Thursday, June 4, 2009

A House Reunited

Hello All from our Very Full Home.

We are pleased to announce that the sister changed her mind. Last week, Bill traveled back to the region in Ukraine and brought her back home to us. We have been spending this week all getting to know each other, as well as going to doctors & dentists. Our new son has started attending afternoon Kindergarten to get acclimated to school in America. He's learning about "cubbies" and sharing, and sitting "criss-cross applesauce." Hopefully, he'll be ready for a full day of school in the Fall. We are trying to find a good summer program to help them learn English. We are also using videotapes, audiotapes, books and computers to help us communicate & learn in the meantime. Thank you all for your prayers and support throughout this process. We end one process and now begin the much more important journey. God is good and we thank Him for all of our many blessings. Posted by "7 Cal Weeks"

Saturday, May 16, 2009


This will be very brief as life is racing along here back in California. We must apologize to you faithful followers for the long delay in posting since our last entry. We arrived home late Thursday May 14th with our new son, Sasha (Alex). Our new daughter has had a difficult time leaving all that is familiar to her in Ukraine and we have given her some more time to think about coming, with the promise that we will return and bring her home anytime she changes her mind. Her United States Visa must be used within six months or it expires. The transition here is challenging and joyous. After about 5 days we all made the time zone/jet lag transition. Lots of medical tests have been done, the physical is complete and he is good to register for school for the first time in his 7 and a half year old life. He weighs exactly the same (33 pounds!) as he did when he spent time with us in July, 2008. But he is finally starting to eat...praise God! We praise God for all that has happened that is good. We have learned much from new friends, from old friends and from our immediate and extended family. We are very grateful for the love and support you have extended over these last challenging months. We will continue to update the blog but probably not as frequently. Again sorry for the long delay in getting this posted. Blessings to you all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Home is Where the Heart Is

May 12, 13, 14
It has been awhile as we were away from the internet. Will today (actually tomorrow) be the day? Will we finally get the passports? We have seen a faxed version and they are supposed to be on a train to Kiev from Chernivitsi. Bill and our driver Sasha (Crazy) will leave our hotel at 5:15 tomorrow morning to meet the train and hopefully get the passports. We will then race around Kiev trying to complete paperwork at the medical center and embassy in time to be at the airport by 11 AM. If we can't make that flight we will have to pay some heavy change fees and wait until Friday. We have learned to plan and then expect to change plans so it would be great to finish and leave Thursday but...well you get the idea. Some very big additional news to share on our first blog outside Ukraine. You will just have to wait.

Monday we tried to fill our day with activities. We washed the car in the morning. Of course once the eight of us piled in, it was pretty messy again from kids' feet on the seats. Then it rained off an on all day so ...Murphy's car wash laws work here as well. Then we went out shopping and afterwards found a nice Italian place to eat. We had spaghetti and pizza-pretty tasty-but still not home. Then we enjoyed a boat ride on a small river. Finally, we returned home to prepare a Shishkabob/barbecue/birthday dinner for our host mom, Luba. Bill and I have taken to humming "One Day More" from Les Miserables to each other (very appropriate don't you think). Our late dinner party was outside and lit by candlelight. Then the rain came so in this country setting the food had to be moved inside and the clothes taken off the laundry line. Somewhat abrupt end to a nice evening.

Tuesday-packed up and headed back to Kiev as the holidays are finally over and we cold get back to business. Our patience and cash are getting thin. Negative vibes from the newest daughter have not helped. She seems nostalgic for the "good old days" in her region. Who knows what will come of this? Our new kids are getting used to one another. They love one another but also can argue and be impatient. They have spent very little time together the last two years. They still have their dream of a perfect family- and, if you know us, that dream cannot come true. This sounds pretty negative so lets be clear.

Hope comes from our faith, not our circumstances. Jesus remains in charge, even in a place such as this and circumstances as we have described. We need to keep our eye on the vision of success: boarding the plane home and completing this part of the journey. As a friend recently reminded us the word of the month is ENDURE.

