Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 16 - Quick Snippet

The Internet is down at the Bible House and has been since Friday afternoon. We had a power outage and there is no one to reset the computer that controls the wireless. Everyone is gone for the weekend and the office is locked, so I walked to the Internet cafe down by Chelantanos...yep, they have Internet today.

I'm OK and visiting with Rimma everyday...still the shy quiet girl who depends too much on Oksana or Tanya to communicate with me. We did have some alone time yesterday for a couple of hours. She trusted me to catch the right Martshuka, so we went to the cafe by Zym (sp?) for those of you who know where I'm talking about. Oksana met up with us later, we shopped for the perfect boots that she and I can agree on. Still no dice! Dinner was at the infamous Beujois (sp?) restaurant. Nice English menu, but very pricey. Higher prices than Zeppelen's!

It snowed heavily on Friday, mostly due to the increased temperature. It must have been in the 20's both Friday and Saturday..Nice! Today feels like high 30's and it must be because of two reasons. First, everything is thawing. Second, I got caught in a huge rainstorm about halfway to the Internet cafe! Go figure!

That's all for now, gotta go pick up my girly at noon for lunch. Oksana will join us so that Rimma will be able to talk with me. I hope to have Internet restoration tomorrow. I'll try and Skype with my family since it will be Sunday night there when it is Monday morning here.

BTW...why is it that spell checker wants to capitalize "Internet"? If I had it regularly, it would deserve such attention. Still no news on the Interpol clearance!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 14 - Just Me & Jimmy

Browsing my ever dwindling supply of DVD's, I noticed that somehow Jimmy Buffett's "Live in Antigua" DVD got stuffed in the case. Is it a sin to watch Jimmy carousing around a stage in the Caribbean, singing Margaritaville while boarded at the Bible House?

It's snowing buckets outside and I need a little pick me up. Oh well, it's 5 o'clock somewhere!

Wastin' away again in Kherson-ritaville,
Searching for my lost Internet signal,
Some people say that there's a Interpol clearance to blame,
But I know (da-da-daaa-daaa-da), it's the SDA's fault!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 13 - Heidi is going home

We made the decision today that Heidi should go home. There is nothing more for her to do here but wait, and our go-getter facilitator, Tanya, feels that things are very up in the air on the Interpol thing. I will stay in place and work things from here for the time being.

Heidi is taking the overnight train back to Kiev tonight and she will go wrap up her part of the US Embassy work in the morning. She will fly out Saturday morning, bound for Denver to get home to our children. Sunday will be a rest day with the kids and she wants to return to work on Monday.

I just put Heidi in the taxi twenty minutes ago and I really want to go bury my face in my pillow for awhile. But, Oksana is here to take me to church and get me past the initial separation. Ugh, my military deployments aren't this hard, I guess because I'm always the one departing. To say Heidi is my Rock, is an understatement.

Z is still at the sanatorium. You could hear Zina getting choked up when we broke the news to her. She will not get to see her mom this time. Rimma just called and reported that Zina is still crying. This certainly isn't helping my heart, either.

I can't imagine the scene when I take Rimma away for good and Zina stays behind. God, please give me strength.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 12 - Absolutely Nothing Happening

This is the part I don't like about Ukrainian adoption (well, apart from imposing new rules which go against SDA rules that are in place). The lack of information, the lack of courtesy of giving any information, and the lack of caring about giving any information to waiting families who are just sitting and wasting time. Heidi and I are burning through leave, away from our kids, and want to bring our daughter home.

Our facilitators are doing their best, but haven't been told anything either. We have been asked to stay on through the week with the possibility that news may come soon. If it doesn't, one or both of us may come home this weekend.

We visit Rimma for 2 hours each day after school. She's frustrated with the language barrier and is shy at trying to communicate with us, but it is getting better. The big ice-breaker is constant games of Go Fish in English.

