Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Miracle of the Moment

"Sabaka Dom"

The Miracle of the Moment. Yep, another SCC reference. If you haven't caught on by now, he's my favorite artist. The song speaks of the wish that some people have to go back and redo their "if onlys". But by doing that, you will miss out on the miracle of the moment, the things right there in front of you. I look daily for those miracles and "firsts" of our new children. It is incredible when one happens. This is why I haven't blogged in a few days. The other day I caught myself watching television by myself for about 20 minutes. I suddenly realized that the kids were in another room enjoying themselves and I had the overwhelming desire to be with them. So I turned it off and went to them, and a Papa vs kids wrestling match broke out. It's things like that to which I am referring.
But enough about me, you're probably wondering about the kids. For those of you still in Ukraine, please tell them that we haven't used them for body parts and we don't have any indentured servants... yet! Officials opposed to international adoption routinely tell orphans this, no kidding!

The kids have had a few firsts. I eluded to this earlier and I reiterate, it's wonderful when you witness one. Coming through the airport in Amsterdam, the kids asked for water, so I pointed to the water fountain. They had no idea what it was for or how to work it. They were amazed when I did show them. Kole waved his hands in front of the hands-free paper towel dispenser in the bathroom several times...another first. All three were excited that you could serve yourself ice and a choice of cola at Chipotle this past Sunday. (We limited them to three drinks, a minor indulgence). Who knew that you could get water and ice from in front of the refrigerator or that you could swim indoors in warm water with several pools to choose from??!! And did you know that bicycles don't perform well on icy streets, splat! Many firsts and life lessons are poring in, it's hard to keep up with them.

We have had a few families come over to see the kids. Most of them have been families with Ukrainian adoptees. The kids met the Barrett's children, Mari & Misha at the airport. The Stoezs kids, Rhya, Luke and Natalie came over to our house this past weekend. They also took Julia and Kole to the children's church with them. Kole asked if he could go back the next day! We explained that he could go every Domingo (Sunday). The kids met the Garrett's daughter, Anya, too! We watched Nadia and we could tell that she was quite taken with her. It was as if she was a celebrity. Anya has been in the US for two months and her English is great. I think this gives Nadia an extra boost of confidence and she is extremely happy to talk with someone who speaks her native language. Today, our friend Lilya came over for a few hours to see them. Lylia said that they told her they are extremely happy to be here. The kids have met many Ukrainian friends and they have realized that have kept our promise of remembering their heritage.
The kids have been hounding me (pun intended) for several days for a dog. It's getting out of control! My sweetie, Heidi, has relented and agreed. Something that would never happen lest a certain place freeze over. I said yes too but told them that it would be a process that would take several days or weeks to research and decide upon. Yeah, right! We will probably have a pooch by weeks end! I also told them that they would have to feed, water, clean up after, exercise, and poop-scoop the backyard. They all exclaimed, "YES, YES" and Heidi threatened to get out the video camera as evidential proof of said agreements.

Nadia wants a medium to large dog while the others want every dog we look at on the Internet. Right now all three of them are in the basement painting a huge box, aptly named the "Sabaca Dom" (Dog House). I tried to explain to them that a more sturdy and permanent kennel crate would be a better choice and that they were wasting their time. But that's all we have now here at the Roge Dom and it is too cute of a sight to make them stop.
I started steering them to my favorite breed, the German Shorthair Pointer. We had one before, but they can be "high energy" dogs. I like the short coat and everything else about them but Heidi fears the rambunctiousness (is that a word) of the breed. We have that already in three wonderful kids. She feels that they are enough. Awww, cu-mon Honey!
After a few days rest, the whole family is settling into a routine. The kids have seen their new schools and they will start on Monday. I went back to work yesterday, Monday, but I have Thursday and Friday off for the New Year holiday as well as the routine Saturday and Sunday. I think Heidi will start back to work next week after we put the kids in school. Nadia is excited that she can bike the two blocks to school. The two younger ones have a few more blocks to traverse and over a busy road, so they weren't too happy that she will get to ride her bike to school and not them. We explained that perhaps they can do it when it's warmer and Mom or Dad could follow. We told them that they get to ride a cool yellow school bus, and this seemed to extinguish the heated debate.
I continue to have Rimma and Zina on my mind. Zina called us on Sunday, so we called her back. She talked to Heidi for a few minutes and Heidi asked her if we needed to get a translator on the phone. She said no and in fact her English was terrific. Chock it up to her month long visit to the US or the fact that she wants to learn for her future life with us. Zina asked to talk to me, so Heidi handed me the phone. She eagerly said, "Hi Pop, how are you?" I told her that I was fine but that I missed her and she said the same. I asked her if she liked her trip to the US while she was performing the Shoemaker play. She said yes, but she "likes Colorado more"! A gentle reminder from Papa's first Ukrainian daughter that she still desires our home. I told her that I want her to have Colorado and our family too and to keep praying for her dream. As we ended our conversation she told me that she loves me and I told her the same. Another "Miracle of the Moment"!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

First day as new Americans...a very special Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are home safe and sound. We just fed, showered, and tucked the kids into bed. It is a few minutes before 8pm and we are all beat! All of us have are running on 2 hours sleep in the past 48. A few thousand hours of sleep will do us good.

Cathy, thanks for tracking us, and yes, we were on those flights!

Linda, thank you for following us. We will see you soon at the dental office.

Twyla, thank you all for the gifts. The kids loved it. We did know that we would be cutting it close for immigration. But, we were the first ones off the plane and MSP has a special line for immigration, no one else was ahead of us! We didn't go into a special room, we just did it all at the desk in about 15 minutes flat and moved on to our luggage recheck and next flight.being there

Thanks Kris and Clarke for being there, too. We missed you, see you tomorrow. The kids love their welcome home posters!

Thanks Garretts! Your show of support was overwhelming! I can't believe you dragged the whole family out for us. Thank you Anya for speaking to the kids in Ukrainian. This showed them that they will have friends from their country to speak with and that we were always truthful with them about that.

Thank you to the Siscos for taking care of the house and for decorating it and putting up the tree. The kids really loved it! Thanks, Bob for the turkey dinner! Marilene, I love the stockings hung on the mantel!

Lisa, thanks for running out at the last minute to buy gifts for the kids so it would be Christmas for them! Everything looks so nice!

Everyone, the house was so warm and welcoming tonight. The Christmas spirit is truly alive here tonight, thanks to everyone!

I'll post again soon. Enjoy this Christmas with your families as we are doing the same, with our new family. Christmas will be more special now!

Our prayers are with the Volf family in Kherson. Also, there is still much work to do to bring home Rimma and Zina. My prayers will include them too as always. Thank you Lord for your many bounties bestowed upon us and for getting us home.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Flight Info

We will be arriving in Denver on Christmas Eve! I appreciate the welcoming gathering we all have started doing for our Colorado families, but please do not feel that you need to drag your families out to a crowded airport on this very special day, we understand. For those of you who won't listen to me, our flight information is listed below.

We will probably not be able to blog until we get home, so this may our last entry until that time. One of my favorite Jimmy Buffett tunes says it all, "If the phone doesn't ring, it's me!" So no news from us will be good news. If something happens with the visas tommorow, we will tell you. Otherwise, consider our silence to mean that we are indeed on that plane and coming home!

24DEC KLM 3097 KIEV BORISPOL to AMSTERDAM arriving 8:45am


24DEC KLM 6549 MINNEAPOLIS STPAUL to DENVER arriving 3:34pm
See you soon!

We will be home for Christmas!!

Guess what??!! You prayed us home! Today at 2pm the passports came in and we are ecstatic! We didn't haggle about the expedite fee, I agree with all of you that said, just pay and get out. However, the office reduced the fee from $300 per child to $200, so we saved $300 and for that we are grateful.

There was some indications this morning (Monday) that the passports would be coming in so Heidi called the embassy to ask if we could come in that afternoon and get the paperwork started. Usually the visa applications are only taken in the morning, but they made an exception for us. We arrived at about 2:30 and the kids got a kick out of going through the security screening process...they loved the wanding!

A very friendly lady helped us sort through the paperwork, well, she helped Heidi. I collapsed in the chair and watched as the kids huddled around Heidi at the window, eager to see what process was taking place to get them home. Thanks Twyla for the heads up on completing those forms beforehand and just signing them there. Heidi downloaded the forms last week and we were ready to go when we arrived. An hour after we arrived, the applications were accepted and we were told to start our medicals in the morning and to try and be back there at the embassy before noon. We are in the "system" now and our visa appointment will be in the afternoon, tommorow. That will be the last hurdle before going to the airport on Christmas Eve morning!

We met the Volfs at the train station yesterday (Sunday) morning and we all went to the ICA church were Karen and her family attend. Most of you read their blog too, so you know that they were coming up from Kherson to pick up Tatum and Austin at the airport on Monday. We attended service and afterwards we had lunch at Friday's. Kari and Jim spent the night with us and got to see all of the public trasportation that Ukraine has to offer. We used the Metro, the bus and the Martsuka to get back home. This morning we all loaded back up in a Martsuka and caught the first Red Line Metro station we came to. We parted ways as we were headed to the passport agency (and unknown to us, the embassy too) and they were headed to the airport. After all of the above mentioned excitement for us, we met back up with them in Independence Square for dinner, Tatum and Austin in tow. It was good the see the Volf kids agian and it was a treat to spend a couple of days with Jim and Kari. We will see them again in Longmont in a couple of weeks when Kari, Tatum and Austin return. Jim will follow in late January with their two Ukrainian additions!

