Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Darcy Violetta Hogeland.  

I know you have been dying to know her name and now we can tell you.  We pass court on the 24th of September. 24 keeps popping up. February 24th is when I started the blog for our adoption in 2011.  February 24th was Eva's first day home with us.  And now, September 24 is when two orphange sisters became real forever sisters.  When DV finally became our daughter.

Ok, so the name.  You know I loved the name Darcy, but didn't love the meaning.  It means Of the Dark One.  But, Dale pointed out to me that she came from a very dark place.  But she came OUT of it.  To him, it is about her overcoming the darkness.  While I was pondering this another friend emailed me and said the exact same thing.  And I just really liked the name, so I was easy to sell on the new twist of the meaning.  So her name isn't about the darkness of her past, it is about overcoming that dark place.

Court was much harder this time.  The whole point of the super long extra 2.5 week wait is that we were waiting to see the judge we saw last time.  I found out on the way to court that we would be seeing a different judge anyway.  The facilitator didn't know who.

The prosecutor sat down with me before court and started grilling me. Mostly about money and house size.  He looked at our photo book and told me our kitchen was small.  It was hard not to laugh cause you could fit 3 of the average Ukrainian kitchens in our kitchen. I wanted to ask him how big his kitchen is. But I just smiled and told him that it is big enough for a family of 8.

Then in court the judge asked A LOT of questions about money. She even got out a pen and started adding up our expenses.  Our facilitator reminded me later that, though, we make enough by the US government's standards and Ukraine's standards, most people who adopt make at least double what we do. And live in  much bigger houses.  So, they just usually see photo books with more impressive looking houses and budget sheets with much higher numbers.

I really wonder if it had been our first adoption if she would have allowed it.  BUT, she was so impressed with the photos of Eva.  She asked lots of questions about her and her health.  She was a little concerned about homeschooling, but when I explained it she really seemed to like the idea. She really seemed very nice, just very serious and tougher.

Then the prosecutor asked me a couple more questions about why we wanted to adopt children with HIV and if how the language issue had gone before. I answered those and then the judge asked everyone to speak and state if they were for or against the adoption.

First, one of her nannies had come to represent the orphanage which super surprised me!  She is very nice. I was glad to see her.  She stated that DV had asked for a long time when a family would come for her.  That she had always desperately wanted to be adopted.  Talked about it a lot. When I came for her the nanny said DV was over the moon and ask everyday when I was coming. If I was late she would ask again and again if I was going to come.  The nanny said that they asked DV if she wanted to be adopted by us and go to America and she said yes.  It was hard not to cry as she spoke.

Then the social worker spoke and said they, also, were for the adoption.  And the prosecutor then stated he was as well.  Then the judge asked to look at the photo book (which now made me very nervous) and told us to leave while she deliberated.  The other judge skipped this step, so I was very antsy.

Five minutes later she called us back in and stated she was granting the adoption. I couldn't hold back the tears.  Even the judge got all choked up as she spoke. AND she ordered for
Dales' name to be on DV's new birth certificate even though he couldn't be there!! See?  Tough judge lady had  a super nice heart. 

Then, because court started at 3:30 and I had to be at the airport at 5, we raced over to the airport, but got their with time to spare.  My only regret is that I did not get to say goodbye to my friend Ana.  So sad about that.

Then I flew to Kiev, took a shuttle to a hotel, slept for 5 hours, took the shuttle to the Kiev airport, flew to Germany, flew to Chicago, and finally landed in Birmingham only 8 minutes behind schedule!

I can not even describe seeing my children.  They flung themselves at me.  Seamus just sat right in my lap while everyone did a circle around me and we just sat there and hugged.  Then I got to hug Dale and NURSE MY BABY!!!.  I was so glad he latched.  I have barely any milk.  I hope he doesn't get frustrated.

I went to bed at about 8 and woke up about 3. I would have actually slept later, but Seamus woke me up.  But not too bad considering in Ukraine those times were 4 am and 11am.

Today I am just going to enjoy my kids. I hate having one left behind. It is the strangest feeling to know she is now legally ours, not just in our hearts, and yet she is so far away.  8.5 days into the 10 day wait already.  I want it to fly, but at the same time I want to soak up my time with my kids here.

I am booking tickets back today.  I will be booking them for a week from today.  Head spinning a little.  But if I could do what I have already done, I can do what is in front of me.

Thank you guys so much for all the love and support.  I am not letting out the sigh of relief until the 10 day wait is officially over, but we are so close.  Thank you guys so much!

Monday, September 24, 2012

court date!!! day 31

Got a call about 10:30 this morning that court will be at 3:15. Yay!!! So relived to finally have a time and official court appointment.  Nervous and hoping it goes well.

Also, complicating things (cause nothing can be simple) is that I have to be at the airport at 5.  My plane takes of at 6:20.  Last time, the judge was over 30 minutes late, and then court was over an hour. So, that would be bad. Hoping it goes quickly as well as smoothly and we can get to the airport on time.

We had to cancel our free taxi from the hotel to the airport because it only runs till 4.  Nothing can be simple,and nothing can be cheap either. 

I don't know if the hotel in Kiev has wifi.  I will update when I can, but it may not be till I am home. I am scheduled to land at 4:47 on Tuesday afternoon in Birmingham.  If you are counting (ME! ME!  I'm counting!!) that will be 32 days for our first trip.  Most adoptions in U, from start to finish, including the 10 day wait are 31 days. So, if we were average, we would have been totally and completely done today.  We still have at least 3 weeks before we are done.

Of all the things I have ever been, I never have been average, I suppose.

Anyway, thoughts, prayer, nudity appreciated.  My terror of flying is not any less, so there is that too.  Can't wait to update from HOME.  Love you guys!

p.s. I don't want to sound negative. Super happy to be here at last. But nervous and will be so relieved when court is over, when I am on that plane,and then when I am home!!!! :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I just had my last visit before court (I HOPE). It was a pretty good visit.  I brought enough bubbles for all the kids, which caused massive chaos. I am sure the nannies were thrilled.

Our facilitator spoke to one of the nannies over the phone and asked her to explain to V that I am going back home to America, but that I will see her in 2 weeks.  She was clear that I am coming back and then we are both going home together.  V said she understood. And I think she did because she was then a bit "off" the rest of the visit.  More distant. But when it was time to go, she clung to me more.  I rocked her in my lap and sang to her. She gave me a giant hug.

