Friday, August 20, 2010

Sasha's 14th Birthday

We had a blast celebrating Sasha's birthday this year. I am not sure how long it has been since his birthday was celebrated, but he enjoyed all the attention.

We had homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but I forgot to get a picture of that. During Brennan's nap time, Bucky and I took Sasha and Xan bowling. I tried to get pictures of that, but the bowling alley was too dark and Bucky is a strict bowler and you are NOT allowed to take pictures while someone is bowling. He's too funny.

For dinner we took Sasha to Kampai of Tokyo and then we had a ton of teenagers from our church over for cake and swimming. It was a great day!

He got a cool watch and a digital camera.
And, of course, the cake had a soccer ball on it. He LOVES soccer!

Brennan got glasses

Brennan went to the eye doctor in July and the dr. told us that he needed glasses. I was a little emotional about the idea at first, but look for yourself, they just add to his cuteness!

This picture is of him with the sunglasses they gave him after his eyes were dilated.

And here are the new glasses...

Chic-fil-A Cow Appreciation Day

We will do anything for free chic-fil-a!

Tennessee Vacation

While Papa (that's what all the kids call Bucky now) was gone for 10 days in Bulgaria, I took all three boys to visit my in-laws in Tennessee. We all had a blast and Sasha got to meet his Uncle Bret and Aunt Tess (Bucky's sister). Xan got to fishin' for the first time.

Brennan's first boat ride.

Xan's first boat ride too, he wasn't as excited as Brennan.

Brennan found the fire pit and loved playing in the ashes. This is what he looked like after...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Consin Fun

Here are more pictures from my mom and sister's visit. I am so glad we have a pool, otherwise we would have been bored to tears inside because it is far too hot to be outside if you are not in the water.

Xan picked up right where he left off last summer. He is doing great in the pool and has even gone without his swimmies a couple of times. He can touch the bottom while his head remains above the water in the shallow end.

Israel is a rough and tough little fella, he wasn't afraid of the diving board.

Playing outside after dinner...

Sasha has his own bicycle, not sure why he is riding the tricycle. And NO that is not my dog.

Day at the beach

My mom, sister and her three kids, me and my three kids all went to the beach for a day last week. We had a great time. My kids and their cousins don't get to play together often since they live 7 hours apart, but they played very well together.

The birds knew Sasha had food in his hands...and they were coming to get it. Hilarious!

Look at that tongue. Now that is concentration.
My mom with ALL her grandkids, she was in heaven.
Sasha is such a handsome boy! I told Bucky that he might get fired when I walk up to some girl and tell her, "Get your trashy hands off my son."

He loved to stick his head in the water and let it wash up in his face. To me that would be torture, but to Brennan, it is FUN!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Our Last Days in Ukraine

Here are a few pictures from our last few days in Ukraine...

The next two pictures are how Xan and Brennan slept while we were waiting for our train from Melitopol to Kiev.

Brennan slept like that for 3 1/2 hours.

These pictures are of the sunset we saw while riding the train. It was magnificent!

We rode a trolley like thing up a really steep hill and this was the view of Kiev at the top of that hill. Spectacular!

I can not remember the exact name, but the tall, skinny building is a really nice hotel.

This is the former Communist Party's Headquarters. It sits on a hill called "Devil's Hill". See below for the ironic and funny story...

The story goes that many hundreds of years ago, before the buiding above existed, witches would have their parties at the top of this hill. Therefore, the locals began calling the hill, "Devil's Hill" Then, ironically, the Communist party built their headquarters on "Devil's Hill". The name fit perfectly!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back to modern living...

We made it back to Kiev, I will try to update you on all that has happened this past week and a half. However, it was a pretty boring 10 days because we did not have any important meetings to attend...

Sasha bought, with his own money, a birthday card. I had to wait until Natasha and Svetlana returned to Melitopol (they went home after our court hearing and returned after the 10 day waiting period) to have it translated. Natasha said it was a poem, so she would have to translate it literally, but it would lose it's poem feel. Anyway, this is what it said,
"My beloved only dear Mom, with you the whole home is light and warm. May all your days be happy and nice. May the years of your life be multiplied!!"

I thought it was very sweet and I will treasure it forever.

Sasha has spontaneously said "I love you" to both Bucky and I this past week. I have not seen any of the attachment problems I had anticipated from Sasha. He obviously LOVES his "papa" and wants to be with him all the time, but Bucky says that anytime he takes Sasha out, he insists that they buy me things in all the stores. I have received several ice cream cones, flowers, pastries, etc.