Please focus prayers to the Volf family, the Christopherson family and the Hoffmann family. Rollie and Leena will have their SDA appointment on January 20th. Three more Colorado families bringing home Ukrainian Angels!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still Waiting

I'm sorry to everyone for losing it yesterday. Please forgive me. We are still waiting for the passports. But, we can relax a little. God can hear your prayers because he delivered us a helper. A friend of a friend is a big boss inside the passport center. If we don't hear something soon, we will invoke his help. Also, we called the US Embassy. The way that their e-mail notification reads suggests that they will not be open from 24 December to 12 January. Instead, they will only be closed for adoption purposes on the 24 & 25 of December and the 1 & 2 of January. They said that they would not do that to us and that they would process us out. We will just have to find an approved physician to get the medicals done. So, we aren't moving forward yet but, it's not so bad news as we first perceived. We may be flying home on Christmas...but who knows at this point.

Yesterday we blew off some steam and took the Marsutka into Kiev. The last stop on #720 delivers you right in front of the Circus (round building pictured beyond the kids) and the Ukrainia Mall. On the top floor is a fabulous restaurant where you pick your food out like a cafateria style place. It's cheap too! I think we paid 297 grivna (about 30 USD with the rate right now) for all these fixings! Heidi liked it too because she could see what see was getting before she got it. That's my borsct, plov, chicken and crab salad on the end.
Right next to the restaurant is a video arcade and I gave the kids 5 grivna each and explained that when it was gone, they were done. They used it all up in five minutes which was what I expected. I had read that each game was 5 grivna, hee hee hee! No worries though, they didn't complain because it was time for our movie. A movie was the biggest reason for traveling to Kiev and we had already bought our tickets. It was another bargain at $15 USD for all of us. The movie theater is located on the same floor of the mall as the restaurant so it wasn't far to walk. I got everyone some popcorn and we still had our sodas from the restaurant. Side note, five things that I like about Ukrainian movie theaters over American ones: You can walk in with previously purchased stuff here! They have free hat and coat check, beer is served at the concession stand, snacks are cheap $5 USD for 5 popcorns, seating is assigned (you buy your specific seat from a chart located at the ticket office). We saw the new release of Bolt or Volt, whatever. It is a new Disney release and it was opening day. There were only a dozen people in the whole theater including us for the 3pm showing. We followed along with the Russian, not really understanding all the language, but the kids loved it. They laughed out loud several times!
We did a bit of shopping too. Shopping therapy really does help! I especially felt at home in the Colombia store and I felt like I was at home in Colorado...I didn't want to leave! We picked up a few items and I got some new PJs and a few more undershirts to ease my clothing frustration. The girls needed some new undergarments as well and Kole got a better knit cap.

As we were leaving on the first floor, people started gathering around a water fountain in the middle of the mall. A red carpet was rolled out to it and I assumed that we were about to be treated to Santa's arrival (I had seen him earlier in the mall). Music started playing and all of a sudden six mallards and two drakes came waddleing down the red carpet and hopped into the water fountain! The music continued and the ducks swam while we watched for the next 10 minutes. I tried to cut it short and escort my children out as one of the boy duckies started getting a little friendly in the pool. In fact, he got friendly with all his girl duckies as I huddled my groupa (Heidi was outside on the phone). Picture a blushing American man futily rounding up his laughing kids while Mother Nature is on display to all. I'm LOL right now as I type this. Oh well, noone else of the 200 or so onlookers made a big deal about it, so I gave up after awhile. Noone else hid their kids eyes so I guess it was par for the course here in Ukraine. Talk about you "heavy petting" zoo!
By this time, everyone was growing hungry again. Heidi knew that we were only a few blocks away from the train station and that there is a McDonald's by the train station. So off we went! We gobbled up a few hamburgers and McNuggets as we enjoyed a bit of our American culture. It was approaching 8pm and I made the decision to take a taxi home instead of walking several blocks back to the #720 Martsuka stop, and waiting for it to arrive. We have learned enough to know that taxis are more expensive from the train sation due to the fact that the station is in the center of town and that they know that they can charge more. (A cabbie wanted 250 grivna to Boyarka.) So, we jumped on the Metro ($1 USD total for five of us) and rode it to the closest stop to Boyarka where the taxi only costs 80 grivna every time. Sure enough, our guy wanted 80 and we loaded up to go home.
When we got home ice had covered the entire parking lot of our Christian school/living quarters. The kids got a big kick out of us letting them "fake skate" and play. Our missionary friend Becky teaches an adult English night class twice weekly on the first floor. All of her students have become our close friends and we have sat in on the class, helping with instruction from time to time. (It was these guys with whom we gathered for Thanksgiving, at Becky and Nadya's house). They are all Christians and Becky had told them of our plight. One of the students, Zhenya, knows someone at the passport office. Thus, God worked his grace on our situation as we were enjoying another wonderful day with our children. Another student named Roman, who took us to the train station once, told us that we will spend Christmas day with him and his family! I jokingly explained that I hoped to let him down. He understood.

Many thanks and blessings to all of you who rushed to comfort us with your comments. I teared up just reading them. Thank you for the nosebleed recommendations. For some strange reason, Julia started asking for more eggs and she eats them regularly. This has helped. Thanks June. Thank you Twyla for sending the article, we will use it. Lynn, thank you, too. Matt, thanks for making me laugh when I pictured that tank rolling up in front of the pasport office! Thank you all for bringing a smile to my face and reminding us that we have such a large support group! Thank you to all who have written! God bless you all!

Now I must be off. It is St. Nickolas day here and I have been told that it is a custom to bring home a small gift to you children. The outdoor market is right down the street and shopping is a plenty. I saw a shop with some small toys and such. We hope to hear something today about our passports (it is mid-day Friday right now). The embassy closed for a half day today so this week is shot. Kari and Jim will come up on the train this weekend to pick up their kids who are arriving from the US. They will stay with us for a night or two before heading back to Kherson. So, all is done that can be done for this week. Monday starts a new, but short, week. Perhaps we will get it all wrapped up in time to get home by Christmas. At any rate, we will be surrounded by close friends here for the weekend and by you, our close friends who came to our rescue with kind words of aid and hope. I truely love you all...

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Serious Setback

More photos have been posted under "the past few days" in our photo link.

Quite honestly, this has been an awlful week! We have been waiting on the passports since last Friday when we applied for them. Without the passports, we cannot proceed to the next three phases (visa appointment at the US embassy, medical exams, buying airline tickets). The saving grace has been seeing Jesus everytime I look at my children's faces.

The bad news came today at 1pm. It seems that the passport office either lost or erased the passport photo of Kolya. The sweet part is that they didn't feel the need to tell anyone until the day we were to pick up the passports! And we couldn't ask them how things were going for the past three days while we sat around waiting for them to tell us that they lost the photo! How nice! The kicker is that the girls' passport are ready and we could start the above mentioned three processes and get one of us and the girls out of here, but, they will not release those to us without all siblings' passports. I guess they think that we will leave one of the kids behind! Get real! Also, they have the audacity to insist on the expediting fee of $300 per child for "helping us" get passports sooner!

So what does all this mean??!! We WILL NOT BE COMING HOME THIS WEEKEND! Yes, that's me shouting! There is no way to get the passports in time before the embassy closes at noon on Friday. In fact, if we don't get the passports, medical exams, and visas done by Tuesday night, December 23rd, we will be stuck in Ukraine until January 13th! The embassy will be closed for the holidays except for emergency situations. Guess what, adoption is not an emergency situation! That gives us three more working days and the passport office doesn't care, it's not their problem!
If we do get everything done by next Tuesday night, we then battle for space on already packed and booked holiday flights. We may have to spilt the group with me taking one or two and Heidi taking the rest. Suddenly, flying the opposite direction to go in the right direction doesn't seem so pressing! Next week, I run out of paid vacation and leave time. Heidi is ok with work until the first week of January, but I may have to invoke the Family Medical Leave Act for work and go unpaid. I cannot and will not leave her here by herself!
I'm angry, i'm upset and I had to watch my dear wife lose it and cry in front of our petrified children, today. She is losing weight because she doesn't like the food and she works so hard to feed our children. We both are struggling and I've been whining, but I had no idea how hard Heidi has been taking things until today. She is a tough, strong person and all who know her do know this. She and I aren't homesick or wanting home for ourselves, it's our children that we need to get home. They and we, need more than two changes of clothes. The kids need to be seen by doctors and dentists. Little Julia has been getting nosebleeds since coming home from the sanitorium and we don't know why. We have started pumping vitamins to each of them twice daily and we have seen a significant change in their physical appearance since they have been eating like kids should. We need to get home! We have children now that we are happy to provide for, but it is an enormous challenge with an uncooperative broken system.

So it is with heavy hearts that we ask all of you, everyone, to get on your knees and pray us home, please! His will be done.