It is strange to be leaving.  It is so hard having my family on two different continents.

So, today is about 1/2 over. I am going to eat some lunch and then try to find something to distract me. I will, most likely, hang out with Ana and her kids again.  They are fun and it might be the last time I get to hang out with them. 

I hope I hear great news about court very early tomorrow. I also hope that court actually is very early tomorrow.  My plane leaves at 6:20 PM so I need time to get back to the apartment and then get to the airport.

 I did get my itinerary printed finally.  The office was having internet issues and I was afraid I wouldn't get them before I left. I have not had a flight yet that I did not need my print out.

So, I am still nervous about not having an official time slot for court tomorrow, but I am just trying not to think about it. They were sure enough to tell me to get tickets and I have to trust that. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

day 29

We had an excellent visit this morning.  Really excellent. It was one of our best.  We laughed a lot and it was genuine.  I can't even explain.  Great eye contact.  Real happiness.  Real interaction.  Loved every minute of it.

She asked me about her American name again and then actually referred to herself by it.  It really surprised me.  I have not been pushing it at all.  But she continually brings it up  Then, she asked twice about the plane and America.  She wants to come home so badly. I think she wants a new start. I hate that it is taking so long. It must be so confusing.

Then I went out with the other mama that is here.  She has adopted twin boys.  She is also waiting on things beyond her control.  The mean woman from the passport office (remember her from last adoption?) is telling her it will be 10 business days for her passports, but people are working on it.  Hopefully she will get the passport Monday.  It is a long weekend for both of us.  So, we are helping hold each other up. I don't know what I would do without her.

We went to lunch together at a restaurant called Harry Potters. I was so excited when I walked in thinking I would have to take V there when I bust her out.  Then it turned into the most surreal, and absolutely worst, dining experience ever.  It was so bad it was almost funny.  Long, long story.  But they treated us like absolute crap. I have to tell the story cause it was so weird. I don't even know if it will come across, but I have to try.

Ok, so side note-Ana is from Mexico, so I have an American accent, she has a Mexican accent and we are speaking a mix of English and bad Russian with three (we had the owner of the apartment's daughter with us) Russian children with us.  Well, Vika also speaks English.  She was our tiny interpretor.

We get there and there is a table with balloons on the chairs clearly set up for a birthday part. So we sit a couple tables down and a short waitress runs over yelling "nyet" at us.  So we try to sit somewhere else and it happens again. So I asked her where we should sit.  She points us to a table and we all go sit there.

Then, the kids want to play in the play area. It was very tiny, but fun. Kind of like a small Mcdonalds play area.  Ball pit, slide, etc.  A man walks up and says it will be 50 hryvnas per child to play...even though we are paying to eat.  OK she says.  She will pay for them to get to play. It is raining here and they need to have some fun.  But the attitude, the body language of the servers was very aggressive and angry.  But the kids were having fun so we order food.

Finally, it comes and we start eating. A few minutes in they tell us we are too close to the birthday party and we need to move.  Ana asks if her kids can finish one piece of pizza (they were almost done) but they just start taking our plates out from in front of us and moving them to the farthest table away.  Remember, they told us where to sit.

Service was then super slow and they were obviously talking and laughing about us.

Well, we continue to try to eat. The birthday part is crazy.  It is cowboy and Indian themed.  But the Ukraine version.   Dime store cowboy costume but full on excessive Indian costume.  Loud loud loud music.  Very surreal.And dangerous.  A tug of war at the top of a flight of stairs, cowboy kept picking kids up by an arm and a leg and throwing them around.  two people in a horse costume wildly riding kids around and almost knocking into tables.  flame thrower coming off the cake. Darts.  Did I mention loud?

And for this show they pulled the kids chairs right up against our table.  We could not get up and move.  Finally when the kids got up for a game Ana got up and went back to the play area with her kids.  A little while later she came back to get her drink to hold while she watched her kids play.  But when she moved one of the chairs to get by, the short mean waitress told her "nyet".  She told her she had to stay at the table and sit down.

All I could think was, here is a woman on the edge and you have already pissed her off and you should not have said that, lady.  And I was right.  Ana, rightfully, went off.  OFF. It was beautiful to witness.  And she refused to sit down.  And we did not leave.  We let her kids play for awhile longer.

They had never seen a birthday party. It was awesome watching them see it for the first time. They will have that now. But at the same time they wanted to be a part of it and the kids would not let them. They physically blocked their view and told them no.

All I could think was that if it were my child's party and I saw 3 kids looking so longingly, I would ask my kid to invite them to sit. How hard would that be?

When we left the kids picked up popped balloons and were so excited with them. Popped balloons,dragging on the ground behind them, and they were THRILLED with them.  We walked out of our with heads high, popped balloons dragging. I wanted to tell them that both Ana and I were normally excellent tippers, but that when you treat people like trash you get nothing extra.  But we didn't.  We left and went to the park and listened to music and watched one of her boys dance.  It was fun. And we laughed about the experience.  And how much we miss our homes.  How much we appreciate our homes because we have experienced things like this.

And it reminds us that there will always be outsiders.  Instead of making them feel outside, we should welcome them in.  Kindness is a universal language. There is never any reason to go out of our way to be mean or to exclude.

Ana felt bad about her reaction.  She is a very wonderful soul.  But we are both worn thin and there is only so much one person can take. And that mean waitress, she was the straw.

So that was our weird day. Funny. Distracting.  And now it is dark and I can sleep soon.  Then I will be one day closer to coming home and seeing my kids there.  An inch at a time. An inch at a time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

day 28-no court

no court today.  it is friday.  that means there will be a day 29 and a day 30 with no court.  supposedly court will be on monday.  but i don't have a time.

there is another mother here with me. the passport office is telling her that her children's passports will take 10 business days. no getting around it even though they paid for 3 day passports.

i have no sense of humor about this.  4 weeks from DAP to court is ridiculous.  and that is IF court actually is on monday, which i will only believe when it happens.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 27, people, day 27

Yesterday was not good.  I had only been at the orphanage for a few minutes when V started calling out for a friend to come play with us.  She called N over and they wanted to jump on the trampoline of death.  Remember that?  Well, I kept saying, "be careful" in Russian and they kept giggling and acting like 5 year olds. Then this little boy, S, walks up to say "hi".  I turn around for ONE SECOND and then I hear V screaming.  I turn and see blood.  Her nose was busted.

