Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yes we've made it home.

We made it back to sunny CA on the 29th. Gracie (Olga) was an amazing traveler. She managed to endure three flights with only a 2 hour nap. I was a whimp compared to her. Anyway, she was able to finally meet the rest of the family and is still adjusting. As far as the run of the house, she has that down. She is everywhere and into everything. I forgot how five year olds behave. She is going to keep me in shape.

Gracie, has been helpful too. She understands when you ask and show her what you would like her to do. She has been helping me with her big sister Emily. She likes to help me put lotion on Emily after her bath. Emily, does NOT like this but Gracie doesn't care, she helping.

We have been home for 2 weeks now and I'm still getting into the groove. I know things will settle down and I will get back into a routine. For now I just want to thank God for His faithfulness. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around what has happened over the last month and that He would so graciously entrust Gracie to us. It just amazes me! This whole journey has been overwhelming at times but we are so blessed. Gracie, is showing her thankfulness too, she says her prayers before meals and at bedtime. Even if it is putting her hands together and making whisper sounds, our King hears her.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Last days in Kyiv

I finally had a chance to write an update on what happened our last days in Kyiv.

10/27/09 - Today was the big day. Olga, has left the building. This is a whole new start for little miss Olga or should I say Grace Olga. I met with the director Maria, the caseworker and Nadia at the institution to complete the final paperwork and get Olga’s medical records, transfer information and old pictures. Maria, gave us a going away present. A Ukrainian wreath that brings blessings to the home. I thanked them for thanking good care of Olga and told them I really appreciate their kindness towards us as well as Olga. I had given the director a picture of the three of us and she placed it on the ledge in her office. It was the first of many we had said. The translator told Maria that there is plenty of room to fill up the ledge. She agreed. I went out into the hall with Olga, the caregivers and employees were all waiting. This was a big day for them as well they have never experienced this before. We said our goodbyes. One of the ladies asked for our Skype address, I was just thinking how are we going to communicate. Anyway, we were off. When the caregiver had changed Olga into her new clothes I think she had an idea she was leaving because she told her group goodbye. We were on our way to Kyiv. This drive was going to take longer then our prior trip. She is an amazing traveler. We played with her shoes, they have Velcro. There are hours of fun with Velcro. She took a couple of naps. Not one complaint from this girl. We finally arrived in Kyiv and had to make a stop at the US Embassy, then switch cars and off to get our key to our apartment. Olga, just went with the flow. Boy! What a long day. I had bought some ready made food and just warmed it in the microwave. Olga, just explored the apartment. She likes shutting doors, she did that for a while. Then she played with the light switch. Then she took her PJ’s off then put them on, over and over. She even took over the remote for the T.V. She would hand it off to me if she wanted me to change the channel then when she liked something she would nod. She was so compliant that it made me realize that she is putting her trust in me, mommy.

10/28/09 - Today was Olga’s medical and visa appointment. We were up and ready to go by 8:30. She sleeps really well. Yulia, met us outside and told us a cab would pick us up. She was well behaved at the medical office. When the doctor spoke to her she followed his instructions. Then it was off to the US Embassy. She took a nap on the way. When we got there she woke right up. Inside, as I was trying remove metal and find the pointy thing that was showing up on the xray of my purse. Olga, went on the other side of the counter. Passing back and forth through the metal detector. The folks there just spoke to her and laughed of course in Russian. We had to come back at 2:00 for the interview and visa for Olga. No Internet access in the apartment or a modem for us to use. Yulia, told me that McDonald’s has wi fi. So, Olga and I ventured out and walked to Independence Square about a 5 minute walk. At first, she didn't want to leave the apartment. But I convinced her to come out. I guess she was tired of the up and down. She is a trooper. In our apartment you have to walk down a flight of stairs, get on the elevator, stop on the fourth floor and go up one flight of stairs. Anyway, we made it to McDonald’s. She wasn’t sure about the place, lots of people and action. I ordered, we got our food and sat down. I bought Olga Chicken McNuggets and myself a cheeseburger. I gave her a bite of the chicken McNugget, she did not like it. She spit it out. Then I offered her a French fry she made a face and spit it out too. I had one more option, cheeseburger, she took a bite smiled and nodded as to say “I can eat this”. So she ate her first cheeseburger and darn I didn’t have my camera to memorialize it. She ate a few French fry’s with ketchup. By the way the computer was acting up and I couldn’t use it. We went back to the apartment to wait for our ride to the US Embassy. Back at the US Embassy she was on the other side of the counter pulling a plastic container out. Here comes Olga. When we were done we were on the road again this time to Independence Square to the Internet cafĂ©. Olga, just sat and waited. Even Yulia commented that she is really good. We walked back to our apartment and this time Olga took off her shoes, she was done. Thank God we are scheduled to come home tomorrow. All is well, God is faithful even at times when I’m not sure what to do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bumps in the Road