On Sunday, Natasha and Svetlana arrived back to Melitopol. Monday, Natasha and Svetlana went back to the court house and picked up the "Final Adoption Decree". Then we all went to one of the local super markets and purchased lots of cake, drinks, candy, and chocolates for Sasha's farewell party at the orphanage. Bucky and I were REALLY bummed that we had to "party" with the Director of the orphanage, the inspector of Melitopol, Natasha, and Svetlana while Sasha's classmates partied in another room. We wanted to be a part of Sasha's party, but the Director wanted to share a meal with us. We were served a really yummy beef stew, bread, and vegetables. The food was delicious, but we were dying to be with Sasha. After we were finished eating, we all went outside where Sasha and his friends had gathered. We spent a few minutes taking pictures then Sasha said his final goodbyes and we loaded in the van to go back to the apartment. Sasha's cousin (who is also a resident of the orphanage) got in the van with us. Bucky and I did not know, and are still unsure, why. But he got in and rode to the end of the road with Sasha. The driver stopped the van, Sasha's cousin shook all of our hands (Sasha, Bucky, and me) and got out, the van door closed and we began driving away. Sasha immediately laid his little head on the back of the seat in front of him and began to cry. Natasha had the van driver stop the van and asked Sasha if he would like to go back for a few more minutes, but he said "no". We drove on, but Sasha was crying (not sobbing, but tears rolling down his face) the entire 30 minute trip back to our apartment. We comforted him as best we could, but knew that this was a natural response and who could blame the poor kid. He is leaving everyone and everything he that is familiar and safe and moving to America. After we returned to our apartment, Bucky took him to one of our bedrooms so that he could be alone for awhile. He remained in his room for about 30 minutes then came out and has been normal Sasha ever since.

Monday night was spent packing up everything because we had to leave for Zaporozhya, Ukraine at 5:00 am on Tuesday morning. While in Zaporozhya, we obtained Sasha's new birth certificate that has his new name and has Bucky and I listed as his parents. From the birth certificate office we went and applied for his new passport. We were really praying we would be able to obtain the passport the same day and God heard our prayers and Bucky and Svetlana picked up his new passport at 3:30 pm yesterday (Tuesday). The thing with the passport is that Ukraine has gone to a completely electronic passport processing system. All information is typed into a computer, sent to Kiev for processing, then the passport is mailed to the office that requested it. It can take up to 7 business days to complete the new process. However, some passports offices still have the old style passport booklets and have been permitted to use the old system to complete passports for those being adopted so that their time in country is not extended another week or more. But, you are not guaranteed that the region in which you must apply for the passport have any of the old passport booklets. But, Zaporozhya did and we got the passport within hours of requesting it.

We arrived at the train station in Zaporozhya at 1:30 pm and our train was not leaving until 7:00 pm. The reason we got to the train station so early was because we were done with all of our paperwork and wanted to allow our taxi drive to return to Melitopol so that we did not have to pay him for any unnecessary travel around town. We found a lounge that you had to pay to enter, but it was well worth it. It was a large room with a tv and leather couches and chairs. We stretched Xan and Brennan out on two of the couches and they slept, and slept, and slept. In all they slept over three hours. By the time they woke up, we only had to entertain them for about an hour and a half. It all worked out very well and we boarded our train to Kiev at 7:00 pm.

Our train arrived in Kiev about 6:00 am this morning. We took a taxi to Svetlana's apartment and ate some breakfast. Then we split up to start our paper chase for the day. Bucky and Svetlana went to the Ministry of Justice office to get the birth certificate and the adoption decree apostilled while Natasha, Xan, Brennan, and Sasha and I went to an Embassy approved doctor for Sasha's medical examination. After the medical examination, we all met back up at the US Embassy so that Bucky and I could submit our Embassy documents. After our dropping off our paperwork, we went to MCDONALD'S. We have never been so glad to eat American food. After that Svetlana and her daughter took us to look at an apartment. We love our apartment and Xan and Brennan took a really long nap and are now chasing their balloons around trying to patiently wait while I finish typing this update.

Tomorrow at 2pm is our Embassy appointment. After that is done, we can catch a flight back to America. We are trying to get a flight for Saturday, but our travel agent is having a hard time finding enough seats for all of us on this short of notice. So, please pray for that, we want to get home as soon as possible.

See you soon!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Here are some pictures from the past few days...

Bucky, Brennan, Xan and Sasha riding a small roller coaster.
Sasha riding a donkey at the ostrich farm.
A family photo in front of a statue at the beach.
An ostrich.

Sasha at the beach.

