We have been blessed with two special daughters and two sons from Eastern Europe. We welcome you to follow our journey as a family of five, waiting to travel and pick up #6, with the ins and outs of family, education, farm life, and love!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday's first visit

Up at 5:00am to be ready for a 5:45 pick-up to head to the express train.  Down to the van and our driver handed us tickets.  He said he bought us three tickets so we didn't have to sit next to anyone who might want to practice his/her English or the possibility of sitting next to someone who was drunk.
We arrived to the train station in time, and our driver helped us find the right train car, helped me put my luggage on the car, and showed us where to sit.  The express day train has first class cabins with three seats in each cabin.  We were in the very last cabin of the train!  Our driver told the stewardess that we didn't speak English and to please let us know when we had reached our destination stop. (It was the last one!)

It was nice taking the day train.  In the daylight, you can see the scenery and the farmland.  I got to see many sunflower fields.  Sadly, most are past the prime, and have started to die.  I can only imagine what those fields look like when they are in their peak.  Sunflower fields as far as the eye can see.  I also enjoyed the small villages we passed and the random cow or goat on a chain hooked to a cement block out close to the tracks.

When we arrived in Max's region, we had been given instructions to get out of the train car and stand on the platform and wait for our driver.  No, we had no idea what he looked like or what his name was. (Lots of this trip is blind faith!)  A man came up to us and asked "You speak English?" Yes. "I'm _____, I speak no English.  Let's go."  And off we went with gusto.  The driver explained where our facilitator in few words he knew in English and we took it to mean we would see her later.  On the way to pick her up, we dropped off a tire.  Once we picked her up and headed to the orphanage, we stopped back and paid for the tire.
When we arrived in Max's town, we stopped at an official building (it's easy to know official buildings because they all have large plaque on the front of the building.) and were told to wait in the car.  First our facilitator went into the building, then our driver went in (the facilitator and driver are husband and wife).  Doug and I sat in the back seat of the car and took in the local sights.  After about 30 minutes, the driver came out and we waited a few minutes longer for our facilitator and a local official.  Off we went to the orphanage.
The orphanage sits outside the village on a plot of land that stands alone.  The buildings are large, and there is fence all around the premises.  (The fence is typical).  I was concentrating on following our facilitator into the building and towards the director's office.  DOug was behind me, and I overheard him say "There he is!" and when I turned around, Max was there, giving Papa a hug.  Then I got a hug.  Someone said to us "he has been waiting since yesterday for you."  When our facilitator peeked out the door to see why we hadn't followed, I said to her "this is Max", and then she understood.
Max came into the director's office.  Many questions were asked of him and of us.  They then told Max that since he is an adult (in Ukraine that is at 14!) he would need to write an official letter stating that he wanted to be adopted.
Once the official letter was written, we were free to go outside and visit while the team completed some additional items.  We visited for about an hour outside.  Max's first question to us- "Where Hannah?  Where Mila?"  Then he asked Papa if he had his phone and if he could have it.  Max went straight to the iPod and found his favorite Chris Tomlin album to listen to.  Max's good friend came over to where we were sitting.The two boys looked at pictures and played games on our phones.  We sat and chatted with Max while he played.  It was good to be in the presence of our boy again.

It is different.  We are use to visiting with him in America.  I know how he interacts with us at home, but here, obviously, it is different.  He has an image to uphold.  He has peers he lives with.  And so, we try to understand the difference in Max, praying that there are not consequences from others' jealousy that he has to deal with because of us being here for him.

We piled back into the car after our visit and agreed to visit again tomorrow.  We dropped the inspector off in town, then headed back towards the large city to find a notary.  One the way, we picked up the tire that had been dropped off and paid for.
In the city, we found a notary, and two official documents were drafted.  One document stated that we wished for a second appointment at the SDA to see Eli's paperwork, and the other was an official statement that yes, we wanted to adopt Max.  Once the documents were complete, we were back in the car to find our apartment.
Up four flights of stairs and behind two doors was a very nice apartment.  We put down our things and the landlord showed us the apartment.  She showed us how to lock the door behind her as she left.
There is another family here in the region that I have been following their blog.  Laurie had said once we got into the city to call them, and that we did.  We agreed to meet at the McDonald's at the end of street (which is a 15 minute walk away).  We met them, jumped on the metro, and headed to an Italian restaurant for dinner.  It was good to finally meet Laurie and Bryan after reading so much about their journey.  A great dinner with new friends.  A perfect ending to a long first day in the region.

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