Sunday, August 30, 2009

The 10 day wait is over

Yesterday was day 10 of our wait, so our court decree officially goes into effect today. We can't pick up the decree until Wednesday afternoon, but it still feels good to be able to say the wait is over. I guess this means Victoria is officially our daughter (although she has been to us since the day we met her). We will start the running around for the last leg of paperwork on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning, depending on what time we have the court decree in our hands. We most likely will be taking Victoria out of the orphanage on Monday, Sept.7th. I'll let you know for sure when we know.

Victoria is doing well. She is really picking up a lot of English words. She likes me to sing the ABCs and already knows up to G by herself, then she chimes in with a few random letters here and there. I am very impressed. She knows that she is going in an airplane and points up to the sky when one goes over head.

I am going to post a few random pictures from the last week or so.

Our first family photo - taken in the afternoon of court. It's not the best, but we're all together!

Victoria and MomMom

My Mom and I had a sightseeing day earlier in the week. We went to St. Sophia's, St. Michael's and St. Andrew's Cathedrals as well as did some shopping. This is St. Andrew's.
We visited an open air museum the other day. It is a very large outdoor area set up with villages that represent the history of different regions of Ukraine. It was very interesting and I'm glad we got to see it. Here are a few pictures.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Independence Day Ukraine

Today Ukraine celebrated it's Independence Day, so Happy Independence Day or whatever they say here in Ukraine!

I haven't blogged much, but I wanted to give you a quick update. My visits with Victoria continue to go well. She is very smart and is picking up quite a few English words already. She will also repeat anything I say, so we have been counting to ten and naming things around the orphanage.

Joe and Morgan left for home on Thursday morning. It was sad to see them go. I will miss them very much these next few weeks. They made it home safely after a very long day of travel with quite a long delay at the airport here in Kiev. I did okay with them not here other than the fact that my power was out for 16 hours that day.

My Mom arrived in Kiev on Saturday to spend the rest of my trip with me. She has adjusted well to being here and seems to be enjoying herself. Victoria took right to her and gave her a big hug and kiss which I know my Mom loved.

We are about half way through our ten day wait. Our eleventh day is a Sunday though and here in Kiev you can only pick up court decrees on Weds. and Fri. So, we will pick up our court decree on Weds. Sept.2. Once we have that we can start the paper chase for birth certificates, tax ID, passport and then on to the US Embassy for Victoria's medical, waiver and finally visa. Then we can leave. We most likely will not make our scheduled flight of Thurs. Sept. 10, but hope to be out by that weekend.

Until we can pick up the court decree on the 2nd there isn't anything we can do except for visit with Victoria and be tourists here in Kiev. Tomorrow we are planning a tourist day to see some of the sights here in the city center and do some souvenier shopping.

I am still enjoying my time here, but do miss home. Especially since Joe and Morgan left.

I'll try to post some new pictures in the next few days.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Marked with an 8

She currently resides at the Berizka orphanage in Kiev, Ukraine. She has lived here since September 13, 2005. She lives with 12 other children in room number 8. All of their clothes, down to their underwear, are marked with an 8. Nothing belongs to them and they belong to noone. These precious little souls that are so deserving of something and someone.

She was born on July 20, 2005 to a woman that had been an IV drug user for at least 7 years at the time of her birth. She was born when this woman was only 26 weeks pregnant. She was considered a miscarriage, they didn't even give her APGAR scores. She weighed only 990 grams (2lbs.1oz.). She was born with a hole in her heart, with one kidney, testing positive for both Hepatitis C and HIV. She needed a machine to breath for her and she developed a brain bleed, as many preemies do.

BUT she was given a name that means victory; conquer. And conquer she did. She beat all the odds. The hole in her heart is completely closed, her one kidney is strong and fully functioning, the bleeding in her brain stopped and left no long term effects. She does NOT have Hepatitis C, she only had the antibodies from her mother's blood. She does have HIV, but her levels have remained consistent and she is healthy and thriving.