I scooped her up and, luckily, the nurse was outside.  We went into the doctor's office. Where they cleaned her up and iced her nose.  Her nose got the brunt of N's head.  Her upper lip was also busted too.  Physically she was fine.  But, mentally, she was not.

 V would not look at me. She very actively avoided looking at me. She didn't want me to touch her, talk to her, be hear her. Thankfully, the doctor put us in a tiny room together so couldn't avoid me.  I wanted to scoop her up and rock her.  I asked if I could hold her and she said "no".  I wanted to be there for her without making her feel I was stepping on her wishes or her feelings.  So, I sat next to her and put my hand over hers.  She let me do that for awhile but would still not look at me.

After awhile I tried to talk to her again. I told her mama would never hurt her.  That Mamas help.  That I love her.  She just was not home at all.  I asked her if she wanted me to go and she said "yes".  I probably shouldn't have asked, but I was so distraught and not thinking straight.  And  then, to make matters worse, I burst into tears.  Way to be the grown up.   I am just pulled so thin right now and I just was not handling things well.

But, that did snap her out.  She immediately flung herself on me and hugged me.  Then she told me to stay.  I am sure this was a very unhealthy exchange, but I keep telling myself we are just in survival mode till we get out.  Hopefully we won't go too far backwards before we can start going forward.

Then yesterday afternoon our facilitator came to talk to me.  She said no court Wednesday and no court Thursday.  Only a 50/50 chance for court on Friday.  But, at least by Monday they say.  I burst into tears. Yes, again with the tears.  In a couple days I will have been here a month.  and no court date.

I won't know if court is tomorrow until tomorrow.  That will make it awfully hard to book tickets out the same day.  I hope with all I have that court is tomorrow.  And I hope that I can get tickets out too. 

Todays visit was better.  It wasn't awesome, it wasn't super hard.  I was glad to be with her and hang out with her.  But it was again, impersonal.  Just me chasing her around mostly.  And her asking if I had any more chocolate.  Considering how it ended yesterday, though, I was just relieved she was happy to see me.

She also said again that she wanted the plane, that she wanted America. 

I am going to eat and take a nap and then just hope and pray and hope and pray some more for court tomorrow and tickets home. I miss my kids like I can not even explain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

day 26-no court

no court and no court tomorrow.

really rough visit.  v got in an accident with another child and we spent the visit in the doctor's office.  will do a full blog post tomorrow. going to bed early..i hope.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

day 25-no court date

so here we are. no court date.  i waited until 6 pm and then called one of the head facilitators.  they said no court date tomorrow.  no court date lined up. she asked if i had been notified that court would probably not be before the 17th.  i was, in fact, told court would probably not be before the 17th. but that if i stayed court could probably be the 19th and certainly by the 20th.  monday i was told i would hear.  tuesday i was told i would hear.  now, tomorrow i am supposed to hear.  i will have been here for 4 weeks in a couple of days.  and no court date.

our facilitators are  working hard.  i know they are doing everything they can.  i appreciate them trying.  i am just frustrated. 

and then after court there is 10 days and then 2 more weeks on the other side.  childcare is still just being patched together here and there.  my children are staying with people they don't know well (although i am sooo grateful to the people who ARE keeping them.  grateful beyond words. i know how hard this all is for those at home too).  aine cried when she went to the sitters house today.  how great for eva marina, when we are in the early stages of attachment to be staying with different people every few days.

but that is the only choice and i am so so thankful for the friends that are stepping up and helping my family.
Someone sent me an email and said they hoped I appreciated  people turning their lives upside down for me. i really hope people know this isn't for ME.  this is for V.  Our daughter.  It is all for a child that would otherwise have no hope.  it is NOT for me. 
but either way, this is not going well.  we had a plan.  we had a good plan.  we were even ok being flexible in our plan.  but we did not see 4 weeks for the first trip in that plan.  we did not see childcare falling apart the first week.  we did not see thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses. we did not see dale's job demanding proof of the adoption or they won't pay for his time off.  except we can't give them that because it hasn't happened yet.

will this all be worth it?  of course it will.  v's life is worth this and so much more.  but right now, things are just bad. they are just bad. and, as of tonight, there is no end in sight.  i really hope there is an end right around the corner and i just can't see it from this angle.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

DAY 24-no court date

I can't believe I am even writing a blog post for day 24.  I have been on pins and needles all day long waiting for the phone to ring.  It just did and here is the update I just got at 4:45.  They couldn't talk to the judge today.  They will try again tomorrow.  So, definitely no court tomorrow, but they are still HOPING FOR SOMETIME THIS WEEK.  Which means there is a chance it might not be this week.

She also said to try not to think about the fact that I should have gone home with Dale because what is done is done. I am here now and I just have to wait.  Yes, I see that.

And another lesson learned is to stop getting my hopes up and looking to certain dates with anticipation.  Possible dates mean nothing. And even firm dates are often moved at the last minute.  So I need to just not get my hopes up until court is over and done. 

In light of my last post I am going to leave it at that. But, I'll just say I am not doing too well.

And todays visit was hard again.  Although she did go on and on about wanting an American name and saying the name over and over.  That was sweet.

I just read an article about leaning into the pain and the hard times.  No worries there.  I am the leaning tower of Odessa at the moment.  Don't have any distractions from it.  Can't run away from it. No matter how badly I want to.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

too open

I have been a bit too out there with my emotions and my struggles.  I know, people are going to tell me that I haven't and that they are glad I have laid it out there.  But, I am regretting it.  I am tired of listening to myself cry and so I know others must be too.

The facts are that
1. it is hard being here with so many children who have little hope.
2. it is hard being here with my child that i can not break free yet.
3. it is just hard being here.
4. my kids at home don't have consistent childcare
5. the childcare they do have is not going well.
6. i am lonely.
7. i am scared of flying home by myself (silly,huh?), but i desperately want to be flying home anyway.
8. i want court to be over.
9. i want to come home

but here is the truest fact of all-
10. NONE of this is in my control to fix or change.