~ Felix ~

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Outing

My bitter disposition has improved since Friday! This is due to a few different activities. We have new pictures of our weekend posted in the albulm, "Night at the Museum".
We started with a "just go outside and have fun day...and get dirty too!" day. The kids and I have been cooped up and we needed to just break loose. On Friday we went outside and had a good time in the snow. I figured that we were close to the apartment, we could get warm quickly if needed, and we had a washing machine. Both Heidi and I participated in a snowball fight on the school grounds. We got a few looks from passer-byers who thought we were crazy and a few that thought children should be more bundled up than just a coat. Oh well, cultural differences, I guess!
Saturday, we ventured into Kiev see a couple of museums. I needed a happy meal! We walked down to the end of the street to catch a marshutka (little buses used for inner city travel). They are much cheaper than getting a taxi and quicker than the train you have to wait on. We froze our hinnys off a couple of weekends back waiting and hour or longer for it. Side note: for those friends of ours who live in frigid temperatures who tell me, "they are used to the cold", yeah right! You may be used to it, but that doesn't mean that you go outside and stand in bitter cold with the wind blowing for and hour or two with three kids! It's more like, two or three minutes from you house, to your car and out for shopping into the nice warm comfy store! Ooofftahh, that! Anyways, like I was saying, we went to a couple of museums. First was the Chernobyl museum. The kids participated but didn't like it. We spent an hour or so before heading out for lunch. McDonald's was a welcome sight for us. It was like our little American oasis in the Ukrainian sea. How pittyful, huh! I don't want to be the typical American, but I needed this little respite! And yep, I got happy! Heidi noticed the new skip in my step and that my batteries were recharged! We had some ice cream before going to the next museum.
Our next stop was the Museum of Natural Science. There were lots of stuffed animals along with an array of live fish and some lizzards to boot. The kids loved it...it was a big hit! I liked it too and I still had the Big-mac buzz going! We stayed a couple of hours before heading home. In fact, we closed the place down. Going home we had to pass through some underground passages. In these you can find many different shops that will sell you anything from fruit to socks to batteries to fish, you name it. We passed a video store and I had promised a movie or two earlier in the day. We got Narnia 2 and Madagasgar in Russian for the kids. I explained that we would donate them to the Diestki Dom when we leave because we couldn't play them in America. They understood perfectly and seemed happy at the idea that their friends would get the same pleasure of a new movie. The evening ended with another family movie night on the floor on a pallet of blankets!
Many thanks go out to the friends we have and the posts coming in from all of you. Matt, you crack me up! I was a little hesitant to post the naked fat lady, but I needed a good laugh and a joke or two from our friends about it.
Twyla, I want to answer a few of your questions. I'm sure that rubbing custom is not the same as in Italy, least not for me! Standing next to her is a thin man in all his glory, so yes, I kept it "family pc", lol! The kids are settling in with us fine and in fact it is Momi & Popi all the time. We have made leaps and bounds as a family since that first meeting and I commented to Heidi how I couldn't imagine us not being their parents, ever! They enjoy helping with the shopping and we let them have a few choices. They get overwhelmed with Kiev and they have a max endurance of a few hours before it's all "Let's go home" in perfect English from all three! We averted a melt down by spending almost two hours at McDonald's on Krashatic St this time. The kids love the happy meals, they have never had them before and they like the toys inside. However, we have to order an extra hamburger for the "little man". "Dos Hambugesas (sp?)", he says! We ate slowly and rested, then ordered ice cream! About the candy, I have tried the fizzy stuff, just not with these three. Rimma and Zina gave it to me one time. We will stay in Boyarka for the duration. It is only a 45 minute ride into Kiev by taxi, 1.5 to 2 hours via martsuka or train because of the waiting times.
BTW...does anyone have problems posting to our blog or viewing the pictures? I have had two seperate instances where folks are telling me that this is the case. I'm sorry for that. I'm not blocking anyone from viewing or posting, I assure you. All for now!
~ Felix ~

Friday, December 12, 2008

It Ain't over 'till the Fat Lady sings!

...but we are getting closer! Today we applied for new passports in the kids' new names. I accompanied them into the office as each had their picture taken. I proofed each document and signed my name on two lines for each of them. I looked over the form that will be their passport and at the end of each was the last name Roge'. I was just as happy the day the day we received their birth certificates with the new names and last name. It is real! I'm a new dad of three and Heidi is a new mom! Can't wait for you to meet them!

Olga told us that we might get the passports on Wednesday, Thursday the latest. Hopefully it will be Wednesday, please pray for that. If so, we can accomplish the medicals and visas by the end of the week. We can't buy airline tickets just yet until all of this is done. I'm hoping to fly out the next weekend. I'll let ya know.

I agree with your last comment, Matt! Posts do get shorter as time gets shorter! I'll do some writing on my laptop as time permits. Perhaps I'll do a story or two on "things Ukrainian"...like this photo of a popular resteraunt here in Boyarka. Yep, she stands outside on the main road for all to see! I've been here so long that these things seem normal and don't phase me at all.
Quit staring Matty!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Paperchase Continues

"Smile Daddy", says my 12 yr old as she snaps this picture.

We are still working on all of the neccesary documents we need to get out of Dodge. We got the birth certificates done yesterday. Today, Olga must have them notarized and made official. To get to this point she jumped through hoops to "unregister" the kids from their addresses in their villiage (old Soviet Union way of keeping tabs on people) and request a waiver because Kolya was never registered to begin with (address-wise). She also had to find the court decree showing that the kids birth parent's rights were terminated. It seems that it was never filed or registered either, so we paid for someone's incompetence by spending a day doing their job that they should have done a couple of years back.

We are working on tax ID for them now and after that will come the Ukrainian passports followed by the medical appointments and US visas, etc. This has proved to be the hardest part so far. I now know why everyone gets "whiny" around this timeframe. I am holding onto my Christian beliefs and trying to control my attitude. I don't want my children to see my angst and I wish to lead by example, even when I thought someone intentionally splashed me yesterday with their car as Nadia and I were walking along the roadside. Just another day in paradise!

It's going painfully slow for us, but it is progressing. Everyday, I ask Heidi for a best guess day to go home. Right now it is looking like the end of next week. Stay tuned though, we may need to fix someone else's mistake.

~ Fidgety Felix ~

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home Forever!

Yesterday, we took our kids home forever, for the first time! No longer will they live or sleep in an orphanage. No longer will they be sequestered at a scary sanitorium if they are sick. And did they know it! They were all smiles and grins as it was their day! We had shopped with them this past weekend for some special, "Go Home" clothes and they were eagerly awaiting for us when we arrived. Galina sent the house nurse to go and rescue our Julia from the sanitorium while the other two proceeded to change into their dress clothes.

Julia arrived and was very happy to be busted out! We spent the next two hours at the Dietski Dom because the staff had to have the "send off". Galina exchanged gifts with us, she gave us a pretty nice Matriska (sp?) doll and we presented her with a framed family photo, the same one a few posts back where Kolya is doing the rabbit ears. Everyone Ooh-ed and aaww-ed over the three in their new threads! I stood back and let them glow in the spotlight, it was their day. We went upstairs for some more pictures before taking off.

When we left, there were no tears, no sad goodbyes, no fan-fare! The kids couldn't wait to leave! Their attitude may be because we will come back for a formal going away party right before we leave. Also, Kolya wants to perform again with his dance troop. They have a competition Wednesday and Thursday in Kiev. We will drop him off at 8:30 on those mornings so that he can catch the Dietski Dom bus with the other boys, thus saving us the trouble of getting him to Kiev. We will pick him up afterwards, back at the Dom. We have elected to keep all three out of school. Nadia has only three days of school left due to the paperchase, Kolya will have only two days in school at most due to the dance thing and the paperchase, and Julia just needs the love, food, and attention she has missed. She lost weight when they isolated her and she couldn't come home.

Last night all went well until bedtime. It was funny as each kid had an idea as to their new bedtimes. We thought it best to send the little ones to bed around eight and let Nadia stay up with us intil 9pm. Man! You would have thought the world was coming to an end. We put the other two in bed and they blabbed, yelled, bellowed, boo-hoo-ed. you name it! We caught the gist of it...they were upset that they had to go to bed while Nadia stayed up. Every 10 minutes, Heidi or I would have to go into the room to quiet them down. When we would, they wouldn't speak to us and the would hide their faces under their pillows. Good thing too, they couldn't see me choking back laughter. It was so funny! I couldn't help but snicker at their futile attempts to change our minds! I'm lol right now remembering the situation! In this case, thank God for the language barrier. I'm sure they weren't happy that we told them in Spanish to go to sleep and quit whining! There were some choice, strong words coming from the room when we would leave. After 30 minutes or so of this, they tired of it and went to sleep. This morning all was forgiven and nothing was said about the night before. Heidi invited Julia to snuggle with her on her side of the bed. Julia put one arm around Heidi and reached for my hand with the other.

Taa-daa, instant family, just add LOVE!

I've added a new photo album in our picture link for this occasion entitled, "Going Home". This time I added captions to help with the story. See ya next time!

~ Felix ~

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stara Zburivka Trip Pictures

I've posted the SB pictures from this week's visit. I've been asked by a few people about the pictures, so I knew I better get on the ball. Many apologies to my buddy, Austin! You can find them in a new folder called "Trip to SB" in our photo link, over on the right.

