Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Travel Inevitably Makes You Tired....

It was funny, I looked over at a book by Tom Clancy that the guy in the next seat on the airplane was reading and this was the heading on that page!! So true. We made it home Dec. 27 at 10 p.m. Our flights from Kiev to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Chicago were uneventful - finally some normal flights!! But when we got into Chicago, we found our flight to MSP at 3:25 was cancelled!! We so desperately wanted to go home! They put us on standby for the 4:20 flight - that one was full. They put us on standby for the 5:05 flight. We were #26 and there were only 12 seats left. We thought we would be spending the night in Chicago!! Thankfully, many of those people didn't show up and we were the last ones on the flight. It was a yucky flight - almost the whole time was turbulence and I got sick when we got to MSP. Pam was there to pick us up. It was nice to get home. With minutes of being home, Buddy was in my lap. (Buddy is our 83-lb German Shorthair Pointer who thinks he is a lap dog.) We had Christmas with Korey and then went to bed late.

We got up for church - we missed Sunday School - but we got a celebrity welcome when we got there. It was great to be back with our brothers and sisters in Christ!! They had put up pictures of the kids on the big screen so everyone could see and we even had to get up and speak. We weren't really prepared and with jet lag, I am not sure we even made any sense!!

It was hard at first to do "normal." Its like our whole life changed, but we had to come back to our normal routine for a couple of weeks - it just didn't feel right. We miss the kids terribly. We see them everywhere, picture them playing in the backyard, picture them in their new rooms, and at church. We will be leaving again Jan 11 to go back and get them. We will be there 2-3 weeks again. We will have a lot of paperwork to do to get their new birth certificates, passports, visas and medicals. Some of it will be in their region and the embassy stuff we will be back in Kiev, but we will have the kids with us then.

It is about 12 below zero now and we are getting ready to go to a youth group skating and sledding party, so I guess we better go and get our layers on!! I love ice skating, but I may just stay inside and stay warm today!!

We probably won't have much news for a while. I want to write one more post telling you about the "why" of our adoption, a post I wanted to write at the beginning, but I didn't get to it. We are going to be moving my office, remodeling a bedroom, and moving bedrooms around before we go, so if I have time, I will write that post in the next couple of weeks....

Until then, stay warm!!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

We are coming home!

We are now sitting in the airport in Kiev. We got here 4 hours early, so we are going to kill an hour at the Internet Cafe. We had the most miserable drive here, but we had a good driver, so we made it safely. We left Belgorod at 3 p.m. and got here at 1 a.m. Just after we got out of Odessa, it started snowing and snowing. The thermostat in Zhenya's car is bad, so we had very little heat. Luckily, we wore our long johns. We had a blanket for sleeping, but we had to use that, wear our hoods on our sweatshirts and gloves, and it was still freezing. His windshield wipers froze up and his gas guage doesn't work. (I did a lot of praying on the way here!!) Sometimes, it was white out and one time we went to pass a semi and we got sucked in, but didn't slide too much and another time, Zhenya pulled over to work on the windshield wipers and we got stuck. It didn't take too long to get out and even though we had to drive slow, we got here plenty early. George wanted to make sure we got here on time even if we were early. He left us in Odessa to take a bus to Simferopol for a family wedding.

I am sure you are wondering how court went. It was way different than we thought. It wasn't in a court room, but in an office. The judge sat behind a desk with two witnesses and the secretary. The two representatives from the orphanage sat on one side and we sat on the other. We dressed up, but it was so cold, nobody took their coats off. First, they read a lot of routine stuff, our rights, etc. Then they asked us some questions that George translated for us, nothing very hard. It really wasn't that scary. Then they had us leave the room while they made their decision. They called us back in and read out loud that we were the parents of the kids, they read each name separately with their new names. They congratulated us and that was about it!! It only took about a half hour.

We then had to go to the notary and spent about an hour there getting papers ready. We went to the orphanage to say goodbye to the kids and tell them the news. They little ones were sleeping for their naps, but we got to talk to Robin and Ryan. I think they were embarrassed to come out because they were only wearing long johns. We then went to eat at "Do Not Be Upset" to kind of celebrate. Monte had the expensive fish and I had chicken liver and onions. I know it sounds weird, but its really good here!

After that, we went back to the clinic, packed up our stuff, and we were on our way. So here we are, waiting to check in so we can come home. If we don't have any weather related problems, we should be at MSP at 5 p.m., Dec. 27. Monte's sister is picking us up. See you soon!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Children's sizes

Oops, I forgot to tell you the sizes of the children for the people that wanted to know. (Also, the post I just wrote showed up as Dec. 25, but it is really Dec. 26 early in the a.m. - maybe it is still on Minnesota time!!)

We measured the wiggly children yesterday. So to the best of our ability, these are the sizes we think the children are....