For those reading this at Bill's work place, the City of Angels, please do not take his office or move his desk just yet. He actually does plan to return to work. And soon!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Mother of all Adventures

May 9th & May 10th Mother’s Day

Saturday - We decided that we didn’t want to stay any longer in Kiev. We were only sitting there just trying to think of things to do. When we heard from our facilitator that the passports were not going to be issued this week at all – we really were disappointed. Even depressed. We decided we needed to make a change. Our new Angel, Linda, gave us a few options: Stay with one of her friends in Kiev, or stay with a family in the country. We opted for the second. So we packed up and got in the car and drove a few hours north to a little town called Cherniga. (I’m sure that’s not how you spell it.) Linda & our new driver, “Crazy” and Linda’s good friend Alonya are our new travel companions. We arrived and the family was so welcoming (remember we are now a group of seven.) Mom, Luba, was worried that her house wouldn’t be good enough for Americans. We assured her that her home was great and that we were the ones currently homeless. The couple have two kids almost the same ages as our two here. We also descended on them on a holiday weekend. They were getting ready to have a barbecue with their friends (they call it Shish-ka-bob) So we made ourselves scarce. We explored the town, went to McDonalds for lunch, and went to a small amusement park. Then we went to a grocery store for provisions and later in the evening we saw the new X-Men Wolverine movie. Thank goodness it was an action movie, because it was all in Russian. We did have to cover our little guy’s eyes at a few of the more violent parts. All in all, we enjoyed it. When we got back to the house, we decided to have an early evening and put the kids to bed. Unfortunately, everyone else was staying up late. So Bill & I and our kids went upstairs and relaxed.
Sunday - Because we went to bed early, we were also all up early. Bill took S out for a bike ride so the rest of the family & friends could sleep in. After a slow start, we all went out to town. Our first stop was the hair salon to get the kids haircuts. Next we went to a small Mall and we did a lot of window shopping. Eventually we bought a few housewarming/birthday gifts for Luba. We didn’t want to go to McDonalds again, so we found a little cafĂ© and had a nice meal. Our little guy is having a hard time adjusting to our new surroundings. We are all trying to be patient with him, but it is difficult. Tonight we were all supposed to go to the Circus in town, but S was not happy about changing his clothes. He ended up staying home with Rebecca, while the rest went on ahead. When they got back we went to a lovely restaurant with WIFI – our lifeline to back home. We are planning on returning to Kiev in a day or so to complete this process at the US Embassy. Everyone wants the ”Magic Passports” before they will authorize anything. Then we will be coming home as fast as we can.

Friday, May 8, 2009


May 8th

Well we are frustrated today since we did not get the kids' new Ukrainian passports issued this week. We have been waiting all week with "baited breath" but none were issued. The thought of having to wait here until tuesday now with nothing to do is excruciating to us. Unfortunately, this is another Holiday weekend and so no business will be conducted on Monday. We were so hoping to be finished with this process today!!!!! The thought of boarding a plane today and seeing our Brea kids Friday night had kept us going over the last several days.

We are just sitting on ready. One of our Ukraine angels has found us a home outside the City with a friend since there is no reason for us to be in expensive Kiev for the next 4 days. We think a less urban crowded environment will be better for the kids to burn some energy.

Yesterday, we spent the morning at the Medical Center - getting the kids checked out. S was all up to date with his medical, but T was not. She had to have two vaccinations and a blood test. She was not happy about that - but she was very brave and cooperated. We took them to McDonalds again for a lunch treat. When we didn't ge the passports yesterday, we soothed ourselves by going to an arcade and then watching a 4D Movie. For dinner we discovered the Arizona Barbecue restaurant and had great food for an outrageous price.

We made our third visit to the United States Consulate in as many days, completing paperwork, getting our questions answered and enjoying a few moments on the sovereign territory of the United States of America. The Embassy staff could not be more friendly or helpful. It is amazing how comforting it is to be inside that building. We understand a little better each day why there are hundreds of people lined up outside the US Embassy hoping for a chance to come to the United States. Our adoption faciliators have all but abandoned us now and we actually feel a combination of anger and relief.

Our Kiev Angels are: Linda, a 22 year old former orphan, with excellent language skills, who has really become a part of our household, facilitating communication with the kids and smoothing out all of our contacts with the local population. Her friend, "Crazy", is acting as a driver, tour guide, baby sitter, & junior translator. Most importantly, they are believers who have become our friends and prayer partners. We praise God for them and a number of other folks who have simply extended themselves for us and the kids. While the process and bureaucracy is beyond frustrating, the light of Christ is shining brightly in this rather dark place.

We had the most American pizza to date today. It even had a tomato-based Pizza sauce on it! The place is called Pizza Celentano if anyone is in the area anytime soon.

