Thursday, July 31, 2008

We're Into Single Digits :):)

Only 9 more days till we come home. You have no idea how good that sounds to us!!!

Today was a very good day with Emma. The last couple of days have been extremely difficult as she has been quite defiant. Today is the first day papa didn't have to spank her!

We're really trying to sit down with Emma to teach her. She is very behind and we're concerned about catching her up. With the language barrier, we know it will be lots of work! And as far as learning our language is concerned, she has no interest at all. She'll repeat the odd word here and there, but I don't think she understands. The only words she knows for sure are mama and papa and truck. But she doesn't say's more like tru-vuck. Oh well, we'll take what we can get.

Today we actually got to sit down and try and do a puzzle with us. This is a huge accomplishment because we've been having a hard time to get her to sit down and do anything. The puzzle is quite easy but she still doesn't understand how to put the pieces together correctly. But we'll keep working on this one till she gets it, then we'll get a new one. We also worked on counting today. We are starting in Russian just to see how much she knows. She is able to count to 5 when she is in a good mood. If you try and get her to count or learn anything if she is not in the mood, she gets very frustrated and walks away. The main thing is that she's opening up to us and trying here and there. I know when someone strange comes to talk to her, she clams right up and doesn't say anything. We're getting there. It's only day 3!

Another issue we've run into is potty training. You'd think a 6 year old would know. Well, Emma knows how to use the toilet, the problem is she doesn't know WHEN to use the toilet. At the orphanage the kids only went during certain times of the day. If they had to go at any other time, I don't think they were really supervised. So that's something else we're working on. The only time she'll run to the toilet is when she has to poop (thank God!) There have been a few accidents, so now Terry is super paranoid and makes me take her to the washroom every 10 seconds! Bedwetting is also an issue. Any tips out there?

Overall, we feel things are going very well. This is a HUGE adjustment for the three of us and it's going to take some time. Living in a hotel isn't the greatest environment either. A good routine can start once we get home. I'm not too sure how the 20 hours of flying is going to go. If she's in any mood like she was yesterday, it could be pretty scary!! :):):)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's Official!

Emma-Lee Julia Carter

That's our girl! So much has happened in the last couple of days. My mind is just a blur. I've had about 5 hours sleep in the last 3 days, so bear with me. This post will probably be all over the place.

Many of you have been sending emails asking questions about Emma. We could not release any details until she was legally ours, so here goes:

Emma was born October 9, 2001 in the city of Romny, Ukraine. She was named Julia (pronounced Yulia in Russian) Girzheva. Her mother was 21 and her father was 43. They were not married. She was carried to term, born at normal birth weight with no complications. Her measurements during the first year of her life were normal. So it sounds like we got all kinds of information, eh? Well, after that everything gets a little hazy.

We were told that Emma was raised by her single mother until last year. She was placed in the orphanage in June 2007, as her mother passed away at age 26. We have tried to get more information about her mother's death, but have been unsuccessful. Our facilitator told us that many young single mothers in Ukraine commit suicide, as they can not cope. This is something we will never know.

When we were first shown Emma's file, we were told about her problems. She is very behind developmentally and has emotional problems. It makes sense considering what she's gone through in the last year. Losing her mom and getting put into the orphanage was probably very traumatic. They showed us her medical file. When she was first placed in the orphanage, she was seen by several doctors and her immunizations were updated. This would explain why she is terrified of doctors. Also, the picture we were shown of her at the adoption centre was when she was first placed there...she was bald. They had shaved her hair off. Poor thing!

We got to pick up Emma Monday evening. She was SO excited!!! She ran out of there so fast and then waved up to all of her friends up in the windows. I must say it was pretty emotional for me, saying goodbye to so many of those kids who I've grown to love. I can't believe we'll never see them again. We pray that they will all find homes. Once Emma waved and yelled PACA (bye) to all of her friends, it was straight to the car and no looking back!!!

The last 2 days have been a rollercoaster. Several ups and downs. We are seeing the results of no discipline in her life. We are trying to correct her, but it's very difficult when you don't speak her language. She is still papa's biggest fan. Mama's still low on the totem pole, but she's starting to warm up to me. She's never had a dad, so I imagine it's pretty exciting to her. I think she just sees me as another caregiver, like at the orphanage.

The last couple of days have been super crazy with paperwork again. We had to get our court decree. Then we travelled to Emma's birth town to get a new birth certificate with her new name and Terry and I listed as parents. We were able to get a picture of the hospital she was born in. I thought that was pretty cool.

Yesterday we travelled to Sumy to get Emma's passport. When we got there, we found out it takes 10 business days to get a passport, which would mean we would need to reschedule our flight again, which is not an option. So we had to pay $$$$ to get a same day passport, but we're glad to have it out of the way. All we have left now is to get a Visa for Emma. That will only take one day in Kiev.