We had a hard day yesterday. We were stopped or hindered at everything we attempted to do. It's funny now, but it wasn't so funny at the time. The first thing we did incorrectly was to assume that the number 8 bus goes the same route as the number 8 Martshuka. We got a traveling tour of some western neighborhood of Kherson. Oh well, we just figured that the bus would go in a circle back to our original boarding stop and we would recover. Nope! At the end of the line the money-taking lady spoke harshly at us and we explained that we must have missed our stop, in English. She demanded another 1.5 grivna (about 20 cents) to ride the bus further. We paid up and noted that the bus had simply turned around and was going backwards on its route. After several stops, the afore mentioned money-taking lady must have felt sorry for us because she was all smiles and friendly. She wanted to make sure that we got to the "central" street where we were looking for originally. Her warmness was a considerable spirit lifter for me and I cheered up for the time being. Having got off a few blocks short of where we were intending to go, we walked down to our intended target, the grocery store and lunch stop. The whole fiasco took an hour.

On our way back, we made sure we got the number 8 Martshutka this time. Well, not knowing the name of our bus stop near the Bible House and being stuffed in the back with iced over windows caused us to be dropped off a few blocks north of the orphanage which in turn is a few blocks north of the Bible House. We walked the eight blocks with groceries back to drop off the bags before walking back to the orphanage. Well, I wanted to lose weight.

After seeing Rimma and walking a few blocks north again, we thought it would be nice to use the internet cafe due to the sometimes spotty internet connection at the Bible House. Nope, sorry, no internet at the internet cafe tonight. Never mind that this is their singular reason to be open. Why not just turn the lights off and go home instead of luring weary, travel-ignorant Americans to your door!

After a light dinner at the restaurant across the street, we sought a taxi ride. No going wrong this time, right? After all, I have a business card from the Bible House complete with a map. Nope, this guy wants to continuously turn the wrong way and is smoking a cigarette with the windows up. At this point, I've had enough! I got to the room and just collapsed on the bed. Bad day complete, I pray for good days ahead.

The end of the week forecast is for the temp to be in the 20's & 30s, a virtual heat wave. I sure hope so. I need a little comfort.

~ Felix ~

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 10 Update - Bitten by the Gotcha Bug!

On Friday I said that I have been looking over my shoulder waiting for the big "Gotcha" to slip up on us. Well, it has happened. The SDA has imposed a new rule on all adoptive families, including the ones already here...and we are caught up in it.

The SDA stopped our proceedings today and imposed a mandatory Interpol clearance on everyone. Tanya broke the bad news to us this morning. The SDA has up to 40 days to get such a clearance and there is no telling if families already here will be expedited. An Italian family has already gone home. All facilitators and are in an uproar and fighting for their clients. We may have to come home soon, too.

Tanya sent her friend Oksana to help us sign a notarized letter of authorization to let the SDA start this process on us. It was marked URGENT and she wants to fight to push it through. The document is on the overnight train and she will hand deliver it to the SDA (Tanya is in Kiev). From there the SDA gives it to another Ukrainian agency which actually orders the investigation. This hand-over could take 5 days alone. It is our hope that Tanya can push this all through and shorten the wait considerably. How short or how long, we don't know at this point. Tanya wants us both to hold out a couple of more days to see if the uproar from herself, fellow facilitators and the involvement of a particular country (not the US) might have the SDA rescind this new and sudden order. Also, we hope that we can "expedite" this!

So, Heidi may fly home this weekend, we don't know yet. I may stay and fight, But I don't know about that either. We are weighing our options right now. WE DESPERATELY NEED YOUR PRAYERS!

Day 10 - Daily Observations and Weekend Update

Heidi and I awoke early this morning and had a failed attempt at traveling to see Zina. She is in a sanatorium about two and a half hours away in a little village, northeast of here. Everyday that passes sets a record for the coldest day I have felt. This morning was no exception as we waited in vain at the bus stop for a Martshuka. We finally flagged down a taxi.

The small print says "Feels like -33F"

The bus station wasn't any warmer because they don't heat this public area. Heidi and I just couldn't get warm. Oksana was on hand to accompany us and she didn't seem to mind the -11 degree temp. After waiting for an hour at the bus station, we were told that there would be no bus to this little village, perhaps tomorrow. We had to call Zina and break the news. If we have court this week, Heidi plans to fly home a week early and will miss seeing Zina this trip. Zina gets back to the orphanage the first week in February.

There is no news to report this side of the world. Since our phone call from Tanya on Friday, we've been in a waiting mode. I wish this time counted towards our 10 day wait! We still pray for court this week and we see Rimma every day. She is subdued and quiet when Oksana isn't around to translate. Rimma knows some English, but is shy and afraid to try it. She texted Oksana 9 times yesterday while Oksana was in church. "Please come today, I want to speak with my parents." is the message that Oksana showed us on her phone.

