It has been a long time since our last real update. We have been very busy. We spent the first couple days this week running all over Lugansk getting paperwork for the judge. He is a very thorough judge and had us redo some of the paperwork he didn’t like. So we had to drive an hour each way to the town where the children were born and get some of that redone. Then we had to go to the both orphanages and get medical letters to say the children were all healthy enough to come home with us, lots of that sort of thing. The town where Edik’s orphanage is has never done an international adoption before so they are very unsure about how to do any of the paperwork. The social worker from one town is helping the social worker from Edik’s town.
On Tuesday night Kevin and I had to take the overnight train back to Kiev to update one of our documents at the U.S. Embassy. The social worker in Edik’s town was finishing up some paperwork and we were down to the last minute. They took probably three minutes longer than we had to spare so we were going to miss our train. We didn’t even have tickets yet. We grabbed a taxi and drove by the station, the train was still there but we wouldn’t have time to buy tickets and get on before it left. So Kostya told the taxi driver to drive to his hometown (an hour and a half away) where we could catch the train at it’s second stop. It takes the train two hours to get there. Olya and Nikita met us when we got to their town and Olya had packed us a lovely picnic dinner to take on the train with us. Homemade food! We got to the train station and found out they had no more tickets for the train we were trying to catch. Kostya had tried to call ahead but wasn’t able to get a hold of anyone who could check for us. Apparently he has a good relationship with the conductor (he does ride on the train several times a month) so he called and Kevin and I were able to use the conductor’s room for a very reasonable price. It was a private room with bunk type beds. It was small but very comfortable for us. We had our wonderful meal from Olya, watched a show or two on our computer, and fell right to sleep. We slept all the way to Kiev with very few wake ups.
When we got off the train the next morning we were supposed to look for Sasha, Kostya’s friend who is the driver he uses in Kiev. As soon as we stepped off the train Helen, one of Kostya’s associates, was standing outside the door to greet us. She said Sasha had food poisoning and was very sick. Poor guy. So we got another taxi and went to the U.S. Embassy. There lots of people in all different lines waiting outside the embassy. I guess they were all trying to get travel visas to visit America. We got to walk right in and go to a room where they serve American citizens in Ukraine. There was another couple in there ahead of us and we quickly figured out they were there for the same reason that we were. Kevin started to tell them we were there for the same reason and we started talking. They are adopting a little girl from Odessa. We figured out that not only was his name Kevin as well, but they live about 15 minutes away from us in North Carolina! They live in the nice area where Kevin works. It was so nice to talk to such a nice couple about the adoption process, the orphanages, and that sort of thing. We plan to stay in touch while here and to get together once we are all home and settled. I think they are reading our blog now, so hi to Kevin and Stephanie! It was so nice to meet you, and we hope and pray that the three of you are home very soon.
Then we were off to the SDA with Helen to turn in some paperwork there. We all went to lunch and we shopped around Kiev a bit. Right outside the SDA there are some tourist type stands that sell Ukrainian souvenirs. Kevin and I bought Ukraine soccer jerseys for the boys and stacking dolls for the girls. We got each child a traditional Ukrainian shirt (a dress for Ilona) so we can get their picture taken in them once we are home. They are really nice. Those were the things we were really hoping to find to get for the kids to remember their country.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in a nice park talking with Helen and walking through a few shops. It was nice to relax for a couple hours, then Helen left to return to the train station for her trip home. Our train didn’t leave until a few hours later. Kevin and I walked around Kiev to find a coffee shop where we could use the WIFI and get a drink. Kiev has several Starbuck-style coffee shops that are their own chains. I think one is called Coffee Time and there are a couple others. In Kiev, like in America, there are coffee shops on pretty much every main street. Kiev is a really pretty and busy big city so we knew we could find one just about anywhere. We were starting to get hot from walking around the city, we were really tired, and our backpacks were feeling heavy on our shoulders. We hadn’t seen the kids in three days and we missed them. We headed down a street Kevin thought was probably in the direction of the train station to find a coffee shop and we saw a Gloria Jean’s! They don’t have Starbuck’s in Ukraine yet so we were surprised to see Gloria Jean’s. Gloria Jean’s is a coffee shop chain they had in California and I actually don’t know if I have seen one in North Carolina since we have been there. We went in and were so happy to see they had WIFI, an English menu with all the familiar items on it, and the employees spoke pretty good English as well. They couldn’t believe we were there from America. We each got a frozen blended drink and had a little bit of internet time to catch up on emails and take care of some things we needed to. Gloria Jean’s felt more like American soil than the U.S. Embassy had. ;)
We finished our drinks and Kostya called us. The U.S. Embassy had our INS approval already. This is the approval that states we are now approved to bring home up to 4 children, through the age of 9. We were previously only approved for 3 children, through the age of 6. It wasn’t expected to be ready to pick up for another day or two and our judge decided that he needed to see a copy, though technically it is generally only needed for the U.S. side of things at the end of our trip. We got a taxi, swung by the Embassy to pick it up and headed to the train station. We grabbed some dinner and water to bring on the train with us and headed to our train car. We had paid the extra money to have a deluxe room. Normally there are two bunks, four beds in each cabin. The deluxe cabins have just two lower beds. We ate our dinner, watched a couple TV shows on our laptop, and slept all night again. Kostya got on the train in the morning when we reached his home town and we all headed back to Lugnsk.
We hadn’t showered since Tuesday morning (it was now Thursday) so we took showers and then went straight to see the kids. They were happy to see us, and we were so happy to see them. We are glad to be back in Lugansk and done with all the running around. Pretty much all we have to do each day until court is to play with the kids! ☺