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?


Anonymous said...

I gotta quit reading these at work. I keep tearing up and that's not very professional. I will pray for you all, and especially Zina. All of the kids are beautiful. Felix, you and Kolya are going to be outnumbered! Ha ha! Better get used to breaking out the wallet.

Cathy Smith

Rolan, Eileen, Josh and Ransom said...

Oh Man! Another weepy day for me! What a fabulous dress!! I've honestly never seen anything so beautiful. Wasn't Zina jealous? So much prayer for these girls. What a blessing to be there on her birthday! Jesus is so good. Moving on to the next day blog.

Debbie said...

Though you warned me, I was in tears. Your girls are so precious! Happy birthday to Zina! She is on my prayer list, and I find myself thinking of her often. And Rimma is definitely a beautiful princessa.

Rahn's Journey said...

wow-You got my heart strings. The adoption journey is about real life, which is so often unfair. We are praying for Zina and that God would guard her heart. She is a beautiful young lady with lots of compassion and forsight. We are praying for your hearts too, the heart break can be overwhelming
remain focused daily on Him, He does know the plan. Fran

Mayme said...

What a great day to have with your girls!!! And such a beautiful dress!! Great news about Rimma-when is she available then-oct next year? Maybe with your prodding Zina's registration will move along faster. Hoping that is the case!! Hope your are still having fun and exploring your new village! Love Mayme

Jim and Kari said...

Praise God for Rimma's registration. We will keep praying for Zina's. Zina looks so much older. Such beautiful girls. What an emotional day for all of you.

Matt and Aimee Garrett said...

Hey, Mister-No one out-blogs me in length! Got it?!! It's interesting reading another man's take on life with so many females as I, too, have the same privelage. Just makes you want to go out and shoot something or carry something heavy. Resist the urge to be "co-crabby" with all of them once a month-kind of like, "...don't look into the light..."!!! They all role their eyes at me when I refer to them as princesses. They have no idea, we REALLY do! (Does that make me "The King"?-I believe it does!!! Take care. Matt

Holli said...

Happy Birthday Zina! This one made me cry!! I can't believe Zina made such and adult decision. Her effortless understanding brought me to tears. She seems phenomenal! I will keep praying that she gets registered SOON! And Rimma looks so adorable in her little princess dress! I love you! xoxo -Holli

Kathy and Matt said...

Beautiful photos and fun to read about your special day!

Twyla, John, Duncan, Mari, and Misha said...

Heidi and Felix,

We weren't sure if you would have time to visit Rimma and Zina!

It sounds as if your visit was at just the right time to get the news about Rimma being registered, to pick out a beautiful dress for her (she is gorgeous), to push for Zina's registration, and for Zina's 13th Birthday! We know what Zina's wish and what both girls pray for every night - you guys!

We hope Heavenly Father will soften the hearts of the people who are dragging their feet concerning Zina and get that girl registered already!

It sounds as if the girls were very gracious concerning the new children. They know you will be back for them as soon as possible!

We loved the pictures. You both look so happy as new parents! There is a special glow to both of you and you can feel your happiness through your pictures!

How is the weather holding? It looks chillier than a month ago and the trees have lost all of their leaves!

The Garretts had a Welcome Home Anya Party yesterday and we missed you both! It was a chance for all the kids to meet and get to know each other!

There are a large number of Ukrainian young ladies right in your girls' age ranges (Nastia Fields, Nastia Matthews, Sara and Jordan Stewart, Lubov Carlson, and Mari). Kolya Hickman (12) got along fine with Duncan (9) so he should get along fine with your Nicolai also!

You are never far from our thoughts and always in our prayers! The Barretts

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.