Posing with Heidi & Oksana

Oksana said that she can tell Rimma is quite happy to be our daughter. She sees subtle little smiles, gestures, and acts of love whenever Heidi or I say something nice or hug her. I have taken to calling her Rimm-itchka or Rheem and she loves it, a term of endearment she has seldom heard from anyone. I am quickly learning Rimma's mannerisms, ones that I have seen before but had forgotten. No doubt she will continue to use them in lieu of speaking for the time being. She is cute when she does them.

Best friends, Rimma & Ilona

We took Rimma out of the orphanage all day on Saturday and Sunday. It's terribly cold as I have previously stated, but at least the Sun is shining and the sky is blue with no overcast and not a cloud in the sky. It's been this way since Saturday morning.

Having eaten several meals with Rimma now, she has told us that she doesn't like celery, mushrooms, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, salo, fatty sausage or fish. I'm with her on the salo and fatty sausage. Heidi is pleased that she doesn't like fish. Yeah, we don't have to buy the nasty bag of snack fish that our other kids love!

Now that I have sufficiently bored Matt, perhaps some daily observations are in order. I don't like it when people from other cultures don't at least try to assimilate with the country and culture in which they live. Pesky Americans that turn their noses up and talk trash about other cultures irritate me at best. After all, we are in THEIR country! If I have ever, accidentally I assure you, come across as looking down on Ukraine, I apologize. I like it here, my children are from here, and I respect the uniqueness of the culture. I just like home, more. These are mere observations of things that I have noticed that are different to what I am accustomed.

  • Musically speaking, Ukraine seems to be time-warped to the late 80's. early 90's possibly. This is great for me, I spent my teens & 20's in this time frame. It was unusual to see Milli Vanilli dancing on screen to "Girl, I love you" the other night.
  • All four wheels swivel on Ukrainian grocery carts, hey, why don't we do that! I'm perpetually in some body's way and this makes it easy to move over! Love it!
  • Snow removal is a waste of time! The ice patches the long-existing potholes.
  • Despite the ice and snow laden streets, no one ever gets into an auto accident.
  • 26 (yes, I counted) can easliy fit into a 12 passenger Martshutka.
  • There is always room for half-a-dozen more in above mentioned Martshuka.
  • If you are thin, young, and female you MUST wear skin-tight jeans.
  • Careful when you order pizza. Pepperoni sounds just like pepperchini from an English speaking mouth. Just like Mushino (man) sounds like Machina (car) to us.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 7 - Bad weather, good adoption!

Deep snow at the orphanage

The big news of the day is that Tanya called us about the court date. All of the documents that we could possibly need for court have been accomplished for the Kherson side of things. We spent a total of an hour and a half of document work since being here! Big Nick has done his part, Rimma has done her letter, the Inspector has signed her stuff, and the court application has been filed. All documents have been sent to the SDA in Kiev. Their consent letter is all we are waiting on now.

As for a court date, there are three possible scenarios, but all are good!

  1. If the SDA gets the paperwork here by next Tuesday evening, we will have court on THURSDAY!
  2. If the SDA gets the paperwork here by next Wednesday evening, we will have court on FRIDAY!
  3. If the SDA gets the paperwork here by next Thursday or Friday evening, we will have court on MONDAY!

Nice, huh! This kind of expediency was not seen on our first trip, I can tell ya. But still, try as I may to be a “glass-is-half-full” guy, I’m keep looking over my shoulder and waiting for the big gotcha. Let’s pray that the only gotcha will be “Got-cha Day”!

Rimma's window

Big Nick’s only request of this whole process was that Rimma stay in school and that we limit our visits until after 3:45 each school day, Fridays until 3:00 pm. Big Nick (yes, he is big and his name starts with Nick) gave permission for Rimma to be with us all day Saturday and we didn’t ask about Sunday. Heidi says that Rimma went with her last year after church, so I’m sure he meant for the weekend. We have only seen Big Nick once this trip and that was at the initial meeting where he “joked” with Rimma. So far he has been very amiable and we will not push our luck. We are quite content to visit Rimma for a couple of hours each evening and on weekends. After all, I don’t know how many more games of UNO and Go Fish English lessons I can stand. While at the grocery store today, we bought a 500 piece High School Musical 3 puzzle to spend time with her. Before you ask for my “man-card” Matt, just know that I would do anything to spend time with my little girl!

