steps to get the heck out of there. I finally called our translator and handed them the phone and two minutes later, there was David dressed in girl clothes with a flowerdy hat on! Very cute, but we will have to change his look a little. I brought both of them a black Nike hat to trade in for the girl hats. The whole I was standing there waiting on David, there was about 6 little guys (2 and 3 year olds) staring at us, two of them screaming and crying. One of the little boys was screaming, "Mommmy and Poppy". The caregiver even said he wants a momma and poppa and tried to give him to me. It was awful.

We went outside and played a little. We found strollers and thought we would push them around a little and just walk. The mean lady from the groupa saw Anton in a stroller and ran over and snatched him out. She was not happy that I would let him sit in a stroller when he can walk, so we let Anton push David around for a little while. I brought bananas, animal crackers, and grape juice for them. They loved it. David only has 4 teeth, but can eat if you break it up for him. Neither one knew how to suck on the straw to get the juice, but knew that they liked it and kept coming back for more.

Our visit lasted about 1 1/2 hours and then we left to go pick up our translator and the Inspector to do more paperwork. Anton did not want us to leave and tried very hard to go with us. David could have cared less if we left or not. We went to the notary, done some more paperwork, exchanged some money, then came back to the apartment. I did some laundry (very funny-hung out on a pulley clothesline like in the movies from my window) and we took a nap. We got up and decided we would go explore a bit. We hit pay dirt! We found a nice little restaraunt that had a nice patio. We ordered grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, french fries, and fresh cucumbers and tomatoes plus coffee and coke. It was fabulous and it was only $16 American money! WOO-HOO!

Anyway, we finally have internet, got to Skpye Danielle and Cody and see my little Moochy on video. We are just chilling out and waiting til tomorrow to go for another visit.

Monday and Tuesday are a holiday here, so we can't go to our SDA appointment until Wednesday of next week to get our referral for David. I am very thankful that they are letting us see him and spend time with him without our official paperwork. I am also very thankful for the weather. It has been great today. Only about 80 degrees with winds blowing and you don't feel like you are going to die when you take a breath in.

Will try to update with pictures tomorrow! (promise)

Stephanie

Day 3 (I think.....)

Day 3 (written yesterday)

Day 3 was filled with absolutely craziness. We went back at 4 pm to the SDA to pick up our referral and we waited, waited, waited, and waited. Surprisingly, there were many families there waiting. In the middle of waiting, Olga thought she and I should “run” to get train tickets and exchange money. Well, in America, when we say run, we mean “go”. Well, Olga meant “run”. Remember now that I am dressed, including shoes, for the SDA appointment, which is not my normal attire. I had on a nice suit and some nice, NEW black dress shoes with a small heel. Well, about 5 minutes into our run, I could feel the blisters on my feet coming on. I had no choice but to have a Tennessee Redneck Moment. Everyone knows how important shoes are to the Ukra*nians; if you don’t-it is the mainstay of their dress. Everyone wears heels. Not just your Sunday church heels, but HEELS! 5 inch stilettos were everywhere. Anyhoo….I had no choice but to take my shoes off and run barefoot through downtown Kiev to purchase train tickets and exchange money. I thought Olga was going to pass out. I assured her that it was ok and that I would prefer to walk barefooted than in those shoes. The result of the 5 minute run-7 blisters! My feet look like I have walked through broken glass.
Anyway, getting the referral for Anton was uneventful. We sat in a little hallway on the infamous brown couch and waited our turn. We were third in line and we showed our passports and signed our name and then we were out the door. After that, we walked about a mile and finally got real food. Now remember, we have been in Kiev for over 36 hours and have only eaten what I brought as snacks up until this point. We ate a place called the “Potato Bar”. It was pretty good. But, at this point, we were not picky. We ate bbq ribs and a potato with butter, cheese, and mushrooms. We bought extra bottles of water there for our train trip. After eating, we went back to the apartment, packed up and were taken to the train station. THE TRAIN STATION WAS FREAKY!!!
We boarded the train at 820pm and did not arrive to our destination until 115pm the next day! For all of you counting, yes that is 17 hours in a 4 X 6 compartment surrounded by several older, scary, big, Russian men. We only left the compartment once and that was to use the bathroom. That is a whole post in itself. After 17 hours of boredom and feeling like we were sitting in a washing machine, I decided I would take a bath and get cleaned up for our arrival to meet our translator. I bathed with diaper wipes, poured our last part of water over my fro to comb my hair, brushed my teeth, and reapplied deo and a little make up. Well, I am glad I did that. Sean did not. He thought we would get picked up, taken to our new apartment and then he would shower, etc. Well, we literally hit the ground running. We went straight to the Inspectors office with our translator, Angelina. Angelina, by the way, is absolutely beautiful! She took us to this room and we were interviewed by the Inspector. They asked why we wanted a child with DS, what our other children thought of it, how many cars we had, and what kind of resources we had for them. I am so glad I got cleaned up before all of this! We had no idea that this would be happening. The Inspector told me to turn around. I was confused at first. I turned around and there were about 10 pictures hanging on the wall behind me and there was Anton when he was about 18 months old looking back at me. We answered the questions satisfactorily and then Angelina said, “Let us go to see the babies.” I said, “Ok…Let us go!” The inspector rode with us and we arrived at the orphanage a few minutes later.