Today she is a beautiful, spunky four year old girl. Today she became a daughter, a sister, a grand daughter, a niece, a cousin, a cherished member of our family.

Today she became Victoria Lynn Hosford.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Court tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the biggest day for us here in Ukraine. It is our court date. It is the day when if all goes well our family will officially grow. Please pray that everything goes smooth and that the judge determines that Victoria should be part of our family.

Also, today is my Dad's birthday and mine and Joe's 8th anniversary. Happy Birthday Dad! Morgan says she can't wait to see you on Thursday Stinker! We love you and miss you. Happy Anniversary to a wonderful husband and the best father a girl could ask for! I can't believe it's been 8 years of marriage already.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Day at the zoo.

Victoria had doctor visits and blood work today, so we decided to take advantage of the absolutely beautiful weather and go to the zoo here in Kiev. It was a very nice day. We got to see a lot of animals and they have a fun little area with children's rides where Morgan had a lot of fun.

I really missed Victoria today and can't wait to see her tomorrow. I really can't wait until she can go places with us as a family. There is so much for her to experience and I can't wait to see her learn about the world outside of the orphanage walls.
Here are a few pictures from our day -

This is a little baby horse of some sort - don't worry he/she was just taking a rest.

They had a cute little petting zoo area

These two younger tigers were really fun to watch playing
There was a big ferris wheel in the zoo - this is the view from up there
I felt really bad for the monkey's at the zoo -they definitely had the worst enclosures and living conditions

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Court date

We finally found out today that our court date will be next Wednesday, August 19. This is just in time for Joe and Morgan to make their flight out on the 20th!

I don't think I will be able to come home as scheduled on Sept. 10th though. If court goes as scheduled our 10 day wait will be over on the 30th. Usually you can pick your court decree up on the 11th day. However, our 11th day will be the 31st which is a Sunday. It wouldn't be too bad if we were in another region because we could just pick it up on Monday, but in Kiev you can only pick up court decrees on Wed. and Fri. afternoons. So, it looks like we will have to wait until Wed. Sept. 3. We can't get the new birth certificate and passport started until we have the court decree and I'm not sure how long passports take to get in Kiev, but it is probably longer than everywhere else. Once we have all of that I can start the embassy stuff (medicals and visa) which will take at least a week because of the I-601 waiver. I also have to factor in Labor Day when the US Embassy will be closed.

Hopefully I won't be home too much after my scheduled return. I guess I probably won't really know until after the 10 day wait. For now, things are going well with Victoria and we have a court date, so all is good!


Today is my sister Amanda's birthday! I can not begin to tell you how much help she has been to us throughout this process. She is the one currently staying at our house and caring for all of our animals. For those of you that know us, you know what an huge task that is. For those of you that don't - it includes caring for 6 dogs, a cat and fish! I'm pretty sure any other person in their right mind would have laughed at us when we asked them to take care of our pets for at least 3 weeks (hopefully not longer). But Amanda always helps us without even blinking (well, I'm sure she curses us in private but at least to us she says yes with a smile). We could not be here if it were not for Amanda. We love you and miss you! I hope you have a very Happy Birthday! You really derserve the best.

On adoption related news - my facilitator is meeting this afternoon with the judge that will be doing our adoption court. Hopefully today she will know when our court date is and hopefully it will be before Joe and Morgan are scheduled to fly home next Thursday! I'll let you know when we find out.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Much better afternoon

Just wanted to let you know that our afternoon visit with Victoria went much, much better than the morning. Again, we expect a wide range of emotions and behaviors, so we try not to go with any expectations of how the visit will go. After this morning I wasn't sure, but we were pleasantly surprised at how pleasant and sweet she was. So, we had a lovely afternoon.