So now we just bide our time and wait for next week to come. We are staying in Okteerka, as it is much cheaper than staying in Kiev. We will travel to Kiev next Wednesday to get Emma's Visa. Then we will stay there till Saturday because that's where our flight leaves from. Our American friends have left to Kiev already. Their plane leaves tomorrow. It was sad when they left. It was so nice to have friends while we are here. It feels lonely now. Their entire adoption took 3 weeks and 3 days. Unreal!!! We will have spent 7 weeks and 3 days once all is said and done.

I should go. Terry is back at the hotel with Emma and he told me not to take long. Thanks for your continued prayers. Even though it seems things are done, things are just beginning. I'm still a little nervous about the whole thing. Good thing Terry has nerves of steel and can always calm me down!! By the way, shower time goes much better now! :) We got so many comments from people who loved that story!!

Bye for now!

Oh ya!!! I almost forgot! Swiss cheese chips: 2 thumbs down for me and 1 thumb up for Terry.
Chicken chips: 1 thumb up for me and 2 thumbs up for Terry.
Sorry, Jen. I haven't run into any crab chips again. If I see them, I promise to taste them!!! :):)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Restaurant Woes

We have a daily eating routine....breakfast in our hotel room, lunch in the American's hotel room and then we go out for supper. We have three restaurants to choose from. Each has it's pros and cons. Usually we pick based on location, but when we get tired of that restaurant, we have to go somewhere else. You have to understand, it is at least a 15 minute walk to the closest restaurant and temperatures here right now are close to 40 degrees celcius. Lately we've been running into some problems at our restaurants. Sometimes...they don't serve food. No rhyme or reason..we just get there and they tell us "no food." That's quite disappointing after walking 15 minutes in the blazing sun and find out you have to walk 15 more minutes to get a meal.

Today we thought we would be smart and have our driver drop us off at the furthest restaurant from our hotel after our orphanage visit. Then we would only have the half hour walk back. After our driver dropped us off and left, we went inside only to find out the bad news...."no food." What the heck? It's supper time and we've come here for supper many times!!!! Talk about utter frustration. So we do a 15 minute treck to the next restaurant. We pull out our camera to show the pictures of what we would like to eat. Terry points to chicken....."No...only pig kabobs." Ugh! So we were all stuck eating pork kabobs or go hungry. We didn't want to risk walking to the next restaurant to find out they're not serving food either. I personally liked the pork kabobs. It was a refreshing change from the chicken dipped in egg that I've eaten for the past seven days straight. Terry, however, would have preferred chicken for the eighth time! We can't wait to eat a big juicy steak when we get home!!! (hint, hint dad!) LOL (LOL means laugh out loud, in case you're wondering, dad)

Yesterday we bought every flavor of chips from the supermarket. Unfortunately, they do not have crab flavor. Last night's first sample was bacon flavor. The picture on the front of the bag is of raw bacon...not very appealing. I gave it two thumbs down, Terry gave it one thumb up. He polished them off.

Funny thing about the supermarkets here. The Canadians and Americans are cleaning them out. Every time we find something we like, the next time we go to buy it, there's none left. It's very strange. And the stores here only seem to get stock every one or two weeks, so we're basically hooped. One store where I bought some cereal I liked has been out all week. I found it at another supermarket today. They had a whole two I cleaned them out. Even when we order drinks at a restaurant, we usually can't all get the same thing. They will only have like two sprites and three cokes. Luckily we can usually work it out between the five of us who gets Sprite and who gets Coke. Oh ya, and that's the only two flavors of pop they seem to have in least in this town.

Today we bought three huge watermelons to take to the orphanage. There was a lady selling them on the side of the road. She was totally amused by us english speaking people. The watermelons weren't that great. It's been awhile since I've had some with seeds in it. The kids at the orphanage loved it, though. Especially Emma. She polished off about six huge pieces. And she was soaked from nose to bellybutton in watermelon juice!