After a game of Go Fish

Heidi and my ventures out into the sub-arctic like weather have been mostly been in search of sustenance. I’ve been to Kherson three times and each time I want to explore more of the city. But alas, the freezing weather and the constant snow storms have kept us to bus numbers 8 & 12. Number 8 takes us from the Bible House on the road towards the Lenin statue and the Dnieper River where we frequent the grocery store, John Howard’s pectopah, and the cafeteria. Number 8 also goes in the other direction towards the orphanage, Café Monya, Chelantanos pectopah and the Notary palace. Number 12 gets us to Oskar (Wal-Mart, bowling alley, appliance store, cafeteria all rolled into one) and to the two churches that we attend while in town. I’m sure that it goes elsewhere, but to where, I’m not willing to find out here in Kherson-Siberia.

We have visited again with friends made on our previous visits. Sergey has helped us as translator in the past and we have met up with him a few times. Andrei, the pastor’s son, went to church with us last night and helped us talk with Rimma today at the orphanage. He and his friend Vlad even played Go Fish with us and some of Rimma’s friends. We took Oksana and Helen to dinner last night at Oskar. Oksana will get to attend English school after all in Briton England this next fall. She explained that it was a Christian school and I’m sure AGAPE is helping her achieve her goal. Afterwards, she wants to do mission work in Africa somewhere. Wow, what an impressive girl!

Lenin & Me

Heidi and I and all of Ukraine still wait in anticipation of snow removal. We actually saw a Case backhoe tractor removing snow near the grocery store and Lenin statue. I wonder how Lenin would feel knowing that an American tractor is clearing his street while an American couple, who has purchased an American High School Musical puzzle, take a picture of his bronze likeness. I guess he would be happy for his people (yes, I know he was Russian) and content that he is still remembered. Here’s to you, Leny!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 6 - Prepping for Court

Downtown Kherson

Sorry that I had to blog and run last time. I had no idea that the Internet cafe closed at 8 pm. I was being asked to leave during that last paragraph. We went down the the cafe because the Bible House's wireless and my computer were fighting each other. It's all fixed now, so I will be able to post pictures and write after each day's events. I went back and posted the pictures to yesterday's blog.

We had a good visit with Rimma yesterday. After Big Nick's joke, she was a bit nervous, but all is well now. Rimma is a shy girl and she loves us and wants to be in our family, she just doesn't say much even though she is good with her English skills. We had to finalize her name for court so we pressed her to pick among her top five choices for a middle name (she, and we, want to keep her first name Rimma). Also, note that i have spelled Rimma before with one or two M's. I was informed by my teen-age daughter that it must be with two M's, hence Rimma. Mom and Rimma went round and round over the middle name, Heidi having her favorite and Rimma hers. Rimma stuck to her guns and after an hour Mom gave in to her, I was grinning the whole while. We can announce that she will be RIMMA RICHELE ROGE! I tried to explain that I wasn't crazy for alliteration, but it was lost in translation. I just hope she doesn't pick up the title, R cubed!

Little-Worker-Bee Tanya is running around getting documents notarized and sent to the SDA, regional inspector and the court. We visited the notary twice, a quite elaborate "palace" of a place where we got things done in quick order, twice. Very unlike the experience in Boyarka last year! Heidi begged to snap a picture. I'm sure I heard angels singing, I haven't seen churches this nice!

Signing at the Notary
Tanya said that if the inspector gets her work done and signatures down today, we could, best case, have court next Friday, a week from tomorrow. Worst case would be the following Monday. So we may be ahead of plan, but I ain't counting on it. Things continue on pace and are going well. Thanks for the prayers, we can feel them!
Speaking of praying, gotta go. We are off to church tonight with Sergie, Andrei, and Oksana. our three Christian youth friends here in Kherson. I'm excited to spend time with each one of them and I want to be on time. We will blog with you tomorrow. Thank you, thank you for all the comments, keep 'em coming.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 5 - We see the Girly!

Verily, the fine folks at the train company heard my many complaints and reduced the overbearing temperature of said former "shake & bake" sleeping compartment! I actually had my first great train experience although I still haven't gotten the ever elusive 1st class accommodation. The ride was a cool 60-ish degree temp and the driver never once, not once did he jar the cars! Wow, I was truly amazed and slept in fine fashion!

