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Our Ukrainian Adventure: Week One

Day 1 - Sunday, Oct 14
We were met at the airport by Gregory who took us to the Stemples' home.  (Friends of the Purperos and wonderful people.)  They showed us around Kiev I read that Kiev is 1500 years old.  They were very generous and great!  (Thanks so much!)  Our only pictures we have of them came from the video camera.
Day 2 - Monday, Oct 15
Hello everyone! We're here (in Ukraine) safe and sound.  The plane ride was very uneventful (a little frisking went on though!)
Today, we went to the National Adoption Center and looked through books and books of available children of all ages, so very depressing.
First, we had one of our MANY waits outside a building
Then, we had one of our MANY MORE waits inside (both just as cold) :    
We read a lot about bringing gifts with us.  Ukrainians are supposedly known for giving/receiving gifts.   They were recommended for the Adoption Center Director, Orphanage Director, Judge, Inspector, whoever else had to help us with our adoption.  So they were supposed to be nice, personal, thoughtful gifts $10-15 each.  So we worked really hard on twelve desk clocks.  Allen made them and I stained them.  Turned out very nice.   At the National Adoption Center, our facilitator bought us a flower basket for the director.  We gave it to her and she lightly set it aside.  We understood why as her office was an over-flowing flower garden.  More on our gift-giving experiences later...
A lady there handed us a sheet on Oleg Mandziuk, who they had picked especially for us as he was apparently the best of the best and just now available to be adopted (actually not until Oct 25).  We didn't find any younger children in the books, so we chose to visit him and see.
Allen had his first experience with Ukrainian toilets, or I should say a hole in the ground with foot pads!  (Scott gave us a better term: squatty potty!)  Don't worry, Allen videotaped it, so many of you can see it (the bathroom silly).  My experience came later - no details will be shared!!
The famous squatty potty (we're lucky graphic designer Allen was able to "clean" it up!)  

For those who really want to know what it's like, here's another one (sorry!):    
We're off to Vinnytsya tonight - a three hour train ride away.  I'd tell you where it is, but I just don't really know!  We're going to meet 20 month old Oleg and maybe more children while we're there.
Our new friends the Stemples took great care of us last night (thanks guys!).  Now, our facilitators are taking great care of us.
Allen was fascinated with the brooms made of sticks:  

We had lunch and dinner with Gregory and Oksana and were off to the train station.Sightseeing in Kiev:
After a three hour ride in a small, unsanitary, (won't mention the bathrooms - oh I just did), slow train, Allen, Luda (our translator and helper thru this process), and I arrived in Vinnytsya, Ukraine.  I guess it's like Columbus, a region capital and bustling center of industry and culture, tho it was nothing like Columbus, or even Piketon!
The train ride to Vinnytsya: 

We'll email when we can and update you about Josh!  We're off to eat pizza now (the universal food!).
E-ya later!  Until then, we'd appreciate your prayers!
Love you all,
Little Bro - take good care of Sydney!
Mom or Bridget - can you send this to Michelle? I couldn't find her address!
Day 3 - Tuesday, Oct 16
Hello everyone! We are now in Vinnytsya, Ukraine.
I just read that this city is over 600 years old.  We met an inspector, city chief, orphanage director... lots of document preparation and mostly waiting on people.  I'd say waiting in line, but there's no word for line in Ukraine!  People just wait and push!   More gift-giving info:  We gave the inspector a clock and she quickly set it aside without much thought.  Same with the orphanage director.   Not very encouraging.  Also not much like the experiences of others I read about.