Tomorrow will be our last visit to the orphanage. Terry and I stopped by a little store today to find some treats we could pass out to all the kids. This store had a pile of Kinder eggs, so we thought it would be a good treat becasue they each come with a little toy. We asked the lady behind the counter how much (they always punch the amount on a calculator and show it to us so we can understand) They were five and a half hryvna each...which is quite a bit because we wanted thirty of them. Terry punched in the calculator the number thirty to show the lady how many we wanted. Her eyes bulged out of her head as she punched in thirty times five fifty and it came to one hundred and sixty five hryvna (about thirty bucks Canadian) Terry nodded his head "yes" so two ladies behind the counter started packing them all up. They were just talking and laughing very hard. They were probably wondering why two adults needed thirty Kinder eggs! People here laugh at us wherever we go.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Day

We had an interesting evening last night. We were invited to eat dessert with a lady who works at the hotel. She doesn't speak much english, but she was sitting in the staff room with her daughter and her daughter's friends. She saw us walking by and gestured at a cake sitting on the table and invited us to come sit. So we did. This lady's daughter and her friend spoke quite a bit of english so we were able to have a good visit. They asked us several questions about Canada. Also how we liked it here and where we've been in Ukraine. They were very curious about how we've been living without knowing the language. They were quite entertained by our stories of how we order food at restaurants and how we buy food in grocery stores. Terry went on and on about how great Canada was compared to Ukraine...I almost wanted to kick him! But they didn't seem to mind..they were very interested. Then they finally asked us the big question which we've been trying to avoid....why are you here? One thing we didn't mention on the blog yet is that we can't tell anyone in Ukraine why we are here until the kids are legally ours. Most Ukrainians are against foreign adoptions, and they can cause serious problems if they find out you're adopting. We have been advised not to tell anyone because during this 10 day wait, anyone can appeal our adoption. We did tell our new friends, though. Our 10 day wait is practically over and we knew this wouldn't cause a problem. They were actually quite happy to hear that we were adopting. They told us that it's nice when the kids get adopted because they have very little hope staying in the orphanage.

Today the paperchase began again. We are nearing the end of our 10 day wait, so we had to go to court to pick up some documents and then run around to the "tax police" and a notary...all very exciting stuff. Emma is legally ours on Monday and we know we won't run into any problems (objections) because no one has come forward yet and now it's the weekend, so the court is closed. On Monday we will be able to share more information on the blog regarding Emma and her history. Stay tuned....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Fun Day at the Orphanage's me again. I've received some complaints regarding my lack of posting, so here we are! No more complaints. You do realize this will be much harder once we have Emma!

Today we had a fun visit at the orphanage. All the kids were outside so we got a chance to play with them all. It was so great to spend time with all of them. They really love it when we come out. They laugh at us when we speak english or when we try to repeat something they are teaching us. Any food we take is a huge hit. Our American friends are quite adventurous when they go to the market...they're always trying new things. If they don't like it, they just take it to the orphanage. Anything goes there! We're getting quite attached to a few of the kids there. If we could, we would certainly bring them home with us. It's going to be very sad when we leave. I keep wondering what's going to happen to them. The unfortunate thing is that most of them are older and no one wants to adopt them.

When we were in court, the orphanage director told the judge that he would have to fire three staff members because of recent adoptions. We are very blessed to have an orphanage director that would rather see children get adopted than keep employees. We have heard many stories of orphanages making adoptions very difficult because they don't want people to lose their jobs. The director straight up told the judge that there is no hope for the children who do not get adopted. He said they are well cared for while they are there, but once they leave at the age of 16, they are "labelled" as orphans and it is very difficult for them to find jobs. Many just start the cycle over again of having babies too young and putting them in orphanages. It's so sad. That's what breaks my heart when we see these kids that will not be adopted. Their future isn't looking so bright.

Our visit with Emma was good today. We actually tried to take a break from her to play with the other kids. Whenever we're with her, she expects our undivided attention....I think she's worried we might forget about her or something. Hopefully when she feels a little more secure about her position in our family she won't be so needy. The bonus is when I (Tara) play with the other kids, Emma actually likes to come and hug her mama. I think she gets a little jealous. So it's one of the rare times when mama gets some lovin! :)

Many of you in the family will remember when I took pictures of all of you to make a photo album for our new kid. We have taken it to the orphanage with us everyday. Unfortunately she has very little interest in the strange people we are showing her. When we take out the album, she skips past all the family pictures and goes straight to the pictures of our house and her room and tells us a little story in Ukrainian about papa, mama and Emma. We're quite sure she understands that will be her home. I guess she'll have to get to know you all when she meets you.

I've posted some pictures below of some signs we've seen here. I think they paid too much to whoever did the translating for them!....

Funny Translations!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hello Again!