Ryan, age 8, size 8.
Robin, age 7, size 6X slim - her waist is the same size as Jillians and Jasons!!
Jason - age 5, size 4 - I think of them all, he is the smallest for his age.
Jillian - age 3, size 3. (We think anyway - the size chart I have starts at size 4, so we are guessing she is a 3T.)

Their feet we only have measurements - I don't have a size chart for those - Ryan 18 cm, Robin 17 cm, Jason 17 cm, and Jillian 6 inches. (The caregivers measured the feet for the bigger ones that is way they are in cm). It will still be hard to buy them shoes. I am not sure Robin's size is right. So anyway, for those of you who love bargain shopping, here you go....we have very little at home.

We had a white Christmas after all....

On Christmas day, we woke up to snow on the ground - a couple of inches. Otherwise, it didn't seem much like Christmas. It isn't Christmas here until Jan. 7. Their big celebration day is New Year's. There are some decorations up and you can buy decorations at the street market - there are stalls for just garland!!

The clinic director wished us Merry Christmas, then his wife came in later and wished us Merry Christmas too and brought us some Christmas cake. It was nice to not be forgotten.

We did get to see the kids. It was just another day for them. We split the kids up today because the older two really wanted to go outside and play in the snow. So Monte took them out and they had a snowball fight and made one big ball by rolling it around in the snow. When it was time to come in, they also had a snowball fight with the Spanish family that is here. There was a Spanish family that came the same day we did and they declined their referral. Then we met another Spanish family and they started way before us and they decided to add another child. They were only approved for one, fell in love with another one, and pretty much started the process over. They are going to court with us today!! I stayed inside with the little too in the "zoo." The hallway we play in has 4 doors and 3 are always open, but we aren't supposed to let the kids run around. So while I was trying to keep Jason from escaping, Jillian wrote black marker all of the chair. One of our first rules was to keep control of them and not mess up any decorations - so is writing with black marker all over a chair messing up the decorations?!? Then we finally played with play-doh (plasteline here) and actually colored in the coloring books. When Monte came back, he had about a sip of water in his water bottle and we started cleaning up the marker with that and some liquid hand cleaner we had. You can barely see it now. Yah!

Anyway, to the big news. (It is 5 a.m. here and I am awake.) God willing, we should be able to go to court today. Our papers are supposed to come this morning on the train, our driver is supposed to pick them up, and our court time is 10 a.m. (with the Spanish family going first). Nothing is for sure here in Ukrainian adoption, but we are praying hard that all goes well and we get through the court process today. If we do, we will have the driver drive us to Kiev and we will be able to keep our flights on Saturday. If we get through the process, I won't be able to e-mail/blog today. We will do that when we get home. After court, we will go tell the kids goodbye for a while - that will be hard!! We are planning to come back here on Jan. 12 to finish the process - we will be here another two weeks approximately to get their visas, Dr. exams, passports, new birth certificates, etc. (Of course, none of this is easy in Ukraine!!)

Thanks to everyone that wrote and wished us Merry Christmas!! That made our day so much better!! I will hopefully be able to answer them all when we get home - I won't have too much time on the Internet today before the director gets here. By the time you get up, court should be over!! But please keep praying, there is a lot of paperwork after court, saying goodbye to the kids, and our travel. We have heard that the weather isn't that great at home for traveling. Hope you all had a great Christmas and hope to see you soon!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hi - Sorry we didn't write again yesterday. The clinic director was downloading a movie and it took all day and evening. Then it got a virus, so we can't use it today. We are now in an Internet Cafe a few blocks from the orphanage. We just happened to walk by it today. Every other day, we have had a driver, but today we decided to walk so we could use the Internet on our way "home." It is full of kids playing loud computer games and this keyboard sticks and sometimes all the keys don't work and it keeps switching back to Russian, so hopefully at the end, it will make sense!! Oh by the way, Internet Cafe does not mean a nice place like the Beanery. There is no food here. It is just a room with about 8 computers. We pay by the hour.

Our court date is almost definitely not going to be tomorrow. We still don't have papers from the SDA. Sveta called to ask about them yesterday and they couldn't find all the kids. The girls have different last names than the boys, but they did eventually find them, but they weren't going to look at them today anyway. Hopefully tomorrow!! If they come tomorrow by train, we can go to court Friday and keep our flight. If not, it will be Monday or later. We took our train tickets back that we had for Thursday night. We lost 16 griva per ticket - about $2. We will have to re-book everything for when we know something for sure.

We got inventive with supper last night. Earlier we bought some awful sausage that was really fatty and you could almost feel the fat ooze out of it when you took a bite. So, yesterday for lunch we tried to fry it to see if we could get some fat off and that worked!! It tasted almost like bacon!! and left a half a pan of grease!! Last night, Monte had the great idea to make eggs in a bag. So, he fried up some more sausage, cut up cheese and put in a few eggs and that worked well too. (We brought all different sizes of baggies from home - you can't buy them here.) We are trying to get inventive with the food we make ourselves. I was never a good "made from scratch" cook, so it has been kind of hard. My idea of homemade soup is dumping 5 cans and cream of something together and voila - homemade soup!! So, we could use some ideas!! Otherwise, all we have been eating is things made with potatoes, cheese, eggs, and bread. We buy juice and snacks too. Monte is going to try homemade macaroni and cheese tonight since we have an oven to use - if we can find macaroni. Hopefully we will find it in some shape on the way home.