We are in Kherson! Tanya, the Kherson region facilitator, met us at the tracks and whisked us away to our room at the Bible House where we freshened up before taking on the tasks of the day. We learned, while we were boarding the train last night, that Tanya had sprung Rimma from the sanatorium and had her placed back in the orphanage, "to make things easier"! Wow, we were amazed at her take charge attitude. It seems as though she has the Kherson orphanage marching lock-step with her every order. Good for us, huh!

Our first order of business was to take off to the regional inspectors office. We dropped off our bags, brushed our teeth and jumped into the taxi just minutes after arriving at the Bible House. Ten minutes later we were sitting in the inspectors office. As we waited for her to retrieve the file, we perused the photo board by her desk and we got a glimpse of the Volf family picture recently stapled to her collection. Those Volf's are everywhere!
She eventually found the file and then made some comments that seem to be hinting that things weren't going according to plan. I asked about the situation and Tanya told us that Rimma had a little brother about 3 years old(which we knew about) and that the inspector was checking into his where-abouts. Yikes, our first scare (Kherson region does not split sibs). We explained that we knew this and that we were told by Rimma that he lived with his Dad, he had the same mother but different Dad, and that she had never met him. The inspector said that, yes, it could complicate the situation and before she gave us permission to go ahead, she must find out and clear it up. The next bit of news hit us like a ton of bricks...the inspector said that he was not with his Dad, but in an orphanage! Yikes, our second scare! Is he registered and if not, will he hold up Rimma's adoption? If he is registered, can we adopt him! The next bit of news from the inspector....wait for it...confirmed that the brother was adopted by a Ukrainian family last year and that Rimma was free and clear! So much for the Ukrainian double standard of not splitting sibs for foreign citizens!

Bullet dodged, we loaded up the very spry and friendly inspector into the tiny cab with us and headed off to the orphanage to meet with the director. On the way the inspector looked at our photo album and commented that she knew a 35 year old girl who would like to be adopted. Yeah, sure lady! After that scare you put us through! By the way, can you quit sitting on Zina's file and send it up to the SDA already!

We skied over to the orphanage (did I mention that Kherson is getting the snow storm of the century?) and entered the director's office. We sat down with the director, the orphanage lawyer, our facilitator, and the inspector. Everyone was jovial and happy, speaking with each other. Heidi and I just sat there with excited faces as they read off the details of Rimma's file.

And then, in a flash, Rimma entered the room and ran to Heidi! She gave her a great big hug and then she turned to me. Uhh, I didn't want to let her go! Rimma was invited to sit and they asked her the usual questions, "Do you want to be adopted, do you want these people to take you, do you want to live in America". I great big "Da" was heard every time until the last question. The director spoke and Rimma went quiet. Everyone around the table laughed and Big Nick (the director as I will call him) said some more words. It seems he told her that he changed his mind and was going to refuse the adoption. He was joking he said. Errrrr!

We finished up the day and visited Rimma later that day. Sorry to wrap it up fast, but we have to leave the Internet cafe. I'll write more soon. Stay tuned. All is going well!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 4 - Train to Kherson

Heidi just called to say we have the referral for Rima. We did not get the boy's referral this go around. She and our Kiev translator, Nadia, went to the SDA while I stayed behind with the luggage. Oleg will be here to pick me up soon and take me to the train station where Heidi will be waiting. We will board the train at 9-ish pm and travel overnight to Kherson. So, the next time you will hear from us will be after we get there, go see the regional inspector, go to the orphanage, and travel to the sanatorium where Rima is being held. We will get to see our girl sometime tomorrow. We are excited!

~ Felix ~

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 3 - SDA Appointment

We got her! With no problem at all, the SDA accepted our request for Rima. We will get the referral tomorrow between 4 and 5 pm. A dream that has been two years in the making will finally come to fruition this adoption trip. Rima will come home!

The day started early for us. At 7:00 am this morning we arose and started getting ready to go. Our facilitator said that he would be here at 8:10 to pick us up. It was snowing and there was lots of traffic. We arrived late but Oleg wasn't worried. He said that everyone was running late. Heidi and I were completely at ease this time and if Oleg wasn't sweating things, why should we. On the way we picked up his assistant and translator, Nadia, who would actually accompany us during the meeting.

