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Sunday, June 2, 2002

Our Ukrainian Adventure: Week Three

Day 15 - Sunday, Oct 28
(a little light shines from somewhere, maybe the end of the tunnel? We can only hope!)
We woke to a beautiful day and got ready for church, the Vinnytsya Evangelical Baptist something.  So, Allen decided not to wear his jacket, thinking it would be warm inside the church. What was he thinking????????? The only warm things here are the coffee and unfortunately the Coke!
Of course, the time changed and we didn't, so we were an hour early (yes me!). So we did coffee and I tried cocoa this time, but of course they didn't have any so I had more warm Coke. Back to church, to cover my head or not? With 95% of them covered, I figured yes! What a beautiful building. We have pics. Too hard to describe, so wait for pics when we return. It looked much like the Orthodox churches around here, very ornamental. Of course, no heat there either, so like everywhere we go, we sat in our coats (except for Allen), but at least we sat. You stand the whole time at the Orthodox churches, they don't even have seats. Allen sat there numb, waiting for the next chance to stand and sing (well, listen). We did recognize 2 songs, the tunes anyway. Three sermons later we left a little early! We wanted to wait for "Just As I Am" as they certainly would choose that one, don't all Baptists?! But it was too cold and long and Allen was turning blue!
Josh threw his first temper tantrum today! Welcome to parenthood. It doesn't help when the teachers interrupt either! He was jealous because another boy played with his truck and then got some attention from his mommy (my bad). Wow can he scream! So that was fun! When we first got there, the teachers said he was looking out the windows saying mama and papa all day, how sweet! Pearl Harbor was sold out again today, so we got tickets for tomorrow. That will probably be like church today, no idea what's going on! Not sure why we want to do it, we just do.
We got some more pics developed today, so we'll send a few (or five)!
Until next time. Love, Margie and Allen
RYAN!!!!! - don't make me come back there! email now.
Mom - is Ryan okay, should someone go check on him?
Scott and Cymp - we're bummed we're probably not going to get to see you again. we only have one morning in Kiev and then off to Warsaw. thanks so much for keeping us!
Mom-in-law - no we haven't done anything to his room, including move everything in! we'll get around to that sometime later!
Mike - (Allen says) 140 is not a bad number and by the way, I'm keeping up with the playoffs via the internet. it's my only source of information, but at least it's something.
Katie - thanks for the cards and prayers, see you soon!
Kevin and Myra - (from Allen) how are things going at work? please update me so I know what to expect when I get back!

Day 16 - Monday, Oct 29
You know that light I mentioned that might have been the end of the tunnel? Well apparently it was actually a taxi driver from h--- trying to run us over! Nothing can be simple here. It's like we're in some bizarro primitive world. Ugghhh! Let me start from the beginning...
They finally turned on the heat in Vinnytsya! Yippee! Of course it was after dinner last night so we still froze, and to make matters worse, they made us check our coats! It was some dine-and-dash preventative rule. On the way up to our apartment, Allen noticed the wall heaters in the hallways were hot. Yeehaw! So we rushed inside to feel the warmth we've been dreaming about, only to discover our heater wasn't working. #^^*^%&^&*&*(*! We called the super, who promised to have it fixed (yeah) the next day (&^^#%**@@$)! So we have low hopes for tonight.
So we went to see Josh, who was waiting in the window. What a sight. We took a group picture today. It should be great.
Josh (in the center) and his group at the orphanage:

Of course on the way to the orphanage, Luda got a phone call. We have no idea what was said, but could tell it was bad news. Some paper that we sent by train to Kiev and had to have back before court in the morning was wrong. Okay. So Luda started calling around and we dashed off to the inspector's after a very short visit with Josh.
So Allen and I sat in a taxi waiting as Luda ran around the city, with no idea of what was going on for 2 hours. She went from place to place, sometimes with another person, sometimes without, speaking the crazy fast Russian that made our heads spin. To add to the excitement/confusion, we had a cab driver from h--- too! He honked at the air as it got in his way. Seriously, he'd honk every 3-4 minutes. He drove with his thumb on his horn, ready to scold anyone thinking of stepping onto the road. He honked at cars stopped at red lights, cars turning, cars parked on the side of the street, even the occasional train! A few times, I didn't see anything when he honked. We didn't know what his problem was. One time we got splashed with water (did I mention it rained all day?). Remember all the drivers keep their windows down no matter the weather. Well you'd think he would have learned, but no. We got splashed again, drawing yet another honk and some tirade in Russian. So of course we knew he'd finally put that stupid window up, but no, he just gave a confused look at the opening in the window, wondering why water kept splashing in.
What a day. Many honks and dollars later, we left Mr. Honky and went on our way. Luda dumped us at McDonalds and said she'd be back in 3 hours. What the h--- are we supposed to do now? We can't even order our own Big Macs. (That's why we're emailing now. It's 3pm here, 8 am there.) This will probably be our email for today, since we have no idea what's coming next. For the paperwork issue, we had to correct some document and have it to Kiev and back before tomorrow am. In Ukraine, this is impossible. So finally they decided to fax it to Kiev (you mean they have those here?). The first place we went had no electricity. Of course. We faxed from the post office, but of course it's not an automatic fax, and someone has to answer and turn it on. As our day goes, there was no one there to answer. A few cell phone calls later, we get it through.
We've left out so many details, because you wouldn't believe them if we told you! It's just been nuts. At one point in the taxi, I asked Allen where we were. He guessed h---?! I think he was right! Luda just returned to tell us our chances were 50/50. As Jim Carrey would say, "So, you're telling me there's a chance?" So now we have to run back to court for who knows what and to the orphanage (not to see our wonderful son, but because the director now wants her white envelope full of the great American dollar). Allen's head is on the verge of exploding. We're so confused we're giddy. It's been a whirlwind of a day, and this is supposed to be our easiest day! The next few days could be even worse! So if we don't email, we're waiting in line somewhere, paying off someone, or in jail.
We love and miss you all and can't wait to be back home in the good old US of A! Until next time...
Margie and Allen
Ryan - thanks! see you soon.
Everyone - it's okay, Ryan's alive and well.
Deidre - congrats! have a great trip! hope it's smooth!
Day 17 - Tuesday, Oct 30
Thanks so much for all your encouraging emails. I sure hope I didn't whine as much as I think I did! I must say today was much better. I must say that only because I believe if I close my eyes and really believe it, it'll come true! Yeah, didn't work. More rain. Did I mention all three of us have been fighting colds all month here? Today I think Allen's working on pneumonia. He felt awful all day. Me too, but I didn't look as bad as him!
We had another day of waiting (8:30 am to 8:30 pm and still counting). We had court at 9. Our lawyer and the orphanage lawyer never showed so we went in without them. Quite a polite grilling later we're parents (sort of). It was mostly a formality since he had his white envelope already, but he gave it quite a go! The orphanage director refused to go since she never received an invitation from the judge. Not necessary or ever used, but she demands one. So we convince the judge to write one and she says well she needed at least a week's notice (I won't mention we gave her 2, oh I just did). So she sends the lawyer. We're glad, since she told us she has control and can make us wait the 30 days even if the judge doesn't. Nice lady. A white envelope later, she's very happy. The lawyer never shows, but who cares, it's over (or is it?).
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So we start the great Ukrainian paper race. We hoped to be finished by 1 or 2, but we'll be lucky to finish by 2 tomorrow. The judge wrote a six page decision, granting our request to adopt Josh (yeah!), now it has to be typed (boo). The room with a computer had no electricity, so we go to a manual typewriter and the slowest typist ever (worse than my 2 moms!). After 2 total power outages and 2 hours, we give up and go to the post office to have it done. Finished (after 2 more power outages), but with mistakes. Allen's middle name is now Wad instead of Wade. We volunteered to change it legally if they would hurry. No, we had to discuss that mistake for hours at many places for the rest of the day. We weren't really frustrated or mad or anything, just plain bored and confused. We'd go one place and sit in the hall for hours, to rush off to another. We'd occasionally sign our names. We weren't allowed to ask what was going on as Luda was too busy and felt attacked every time we tried to get a clue. We did some chocolate to stay awake! We started to get giddy again. People keep asking us questions in Russian and Allen says English? I decided to have some fun. A lady asked something, so I went into a long English answer, consisting of well, we don't speak your language so we can't really answer questions that we don't understand... She gave us the confused look that is daily plastered on our own faces! It was cool. We threw Allen's hat back and forth for a while, with people wondering if we were nuts. We were/are.