Court Date

Our court date today went very well. We arrived at the court house, which was a short walk from our apartment, a little after 9:00 am this morning. We only had to wait a short while before we were summoned into the judge’s chambers. We are not completely sure why we were summoned into her office and not into a court room. Xan and Brennan did go with us to the court house, however, they, nor Sasha, were allowed into the judge’s chambers. Our coordinator, Svetlana, stayed in the hallway with the boys while Natasha, our translator, stayed with me and Bucky. Along with me, Bucky and Natasha there was the judge, the county inspector, the prosecutor, two local Ukrainian citizens, the lawyer representing the orphanage and two court reporters. The two Ukrainian citizens were sort of like jurors in American courts, however, they do not have ruling authority. They could ask us questions and then were allowed to give their opinion on our case before the judge’s final ruling. Needless to say, we were VERY nervous. The judge was friendly, but she still had a powerful presence about her. She began by asking Bucky to stand and state his name, date of birth, place of birth and address. She then asked what he did for a living. After Bucky had answered those questions, I was asked to stand and answer the same questions. We were then asked to explain our reason for petitioning the court. Bucky was the spokesperson for us and the translator had given him very specific instructions on what to say. In all Bucky was speaking to the judge for several minutes. He did a great job even though he was nervous. We were asked other questions as well, but I have to save some details to share with you in person when we get home. The judge then asked the county inspector and the lawyer from the orphanage to stand and give their opinions on our case. Both whole heartedly recommended our family to the judge, but the lawyer said some things that were very special to us. She said that she was at the airport when Sasha returned from America and said that he was very excited about his time with us and showed our family photo to everybody and mentioned that he hoped we would come and adopt him. She spoke about many other things that he mentioned when he first got back to Ukraine, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind right now.

Sasha was then summoned to the room and the judge asked him several questions as well. She asked him if he understood what was going on here today, if he wanted to be adopted by us, why he wanted to be adopted by us, if we beat or abused him while he was in our care, what he liked about his time in America, etc. Sasha was very nervous too, but he did great and did not hesitate to say he wanted to be adopted and go to America with us (and that he liked our swimming pool and went swimming everyday in America. LOL!). Sasha even made the judge laugh with some of his answers. Once Sasha was finished, he was asked to leave the room again. Then, the judge and the “jurors” asked a couple more questions. The judge then asked the prosecutor to give his opinion on our case and he stated that he recommended our petition be granted. At that time we were all asked to leave the room while the judge spoke to the prosecutor and “jurors”. Within 10 minutes, we were summoned back into the judge’s chamber and the judge, with a big smile on her face, said that she was granting our petition to adopt Sasha. Bucky and I both cried and hugged each other. Leighton Sasha Rogers IS OUR SON!!! May 6th will, from now on, be celebrated as Sasha’s “Gotcha Day”. All the hard stuff, meeting with the SDA in Kiev, meeting with the county inspector in Melitopol, receiving approval from the director of the orphanage, and the court hearing, is over! Part of the tears that came today after the ruling was just simple relief. He is ours! Everything from here on out is just formality. We will pick up the final adoption degree after the required 10 day waiting period.

After the 10 day waiting period, we will make one last trip to the orphanage. We will take with us cakes, cookies, candy and drinks so that we can have a small party for Sasha’s classmates and allow him time to say goodbye to all his friends, teachers and the director. I really don’t know what to expect that day from Sasha. I don’t know what emotions he will feel or show. Then, we will travel to request his new birth certificate and passport. Hopefully, that will be completed within one business day. If that all goes smoothly, on the 18th we will catch another overnight train back to Kiev. While in Kiev, Sasha will be examined by a US Embassy approved doctor then we will have our US Embassy interview where they will grant Sasha his Visa. Once we get that Visa, we can hop on a plane back to America. Sasha is ready to get to America, he tells us that often.

Miss you and love you all!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Anniversary Update

Today for our anniversary, you will never guess what we did…….we went to an OSTRICH FARM!!!!! LOL!

Yesterday, while Natasha and I were shopping, a lady mentioned to her that there is an ostrich farm not too far away. So, Natasha had our driver pick us up at 10:30 this morning and we drove about 20 minutes away to the ostrich farm. Along with ostriches, they had rabbits, parakeet birds, swans, chickens, deer, and donkeys. There may have been more animals, but I can not recall them at this time. One of the owners of the farm gave a lot of information about the ostriches and Natasha interpreted it for us. I am sure it normally is only a 5 to 7 minute explanation, but since it all had to be translated for us, it took twice as long. Sasha and Xan got pretty bored during the explanation. Brennan was on Bucky’s shoulders, so he was just happy to have a great view of the birds. Oh, and they also had a fish pond. All in all it was a very nice place and Sasha got ride on a donkey. Xan and Brennan both said no to a donkey ride. We told Sasha to get used to the donkey because that would be all he could afford when it came time for a car. For some reason he did not think that was as funny as Natasha, Bucky and I.

Tomorrow is our court date and Natasha spent over an hour with us going over questions that might be asked during the court hearing and the best way we should answer those questions. The questions were things like:

-You have two younger children, are you capable of parenting a teenager?