Hi Everybody! It's been a while since we last posted, so it's time to catch everyone up. We finally found out how to get wi-fi internet (Hallelujah!) so we finally posted some pictures today....and we posted LOTS! Make sure when you scroll down to the bottom of this page, click on "older posts" and you will see even more pictures. I expect you all to look at them, it was a lot of work to get them on here :):):)

Life here has been very routine. We do the same thing over and over everyday. I won't bore you with all the details, just the interesting ones! Eating out is always an adventure. We posted a picture of a Ukrainian menu so you all can see what we have to contend with when we go out to eat. The menu along with servers who only know about 4 english words makes things very interesting. We did happen to find one restaurant that happens to have an english menu, but even with that it's still scary to order off of. For instance, here are some items that appear on the menu...tell me if you know what they are:
Home Mockup
Gentle Salad
Salad z Tongue
Fried Carp
Liver chicken leg
Dolled Sausage
and my personal favorite.......Salad with crabby sticks!
Too funny, eh? We're happy to report that we're not starving to death, but I don't remember the last time I felt really full. Dad, can't wait for a good home cooked meal! (Emma too!)
I've also written down flavors of chips they have here in Ukraine. I would have never guessed it, but you can't find any of our favorites like salt & vinegar, dill pickle and ketchup. are the flavors Ukraine offers:
Sour cream and Onion (OK...that one's not too bad)
Swiss Cheese
Hot Pepper
We've only been adventurous enough to eat the sour cream and onion. I'm kinda wondering how the crab chips would taste being as I like crab so much, but the whole idea kinda creeps me out! Maybe I'll try them one day before we leave just so I can tell you all if they're good or not.

We've been spending all kinds of time with our American friends. The process for them has been quite smooth. They only got here 2 and a half weeks ago and will be leaving by the end of next week (lucky bums!) That's how an ideal adoption goes. It's been really nice to have them here, though. We split costs on cab rides which is great. We also get together to make lunch everyday. We buy bread, cheese, lunch meat and all the fixins for sandwiches. They're not quite as good as sandwiches at home, but they do the trick. It's alot better than gambling in the least we know what we're going to get! :)

Today we were at an outdoor cafe. There were two girls sitting at a table next to us that were quite young (in their 20's) They were actually eating fish heads!!! (like the pictures of the fish we posted) It was gross! There they were eating fish heads and drinking beer like it's a totally normal thing...and they just sucked all the meat off the bones...ew. Just had to share that.

Our visits to the orphanage have been going well. It's tough to visit out there because there's not a whole lot to do. We actually got to take Emma out for the day today....let's just say it didn't go quite as smoothly as we would like it to. I (Tara) was ready to pack it in and call it quits. This whole mom thing is kinda freakin' me out. Emma has quite a stubborn streak. There were all kinds of tears and squealing and whaling today when she didn't get her way. Terry takes it pretty well, but I have a harder time. Emma is totally in love with Terry no matter what. She hasn't quite made that bond with me yet, but we're getting there. When we got her to our hotel room, we decided to give her a shower because the child stinks big time! The kids wear the same thing everyday and I don't think their clothes get washed very often (even underclothes) I just about gagged when I smelled her clothes. Anyway, getting her into the shower was near impossible. It took about 10 minutes to get her clothes off and then I had to beg her to go in the shower. I know that sounds bad, but we don't want to scare the living daylights out of her yet. I finally got her to get in the shower....she wailed and cried almost the whole was tough. It was nice to get her clean and into some new clothes that we had bought. After that we went about our the park, for something to eat, etc...then we went back to the hotel room. After a little bit of playing, Emma suddenly started stripping her clothes off. We couldn't figure out what was going on. We asked her if she needed to use the washroom. Suddenly she beelined it into the bathroom, straight into the shower and was begging to be washed...strange child. So she had another shower...this time she loved it!

We've decided we're not going to take Emma from the orphanage again until we get her for good, because she has a total meltdown when she has to go back. It's just too hard on her and I'm sure very confusing. Only four more visits. We get to keep her on Monday.

Sorry that was really long winded...just wanted to catch everyone up on what's going on. 17 days till we come home.....

Our American Friends...the Johnsons

Feeding Homeless Kitties

Grocery Store

Yup....this is actually the Courthouse!

Ukrainian Ambulance....Yikes!

A Gift For the Orphanage

Ukrainian Menus

ABC Store

Ukrainian Weddings

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Court Today!

Today we had court.Itwent very well.We didn't know it, but we have been walking past the courthouse everyday. Walking by, you would never guess it to be a courthouse. It is the oldest, rattiest looking building in town. I would post a picture, but I can't from the internet cafe :(
So we entered this ratty old building and sat in this ratty old waiting room for about half an hour. I sat on a ratty old bench with a couple other people that felt like if one more person sat down, it would break in 2.
Our actual court session was not in an actual court room. It was in a small office. We were in there with the judge and her 2 assistants, 2 jurors, the orphanage director, the orphanage inspector, our translator and Terry and I. It was about 100 degrees in this tiny little office (no exaggeration) There was a tiny little fan in there, but it only blew on the judge. Go figure. The rest of us fanned ourselves with paper.
There was a lot of boring stuff. Reading through all the legalities and translating it to us. Then we were asked several questions regarding where we lived, where we worked, what our plans were with Emma. Why did we want to adopt from Ukraine? How will we teach her english? How many times have we seen her? When did we know we wanted to adopt her? How long our process took? Oh, and here's an interesting one...did we pay for the child? Technically, the answer is no. But our wallets are sure feelin' it!
The court has ruled in our favour. We now begin a 10 day waiting period in which anyone can appeal the adoption. In 10 days, Emma will be legally ours and we can pick her up from the orphanage. For now, we will keep up our daily visits. She is always happy to see us.