After our visit we went to a place called Arizona BBQ for dinner. It was pretty good. It is not too far from our apartment, but it is down the hill from where we are staying (when I say down the hill-I mean a really, really big hill). There is a thing called the funicular that takes you up the hill. Well, we walked from the restaurant to the funicular to ride it up (it isn't a far walk to our apartment once you get off at the top) and it was broken down!! So, we walked up what felt like at least 1,000 steps to get to the top of the hill! Morgan was such a trooper and didn't complain once - she was even cheering on Joe and I. The Ukrainian's must have been cracking up at us fat out of shape Americans as the women were all traversing the steps with no problem in their 4 inch high heels. Thank goodness it wasn't hot out!!!

Anyway, we made it home a little out of breath but other wise okay. I am headed to bed now - I'll be sure to update if we hear anything about court.

A beautiful Sunday in Kiev

After a cool and rainy day yesterday we woke up to a beautiful day today. It is in the 70's and very sunny with a slight breeze. The weather couldn't be better.

Our morning visit with Victoria on the other hand could have been better. It started off well, but then she starting getting pretty hyper. She wants to be spun around and rough house a lot. When we tried to calm her down a little she starting hitting Joe. I know it is mostly from being bored and frustrated because we can not communicate well. She is used to doing the same thing over and over for 4 years and now we have broken that routine. I'm sure she just doesn't know what to do with herself. She is so excited to have someone paying attention to just her that she seems to get carried away. It is hard too, because you know everyone is watching you. We ended up cutting our visit a little short so that she could get back to her groupa and calm down. She is very, very well behaved in the groupa and with her caregivers, so I know things will get better. Yesterday was great though because she gave me a few kisses without me even asking. Don't worry though, we are not discouraged. We know there is going to be a whole range of emotions that we all will go through and we know it it going to take time. We are going back this afternoon and hopefully things will go better.

After we left the orphanage we came back to our apartment. We decided to try some authentic Ukrainian food for lunch, so we went to a little cafeteria type place near us. I had some borsch and it was so good I had a second cup. After lunch Joe and Morgan went to a park while I went to St. Sophia's cathedral. It is breath taking. You can not take pictures of the inside so I am going to have to buy one of the book about the cathedrals here. I'm sure pictures would not do it justice anyway. I met Joe and Morgan at the park when I was done and we spent some time there.

We are now at our apartment for a little while before going back to the orphanage for our afternoon visit.

On another note, could I please ask for prayers for the orphans in Simferopol (which is where we were supposed to go)? We found out that things there have gotten bad again and it doesn't look like there are adoptions happening. I know that we are where we are meant to be, but my heart still breaks for the children there that may have lost their chance at finding a family. There is another family I know that was supposed to go to the same orphanage and they have also had to accept a referral for another little girl. They are also happy with their decision, but still sad for the little girl that they had thought would be theirs.

Our paperwork was submitted to the court on Friday, so hopefully I will have news on a court date tomorrow. I'll let you know.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

We're still okay

We're all still here and doing well.

Our visits with Victoria are going well. The communication is hard. We have picked up some of her words and she has picked up some of our words, but we can't really talk to her to see how she is really feeling. Right now we are just some people that come to play with her each day and bring new toys. We are all getting along though, so everything is good. She will soon learn all about having a family. She has spent 4 years in the orphanage, so it will be exciting to see her learn all about the world outside of the orphanage grounds.

We got the official approval from the SDA on our request to adopt Victoria today. My facilitator will take that to the judge in our region tomorrow. Hopefully we will know when our court date will be scheduled soon. It will be nice if Joe and Morgan could make their flight, but we will see.