I bought a new 2 gig thumbdrive in Kiev today for less than $10 USD. You can get everything here in Ukraine, including the regions, that you get in the US. Right now the rate is 7.2 which enables the dollar to go further, but it is bad for Ukraine.

The kids are excited to come home tomorrow. This is the last night they will spend at the Deitski Dom! Julia was especially happy! She was smiling and dancing when we showed up for our 15 minute visit. She got two goodie bags today because she asked Momma for an extra one yesterday.

Today we took Nadia and Kolya to the International Church in Kiev. It was interesting to see them out of their comfort zone and in a setting that they will experience in America. Everyone speaks English at the church and on several occasions Nadia ducked behind Heidi's back when she was introduced to someone. She was not the usual "in charge" big sister that she usually is. She asked me more than a few times, "Let's go!"

On Monday we are taking the kids and are going to meet up with Jim and Kari Volf who are coming in to start their adoption journey. Actually, now that I think of it, that's the name of their blog. And I thought that I was being original!

We start the paperchase on Tuesday to get home, we'll keep you posted on the progress. It's raining out and it is 9pm, time to head home and get a good night's sleep with the rain drumming on the tin roof of our apartment. I love that kind of sleep, don't you!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ukrainian Saturday night

Yeah, the 10 day wait is almost over. We can get to work again on Tuesday! Galina, though, told us to take the children Monday after school! That's good news because we can't wait to get Julia out of her present location.

I'm very culturally sensitive and I uphold and honor the traditions of the country and culture of which I'm a guest. But I totally disagree with Ukraine's take on the idea that somehow, my daughter is getting better care at this place than at her Dietsky Dom. I was fuming after Thursday night's visit when my Julia had deep dark circles under her eyes, hadn't showered or changed clothes in over a week, and cried in her mother's arms after only a five minute visit. I love the people of Ukraine, but I'm ready to have my kids with us, both here and in the US.

When Julia was coming home with us, we managed to erase the circles under her eyes with a little (well, lots) of food and love. Julia hates the food at the sanitorium and would always be the last one at the table. I accussed her of having a tape worm. Folks, I don't know where she was putting all of it! Thirty minutes after dinner and everyone else had finished, she would be done. We would pull up her shirt and she would show us her tummy, rounded by the nice meal Mom had given her. We always pack snacks for all of them to take back with them, making sure to give Julia a bit extra to make it through to her next family dinner.

For the past week, we still make the trip to the sanitorium to see her. We just pay the driver a little extra for the wait. They placed her in isolation because she was coughing with her cold. They were afraid that if she did have TB (she doesn't) that a cough would spread it. Now she can't come home and noone was there on Friday to release her from this wing. She is no longer sick from the cold but unable to come home. We try and get in 15 minutes with her in the hallway and usually we accomplish our goal. It just depends on who is working. Galina tried to get in touch of the doctor to release her and she said that on Monday, she will make him release her completely.

In the meantime, we pack a big bag of goodies, juice, some meal worthy snacks and her activity books. Julia is all smiles now, a quite different demeanor from Thursday night's visit. On Friday night, Heidi brought her a complete change of clothes and she loved her new jeans. We held up a coat in a corner of the hallway as she stripped and changed clothes. We couldn't do anything about the shower, though. When we met Julia for the first time, the staff told us she was like a "gentile kitten". We didn't know what that meant, but we have found out. She is quite the cuddle-muffin. She likes to climb up into Heidi's lap and to be held like a baby. She needs lots of love and attention and we have determined that Julia will be our child most in need. She craves Heidi's love and affection, being quite the Momma's girl. She loves me too and will hug 'till it hurts. But Heidi is the go-to girl for her.

Heidi and I have bought each child three changes of clothes. They wear these for a couple of days until we shower them and wash their clothes (we mastered the washing machine in our apartment weeks ago). They have quit wearing their orphanage clothes for a couple of weeks now. Galina knows this and of course she is going to allow us to keep the clothes that we have bought them. We will hand over the orphanage clothes probably on Monday. It is great to have a director who is so cooperative when it comes to adoption. The ability to have them each night, to wash their clothes, to let them have their new clothes, to have meals with them, all this is not taken for granted. I know that there have been adoptive parents out there that haven't been granted these things, so I am grateful.

Our time together has eased us into the bonding process and each day the kids show us new personalities and have given over their complete trust. Things may change when they are out of their culture and comfort zone when we get home. But they will know that they can trust in us to take care of them. All of the kids routinely speak Spanish with us. They are quite good! I want them to retain it along with their Russian.

Nadia is still bossy with her sibs, but she lets me take charge when I need to discipline Kolya. Last night she intervened when I took a MP3 player from Kolya after I warned him twice not to play with it during dinner (I don't know where he got it from, probably his turn with community property). I sternly told her that I was in charge and would handle it and she backed off. There have been numerous occasions like this and I'm slowly letting it be known that I am the parent now. Of course, she knows how to bat those eyes and I melt! She is wonderful though! She regularly takes my arm when we are walking and today she was snuggly during a movie. I was a bit shocked though when she came out of the shower today with just a towel wrapped around her. Kolya is doing the same thing, too. I guess they are all comfortable with their new family! I didn't make a scene or a big deal about it and neither did they. I guess we have moved forward!

Kolya has this pouty, crying side to him. Normally, he is a happy-go-lucky boy...and he is all boy, if ya know what I mean. Today, Nadia said something to him that sent him over the edge. He went off by himself and started crying. It is impossible to get him to do anything or listen to you when he does this. I'm not the kind of guy who plays along or allows things like this so we just leave him alone and choose to ignore the behavior, but not the boy. I'm sure he's testing us all and I'm all too eager to start establishing those boundaries! He has done this several times, but he always comes around. One time in a croud, I had to get tough with him...bring it on little man! Otherwise, he is a sweet boy and has the cutest laugh and giggle. He acts like he doesn't like it, but he gets a kick out of Heidi's belly-buster routine. We believe that he is going to have the easiest time with learning English, he's a parrot and perfectly pronounces most every word you say to him. We played soccer together today (it was nice and warm out again) and he is very skilled. Look out American kids! When Koya is around his friends, it's not cool to hug and kiss on Mom & Dad, he does that at home. He is also shy in crouds, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts when we arrive at DIA and there is a welcome commitee. All for now, see ya soon.

Short note: I've complicated my picture uploading now, I've gone and lost my thumb drive. No big loss, it had only copied pictures on it. I saw some for sale at the open air market here. I'll try and replace it soon. I don't like to post without pictures.

~ Felix ~

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy!

Holy Mackerel! There is a sun up there! Now that I've got that John Denver tune stuck in your head, i'll explain. Last week, and the three weeks before that (see, you lose track of time when you're away from a calendar) it has been overcast, cold, clamy and downright depressing. It snowed a couple of weeks back and that just messed things up fine! The walking was treacherous for a week until the ice thawed. We froze our tushes off last weekend waiting for the train to Kiev and shopping for clothes. We should have waited until this weekend! I was happy all day! There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was beaming in the Ukrainian sky. It was very warm today (i'm guessing 50's) and it should stick around for the weekend. It gets dark here at 4pm (no kidding!) so before I came into the ole trusty internet cafe, I caught a glimpse of the moon for the first time in over a month. It's the little things that you miss the most!

The kids are fine and we are gaining ground on taking the reins from Nadia. She is starting to act more like the 12 year old that she is and relaxing her "little mother" role she has had to take on for the past few years. It's good to see her be a kid again. Our missionary friends Becky and Nadia commented today on the remarkable change in them that they have seen now vs. our first week with them. Becky taught our Nadia that to get her way with Popi, she needs only to bat her eyes and say, "Please Daddy". The occasional pout we have seen from her has no effect on me and she is slowly learning this. So we went out to dinner tonight with our kids, sans Julia, with Becky and Nadia and on a couple of occasions, our Nadia tried out her new "please daddy" eye batting routine on me. Ugghhh, I caved in seconds! I gotta do better next time...Thanks, Becky!

We've kept it to ourselves, for no real reason, that Julia has been in the sanitorium since we met her. When we go pick up Nadia and Kolya, we travel down the road to the sanatorium to pick up Julia. Apparently, she tested positive weeks ago for TB exposure. It's the same thing that Rimma endured. She doesn't have TB, it's just that she has been exposed to the TB bacterium. We get her medical release on Monday and she will be with us permanently, as will the other two. It's a crazy situation anyway. She comes home with us every night just like the other two and we take her back each night. However, this week we have not had her with us because she caught a cold and they won't let her go home with us. She is over her cold, is no risk to anyone in regards to TB, but we can't find the doctor to give her a medical release to resume our home visits each evening...and he is gone for the weekend. It will be alright Monday anyway as the kids will be past the 10 day wait period and will be staying with us permanently, including Julia. Galina, the director, offered to keep the kids in school until we leave She also said that on days where we would be running around doing paperwork without them, the kids could wait for us at the orphanage until we got home to pick them up. I've said it before and i'll say it again...Galina rocks!

I'm still unable to upload photos in mass quantity to Picasa, so I'm sorry about that. I can only do four at a time and it takes several minutes to do that. If I get it figured out before we leave, I'll post them. I'll be sure to do it when we get home.

