Friday, December 07, 2007

Last Day in Ukraine

I can't believe I'm able to write that as our post title for today. Kristina sits to my left at a computer in the business center of our hotel, happily typing away and Google searching High School Musical. It has been a productive day and I am ready for tomorrow.

We wandered around Independence Square a little after our time on the computer yesterday and eventually made it back to our hotel to clean up for the night. Kristina flipped channels on the television and laughed at what appeared to be the Russian version of Married with Children. I was just glad to have a bed that didn't move. Exhausted from all the walking, I managed to get Kristina asleep by 10pm. Our routine over the last few weeks can hardly be called routine. Its been very difficult to establish a schedule and I know I'm going to have to be firm about bedtimes, snacks, school, and privileges when we get home. But for now, we are just existing trying to get though each day and pushing on to the close of this process. I've been very firm with her during my time here. I didn't want there to be Ukrainian Mama and American Mama. She hasn't always liked it, but overall she's been compliant.

This morning we awoke and went down to the continental breakfast in the hotel. With a 2pm Embassy appointment, I doubted we would have time for lunch, so I encouraged her to eat up. Aleksi met us with our bags to check out of Hotel Rus and we headed for the Embassy. In the Adoption room, we ran into the woman from yesterday with her 10 year daughter Larisa. She too was there to pick up her daughter's visa. I gave the medical forms and our passports to the woman behind the glass and sat down to wait. A few minutes later, the consulate (Michael) called us down to a glass window partitioned for privacy and went over a few things. He just reminded us about post-placement reports and explained about the papers he would be handing over to us. He let me ask him a few questions that were going through my mind and set me at ease about what to expect leaving Ukraine and entering the US. When we go through passport control at the Kiev airport, I will just need to show the official the court degree about the adoption and our passports. When we land in the US, Kristina will be a US citizen, so I can take her through the US Citizens line at immigration in the Minneapolis airport. That's where I will hand over the sealed manilla envelope (that I was warned NOT to open!) with all of the adoption and immigration information for Homeland Security. Also, he said that even though there's a box on the forms from yesterday that I checked indicating I wanted to apply for Kristina's social security number, chances are the Social Security office would never receive that request from Homeland Security. So I needed to go ahead and apply once I got back to the States. Sorry, I know that's a bunch of technical garble, but its the kind of stuff I wanted to know as an adoptive parent. The people at the US Embassy are genuinely kind and understand that you've been through a lot to get to that point. Michael indicated that Kristina's visa needed to be typed up and we could go. We returned to the small waiting room where Kristina and Larisa chatted and whispered in Russian, giggling at the fact that none of us knew what they were saying. A new couple had come in and began their paperwork. They looked completely spent and a little confused by the forms. We answered their questions and they shared their struggle over the last few weeks. They had come for a small child, under two, and had been shown a handful of files of children who had serious medical problems. Many who, even with proper medical intervention, would be invalids their whole lives. They took a gamble and decided to visit a little boy with the least severe prognosis. They were blessed to find a beautiful three year old boy who had been misdiagnosed at birth. Other than being small for his age, he was perfectly fine. They had called in a genetic doctor and another specialist to confirm this. But after three weeks of dealing with sliding envelopes, they were ready to head home during the waiting period. Every story I hear confirms what I already know; adoption is a difficult and costly journey.

The visa was ready in 20 minutes and we walked out with Larisa and her mom, confirming that we would see each other at the airport in the morning. Our flight leaves at 11:55, theirs at 12:30. (Melissa & Steve, it looks like we'll be passing in the air!) Aleksi took us to our new hotel and we dropped our bags and went out to find dinner. We're on the opposite side of the city and totally disoriented. We walked up the main drag for about 3 miles and weren't able to find anything to eat. Defeated, we headed back to the hotel. Down one of the side streets a red, white, and green sign caught my eye. "Pizza!" I exclained a little too loudly. We huffed our way in the opposite direction and found a quaint little Italian cafe where we scarfed down a pizza, desserts, and drinks for $9. We're back at the hotel now and I think we've gone over the one hour limit I told the girl at the desk. So I better wrap this up.

Please remember to pray for those on their way this week or who are here in Ukraine right now trying to make their way home with their children: Nataliya, Tami, Steve and Melissa, Mark and Courtney, the Stone Family, and the Rae Family. Those are by no means the only ones here, but they're a few of the ones I think of and pray for on this journey.

So . . .tomorrow . . .home . . .Orlando . . .11:18pm . . .thank God.


Chris and Virginia said...

We're so glad to hear that this part of your journey is almost over. I was originally thinking that this part of the process would go quicker than it has. You've overcome and made it though, well worth the cost for Kristina.

Happy family reunion tomorrow :).

Tami said...

YEA!!!! Congratulations!!! I'm so glad you and Kristina are finally going to be going home!

Kimbell and Mark said...

YES YES YES!!! WOW - and I remember crying watching those videos of Kristina on summer hosting - and now she's coming HOME!!! TOmorrow night you'll have your head on your own pillow in your own bed in your own house. WOOHOO!

adopting2fromUkraine said...

How wonderful! I love happy endings:)
We leave on Sunday.

Lisa, Chris & Lucas said...

I'm so happy for you!! This has been a long time coming and soon you will be all together again. I can't tell you how much I have loved following your story and I look forward to the next chapter. You are an amazing person Leslie and you are an inspiration in so many ways. Mission accomplished!!! Enjoy everafter.


Ashley said...

I am so happy!!! You are coming home on my birthday! This is a great b-day present knowing that Kristina will be home. I know the rest of the family will be so excited to see you and Kristina. Congratulations!!!

Nataliya said...

Oh, I'm so glad that you are finally home! I know it hasn't been easy, but now it's all over, and you have your beautiful daughter at home with you! Congratulations!!!

We are home as of Friday night and I'll be going back to get Raisa after the holidays.

junglemama said...

Good to hear you are home.

Welcome to America Kristina....for good!

Goes On Runs said...

praise to the lord the almighty the king of creation!!!!!