Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. ~ Voltaire
Hi from Kiev, Ukraine. We arrived without incident on Sunday and after all my anxiety about the flight, it turned out that flying was the least scary part of the trip. Our flight to Amsterdam was good – very smooth, got a little sleep, and, my favorite… TVs for every seat. We had a short layover in Amsterdam and discovered that the Amsterdam airport is entirely in english… very suprising. Then we had about a 2 1/2 flight from Amsterdam to Kiev which was uneventful… although a bit bumpy on the landing – lots of clouds. Customs was a breeze and Nik (Nikita) met us just outside. Nik is Viktoriya’s son… I will introduce Viktoriya below. Actually it was Nik and his friend… the driver. The drive from the airport to our hotel was effective but nothing short of harrowing. Our driver clearly knew what he was doing… he could actually multi-task… driving about 90 miles an hour while talking and looking at Nik sitting in the seat next to him. I felt like I was in a Steve McQueen movie. But, we survived!
Yesterday we met Angelina, our facilitator, and Viktoriya who is a woman who is very connected to the Ministry of Social Policy here in Kiev and is a critical person in this whole adoption process. They get the honor of being my blog photo of the day – Angelina is on the left. The four of us went to the Ministry of Social Policy (SDA) for an appointment at noon. Now, when imagining what this place might look like… I guess I was envisioning a building similar to the Supreme Court. However, it was actually just a blue door on the side of a random building and you walk in to a concrete stairwell which also serves as the waiting room. When we got there, another family was already in the stairwell… and appointments were running behind schedule. So, we just stood in the stairwell and waited until about 1:15. Now that probably sounds super frustrating. But, in fact, we were pretty lucky because this office usually closes between 1 and 2 for lunch… so we were fortunate that Olga (our SDA person) decided to forego lunch to take us.
I really do wish that I had a recording of this “appointment.” Basically it lasted about 30-45 minutes and it consisted of Bob and I sitting there watching Viktoriya and Angelina talking back and forth with Olga who spent much of her time shaking her head and looking like there was nothing that she could do. This woman did not crack a smile the entire time we were there. I seriously wondered if we were just going to be headed home. So much of this appointment was not translated until after we left. In the end we were successful and we will return to the office today with Nik to pick up the necessary paperwork to allow us to visit the orphanage. However, neither Viktoriya nor Angelina were ever quite sure what was giving Olga such a problem…
perhaps one of two things…
it could have been the fact that Dima has a sibling… yup a sister. She is 1-2 years old… still not entirely sure… and she and Dima have been separated since her birth. We are actually not even sure if he knows that she exists. She is currently in a medical orphanage because she is awaiting tests to see if she is HIV positive. And yes, because it was the first question that came to my mind, Dima was tested and is not HIV positive. I’m not entirely sure what the delay is with the testing. Anyway, Olga is apparently hesitant to separate siblings regardless of the situation and it took some time for Angelina and Viktoriya to convince her that in this circumstance it was acceptable. We do, however, likely have to go physically visit the sister to decline adoption. Why decline? Well, after a lot of thinking, we feel pretty strongly that we are not ready to go back to daycare and diapers… we are at a different place and happy to be there. So… our plan is no toddlers 🙂
or Olga’s pessimistic demeanor could have been just lack of food.
But, as I said… our appointment was successful in the end.
After our appointment we met up with Christina Fisher who is still here trying to get her new son’s passport – much much frustration on that end. She has had to reschedule her trip home three times due to delay. And surprisingly it seems likely that it is all because they are using a hyphenated last name. This hasn’t been a problem for her in previous adoptions… but this time it has caused a wrinkle. We are hopeful that she will be able to return to NY tomorrow afternoon with her new son Andre… who, by the way, came from the same orphanage as Mariya and Alexei and just shook his head when he found out that we had hosted them.
So, today we will return to the SDA to get our paperwork and then we will fly to Donetsk this evening. Some of you may have heard that the airport in Donetsk has been closed but it has not been closed to domestic flights… only international flights. Tomorrow we will go meet Dima – just for one day. On Thursday we will take care of paperwork and possibly go meet his sister. On Friday morning we will return to Kiev and on Saturday morning we will fly home.
Now as for the civil war that is constantly on the news… we have seen very little indication of anything military since we arrived. Now I certainly know that there are very bad things happening in different locations… but it really is shocking how news is reported and so politically driven. When we woke up today, the BBC was reporting that the Donetsk Airport had been shut down… which obviously concerned us. In fact, they went to their reporter in Donetsk and that was not accurate… international flights had been cancelled but the airport was indeed operating. But still, the next 15 times that they reported on Ukraine… their leading statement was the the Donetsk Airport had been shut down.
Anyway, I guess we technically went thru a road block on our way from the airport but there were about 2-3 lanes of traffic going by (all at about 90 mph) and it looked like they were only stopping trucks. And we have, of course, seen some military folks around the city… but we were within one block of Independence Square yesterday and there was absolutely no indication that anything was happening at all. We have, however, been watching the news and if you couldn’t look out the window, you would think that WWIII was going on all around us. So, at this point, our information has been quite accurate. And, for that, we are grateful. Angelina assures us that while Donetsk might look a little different than Kiev, there is nothing to worry about.
So, good morning to all of you… have a great day… and we will be back in touch from Donetsk!