Romans 5:3"...we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy spirit, whom He has given us."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A House Divided.....for a day

May 4th - 6th

On Monday we hired a driver, and took the kids to the famous monastery. The place is over 1,000 years old and it is a sprawling complex. We walked around and around and even saw many mummys of famous priests. There were many people praying over them and touching & Kissing their caskets!!! The belief is that one of these, a dead doctor/priest in particular will still heal you if you do this. ????? We also discovered that all the women who visit there have to have their heads covered and they need to wear a skirt/dress. We had to buy scarves and rent skirts for T & Rebecca. We called ourselves "Babushkas" and had a good laugh. Next we went to a restaurant and had some pizza. It was closer to U.S. pizza, but not quite like Domino's. Then we got tickets and went to the Circus. We had front row seats. We saw all the usual acts & clowns, plus singers & dancers. After the intermission, we saw the tigers & lions. They were cooperating with the female liontamer, but they were not happy about it. Our only security was a net between the audience & the animals & a man with a firehose. I later realized how unsafe this whole thing really was.

Yesterday Rebecca spent the day with T in Odessa, and Bill took care of S in town.

R & T's adventure started at 2:00AM, when a driver & a translator picked them up and drove to Odessa. There is a relative living there that T wanted to say Goodbye to before she left for the U.S. So off we went for a 5 hour car ride. We spent most of the morning waiting and finally around 2:00pm T got to see the relative. Afterwards, we stopped for an early dinner and then headed back to Kiev. It was hard for T to do this today, and now she is having regrets and worries. Please pray for her and for us as we deal with monumental changes. As the plane ride gets closer, we get more happy and she gets more sad. (I wish she were more excited.)

Meanwhile, Bill & S had a play-day. They walked all over. They went to the playground near the president's admn. building (their regular daily hangout) and then they went to the U.S. Embassy to get info we'll need in the next few days. They also found a upscale bakery and bought some great bread -and brought it home. Then they heated up the leftover Borsht for their dinner (There is nothing like leftover Borsht! LOL) and finally S had an extra long bath (He likes to think he's in a swimming pool) I think cleaning up the bathroom was a challenge! Bill got him to sleep just before R & T got home. (Thanks Bill - Momma dodged a bullet!) We debriefed and all went to bed early. Everyone was exhausted.

Wednesday - we had a slow morning. Everyone was tired from the day before. We finally got out of the Apt. around noon and we went to a photo place for more passport photos (we needed bigger ones than the ones we already have) then we dropped off the photos at the U.S. Embassy, then off to McDonalds for Happy Meals & shakes. We came home and later we went on a boatride on the Knee-pro river. (That's how they pronounced it)

I think we are "Better Together" here in the capitol city. We need each other's strengths and shoulders as we navigate these unfamiliar waters. We did not get the finished passports today from the region - maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Getting to Know you, Getting to Know all About You..."

May 3, 2009

Today we attempted to go to church with the new kids. We found a Lutheran Church across the street from our apt. That is the good news. The bad news – the service was in German & Russian. Well, at least the kids could understand half of what was going on. We said Alleluia and Amen, but the rest was a guess. I think the kids heard some things that they never heard before. They were respectful and attentive – we couldn’t have asked for more.
Afterwards, we took a long walk and explored more of the capitol. We went up a hill to the Arch and overlooked the river. Parts of this City real are quite bautiful but we had never been able to see any of them in the past because of the extreme cold (and they were buried under ice and snow!) There were a few rides set up and we went on the bumper cars and a whirly-gig thing. Then we walked through a park and past the president’s house & maybe the supreme courthouse? We didn’t have a guide or a translator with us. We just winged it. Remember, today is a holiday, and a Sunday, so no help was forthcoming from our facilitators. Then for dinner, we found the TGI Friday in town. It was so great to read about familiar foods on the menu. My mouth was watering just reading about real fajitas and burgers, and milkshakes. Typically, the kids both had chicken fingers and fries. They are fitting in already!
We are all tired from our long walk today, and we are having a quiet evening playing cards (instead of hearts/spades/clubs/diamonds – we have Cherva/Beeka/Glist/Boobna) We taught them how to play “Crazy 8’s” and they like it - as long as we speak Russian.
Thanks to you all for your suggestions on places to see here. We will need to go exploring again somewhere tomorrow. All in all, the four of us are getting along pretty well with a phrasebook and a lot of pantomime. The kids are 10 years apart in age and we have to keep thinking of different things for each of them to do. We have “skyped” with our US kids and shown our new kids our home and pets. They think it all looks “Dobray” (Good).

We are trying hard to get our facilitators to understand we want to move this process forward quickly and get home (as in this week!). For those familiar with the cultural concept of "manana," it seems in an odd way part of Ukraine culture as well. We are hoping that hearing us complain about our need to get home becomes more motivating than the cultural pull of just waiting to see what tomorrow brings. Planning is not really done here.