Prayer request
I've kept something else from most of you, but I need to ask you now for a prayer request. My baby sister's husband, Shawn, suffered a massive heart attack two weeks ago last Tuesday. He was revived after two resustitations and presently is comatose. He has never regained consciousness and doctors have determined that he will never will. He is 36, seemed to be in top physical shape, and this is a shock to all of us. He will leave behind my sister, also 36 and two boys ages 10 & 8. He was a believer and had been saved, so glory to God for that. I've been struggling with the decision to go home but my family has told me to continue to work to bring our kids home. Heidi needs my help with the three and there is nothing I could do, my sister has many people around her right now. I don't know what to ask you guys to pray for, but please pray for them, us, everything. Thank you.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Back in B-town!

We arrived back in Boyarka this morning, safe and sound. The overnight train back was the usual hot and stuffy ride that it always is. Note to future overnight train riders, always try to get the bottom two bunks. Those always go first because they are the coolest and the closest to the floor. We have a traveling clock and thermometer. The bottom bunk was recorded at 77 degrees while the top bunk hovered around 82. Hot air rises! I don't know about you, but I can't sleep when it is hot and there is noway to open the windows. You are considered strange if you leave your door open all night and they say that this is not safe anyway (we have never had problems with theft). Opening the door doesn't aleviate the heat anyway. Last April we opened the hallway window and caught the wrath of the attendant. Up went the window. There is a big phobia here about drafts. Oh, and don't sit on the concrete either. Bad juju! Anyway, I found a tiny air leak in the window seal and stuck my face in it all night. It would cease to exist when we stopped (you stop about 40 times to pick up or drop off passengers). That's when I would be jarred awake or warmed up so that my "turkey button" popped (you know what I mean). Woe is me! Sorry, I needed to whine a little. I'm feeling that Matt Garrett state of "anxiousness"!

OK, you probably want to know about the trip to Kherson. We picked right up where we left off with our friends in Kherson. We stayed at the infamous, House of Bible. It is just four blocks from R & Z's internat. We visited with Rimma in the evenings after school and we spent time with our young Christian people during the day. We got up early on Wednesday to go to Stari Zburivka (SB), compliments of the AGAPE van and our driver, Sasha. We picked up Luba, Natasha's daughter on the way. She along with Sergey would be our translator. This also gave us a chance to be with Luba again (she stayed in our home with the camp kids this year) and for her to see her mom for the first time in over two months. Luba attends a private school in Kherson and lives with her grandmother.

Natasha called us on the way there to ask where we were. For those of you who don't remember who she is, Natasha is the assistant director of the SB orphanage and UOO's direct contact for SB. She helps us get the kids to Colorado each year. Back to topic; we arrived at SB and Natasha immediately came out to greet us. We were taken into her office for refreshments and a quick explanation of what we would be doing that day. In no time, the kids from the 2007 & 2008 camps started appearing! It was all hugs and kisses!

We were asked to participate in some outdoor games with the kids in a nearby forest, so off we went. The orphanage's physical fitness teacher conducted a few games with us and the kids had a good time away from class for awhile. Next, we went inside to hand out the many gifts and letters to all of the UOO camp attendees. The kids loved the dart guns from Karly (big hit) and Ilona was treated to a suitcase full of goodies from her pen-pal "Grandma Judy". Ilona, being the generous girl that she is, shared most of her stash with the other girls. Tatum Volf had made personalized cards for each kid and inside each was a letter written by the Volf's. The gifts where appreciated and made all the kids very happy. The letters caught the attention of everyone and where a very treasured prize! Pen-paling makes a world of difference to an orphan, please get involved! We were secretly holding back the names of the kids until they asked for their letter. Near the end, Volva exclaimed that he hadn't received a card. Heidi told him that he didn't ask for one. When he did, his eyes lit up! All the kids read their letters and passed them around to show. Of course, they kept their eyes on their individual coveted letter!

Vanya wasn't present because he was at the sanitorium. His uncle has TB and the orphanage took the precaution of sending him there. As you know Svetlana was adopted by an Ukrainian family. Denis and Sergey are living with a foster family. Ina is living at a technical school, she has aged out. Katya and Ruslan were moved to a different orphanage so that they would be closer to visiting relatives.

Little Natasha and Ilona were much more outgoing than we expected. They picked right up where they were with us at the end of the camp. They are usually shy and reserved. Both girls smiled and actively engaged me and Heidi. Little Natasha even hugged me and sat in my lap a few times with her arm around me, something she would never do at the start of Camp 08. Rhya and Katya where a little more cautious with their feelings but warmed up later and were happy for the love and attention.

Zhenya, Vitalic, Sasha, Vasya, Vova and Igor were especially happy to see us. I was mobbed by the little guys and I was very happy to be shown so much love and affection by these boys. Of course we got "THE QUESTION" from a couple of the little guys. It broke my heart to tell them no. It didn't help that Natasha, in front of the boys, told us that a Ukrainian family wants to foster them and she is coaching the boys to say no to them. She said that they should go to a nice Colorado family instead. Ugghh, she's killin' me! Grab you hankies! When we left these boys brought me a stuffed animal gift. I asked him to keep it, but with tears in his eyes, he told me to take it as a reminder of him. My pet Girraffe is safely tucked into the side of my backpack.

As we were leaving, we finnally got to meet Natasha's husband and we got the hard sell again from her father-in-law, Nickolai the director, about the need for a van. In a comical fashion he said he fell in love with AGAPE's van and expressed his tremendous need for such transportation. He went on and on about it and after awhile, I asked Sasha for the keys and handed them to him. This brought a roaring round of laughter from the adult crowd and I made like we we walking back to Kherson. He said that he wouldn't make us walk, he would give us a ride in his new van! This would be a tremendous gift for those of you out there looking to do something for the orphans of SB.

On the train back to Kiev last night, during our bouts of conscious heat exhaustion, Heidi cried for the two boys who want us. I pondered how to get my friends (hint, hint, wink, wink) to donate materials, time and talent to finish my basement for what could be the Roge' Seven (Nadia, Julia, Kolya, Zina, Rimma, plus two?) Remember, if you build it, they will come!

Stay tuned for pictures from the camp. We are having technical difficulties uploading them.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekend Update

We spent all day today (Saturday) with Nadia & Kolya. Julia became sick and had to stay behind. We took them into Kiev and wore them out. Both kids slept in the taxi all the way home (1 hour due to traffic). We had another great day. We may be out of communication until Thursday because we are traveling back down to Kherson for a few days. We are in the 10 day wait period...no, we didn't get it waived. A week from Tuesday,we will take custody of the kids for good. We had planned long ago to do our mission work a few days during this period and Rimma will be leaving for a singing concert in Crimea next weekend. We want to spend the afternoons with her and during the day we will be visiting the SB kids that came on this year's UOO camp. So it's another chance to do God's work and leverage UOO's prescence into the Kherson orphanages. Besides, I gotta get rid of the four giant bags of goodies that all of our wonderful volunteers sent with us. I've not had to lug it around but a couple of times. But, it has been sitting in the corner of our room, reminding us of it's existance everytime I trip over it.

Love to all. Thank you for your kind comments. It is a comforting blanket to us. We will be home soon. I'll talk to you late next week if we can't get on-line in Kherson. ~ Felix ~

Friday, November 28, 2008

Love Fest!!

I'll explain the title later, it was Heidi's idea. But it is fitting of the day we had! For those on the edge of your seats, we are officially the parents of Nadia Isabella, Julia Grace & Nikolai "Kolya" Daniel! It took only 15 minutes and we were outa there! Our facilitator wrote up a few letters waiving our rights to have the event recorded. You see, we found out that they are required to record the reading of everything, dossier, adoption papers, SDA stuff, etc, and this is what takes 1-2 hours in most cases. In our case, we waived it and got down to business.

We went to the courthouse building where, on the second floor, there were these sets of doors. Behind each door was a courtroom which resembled more of an office than a court. In our "office" was a female judge wearing jeans, a prosecutor wearing Gucci boots, and two court "witnesses" . The witness closest to me (just two feet away) was surfing the internet the whole time. I believe he was looking for a pet, perhaps a dog, but I digress. Accompanying us into the hearing was Galina the orphanage director, Olga our facilitator, Anna the district social worker (who I won over two weeks earlier) and the three kids.

They asked me to stand, state my name, state my address, state my occupation and my year of birth. Heidi stood next and they asked here the same questions. Next, they asked us why wanted to adopt and we told them. We were next asked if we were made aware of the children's medical conditions (which were none, except the outlandish stuff in their files). Next, they asked if Galina and Anna approved of the adoption and they said yes. Our kids were asked to come over and stand next to the judges desk (desk, not a big podium thing like in the US...did I mention that we were in an office?) one at a time. They were asked questions like, "Did your birth parents ever come see you?", "Do you want these people to be your parents?", "Do you want to be adopted?" The kids all wanted to be with us and the judge joked with Kolya "What if the the girls go and you stay" He smiled and said he was going, too. The judge had a sweet tone of voice with him and you could tell that all the ladies in the room adored him. The prosecutor never said a word!

The judge said a few more words to us that Olga translated, but I don't remember them now. I was too caught up in the moment and I was enjoying the glowing smiles and hapiness of our children. Just like that the witness settled on the black labrador, the Gucci boot girl collected her papers and the judge said, "Congratulations, you are now the parents of these three children."

