Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two Years Later...

It has been two years now since we came home with our boys. My last post was on a challenging day in Ukraine. It was difficult to get online on our adoption journey, so after the first post I kept a journal of our adventure. I will try to find it and post our experiences on this roller coaster ride.

To anyone considering foreign adoption-- my advice is first, have a strong faith, a strong marriage and family close by willing to help when you go through the difficult times. Adoption from Russia and the former Soviet Union is a difficult journey.

The school system is clueless to what these children have been through and what it means to their emotional and cognitive development. But then, no one can fully understand the challenges these children face without living it. The emotional and physical and societal abuse they have experienced is beyond our imagination.

I will share new stories and information as I can from what I have learned from my own experiences and those of friends and acquaintances I have made along the way. New posts to come.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Our Second day in Ukraine...Running a marathon!

We are actually on our 9th day here... but I am trying to catch up on my blog... sorry this is late. Internet access difficult. I have every day journaled on my laptop, but because I can not connect to this old computer at the guest house I have to retype the whole thing... so tonight I can only get to day 2---------------

Second day...
Today we had our first official adoption appointment wwith the SDA. Our appointment was conveniently scheduled for 11 am. Last night Natilia, our lawyer arranged for one of her driveers to come and pick us up at 9:45 and drive us into the city center where the SDA office is.

We had a good night sleep. I don't think either one of us moved during the night. We were so exhausted from the flight.

We woke up this morning before the alarm and got ready and went downstairs to wait for our driver. (Arranged by our lawyer) At about 9:30 we got a call from Nataila. It seems that the driver had a conflict and could not come to get us. She had called 4 cabcompanies and noone had anyone that they could send to us. We would have to find a way to the SDA ourselves-- perhaps we could bet a cab on the street?

We did not feel confident to do this ourselves so we called our missiooonary friend Oleg for advice. We explained the situation and he said he would make a call to see if someone could drive us. He called back and said that there was too much traffic for us to make our appointment in time by car. We could make better time by taking the Metro. He said he would take us there, and that sounded good to us.

Oleg suggested we save some time by meeting him outlide the base. He told us to go out from the boat, go left, walk oover to the next big boat on the river and walk up the stairs drom the river to the street. I thought he wanted us to continue walking left and he would meet us on the way. We walked and ran at times thinking if we ran we could make up for some lost time.

We walked/ran for quite a way until we came to an overpass. Not seeing Oleg anywhere I gave him a call to let him know where we were. He said I had misunderstood his directions. He wanted us to walk over the the next big boat and wait for him at the stairs. When I told him we were at an overpass, near a hotel and I could see the Metro going over the bridge to the city, he sounded sick. "Oh no, I told you to go in the wrong direction" So in a complete panic, we decided to head back towards the base and meet him there.

So... here we go again, in the opposite direction... walking and running as fast as we could. The old hip joints not very happy about this sudden imposition on them. We ran all the way back to the base where we finally met up with Oleg. Wnen we explained to him where we had just run from, he looked ill. We DID go in the right direction. John and I had walked/ran to just a few yards from where the Metro was!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now what to do... the clock was ticking. Run back in the direction of the bridge again? "Please NO!" cried my hip joints. Oleg saved the day-- and my joints by getting us on a bus which took us almost to the door of the metro station. From there we hopped on a train and changed to a connecting train. We made it to the city center in great time--much faster than you could have by car. In the meantime, I had told Natalia that we were on our way. She kept calling us every 15 minutes to find out where we were. After the second train, we ran to the incline train. Thank God there was an incline train. It is a unique train that travels up the hill at a 45 degree angle. I could NEVER have walked that hill and made our appointment alive! As it was, we got on the train and I was huffing and puffing like an old smoker who had just ran a marathon.

Once off the incline train we only to walk about half a block to meet Natalia wwho had been waiting for us out in the cold. After alll that running and stress, we were only 10 minutes late for our appointment. Thank the good Lord!

We went up one flight to a small but neat office where a lovely young woman greeted us warmly and our interview began. They told us normally the interviews lasted about an hour, but since we had identified children that we wanted to adopt through hosting, our interview would only take about 15 minutes! WOW.

We found out a few new bits of info about the boy's circumstances before the orphanage and showed the photos of Sasha and Artur in America that we had brought with us. The Psychologist thanked us for our willingness to adopt older children and the interview was over. I felt that we had met with someone who genuinely cared about the children and was happy for us.

So now our first big hurdle was over, and tomorrow we go back with Natalia to get our letter of approval to visit the boys. We are scheduled to meet Natalia at the SDA at 4pm and Oleg wwill accompany us again. This time we will not have to stress out the old hips and we will walk only once to our meeting place at the bridge...walk not run!