We had a nice visit with the kids this morning. Today, the orphanage had an inspection for sanitation, so they wanted us to stay outside. So, we played on the teeter totter thingy and with a beach ball. We are on our third beachball. The first one lasted a week or so and got a hole in it. We brought a new one yesterday and Jillian bit a hole in it. We are on our last one. Today, we only had chupa chups (suckers) for snacks today. We didn't go to the market on the way this morning.

Well, that's it for now. We can't stay here too much longer. Sorry, that I can't answer all the e-mails!! But know that we love getting them and read them all. Hopefully we can answer some more tonight at the clinic. Dos va danya!! (goodbye)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunny Day

We finally saw the sun today. Everyday here so far has been gray! It is drying up some outside, so we could play outside with the kids again. It is mostly sand so that sticks to everything, but luckily you can brush that off when it is dry. We've noticed the kids where the same clothes for about 7 days. I think they only bathe on Saturday.

We pushed the kids on some kind of rounded teeter-totter. Lots of other kids come to play with us too and they all call us mama and papa. Then the caregivers always come and shoo them away. There are some really cute kids here!! We try to give them their snack when the other kids are playing somewhere else. Today, we brought them juice boxes and cookies. Yesterday, we brought bananas and it is so cute, Jillian had to look in hers to make sure ALL the banana was gone before she let us take the peel. We only brought them a half a banana because they eat so fast we didn't want to make them sick. I think they will be okay with a whole banana!

We got some disappointing news and of course they leads to a prayer request. We sent our papers to the SDA. They have to approve them and send them back. The main lady that does this is out on "holiday" already. They have received 50 packets this week, so I don't have a lot of faith that it will be here in time for court on Thursday Dec. 25, maybe Friday, which we could still use our plane tickets, but if not this week and it ends up being Monday, we will have to change our tickets AGAIN!! It is essential that we have court by the end of the year. If we don't, we will have to wait until the middle of January, making this process even longer, but not a surprise I guess, just discouraging. If it ends up being next year, we will have a whole bunch of new rules we will have to follow. Everyone here wants it done by the end of the year. So please pray hard that we will find favor with the SDA officials and someone will have time to get it back to us here by the end of the week. Thanks so much for your faithful prayers.

I had a couple of questions if I liked the caviar that I wrote about yesterday - It wasn't the worse thing I've tasted, but I am glad it was hidden in a "tortilla". It has a strong salmon type fishy taste - I guess just as you can imagine what fish eggs would taste like. If I would have seen it on a cracker or something, I don't think I could have eaten it, but I did get it down. I think a lot of the taste was hidden by the sauce I dipped it in. I do like to try new foods, I couldn't get Monte to try it though. He is doing well with his pureed potatoes and chicken.

Since we don't have a lot to write about again, I will tell you about the exhange rate. On our first two visits to Ukraine in 2005 and 2007, the exchange rate was always 5:1 (five grivna - Ukrainian dollar - to one US dollar). When Randy, Ruth and Roy and team were here this summer, it was 4:1. When we got here, it was 7.4:1. It kept going up a little bit everyday to 8.3. One day, it jumped to 9.5 (we're sorry we didn't capitalize on that). Then it dropped to 7:1. Today, it was 6.5:1. So you can see how unstable their economy is. The higher the number, the better for us. For them, it is difficult because some people have car loans and mortgages in USD. They have to trade grivna in at an even higher rate to buy USD (if they can find any).

We forgot to tell you about another paperwork issue we had. The social worker found an error on one of our papers. It says Tibbetts all over it, many times, in one of those spots it is spelled with just one T. That one little mistake could stop everything. So, on Friday, we took it back to the notary to be corrected. She had already left for the day. We tried it again today, they didn't have any electricity in their office. She was able to correct it for the social worker several hours later after it got light enough to see in the office - right in the middle of our lunch, George got up and left and ran to her office to pick it up and left us sitting there. We were finished by the time he came back to eat his lunch. We still need to get a new copy for the SDA, but they need electricity for that - maybe to fax it?? I am not sure why, but that is the way things happen here.

Well, that's it for now. We covet your prayers as we go through this process!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today, was a nice quiet day. We had a really nice visit with the kids. We started out with just the two older ones so we could try to settle them down a bit. We bought some paint with sponges on top that you dot on the paper at MACHE last year. The kids really liked that. We found some paper at Oriental Trading that just had circles to make picture so they could just dot in on and not a lot of mess! Ryan picked a machina (car) and Robin picked a heart picture. Then we brought the younger ones in. Jason actually sat down and colored today, but he picked the Barbie book to color in. We thought Robin wouldn't like it, but she didn't care. Maybe she didn't realize it was her book, so I guess the coloring books will just be community property! Maybe it will make it easier that way anyway!