We used a notary many times daily, so we learned the sign well:  
Then we were off to meet Oleg. 
Driving to the orphanage:

We were led to a room with 8 - 10 little 1-2 year old boys.  They pointed out Oleg, who smiled at me and reached up for my hand.  Then Allen sat him on his knee for a while and picked him up.  When I reached for him, he frowned!!  He is 20 months old, very bright and beautiful, healthy, the crowd favorite...  He's a wonderful child, a little older than we anticipated, so we're still weighing the decision.  We'd appreciate your prayers as this is tough over here!! We're having to make life changing decisions in one night. They actually gave us about two minutes and we said Whoa doggies! Please let us know if you receive any answers over there!!
Then we had to go back to the director.  They wanted us to decide if we wanted him!  Two minutes is not enough time for such a decision!!  It was much harder than we thought it would be!!  I thought the decision between children would be tough, but we weren't given one!  They said no other children were available in that orphanage!  We decided we'd continue.
We went back to visit him that evening, and they bundled him up (it's freezing here!) and made him go out to play with his new mom and dad (total strangers to him!).  It was okay for awhile, but then he was scared and he cried until the nurses took him back.
Getting to know Josh:

Back at the hotel, we had to decide between Oleg or going back to Kiev to start over and find a younger child in another region.  If we went to another region, Oleg would be available to other families and would surely be snatched up right away!  So we had to decide about the age thing, how important it was, what was right...  He was such a sweetie, we didn't want to risk losing him. 
(Even though he was a little older than we planned, we now know God wanted us to have a 1.5 year old!)
As for Ukraine, imagine the US with no money or traffic laws! It's pretty amazing. We can't wait to get home, we'll appreciate it alot more! More later, just wanted to update you! We only had to spend $1 for an hour of internet service (wow), so we thought we'd get alot done, but then it took an hour for two emails, so go figure!
Anyway, we love and miss you all!
More soon... Margie & Allen
Day 4 - Wednesday, Oct 17
Hellooooooooo!  Thanks soooo much for the emails (and please keep them coming!).  We're starving for American interaction over here right now!  We only have one TV channel (at this "hotel") that's in English and it's not always in English!  Our interpreter barely speaks it, so we don't get alot!!  We'd love to read more everyday!!!!
Went to McDonald's twice today, it's just easier.  It's 8 PM our time, so that makes it 1 PM there!  Our day is over now.
We spent much of our trip right here: 

We have a son!!  He's already outgrown the car seat we borrowed from Trevor!!  (Thanks tho!)  He's 23.5 lbs if our conversion is correct!  20 months old, has brown eyes and hair, 16 teeth (found out actually only 12), and is very smart.
We began working on our strategy for winning over Oleg (they call him Aleishka as a pet name - it's like a nickname for Oleg - you know Marjorie - Margie).  Allen had the idea to take crayons and paper.  We colored and ignored Oleg so he would come to us, which he did right away.  The nurses said the children never had crayons or pens so they didn't know how to use them!  (Silly Americans).  Oleg was the only one to try to color.  He sat in his little chair and watched Allen.  He'd look up and watch closely and look back down and try.  Of course he didn't hold his paper, so it wasn't very effective, but he was trying!  They all said he was the smartest and most clever in his group and we see that a lot.  He enjoyed the game I made of rolling the crayon back and forth.  When it was time to go to the bathroom (more on that in a minute), all the other kids ran off and he put the crayons back in the box. 
Now he's a serious clean freak.   Always has to put things away (not always in the right place, but away).  He can't stand to get dirty.  He begs us to wipe his hands if he gets the littlest bit of food on them.  At a park here in TN, he loved playing in the sand.  Well, he loved walking in it, digging with sticks, and burying toys.  But he didn't want to touch it, because he kept having to wipe off his hands.  Washing his hands in the sink is one of his favorite things to do.
Back to the bathroom, I guess they all go at the same time, because they all filed into another room where the nurses put each of them in a bucket!!  They pulled down their pants and actually shoved their tiny butts into buckets!  It was so sad, but I guess it worked just fine.  Then they all just sat there until someone got them up!  Interesting.  (Scott and Cymp - maybe you could use that strategy?!)  That'll be interesting to break that habit!
Then we played with a ball for awhile, while he laughed, giggled, and squealed.  Then he kept hearing his friends in the other room and kept peeking in the door, so we let him go and left on a good note.  He came back and and waved bye-bye (which we learned was pa ka).  A great. We'll fill you in on more later, just wanted to share the news.  We don't know when we'll be back still.  Lots of paperwork and strange delays here.  Apparently you can work from 10 - 12 one day and not even come in until 11 - go figure.  Kind of like Steve's job I guess!!  (Just kidding Steve).
much more to follow when we have more time...
The Lundys
Mom - could you find a car seat for a child 20 - 30 or 40 lbs??!!  Thanks!
Ryan - how's Syd??
Mike - Sorry you are (still) rooting for losers!  Go Bengals!
EVERYONE:  By the way, we need email!!!  We're lonely now!