I almost cried when we pulled up to the orphanage. Now remember, I have only had one meal, half a bottle of water, and a couple of pieces of gum in the last 36 hours. I was car sick, hot, hungry, thirsty, dizzy, and nauseated. The “playground” brought tears to my eyes. I will post pictures and more about that later. We got out at the orphanage and met with the Orphanage Director. She was a very nice, older lady. She told me some basic information and then she told us to follow her. We were just following the Inspector, the director, and Angelina. We thought we were going to another room to finish the interview. We walked through the door and there was Anton and David with two caregivers holding them up on a small couch. They were sooooo cute, but soooo sleepy! They had waked them from their nap to come meet us. Anton was so cute and friendly. He immediately came and sat in my lap and grabbed a hold of me and would not let go. He smiled and smiled and smiled. He giggled and was elated that we were there for him. I played with him while Sean was trying to talk to David. David was so sleepy that he could barely keep his eyes open. The information that we had received about David being able to walk and talk was WRONG. He is tiny! I bet he only wears like a 9-12 months clothes and he can barely hold his little head up. He was like a little rag doll. I wanted to get him from the caregiver, but Anton was firmly planted in my lap and wasn’t having any part of leaving it anytime soon. After several attempts from Sean to take David from the caregiver, I put my hands out to the side and took him while I still had Anton. He is so little! He just melted right into me. He held on to me, too. They have never seen a man before and they were a little intimidated by this huge bearded man. They just looked and looked at him. Finally, Anton, with the insistence of the caregivers, got in the floor and played ball with Sean. He stacked blocks correctly and did everything the caregivers asked of him. David, on the other hand, lay very still in my lap and just wanted to go back to sleep. Our visit was brief-only about 15 minutes and then we were off again. We went back to the inspectors office and then to the train station. We were unable to purchase tickets back to Kiev, so we are going to stay in Sevestopol (sp) for tonight and possibly tomorrow night. We did get to eat again!!!! We went to a pizza place on the Black Sea. We ordered a large pizza, juice, diet coke, chicken salad, and fruit. The chicken salad was awesome or I was starving to death one. It was chicken, cheese, fresh pineapples, and some kind of either sweet mayo or dressing sauce. Very, Very Good! We brought the rest of the pizza and fruit to the apartment with us for supper. We have a nice little apartment, $50 a night, with a/c and they said we have internet connection, but I can’t get it to work. That is why I am writing this and saving it on a word document and I will post it when I get internet. Anyway, we are again exhausted and needing to rest. The driver is picking us up at 830 in the morning to go back to the baby house to see the cutest boys in the world. I will post pictures soon!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

1st snag

Well, we had our SDA appointment this morning. Everything went well during the interview, but they would not give us the referral for both boys at the same time because a family came to Ukraine two weeks ago and got 4 referrals, went to the orphanage, and only choose one child (the healthiest of the four, of course). So they changed the rules that you have to meet the first child and then come back for the second referral. So, hopefully, tonight we will get on a train to Crimea and have an official meeting tomorrow, only to get back on the train, come back to Sunny K, get our second referral, then get back on the train and head back to Crimea. Don't forget that the train ride is 8 hours one way. And also don't forget that I hate trains (just had a death in the family two weeks ago related to a train-but hated them before that)!!!!