And I think I keep talking about it as if that will magically fix everything or bring on a court date. But,it won't.  So, I need to stop.  And be still for awhile.  I heard somewhere that struggling only makes you sink faster.
I'm gonna give us all a break.  I apologize for being so loud about my distress.  I am gonna reel that fish back on in.  

day 23

I woke up in a really hopeful mood today for some reason.  That was a very pleasant surprise.

I also woke up to a power outage. We had them a lot when we were here in the winter. I thought it was due to the weather, but today I learned differently.  In the winter, everyone using their heaters overloads the system and they have to have frequent short power shutdowns to recharge the system.  Apparently the system was overloaded again, so they shut down for 12 hours.

I am a little unsure if the food in my fridge is fit to eat or not. I just stocked it yesterday.

Anyway, the visit today was another really great one.  We had a lot of fun.  We played with several other children too.  One little girl that just sticks in my heart hung out with us for a good bit.  I am trying to find out if she can be adopted so I can advocate for her. Someone needs to come get this sweet girl. 

Anyway, when it was time to go, neither of us wanted the visit to be over.  As much as that sucks, it makes me happy that she wants to spend more time with me. 

The downer was that there was a new boy today.  He is a very handsome sweet boy.  I thought it was odd his first day was on a Sunday, but there he was.  I didn't understand his name.  He was, understandably, shy.  He also looks like he will be 6 years old any second.  I wonder how long he will be there.

Tomorrow I should hear what my court date is.  One more day.  I am going to spend today walking around I think. I have not done much of that since Dale left.  It is a beautiful day though. And I really want today to go quickly. 

But first I am going to inspect the food in my fridge and determine if I should cook some bacon for lunch or if I should admit defeat (and loss of about $40) and go buy lunch somewhere.  Then, I am going to drink more coffee and start wandering. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Big girl panties and a great visit-day 22.

I have been sitting here wondering if I should start or end on the upnote.  I have been quite the downer lately and finally have some good things to say.  But, I also have some not so pleasant things as well.  I suppose it is always better to leave it happy, so I'll start with my frustration.  If you don't want to hear it-skip down to the bottom.

I have been open and honest cause I don't really know how to be anything else. And I have hoped that I haven't been too annoying or whiny, but mostly, I have just been too exhausted to care much if anyone is irritated with my bitching.

I posted a little bit about some of the challenges in daily life over here in this post.  I have also posted about some of the other rough things going on here and here.  But, here is the thing. Unless you are over here you really can not understand it. The family that had DAP with us and then rode to region with us (currently at home during the 10 day wait) even stated that they had not at all expected being here to be so hard.  People just can't understand without being here.  And that is fine, Most people are still very supportive and sympathetic.

But, yesterday someone told me to put my big girl panties on.  She probably meant this to be funny, but in my overly fragile (read whiny) state I took it pretty harshly.  And then I saw two more families that are over here posting about how people at home are being less than supportive.  That is pretty lame.  Especially from people who have never experienced anything like this. So I wanted to address it.  This is not directed at the person who made the statement, but to anyone who  might not understand why it is so hard over here, and why those of us here might not have a sense of humor about it.

Believe me, I have my big girl panties on.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be here.  And if I had gotten this far wearing tiny girl panties, I certainly wouldn't be making it through the day.

Yes, my days are monotonous and less than awesome. Yes, I am tired of the food, the language barrier, trying to convert money in my head every time I go any where.  But these are stupid little inconveniences.  These are things that wouldn't much phase me at all if I weren't completely broken by other aspects of being here.  My own irritations are not the problem.  This isn't about me.

Yes, I miss my children at home worse than I could ever explain on Blogger or even in two books of French poetry.  My children are my life.  I physically ache for them.  And I don't know who is keeping them from one day to the next. That is extremely stressful. I also miss my husband.  800 times a day I want to call him and tell him something. I want to hold his hand, and hear him laugh.  But, I do know my children will be safe somewhere.  They will be cared for and loved on.  I know I will see my husband and my children soon, even if it doesn't feel even remotely soon enough.  This is very hard, and it weakens my reserves drastically, but it doesn't kick my feet out from under me.

All of these other things are not the reason that I can not seem to pull up the strength to act cheerful and upbeat. At the center of this trip is a child.  A child who is currently living in an orphanage.  I know that is an abstract idea to many of you, but it is a very harsh reality. I go to this place for 2 hours every day and I visit the child that I desperately long to take home. I see her blackened eye. I see her rotting teeth.  I see her pain and her fear.

With Eva the biggest challenge was discovering and learning to work with her unexpected diagnoses.  I can see that, with V, the biggest challenge will be dealing with her past trauma, and the fear of attachment that will come with it.  Helping her learn to be and function in a healthy family.  It will be hard, and I admit, it is a little scary.  Right now it is like being poised at the starting line of a very important race waiting to hear the gun.  The race will be hard, but the waiting to start is agonizing. I am ready to pull the trigger and get running. Get healing.

Right now, looking into her eyes and seeing the trauma is brutal.  That is how each day begins.  Two hours looking at my child who has been through more in her 5 years than most people ever go through.  She has suffered for it, is suffering for it.  And, yet,  I am not yet in a position to be able to help her heal.  I feel helpless.  Maybe you can imagine how that might affect your overall mood.

But even with V, I know there is an end, a beginning really, on it's way. As long as we pass court, she will be home within a month.  It will be a long road from there, but we will, at least, be on the right path. She will have hope and a future.

But there are dozens of other children that will not. In groupa 5 alone there are over a dozen children. I have, so far, spent 6.5 weeks with these kids. I hold their hands, look at their faces, speak to them in terrible Russian.  Most of these children can not be adopted internationally and won't be adopted domestically. The reality is that the future for these precious souls is very bleak. The numbers vary, but about 10-15% will commit suicide before 18.  70% of boys end up criminals.  And almost as many girls end up prostitutes.

These children that line up to hug me goodbye each day.  That call out to me in excitement when I arrive.  These children who smile shy smiles and wave at me repeatedly during my visit. Those are the odds they face.

And this is why I am broken over here. This is why the other little things going wrong sends me over the edge. When I say I have no reserves to pull from-this is why. These children are the reason.  I want to fix it and I can't.  This isn't about some distant, global orphan crisis.  This is about Tania.  This is about Sasha. It is about Dima, and Masha, and Kola, and dozens and dozens of REAL children.  IT IS NOT ABOUT ME.