-Are you financially able to parent another child?

-Julie, how do you plan to keep Sasha busy after he is done with school each day until your husband gets home and continue to care for two much younger children?

-How will you discipline Sasha?

There were other questions, but those are the ones that stick out in my mind at this time.

Today, as we were leaving the restaurant after eating our lunch, a gypsy approached us and she was smiling and talking, in Russian of course, but all of a sudden our translator, with a very serious look on her face, said in stern, loud voice, “no” and we walked away very quickly. As we walked, they gypsy continued to follow, but left us alone after a short distance. After she was gone, Natasha told us that she asked if she could buy Brennan because she could make a lot of money off of him. I was so glad that Natasha was with us because the lady seemed so nice as she was walking up to us with a huge smile on her face. She better be glad I didn’t know what she was saying until she was gone or the protective motherly instinct inside of me might have reared its ugly head.

On a lighter note, I told Bucky today that I didn’t care what time of day or night it was when we returned to GSP airport, on the way home I am going to stop by Sonic and get a sweet, peach tea with lots of ICE. I miss ice in my beverages and sweet tea. I also miss my dishwasher, washer and dryer, shower, bed, car, and Xan and Brennan staying in their rooms until 8:00 every morning. The sun comes up so early here (between 5:30 and 6:00) and the boys think it is time to get up by 6:30 or 7:00 every morning. Ahhhh, how nice it will be to get home.

We miss you all!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day at the Beach...sort of

Everything in Ukraine is still going great! Yesterday, we hired a taxi (minivan) and went to the Sea of Azov. Our coordinator and translator went with us. The drive was only about an hour and once we got on the beach, it was very windy. The water was green, just like the Atlantic Ocean in Myrtle Beach and the sand was filled with sea shell pieces. Our feet got some much needed exfoliation. Xan was the only one brave enough to get any part of his body wet. But, once he was wet he got really cold. Thankfully I thought ahead and brought a change of clothes for Xan and Brennan. Like Brennan’s other trips to the beach, he did not want to get close to the ocean water, but really enjoyed the sand. Sasha, poor thing, was so cold. We bought him a sleeveless shirt, which he picked out, for our trip to the beach because the temperature was supposed to be warm. Well, the temperature was really warm, but the wind made it feel really cold. He was shivering by the time the taxi driver offered him a jacket. Sasha found a mound of sand and entertained us by doing back flips off of it. We tried several different beaches, but it was simply too cold to stay out for very long. We got lots of cute pictures though! On the way home, our driver had to slam on his brakes and Xan and Brennan fell out of their seats and landed on the floor. Both were fine, but it scared them to death. In Ukraine, seat belts are not put in the back seats of minivans. So, there are no restraints for the kids. The driver felt awful and I believe he gave us a discount at the end of the day.

Today, I had a mommy’s day out. Our translator, Natasha, and I went out together today. Svetlana, our coordinator, had to return to Kiev to pick up some paperwork for our court date on the 6th. Natasha and I went shopping and then had a really long lunch and talked about many things. She is a true kindred spirit, a wonderful Christian lady.

While I was out with Natasha, my very brave husband took all the kids to the park to play on the playground and sandbox. Then, they went on a roller coaster ride. It was a very small roller coaster, but all the kids enjoyed it. I think Xan was a little scared at first, but said he would ride it again tomorrow. Brennan LOVED it which does not surprise me at all, I knew he would be our adventurous, wild child. After the park, they had lunch together at a local pizza place. Bucky pointed to what he wanted on the pizzas and Sasha ordered them for us. Sasha has been such a big help to us when we are out and about without our translator. He even helped Bucky not get ripped off while buying an onion at the local outdoor market the other day. The lady realized that Bucky was American, but must not have realized that Sasha would know what the real price of an onion would be. So, she apparently quoted an enormous price and Sasha put the onion down and told the lady “no”. Then they walked around the corner and found a more honest person.

Sasha was regularly calling Bucky “Bucky” for the first few days with us and we would lovingly remind him to call him “Papa”. I don’t believe I have heard him call him anything but “Papa” the past few days. It is so wonderful to hear him say, “Papa, please stop” in his Russian accent when they are wrestling and being rough with each other. He has the cutest gruff voice ever! Sasha has the biggest crush on our translator, Natasha. He sprays cologne on himself anytime he knows we will be in her presence. The day before yesterday while Sasha and Bucky were out during naptime, Sasha wanted to buy flowers for me and Natasha. Bucky told him, “I only buy flowers for two women, my mom and Mama.” So, I got some really pretty pink tulips, which are my favorite flower.

