We spent many days in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi as we got to know our children better and waited on the Court appointment that would legally make these beautiful and precious children ours.
The children love Bananas! They are such a treat for them!
Day 11 Sunday December 11th 2016. From my journal : We probably had the best visit today since meeting the children. We played outside with them and the kids really enjoyed it. Lots of running around with their friends too! We are leaving for Kyiv tonight after midnight for Immigration Medical appointments tomorrow morning.
Day 12 Monday December 12th 2016: From my journal: Today I question my ability to do this! We left the Fiesta Hotel in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at 0015 this morning with a driver we had never met. Rob and I stood on the sidewalk outside the hotel. It was dark: there are no street lights. We waited, as we thought, for Yura our regular driver. When he didn’t appear, we looked down the street and saw another van sitting at the sidewalk. We walked over and sure enough it was our driver. He was very nice but didn’t speak any English. I asked him in Russian if he was taking us to the orphanage. He answered with vigorous nodding of his head and saying over and over ‘Da, da malen’kiye’.Which is Russian for ‘Yes, yes, the little children.’
I joked with Rob that the longer I stay here, the more I feel like an extra in ‘The Bourne Identity’. All the getting into strange vehicles in Eastern Europe with people we don’t know and being whisked away in the middle of the night to who knows where. We sped in the dark, over roads full of potholes to the Orphanage to pick up the children.
At the Orphanage, the children were anxiously waiting with a female worker who was to accompany us too. The van is large with 4 rows of seats. I sit in the very back with Niamh, Rob is in front of me with the boys. The next seat has bags and other belongings on it and the driver and worker are in the front. The only English speakers are Rob and myself. The female worker is cheerful, talks lots, and makes lots of positive gestures to us.
No one worries too much about germs here I see, as she opens a container of water and fills an enamel cup that she takes from her bag. Then she takes a drink and passes the cup to the driver and he drinks and passes it back to us. Rob politely declines (knowing him, I can just imagine what is going through his mind). Rob passes the cup to the boys first and then to me to give Niamh a drink. I drink from the communal cup after her so if there are any germs I get them all as I am the last to drink after everyone else.
We arrive to a foggy, cold Kyiv at 0630 am in the morning of the 13th. It’s too early to meet Inna and we wait in the van until 08:00 am. This is not an easy task with little children. Eight am is when we are to meet Inna. A well slept and extremely cheerful Inna arrives at last and we all go in. After a trip to the toilet, the children pile their plates high with food and I am thankful they are able to eat everything they have taken. I am a little upset that they don’t know how to sit quietly but no one including the worker and Inna, who are enjoying visiting, seem to care that they are running around all over the restaurant. The children are not paying any attention to either Rob or myself.
The appointment at the Immigration Medical Clinic was without doubt, the worst medical appointment that I have ever been to! I have never experienced so much disorganization in a medical facility. We were stopped inside the door by a security man who was the television stereotype of an ex KGB officer! This thought is quite possibly related to my previous one regarding the movie I mentioned earlier. Dark gray expensive suit, black crew neck shirt, pointy dark leather shoes and a buzz cut! He ordered us, not asked us (through Inna, in Russian) to leave our coats downstairs. Then we had to walk upstairs again to register.
The place was very crowded and the corridors just crammed full of people. Declan had drank so much water on route throughout the night, that he constantly needed to pee. A cleaner would not let us use the toilet on the floor we were on so we had to keep taking him to the toilet on the floor below. Then we would lose our seats as others would take them and we would end up having to stand. Finally after urine tests on the three children that took us all to the bottom floor once again (Declan had no trouble with this) and a chest x-ray on Niamh on the main floor, all that remained was to be seen by the doctor. Rob’s wallet was now $750.00 USD, (about $1000 Canadian), lighter before we climbed the stairs to see the doctor on the top floor. It was by now late evening.
The doctor examined the children one at a time but what amazed me was the fact that people kept opening the door and coming into the exam room from waiting in the hallway to ask questions of the doctor and no one seemed to mind. If that was at home, they would be ordered out as the doctor was already seeing a patient in a state of undress.
The doctor was older, female and very abrupt in her manner. She sounded like she was barking orders in Russian at everyone including the children. The children were visibly nervous. One form from the Canadian Embassy had an error in Niamh’s date of birth and that caused a bit of a kerfuffle so Inna had to email the Embassy to have a corrected one sent over.
The Streets of Kyiv, showing one of the entrances to The Metrograd, Kyiv’s underground shopping mall.
Finally it was over and we left the clinic. So glad that these medicals are completed. This was exhausting! The doctor didn’t tell me anything I think I didn’t already know. She asked the older two children lots of questions about their past before the orphanage. The answers they gave her, from what they could remember, were about the only things that I hadn’t already heard about their pasts from Yana and Inna. No blood work was done so this part of things still remains an unknown. I can’t help but feel that this has all been a huge waste of time and money.
We stopped again to eat supper at the resturaunt we were at this morning. The orphanage worker, the driver, Inna, the three children and Rob and myself. I cringed when I saw the worker pile the children’s plates high with food that I knew they would never eat. No one was listening to me as she kept on smiling and nodding and ignoring my feeble protests. At the end, Rob was expected to pay for it all and for me that was the final straw. As I expected, the children were exhausted and could barely eat anything. Any of the food that could be taken away, was packed into paper bags by the worker for the journey home. A lot couldn’t be packed, and the soups, dips and salads had to be discarded. As long as what was taken gets eaten, I guess I just have a problem with waste.