Yesterday we had to go back to Dnepropetrovsk to have Olga scanned for her passport. But first we had to have some papers signed by an official here in Krivoy Rog. Olga, was especially happy today when I saw her. She gave me two big hugs and I think she even tried to kiss me. I took her hand and outside we went to the van. It didn’t take much for her to giggle, all the driver had to do was back up the van and her eyes lit up. We are moving!! So she smiled and giggled especially when we hit bumps in the road. She giggled a lot, the roads are not the smoothest. Lesson learned that not all bumps in the road are a negative thing ;). This trip was going to give us some good bonding time and determine how she handles traveling. She was amazing! We played with her coat. It’s a game of here’s my coat, now give it back, here’s my coat, now give it back. Sometimes we played this game with her hat. At times she was glued to the window looking at the countryside and trying to fight sleep. It was past her nap time. Sleep finally took over and she was out. I laid her down on my lap so she was comfortable. She looks so sweet when she’s asleep. Well we made it to Dnepropetrovsk and she did great. We had her picture scanned and we were off again. We stopped at the market for a snack for Olga because it was past dinner time. She is a trooper! We made it back to the institution past her bed time. Thank God someone was at the gate when we pulled up. I walked Olga to the building and one of the caregivers took her in. Although we had been on the road long and it was late, she was still all smiles and it was as though she was thinking “wait till I tell them what I saw today.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wait Training

On our way back from Dnipropetrovsk yesterday, I was thinking about waiting. Waiting is key during the final weeks in the Ukraine. Don’t get me wrong, bonding with our little Olga is most important. But since she is recovering from the Chicken Pox, I WAIT. I thought that all this waiting can be looked at as some sort of training like the triathlon. They run, swim and bike, I will wait sitting down, lying down and standing. So we are in training to WAIT. For example, this morning I woke up early so we can get the final paperwork done for the adoption of Olga. I WAITED for the translator, then we WAITED for the driver. We went to the court house and WAITED for the translator to proof the document, make copies and bind them. I was trained for this 2 hour WAIT, sitting down mind you. Then it was off to drop off a copy for the case worker. That was a sprint because we didn’t have to WAIT long. Then off to the institution to drop off a copy and get authorization to have Olga’s birth certificate and tax identification changed, I WAITED standing up, pacing and sitting down. Then we were off to Dnipropetrovsk, we WAITED to get to our designation (this will call the moving WAIT), 2 hours later, the Vital Records building. We made it and only had to WAIT 30 minutes. During this time we replenished our strength with snacks such as traditional Russian cookies and water. Then it was off to the Tax office. This WAIT involved standing around and watching people watch me WAIT. Then we were on our way back to Krivoy Rog, a 1 hour and 30 minute moving WAIT. We got back to Krivoy Rog and made one final stop at the caseworkers office. Whew!!!

Putting the fun aside, I thought about the spiritual connection as well. I was thinking about waiting and how the Lord asks us to wait on Him. “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! Ps. 27:14. We are to rest in the Lord. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Ps. 37:7. We are to wait on the Lord as we are going through tough times. “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me. And heard my cry. Ps. 40:1. Refreshing comes as we wait on the Lord. “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strengthen;” Ps. 40:31. We are blessed when we wait on the Lord. The Israelites waited on their coming Messiah and those who believed were blessed. And its the same for us today. Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29. Jesus asked the apostles to wait for the promised Holy Spirit. “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which” He said, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 And now we wait on Christ’s return. “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:28