The people of Ukraine bundle up and they especially bundle their children. It has reach the low 80’s a couple of days this week, but the children are still in winter coats and toboggans. I am sure they think we are neglectful parents for not dressing our children the same way, but I think Xan and Brennan would die of heat stroke. Even with the high temps, the Ukrainian adults still wear very warm coats and jackets. Ukrainian women also dress like they have just stepped out of a fashion catalog. Even when they are playing with their kids on the playground, you can expect them to be in a high heels and miniskirts. I seriously don’t know how they walk around in the high heels. I mean these people walk everywhere they go and they do it in high heels. I have felt like I look like a homeless person when I go out because they are all dressed so nicely all the time. We have not experienced any of the racial hatred we were warned we might experience. Our experience has been quite the opposite, especially with Brennan. We have had several people comment that he has no “fault” in his features. At a restaurant the other night, the waitresses communicated to our interpreter that they had “fallen in love” with Brennan and wanted to know if they could hold him. He let them hold him briefly and they gave him a present (legos).

Please pray that after the 10 day waiting period, that will begin after our court hearing on the 6th, we are able to travel to Sasha’s birth city and get his new birth certificate and passport during one business day. Our coordinator is not sure if they will consider his new passport a “new issue” or a “re-issue”. If they consider it a “new issue”, we may have to wait an entire week before the new passport is issued. If they consider it a “re-issue”, we would be able to request it and pick it up the same day.

Well, it is nearly dinner time. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Friday, April 30, 2010

We have a court date!

Our coordinator and translator were able to get us a court date for May 6th. We were so happy for this date because Monday and Tuesday are holidays in Ukraine and we were afraid they would not have any openings with this short of notice for the remaining three days of the week. Whew, God is AWESOME! After the court hearing we will remain in Melitopol for the 10 day waiting period (that is 10 actual days, not 10 business days). Then we will travel by mini van to Sasha's birth city to request his new birth certificate and passport which will have his new name, Leighton Sasha Rogers. This should only be a one day process. And then, I think, we will travel back to Kiev for about two days for his US Embassy doctor appointment and Embassy interview. Once that is complete, we can come HOME! Our flight, as long as things continue to go well, should be somewhere in the 20's of May. We have really enjoyed our time here, but are anxious to get Sasha home to America.

Thank you for praying for our Interpol clearances, we found out today that the clearances have been done and just have to be mailed to Kiev. One more prayer answered!

We traveled back to the orphanage today and had another meeting with the director. He is such a special man with an wonderful love for the children in his care. He granted us custody of Sasha until May 12th. We were beyond thrilled and so was Sasha. He has told the translator several times that he wants to stay with us and not go back to the orphanage. We, of course, want the same thing. Xan and Brennan have adjusted very well to having Sasha with us and Xan even said he did not want Sasha to go back to the orphanage. God is knitting their hearts together.

Well, my food just arrived, so I better go. Thank you again for your prayers!

We have a court date!

We have a court date!

We have a court date!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Julie and the boys are asleep in the apartment, so Sasha and I went out on the town to find some wifi! We finally did, so here's Julie's latest update to the blog. Keep praying for us, as the process is not over.

We have arrived in Melitopol, Ukraine! We arrived at the train station in Kiev at 5:00 pm (10 am Spartanburg time) and boarded our train. Our family had a private compartment with two sets of bunk beds. It was VERY small for those of you who may have never traveled on an overnight train. Bucky and I joked that it was smaller than a jail cell, but larger than a coffin. Xan and Brennan nearly drove us crazy with their excitement over the train. They were so hyper! Our translator and coordinator graciously offered us cake so, couple the excitement of a train ride with the sugar in cake and you get several crazy hours until the sun went down. Brennan slept very well on the train. Xan did great too, but he did not sleep as long as Brennan. We arrived in Melitopol, Ukraine around 5:00 am (10 pm Spartanburg time) and were driven to our apartment.

Melitopol is much smaller than Kiev. Kiev has about 4 million residents and Melitopol has only 150,000. Our apartment is much bigger than the one in Kiev, not as new, but very clean. Once we got settled into our apartment, we went and got breakfast/lunch. Bucky and I had a calzone and Xan and Brennan got chocolate and banana crepes. Both were very yummy. After we ate, we bought a soccer ball, chocolates and candy to give to Sasha tomorrow. By this time we were exhausted, so we went back to the apartment and took a 3 hour nap. After the nap Natasha and Svetlana took me grocery shopping. That was fun! Their markets are different than ours, everything is behind a counter and you just speak your shopping list to an attendant and she gets everything for you. The only thing that I have not been able to find here is cereal for the kids. They do have cereal, but not Cheerios and Rice Krispies. For those of you who wanted the address, I will try to get that tomorrow.