There is a coffee shop a few corners down from us and Morgan really likes their ice cream. She had cherry earlier in the week and today she had strawberry. It is very good. We also got to go food shopping yesterday, so we have cooked the last few meals in our apartment. We haven't had any problems with the food here though or ordering when we are out. Some places have English on the menus and others we just point and nod. The people laugh at us sometimes, but they definitely do much better with their English than I do with my Russian or Ukrainian. We have been eating very American since we have been here. We have a pizza/pasta place very close to us that has good food and we had lunch on Tuesday at TGI Fridays with a few other adoptive couples from America. That was very nice. It has been really nice to get to know some other adoptive families and to talk English to people.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of our apartment, some of the sights of Kiev and a few teasers of Victoria (where you can't see her face - because we haven't had court yet I am not suppose to post pictures publicly).
The bedroom
Please excuse the mess - we weren't sure if we were staying when I took this so we hadn't unpacked yet
The living room (and Joe's bedroom - he has been sleeping on the couch and Morgan and I share the bed)
Our kitchen
The bathroom - and yes, we have plenty of hot water for showers!
Washing machine - very handy now that we know how to use it!
A cute little sculpture outside of our apartment - it is made out of screws
One of the many, many beautiful cathedrals in Kiev. They seem to be everywhere you look.
Outside of the SDA the morning of our appointment
The first afternoon we met Victoria! I love this picture!
The second day with Victoria. I can't wait to show you the other pictures of her!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A little more accomplished

Just a quick post to let you all know that things are continuing to go well. Our visits with Victoria are great. She opens up more each day.

We only got to go on our afternoon visit today because we spent the morning running around to the notary, the inspectors office, etc. So, progress is being made in all of the right directions.

We stopped this evening to pick up a few more toys and things to take with us on our visits. I'm sure Victoria will have fun with them. She is very smart and figures things out very quickly. She loves my camera!

We found out today that the other little girl we were interested in is not available. Her parents rights have not been terminated yet. It is sad because they probably will be at some point, but she will probably never get adopted.

So, it looks like we will be coming home with only one. That is okay though because I think Victoria will need a lot of one on one attention, so it will be good for her.

I'll update as I have news!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Did I say shy and scared???

Well, not today! Victoria was very interactive today. Both of our visits went very well. She is quite the little firecracker. I think she is going to give Morgan a run for her money. I also think she is going to be a Daddy's girl, as she has taken quite the liking to Joe.

We got to spend a lot of time together today. We played separate from her "groupa" for the most part and every time one of the other kids would come near us Victoria would chase them away. She definitely understands that we are there for her and doesn't want anyone else taking our attention. I brought a picture book with me and she kept it with her. It was so sweet to see her keep looking at the pictures and pointing to all of us. I also brought bubbles today and she had fun with them. She also really liked my camera and taking pictures with it (although I'm not sure if all of the settings are still correct now).

There is another little girl in Victoria's groupa that I am just in love with. We are going to try and find out on Monday if she is available for adoption. If she is we will see about getting her referral. If not, we will just be coming home with one.

I can't say enough how impressed I am with the orphanage and the director. The place is such a contrast to many of the pictures I have seen of orphanages and what I pictured in my mind. The place is so clean and cheery, and you can really tell how much the director cares for the children. He is very proud of all of them.

The adjustment is going to be hard for us all, but we will work through it. We really feel like we are blessed.

We have decided to stay in our current apartment. My facilitator was able to negotiate a monthly rent with the land lady that everyone is happy with. I really like it here. We have everything we need and we are very close to a lot of restaurants, shopping, etc. We joke that we must be in the rich part of the neighborhood. There was a Bentley on the corner today and then an Aston Martin on the same corner later, then we Joe took the trash out tonight a pink Lamborginii (sp?) drove by. We are on the other side of the river from the orphanage so we do have to arrange transportation. Right now we are taking cabs back and forth but my facilitator says she is also going to show us how to use the subway. She says it is much, much cheaper so we will have that as an option too.

We will continue with our daily visits with Victoria and hopefully some more paperwork towards our court date will be started on Monday.

Amanda - I hope you aren't losing your mind yet! Give the puppies a kiss for us. Thank you so much for everything. We love you and miss you.

Mom - you can cancel your Wizzair ticket. I will pick you up in Kiev. Jacqueline will still be flying from JFK to Kiev with you. I'll explain the "immigration card" that you have to fill out on the plane before you land. Other than that customs was a breeze and our luggage was out before we even got over there. We'll keep you guys posted about Joe and Morgan's return. Love you all!!!