And it certainly isn't about just putting on my big girl panties.  I wanted to clarify that for someone who might think that I am whining for myself. Because I am not. I am broken for the millions of children all over the world who will go to bed tonight feeling unloved, unwanted, and unseen. It is for the dozens of children that I look at everyday who will also feel unloved, unwanted, and unseen.  It is for my child who remains in that place, waiting for her time to break free.

And all this doesn't even get into how hard it will be once she is free and the race has begun.  But this blog post would take a year to read if I went into all the reasons why this is all so excruciating and brutal. 

So, now that we have that clear-

Today's visit was amazing.  Really, truly, wonderful visit.  V interacted more than she has in a week.  She was upbeat and playful.  I loved, loved, loved being with her today. It wasn't hard. It wasn't work. It flowed.  I felt like Mom and she felt like my child.  What a gift!!

Then I came back to the apartment and moved into my new room. It is my favorite so far.  I hope Amy and I can get this one when we get back.  It is perfect for 2 people.

2 days left till I should hear some news about court.  Getting through the weekend one hour at a time!

hording walnuts. she was filling that bag. it is very hard to keep her from spending the whole visit searching the ground for walnuts.

remnants of the black eye. 

too small shoes

it is also hard to keep her from hoarding berries and eating them the whole visit. from the way she acts, I don't think she is supposed to be doing it. The nannies do it a lot and I think they don't want the kids eating them.

super fancy second room-living room

super fancy 2nd room-kitchen

super fancy second room-hallway

super fancy 2nd room-living room
super fancy second bedroom

super fancy 2nd room-bedroom

view from the super fancy second bedroom/loft
view from the balcony of the super fancy 2nd room
current room kitchen

bedroom number 1

bedroom number 1

bedroom number 2

Friday, September 14, 2012

day 21

today is day 21.Dale has been gone for a week.  I moved into a new room today. It is super fancy and awesome.  I will be here for one night and move again tomorrow.  boo.  Oh well, I will enjoy it today by not leaving it.

I don't have much to update, but I do have a little. I spoke to one of the facilitators in Kiev late last night.  She said I still have a paper delayed in Kiev, that my papers were submitted to the court on Monday, and that the judge is on vacation. She said that we should hear on Monday what our court date is and that it should be next week.  That means it could be Tuesday or it could be Friday.

Now, the last update I had heard here in Odessa was that my papers were all done, that the papers were submitted last Friday, and that the judge was back from vacation (and even had an adoption case yesterday).

So, basically I can take from this that I have no idea what is going on, but I should know on Monday and court could be any day next week.  Please hope and pray and dance for Tuesday.  I am dreading the weekend with no possibility of news.

Aine said she wanted me to come home and do school with her. That says she is desperate. She is my only kid that has zero interest in school.

And, truth be told, visits are just getting harder.  It has been 2.5 weeks of coming and leaving her.  No way to really communicate well, and limited things to do together.  I can't parent her because I am not legally her parent yet.  We are in such a strange place in our relationship.

With my bio kids I loved having babies.  I loved nursing and holding a teeny tiny new baby.  But, in all honesty, I do not love the first 6 weeks.  I just don't.  And these visits, to me, are like the first 6 weeks.  Ilove seeing her, being with her. But it is so different than how we will be together once we are home. Even when she is out, but still in Ukraine, it is a strange and abnormal way to be mother and daughter.

And she is resentful of me coming and going. And we are sort of stalled.  Please, if you are thinking about adoption, don't walk away if you don't fall head over heels, to the moon and back, in love during the visits. It is not at all reflective of how your interactions and relationship will be once out.  It is so different. And you have to work at it.  Especially with an older child with trauma in their background.

I am ready to fight for this girl, but we have to get out of here for me to do it.  And right now we won't be moving forward for at least 3 days.  Hopefully I won't lose my mind before then.

Will add pics soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 20

Todays visit was hard.  I walked up and the kids were doing another gym/music hybrid class.  V saw me and did not make any motion to come to me.  The teacher asked if she wanted to keep participating or come to me and she did come over.  She was acting very strange-stiff, would only look down.  I got on my knees to talk to her and I saw why. She has a black eye.  It is discolored and very swollen.  It looked fairly fresh.  My heart sunk. Kids get hurt, but the way she was acting was very off.

I asked her if it hurt and she shook her head and looked down. She was very distant.  I tried to pull her out and engage her. I gave her some chocolate which she loved.

Later, I asked how she got hurt.  It took a bit of time, but she finally made a hitting motion.  I asked if a kid hit her and she shook her head no and then looked down. She was very distant and withdrawn the whole visit.

The desperation for a court date is eating at me.  I need to get her out.  I want to keep her safe and I can't. I am angry, sad, frustrated.

I saw a nanny shaking and hitting a tiny child a few days ago.

I have to get her out soon.

Then, when it was almost time to go, I saw a mother bringing in her tiny baby to look around and decide if this was where she was going to leave her baby.  She sat on the bench and held her baby and cried.

I know I am much more negative this time, but I am just done. I have no reserves to pull from right now.  I want to get my daughter out of there. I want to go home. And then I think of all the ones left behind.   This has to change.  People have to change it.

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 20

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

day 19

Must better visit today.  She was very happy to see me.  We caused a big crisis by bringing bubbles, but not enough for every child to have their own bottle.  There was pushing, grabbing, crying, irritated nannies. But we recovered and had a nice time.

I asked her if she wanted an American name and she said yes. I asked her if she liked the name we have chosen.  She smiled and said yes.  Later, to be sure, I asked again to be sure she understood and she said she wants an American name. Eva will be relieved because she has been wanting us to call her something new.  I think she wants no reminders of the past.  

The other family here with me had court today and passed! Yay!!  So happy for them. They leave in the morning to go home for their 10 days.

I heard today that our facilitator "hopes that maybe" I will have court next week. This is not what I wanted to hear.  But, she will be at court tomorrow and said she will try to get a firm answer for the judge.  That means the judge is back, and our papers were filed last Friday. So, we could have court pretty much any time now if the judge would just do it. Prayers, thoughts, nudity still appreciated.  I am still holding out hope for a court date miracle.

I am missing my kids worse than I can explain.  I need to go home for a little bit. I need to see the rest of my family.