We took the boys to a nearby park to play. They are having a fun time with daddy while I am typing this. Apparently they accidently interrupted a child’s birthday party and the mothers were so excited to hear Bucky’s English. They said they preferred American English to British English. And we were given a huge piece of birthday cake. Very nice people.

We are bringing some culture to this small town. I doubt they have seen a Latino or African American in some time and couple that with the fact that we are Americans, and we are starred at everywhere we go. I don’t mind, I am pretty used to it.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. We will meet with the Inspector (not really sure what an Inspector does, but we must meet with her and she will take us to the orphanage). Once at the orphanage, WE WILL FINALLY MEET SASHA! We can hardly stand ourselves, we are so excited. Sasha will have to speak to the Inspector and the orphanage director that he wants us to adopt him, then more paperwork will begin. Hopefully, we can get approval from the Inspector and orphanage within the week. Then we can apply for a court date. Please pray that Sasha is not shy about his wanting us to adopt him and they he speaks it clearly and quickly.

Well, it is almost time for dinner. Bucky and I treasure your prayers! With love, The Rogers

Melitopol Update #2

We are sorry that we have not been able to update you as often as we would like. Melitopol is a much smaller town than Kiev and although we have the necessities (hot water, food, bed.), we don’t have many of the extras living in a modern city offers (wi-fi, washing machine, McDonalds).

On Monday, we had a meeting with the Inspector. The Inspector asked us a few questions about our motivation to adopt, why we wanted Sasha and if our income was enough to add another child. That interview went well and she joined us on our adventure to the orphanage. Although the orphanage is only about 7 miles outside of the city, it took us approximately 30 minutes to make the trip because the road was full of potholes. Xan and Brennan both fell asleep on the way because it was so bumpy.

As we approached the orphanage, Bucky and I felt we were in a dream. We could not believe we were moments from seeing Sasha again after nine months apart. We pulled in past the gate and just ahead of us was a two story white building and standing outside were a couple of boys. At that distance, we were not sure if one of those boys was Sasha, but as we drove a little further down the lane we quickly realized it WAS Sasha. As we got closer, our mini van (taxi) passed him in order to pull into a parking space. Our eyes met with his and a huge smile came across his face. That made our hearts leap! Bucky and I could not get out of the taxi fast enough. Bucky got to him first so he got the first hug and then I got a hug too. Sasha was surprised to see Xan and Brennan. Xan was quick to give Sasha a hug, which we were very glad about. Sorry, I can’t remember Brennan’s response. All of us were quickly ushered into the office of the director of the orphanage. He was a very nice, older gentleman and he smiled almost constantly, which put us at ease. He offered Xan and Brennan cookies, chocolate, and juice which they, of course, gladly accepted. The director asked us many of the same questions the Inspector asked. Then, the director turned to Sasha (keep in mind this is all in Russian and being interpreted for us) and asked him if he wanted to be adopted by us. Sasha immediately answered, “Of course I do!” We were so happy! We were praying that he would answer this way and leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that he did indeed want to be a part of our family. Whew, sweet relief! Sasha had to write a letter stating that he wanted us to adopt him. We enjoyed the director’s company for over an hour and then Bucky and I were excused to go play outside with Sasha, Xan and Brennan. While outside, the boarding school let out for a break and we drew quite the crowd. Everyone wanted to see Sasha’s new family. In all, we got to spend about 2 hours with Sasha. While we were outside playing, our coordinator and interpreter were negotiating visitation with Sasha. Then it was time to go. We hugged Sasha and promised to come back the next day. As you can imagine it was torture leaving him again, but it was necessary because we had a lot of paperwork to complete. The rest of the day was spent going from place to place collecting and signing paperwork and sitting in the taxi while our coordinator and interpreter worked on our behalf. At one point, we had time to run by a local supermarket. The supermarket was just like a grocery store in the US. It was a LONG and exhausting day and we were so glad to get back to our apartment.

On Tuesday morning, we were taken back to the orphanage to meet with Sasha and the director again. Again the director was so nice. He again gave the boys a snack. We were told that we could take Sasha back to our apartment for FOUR days. We were beyond excited. Our time at the orphanage that day was about an hour, but Sasha got to leave with us. That was AWESOME!!

The orphanage in which Sasha resides is very nice. The campus is gated and hundreds of red tulips are in full bloom. Although we were not given a tour of the campus, every building looked clean and well kept. The director is a very special man and we have really enjoyed the brief time we have had with him. The runaway rate at this orphanage is very low (no runaways in many, many years) and it is no doubt because this man loves these orphans so much. The director was very recently recognized by the Ukrainian President for his many years of service to orphans. He will be retiring in the Fall, please pray that he is replaced by someone who will love these kids just as much as he does.

The rest of Tuesday was pretty uneventful. We came back to the apartment and Xan, Brennan and Julie took a nap while Bucky and Sasha played card games. Tuesday evening we went to the local park and hung out then went and got some pizza. It was nice just being with Sasha again.