At 9:30 we arrived, waited a few minutes, and then were taken into the same office we had been in for our three children. We met the same social worker as last time and she remembered us too. Another younger social worker ran the meeting as the original lady looked on approvingly. We pulled out the photo album of our kids and the ladies ooh'ed and aww'ed over the pictures, falling into the trap I had set, hee-hee!

In no time at all, we had Rima's file in front of us. The social worker read the bio of Rima and we nodded as if all this information was new to us. "Yes, yes, really, wow! We will take her!" They asked us how we knew her and we told her that we hosted her in 2007 and waited for her to be eligible for adoption.

We were told that we could have her referral tomorrow and that it would be ready between 4 & 5 pm. The entire meeting took only 30 minutes. So that is where we are in the process now. Oleg bought the train tickets today but once again we couldn't get the elusive, "Volf family only", first class cabin. Instead, Oleg bought the entire 4 bed cabin for us.

You may remember that we also want a boy this trip. Well, the SDA is making a decision on whether or not to give us two referrals under the same meeting. If their answer is no, then we will get the opportunity to return to the SDA (kinda like the Christofferson's did with Tanya) after we visit the ONLY single boy available in the region. Of course we will not speak adoption with him, but rather we will size up the situation and make a decision at that point. Word around the camp fire is that he once told his caretaker that he wasn't interested in adoption, so this may be a moot point anyway. We didn't want to hold up Rima's adoption to go on a wild goose chase when the boy may not say yes. That being said, the SDA hasn't said no yet, they may still give us his referral tomorrow and the boy may say yes after all. We are not stressed or teary-eyed over this so don't be worried for us. Rather, we put it all in God's hands again and ask His guidance in the situation. We are in the wait and see mode and we are ecstatically happy that all is going according to plan on Rima's adoption. We will tell you more tomorrow before the "shake & bake" overnight train ride.

I got to see my Galina during lunch today! She was very happy to see us again and we spent two hours over lunch telling her about the kids. She told us that she has two single boys that she would love to send home with us! Ughh, we can't possibly do two out of region adoptions right now. It would add two weeks and whole lot more $$ to the equation. Money we don't have I explained to Galina.

As expected, we will not get Zina's referral this time. Indications are that she will be available for us in February 2011. Yep, another winter adoption in Ukraine!

~ Felix ~

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 2 - Boyarka Orphanage Visit

Heidi and I went to bed last night, just exhausted. I think I fell asleep in record time. There is not much to write about and it will be a just quick note for today as we want to rest up for the big day tomorrow.
After sleeping in we went over to the Boyarka orphanage. We spent a couple of hours with the kids and handed out letters and gifts that our children had sent. We got to see a few familiar faces and it was good to not see a few other faces...ones that have found homes and have been adopted.
See the blond girl standing on the far right. She desperately wants a family and is as sweet as can be.
Having no brothers, sisters or family, she feels alone in the world and wonders about her future. She cried and left the room after she talked about her friends that have found homes and been adopted. She waits, her adoption clock running out of time. If you're interested, hurry, she turns 16 in May. The girl to her right is in the same situation, but she is 12 and has a few more years. I pray for homes for all these children.
~ Felix ~

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Safe in Ukraine

After a whole day traveling by plane, train and automobile....we have arrived safely and we are sitting here at Becky DeWett's kitchen table. The flights were uneventfull. Heidi got a few hours of sleep on the Dulles to Frankfurt flight. We had the whole middle 5 seat row, so she got to stretch out. I however, never sleep well sitting upright, so I watched 3 movies and listened to some Blues Radio...a little music to set the mood for the weeks to come :)

We had the priviledge of going through security twice in Frankfurt. But all went well with me. Heidi, the trouble maker, had to practically get undressed everytime she went throught the "magna-tron". At one point, the German security lady took possesion of Heidi's moneybelt. Yikes! After a little explanation, she got it back.

So here we are, enjoying catching up with dear friends and decompressing from being stuffed in flying tubes for 14 hours. We will go to church tommorow and then visit the Boyarka orphanage. Monday morning is the SDA appointment, so we are excited about that.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts. God Bless you all. Signing off for now before I fall asleep and drool all over the keyboard! I miss our kids already.