We did get the heights of Ryan and Robin. They were trying to see who was tallest. Ryan is 51" tall and Robin is 47-1/2. They were so busy coloring and painting, I didn't get everyone's measurements. I did measure Ryan for chest and waist and they are both 26" (with a shirt and sweater on). I am not sure these measurements are very accurate. I checked them on the size chart I brought from Land's End. For height, he would be an 8 and by waist he would be a 14, so that doesn't come out right. They are very small children, so I have never figured out why their waists are so big (even my sponsored kids were like that), except for maybe malnutrition with the bigger bellies??

There isn't much to tell about today. So I guess I will describe the place that we have lunch at almost everyday. (We only eat one meal out.) It's name translated means "Don't Be Upset." I though maybe it meant not to be upset about their food or service, but George explained it is from a movie. So I am guessing it means more like "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" We have had mostly an entree with "pureed" potatoes. Either beef stroganoff, chicken pockets, or pike perch. Today I tried an appetizer that George got yesterday that smelled good. It seemed like a Mexican tortilla with salsa. It turned out to be a tortilla like thing with caviar inside and the "salsa" was a dip made from the broth from the fish soup with garlic and onion. So now, I can say I tried caviar!!

This evening, George is taking our paperwork to the train in Odessa to send it to Sveta in Kiev to pick up in the morning, so we can't go visit the kids tonight. We are going to do one more load of laundry and maybe watch a movie on the laptop. (We haven't been able to use it for e-mail, but it has come in handy to watch movies on!!)

We miss you all!! Stay warm and hope you're dug out from the last snowfall!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

There couldn't be any other way

We just want to apologize for not writing much in the last few days. This process is an overwhelming emotional rollercoaster and sometimes we just can't put it into words. We will try to recap the last couple of days.

Yesterday, there was supposed to be a commision to decide if the kids should be adopted. When we were getting ready to go visit the kids, our driver's wife (who is also the attorney at the orphanage) called to say he would be late to pick us up and that she had the papers we needed. So I asked George if that meant the kids said yes? And he said "There couldn't be any other way." It was a celebration for us, but just a matter of fact to George. We have heard of so many stories where the children think their parents are coming back for them or an auntie or a big sister, so we worried and prayed alot. I guess we worried for nothing!!

We visited the kids again. They had a short program for St. Nicholas' day. We got to watch and George video taped some of it. They were all given sweets and a juice box. The kids came out and we played in the dreaded hallway. We brought them "fleemasters" (markers) and notebooks and colored and they ate some of their candy. Robin offerred some of her goodies to both of us. That was the first time she has really reached out to us. We brought a couple of balloons and played with those for a while. Jillian really likes balloons and giggles the whole time - unless someone takes it from her - that she doesn't like!! All three big kids were coloring and drawing pictures and Jillian and I looked over the picture book. I was naming the people in our book and she tried to say Hannah.

After our visit, we brought the needed paper to the social worker. We waited in the car for an hour or so. I fell asleep in the car. Then George came back and said the deputy city administrator (the social worker's boss) wanted to meet us and ask us questions. I really didn't have timed to be scared since I wasn't really awake. His office was only a couple of blocks away. I wasn't prepared for the answers and not really coherent and with George's different way of using English, I didn't understand a couple of the questions. I didn't feel like I answered the questions as well as I could have. The deputy did sign the papers and they will be sent on to the SDA in Kiev. (I just hope I answered them well enough that it will satisfy the SDA.) George will send the packet of paperwork to Kiev by train Sunday night for Sveta to bring to the SDA. We are hoping for court Dec. 25 - Christmas Day!! That is, if the papers get back here from the SDA in time. If all that goes well, we are planning to come home Dec. 27. We will come home for the 10-day wait. We had wanted to stay, but it is extended to 17 days for us because of the holidays. There is nothing we can do during that time and probably not even visit the kids because so may people take off from Jan. 1 to Jan. 10 for "celebrating". We will come back here on Jan. 12 when the embassy opens again and everyone is back to work. When we come back, we will be here another two weeks to get children's passports, new birth certificates, visas and medical checkups. Katya was born in a town almost to the Moldovian border so we need to go to the town of her birth to get the birth certificate changed. All this is time consuming.

Today, our driver didn't pick us up on time because he needed repairs to his car, so we had to call a different taxi and it shortened our visit by the time we found out. Back to the dreaded hallway. I can't remember if I described "our" hallway we visit the kids in. It is about 6 x 12 feet, it is dark, there are two chairs and a small table and lots of decorations. There are four doors in this hallway the children aren't suppose to open, but of course they think it is funny to keep opening them and people keep coming in and out and leaving the doors open. This situation isn't really conducive to bonding. We tried to play with balloons and they get pretty rowdy until all the balloons popped on the decorations. We gave them apples today and they ate all but the stem. They did color for a while, look at our picture book some more, and played with a ball George made out of balled up newspaper (doesn't take much to entertain us!!)

