Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Growing Pains

This week is Spring break for the kids. I have resolved to take this week off in the years to come once our next adoption trip is complete. For now, I can't. Heidi is taking Friday off to take them to the zoo with the Volf family. Yesterday, Heidi and I pretended to plan our sailing vacation to the Bahamas the summer after Lizzie gets home. We are definitely going in June of 2011! Hi and I have our Captain license and we can bareboat sail up to 50' catamarans or monohulls!

It's hard to realize that Rimma will have been home four calendar weeks, tomorrow. It seems as though she has been here all along. Heidi and I have considered her our daughter since December 2007, when we met her and Lizzie. Some nights, before we fall asleep, we say "did we really pull it off, did we really get her home?" It all seems like no big deal sometimes, again, like she was her all along.

Now, that's not to say that there have been some difficult days. When Rimma started school, she was bullied by some "gang-banger" girls who threatened to beat her up. Come to find out, they had family issues at home and were threatened by the "new, cute girl" that their boyfriends were paying attention to. A situation we quickly resolved. By the way, we don't do the boyfriend/girlfriend thing unless you are ready to marry. Not sure how long it will last or if we can pull it off, but everyone in the house knows where we stand on it!

Yesterday, Rimma and Kole got into a huge fight with some rock throwing, finger-flipping, and shouting in Russian (bad words, i'm sure). Ugh, I was so ashamed and disappointed in them! I'm not sure how it all went down because Kari and Eileen took them to a park for an outing and Heidi and I were not present. Both kids were punished last night and repented their actions. Needless to say Hi and I are embarrassed by the BOB behavior and would never allow them to disrespect another adult, other kids, or us. There are a few apology letters being written today to those present and Rimma accepted her punishment with grace yesterday. A stern face and a few words from me to Kole had him in instant tears. Rimma tip-toed around me for most of the evening as well.

We went to the mountains this weekend. It was the first trip with Rimma since we have been home. It only took four weeks! It's funny that when you get used to something being in your backyard, you take it for granted. The kids are getting excited about going camping this year, Rimma included. She and Nadia already pitched one of the tents in the back yard. Initially, Rimma didn't want to take a ride to the mountains, but as you can see from the pictures, she enjoyed it once we got there. Here's a few pictures dispersed throughout the post for you.

Today is Nadia's 14th birthday! She was 12 when we brought her home. In fact, she was the size that Julia is now. We marked on a door at home Nadia's height over the last year. Over all she has grown about 12" and gained 35 lbs. She used to be shorter than Heidi and now she is taller than me by half-an-inch. Julia is showing signs of starting the growth spurt soon and we feel this will be her year. Kole is still small, but if his bio sisters are any indication of things to come, he too will be tall. Rimma said that Lizzie and Oksana commented that she has a fuller face and "American-accented" Russian speech now. So, all of the kids are changing!

For the past two weeks we have been able to video Skype with Lizzie and Oksana. In case you don't remember, Oksana is the aged-out former orphan who translates for us when we go to Kherson. We met her through AGAPE and we have been helping them support her in university. Oksana visits Lizzie at the orphanage and brings her to her home on weekends. However. last week was Spring break for Lizzie and she went to Oksana's home everyday...by herself! When I asked how and why, she told me that the director and caretaker saw Oksana everyday with me at the orphanage and that they trusted Oksana to take care of her. They let her check herself out of the orphanage and ride the martshutka to Oksana's home routinely now. I was a little alarmed by this and asked her to be careful, but alas, there is nothing I can do about it half a world away. It's only a couple of miles each way and she travels during daylight hours. In their culture, it's no big deal for a lone single 14 year old girl to ride the buses. On the plus side, we get to see and talk with Lizzie every weekend. Saturday I forgot and said "Hi Zina" to her. She QUICKLY corrected me, exclaiming "Dad! I'm no Zina! My name is Lizzie Rogé!"
On Friday of last week, it became official (well, as official as it can get in Ukraine). Lizzie and Vika are on Frontier Horizon's list as having been confirmed to travel to us for the long summer hosting trip! If you look at past posts you will read that the director shot down our requests to bring Rimma and Lizzie home for the last two summers. When Lizzie was inconsolable right after Rimma and I left, the director promised her that she could go to America to stay with her family provided that Victoria, one of their caretakers, would accompany her. Well, that was all fine and dandy. But now that the ball was in our court, we had to find a way to do the invitation letter and visas. Not an easy task when you consider that the embassy gets suspicious as to why a single girl is going to the US and traditionally denies such visitation visas in fear of them not returning. Lizzie has twice traveled to the US, but as part of a larger group performing the Shoemaker play. Also, all hosting trips by FH, UOO, AGAPE, etc send kids as a group. FH then places them in individual homes once they are in the US.
So we called upon FH and prayed that the director would approve this time. I guess his trust and confidence in us that we did indeed adopt Rimma and fulfilled a promise we made to them helped our case. We also asked Karen Springs to explain to Victoria the caretaker, the complexity of getting visas and that this was really the only way to get it done easily. Well, I guess Victoria and the director had the talk because Lizzie is coming this summer for ten weeks or so! Angie and Eric Carman, who kept Vika during the 2007 UOO camp asked if she could accompany them. She was approved, too. So, it will be Lizzie, Vika and Victoria coming to Colorado this summer, finally!
This should lift Lizzie's spirit and help to break up the year-long wait until we get there for her adoption. Roman, the orphanage lawyer, told Lizzie that she would be available in November to December. Our numbers tell us that she won't be available until January to March 2011. Our facilitator asked me to call him a month after we get home and remind him to check on Lizzie's status at the SDA. That month is over, so we will be making that call soon. This summer, we will be a complete family for a little while, at least.
~ 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.