~ Felix ~

Friday, January 15, 2010

Off we go!

The day has arrived! Here we go! Fasten your seat belts and put your tray tables in their upright positions. It could be a bumpy ride in Ukraine.

We are leaving the house at 8am and the kids are already off to school. They will be in the care of family and friends for the next three weeks.

So join us as we make the journey to bring Rima home. When we talk to you again, we will be on the other UKRAINE

~ Felix ~

Thursday, January 14, 2010

¡Gracias las familias españolas!

Before we leave tomorrow, I want to take a moment to thank the families in Spain that hosted our kids before we came to know them and adopt them. It is loving people and loving homes like yours that makes a positive impact in these children's lives. Your love and concern will always be welcomed and we wish for you to continue your contact with well into the future.

To Julia's (Yulia) Spain family: We received your beautiful photo book in the mail this week. Thank you so much for that. Julia has been pleasantly happy for the past few days showing everyone she knows the pictures of her past. Sadly, these are the only pictures we have of her when she was younger. We have no other pictures of Nadia and Kolya.

The hundreds of photos paint a wonderful picture of a girl in tremendous need of your love and care during those formative years. Julia speaks of you with much love and happiness and calls you her Spanish Mom, Dad and Sisters. Thank you for understanding our need to be alone and to bond as a family this past year. Julia has made great progress with the help of her sensory and attachment therapy classes. We feel confident that continued and increased contact from you will be a positive influence and we encourage you to do so from time to time. Julia says "Hello" to you.

If the other Spanish families have photos of the children that you would be willing to share, we thank you. Please pass on our address to them. Nadia and Kolya are not much for talking on the phone just yet, perhaps that will change with time. Cards and letters are welcomed by you all.

Blessings to you and your family,

~ Felix ~

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Y'all ready for This!

In the red corner, ready with more rules than a Catholic school-teacher, requiring tons of extemporaneous "expediting" fees, loaded with more bureaucracy than, well, no one...The Keepers of our Kids, They who "know best", the Oooorrrphaaaanaaaaggge!

In the blue corner, weighed down with several bags, an extra dossier, and more determination than Rocky...the Vanilla Thrilla, the Master of Disaster, the Ragin' Cajun, Heidi and FEEEELIIIXXXX. And now, Ladies and Gentlemen...Let's Get Ready to Rumble!! (click this link)
~ Felix ~

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vacuum packed for longer freshness