After our meeting we took Oleg out for lunch-- the least we could do for him after he gave up his afternoon to take us to our appointment. We went to a Ukrainian cafeteria style restaurant where I had some traditional meat dumplings and borscht. John had a fried chicken cutlet and potatoes. I thought the food was just great. I actually love Ukrainian food and have enjoyed everything I have tried so far.

We walked around a little in the square in Kiev and took some photos fo the famous churches and statures before heading back to the base.

That pretty much sums up our second dy in Ukraine. a confusion filled morning, but through it all, we could see how God took care of us and blessed us.

Tomorrow morning, we have an invitation for breakfast at the home of Nadia and Oles, one of the Directors at the YWAM base.

More to come....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We have landed in Ukraine!

Finally, the day arrived. On the 27th of November we embarked on our journey to become parents.

The last week at home was a bit frantic as we tried to tie up loose ends before leaving for Ukraine. John pressed in at work trying to accomplish as much as he could before leaving. I ran around the house preparing clothes, running errands and trying to get things in order before my parents would arrive to care for our two dogs and watch the house for us. Unfortunately, things did not get left as clean as I had hoped, or as organized as I had planned. But we do the best we can...

Last time I went to Ukraine, I flew Delta to Frankfurt where I got a connecting flight on Aerosvit to Kiev. I had to pick up my bags and take to my connecting flight and they were no where to be found. Almost an hour passed and as my connecting flight was soon scheduled to leave,I asked for help and discovered that my bags were sitting in the lost and found area. I gathered up my belongings and ran over to Aerosvit to check in my bags. As I was about to board, they told me I had to weigh my carry on bag. What? I didn't have to do that before?!? Well, for Ukraine Air you do....
"Oh, you are over weight, you will have to check your carry on bag."

My carry on over weight? I thought the regulations were about the size of the bag, not the weight of the bag!!

Ok, now I am really in a panic. My carry on had all the things that I needed to CARRY ON!!!!!!!!! All my camera equipment, chargers, and important items that I wanted to keep close with me.

So inorder to not miss my plane, I had to remove the most essential items and put them in a smaller bag and check in my carry on bag. I was given no other option. So, check it in I must. I was assured that even though this was the last bag to go on the plane, it would indeed be put on the plane and I would have it when I landed in Ukraine...

Despite their guarantee, I boarded the plane, with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomache which was compounded when I remembered that in one of the zipperd pickets, I had 250 dollars in cash that I had forgotten about in my carry-on check-in panic.

And as you can guess, when I arrived in Kiev, my bag, money and misc. chargers and camera equipment were no where to be found. It took many phone calls and threats of international scandal to finally have my bags appear in Kharkov about 1 and a half weeks later-- less the $250.00

Somehow, that did money did not go undetected by some enterprising Aerosvit employee.

Knowing the hidden dangers of overweight carry-on with Aerosvit, we wanted to avoid problems with our carry-on at all cost. We were determined to stay within the limits as told to us by the reservation department of a measly 10 pounds. After through the trouble of trying to comply to the regulations, we witnessed person after person with huge carryon baggage and then some. It seems that the rules in Frankfurt are drastically different from elsewhere.

Our departure was delayed almost two hours so we spent that time people watching. The guy working at the watch kiosk offered the most entertainment as he seemed to come on to every female passing by, no matter the size or age. No watch sales, buy lots of ladies who enjoyed the attention of a handsome but fickle young man.

Finally we began boarding -- with something every traveler dreads, a screaming baby behind us. We boarded with apprehension as to the where the cute yet loud baby would be sitting.

Much to our relief, 0Our flight was quiet and uneventful. We flew Aerosvit, and while interior of the plane would not pass the white glove test-- I mean -- not even close. The plane had an overall coating of grunge-- seats, floor and especially the bathroom... half way into the flight-- no toilet paper.

Other than the cleanliness, things went well. The best of all there were no annoying passengers nearby-- a ingredient to start any vacation off on the wrong foot. Everyone was quiet and respectful of their neighbors-- rather unusual when traveling now a days. Food was pretty good too, and the service was pleasant.

We took off late, but arrived in Ukraine on time. Oleg and Oles from YWAM (Youth With a Mission) were waiting for us at the terminal. Wow... so far so good! Praise God!

We drove to the YWAM base and hit a bit of traffic on the way, as is common now in Kiev. Lots of friendly faces here to greet us at the base which is actually a former floating restaurant/hotel on the river that flows through Kiev.

It is very comforting to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of dedicated Christians who feel a calling to serve in Ukraine.

We have a small but efficient room facing the street, with water view with a nice new bathroom. A luxury in Ukraine.

At 5:30 this evening, our Lawyer came to the base and she briefed us on the process here and the appointments we will be having. It was a bit much for me to absorb after almost 24 hours without sleep. Hopefully John's mind was sharper than mine. Nonetheless, I feel we are in good hands and will be guided through the process. She is very confident and seems to have a heart for the children.

