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.
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