Anyway, I found out information about both boys. Anton was left at the nursery when he was born. His parents are wealthy, highly educated and very affluent. They immediately gave up their rights and did not want him. How sad:( But they say he is very healthy, except for some type of small hernia. I cracked up when our facilitator looked at Sean and said "Anton has same face as you, he moves slow like you, and he is plump like you." I was cracking up. Sean refuses to believe that he is the slowest human being in the world and that absolutely confirmed it!

David has "no known father", but his mother is Georgian (an no, not that Georgia). She, too, immediately gave up her rights soon after birth when it was discovered that he had DS. They said that he was healthy, walking, and TALKING!!! He is not two yet, so talking is a huge step for him. He also has some vision issues. Not sure what it is yet. He may need glasses or something.

Olga just goes on and on about how smart they both are. I was ready to bring home two babies, but I think I might be getting two regular boys if it is as she says. She also said that Anton loves to eat. She said he eats very slow and enjoys every bite of it. Sounds like he will fit right in at our house.

Little information on Kiev-EVERYBODY here smokes. We were walking down the street today and everyone looks very angry. Not one smile did we see. We did have a very drunk man ask Sean for money (which was funny), but no friendliness at all. Sean says that is because everyone is hot, dehydrated, and starving to death. We still haven't gotten any food, but I made us some mac'n cheese from home for lunch. We are going to pick up our referral at 3:30 and then get some dinner. We are going to try to find TGIFs because two other RR families are going to be there at 6:30!!!

I would post pics on here, but not quite sure how yet. Wish us luck on the train ride!

Stephanie

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We made it!

Well, we finally made it to Kiev. The trip was interesting. We tried to fill out a declaration form for the money we were carrying in Knoxville when we left on our first trip, but they would not let us. So, when we got to Washington, we literally had to run back and forth from Customs/Immigration back over to another building to get on the plane. They were paging us overhead before out flight left. We got on the plane and got our seats and we took off. The 9 hour flight was so miserable. I slept most of the way, but Sean stayed awake the whole time.

When we arrived, Olga and a driver were waiting on us. We drove from the airport to our apartment. Very interesting drive, plus the driver had the "a/c" on, but just had it on defrost, so it was over 100 degrees in the car. Olga and the driver were sitting in the front seat and we were in the back. They sat in the hot car with the windows rolled up like it was normal. We were dying!

The apartment building that we are staying at is very scary on the outside and the climb up the stairs were freaking me out, but the apartment is ok. It has a small window a/c in the bedroom that barely works, but it does knock the edge off of the heat.

I thought we would go to the store and get some food last night when Olga was brought back our phone, but we did not get to go. We fell asleep and didn't hear her when she first came back, so we had pb and crackers for dinner. Olga did go get us a couple of bottles of water.

Our SDA appointment is in two hours and after that, we are DEFINITELY going to the store and to get something to eat. Sean made fun of me for packing so many snacks, but he isn't laughing too hard now. I brought us oatmeal for breakfast and we will make due until we can get to real food. Maybe we will loose some weight....probably not though.

I will try to update after we get back today!

Monday, August 16, 2010

We are off!!!!

I am sitting in my eerily quite house waiting to wake the kids up to get ready to leave for the airport. I have made at least 100 checklists in my mind and then rechecked. I am not usually like that. My philosophy is usually..."if I need it, I will stop at Walmart and get it when I get there." Well, seeing that the nearest Walmart is over 4500 miles away, that's going to be a small problem!

I can not decide whether to take the boys their stuff in case we happen to luck out and get a very quick court date and I decide to stay. That is a lot of gear to bring for a "just in case", but I think I am going to go ahead and bring it. What if I get over there and they just hand them to me and tell me and I can leave and all I have to travel with is two T-shirts????

