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!