People here don't get hints (like the taxi driver with the open window). They have big wooden doors everywhere. They do court/notarizing/legalizing/whatever business they do right inside. Instead of place a sign on the door saying do not disturb or court in session or something like that, they just get interrupted a million times (I counted!) People come up to us, ask us something in Russian, then open the door, look in, see they're busy, and close the door. If I hear one more creaking door open and slam... well I'll sit quietly and wish there was something I could do! I know 20 people opened the door during our court session. The judge just stopped, looked blankly at them, and went on. They're used to it I guess.
Anyway, typists, power outages (did I mention they were on purpose by the govt to save money somehow?), waiting, waiting, no explanations, waiting... I just couldn't make you understand no matter how hard I tried! At one office, they asked why we were in such a hurry to leave this country. Suppressed emotion was followed by a "Allen has to get back to work and the airports could be closed again at anytime".
So we should finish up tomorrow sometime, if nothing else happens (which it will I'm sure). By the way, we didn't explain that if something happens, all our appointments get pushed back and we don't get home for another week. We can only do weekdays, so we'd have to wait until Monday-Tuesday to finish up in Poland. We know everything will work out. We don't know how, but then we don't know how we've done anything we have so far!
Anyway, Allen's at 'home' in bed with heat! Did I mention our heater was fixed? Not much to mention, since it barely warms the apartment. But if you touch the heater, you can tell it works! After weeks of dreaming about it, it's here and it's quite the let-down. Oh well, tomorrow we can (hopefully) say only 2 more days! So Josh is kind of officially ours, but we don't have permission for custody yet, we waited on a person for an hour only to have them tell us to come back at 9 am. So I guess he's really super officially ours tomorrow. Happy birthday to Allen! I'll have 2 Halloween babies in my house now. Yikes!
Anyway, please pray things will work out. Don't worry about us too much. We get so confused and dazed that we're slap happy and have quite a time! We're just hoping to get back on Friday!
Love you all,
Margie (& Allen in thought only)
Ryan - see you and our other baby Friday!
Mom - BIG FAVOR - Could you get Allen the newest Left Behind book, it should come out tomorrow (31st). AND any chance you could bring a birthday cake???? I tried to find something to surprise him here, but he bought the Santa I planned on buying and bought a cake, but it was terrible. I'll pay you whatever you want!!!!!!!!!
Everyone - more later I'm being run off again!
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HELLLLOOOOOOOOOO! Thanks for your patience as our world was just turned upside down and shaken violently for a while! We were actually dangled by our toes over the edge of the earth before we made it home. I'd like to say it was smooth sailing, but it was more like el nino! We're without a computer right now, which is almost worse than our Ukrainian vacation! (Almost) Sorry to leave everyone hanging as we were about to wrap up the story of our lives. I'm glad most of you are enjoying it.
Sorry to those of you I emailed at work who like to spend your time there working! I was totally like that myself back in my working days! Yeah. Now I've gone from a college-educated research scientist to a person who applauds herself every time she uses the potty, just to be a good example. Life is funny.
Thanks for all the emails. They kept us mostly sane. I hope you all don't mind if I give Josh one big collective kiss from all the requestors. I just don't have time to give each one individually!
I am going to work on a website and will let you know when it's ready (almost). I plan to include more info and of course pics of Josh and all things Ukraine. I'm going to work on my computer first though. I'm just going crazy without one. Of course all our banking info is on it, so it's quite trying, but after the last three weeks, I can handle anything. Even a 20-month-old! Of course that's still to be seen.
Anyway, on with the story. Reader's Digest version I'm afraid, but I'll share more on the website!
Day 18 - Wednesday, Oct 31
I must mention Luda got a call at 1am and had to take more documents to the train so they'd be in Kiev the next day. Yes, that made me feel good! Don't know why, but it did.   Anyway, Luda had more paperwork to do in getting the passport. We got to sleep in! Allen's fever broke and he felt much better. Thank goodness, because Luda called and needed one of us to sign some stuff. So he went out and I started packing. They came back and Luda was mad I wasn't ready. Good to know. Then we needed gifts for each of Josh's 10 teachers. Also good to know. Maybe more than 1 minute's notice would be nice! So we gave the rest of Allen's clocks (8) and bought some candy.
More gift-giving info:  We gave a clock to Luda and one to Gregory and Oksana (facilitators).  We were glad to and felt they were the only ones who may appreciate them.  The Ukrainian people we dealt with just wanted money.  They didn't seem to care about thoughtful gifts, just dollars.  So to others adopting, we've recommended only taking money as our gifts didn't seem necessary.   Avoid the stress of making/buying/packing/wrapping and bring the bucks.