Just a couple of notes, Jillian has worn the same outfit everyday we have visited her - 6 days now. I can't wait to see her in something else!! Robin and Ryan had a shower this morning. They had to wear hats up to the room we play in. Robin's hair is wavy, we didn't notice that much before because it is always up in pigtails. She is really beautiful.

We will only visit them once today and once tomorrow. Today, we had a rest day and washed clothes, read, watched a movie, just trying to take it easy. Tomorrow evening, George will take our paperwork to Odessa - it is about 1-1/2 to 2 hour drive, so we won't get to visit the kids. We can't wait to get them home to bond with them on our turf!!!

Thanks for your prayers and keep the e-mails and comments coming!! It makes our day to hear from home!!

Long story short

Hi everyone. Sorry we didn't write yesterday. Even though it was a good day all in all, it is still an emotional rollercoaster and sometimes we just can't put it into words. There is so much to tell, but last night we were exhausted and we are now getting ready to go see the kids, but I know you wanted to know this. The kids did say yes!! Today should be a quieter day with just visiting the kids, I think we are out of paperwork for now, so we should be able to tell you the whole story tonight. Thanks for hanging in there and please keep praying. Our paperwork now has to be approved by the SDA and be back here before we can have our court date. Blog at you later....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ups and Downs

As the title says, we have had some ups and downs today. Mostly good, but a little roadblock. Yesterday, we thought that Ryan Maxim just had to write a petition in his handwriting that he wanted to be adopted. Now, the orphanage director wants to have a whole commission with the kids present to see if it is in their best interest with the psychologist (maybe more orphanage workers, we aren't sure) and the city inspector (social worker). It was supposed to be this morning, but then they couldn't get everybody together, then it was supposed to be 4:oo today. (We aren't allowed to be part of this commission because we might influence the children.) We went to pick up the inspector and she thinks our adoption is going too fast and that the SDA probably won't like it, so she is holding us off another day. The commission is supposed to be tomorrow at 10 a.m. (So of course this is where we ask you to pray, pray, pray, that everything goes well, according to God's plan). We went to see the lawyer anyway and he said of course it is going fast, everyone wants court before the new year because they don't know what changes there will be in the next year. He is a really cool guy. He went ahead and did our application anyway and we had to sign a bunch of papers. (He told George they don't have anyone with my profession here, the doctors write a lot, then he gave me a smile and a thumbs up!) So, to have our papers ready to send back to the SDA, we only need one paper, where the children agree to be adopted - A big one!! Once that is done, he will send it on the train to Kiev and Sveta will take it to the SDA and they will take about a week to send it back to us, then hopefully a court date. Probably Dec. 24 or 25 - What a Christmas present!!

Several people have asked us questions, so I am going to answer them here in case you all have the same questions - and it gives me something to write about with my foggy brain!!

Is everything routine now, or are there more obstacles? With Ukraine adoptions, there are always obstacles!!! There is no routine!! Every adoption is different.

What kinds of toys would they like? It is hard to know when we get to play with them only in a small room with no toys, but by their personalities we would say....

Ryan Maxim: Drawing stuff, markers, etc. (He can sit and color three pages without getting bored! He also has very nice handwriting.) Big trucks that he can run around with or sit on, probably matchbox cars too. Legos. His favorite color is red.

Robin Vlada: Dress up clothes (I meant to have a box of dress up clothes ready, but I didn't know what ages they would be, so I didn't get this done.) Anything to pretend being grown up. She likes to do her hair and nails. Her favorite color is red too.

Jason Ivan: Anything that he can collect and put in something. He found a purse in the play yard and he won't give it up. He keeps all his treasures in it. Big trucks, matchbox cars, big legos. He won't sit and color.

Jillian Katerina: Baby dolls, noisy toys (don't even think about it!!!), books. She loves picture books and also anything the big kids have.

Any of those new crayola products would be really great for all of them!

Do they speak any English? No.

Did we pick their American names and are their middle names their Ukrainian names? Yes. We really didn't have any idea of what to name them. Once we realized it was going to be two boys and two girls, the whole night I stayed awake on the train and God gave me these names. After a couple days here, when I couldn't sleep, I got up and looked up the names online to check their meaning and Monte and I went over a list of names and these are the ones we picked together.

Have we had meals with them? seen their rooms, their possions? We have not had meals with them. Our visiting hours are between their meals. They are very strict with meal time and send us away when it is time to eat. I got to observe one snack with Jillian and she had a cracker and an apple - I mean the WHOLE apple - core and all. We have not seen their rooms. We pick them up and take them outside or we take them to a room assigned to us to play in. They don't have any possesions of their own except what we brought them. Everything is shared. We even have to buy clothes to bring them home. All their clothes, shoes, etc., stay here for the other children.

Do they have sponsors? As far as I know, this orphanage doesn't participate in any sponsorship progam.