Everyone went outside and we took a few photos, sorry I haven't downloaded them from the camera yet. We loaded up into Sasha's BMW and Olga's Skola and off we went to lunch. Everyone enjoyed a great meal with salads, a maincourse (I had Chicken Kiev) and soda. Galina ordered a bottle of champagne and she toasted to our new family. I told ya she rocks!

Next, we were instructed that a celebration party was in order back at the Diestski Dom with the staff. We needed to stop and get three more bottles of champagne and three boxes of various chocolates. We did and we were show into the directors office for the bash. The entire staff (I counted 11 ladies, caretakers, cooks, nurses) with Heidi and I and our three kids were treated to a little party for the next two hours. Males in this country are expected to pour the drinks, a lesson I learned at last night's Thanksgiving party. We popped a few corks and I filled the glasses. That's where the LOVE FEST started!!

It seems that we are Diestski Dom favorites around here. Galina and her whole staff have been incredibly kind to us the whole time we have been here. They made toast after toast to us and said that they had always hoped that a family would adopt these three, but that they had honestly given up and hope that this would happen. They were teary-eyed as they explained that noone had ever shown children so much love as we have and that these three were lucky ones, we explained that were the lucky ones instead. Nadiya said that she was happy, Julia snuggled with her mom and "Little Man" Kolya sat with me. Everyone took turns thanking us for giving these three a chance. They said that they were impressed that we loved them the minute we visited them and that we didn't ask many questions and never took them to a doctor to have them examined. They were happy that we accepted them as they were. I explained that we knew we wanted them during our SDA appointment and we fell in love with them at first sight. More tears emerged as a told them that my children will be brought up to be proud of who they are, proud of their former culture, never ashamed of where they came from, and encouraged to keep all three of their present languages. I made the same promise to the staff that I did to the children when they decided on us: We will always love them, we will always protect them and we will always take care of them. Love Fest was in full swing!

By the way, it seems that the last post about the "Mama & Papa" thing was not needed. When you're bored and evaluating every circumstance you can analyze every silly detail about everything. I should have waited, the kids surely were. After court it has been "Momma this" and "Papa that". In fact, Kolya calls me Papi and Heidi, Momi...all the time. I have been told that this is endearing terms to them. It's like Daddy and Mommy instead of Mother and Father. (Perhaps my Russian speaking friends can tell me if I'm correct on the Momi & Papi explanation.) In any case, it feels great and is way cool!

~ Felix ~

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Court Date!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. It is already Thursday here as I type at my ole internet cafe! Currently it is about 1pm (3am Colorado time) and I'll need to be quick because I need to leave and pick up the kids for our daily 2pm roundup.

We got our court date notification this morning! We will go to court with all three kids for a 10:30am hearing this Friday, November 28th! Then starts the 10 day waiting period. Things kinda slowed down for us the past two weeks, so we have been using this downtime by spending time each day with the kids. I mentioned earlier our daily 2-6pm routine.

We are growing closer together as a family. At first the kids would "umm"at us or clap their hands to get out attention. They aren't ready to say Momma & Papa just yet. Heidi and I quickly nipped this in the bud the first day by telling them that they could call us Heidi and Felix or Mama & Papa, but call us something. We didn't like the initial "umms" and clapping. Kolya resorted to whislteling at me the first couple of days. That boy can do the "hail a taxi" whistle, something I have never mastered. But, I thought it a little disrespectful, even if he didn't see it that way. No whislteling at Dad!

The past week, however, the kids refer to us as Mama & Papa when talking to each other about us or when refering to us with other adults. Little Julia has started calling Heidi, Mama. She still calls me Felix, as do Nadia and Kolya. Nadia slipped a couple of times and called me Papa one day. So, they are adjusting. Just a couple of weeks ago, they never dreamed that a family was coming for them. We were the first parents to see their files and the first to ever visit them. So, they had no idea of Ukrainian adoption timelines.

I agree with Heidi about their use of Mama and Papa. She reasoned that they are a little hesitant perhaps because when they do, they will have let go of the only parents they knew before. It can be hard for an orphan to make this transition. Rimma and Zina have done it and they call us Mama & Papa, but they have had time, and both have spent time in our home. A little time will help and before long I'll get tired of hearing them say, "Dad, can I have some money" or "Dad, can I borrow the car"! Until then, Heidi and I do secretly yearn for those titles to come from their voices. Those are words we have waited since our wedding to hear.

We have a family to spend Thanksgiving with and we have lots to be thankful for. We will write to you all post-court. Have a blessed holiday. Happy Thanksgiving from Ukraine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Exceeding Capacity

OK, I know I promised you a little story about each kids personality this time, but I am in the Kiev train station again at the internet cafe. We are here to see Zina as she and several orphans come up to practice the Russian shoemaker play. They will leave at 3 am this Friday and perform this play at several Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and New York locations. We will take the train into Kiev each morning then jump on the Metro to the CBN offices for the next two or three days to see her. At around 1pm or so, we will repeat the process to get back in time to pick up the three kids.

My title has to do with the phenomenon of Ukrainian travel. I have ridden the Metro and at rush hour, you can be very close with people you have never met. But nothing compares to this morning's train ride. WOW! Now I know how sardines feel! We were quite literally squeezed into the train by the mob of people getting in the door. I spooned with several babuskas and honery men all the while not knowing what to do with my hands! If I left them by my side, they were definately stuffed next to someones "nether regions". If I raised them, I groped some poor babuskas "blouse area" in the process of getting them out of the previously mentioned "cracks". I told Heidi what was going on during this time (she was somewhere under my arm pit) and we both laughed histerically as we went bumpty-bump down the tracks. Great time!

The same kinda thing has happened to us on the Metro if and when we went during rush hour. One has to let go of personal space in this country. You are expected to participate in this version of personal closeness if you want to traverse the city with 6 million of your closest friends. Don't think that the little Marshukas (small city buses that take people from town to town, not to be confused with city buses) are any different either. I counted 45 people getting into our 35 seat marshuka from Kherson to Odessa last April.

It should be noted though, that I actively participate in the exceeding of capacity with our taxi driver. Who wants to pay double for the same ride? I have learned from the driver that the car is a 1965 Russian auto and that the right side brakes do not work. This car and I were "born" the same year! When the driver stops, the car veers left and he steers right. We repeat this overloading everyday with three adults and three kids in a car built for only four people. Do you guys remember the Datsun B210 (I had one)? This car is about that size. I wonder everyday if we will stop at the next intersection or if the left side brakes give out. Luckly, this driver is a kindly old man who I know can use the grivna we are paying. He drives slow and the price is right.

It only costs about $5 per trip for the taxi, about .40 cents for the metro, and .50 cents for the train to Kiev. For those prices, I'll gladly spoon with my buddy Igor, Ivan, Sasha.....

~ Felix ~

Monday, November 24, 2008

Roge' Cinco

Someone used the phrase "Roge' Cinco" on a comment the other day and I think it fits us well. We had a great weekend with the kids on Saturday. We kept them from 9am until 6pm. Saturday, we bought some clothes for them. Sunday we went to Kiev in the morning for service at the international church, so we didn't get back until 2-ish. Karen came back with us to Boiarka and took this picture, out first family picture. This is not the only shot taken, but it is the only one where all five of us are looking at the camera, smiling, or not picking our nose (OK, i'll try not to do that in the future). BTW...what is it with Ukrainian kids and the peace sign/rabbit ears pose? I couldn't stop Rimma and Zina, I couldn't stop Tanya and Luba, and now this bunch. Everytime we had a good shot, someone would throw it up. Oh well, here's your obligatory rabbit ears photo.
We are in the pre-court phase of our adoption. We had hoped for this to go quickly too, but we are on pace for an average SDA apointment to court date timeline. I call it the pre-court 10 day wait (you all know there is a mandatory 10 post-court wait). If all goes well, we should go to court this Friday. Our judge is waiting until the SDA sends all of their paperwork to her and the SDA said that they will be done on Wednesday. Olga hopes that the judge will stick to her earlier prediction of "court on Friday".
We spend everyday with the kids and they are wonderful. We have English lessons everynight and then we eat dinner together. The kids are cute as the have come to expect us to do certain things at certain times. They know to hold hands and bow heads during dinner prayer and they know to wash hands everytime the come in from the outside (a Kari lesson we learned) and before and after dinner. There are so many of these Roge-isms that they are picking up...and that's great! Part-time parenting is breaking the ground for all of us as we all learn what it will be like in the full-time future.
I don't have much time today, so I need to be getting back to our apartment to catch our routine 2pm taxi to the Detski Dom to pick up the kids. It will be another "down week" until court so in the next post or two, I'll tell you a little about each child's personality, likes and dislikes. See you then!
~ Felix ~

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Date with a Princess

So I will dance with Cinderella, while she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone …
- Steven Curtis Chapman

This past Saturday, I had a date with a princess, two in fact. Heidi and I spent Friday with our kids and we told them that we would return on Sunday to see them. We explained that we were going to see two girls that lived in Kherson that we wanted to add to our family one day, girls that would be their sisters once a few big hurdles were removed. So, we said goodbye around 6 pm and took a cab to the Kiev train station for the overnight passage to Kherson.