Day 5 - Thursday, Oct 18
We visited Oleg (soon to be Josh) in the morning.  Allen had bought another toy (of course), a ball that lights up, plays music, and rolls around by itself.  Oleg figured out right away how to turn in on and off, and that was the game we played for a while.  Never mind what it does, just make it go on and off! 
He quickly destroyed the ball when we got home.  Balls are made to throw and this one just couldn't take the punishment.
We played and walked around and left at lunchtime.  Another great visit.  This time he cried when we left, because he didn't want us to leave!  Hopefully, we'll go back tonight and visit again.  Allen (of course) bought more toys for tonight.  Building blocks!
That bring us to now.  Luda is doing some paperwork chasing for us today.  We're wandering around a strange city and unable to speak to anyone!!  We just dropped off film to be developed by tomorrow (at least we hope that's what we we did!  She didn't speak English either!)  We'll try to find a scanner tomorrow, so expect pictures if we're successful.  Luda thought we shouldn't go out alone!  She thought Allen was brave just to wander around the "department store" alone!  The store was like tons of booths with independent vendors.  Allen's having fun messing with Luda since she doesn't understand his humor (does anyone?!).
Specifics about Josh:
23.5 pounds, we can't remember his height (sorry mom).
We're going to try some 1T
(found out I meant 24 mo.) and 2T clothes on him soon and will let you know.
Brown hair, brown eyes (my son), long eyelashes, chubby cheeks.
So far, we know he says pa ka (bye-bye), ba ba (boom), and some other stuff we can't understand.  He was trilling his tongue today, I can't even do that.  Russian or Ukrainian stuff we guess!  He listens to the nurses and understands them even tho we don't!  Poor child will have to learn all over again!
He's completely healthy and normal.  He loves nature, building blocks, and soccer
(as of 1/13/02 we've yet to see him play soccer or even act interested, but they said he loved it?!).
He walks pretty well, like a little robot, except the pavement is so uneven he tripped alot today.
I'm not sure about what he eats yet, but not baby food I guess.  Table food, probably soup and milk.  We took him juice today and he wouldn't stop drinking it - like a baby with a bottle!  We'll ask more about his eating later.  They're slow on giving out details.
Now he eats anything and everything, which is wonderful since I'm not so great in the kitchen!
More details later...
We're still not sure on our return date.  They say it could take a while, then they say if we find the right person it might not, so we have to wait and see.  There's alot of waiting here!
We're off to get back to visit him again.
Love you all,
Margie (& Allen)
Matt - thanks for the sports update.  I needed it!  (Allen)  I love the Snoopy rod idea!
Donella - thanks for the advice, but my mom couldn't wait one day to buy a carseat!
Mom - thanks!  Slow down, there's plenty of time!  Don't send anything here!  It takes weeks!  We'll get you sizes soon!
Ryan - I bet Sydney was really good while you were sick - give her a treat for us!
MCR - sorry I can't be there!  Is Lynaya the new me??  Cool!
the other Ryan -  I think you picked the better way to go!  We'll go the referral route if we do adopt again!  How's Grace?
Day 6 - Friday, Oct 19
Again I must say thanks so much for the email!!  We look forward to it more than you know!  To continue with our adventures...  Oleg/Josh loves us now!  He's happy to see us come and sad to see us go.  Our strategy worked!  We play lots of games.  He loves the rough games with daddy best!  Upside down or up in the air is the best way to be I guess!  We got lots of "mamas" and "dadas" today!  The nurses call us that so he's getting used to it!
We have some great video and pics.  We had some film developed but haven't found a scanner yet.  We'll try again tomorrow though!