Are their other families there? There is one family here we think from Spain. We see them visiting their children and pass them in the halls and say hi, but we don't take visit our kids in the same area.

Today, we did a lot of running around in the morning - mostly we sat in the car waiting. Once we found out we weren't going to get the paper in the morning, we went to visit the kids. We had the two older ones first. Robin's boots were broken, the zippers don't work. George tried to tape them on her feet. Then a caretaker gave her someone else's boots to use. When we finally got her fixed up, we went to the yard. We brought a beach ball with us and blew that up and played a family game of ball. The kids giggled alot and Robin was the boss and told us what order to throw the ball to each other in. Then, George found Jason and brought him over and they were tired of playing ball. When Jason came, he still had the purse of treasures that he found the first day in the yard. He brings it everytime he meets us. There are a bunch of pavilions in the yard that belong to each group and there is a box of toys in each one. They found a big truck to ride on. They really like the picture book of home and we look at it each time. Monte was looking at the book with Jason, Ryan was riding the big truck around and Robin found my notebook and started writing numbers on the pages I have written on, and wrote pretend words on some other pages - pretending to be grown up. Then I got out the nail polish and she painted my nails and then hers. We had a really good visit today. Then it was time to go. George was supposed to go get Jillian, but he ended up doing some paperwork and didn't ever bring her. We did some more running around (most of the day) and ended up coming back to the orphanage in time for a short visit with Jillian. She was just finishing supper and when she saw us peeking through the door, she got a big smile on her face and came running to me and jumped in my arms. Then they called her back and made her wash her hands. She sat on my lap for a while and then George told her to get a book, so it was a game of getting a book, bringing it to us, looking at a few pages, then running to get another one, back and forth. All of the other kids wanted to see the books too. If one of them picked a book, Jill would take it from them and put it back and bring her own. She won't let them get too close to us. When they told us it was time to go, she pouted and didn't want to say goodbye, but she did come back and gave us a hug and a kiss and pouted some more.

I think I wrote a book today!! Sorry, better go get some rest. And oh, if you have written us on my mctibb mlecwb e-mail, I just figured out how to open it this morning and thanks so much to everyone who has written!! I have about 40 e-mails to answers, so I will be working through them in the next few days. Paka! (bye-bye)

P.S. Please remember to pray for the commission meeting with the kids tomorrow morning!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Day 9 (we think). There has been so much happening, it is hard to make it comprehensible, so I will be all over the place....First, I am sure you want to know more about the kids. We officially gave them their new names today. They are all excited to have an American name and to come to America.

Ryan Maxim - 8 - Very calm, sweet, helpful with his brothers and sisters, but did put his little brother in a gentle headlock, so he may be another Tibbetts wrestler!!

Robin Vladislava - 7 - Very energetic, very independent, is definitely going to be the drama queen of the bunch.

Jason Ivan - 5 - He is very energetic, likes to wrestle and play rough and will be our challenge on the way home.

Jillian Katerina - 3 - Very happy, always smiling, loves the Winnie the Pooh we gave her. Likes to sit on our laps.

Luckily, we have a big yard at home. They are going to need room to run and play, as they only have small places to play here and they will need to burn off energy. I think we will need to invest in a trampoline and a swingset, but since I have been hearing it has been very cold and snowy in Minnesota, maybe we better start with sleds and ice skates!!

Sorry I didn't write yesterday. I hadn't slept yet in 8 days, just little bits here and there, but I finally slept last night so I feel MUCH better!! Yesterday and today, we spent a lot of time running here and there and spending lots of time waiting in the car while our facilitator did paperwork for us. I am not sure of all the places we went, but we went to the inspector's office (same thing as a social worker for us), orphanage offices, lawyer, judge and a few other places and sometimes back and forth between them. By the end of the day yesterday, I could hardly stay awake and had a major headache. As far as we know right now, we are trying for court about Dec. 24 (so I don't think we will be home for Christmas). All the documents have to go back to Kiev to the SDA (State Department of Adoptions - where we started) and then they will send the referral back to us so we can go to court. After court, there is a 10-day mandatory waiting period before we can take the kids home - but for us it will be more like 15 days with their Christmas.

We are staying at a Christian Clinic here. It is really cool. They have everthing we need. Our bedroom is about 10 x 18 feet with two single beds, a couch, desk, and a closet (and our facilitator has his own room). Across the hall is a kitchen we can use, dining room, and bathrooms. It is like a dormitory. It is where their missionaries stay, but there aren't any here, so they let adoptive families stay here. And the clinic director lets us use his computer for Internet. It is a ways from the orphanage so we have to have a driver everyday for driving to the orphanage and running around for all the paperwork, but he knows where everything we need is.

Jenni and Brian wanted to know why we didn't have hot water in Kiev. I asked George and we got a 20-minute explanation, but it comes down to a political thing and they can shut it off at will.