While at the station we ran into Vika, who is also in Rimma and Zina’s groupa. We knew that we would see her because we had talked to Karen Springs and she explained that by coincidence, Vika and a chaperone would be there. Vika had traveled to the US embassy for a Visa appointment. She, along with Zina and a few other orphans, will travel to the US for a few weeks to do the Russian Shoemaker play. This was something that we had already known about as well. Our window of opportunity to see Zina would be but a few short days, and it was her birthday on Saturday. Our little angel turned 13, only three more years before all will be lost on her chance to be with us.

We had hoped to meet up with Vika and her chaperone Saturday morning in the Kherson train station, but we somehow the issue got lost in translation. So, at nine-ish in the morning, we stood at the station hoping to go with them. After awhile, we decided to get a taxi to the internat, but we didn’t have the address in Russian. By memory, Heidi transcribed the address into Russian and we explained to the driver that we wanted to go to the internat on Pugachova St. He understood us and off we went. I immediately recognized the route and helped direct us straight there. As we pulled up I saw two girls hanging out by the front gate, watching every car pass by. When I exited, Zina saw me immediately and began running at top speed into her Daddy’s arms. Vika was close behind. Zina knew we were coming, had received permission to go “out on the town” with us, and was waiting for her family. Not a minute later, Rimma came running from the the corner of the building, straight into Heidi’s arms. A family had been reunited.

The girls took us up to their rooms to introduce us to their English teacher, Katya, who would be their chaperone for our trip. She is a very nice young blond Ukrainian woman about in her mid-twenties and she is the girl’s favorite teacher. Upon meeting us she said that we would have a special meeting at four o’clock at the orphanage. We would need to be back in time for it. There, we would be presented with some good news.We didn’t have time to waste hanging around the internat, we had girlie-shopping to do. We had preplanned a little shopping excursion, so it came as no surprise that Dad’s wallet would get a workout. We also knew that we would have a pizza party for Zina at a restaurant of her choosing, so you see, we had to get going, I was told!

The first order of business was a dress for Rimma’s singing concert in Crimea that was coming up. “I have to have a dress, Papa!” We stopped at a bridal dress hop and I immediately knew this was gonna cost me! They brought out a few formal dresses for my sweetie to try on and I enjoyed watching four Ukrainian store assistants dote and cater to an orphan, as if she were the president of the country. Dress number two captured the attention and hearts of everyone and there was no sense even trying on the rest. For a mere $75 USD, standing before me was my first glimpse of a real-life Cinderella. Plucked from her bane existence as an orphan and shining like the diamond that she is, I teared up.

I composed myself, paid, and we left with the dress. Next up, jeans for Vika that the Carman’s had sent money to buy. Vika was on a mission, she knew where and what kind of jeans she wanted and with the leftover money we were able to buy her a belt, too. Her ensemble completed, we moved on to the next task.

We took a break from the shopping to have the pizza party for Zina. She chose a very nice Italian restaurant and we ordered four pizzas with salads. Our friend and interpreter from our April trip, Sergey, joined us for lunch, too. We had a pleasant lunch with the three girls, Katya, and Sergey. Rimma discovered our video camera and started shooting footage. The camera is new, I don’t know a thing about it yet, but Rimma worked it like a pro. These kids are so smart!During dinner I leaned over and asked Zina if Ukrainian birthdays were like American birthdays…where there would be a cake and she would blow out candles. She told me, yes. I asked her if anyone had made the cake, yet. She said no. I asked her if a cake could be purchased from a local store. She smiled and knew where I was headed with my questioning. I told her, “Let’s go find that cake!”

Four o’clock was approaching and we needed to get back to the orphanage for our important meeting. We had our cake and candles in hand when I asked Zina if there were anything in the market she needed. She “hemmed and hawed”, being the typical “I don’t need anything” Zina that she is when Sergey translated, “I need a school bag, a cool one that hangs like a purse”. A new blouse and a school bag later, we made our way to the internat. My wallet was smoking, but still intact. Overall, it was less than a $200 day. Not bad considering I had been shopping with five females!

Next, we had our important meeting at the orphanage. Right on time at four, the girls dismissed themselves and we started our talks. We learned some great news! Rimma has finally been registered and has in fact turned down two Ukrainian families that came to adopt her because she wanted to wait for her Mama and Papa in Colorado! We did not tell her to turn down opportunities, rather, we prayed and decided to leave it up to the girls whether they wanted to go to a home or wait for us. This shows Rimma’s commitment to us as her family and in fact, she calls us that all the time. You may remember that she had doubts after she returned to Ukraine after she stayed with us. If she will wait, we will return for her.

That was the good news; unfortunately, Zina’s case continues to wait on a decision from the courts to decide if she should be put on the adoption registry. We found out in the meeting that the courts have had three years to make a decision about her status, but still they have not made a decision. We have the support, no doubt, of the orphanage to have both girls and they want us to have them. This however, doesn’t help the fact that Zina continues to wait for an unexplainable bureaucratic process that has her locked out of adoption. This makes no sense! We again received promises that they will do all that is possible to get her through the courts. I worry that we will never have the opportunity to adopt her. I explained to them that the US will not allow us to adopt her after she turns 16. This perked some attention as this was not common knowledge to them. Heidi cried as I pled for them to take charge and push the issue. “Time is running out for Zina and it is breaking her and our hearts”, I told them. I told them that I was tired of disappointing my daughter, they needed to look her in the eye and see the hurt. They agreed to sit down with Zina and discuss her situation with her.

After the meeting concluded we left for Zina’s room to continue her birthday party. The girls were waiting for us and we shared the news with them. This is when Rimma told us that she had turned down two families. Heidi had asked me if she could speak to the girls alone, one at a time with Sergey. I knew this was the “big elephant in the room” talk that they would have to hear from us one day, and that day had arrived. All along we have told the girls that we would be adopting more children and they have been ok with that, even encouraging. We don’t keep secrets from each other in this family, but it is hard to get explain things to someone who is thousands of miles away and who doesn’t completely understand your language. We knew we would need to look them in the eye and tell them in person that they would not be the first children to be adopted and that we were in fact in the country to take home their new brother and sisters.

Heidi said that they both accepted this fact and she told them that we would be bringing them home now if it were up to us. They asked a few questions about the other kids and things seemed to go well. Heidi also explained that Rimma was registered and Zina was not. Zina said that if we got the opportunity to adopt Rimma, we should come and take Rimma home first because it would be good for her to be in our family and start learning English. Zina said she knew that we would come back for her, and she had Vika and other friends to keep her company. I almost lost it when I heard this. Heidi told Zina that it would break her heart to bring Rimma home and leave Zina behind. It would be hard for all of us to make that decision, one I’m not sure I could make, if it comes down to that. Please pray for Zina’s registration and keep it at the top of your prayer list. Rimma was registered due to our prayers, and Zina needs our help now.

Time came to light the candles and sing happy birthday. The lights were dimmed, the candles were lit, and right then I saw it again. In the soft hue of the candlelight I saw my second Cinderella with a smile on her face as her friends and family paid homage to her day. She looked ecstatically happy and I wondered if this was her first ever birthday party of this magnitude. I said a little prayer as she blew out her 13 candles and I thanked God that I got to witness this special day. I asked her if she made a wish and she said yes, of course! I was smart enough not to ask and she knew wishes kept secret come true.

What do you think she wished for?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back in Cyberspace!

Whoo-hoo, we're back on the internet. After searching for days here in Boiarka (yes, I misspelled it earlier with a Y in it) we found an internet cafe! Our gracious Boiarka guardian angels, Becky and Nadya (not our Nadya), let us use their internet at home to post once or twice. Now we can walk just 15 minutes down the road to get on-line at the internet cafe. We will post daily if we have down time. When adoption work happens, we will of course be working that day and we will get back to ya.

We should find out soon when our court date will be. This whole week has been a blessing. We have a fabulous place to stay, American missionaries to talk to, a cooperative director, and 500 channels of TV! Every single middle eastern, African, Slavic, or Latin country is represented...several stations each! And yes, we are getting some good English stations too! The school we where we are staying has class during the day. Today, Heidi and I were guest speakers during a "middle school" English class. The children were adorable as they used their English skills on us, asking questions and answering our questions. Two nights ago, we were guest speakers during two different adult English classes. One was advanced and the other group was intermediate level. So, we are having fun, passing the time, enjoying good company and good food. We may move here! Just kidding!

Here's our present schedule. Most mornings, Heidi wakes up and starts breakfast for us while I snooze another hour or so. We then run errands or walk around the town looking for things. We have instituted the "Twyla Barrett" method of shopping when we don't have Becky. We open a door, peak in, and if it has what we need, we stay! Kudos to you, Twyla, we learned from the best! We have been to the bank, the open air market(s), the grocery stores. We usualy return around noon and we hang out until the kids get home from school, which is around 2:30-ish. Becky has been gracious, serving as taxi driver in her nifty Daewoo, for the past few days. But, we need to wean ourselves from doing that. We will start using the taxi today, but it has been nice finding out about the kids as Becky translates and has a way with kids...they open up to her and us and we have learned a lot. We have to pick up the kids from the orphanage at 3pm everyday. It's kinda like being at home with kids, except we give 'em back each night! We have the kids everyday from 3-6 pm at which time we reverse the process and drop them off. During family time we always have dinner together and then we do English work together and have a little play time. Heidi was exhausted last night so we watched "The Incredibles" in English with them and we got halfway through it before we headed back to the orphanage. Hey, American movies are English lessons right? All work and no play... A few minutes to 6pm we load up and drop off the kids and it is hugs and kisses all around. We have complete trust from the director and she agrees that we need this time to bond as a family. The kids go upstairs to do their homework and get ready for bed, we leave and usually head home where I watch a movie (we brought 20 or so). Heidi usually falls asleep during it which is why she always wakes up before me...or maybe it's because I'm being lazy! We get up the next day and repeat the process. Each day we get an update from Olga, our translator/facilitator, on where we are with the adoption. So far, so good!