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 19

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

day 18

Day 18-I woke up sick this morning.  Super nauseated. Really unhappy tummy.  No visit today. In fact, I didn't get out of bed other than getting breakfast. Hoping to feel better tomorrow. Still no word on court. I did email our facilitator to ask, although I know they will call when they know.  I just need to feel like I am doing something. 

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 18

Monday, September 10, 2012

The upside to my misery-day 17

Yesterday, I unloaded my emotions and struggle.  Today, I will tell you why I am grateful for the struggle (although I am good now and it can end any time, thank you very much).

The first reason is personal. If you know me, you know about my history. I am not very shy about it.  Much of my youth was lived in total and complete freedom. Picking up and leaving town whenever I felt like it. Hopping trains, hitchhiking, sleeping wherever I fell (or the whiskey knocked me over).  I don't often think too much about those days.  That chapter of my life seems so remote that it might as well be a whole different book.  Possibly a whole different genre.

I do not, in any way, shape, or form, regret choosing the life I have now. Not at all.  But I do occasionally get wisps of melancholy when I realize I will never have that kind of freedom and lack of responsibility again.

Shortly before Dale left we went on one of our many walks.  We went a new route and something about it reminded me of my past. I was feeling exhilaration lapping at my toes as we walked.  We had no timeline, no place to be, no one to tend to.  And then we turned a corner and in front of us stood the train yard. That exhilaration reached up and squeezed my heart.  No, I was not even considering hopping on a train in Ukraine and seeing where it took me.  But just seeing them, being there, something about the day.  It was just in the air.  It was nice.

And then, as the exhilaration rushed into my heart, ,that tiny ache pulsed out spreading through my limbs.  My life now is one that can be defined by responsibility.   I have 5, soon to be 6, little humans to care for.  Not only do I have to feed them, bathe them, clothe them.  But I educate them, nourish their hearts and spirits, and do my very best to turn them out into the world kind and caring.  My job, above all else, is to make them not be assholes.

  I love this job more than life itself.  I would not trade it for anything. But, it is full of obligation, appointments, and stability.  So, occasionally, I sigh when thinking of total freedom.

Last night I wandered upon an art show in the park and saw them setting up for a band. So, I stuck around and it turned out to be a band we heard a week or so ago that was really good.  I stayed at the park till 9 at night. Dancing, singing, laughing, and admiring really amazing works of art.

I walked back to the apartment thinking maybe I can rock this after all.  Then, I skyped with the kids. My baby is clearly upset with me. My 4 year old was singing me songs about how we love each other and mommy is coming home. Eva Marina kept asking if we are bringing V home yet.  And my boys, well, my boys are just clearly in need of their mama.

As soon as we hung up I broke down into a sobbing, snotting, ball of mess.  I don't want freedom.  I want my family. I want home. This is all making me realize that, no matter how overwhelming or hard home gets, it is (pardon the cliche) where my heart is.  Nothing could be clearer to me.

Which brings me to the second gift this struggle gives me.

I am done.  I not only want my family and my friends, I also want to eat food that I recognize, smell smells that are familiar, I want to hear people speaking a language I understand.  I want sights that signal my territory, I want to fall asleep in my own bed.

Facing the weeks ahead of me are almost enough to break me, but if someone came along and told me that there was no going back. That this is now my life. forever.  I would completely lose my mind.  I would first have a come apart complete with cussing and snot and tears.  Then I would fight.  I would kick and scream and rail against whomever I thought responsible for this horror. I would be terrified beyond words.

And that is the reality ahead for V. The first few weeks will be new, and exciting, and fun.  When she realizes that there is no going back, that this is permanent, that she will not see the faces or places she has seen for half her life ever again, she will come apart.  Wouldn't you?

 Really think about that for a minute. Imagine being picked up out of your life and taken somewhere completely foreign-sights, smells, language, faces-and being told it was forever.  Your loved ones gone.  Imagine that.

But, the situation is not a good one for these kids, some people say.  It doesn't matter.  No matter how bad the old situation, it was all they knew. Even children who are abandoned and abused mourn the loss of their parents when they are removed. Those parents were all the children had, and so they grieve their losses. Even if they know they want a home and a mother, there is still so many losses for these children. And facing such a huge change would produce anxiety, sorrow, and fear in anyone.

This is one of those things people can not know intellectually. They have to experience it first hand.  What I am experiencing gives me the closest glimpse I can get to what V will go through.  What Eva Marina went through (and is still adjusting to).   How could I properly respond to my children if I had no inkling what they were feeling?  I know, I only have a tiny inkling, but it is the closest I can come. And I am thankful for this glimpse I get into their struggle.  It sucks, but I am grateful.

Those are the gifts I get from my misery here.  Appreciation and Empathy.

Todays visit was not good at all at first.  I mean, not at all.  The coming and leaving is clearly straining our relationship.  She wanted little to do with me at first.  In fact, she tried to attach herself to a woman who was there to visit the baby she has placed in the orphanage.It was pretty crushing to me, even though I know not to take it personally. My mama heart can't help that it got to me some. Thankfully the last half hour was good. She came out of her shell, held my hand, and we played and laughed.  But then I left her again.  Hopefully tomorrow she will not hold it against me too much.

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 17

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This is not a vacation

I have an amazing group of friends and have had more support on this journey than most people ever get in their lives. I am very very grateful for that.  Sincerly, truly grateful.

That is why I am hesitant to write this post.  But, I never listen to my wise inner voice, so here goes.

People often say the wrong things even though they mean well.  Ask me how I know.  I do it all the time. Daily.  And I realize it.  I am working on it.  I appreciate when people honestly and gently tell me what I could have said that would have been better.  That is how we learn, right?  And communication is so integral to our daily lives and relationships.  So, learning how to better communicate and support each other is a worthwhile investment.  That is why I am writing this.  Well, and I need to get it off my chest.

I have been told dozens and dozens and dozens of times over the last few days that I need to take this opportunity to self reflect, recharge, enjoy, explore, relax, and so on.  And here is the thing, I am trying.

 I know that when I get home I will have 6 kids.  1 being a baby that is not yet 2 and was still nursing. Hopefully, will still be nursing. 1 has only been home 6 months and is still adjusting. the other 3 are just generally going to be dealing with clinginess and their emotions of us being gone and being home. Then we will have the newly home, non English speaking child who will be FREAKING OUT!!!

