Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Journey Home: Part 1

I figured that even though I am tired and want to go to bed, I should write a post about the second part of our adoption before I forget it all. I have far too much working against me to try and convince myself that my memory will function properly (like pregnancy and exhaustion from sleepless children), so I will face the facts and suck it up. What's another hour of sleep anyway?!?

It all started on the Monday before Christmas, last Monday actually (though it seems much farther back than that). We had called our facilitator to see what time we needed to be up and ready for them to pick us up. These people have a way of not letting you know things until 10 minutes before they are at your door...if you're we figured it would be best to call. We knew that we would be doing lots of running that day. We found out that our facilitator was sick and wouldn't be there with us, but was sending someone to do the work with us instead and we should be ready at 8am. Okay. Sounds good to me.

We got up Monday morning and got ready...waited for them to pick us up...watched out the window. 9 rolls around...we are still waiting (which is NOT like them, they are early if anything)...9:30...9:45...we finally call Yulia, our sick facilitator, to find out what was going on. The driver and fill in facilitator had just called her to say that they were at the courthouse picking up some documents for us and they would be running later than expected. We should expect them around 11. ELEVEN?! Are you serious?! We got up and ready at 8 and were going to be waiting until 11 with no call? We weren't all that surprised to tell you the truth, but this was the day that was going to make or break our being home by Christmas, so we were more in need of things to work quickly.

Let me just tell you right now, Ukraine lived up to it's reputation well on this day. If you haven't heard anything about Ukraine's reputation, you will understand at the end of this post. If you will understand how we were feeling all day.

The thing is, they did show up around 11. We went out for the birth certificate first, which was supposed to take an hour or two to get. Then we would apply for a change of name on her social security card, then the passport. THEN we would know if we were going to have to mail off to Kyiv, or if we could do our passport in region. This was our plan. Unfortunately, our region was not being like all other regions according to the fill in facilitator (who does work as a facilitator alongside our normal one, so she does have experience). What normally takes an hour or two is a 3 day thing in this region. THAT is a little beyond normal, even for UA.

Our driver pulled some of his strings and used his connections there. He came to be our driver by the fact that his son is marrying the daughter of one of the ladies that works at children's services. The same lady who rented us her apartment for such an affordable price. She came in and did her thing and it was supposed to be good and dandy...except for one thing. Our fill in lady use our driver's words, a wet/limp fish. They didn't get along well at all. He kept doing what he could to make things happen, to open the doors, and then she wouldn't walk through them because she was fearful of walking on anyone's toes.

And before you get too worked up, this is the normal way of things there. Yulia would have walked right through whatever doors were placed in front of her and done it with confidence. N had a hard time even with the things that were perfectly normal. Yes, N and Nikolai (our driver) were NOT the best of friends. You don't want to know the things that he said about her when she was gone the next day...

Finally, we got things moving on the birth certificate change and went to eat lunch. Handsome and I were left to eat in this fancy restaurant where they checked our coats and had tons of food all brought out at different times. I was a little nervous about what the price was going to be with how fancy it was. When we got the bill, you will never guess how much it was. Salad, bread, soup, meat, mashed potatoes, juice, and I think there was something else other than Handsome's Coke- all of that added up to what would be the same as $3 each here! Crazy I tell you!

Anyway, they came in and picked us up after we ate and they had gone to get some copies done. We went back and finished filling out paperwork for the "request" for the birth certificate. Yes, was just the request that took that long and so things were not looking good for getting everything done that we needed to get done that day. (Did I mention that it was freezing cold outside? Well, it was. And we were walking. A lot.) After that we had to walk to a different building to actually get the birth certificate. Which, guess what? Was not ready by nearly the end of the day. Things were about to close.

I was feeling a bit discouraged that we had been able to get so little done. Then to add to things, our fill in told us that Nikolai was going to have to take us to get the rest of our things done tomorrow because she had to leave. She was going to leave us with someone who had no legal authority for our adoption and also didn't speak English. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy-he was a wonderful help to us in so many ways. BUT I still like to know what is going on at least while we are doing it.

Then the phone rang for our fill in lady. It was Yulia, our normal facilitator who shines like the sun. She is a legend. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. She knows her work well and she gets things done. Apparently she and her boss had been working all day from where they were in Kyiv to get our passport done for Ana. When I was feeling totally discouraged, thinking that there was no way we would be getting home for Christmas with our kids, they called to tell us that they were able to get the passport done the old way and that we had to leave right now to get Ana photographed before the passport place closed. Only thing is, we were still waiting for the birth certificate (which I will add is supposed to be done before you can even apply for the passport).

Handsome stayed with N and I went with Nikolai to get Ana in the car. The two of them walked all over doing things while we went and got Ana out of the orphanage to get her photo taken, took her back there, drove to the passport office with those photos...and quite a substantial amount of cash (read bribe). It was crazy. All day had gone so slow and then we had an extremely busy last hour.