Anyway, I am very nervous about the travel. I hate airplanes and am pretty sure that I will hate the train just as much. I have already taken some antivert, clarinex, scop-patch, and I have phenegran on standby! I may be too drunk to get on the plane.

I probably won't be able to post for several days. It takes at least a day to get where I am going and I don't know if we will have internet service or not. I will try to update daily. Please pray for safe travel and that everything goes smoothly!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Flights are booked!

I have booked our flights for EE. We leave on August 16th and will hopefully return by September 6th, but have no idea if that is anywhere near close. We won't know for sure until we are in country and receive our court date. Our date that we have now is for our SDA appointment for our official referral of the kids. It is just the first step in the process. The tickets cost a whopping $3200!!! Wow! I about passed out!

Anyway, shopped a little tonight and got Danielle and Cody all of their school supplies, ordered Cody's uniforms online to be delivered, and all we are in need of now is Danielle's books and Cody a new pair of shoes and a new backpack. I am going to print off all of our documents that we need for travel and get that marked off of my list and I have started ordering making lists. So much to do that I don't really know where to start!!! Also, my last test for school is Sunday and I am officially done with everything by the end of the week!!!!YAY!!! Pretty good timing, huh?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SDA appointment



Finally, we have our SDA appointment. It is August 18th. Now, the race is on. I am finishing up school this week. I have to be in Nashville August 9-11th for a seminar, Cody starts back to school August 17th, and Danielle starts college August 28th. I haven't ordered our money, made a packing list, secured who is going to be where and when. There is so much to do that I don't know where to start. Not to mention that I am suppose to be finding a new job and applying for my certification for the FNP. Anyway, it will all come out in the wash. I will leave you with a few cute pics....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We are officially submitted!!!

I know I haven't posted lately, but there wasn't really anything to post....until today. I received an email that stated that our dossier has been officially submitted to EE and we are just waiting on a travel date....YAY!!!

Will post more details as I find them out.

Stephanie

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen......dossier has landed in (well, you know where)

I sent my dossier to Victoria (director of adoption agency) for her to inspect first hand and I thought she would then send it back to me for me to mail to that certain little country to start the process of getting an appointment with the SDA. Well, I shot off an email asking how the process was coming along and she sent me an email back with a tracking number from FedEx. OMGosh!!! My dossier has been mailed. I know that doesn't sound like a great big deal, but you have to understand that I have been working on documents, getting my house inspected, getting my body inspected (including testing for HIV, TB, you name it) and focusing on this dossier for 8 months.

So, hopefully the dossier will be submitted the last week in June and we will get a travel date for early August. I should be completely finished with school by then. It is funny how I think of school now. I have been literally waiting for years to complete my master's degree and become a Family Nurse Practitioner. I have been dreaming of the day that this happens. While it is still important, and I am proud of myself for completing this, it pales in comparison to actually getting the boys. It used to consume me of finishing as many classes as possible so that I could be closer to my goal; now my goal is to finish so I can get them home. It is such a funny journey.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Waiting on the Green Light!

The adoption agency has my dossier in their hands. The director is suppose to look over the entire dossier today and let me know if it is ok to send to the boys country. I am so excited!!!

I haven't been blogging much because I feel I have been at at stand still for so long now. I am super stressed this week. Danielle started a new job and I am trying to get all of her admission stuff done for college. My last semester of school started this week, so I am doing clinicals on top of working full time. I enjoy the clinical time, but it cuts down on my ability to work overtime and thus, decreases the amount of money I can make. But I have a sense of calmness on top of all that anxiety. If worse comes to worse, we can eat PB sandwiches everyday and travel as light as possible on the funds that we do have. I would love to know exactly when we are traveling so that I would know exactly how much the plane tickets are going to cost. I still haven't decided on to stay in country or not. I could come home and work a couple of extra weeks while we are waiting on the 10 day waiting period to be over. That would (1) give us some extra money and (2) allow me to stay home a little longer when they actually get here. I guess we will just wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I am trying to finish all of the school work up as quick as possible. I am getting as many clinical hours done as humanly possible so that I can pick up some OT for the last couple of weeks in July and I am TIRED!!!!!
I will post more when I hear from the agency about the status of our dossier!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I can see the finish line....