We officially booked our airline tickets home. It was quite scary and difficult. We were pretty much just about going to have to stay in Ukraine for another month! It is very difficult to book tickets during the summer months. When we originally booked our tickets, our travel agent advised us there would be a $300 penalty if we had to change our return flight. Because flights right now are so full, when we called yesterday she told us it would cost $1500 each to change our tickets and $2700 for Emma's ticket. That's a total of $5700 and we already paid $4000! That was very hard to swallow. Our agent advised us our only other option would be to stay in Ukraine until the end of August.....NOT! We told her we would pay...what else could we do? :(
Well, today our travel agent sent us another email. She said when she went to rebook our flights, the price went from $1500 each to $2400 each! So she couldn't book them without talking to us again. Thankfully, she found a seat sale on Austrian Airlines and could book the 3 of us one way tickets for a total of $3500. We have never heard of Austrian Airlines and don't know how the flights will be, but it's worth the $4000 we just saved! For all of you waiting to travel to NOT us Air France! Nobody here was surprised when our luggage was delayed for 2 days and broken into. And trying to change your return flights is a huge rip off! They suck!

Today there was a big rain fall here. The power went out in several places. We went out to eat at our usual spot, but they, too, were out of power. But we were able to sit outside and they grilled us some pork skewers over a fire. It was actually very good. There's this really cute homeless doggie who is always outside that restaurant (he can barely walk) Terry gave him all of our leftovers. He was quite happy. When we left, he started following us home. I had a can of pringles, so I opened it up and threw him one. He picked it up and kept following us. It was so cute. He was prancing proudly with this pringle hanging out of his mouth! Last night we also bought some milk for a kitten who lives around our hotel. She was happy too!

That's about all for now. Sorry we can't post any pictures as we are at an internet cafe and they don't let us download our pictures here. We will have to try and post some if we have time when we go back to Kiev. For those of you waiting to see pictures of little Emma.....too bad!! We're not posting any until we get home! You'll all have to come meet her for yourselves! By the way, our return flight is booked for August 9. 23 more days and counting......

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A New Countdown!

Well, the end is in sight. If everything goes as planned, we will be home in 24 days (August 9)
We have a court date on this coming Thursday to make the adoption official. After that, we have a mandatory 10 day wait before we pick up Emma for good. This is just in case someone wants to object to the adoption (which never happens) Once we pick up Emma (on the 28th) we have to take a one day trip to her home town to get a new birth certificate with her new name and us listed as parents. Then we will come back to Okteerka to apply for a passport. Then we travel to the city of Sumy to drop off the information because that's where the passports come from. It is a minimum 5 day wait after that to get a passport. We are willing to pay a little extra if we have to to ensure that we get it in 5 days. After that, we travel back to Kiev to apply for Emma's visa. We think that will only take a day. So, if all of that happens as planned, we will have an extra day or 2 in Kiev to do some shopping before we get on the plane. We wanted to leave ourselves a couple of days extra in case something doesn't go as planned. We are very excited that the end is in sight, but at the same time, 24 days seems like an eternity!! Tomorrow will be one month since we landed!

We are still visiting Emma daily. Some days are better than others. At times, she doesn't want us to touch her, and other times she is hanging all over us. I imagine this whole thing is a little confusing for her and a little overwhelming. It is getting tough to know some of the other kids too. There is one girl who is about 12 years old who always hangs around us. She is very sweet and just wants some love and attention. We are trying to keep our distance because we don't want it to be hard on her when we leave, but at the same time it is difficult to ignore her. Our eyes were really opened to older kids here. Everyone just wants to bring home babies, but there are so many older kids who are so good and we can clearly see that they would do so well if they were given the chance. I know there are couples out there reading this blog who are waiting to come to Ukraine and I just want to tell you to consider taking an older child. I was one of those people who thought only a baby would do well once you got them home. But every kid here has potential.

We did some measuring of Emma yesterday. She is average size for a 6 year old. We emailed pictures to an adoption specialist in Edmonton and she said Emma's size and all of her facial features are normal (indicating very little chance of fetal alcohol syndrome) Her feet are 6.5 inches long. Her legs are 25.25 inches, waist 22.5 inches, arms 14 inches. We brought some clothes from home, she basically fits into a size 6.

