Where to even begin? We're in Kiev and are breathing a sigh of relief at that. The journey here came at a great price, but we are trusting God to work all of that out. I found an internet cafe just off of Independence Square and paid for time on two computers, one for me and one for Kristina. :)
I don't know that I can backtrack to cover the last few days with great comprehension right now, so perhaps I'll save that for later after I've digested everything. Let's start from the train. Yes, that magical form of transportation that brought me to Odessa to start with. Kristina was excited (a little too excited) about traveling to Kiev on the overnight train. We boarded at 10:45pm for the 11:08 departure. She explored our little compartment thouroughly, climbing into the top bunks, making up the beds, checking out the bathroom (which was worse that the last one! Oh, I have pictures, people!). As the train crept from the station, she threw kisses out the window.
"Odessa is very good, Mama."
"Yes, it is a good city," I agreed.
"This is my city and it is good," she declared staring at the passing landscape as we slid away from the place that has been the only home she's ever known.
It was late and I was exhausted from the pressure of the preceeding days. I laid down on my bunk and read a few chapters in my book to try and wind down. Eventually (at 1:30am) I persuaded Kristina to turn off the lights and get some sleep. My first experience with sleeping on the train left a lot to be desired, but I didn't care this time. I knew every incomprehensible jerk, dip, and sway were inching me towards home, towards my family. In the inky darkness my eyes felt heavy and I drifted to sleep.
"Mama? Do you know DaVinci Code movie?"
"Uh, huh," I murmurred.
"Mama? You see this movie?"
"No, but I've heard of it."
"You know this actress Audrey Tatou? She is good woman."
"Mama? She is good woman. She is not like Brittney Spears."
I opened my eyes to the velvet black that covered the compartment, "Kristina?"
"Go to sleep, sweetheart."
"Mama! Look! Snow!" I sat up, bleary eyed in the dawning light and tried to make out the passing shapes outside our window. "What time is it?" I asked. "Seven o'clock! Time to get up!" "Kristina, the train doesn't get to the station until 8:30!" Awake and irritated, I stared out the window with her. A tire swing hung over a river covered in thin ice. A man crunched his way through a frozen field towards the tracks. The countryside outside of Kiev was very much awake. Our train arrived promptly at 8:30 and Aleksi had bounded up the steps of the car before we could pile our luggage into the hall. "Landrum family?" he asked. Kristina confirmed and we hauled luggage down onto the platform and heading for his car. We went straight to the US Embassy and I felt a great sense of relief at seeing our country's crest and seal resting on the glass door. Facilitators aren't allowed to accompany families into the Embassy, so Kristina and I went though a very thourough security point and then on to window 14: Adoptions. The room held about 12 chairs, 8 of which were filled. The woman behind the glass took our documents, confirmed that my husband had been to Ukraine and met Kristina at some point, checked his notarized paperwork consenting to the adoption in his absence, and handed me two more forms to fill out.
Now, the forms aren't difficult, but if you fill them out incorrectly you have to redo them. You guessed it. I was working on my second set of forms (ones that didn't indicate Kristina had four children, their birthdates, and place of birth) when a woman sitting to my left whispered, "What do we put on line 34?" "You did it wrong too?" I asked. "Yup, second go around. If they knew how brain dead Americans are by the time they get to this point, they wouldn't ask us to do this, " she smiled back. She introduced us to the 10 year old girl she had adopted and we walked throuh the rest of the forms together. She too was solo on her second trip to Ukraine. The woman sitting to her left had just had court and was returning to the States for the waiting period. She and her husband had just adopted a 6 year old boy, even though their two children at home are 18 and 21!
A trip to window 4 to pay the $380 Embassy fees and we were sent off for medicals and told to return tommorow afternoon to meet with the consulate and get the visa. The medical facility is some miles away. It seems adoptions are given preference and we were escorted from one room to another. Kristina ended up needing one more MMR vaccine, which she took without complaint. An hour later ($75 for exam and 152 grivna for vaccination) and we were done. The doctor provided me with an English form with her vaccination record and the papers to bring to the Embassy tomorrow.
We headed to our hotel and checked in. Unfortunetely, they messed up our reservation and could only accomodate us for tonight. Our facilitator was livid at the inconvience, but I really didn't care. I can see Saturday. I can almost reach out and touch the day and time that will find us boarding a plane and heading home. We deposited our things in the room and headed downtown in search of lunch and internet. We found both and I have paid $2 for Kristina to be temporarily distracted enough to let me think though today's events. Well, somewhat distracted. I just got an email from her. "Mama? What are you doing? I am on the computer writing to you. I love you!" I guess I could have saved my two dollars.
Thank you for your prayers in the last few weeks (and for some of you many months!). Your prayers have been flickering light along a dark path that God has called us to tread. Thank you for your faithfulness and love towards people you don't know. Continue to pray for my little family back home, without which none of this would have been possible; and remember us in our last days here in Ukraine.
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