O.K., after months and months of paper chasing, painting, sleep deprivation, etc., I think I am officially done with the dossier. I am a very organized, task oriented person, so I never dreamed of how much work (both mentally and physically) compiling the dossier would be. I sent the last set of documents to Nashville on Wednesday and I am hoping to get them back by Monday or Tuesday to send to EE to submit for a travel date. Can you believe it?

Now, I just need to finish finding the rest of the money. I think we have enough money to do our first trip (I would love to stay over there, but need to work in between trips for the extra money). We have almost all that we need. I have read that a lot of families do it much cheaper than the projected amount from RR and I am so hoping and praying that is true. I don't have anything else left to sell. Danielle's car tearing up and costing us $3500 really put a dent on our travel money. I am hoping that the plane tickets are closer to $1200 instead of the $2000 that I have been hearing about. Anyway, I will find the money somehow. I am already working every hour that I can, but school starts back next week for me and that will cut down on the amount of hours that I am able to get in. I haven't seen poor Sean in several days because he has been working from daylight to dark to try to earn the money. Please pray for us that something will come up and we will have the money when the time comes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Roadblocks and Stumbles

I don't know where to start with this blogging stuff....I am so sad right now. I have a daily routine of checking other people's blog that have adopted from RR. One of the cutest little Serbian princesses died this morning. Her name was Chrissy and she was five years old. She came home to her forever family last October. When I read that she had passed, I just kind of froze and didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to pray for. I didn't know how to respond at all. Her story has been very inspirational and very important to me on a very deep personal note and her mother has no idea how profoundly her posts about God has affected me and I, am sure, others. While her child was lying there fighting for her life, her mother turned it over completely to God and knew that he was is in total control and that she would follow him no matter what the outcome. That is the best act of faith I have ever seen. There was no crying out to ask "Why" or "what if". It was just pure faith and love in Christ and she is a great testimony to God's work. I hope and pray that this family will find peace and I am sure they will.

On the adoption front for my two boys, I am still waiting on the social worker's license before starting the rush to get everything sent over to EE. It is kind of a good thing that I have this delay. I know that sounds awful, but I start school back on June 7th and it ends the last week of July or first week of August and I would LOVE to be done with all of that before making my trip there. That way I can totally focus on them and their transition.

I am just kind of blah today. No energy and no motivation. I read a lot of blogs today and it seems like there are so many roadblocks for everyone trying to bring these kids home. I just don't understand why things have to be so difficult. I see people with broken hearts because they need to redo one more paper and it is just crazy. I know it will work out in the end, but for now, it is very disturbing to see the mountains that everyone must climb to get to these kids that noone else wants.

I will update as soon as I have all of my papers done and ready to ship. I hope everyone has a productive week!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Look who went to a party today....



there was a party today at David's and Anton's orphanage in David's groupa and Mary Malone was kind enough to send me some pictures...Isn't he so cute? Mary has seen Anton a couple of times and says that we looks good, but she is unable to get pictures because he is in a different groupa. Mary is adopting the cutest little girl I have ever seen (Eliana/Ruslana) and she has been fabulous in sharing information and pictures with me. I cannot express how much I appreciate it.

On the dossier homefront, I have everything except the new proof of property form and the social worker's new license. Her current license expires May 31, and we need the new one. Olga (our facilitator in Ukraine) is looking over everything and making sure it is ok before I mail it to her. I hope she looks at it very well because it is so expensive to remail things. I would hate to do that twice.

So, for now I will wait patiently and try to get everything in the house ready for two little maniacs!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Golden Ticket Has Arrived!!!!!