Waiting can bring blessings! Those families that have adopted and those that are currently going through the adoption process understand how difficult it is to wait. Especially knowing there is a fragile child waiting for them. God, give us the patience to wait on your perfect timing.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Patience Endurance

I was able to visit with Olga this morning for about 10 minutes. It was so nice to see her I've missed her. I wasn't able to see her over the weekend. She is still not allowed to go to the playroom so we have to meet outside of one of the back exits. It's been raining and its cold so we met in the stairwell. I was so thrilled to see her happy face. I gave her a picture of me and Tim so she could take it back to her room. She pointed at Tim and said "dada". Then she gave me the "more" sign. I am now the candy lady, hmmm. I pointed to the picture of myself and said "mama", she pointed at Tim and said "dada". We went back and forth till she finally pointed at my picture and said "papa", close! Tim, is "dada" and I am now "papa". I tell myself maybe its easier to say "papa" then "mama", but no matter what she calls me I'm blessed that she acknowledged me.

We should complete more paperwork tomorrow for the completion of this chapter and the beginning of our new life together. There is so much waiting time. I believe this is a lesson in patience. Its quiet here in this apartment but its strange I don't feel alone. I know no matter where I am my Lord is with me. That gives me the peace that passes all understanding. Aside from missing Tim and the girls back home, I miss the body of Christ. There is something about having fellowship with those who are like minded and love the Lord. We should never take our brothers and sisters in the the Lord for granted. God had provided us a way of communing with one another on a level different then any other. There is truly a spiritual connection. God is Sovereign! Not only did He create all things, reconciled our relationship to Him through His Son, He created a network of believers too, the body of Christ. In this network we are asked to pray for one another and encourage one another. We are to come along side those who are weak or new in the Lord. Most importantly we are to love our brothers and sisters.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Smarty pants.

Tim, left this morning for Kyiv. He will be leaving for the U.S. early Saturday morning. I hoped that we would all be able to go back together but Olga and I will be home soon. I went to visit Olga this morning at our usual time. Andrei, was getting the update on Olga's condition from the caregivers and he said that the doctor said Olga will recover in 14 days. She will only be quarantined for 3 of the 14. That's just in time for us to fly back to the U.S. That's God's perfect timing!

Today, I was allowed to spend 20 minutes with Olga. They brought her outside through the back exit like a movie star:). As the caregiver handed her over into my arms Olga was signing "more". Ah! I know what she wants, candy! It was a little cool outside with the wind blowing but we went over to the swing anyway. I pushed Olga and told her I was happy to see her. I was pointing to myself and saying "mama". She said "papa", it figures. She was eyeing my coat pocket....she wanted candy. I gave her some and when I asked if she wanted more, she just moves her head side to side, rolling her eyes, as to say "what do you think! Although she's sick she is all smiles and giggles. Our 20 minutes were up so we headed back. I knocked on the door so someone could come and get Olga. As we waited Olga signed "more". I gave her some more chocolate candy. She signed again and again until the piece of chocolate was gone. It's amazing how quickly she learned to sign "more". If chocolate motivates her, well then we need to buy some stock in the Hershey Company. That just shows her ability to learn, I'm so proud of Grace Olga. As Tim and I always believed, all children have the ability to learn if they are given the opportunity. Thank you Lord for giving us this privilege.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

God is in control.

We had a very short visit with Olga today because she has come down with the chicken pox. Our poor little Olga. When we went to visit her today we thought that she would probably still have a runny nose but not the chicken pox. It was funny because the caregivers were explaining to our driver/translator who we call friend, Andrei, what she had. He tried to translate to us but was having difficulty explaining it. Finally, with the help of Marina, we found out. Olga, was going to be quarantined for 10 days. They said since we both had the chicken pox we were able to visit for a few minutes. Tim, could not leave with out saying goodbye. They brought her out through another exit and she had this great big smile on her face and it was kisses and hugs for both of us. She is so sweet. We were happy to see her.

I received a wise word today from my dear sister-in-law. She said that it was probably good that the appeal process wasn't waived because we would have had to wait anyway because of Olga. She said God knows the bigger picture and he is just covering us. Yes! She is right God is in control and faithful in all He does.