They had the passport (which apparently was very lucky as there were some issues that almost made it not happen, but it did). So it was time to get Josh. We took his clothes and went in. Luda was off to see the director, so we couldn't explain why we were redressing him! (We had to leave all his orphanage clothes there)   We met a couple from Canada there looking at a boy in Josh's group. Interesting, since they told us no other children that orphanage was available or would be in the near future. Maybe they had bigger envelopes! Anyway, we leave and Josh waves AND SAYS "bye"! His first English word is bye. Isn't that just bitter-sweet? Now he says it constantly. Not hi, just bye. Leaving his only home:
So we drive through McDonald's as we're still in a major rush to meet the train. Luda says "You're going to feed him McDonald's?" Allen comes through with a very confident "Yes, we are." That felt good. We make the train and Josh falls asleep.
His first meal, McDonald's of course:  

 
We get to Kiev and stay with our facilitator. We had real heat and regular pizza. Yeah! Josh sees a TV for the first time.  Allen takes a picture.
CNN rocks!

We go to the doctor at 9:30 PM (changed from the next morning appt) for a required check. Nothing to it. 
Josh got his first bath.  He didn't particularly enjoy that.  Neither did we (or the neighbors).
Josh not digging his first bath:

I guess he's used to the cold hand-held showers and getting hosed off more than dunked in warm water.  He first started enjoying baths a month later when Uncle Ryan taught him to splash the water everywhere (thanks little bro).  Now he loves them and showers too. 
Josh sleeps 12 hours! What a day.
Day 19 - Thursday, Nov 1
We go to the Embassy. Huge line, but no waiting, we're American citizens! For the first time, we get to flash our citizenship and it means something! Very cool. We met other couples who adopted. Virginia, Henry, and Aden get to live in America too. Cool.
On to Poland. His first plane ride.  Josh fought sleep and cried (well, okay, screamed) for a while. The passengers loved us of course. A nap later he was fine. We had a great hotel in Poland. Toilets, showers, hot water, heat, a crib. Wow.
Nothing like Days Inn or Super 8.   Not quite as nice as a small, generic motel, but it seemed great at the time!
Our first night alone as a family.  Josh played with Allen's shoes for hours. Quite fun I guess. Maybe that's where he gets his fascination with taking off people's shoes and putting them "away" somewhere.  Usually the middle of a room, sometimes the shower, occasionally the trash can...
He slept 12 hours again. Yee haw!
This is the room we called great! 

 
Our baby bird. 
Day 20 - Friday, Nov 2
We're citizens, step aside you people! Very cool again. More problems. Not cool. We had an 8:30 appointment which turned into a 10:30. (Remember the 12:30 flight?) We were told yesterday they could hurry up the visa and have it done by 10:30 instead of the usual 3 pm. They said, "no there's only 2 of us... (sob story)". We say oh, man, we have got to get home and now!
At 10:30 we met a wonderful person Michelle Jones (from Ohio no less). She said she'd try to get the visa in 45 min. We raced back to the hotel, (well, after trying to find a ride back - ever tried to find a cab in Poland?), got our bags, back to the embassy. Allen ran in...
(a very amusing story about why you should never run toward a US Embassy during war time follows)
So, to hurry, Allen left Josh and I in the cab and ran to get the visa.  Remember the US is at war and we're at a US Embassy in a foreign country that is surrounded by armed guards.  So our cab driver parked around back this time and Allen didn't recognize where to go.  He spots a door and runs toward it.  The guards went from having guns to holding them and shouting at him to stop!  He flashed his US passport and they let him pass by.   Cool.  Wrong door, not cool.  He had to run to the other side, with more guards.  More running, guns, shouting, passport  flashing, and he's in.  I wouldn't recommend anyone at home try this!
He made it in, got the visa, back to the cab, and on to the airport. 
Josh screamed for 30 minutes, not sure why, but no one enjoyed that ride.  We have suspected cab drivers have taken us the long way to get more $, but we know this one didn't!  We think he didn't want to spend any more time with a screaming Josh than was absolutely necessary.  It ended up a quick and cheap trip to the airport.
Did I mention yet that it was now 12:00? Yeah, 12:30 flight. No problem, but oh yeah, we have to buy Josh's ticket. We had reserved it, but some moron was working that computer! 25 minutes
(of standing there while she typed on the computer) and a money-change (so we could buy the ticket with Polish money) later, we were running to our gate. Ever ran with loads of luggage and a child? Yeah, we did. Don't recommend it! So we make the flight with minutes to spare (and we were worried).
Josh plays for 4 hours and sleeps for 6! Great flight! We were afraid the Kiev-Warsaw flight would scare him, but he did great all the way to Chicago.
Josh enjoyed the plane ride:  
 
 
So on Nov 2 at Chicago O'Hare Airport Josh became a US citizen!Landing at Chicago O'Hare:    
(Did anyone see where a person was arrested for carrying knives and stun guns past security at Chicago? Yeah, it was a day later!  Cool.)  We had a cloud of God-protection around us! He worked everything out, not the way I would have, but He gave us just enough time to get back home! A 1.5 hour flight later, Josh meets his new Grandma and Grandpa in Nashville.
Leaving the airport:  

Two hours later, we were home safe and sound. Then Uncle Ryan and Sydney (the puppy) arrived and it was one big happy family.
Checking out the new toy selection - and very pleased: 

>>> 
Want more?  Well, okay,click here for our life back in the USA!

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