What does my honey like better than excel spreadsheets and making lists? Planning and preparation are her thing and like any supportive husband would do; I stay out of her way and watch the magic happen. Who am I to ruin all of her fun and give my input? When she’s ready for my opinion, she’ll give it to me! Besides, she’s the brains of the organization and me, well, I’m the pack-mule. I’ll be hauling all this stuff around until we off load it in Ukraine.
I’ve been on orders with the AF for a week and much too busy juggling two jobs to jump in until now. In my absence, Heidi has got together all the gifts for the five orphanages that we will be visiting in addition to the adoption. That alone takes up two suitcases! There are letters to be taken over as well from adopted children here in Colorado to their friends still in Ukraine, our kids included. The letters have a special place, somewhere, I don’t know. There’s a camera and possible laptop for our facilitator, part of the negotiated fee. Our friend, Becky, ordered a couple of items that we are bringing. Sergei needs new earphones for his I-Pod.
All these things we are more than willing to deliver. I love making our friends happy and seeing the joy in those children as we hand them a simple gift or a letter from a loving stranger on the other side of the world. So, if any of you have a last need, want or request, better get them in now. Heidi is a packin’!
She’s so cute doing it too! She gets excited when she fits another item in the suitcase and is still below the max baggage weight limit. She bought these huge vacuum-pack bags from somewhere. Everything is getting vacuum sealed to save room; gifts, our clothes, Rima’s clothes, etc. It all looks like those vacuum sealed blocks of coffee you see at the grocery store. With wild excitement, Heidi holds up each of them for me to see. Rima’s entire wardrobe looks like a giant Omaha Steak package.
I was given a little latitude in getting my clothes and stuff together since I was working hard, saving the country and all. However, I’ve now been put “on the clock” as Heidi puts it. Tonight I have to select the three changes of clothes that I wish to take for 6 weeks! Hmmn, I wonder what Fruit of the Loom looks like in the “shrink wrap”! Given the size of the ever-expanding gift list, I jokingly offered to wear all three said wardrobes. For a minute, the look in Heidi’s eyes suggested that she was considering it! Never make those kinds of concessions with a career project manager!
Friday night’s party was a huge success. The eats and the chocolate fountain were a big hit! It seemed like a 100 people were there, but I’m not sure. The usual UOO crowd was there, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Roger P, the Jensen’s (who just got home 2 weeks ago with their three new kids), the Hooker’s, and the Barrett’s. The Jensen’s kids took a little while to warm up to us. But, once they did, I got a firsthand explanation of why Jim calls himself the human-trampoline! My three have nothing on Jim & Teresa’s three!
And so goes the push for Rima. We are fairly certain that Zina will not be coming home this time due to some digging around we were able to do. But, we are still praying for her. Miracles do happen. Zina has been sent to a sanatorium for unknown reasons, but we will find out where she is and go see her. We still have plans to bring a boy home with Rima, too. That is, if there is a single boy available in that region.
We leave this Friday, the 15th at 11:30 and fly into Dulles. From there we fly to Frankfurt and then on to Kiev, getting there at 1:15 pm on Saturday if all goes according to schedule. We will be staying with Becky in Kiev and visiting the Boyarka orphanage were our kids are from on Sunday after church service. Our SDA appointment is that Monday, the 18th at 8 am. While we wait on the referral, we hope to visit the UOO 2009 camp kids at the orphanage near Kiev. Depending on when we get the referral, we should see the Rima mid-week, next week. A visit to the SB orphanage, home to the UOO 2007 camp kids, will be accomplished sometime during the adoption trip. Karen Springs wants to take us to see Ruslan, a boy we know from the 2007 camp that was sent to a different orphanage near his family. So yes, we will be visiting five orphanages, not counting the sanatorium where Zina is staying.
I must emphasize that we are overjoyed when we receive a comment on the blog or an e-mail from you. It is always welcomed, but it is especially uplifting when we are in Ukraine going through the difficult process of international adoption. Support and encouragement from home is like food for the soul! If you only like to read and not comment, please continue. I know that you are there. I can see the blog-counter scrolling upwards.
We will post as time and internet availability allows. Heidi will return home after the court date to be with our three kids. They will be staying with friends and family during those (hopefully) three weeks and attending school. I will stay behind to finish up the process in Ukraine, which I pray will be no more than three more weeks. I have return tickets set for Feb 27th at 3:30, but we will see.
Blessings to you all. Please keep us and our kids here at home in your prayers.
~ Felix ~

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Oh my GOODNESS! We leave in 10 days! I remember thinking back in November when we got our appointment date that it would take forever to get here. Life has kept us busy and we haven't been as worked up about this trip as we were the first time we went for adoption. It's kinda like the difference with first time expectant parents and the birth of their second child. You guys know what I mean!

A good example (and I've seen it many times, did it myself even) is all the education stuff you buy for that first newborn, the classical music you play for them while they are still in the womb, the extra safety devices you install around the house. But boy, when that second one comes around and you have that 'been there, done that' attitude, you let all that stuff go! You go from, "Oh no, you got an ow-ie, let daddy put a band aide on it and kiss the hurt away" to "wipe some dirt on it kid and get back in the game!"

And so it goes for us. We were first time expectant adopters. We didn't know what they would look like or how many girls or boys we would get. This time we got the "ultra-sound" and it's a bouncing, 80 lb, baby-girl! Oh, by the way, we've named her Rima!

Of course, the above banter is only in jest. Yes, we are just as excited as the first time and we hear that Rima is ecstatically happy, bouncing off the walls. We do hope for a surprise in getting a referral for another boy, of whom we have not met. I pray daily for Zina to come home this trip as well. It would be a tremendous gift if they waived the one year wait for her. It's all in God's hands now. We have done all that we can do.

We have a little "going back" party planned for this Friday (1/08/10) starting at 6 pm. All of you who can make it out are welcomed. A few of our friends will be here along with their adopted kids. It's Open House style and you need not bring anything except yourself and your kids, we are family friendly. Come out when you can and stay as long as you like. We will have lots of snack foods and drinks. It would be great to see some of my work friends, too! Leave a comment with your e-mail if you need the address. I promise not to publish your personal info. See you then!

~ 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.