As for life in Ockteerka, it remains very interesting. It is quite different from Kiev and Donetsk, which are much larger cities. All of the cars here are very old. And we're not talking like 10 years old, we're talking 20-30 years old! And many, many people travel by motor scooter or bike. We see bikes everywhere! And these also are not new bikes. They are super old! Sometimes I feel like we're living in another era. There are very old women riding these bikes, too. Like 70 year olds! It's unreal!

Another funny thing is eating in restaurants. We often eat with our american friends, so there are 5 of us. We all order at the same time, but we never eat at the same time. It seems as though they just make a meal and bring it out when it's ready, even if the rest of the dishes aren't ready. It's very strange. Last night Terry and I were out at our favorite spot and we were getting bothered by a drunk cook. He was sitting across the restaurant from us and yelling a mixture of english and russian. We kept telling him over and over that we didn't understand. He ended up buying us dessert (prunes covered in whip cream....YUCK!) Then on our way out he gave Terry a great big hug and patted my behind. That was not a very good time. :(

We moved to our new place yesterday. It is alot nicer than our old place, aside from the moldy bathroom. The strange thing is, there are only 3 plugs in the room and none of them are close to a mirror. Makes using my hairdryer and curling iron quite difficult! We finally got a decent sleep, though. We now have an air conditioner. We don't have any windows in our room, so they painted a great big window with a beautiful ocean scene on the wall. Too funny! We are scheduled to move into a room with a window next week.

That's all for now. Miss you all!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Super Long Post

It's been a few days and we have a lot to catch up on. So if you're busy right now, you may want to come back later! :)

Life in Ockteerka (spelling it like it sounds) has been alright. Our living quarters we are not so happy with. But we are happy to say that we will be moving tomorrow. We've found a clean room in a hotel. The room is small, but we're willing to take it in order to get cleanliness. Also, it's right next door to the internet cafe. Right now we're about a 20 minute walk away...and Terry hates backpacking with the laptop. So we're very much looking forward to the move. We haven't had a decent sleep since we got here. When I pulled open the blankets to get into bed the first night, I put them right back. The sheets were covered in dirt and hair. So we sleep on top of the blankets. Amy, thank goodness you sent us with those airplane blankets, that's what we cover up with. Not that we need to cover's over 30 degrees and we have no airconditioning. All we can do is open the window for some cool air at night. And there are no screens in the windows, so Terry had to be the mosquito hunter last night. All we could hear all night as we were trying to sleep is buzzing. I am covered in bites....OK enough of my complaining!!! Oh ya! One more thing....I got bit by a really nasty bug while we were in a cab the other day. It bit me on the back and it hurt like a bugger! I immediately got 3 welts on my back. Luckily we had some friends with some Benadryl cream...worked like a charm!

Oh....our friends....Yes, we have some here. It is awesome! There is a couple here from the US with their little 8 year old daughter. They got here a day after us and are adopting from the same orphanage (6 year old boy) They are also using the same facilitation team, so we are just a great big group of buddies! Our facilitators have left the town, though, to get some paperwork done. But it's so nice to have another family here going through the same thing. We also get to split transportation costs to the orphanage which is great. AND they are living in the hotel we are moving into. Does it get any better? Their daughter was also adopted from the same region of Ukraine 3 years ago when she was almost 4. She is now an honour student.

The town we are staying in is much smaller than any place we've stayed. Hot water is a rare commodity, but we are lucky to have had it. People here are so much more friendly than the big city. We only run into the odd person who doesn't want to help us. We have found a good restaurant to eat at. To order, we phone our facilitator and have them translate what we want. We also take pictures of what we eat so we can show the server the next time we go if we want to order it again. Nobody in town seems to eat out. Everytime we go to a restaurant, it is empty. Makes me wonder what those girls do all day!

We get to visit the orphanage 2 hours a day. Our visits have been going well. Emma has really attached to Terry, as she got to spend 2 days straight with him. She is starting to warm up to me, but plays shy sometimes. She would way rather run to Terry than to me...she'll be a real daddy's girl!
She loves to play and loves when we chase her. She is always very excited to see us. We have shown her pictures of family and her new house. I think she is starting to understand. Our driver told us today that she said she wants to come home with us now. She has not picked up very much english, so we are working on our russian. I'm sure things will change when she gets home and nobody speaks her language. We're also sure she'll be a huge fan of grandpa because he can speak Ukrainian!!
Emma is funny when other kids come around us. She starts yelling at them and we think she's telling them that we are her mama and papa and to stay away from's quite cute. She calls us mama and papa already...actually she calls both of us mama...we have to keep reminding her that Terry is papa.