We have had several visits with the kids. We are allowed to have two visits a day. From 11-12:30 and from 4:15-6:30. We don't always get two visits with all the running around for paperwork we have to do. The hardest thing is communication. George sometimes has to leave to work on the paperwork and we are on our own. They get a little wound up and we visit with them in a little room with no toys and there are decorations on the wall that they don't want broken. We try to bring things for them to do. The oldest two really like to color. We brought play-doh and they weren't interested and put it in their bags to keep. They really like looking at the pictures we brought from home. Vlada tried to say Sierra today when I was pointing out people in the pictures - of course she rolled the R's, so it was really cute. The visits get easier and more enjoyable each time. The youngest boy ran back and gave us both hugs when we left today.

Since the oldest boy is in school, he has to write a petition to agree to be adopted. He has only been in school a short time, so please pray that he won't be frustrated and will agree to us being his parents.

I know everybody is anxious to see pictures, just know that they are cute!! One, I don't know how to add pictures to this blog using a public computer and two, I don't think we are allowed to put pictures on the web until after court. Sorry!! You'll just have to wait!! ;0)

I don't know what else you want to know about. Please keep e-mailing and/or leaving comments on the blog. We really appreciate it and it will give us ideas of what to write about and we love hearing from home!! Thanks for praying!!! Dos va danya!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The news you have all been waiting for!

I have lots to tell you, but I am incredibly tired. We didn't sleep on the train much. We amazingly got to meet the kids today and I will tell you the basic facts now and tell you lots more tomorrow when my brain isn't in sleepy mode!!

The children are (drumroll please...) And I will just call them by their first intial until we tell the orphanage director our answer (tomorrow) and when we decide on names.

M - 8 y/o boy - he is very quiet, small.
V - 7 y/o girl - she seemed quiet at first, but I think she is going to be the "boss." (She looks a lot like my great niece Olivia).
I - 5 y/o boy - this is going to be the rowdy one of the bunch.
K - 3 y/0 girl - my sweetie - little pigtails - she cried for mama when we left. (Okay I am crying now too.)

Yup, quadruplets!!

Well, I really have to go - I am falling asleep here at the computer - I could write pages.... 'til tomorrow....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Last day in Kiev

Today is our last day in Kiev for this part of the adventure. We asked yesterday at the Internet Cafe if we could come back today and they said "no stop", so we guess that to mean they are open all the time. So we get to talk to you for another day....

We always have fun adventures here. When we left yesterday to walk back to our apartment, a lady stopped us and asked us for directions. I guess we fit in better this time!! Then in line at the market, two ladies asked us to hold their spot in line. We said "we don't understand." Then they talked to us in English and a man in front of us asked us where we were from and what we were doing there. So I guess there are a lot more people that speak English here than we would ever guess.

We don't have a lot to talk about today so we will tell you about our "supermarket." When you walk in, there are guards, I think to make sure you don't bring packages in. First, you walk through fruits and vegetable and you have to have each item weighed and tagged before you move on. There is a big meat and cheese counter with smoked fish and all kinds of things. We never get anything here because we don't know how to order. There are rows of regular grocery stuff. There is one whole row of different kinds of tea. There are three whole rows both sides of alcoholic beverages. There aren't any items like clothes soap, shampoo, or napkins at this market. Luckily, we brought all of that or it is in our apartment.

All the clothes that we washed yesterday are dry - amazingly in this cold apartment - and ready to be packed away. Today, the landlady came to work on the TV in the kitchen, but it still isn't working - not that we would use it anyway. We set up our own "entertainment center." We set the laptop up on a chair and watch movies on that.

After we "cooked" our bath and I was rinsing out my bowl after we ate breakfast, the hot water must have starting working, but there was enough force that it sprayed me all over my clothes. I guess we will go back and shower, pack, and be ready to walk to the Metro to go to the train station to go to Odessa tonight. Will write as soon as we can after we meet the kids!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Free days

Day 6 - We walked down to the Tourist Hotel again to blog and check e-mails. Today is a free day. We have a washing machine in our apartment and George showed us yesterday how to use it. We washed two loads of clothes and hung them up in front of the heat register, altough there isn't much heat in it. It is now 65 degrees in our apartment. We still don't have hot water so we boil water on the stove, close the kitchen door and can get it to about 71 degrees, so we wash up in the kitchen.

Yesterday, we had the adventure of taking the Metro (subway) back to the SDA to pick up our referral papers. We waited on the stairs until they called us in, showed our passports, and got our referral paper. While we were waiting outside for George to make some calls - he called the orphanage director and the inspector of that city - we talked to a couple from Texas who are going to the Donestk region to meet two little boys. George said the director is out, but he talked to the secretary and she said there is some commission there on Monday and we may not be able to meet the kids, but she will try to work it out. She also offered her husband to come pick us up in Odessa and bring us to Belgorod-Dnestrovsky (the city where the kids are). The inspector was already out. He has to agree to accompany us to the orphanage or we can't go. Prayers would be appreciated for this official and the director - that hopefully they won't drag it out. We can't wait to meet our kids!!

