I was at home for less than one week at the end of March – spent catching up with my kids who have grown in my absence, logging in a few days at work, willing my body to find some time zone and stick with it, re-packing bags (this time with baby gear!), making Easter magic, and that was it: time to turn back around for the final leg of our adoption journey. This time, however, Peter remained at home with the children, and I left on Easter Sunday with my sister Jeanne, who hails from Canada, and my dad who drove us giddy girls all the way to the airport.
|Easter morn ... leaving my chickees was hard.|
April 4, 2013 (from Facebook): Hi all! I'm back in Ukraine ... this time with my sister Jeanne. I think traveling with a sister is a total crack-up, and we make each other laugh when things aren't exactly funny. We arrived Tuesday night after an insane airport-dashing/crashing session where we were re-routed to various places and airlines such as Istanbul and Turkish Airlines. We eventually arrived in our region’s airport unscathed (just dropped a couple tears along the way), but our bags did not. Now, that may sound like a trite thing, but the littlest of dilemmas get magnified 1000 x when you don't speak the language of the problem-solvers, which in this case was either Turkish or Russian, and furthermore you can't figure out how to work a phone here anyway! But here is the amusing part about that:We left for the Ukraine on Easter Sunday, after a lovely morning of Easter egg hunting, easter-basket-chocolate-mania, and waffle breakfast. I had this crazy idea that I would like to make a mountain of chocolate chip cookies to bring to the orphanage on Gotcha day as a special treat in this biscuit-cookie-land... only trouble is, my bags were over-maxed out, so I would have to persuade my sister to lug the double-pack of chocolate chips. Only, I worried that I would need baking soda too, so I packed that in a sandwich bag. Only, that looked like a drug deal coming down, so I thought maybe I should just hide it in four cups of sugar which should also travel with us. Along with a bottle of vanilla of course. When everyone I encountered told me that I was being ridiculous and that the cookie supplies really aren't top priority, my uber-stubborn streak kicked in and I guilt-tripped my sister into hauling the chocolate chips in her carry-on -- which meant she had to take out her spare change of clothes. NOW YOU SEE THE TROUBLE!! :) I hauled the remaining ingredients which get inspected and scrutinized at every security stop. So five days later, when she is still sitting here wearing the same pair of jeans which she cannot wash because she hasn't a spare, or any clothes at all to speak of because they are who-knows-where between Newark, Munich, Istanbul and Ukraine -- but HEY! we have cookie-making ingredients! -- I thought she was going to clobber me with the sack of chocolate chips. However, thanks to her equally-stubborn husband Mike who has been sitting in Canada trying to track down our bags for the past couple days, they were eventually located and retrieved late last night. Mike is our hero.
Things are moving fast here! We just spent the bulk of two days on a paper-chasing mission in a car, which included a drive to Leeza's birth town, a quaint little place with teeny little houses lined up in perfect rows ... we were mesmerized by it. Leeza's birth certificate has been changed to reflect her new parents (us!) and same with her social security numbers! Will post some pics soon. We arrived back in Donetsk on Wednesday at 3:00 and our facilitator took a leap of faith and announced that we were going to pick up the babies from the orphanage and take them to get passports (at a city over an hour away). She was praying that she could persuade someone to issue passports after-hours. So we swooped into the orphanage (with fellow adoptive parents M & A who are adopting two baby boys from the same orphanage), grabbed the three babies, stuffed them into the van, and off we went! Now, mind you, we had been driving since 9:00 a.m. and hadn't eaten or drank anything all day. I don't think any of us will forget that car ride with seven adults and three babies. It seemed like a crazy dream, bouncing along a highway at a high rate of speed in a vehicle with no carseats or seatbelts in the middle of a foreign country, with babies all looking around in awe of us, the passing sights, etc. Spending that much time with Leeza laying on my chest was exquisite ... how I missed her! The other magical thing was the M & A’s baby boys, who are now brothers, met for the first time. On the way up to the passport city, we whizzed past a crumpled body laying beside the road, and no one said anything. I couldn't take it anymore, and I blurted out: HEY! Did anyone else see that body laying beside the road? No one did. I continued: WELL, it was all crumpled up ... do you suppose it was dead? Who knows, said the local folks up front. I sat stewing about that, and then we encountered a thick smoke. And flames. A ginormous (sp?) fire was blazing across the countryside and had reached the highway, where a wall of flames was reaching up and over the other side of the highway and trying to jump to our side. Cars were just driving right on THROUGH the fire. Except for the lone curse emitted from my sister in the back seat, again no one said anything, despite the smell of burning rubber. I couldn't take it anymore and blurted out: Didn't that totally freak you out? Aren't you scared to come back home and drive on THAT side of the highway? Our Ukrainian crew up front merely shrugged and said, "Nah." And that's the thing: These things just HAPPEN here. The babies cooed and played the entire way there and back, alternating with cat naps on our laps ... and their passports have been ordered! We arrived back to the orphanage at around 8:30 p.m. and passed off our happy, sleepy babies to their worried nannies. Love to all! Mom/Sharon
April 6, 2013 (from Facebook): During our first stay in March, I showed Leeza the sign for "mommy." She thought about it for several days and then began doing her version, which is to extend her palm out, stare at her hand, and then lay it across her lips -- and then LAUGH. My first day back on this second trip, she did it -- unprompted. I caught it here!
April 7 2013: We are now quietly awaiting Leeza’s passport; in the meanwhile, Jeanne and I visit Leeza at the orphanage twice a day and spend as many other daylight hours as possible touring the open air markets, where we people watch and breathe the culture and sample the baked goods and stockpile on things that please us like pieces of fabrics and tea towels and wooden eggs. Orthodox Easter is coming up here, and Easter decorations and treats are everywhere you turn.
April 9, 2013 (from FaceBook): Barring any unforeseen obstacles, today will most likely be Gotcha Day! Right now we are awaiting "word" about whether the babies' passports will be ready this afternoon -- and if so, we'll be jetting off to pick them up from a city an hour and a half away, and then returning here for "Gotcha"! We think we will miss the evening express train which means we would likely be on the 12-hour overnight train ... we'd arrive in Kiev in the morning perfectly disheveled for our day-long embassy and medical appointments. But we sure have learned to laugh, which helps. Our bags are loaded with good-bye gifts to bring to the orphanage: A big basket of bright, colorful socks for babies, books and toys, Jeanne's quilts, ten Tupperware containers filled with trinkets for each nanny (thank you, Ruth!
...) Jeanne’s trinkets from Canada that she is giving out, scarves for doctors and staff, etc. And YES!!! Chocolate chip cookies for all! We never could get our gas stove going (I had no problem squirting gas but just couldn’t figure out where to stick a match without causing a disaster) so we had a baking session last night down at A & M’s apartment, since M claims his oven has only singed his arm hairs once. It has no temperature to set … just a guessing game of generally how hot it feels in there. Our first batch caused the apartment to fill with black smoke. Eventually we ended up with a proper and edible “motherlode.”
We will try to post a picture or two or at least a Gotcha story in the next couple days, but it may be that we’re simply on the run with a baby, headed home ...
At last. xoxoxo