WARNING - VERY FUNNY STORY COMING UP.  About the "potty buckets", we decided we'd get too many looks if we allowed that to continue on the plane!  We bought a little potty seat and took it to the orphanage.  We asked for them to use it until we leave so he gets used to it.  He used it that day and didn't want to get up!!  I'm sure it felt better than the round edge of the buckets!  The other kids (remember they're all going at the same time and they're all stuck in buckets) were scooting over to touch his new luxury ride!  They'd half stand, half scoot, and the little buckets stuck to them in the air!  We wished we'd taped that scene, but we did get a picture!!  We'll pass that along if we do find a scanner!
Josh on his new potty seat:

The others admiring his new seat:
Some more details about Josh: Apparently his mother was very young and unmarried.   She gave no (actually false) details about the father.  She left Oleg/Josh at the hospital two days after he was born and he's been in the orphanage since.  We have her name, but that's all.  They don't know where she is now, just that she was very healthy, but young.  She also had no address.
We still don't know his size yet, but will pass that along soon.
Love, Margie and Allen
Ryan and Laura - CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! That's wonderful news. Let us know about the INS, we all know how that can be!!
Ryan - how's Sydney??? Write me back now!
Myra - thanks for looking after our new home! also for offering to have a shower, you're too wonderful!
Kevin, Myra, Paul, Rita, Julia - Wish I could be there, I don't care how hectic it is there, I hate this country! (Allen)
(Side note: Allen just said his line above very loud in a crowded internet place and I'm scared!!!)
MCR - don't wish I could be there, but I hate it too! (Margie)
Day 7 - Saturday, Oct 20
Sorry for the delay, but we were on a train for 3.5 hours and didn't find an internet cafe open until late. Then we got an error message that basically said &&%%*%%^&*((*()*^^%%^%(*$@!@!, so we gave up!
We visited Josh again in the morning (by the way orphanage visiting hours apply to us also. 10-11:30 and 3:30-6).  He ran to me and spit in my face!!!  (I guess you'd spell that phhhllllllt).  It was a beautiful moment.  He actually got that from his daddy (did anyone wonder?).  The day before Allen was doing that and tickling him, so apparently overnight he figured it out!  The nurse didn't seem to enjoy it as much as we did!
We have a great new game.  Since we're getting worn out from playing with him, we have him "running" back and forth between us on opposite ends of the room!   He loves it, screams and squeals the whole time.  (Kind of the "red dot game" for Syd for those of you familiar with our dog's favorite past-time.
We moved into a new apartment, from our hotel.  The hotel was about $50 for 2 rooms ($12 for Luda and $38 for us - you can apparently charge foreigners more around here!)   So we got a 2 bedroom apartment for $12 a night.  Not bad, it even has hot water - though we have to light some kind of gas contraption to have it!  (Hot water is hard to come by in the city so it's quite the luxury!)
The prices around here are great for us. We paid $0.15 for a bag of animal crackers. We got pics developed for $3. A five course meal in a nice restaurant was $12 for both of us! Of course, we never know what we're getting.  Tonight, our translator offered us pancakes topped with poop!  Yeah, we turned that down - ended up being poppy seeds!   She also said her brother was a kook on a sheep!!  Turns out he's a cook on a ship!  We had some fun with that one!
Then we took a train back to Kiev for the weekend.  We're staying with our facilitators and doing the tourist thing.  We're documenting everything to show Josh as he gets older (and the lucky ones reading this who will sit thru the endless "here's this and here's that!). On the train, we saw lots of countryside.  The villages and people were right out of Allen's Christmas village (literally).  It was like going 300 years back in time!  Push carts with hay, buggies, nothing modern.   The Amish are like the Jetsons to them!

>>> Haven't had enough?  Clickhere for Week Two!