We found out that the Odessa region is more expensive that some others, so please pray that we would find favor with all the officials that we will come in contact with.

Some people have asked about the apartment. It really is quite nice - it has a living room, bedroom, kitchen and two "bathrooms", one is the WC (water closet) with the toilet and the other has the sink and bathtub. It has everything we need as far as dishes, utensils, soap, blankets, etc. The market is just a block out of the way when we walk back from the hotel. It is fun to try to provide for ourselves. We still haven't been able to buy butter, and the store is always full of people who are in a hurry, so it is hard to look for anything. We really like their juice - it comes in a carton - and has lots of flavors to choose from.

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had eaten Snow Flakes. I explained what they were in my journal and sometimes I forget what I wrote there and what I've told you, but I realize I didn't explain what they were. They are Nestle Gold Snow Flakes - kind of like thick frosted flakes, but they are good. Yesterday, we bought honey nut Cheerios - there are about 3 cereals in English that we can pick from - unless we get really brave. We did pick up some crackers that were in a clear bag - they are just like Ritz crackers.

Its been about 25 degrees and windy, but I won't complaint - we've heard its been below 0 since we left Minnesota.

I will try to answer a few e-mails. I think we will go over our hour today - it is about $1.30 for an hour, but we still try to stick to an hour because there is a smell in here that gives us a headache. Just wanted to add that the exchange rate is at 7.75 to 1 USD. That is really good for us! It keeps going higher everyday.

I am not sure we will be able to post tomorrow - don't know if the Internet Cafe is open on Sunday or not. I will try to tell you about the kids as soon as I can - may not have Internet there either right away.

Thanks for your continued prayers and e-mails - it is so nice to hear from home!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Everything here is an adventure...

even washing your hair! Last night into today, we didn't have hot water, so we heated up water on the stove and poured it into the sink. Luckily, a lot of people wrote about bringing a universal sink stopper on their packing lists. There aren't any sink stoppers in our apartment. We washed our hair the old fashioned way.

I actually did sleep some, mostly today. I couldn't sleep during the night, got up a couple of times to read a few chapters, but slept in until 10. After we washed up, we had a breakfast of Snow Flakes again.

We now are up at the Tourist Hotel again at the Internet Cafe. We have to cross 7 intersections to get here, some with lights and some without. You just step into traffic and they stop for you - so far anyway!!

Today, George is supposed to pick us up at 3 to go back to the SDA to pick up our referral paperwork. Please pray that it is ready and please pray ahead for our meeting with the kids.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Can Blog At Last!! (I think!)

We are on day 4 of our adventure. I am finally able to get in to blogger. I tried to put in a flash drive and cut/paste everything I have written on my laptop over the last four days, then it caused the screen to go blank. It is hard to add anything to blog when the instructions are in Russian. I will just write an abbrevated message to kind of cover everything.

Day 1 - Traveled from MSP to Chicago. We were delayed several hours leaving Mpls due to snow storm. We arrived at Chicago with 8 minutes to run through the airport to get to our gate. Luckily that plane was delayed too or we wouldn't have made it.

Day 2 - Arrived in Munich a little late. Had 15 minutes to run to our gate. We just made it!! No time to sit down to take a break! Arrived in Kiev. Our luggage did not come with us! We had to fill out papers in "Lost and Found." The girl there also helped us fill out the declaration forms and walked us through customs. That was an added blessing to our misadventure. We got VIP treatment for free! Sveta and driver were waiting for us. They took us to our apartment.

Day 3 - Went to visit Children's Hope orphanage to visit my little sponsored girl Lyuda. We had found out about 3 weeks before that she was reunited with her father and was no longer there, but that they were going to bring her to CH so we could see her again. There was a miscommunication and she wasn't there. They gave us a tour of CH anyway. It has changed a lot in the almost 2 years since we have been there. They made all the rooms into rooms for 2-4 kids instead of 10-12. They also fixed up the girl's bathroom. They didn't have enough funds to do the boys bathroom. They showed us the stove that "we" bought (with donations) on our last trip and took pictures of us with it. The cook said that God would bless us for giving that to them.

Day 4 - SDA appointment!!! (SDA stands for State Department of Adoptions) Sveta said she would pick us up at 9, but she didn't come until 9:30 and I have to say I was a little stressed, wondering if she was going to come. (Our cell phone doesn't work, so we couldn't call her). But they came with our luggage, and then we went downtown to our appointment. We feel that we got a good referral and are being sent to Odessa. We don't want to say anymore than that until we meet the children and accept the referral. We will stay in Kiev through the weekend and leave Sunday night on the overnight train to arrive in Odessa Monday morning and hopefully we find favor with the inspector who needs to accompany us to the orphanage. (Please pray for that.)

Of course, there are tons more details to go along with this, and I have it all saved on my laptop. If I can figure out how to post that later, I will. Until we have more news......will blog at you later!! Thanks for checking out our blog and sorry it took me so long to post anything!