We have our SDA appointment tomorrow at 11am. A driver will come to the boat and take us into the Center where the SDA offices are. There we will talk about or desire to adopt and get our approval to visit the boys.

We are pretty exhausted at this moment... I can barely see to blog.

Day one -- off to a great start.
Everything going well and we are blessed to be surrounded by such fine people.
Tomorrow I hope we can see a little of Kiev after our appointment.

More to follow!


Friday, October 26, 2007

Video Sample of Donations received and sent to Ukraine

Greetings again!

I created this little video for a Christmas clothing drive at our church. It shows some of the donations that have been collected and sent to Ukraine over the past two years.

These photos are only a sampling of what was received and sent. There was too much to put in a slide show or video, and again too much to even photograph.

I think the words of the song on the video say it all:
"When we're long, long gone, the only thing that will have mattered is the way that we cared and the love that we shared."

Thank you to everyone who donated and demonstrated the Love of the Father for the fatherless. God Bless you all!

Here is another little video I put together with photos of orphans in Ukraine. I love the song... it says it all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blogging Again!

I am finally able to add to this blog again! I had lost my account information months ago, and only now found it burried in an old email. So much to catch up on.

Throughout the past year we have sent many boxes to Ukraine filled with wonderful donations from various places. Last November Karen Orlando Ministries collected a couple car loads of clothes and toys at Karen's "Lord of the Harvest Banquet". In addition, ToysRUs in Bayshore donated a trunk load of toys for the orphans! We have been sending boxes throughout the year to Ukraine and just this month sent the last of these donations to YWAM (Youth with a Mission) in Kiev and St. Vincent de Paul in Kharkov. We also sent some of the donations directly to a couple of impoverished families in Kharkov.

The LifePoint Church is starting a Christmas clothing drive -- and Karen Orlando Ministries will again be collecting at this year's Harvest Banquet. We are excited to see what God will do!

We also want to say thank you to all our friends who have made donations through The Doggie Nanny. Just this las month one of our clients brought a few large plastic bags filled with wonderful stuffed animals and Beanie Babies. They have already been shipped and should arrive in Kiev mid November, in good time for the Christmas holiday.

I have taken many photos of the donations and will post them soon. To see the some of the children who have received your wonderful donations, take a look at this video : For the Fatherless

On a personal note, my husband and I will soon be traveling to Ukraine to adopt. Our travel date is Nov 27th. We have our appointment with the SDA shortly after we arrive. This is an exciting time in our lives! Please remember us in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

This video tells the story of the future of most orphans in Ukraine. Adoption offers them a hope and a future.

Children receiving donations

We recently received some photos of children with donations of toys and clothes from Ukraine Family Connections. These children are in the Danrica Family and Child Orphanage. You can click here to see the full slide show

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Donations go to Roma in Ukraine

Ukraine Family Connections
Donates to Roma in Ukraine

Today I met with a lovely Ukrainian woman who is here in NYC for a Holocaust Memorial at the United Nations. Yuliaand her son Fedor are here as representatives of the Roma ("Gypsies") of Ukraine. Along with the Jews, the Roma people were also targeted for extermination during Hitler's reign of terror in WWII.

Today the Roma people are the poorest of the poor in Ukraine and still face persecution and discrimination. It was an honor to spend time with Yulia-- even though we struggled at times with our language barrier ( my Russian is very simplistic), I could easily see that Yulia is a lovely woman with a deep desire to help her people. Her foundation is working to create an orphanage, school and home for the elderly to serve the Roma people.

Ukraine Family Connections donated two large bags of clothing and toys for Yuliato bring back to Ukraine. Here is a list of clothes that came from the generous families and corporations that have supported our ministry:

3 Veggie Tale sweat pant sets
5 Veggie Tale farmer jean and shirt sets
2 blue sweat pants
2 red sweat pants
1 farmer jean
1 set undershirt and underpants
5 short T-shirts
2 Winter hats
1 brown long sweater-- adult
1 long down ladies coat
1 down men's jacket
2 down children's jackets
3 children's sweaters
4 girls blouses
6 baby bottles
Assorted stuffed animals, dolls and matchbox cars

The Persecution of Non-Jewish Groups
Jews were not the only victims of the Nazi regime in Germany. In keeping with their policy, the Nazis took action to suppress various racial and social groups and to remove them from society. The Sinti and Roma (the “Gypsies”) who lived in Germany were the main non-Jewish targets of the Nazi race theory. The disabled and mentally ill were perceived as a burden on German society, and as such were banished from it. In the late 1930s they were murdered under the guise of “euthanasia.” The Nazi list of “undesirables” included individuals and groups such as homosexuals, alcoholics, and homeless vagrants. Ideological opponents such as Communists or members of certain churches, were persecuted even if they were considered members of the “Aryan race.”

Visit the UN Holocaust Remembrance Site

Exibit Marking International Day of Commeration Documents Plight of Roma, Sinti