Kids at the orphanage are pretty funny. They are all just longing for some love and attention. They all want to hold hands or sit on your lap. And when our driver is there, they are all over his car! They wanna get outta there something awful! I can tell everyone reading this that if you came here and saw these precious kids, you would be going home with one! We've seen other kids here we would like to bring home, unfortunately, legalities get in the way. We'll just pray that these kids find their own mamas and papas. Orphanage life is definately survival of the fittest. You can see that when they get something, it's theirs! Don't try and take it away. We've seen several brawls and know who the trouble makers are!

Leaving the orphanage is always the hardest. Emma always gets very upset and cries when we leave. Then she'll run away and hide. She never says goodbye...breaks our heart! But soon we'll be able to pack her in that car and take her with us! We can't wait. We should find out tomorrow when our court date is.

Oh boy...I have so much more to say buy my fingers are getting tired and the internet cafe is closing soon. Talk to you again soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

FINALLY.....some good news!

Sorry it's been so long since our last post. We finally found an internet cafe today. I know you are all eager to hear our news....

We were very anxious on our trip to a little town in the Sumy region...sorry I don't know the name of the town. I can barely say it, let alone spell it. The difference between this town and all the other places we've been in Ukraine are like night and day. The people here are much more friendly and willing to help, but living conditions here are as Terry would put it...worse than camping. But we have to suck it up, cause we're gonna be here for quite a while!!

When we first got here, we met with the orphanage inspector and director. They were both so kind and so excited to meet prospective parents. They are very happy to see the children get placed in families...even foreign ones. We then travelled out to the orphanage which is about half an hour from where we are staying. It is out in the middle of nowhere. It is only 25 km away, but it takes forever to get there, as the roads are absolutely awful. Anyway, things at this orphanage are very laid back compared to the last one. We had a similar meeting with the doctor and social worker, but after that, we went outside to where all the children were to meet our Emma. All the kids were playing in the park. As soon as we walked up, they were all latching onto us. They are all so sweet...I wish we could take all of them home. The director pointed to our little girl....she was sitting with a bunch of kids on the bench. I can't even explain the feeling when we saw her and her shy, smiling face. We knew immediately that she was was love at first sight. I tried to hold back the tears as our facilitator coaxed her to come see us. All those little kids were probably wondering who this blubbering lady is!!! So, needless to say, we are proceeding with the adoption. We can not publicly post this little girl's name until she is legally ours, so we will just call her "Emma" because that's what we will change her name to. She is much older than we had expected...she is 6. We know it will be difficult with the language barrier and she is very behind in her learning, but physically she is very healthy and she is absolutely beautiful. Blonde hair, blue eyes...she fits right in with our family.

The last couple of days have been crazy! Emma had to be taken to Kiev for a physical examination for the Canadian embassy. So Terry left with "H", Emma and a caregiver from the orphanage. I had to stay behind. Let me tell you, I was not exactly thrilled when I found out about this. We have just arrived in this town and I know nothing about it. Thankfully, we found my apartment and a little store so I could buy some food. I didn't leave the apartment the whole time Terry was gone...I was too scared to venture out on my I lived on bananas and cookies for 2 days. Oh well, better than nothing. I was bored to tears, while Terry was getting all kinds of action. Turns out Emma is deathly afraid of doctors. Her medical took 4 hours!! Everything looks really good, though. I was never so happy to see Terry when he got back!

Today has been all kinds of running around for paperwork and a search for food and internet..the 2 things that keep us alive! After tomorrow, things should settle down as we wait for a court date. We will be able to visit Emma for a couple of hours a day. We need to build up the bond so she is ready to come home with us in a few weeks. Now that the goal is in sight, we can't wait!!! But we will still probably be about 4 more weeks or so. All of your messages and emails are wonderful!

For all of you that I have invited to the blog, please be aware that if you have not signed up for a google account, your open invitation will be expiring soon. Please get a google account, or you will not be able to view the blog anymore. Love you all! Thanks for your prayers...they have finally been answered!

Terry and Tara

Monday, July 7, 2008

Decisions, decisions....

It's been another incredibly tough day...probably the toughest since we got here. Such a hard decision to make and we've wavered back and forth so many times. We got the information regarding the child we're interested in. It is not as positive as we had hoped for, but more positive than the information we received on the last child we visited. Today we had to decide whether or not we wanted to go see this child or wait another week to view more files at the adoption center. There are risks associated with either decision we make.....If we go to see this child and we feel we are not able to adopt them, we do not get another appointment at the adoption center. If we wait for another appointment, they can not guarantee that there would be any other files for us to view once we get there. The selection of children for foreigners is very small, and we feel if we pass on this one that we're interested in and wait another week, we may miss out altogether.