For those of you have asked, the kids go to school outside of the orphanage during the day and return home to the orphanage every afternoon around 2:30. So it is an Dietski Dom (children's home), not an Internat (boarding school) like Rimma and Zina's school.

Monday, we had to come up with the names of the children for the court documents. They will be:

Nadia Isabella Roge'
Julia Grace Roge' (Yoo-lia sound at home, Julia in school)
Nikolai Daniel Roge' (Nickname Kolya at home, eventual shortening to Cole perhaps)

We don't know what the director will allow for the weekends yet, but I assume that it will be more of the same, just that we will have all day instead of three hours. We will "Metro" it into Kiev for church with Karen on Sundays before kid pick-up.

I had a post ready for this past weekend with Rimma and Zina ready to go. I used our laptop to compose it and put I put it on a thumb drive to upload. I was eager to tell you about it and since we hadn't found internet yet, I wrote it on MS Word. Well, for some reason, it won't open here. They have Word and these are new computers, but for some reason, I can't figure it out yet because the problem pop-up window is in Russian...hmmmnn. I knew that I should have saved it as a text file! I'll work it out and post it up for you along with a picture of them. Be warned though, grab you tissue! I can get mushy when talking about my girls!

All for now, we'll let ya know something as soon as we do. It is going well, though, so don't worry about us. I had hoped to drop a few lbs here but there is abundant good food on every corner. Pass the Chicken Kiev, bashalsta!

~ Felix ~

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boyarka Thus Far

Backtracking to Monday, we packed our bags and moved from Karen’s apartment. Sasha our NASCAR driver and Olga our translator picked us up at 9:00. It took us 75 minutes to get across town to the District office to drop off documents…another step in the process to obtain a court date. From the District office it only took about 20 minutes to get to Boyarka. Yep, the town we are staying in is called Boyarka. Sasha and Olga dropped us off at our new home. Karen arranged for us to stay in a private apartment above a Christian school. The school’s English teacher, Becky, is from Mississippi and she has a huge heart for orphans. Becky explained to us that the school’s founder is a local Ukrainian home builder. He created the Christian school as a tithe. Each year he donates 10% of his business earnings to the construction and operation of the school. Folks, it’s a really nice place, God is taking care of our needs!

After the kids got out of school, Becky drove us to the orphanage. She was excited to meet the director, Galina, so that she has more opportunities to serve and help those in need. Becky could tell right away, too, that this orphanage was not the norm. It is clean, well-kept, and filled with a caring spirit. As we were headed out with Nadia and Kolya, Galina told us not to hurry back. She added, “See you this evening!” Wow! More freedom with the children! So we made a quick plan to pick up Julia, take the children grocery shopping and head back to the apartment.

We asked the kids their opinion of whether they liked the plan, and none of them had a strong opinion. I asked if they would like me to cook them dinner, and if they liked eggs, but again, they didn’t have an opinion. The only thing they were firm on was “we don’t want to go back to the orphanage!” Becky asked Kolya specifically if he wanted to eat dinner at our home, and his answer was, “Whatever Nadia decides is fine for me.” He tends to defer to her on most things.

While the girls and I started grocery shopping, Felix experienced one of Kolya’s “firsts.” Felix and Kolya walked to a bank down the street to change dollars to grivna, and Becky translated for Kolya that that was the first time he had ever been in a bank!

Nadia was very helpful grocery shopping. I gave her my English grocery list, and she looked for each item. She could read the words milk, bread, fruit and sausage on her own! Nadia also helped me select the right brand of each item when I could not read the label myself. She is quite the little mother hen for the children, and she really enjoyed taking care of me, too, at the grocery store. One of our early challenges will be to wrestle the role of Mother from her as she has had to be their leader and Mom for their whole life.

Next stop…home! When we arrived back at the school, the building was empty. The children insisted on lugging the groceries upstairs for us. I cooked our first family dinner and Felix worked with the kids on a short English lesson. Julia kept drifting back into the kitchen, though, to sneak cheese and sausage and to try to help me. Nadia wanted to help, too, but I kept shooing them out of the kitchen. I told them, “Mama cooks!” over and over again. These children have had to fend for themselves for so long, so it is important that they learn to allow someone to take care of them.

We've been blessed to find these wonderful children!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quick update

Just a quick update on our happenings. We are working on a long term solution for internet. So be patient with our posting. We should have it worked out tommorow. The reason for this is because we have moved to the town where the kids are located, just outside Kiev. It's like Broomfield/Superior is to Denver. We live at a super-clean, very nice third floor apartment with 4 bedrooms over a christian private school that is very near our kids..

We are fine, in fact, blessings continue to flow! Tonight, the director sent the kids home with us and we had family time and dinner together at our apartment before taking them home after a few hours. Did I tell ya the director is great! We have had the kids alone a few times before, but not at home! A mutual friend here has told that the director may be letting come home for weekends soon!

We went to see Rimma and Zina this past weekend. We had some very excited girlies! They ran at top speed to see Mama & Papa! I will blog seperately about this later. We need to leave our gracious host's home so they can go to bed and we can get home too.

I promise not to leave you hanging so long for the next post. We will also post some pictures soon to the photo link over there on the right side. Thanks everone, Dobre Noche (Good night).

~ Felix ~

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008


We went to see the kids again today with high hopes that they made a decision. We were given the library of the orphanage with blessings to keep the doors shut and be together in private. This is another blessing because usually when you show up at an orphanage, you get an audience. One by one the kids showed up and they drew some pictures for us to break the ice. We were getting good indications that they wanted us too, but our translator/facilitator had left to speak with the director and to give us time to be alone with them. When she returned we “popped” the question and we got a resounding, “Da!” Therefore, we have started the paperwork process and will start on the court date.

Hence, I feel confident enough to tell the kids names. Our oldest is Nadya (12), next comes Julia (11), and the caboose is Kolya (9). Each child opened up to us and showed their true personalities. We had each of them pegged except little Julia. She isn’t as quiet and shy as once thought, although she is the quietest of the bunch. In fact, she won the question competition with a total of 7 good questions for us. A couple of the questions were, “Are you still interested in adopting me and my brother and sister” and “Do you like me as a girl/daughter”? We of course said that we would be honored to be their parents.

I told them that I had three questions for them and each of them had to listen and give their answer. First, I asked them, “Do you promise to never use drugs?” Da! “Do you promise to never abuse alcohol?” Da! And finally, “Are your hearts open to having more brothers or sisters (Rimma & Zina) in the future?” Da! I watched them as they answered and I think it made them happy to know that drugs and alcohol would never break up their family again. Since the children have a church in their orphanage and regularly attend, I knew that they would be receptive to a Christian home, too.

Now for the kicker, we’ll call it another example of God’s work at hand. All of the kids know Spanish! Heidi knows enough Spanish to get by and I understand a little. The kids have spent some time on hosting trips to Spain and learned it there. It aids communication and since they know very little English and we know very little Russian, we speak in Spanish. How cool is that! Perhaps we will adopt some Russian speaking children from Mexico next time!

The children asked us to take them outside so we toured the grounds hand in hand. It was pitch black outside as we walked the grounds, but it didn’t matter. We had our kids and they had us. Each took turns snapping a few pictures before calling it a day. The director met us at the front door and asked us if we would like to take Julia back to the sanatorium ourselves. We walked over to the car and put Julia inside, but the director insisted that Nadya and Kolya accompany us as well. So off we go with three kids and no staff to who knows where. Did I mention that this director is great? She had all the documents ready to go for us to get the court date rolling, before the kids had agreed. She is very pro-adoption and family oriented, telling us that these kids need to be in a family rather than any orphanage. I can foresee her letting us take the kids on our own very soon. I let her know that I appreciate her trust and will not do anything to lose it. She likes us a lot. We will move to the town after we get back this weekend to be closer to the kids, although we are pretty close now. Karen found us a “deal” close to the orphanage.

We returned our angels to their temporary home and kissed them goodnight for the first time. They hugged us, confident that we would return the next day. We consider ourselves blessed to have had such a smooth process so far. Clearly ours and your prayers have been heard. Jesus is most certainly walking right next to us and these children.

I am considering a picture of them on the next post. Let me know your thoughts on that. I don’t think anything can halt God’s amazing work, so I have no fear of it now. The “Big Reveal” may come sooner than expected. God bless you all for staying with us and praying for us!

~ Felix ~

About Us

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Longmont, Colorado, United States
Heidi loves to play sand volleyball, sail and garden. Felix loves to fly at the local aeroclub, sail and fish.