Believe it or not, I received the golden ticket in the mail today. I also received the updatted version of the homestudy. I think I have everything I need to submit my dossier to that certain little country. I should be happy, excited, etc. Right???? Well, I am, but now I am really scared to death. Now, we have been approved to adopt and bring these boys home. Now, it is really REAL! But the fear and doubt will not win this internal battle that I am having with myself. I know that this is exactly what we are suppose to do and this is part of something that is bigger than me, bigger than my fear and bigger than anything I know.

So, I will scan everything to my adoption agency, have her scan/fax/somehow get it electronically to the Ukraine for final approval before sending it on its way.

Thanks to everyone who has sent prayers up for our approval process.

Wish us luck on our fundraising yard sale tomorrow and Saturday!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

New Pic of David



Now you tell me that this isn't the cutest thing that you have ever seen, girl clothes and all? This is a new picture of David that I received this morning. I very rarely check my email at work, but decided to this morning for some reason and this was on here! Can you believe that? I wish I had one of Anton/Cole, but only got this one, but boy was it a spirit lifter.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Still Waiting

Well, I finally got a response from USCIS....but it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. They wanted more information to approve our application. I have never been so disappointed in my life. I thought for sure when I opened the email that it was telling us that we were approved and they would be sending our letter out. But that is okay. I got the information they requested and mailed it to them and hopefully that will give them everything they need for approval.

Secondly, I heard from our adoption agency that some of our homestudy would need to be reworded. I keep trying really hard not to get frustrated, but it is hard not to. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal and hopefully that will work itself out, too. Anyway, not really much to update on. Still playing the waiting game.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not really needed...

I know another post is not really needed after those cute pics, but I thought I would comment a little bit.

First of all, I apologize for three separate posts; remember that I don't really know what I am doing, so it is taking me a while to get the hang of it.

The two new pics were taken at the end of Feb. or beginning of March. I am not totally convinced that is David, but everyone else thinks it is. Anton is too cute. I assure you that both of them will have BOY clothes when they come home.

I received an email from USCIS wanting more documents to finish our approval. That was disappointing because I thought we were just waiting on the letter and we would be good to go. I am working on what they want and will get it to them ASAP.

Things are moving much quicker than I thought they would with everything else, though. I have everything I need for the dossier, except of course, for the golden ticket. I have the room about 50% done, but both beds bought. I have lots of clothes and supplies. I have had a lot of things donated for our second yard sale and hopefully we will be having it in the next couple of weeks. We are still about 6 or 7thousand dollars short, but I think we will be able to come up with it somehow.

Anyway, no news yet on anything final. I will try to keep you updated.

New Pics

New Pics

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Letter to Ukra*ne

Well, we sent our first letter today to the Ukraine. It cost a whopping....wait for it...$137.00 to send ONE piece of paper to the Ukraine. We used fed-ex, but we will definitely shop around for the next documents to go. I thought the lady behind the counter was joking or giving me the price in Ukrainian money (whatever the heck that is), but yes, it really was $137. That costs more than the crib! Speaking of cribs, we do have one of the cribs set up and the bedding and stuff came in the mail today. It is so cute. It is jungle themed and has lots of monkeys! I think the boys will really like that.

Anyhooo...will try to post pictures of the room later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dates for us all to remember

I have been saying for at least a couple of months that I need to write down some of the important dates related to the adoption so I can remember them later. Well, as you can tell, it has not been done. So, here goes nothing....

November 24, 2009-official committment to Anton
November 25, 2009-contacted first homestudy agency
December 12, 2009-first homestudy agency canceled home visit
January 4, 2010-first homestudy agency canceled home visit (Yes, again)
January 24, 2010-obtained new homestudy agency
Feb. 5, 2010-mailed application to USCIS, first meeting with new homestudy agency in office
Feb. 8, 2010-official committment to David
Feb. 11-homestudy visit completed
Feb. 25, 2010-fingerprint appointment in Nashville
March 22, 2010-mailed completed homestudy to Nashville
March 23, 2010-mailed first set of documents to Nashville for apostilles

Now, that doesn't seem like a lot of work, but if you have not been through it, it is unbelievable!! I have been actively working (almost daily) on "paperwork" since the end of November and I am still not finished. Anyway, wanted to put those dates down before they were lost forever.