So we've decided to take a step of faith and go see the child we have been proposed. This child is much older than we expected and we know that if we go ahead with the adoption there may be some issues. We are just hoping those issues are not too much for us to handle. We will find out when we meet them.

We will be leaving Kiev early tomorrow morning for the Sumy region in northern Ukraine. Thank goodness it will not be by train...we have hired a driver. The only downside to that is that it will cost us about 5 times the price of a train. We will leave at 6 am and are hoping to arrive at the orphanage around 11am or noon to see the child. The area we are going to is basically a very small village. Our facilitator thinks there will be very little chance of us having internet at all. Not even an internet cafe. So communication may be limited for the next couple of days. If we have no internet contact at all, we will be phoning family with information. We hope this is not the case, as long distance is extremely expensive. We'll have to see. Please continue to pray for us.

On a lighter note, I have included some pictures of Terry's haircut today. He was pretty desperate, as he hasn't had one in a while. We found a tiny little salon where a haircut cost $100 hryvna (about 20 bucks) Despite out somber moods, I almost peed my pants laughing when Terry got out of the stylist's chair. He looks very Ukrainian now! He will fit right in! As for me, I still stick out like a sore thumb. We've seen maybe 2 people with curly hair the whole time we've been here. Oh well, maybe I'll set a new trend!


Terry's Ukrainian Haircut

Friday, July 4, 2008

No Title

We couldn't think of a title for today's post. Terry wanted to call it "Patience produces Faith"...I wanted to call it "this sucks!" Good thing Terry is here to always give me a better perspective on things.

We arrived in Kiev yesterday after another lovely train ride. This is definately not my first choice in transportation. Just imagine trying to sleep in a car that is going over an extremely bumpy road and once in a while feels like it's slamming into something hard. That's the only way I can explain it. Needless to say, we didn't get any sleep on the train. Thank goodness neither of us suffers from motion sickness. Thankfully, we got to rest a day before our appointment.

We had our appointment today. It did not go as we expected. We were there for almost 2 hours which is very unusual. Couples are only allowed 1 hour for appointments. Unfortunately, we have no news to give at this time. No good news and no bad news. We are waiting for some more information on a file we looked at today. This means more time and money wasted, but we are hoping some good will come of it. There are absolutely no babies available for adoption. Most likely we will be coming home with a child much older than expected. The younger children available for adoption are very sick. We hope you all meditate on this and prepare your hearts for an older child. They need homes just as much as the babies do.

We will hopefully have more information on Monday. Nothing happens on the weekends here, so all we can do is wait. Thank you for your continued prayers. We are standing on the following promise:

Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confindence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.......Hebrews 11:35-36.

We love and miss you all........(couldn't type that without a couple tears)


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Leaving Donetsk

Now that we've finally got the hang of things here, it is time for us to leave. Our train leaves in a few hours.
We have posted some pictures below. The pictures of the train are the one we travelled on last time from Kiev to Donetsk. You can get an idea of how huge our compartments are. The lady in the picture is "H". She is our facilitator helping us through the adoption process.
Then there's a picture of us with our friends "K" and "O". "K" is the person who we've communicated online with for the last 2.5 years. He helped us get our paperwork together and did all the translating. We've been talking to him so much on line, it was like meeting old friends when we met him and his wife.
We got a phone call yesterday that our appointment time has changed. Our new scheduled appointment at the SDA will be on Friday at 11 am (2 am Canada'll all be sleeping right through it!) We will post again as soon as we can...not too sure what our internet situation will be in Kiev.

Terry and Tara

The Train

Visiting With Friends

Homeless Doggies

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Hey out there.....
sorry for the lack of posts for the last few days. Not much exciting is going on around here...just waiting for the time to pass before we head back to Kiev for our second appointment at the SDA. We had some friends come out and visit us yesterday who live about an hour from where we are. It was nice to be able to have a conversation with someone other than ourselves (not that I'm complaining about the company by any means)
We are supposed to be out of our apartment tomorrow at noon. Our train leaves at 7:30pm...another overnight adventure which I am SO looking forward to. The good thing is that we will have the compartment to ourselves. so we don't have to worry about the awkwardness of sitting with people who don't understand us!
We're hoping to rent our apartment for an extra half a day so we have somewhere to keep our luggage. We'll wait and see what happens.
We are looking forward to our next appointment and are confident that it will be better than the last one.
HAPPY CANADA DAY to all of you. We are very blessed to be residents in such a great nation. There is so much that is taken forgranted. We appreciate home so much more now that we have been here. Enjoy your celebrations!!!
Terry and Tara