On Wednesday, our interpreter and coordinator took us shopping at a local open market. We were looking for clothes for Sasha. This proved to be quite an adventure. We quickly realized that Sasha’s taste in clothes vastly differs both our taste in clothes and that which is popular among teenagers in the US. But, we decided to allow him to get whatever he was comfortable with. All that he considers normal and comfortable is changing, we can at least allow him some normalcy in his clothing. I am sure he will adjust to American culture far faster than we want him to.

I had forgotten how much this kid can eat. You would never guess he could eat so much if you could see how skinny he is. I don’t know if he eats so much because he is actually hungry or because he is just not used to having the freedom of going to the refrigerator anytime he wants to get something. But whatever the reason, he eats non stop! This does cause problems with Xan because he doesn’t understand why he can’t have a snack everytime Sasha has one. But, we also don’t want to tell Sasha he can’t eat whenever he wants. I am sure eventually we will have to limit his snacking, but for now, we are allowing him to eat whenever he wants.

Prayer request:

Please pray that our Interpol fingerprints are received in Kiev soon. These fingerprints were applied for over 30 days ago and the results have not been received by the appropriate authority. We cannot be assigned a court date until these are received. Thank you again for praying for us. With love, Bucky and Julie

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday April 23, 2010

It is 12:55 pm in Spartanburg and 7:55 pm in Kiev....
Today has been a very wonderful, relaxing day. We did not have anywhere to be or anything to do until 2:30 this afternoon. At that time our coordinator and translator met us outside our apartment and we stopped and had a snack at a Ukrainian eatery. Bucky and I tried Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls and we really liked them. It is so nice to have a translator with us, she is able to explain the new foods we are about to try. From there we went to the Center for Adoption and picked up the paperwork they had prepared to show that they have approved us to adopt Sasha.

After our appointment at the Center, we went sight seeing (but forgot our camera). But that is ok because we will have a few days in Kiev at the end of our time here. We walked and walked and walked but got to see so many new things and it was good to get out of the apartment for a few hours. While we were out, we stopped by the ticket office to purchase train tickets. There were no train tickets for tomorrows train, but our coordinator was told that several train cars were reserved, but the people who made the reservation had not called to confirm the reservation or paid any money for the tickets and in one hour they would lose their reservation if they had not called. So, to occupy the boys during that hour, we walked and got Italian ice cream at one of the local malls. Xan and Brennan got to eat blue ice cream. They really liked that! After the hour passed we walked back to the ticket office and there just happened to be the exact number of train tickets that we needed. God provided for us again.

Then even after all that walking we walked some more and found a little pizza shop and ate dinner. Now we are back to the apartment.

Tomorrow we will have another relaxing morning and then around 4:30 pm our coordinator and translator will pick us up and we will head to the train station. Our train leaves at 5:50 pm and will arrive in Melitopol, Ukraine during the early morning hours on Sunday. Xan and Brennan are so excited to get ride and sleep on a train. Our first meeting with Sasha will be sometime on Monday. We are so excited to see him again.

Well, that pretty much sums up today.

Pictures of our apartment in Kiev

My friend Laura requested pictures of our apartment and that I document the time that I post so that you all can see the time difference. So this one is for you Laura: It is 2:17 am in Spartanburg and 9:17 am here in Kiev.

This is our living room.

This is the view from our balcony. The yellowish color building is, I believe, another apartment building. The building with a gold roof is a monastery.
This is our bathroom.
This is the eat in kitchen
This is our bedroom. I did make the bed today, Bucky took the picture before I had the opportunity.

Today (Friday) is a real slow day for us. We don't have anywhere to be until 3:00 when we have to go pick up some paperwork from the Center for Adoption.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day One, April 20, 2010