Will that be hard?  Um, I'm not even going to answer that.

But, you know what? That is my life. The life I chose. And I want to get back to it.

No one can know what this process is like unless they do it.  And then, do it twice in 8 months.  And then, have your spouse leave and do it alone.  Now, I can do this.  I am doing this.  with a grateful heart. But that doesn't mean it is easy.  It is hard.  Very hard.  it is not a vacation.

It is hard to relax when you start your days visiting your child who is still locked behind giant concrete walls.  I spend 2 hours in an exhausting dance with her. Trying to communicate,trying to bond. And then, when we find our groove, it is time to leave her.  And she is upset when I leave.  We will then have to make up the lost ground the next visit.  Two steps forward one step back.  That is not a vacation

I am exhausted when I get back to the apartment. I then need to figure out where to eat. What to eat.  How hard will communication be ordering my lunch or at the grocery store?  How much money do I have left?  How much can I spend?

After I eat I usually have hours sprawling ahead of me. Hours and hours. I have already wondered around city center for miles in each direction. Multiple times.  I do not have disposable income.  So far, we have had $1200 in unexpected expenses come up. There is a catacombs tour I would love to do, but can't afford it.  Even buying coffee to sit and stare at passersby can not be a daily occurrence anymore.  I probably have enough for the rest of the adoption, but there is no room for anything else.

I am finding different places to sit and read and I love reading. But doing nothing but reading for 6-7 hours a day for weeks on end?

 I am in a city where I don't speak the language, I have large amounts of cash strapped to my body, and I don't have a way around. Not sure how far I want to roam now that I am solo.  Please remember that I love adventure. I hopped freight trains, hitchhiked, love new places and seeing new things.  I have explored this city and Kiev over and over again. But I am pretty happy with the exploring I have done. I have experienced a ton over here!!

I should be writing, but to be honest, I am just so exhausted the my brain feels like mush.  I lay in bed and think about things I should be writing, but I am not.

Dale and I tried to enjoy our alone time together. And we did. But, each day there was a stressful meeting, paperchasing, or something to pick up or drop off. This is not a vacation.

And a little alone time is an unusual gift. I have had 2 days of it now. I don't want much more than that. I am adopting a 6th child because I love my children.  I want to spend my life with them. I definitely want the opportunity to recharge on a regular basis.  But weeks alone is not what I consider recharging.  

I was here for 5 weeks just 6 months ago. I have now been here for more than 2. I don't know how much longer I have, but possibly another 2.  Then I cross the ocean alone. If you know about my fear of flying, you know I dread that.  Then I fly back a week later.  Then I will be here for another 2 weeks. 
And all of this involves more stressful meetings, paperchasing, running around, and leaving my daughter behind in the orphanage each day. This is not a vacation.

And as I write this, there is pounding, blaring, horrible dance music filling my apartment from somewhere outside. This is not uncommon and goes till all hours of the night. So, I am also sleep deprived. That might be contributing to my exhaustion and irritability. I need to introduce them to better music.  STAT.

I tell myself daily that this is an opportunity for growth.  That I can't change this situation so I need to make the most of it.  I need to focus on the beautiful end.  I remind myself about how awesome it is that I am here at all. I try to relax, recharge, enjoy. I do.

But I am feeling spent right now.  I can't find anything to plug into right now to recharge from.  Just getting through each day is where I am at. Skyping with my kids hurts as much as it helps.

Childcare stresses at home have compounded it. People at home are burdened with the charge of 5 extra little people to care for.  Things have not been smooth on that front. It is a constant, nagging worry.

I have said I would be honest with you guys.  So I am being honest at the risk of hurting feelings.  I hope that I don't hurt anyone. I appreciate that you care enough to try to cheer me up and cheer me on.  But, at some point, I start to feel like I should quit sharing my struggle because people think I am complaining. Am I complaining?  Well, probably a bit.  But, I am just being honest. I hope you guys can understand.

This will all be worth it. I can do this. I am glad to be doing it.  But, I am also struggling. I have been stepping out of my comfort zone so much lately that I am not even sure I could find it if I wanted to.  I will be a better person for that. But today, I just hope that a break comes soon. In the form of a court date.  So, if you hear me crying or bitching, please just do a little nekkid jig, send up a prayer, light a candle, think happy thoughts for me, or just totally ignore me!

But please don't tell me to enjoy.  Please don't tell me that I should be using this time to to soul search.  I have no energy for that right now.  Besides, don't we do our best soul searching and self reflection when we have passed through the trial and can, therefore, breathe and reflect on it?  When in the midst of the struggle, we have little energy for reflection. We are just trying to stay above water. 

Please, when I express my very real emotion, just tell me to hang in there.  That you hope I hear soon.  That there will be an end. Please tell me that you love me and that you are thinking of me.

I hope i have not upset anyone. This is where I am today. Maybe tomorrow I will have an amazing epiphany and be handling this like a rock star.  But, today?  Today this is my truth

Day 16

This morning's visit was nice.  The visits are so different than when we were here before. Last time we were in a tiny coat room due to the weather.  It forced us to interact very personally.  There was no avoiding each other. Each other and the toys in our back pack all that we had to play with.  At the time it seemed hard.  Two hours, twice a day, in this tiny room, trying to be entertaining and trying to get to know one another despite the language barrier.

Now, the weather is gorgeous.  Which is great, except that, there is a lot of room for distraction.  We are in, basically, a giant yard, with lots of climbing things and sliding things and jumping things.  Usually, V is limited to staying with her groupa in one part of the yard. But, when I am there she has free reign.  This is very novel to her.  And she can't control the desire to explore.  I don't blame her.  I would do the same thing.

  So, we spend the visits with a few minutes of cuddling and snacking. Then we spend the next 30 minutes with me chasing her from one part of the yard to the next.  She is always calling to me to follow or reaching for my hand. But, we are always on the move.  Then she sees the walnut tree or the berry bush that are normally off limits and it is over.  The next 30 minutes is me trying to entice her her from this forbidden and delicious distraction.  She stuffs herself for a few minutes and then just wastes the rest.  She just wants to know that she can have it.  That it is there.

And then we are on the move again.  We usually settle down for a few more minutes of coloring and cuddling before it is time for her to go in and have lunch. Then I sit and wait for my taxi.  That usually takes a good 30 minutes these days.