Leaving the city in the dark again that evening, I just sat in the back seat of the van and cried and cried. Conor seemed to sense my mood and climbed into the back seat with me and just held onto me really tightly. He fell asleep like this, with our arms wrapped around each other. Rob and I had been awake now for close on 37 hours! On the journey back, the worker gave Niamh her cell phone to play around with and Niamh proudly shows me pictures of herself that she has posted on some social media site. They are awful! They sensualize her in a way that is totally inappropriate for a 12-year-old girl. I feel so helpless! Why can’t I make them understand my heart? My tears flow unabated.
During my tearful ride back to Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, God continued to break down the remaining hard places in my heart, my selfishness, my pride, my own strength and abilities, my pride in my beautiful home, not that I’m not supposed to have a nice home but that I use it for Him. ‘Grace has already won the war’. These children don’t know anything about Jesus, about who He is or how much He loves them.
Suddenly I feel like my life is like this little brick hut with a shingle roof and God started to pull off those shingles, one at a time and flick them away. I could see His hands as He removed them. Then the wind caught them and they were gone. The shingles are all the negatives in my life. ‘The seduction of comfort’ was a phrase that kept coming to my mind. One shingle represented pride, and the next one selfishness and so on until they were all gone and all that remained was me bowing in total submission before Him. I was now completely vulnerable before Him. ‘Grace has already won the war’.
After we dropped off the children and the worker, the driver took us back to the hotel. Rob gave me a Tylenol Cold and Flu pill with a glass of red wine on our return to our room to help me sleep, but by then I was already cried out and totally exhausted and I had a sore throat. I continue to be blessed by such a Godly husband. He knows me very well. He has wisdom beyond himself…..end of journal entry…..
Day 13. Tuesday December 13th 2016. From my journal: 10:40 am. I slept! Today is a new day! I still feel very fragile. I miss home and I miss my family. I still feel that I have bitten off more than I can chew for right now but today as Rob and I prayed, he helped me realize that I have poured my heart into this for over a year and it’s catching up to me now, plus I’m physically exhausted and I have yet another bad cold which doesn’t help. Rob prayed against the spiritual darkness here, the star signs and astrology that seem so important to people. In the restaurant last evening, the worker, through Inna interpreting, got all excited when she heard my birthday was in July. Her’s is too and her star sign is the same she told me. She shook my hand and was even more friendly after hearing that.
Today we are not going to the orphanage at 11:00 but at 4:00 pm. This was arranged yesterday morning. I’m still ‘emotionally incontinent’ today. I still cry at the drop of a hat. I’m still broken and vulnerable. I’m scared that Niamh, Conor and Declan won’t love me. That I won’t be able to love them like I want to and I should. Rob reminds me that love is a choice. The feelings will come! He tells me I need to stop beating myself up.
On the streets in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi
Today was a whirlwind of emotions. I was crying this morning as were out walking and Rob asked me what was bothering me. I told him I missed our kids back home. Some of my ’emotional incontinence’ continues. My throat continues to be painful. We sent a blanket text to our kids in Canada tonight. David, Teneille, Jody and Peter responded right away. The others later as they could. I miss them all so much…..end of journal entry….
Day 14. Wednesday December 14th 2016. From my journal…Just got back from the orphanage after playing with Declan. He is so smart! We were teaching him the colors in English and he was able to repeat them. He even remembered how to say ‘yellow‘ when he put the pieces back in the box! Today is a far better day! We both had a good sleep last night. We prayed on the walk to the orphanage. The day before we were both so close to throwing in the towel and heading home! We both need to give ourselves time and permission to love these children. I am so glad I got to text our adult children back at home and got replies back from them. Rob and I prayed that we would see our children here through the eyes of Jesus today.
We are back from our evening visit and that went much better too. Way better than I had hoped for. Niamh really seems to want to spend time with Rob and I. She is so intelligent! We went through the photo book and named all the family members so the children would become familiar with their adult siblings. She tried to remember the names of everyone! The pronunciation is difficult for them as their mother tongue is Russian and many of the sounds in English are not there in Russian. I feel so much more hopeful today about this.
This is the little coffee shop where we had breakfast each morning on our 3 mile walk to the Orphanage. Usually a ham and cheese roll, heated to melt the cheese, a bag of chips to share and a coffee and bottle of water each. The tap water here is not safe to drink and we had no way of making anything to eat where we stayed, not even coffee.
Today was the ‘Day of bad meals’ here. No coffee (we could have had beer, but didn’t) in the little coffee shop where we usually stop at for breakfast on the way to the Orphanage, and only cold rolls this am as the girl working there today didn’t know how to heat up the ham and cheese rolls we usually order. Tough, tasteless and stringy rabbit this evening, I am thankful for Rob. He bought me a bag of chips and a banana!
The documents for our adoption will be at the lawyers either today or tomorrow. The kids really seem to want to come to Canada. Niamh really brightened when Papa told her she would soon be baking cookies with Mama. Conor stated that he would be helping Papa cut down trees and split wood! He flexed his arm and showed us his ‘muscles‘. We shall see!….end of journal entry….