I really need to begin with what happened on Monday. As of Monday, the ash cloud was still causing a lot of problems with European flights and to the human eye, the chance that we would get to go to Ukraine was slim. Bucky took Brennan to school that morning and I was having a really hard time getting motivated to do any more house cleaning. I just kept saying to myself, "this is useless, you are not going to leave for Ukraine in the morning." But, everytime I would sit down on the couch to have a pity party, I kept very plainly hearing a still small voice say, "Just get up and DO IT!" So, I continued to pull myself out of my pity party and "just do it", just kept cleaning the house. Late Monday afternoon, we received an e-mail update that the ash cloud had significantly decreased and many of the airports would begin reopening. We went to bed Monday night still not knowing for sure if we would leave for Ukraine the next day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
All morning we kept ourselves updated on what was happening with the ash cloud and things seemed to be progressing well and according to the computer our flight was still on schedule. Stephen Timmons picked us all up at noon on Tuesday and drove us to the Greenville airport. We get to the airport, unload all of our stuff, walk up to the ticket counter and are told that a list of cancelled flights has just been released on our flight from Charlotte to Munich has been cancelled. We were in shock to say the least. I kept thinking to myself that this could not be true because I know God is not cruel and this would have been a cruel joke to get us that far and "shut the door" so to speak. We pulled all of our luggage to the side and Bucky pulled out his computer and we tried to make several phone calls to reach our airline agency and had no success. We went on our airline agency's website and their website said the flight was still on schedule. By this time about 15 to 20 minutes had passed and we walked back up to the ticket counter and explained that our airline carrier's website said the flight was still on schedule. So, the man at the ticket counter reluctantly pulled another list and low and behold that list said the flight was still on schedule. Whew relief...well only briefly...then the man at the ticket counter said that our flight from Munich to Kiev had not been cancelled yet, but that it was on a list of flights that were expected to be cancelled. He cautioned us that he did not recommend we continue our journey to Ukraine at that time. We very kindly thanked him for his educated opinion, but explained that our son was waiting for us in Ukraine and we were wiling to risk only getting as far as Germany on plane. We were confident God was opening doors for us and asking to trust Him and go on. So, we did!

The flight to Charlotte was short and smooth. We had a few hour layover in Charlotte before our flight to Munich left. The boys did great during the layover and we were able to keep them entertained and out of trouble.

The flight to Munich was awesome too. We got very little sleep, but Xan and Brennan were such troopers. There were no temper tantrums and no crying. They were wonderful! Brennan did end up taking a brief nap on the plane, but Xan just could not get to sleep.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We arrived in Munich about 8 am Munich time, that was about 2am Spartanburg time. We had to pick up all of our luggage at this point and poor Xan fell asleep on the luggage cart. I have pictures of that, it was so funny. He was so tired! We found out after we arrived in Munich that our flight to Kiev had indeed been cancelled. While we were waiting in line at the airline's ticket counter (a huge line I might add), we were approached by a lady from our airline agency and she asked us what our final destination was and we told her Kiev, Ukraine. She told us to continue to wait in line, but that she would go ahead to a computer and figure out a new flight schedule. She came back a few minutes later with our new flight from Munich to Frankfort, then Frankfort to Kiev. That lady was a blessing to us and obviously sent from God.

By the time we got to our gate, Xan has already been sleeping (on our luggage) for about an hour and then we all napped during our 3 or so hour layover. I have pictures of that too. We looked like a bunch of homeless people sleeping on benches. Brennan ended up sleeping through that whole flight. That flight was only about 40 minutes, but he slept through ticketing, boarding, and the entire flight. He was sooo tired!

We arrived in Frankfort and had a 7 HOUR LAYOVER!!! Bucky and I were thinking what in the world are we going to do to keep these kids entertained for 7 hours. But we did it and they again did awesome. No fits or crying!! We spent a little while just sitting at our gate while Xan colored and Brennan and I played on the toy laptop computer. Then we went and got some lunch/dinner at McDonald's and McDonald's just happened to have huge windows overlooking all the "excitement" going on outside of an airport. So, that took up about another 1 and 1/2 of our time. Then, we went and found an outlet and let boys watch a couple of movies, did various other little things and before we knew it, 7 hours had passed and we were on a plane headed for Kiev, Ukraine. That flight was about 3 hours and both boys fell right asleep and slept the whole time. We arrived in Kiev about 1:30 am Kiev's time and got through Immigration and customs fairly quickly and we met up with our in country coordinator and he daughter. They had a van waiting for us and took us to our apartment.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today is my mom's birthday, I love you! Well, right now I am sitting in the floor of our apartment, it is about 7 a.m. here and I have already had a shower, fixed my hair and put on makeup. Awww, what a difference a shower can make! As I right this all the boys (Bucky, Xan and Brennan) are asleep. Our apartment is AWESOME! It is really clean and the water pressure in the shower this morning about knocked me off my feet. God is great and He has provided all that we need and so much more. The boys did GREAT in their new "beds" (they are actually sleeping on couches) last night. Xan was a little apprehensive at first, but did great once we assured him we were not leaving and he would see us first thing in the morning. We turned out the lights and still have not heard a peep out of either of them. They are wonderful little boys and have coped with lack of sleep and new environments so well. They have done so much better than I ever imagined and I am so proud to be their mom.

Well, that is all for right now, I have to get the kids up and fed before our babysitter comes to watch them while we go to our first "big" appointment. Keep praying, God IS answering! I will post pics later when I have a little more time

We love you all!

Me, Xan and Brennan on our LONG flight from Charlotte to Munich, Germany.

Xan asleep on our luggage.

We were all so tired!