I am just so ready to get her out.  She is so ready to go.  Today she looked at pictures of "papa" and kissed them.  This child is so ready for a family.

Dale has been gone for 2 days now.  He is still not home because there were plane troubles in Germany.  I really wish I had some definite answers about court.  I also wish I had good answers. Good meaning that court would be soon.

If things were going like last time, we would have court on Wednesday.  That would leave us with only 2 more visits before court.  That seemed like forever last time.  This time, it would be awesome.  It would take a miracle for that to happen though.

Our paperwork has been registered with the court.  That is great news.  The papers have to sit at the courthouse for 7 days before you can have court.  The papers were registered last Friday.  I would be thrilled if court was next Friday, but, again, that would be a miracle.

So, I wait.

I cleaned the apartment today, which feels much better. I am reading like crazy.  I went out to lunch yesterday and enjoyed people watching.  This evening I am going to eat go sit on a bench outside on the main street and do some more people watching probably.  Luckily we are right in the city center.  It is very much like New Orleans. I have everything I need and some entertainment in just the few blocks around our apartment.

Trying to enjoy my alone time. But, in truth, I am missing my kids.  I am ready to have court behind us so that V is officially ours. I am ready to be home.

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 16

kind of a cruel photo to be hanging in an orphanage huh?
this is the airplane she made. and she kept making it fly to america

this is her drawing her family as sunshines.  that is a lot of sunshines.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

days 14 and 15

Dale left yesterday.  He is currently somewhere over the Atlantic I imagine. Or, at least, almost to the Atlantic.  I have so many thoughts, so much to say, and nothing to do. And I love to write.  But for some reason, blogging is the very last thing I feel like doing.  I am reading. a lot.  I will hopefully feel more like sharing tomorrow.  I am about to go back to bed and read some more.

Visits are going well.  I have pictures and updates. Will post soon!

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 15

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 14

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 14.

Dale's plane should have just landed in Kiev a few minutes ago. Unfortunately his next plane doesn't leave until 5:30 tomorrow morning.  That is 7 hours from now.  I am very relieved that our children will have one parent at home. I am not loving being here by myself.

It isn't worrying about my safety (although I know my mom is.  I promise I am fine mom!!).  I did manage to get around the US by freight train and thumbing it, often by myself, for quite awhile.  It isn't even that I am afraid of being alone.  I am actually pretty good at being alone for periods of time. And though, it would be easier to be in a solidly English speaking country, the language barrier isn't the problem either.

So why do I dread this?  Well, for one thing, I hate not knowing a timeline.  Court might be the 20th, but maybe the 19th.  Maybe sooner.  Maybe not.  I was told today that "maybe we know something next week more certain".

I also miss my kids.  I miss them with with every cell in my body. Each hair on my head misses each hair on their heads.  I don't know how their day went yesterday.  I don't know how many new words Seamus had.  The girls both start dance today. Eva's first ever dance class.  I won't be there cheering them on and taking pictures. I can't believe I will miss it.

And I wasn't suppose to be here alone.  This was not the plan.  I have nothing to do. Nowhere to go.  No one to go with.  And for how many days???  How many times have I wistfully thought how awesome that would be.  Be careful what you wish for...

Now, I know, this is also an opportunity.  I have explored places on my own.  I do not need a partner in crime. I know how to entertain myself.  I just realiz

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 13

We had a great visit today!!  When we got to the orphanage we heard accordion music playing.  We tried to hide behind a wall and watch, but V spotted us very quickly.  She came running and hugged us, but then the nannies told us to sit and watch.  The accordion player kept playing while the children danced.  It was adorable.

Then the music stopped and they did some gym class.  Watching them was wonderful! V was so excited to finally have someone there to watch her and applaud her!  All the other children were clamoring for our attention. After so much time with these kids, between the two adoptions, I feel very close to them.  I ache for them to find families of their own. A few of them, especially, just make me crumble inside.  The ones who come up and hug us, talk to us, hold our hands.  They are all precious, and they need to know it.

I did take a few pictures and some video, but our batteries died after just a few! I was so upset!  So, I don't have very many pictures today.

After gym class, V led us off to where we usually sit and have a snack.  V has food issue for sure.  I have been told, and read, repeatedly that hunger trauma is one of the hardest issues for children to get over.  She is  obsessed with food.  Even if she doesn't want to eat something, she wants to know it is there. Same with water.  She just clings to the bottle we bring her even though she always sucks down a juice when we get there.

I don't know if I have mentioned, but she also has some scars on her cheek that look just like fingernail marks. It kills me that she has been hurt.  To know it is a possibility is one thing, to see the marks are another.

But, she is still such a cuddlebug.  She melts into me. I just love her.  I can't wait to get her home.  And she can't wait to get home.

We are still stuck in the cycle of not really having any news about timelines.  Hopefully I won't be over here too much longer after Dale goes home.  I miss the kids at home so badly.  Have I mentioned that enough times yet? I did get to skype with them yesterday and that was really awesome.  Glad they will at least have Daddy home soon.

I will try to update tomorrow, but Dale will be leaving so it might be later.  Promise to keep you posted quickly though!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

day 12

The visits are going really well.  V is always so happy to see us.  Again, though, she was upset when it was time to go.  We also had a short visit today because we had to do more paper chasing.  But, I am so thankful for how well the visits are going.  Our relationship to her is the most important thing right now. And that is going beautifully.  It is just hard knowing it will be another 2 weeks before court.

Things at home are not going smoothly either.  Last time it was much simpler. It is hard being pulled into so many directions.  But, it will all be worth it when we are home for good.  And I am sure we will all have grown tremendously as people when we get to the other side of this.  I keep telling myself that anway!

Dale's ticket is booked and he will be home on Saturday.  I will be here until court. Knowing that I have more in front of me than I have behind me is daunting.  But, again, eyes on the prize.  All my children will be home by mid October.  That is not so far away.

Dale and I are trying to enjoy his last few days together here.  The stress of the kids at home was getting to us and we were not able to relax and enjoy at all.  But we are making a concerted effort today and tomorrow. Who knows when we will be alone again. Probably another 12 years!

Hope for Sharon and Mayah day 12

I have been lazy about pictures so here are a whole bunch-