I confess. I cried when I found out that we would be home for Christmas. That's the truth...and I was in the car with Nikolai because they didn't clarify that part for us before, just that we needed to get the passport done right now. I think he had thoughts like- crazy pregnant woman! or something like that.

We got all that done and then by the time we reached the passport office it was about closing time. Handsome and N were coming out and said that all the people to process it were gone for the night, but all we would have to do is come and pick it up in the morning, which is something I could handle.

We went home beaming and tried to book flights for Christmas Eve. We weren't so lucky, but we got one for Christmas Day that arrived home at noon. I had really hoped to be home on Christmas Eve because I thought the timing would be so great. We left the day after Thanksgiving and if we arrived home the day before Christmas we would have missed no holiday at all. As it was we still didn't miss a holiday and for that we are very grateful. God's timing was perfect. We left later than we had planned for due to H1N1 scares, but didn't miss Thanksgiving with our families. Then we were barely able to make it home in time for Christmas. What better timing could you ask for?

So back to the story...

The next morning we got up early again and started our trek for more paperwork. We first went to the office to change the SS card name to Ana's new last name. We got to the building and what should we meet with? Well, it's a little thing the locals like to call "control". The security guard decided that he didn't want to let us or our driver in. This is not unheard of either, but it was not the day for it. To skip around a little, we went around all day through different times trying to get different "bosses" to sign and seal giving us permission to get this piece of paperwork that we had full right to get. It was just a looney situation.

While we did that, we were also doing other things. We went to the passport office four or so times trying to get that as well. This was needed and then was also just a mess of "control" that took all day. I will have you know that when we started the day I had our luggage ready to pack in the car so that we wouldn't have to come back to the apartment. Nikolai told us that we didn't need it. We weren't going to be out that long and everything was in the same area, so we would be fine. By the end of the morning, he had to call Yulia (who had shared many a phone call with him by that point) to tell her that he would have to send us on a later train than she had wanted. There just wasn't enough time. He also shared some frustrated mimes about how ditzy N was quite a few times. Apparently the instructions she left him were not what actually needed to be done, so we didn't even GET the paperwork from the first office done at all. We got something different done...I'm not sure, it was all communication that was done between people who speak nothing of the same language. Like I said, we got by just fine...but during paperwork times it is nice to have someone that speaks English.

I will spare you all the details. We did get everything done we needed to get done and had a little time for lunch in there too. Lunch which made me sick. So...while Handsome and Nikolai went to the market to get food for Ana on the train and some diapers, I stayed at the apartment and let my lunch flush down the drain. They then came back up to get me and I started to unlock the door. I couldn't open it. Handsome tried to unlock it from the outside and couldn't unlock it. It made all the sounds of unlocking, but it wouldn't open. Nikolai tried. It didn't work. I tried all directions of lock and unlock combinations with the top and bottom. Nothing worked. Nothing at all. I was stressing out, thinking what else could come against us right now! I was praying that God would just please move some of the obstacles out of our way because I was very sick and after 5 minutes of frantic attempts to unlock me from that apartment that had no fire exit, I was just ready to be done. Finally, it worked. It just decided to unlock...and then we were good.

Well, okay then and thank you Lord.

Then, we went to pick Ana up while I was still feeling queezy. I took some medicine that finally helped a little, and we waited for our driver to come and pick us up. He had left us to see Ana and let her say good bye to all those that she knew and loved as family while he bought our train tickets for us.

We waited and waited. He was later than expected. Yulia called to tell us that he had been in a small car accident, but would be there soon. She ate a little and threw a huge fit. They gave her candy to calm her. (Not something I hadn't seen them do before...candy for a fit...wahoo I was excited to break that habit when we got home!) When he finally got to us we had to rush and sign some papers, dress her in her snow pants and coat and get out the door to make our train. More crazy rushing. And my nerves were not doing well with all of that at this point. I was beginning to be a wreck of nerves with all of the events of the day. I just wanted some predictability and a chance to rest.

...we will continue tomorrow (or when I next get a chance) where we are leaving off- the train ride.


Jenilee said...

wow. I am so sorry that you had to go through all of that. I could just feel your frustration when the lock part of the story came... oh my... I would have been a wreck. I am so grateful that you were home on Christmas day though. what a gift from God. Hope you got some rest and God continues to bring peace to your home. Have a wonderful New Year!

Nan and Dan said...

so happy to hear about your trip!! hurry up and wait :)
hope little missy is finally feeling better.
can't wait to see some pics :)

Mom said...

It really made for a special Christmas to have you arrive in the afternoon. We all felt like it was a very special and memorable holiday for sure.

Mindy said...

HI! I found your blog through Jennilee! Nice to meet you and I will be back again!
in HIM -