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Settling In

We arrived home at about 2:30 am February 9th 2017. We quickly directed the children with sleepy heads to their rooms The look of wonder in their eyes was priceless. Our house was cold but really welcoming. It was so good to be home! It was nearly 3:30 am by the time Sharon and I fell asleep. Jet lag was working against me so after 3.5 hours of sleep I was wide awake.DSC_0734 (1)

There was much to do, snow to clear, wood furnace to get going. The suitcases could wait till morning to unpack. Quietly I got the fire going and then I started with snow removal giving everyone else as much time to rest as possible. I hadn’t finished clearing the driveway when Conor appeared – he was obviously very tired yet but I could see he didn’t want to miss anything. He got his first ride on the quad – eager to be driving – but not yet – that time would come soon enough.

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I returned to work the Monday following our return February 13th 2017,  only 4 days after coming home. In hindsight this was not such a good idea. This left Sharon home alone for 8 hours with the children – we prayed together at home and over the phone. Frequently, throughout the week Sharon would call as I was leaving to come home in the evening, exhausted and exasperated “Will you be home soon . . . I really need you.” Those first weeks were so hard trying begin to provide guidance and structure with such limited communication.

Meals were quiet and difficult as we struggled to communicate, relying heavily on itranslate.  Not being able express their feelings in a fashion that we could understand weighed heavily on the children. The food was so different that the children quite often refused to try anything, that is except for Conor: he ate like there was an imminent famine about to hit our home!  Sharon is an excellent cook and I love her food but the dishes were so new and tasted so different to the children that I knew she was getting a little discouraged as she sought to prepare healthy and tasty meals. We finally agreed on a compromise: the children instead of just refusing to eat, had to try a couple of spoonfuls and we made the portions smaller until they got used to the difference in tastes. Sharon actually realized this before me as she recounted how unappetizing she found certain Canadian foods when she arrived here all those years ago.

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Cake baked by daughter Teneille to welcome us all home.

We made our share of mistakes during those initial weeks (and yes we still do).  Our first blunder we actually had been warned about by several sources, but it just seemed to be the right thing to do; we attempted to engage in our local church the first Sunday we returned – though this is what we needed as a couple – this was NOT what we needed as a family, nor what was it best for the children.  Sharon and I needed to be alone with the children nurturing family bonds. This was one of the biggest mistakes we made as a new family.

The second mistake we made was that we continued using itranslate and even enlisted the help of some our Russian speaking friends – but the children began making family attachments to them and refusing to even try to learn English. The number of Russian speaking friends we had unintentionally convinced Conor he could survive in Canada only speaking Russian.  Conor repeatedly would say firmly “Ya govoryu po russki a ne po angliski” – “I speak Russian I do not speak English.” “I dont need to learn English here”.img_5998.jpg

After almost 3 weeks when the challenges at home: breach of boundaries and defiance seemed to have no end in sight, we sought guidance from our post placement support worker. There were meltdowns over the silliest of things: like having a bath, putting on rubber boots to play outdoors instead of runners or wearing a coat when it was still very cold outdoors.

Sharon had called me at work on that day and said “you need to get home, I can’t do this alone right now“.  I arrived home early to an exhausted and wounded spouse in tears, with a bite mark on her arm, a kick mark on her shin and having been spat at in her face.  The books had all said to hold the children close when they are having meltdowns and keep telling them you love them because they are pushing to see if that is true.  They are testing boundaries and your parental love, to see if you, as a parent will send them back to the orphanage, to see if you will abandon them like everyone else in their short lives has done. They are afraid to trust, and afraid of getting rejected and sent back to the orphanage later so they figure they will try to see if your claims to them are true. They need to know that no matter how much they push that you will keep them and still love them. Sometimes that holding them in our arms caused even more pushing away or at least it felt like that initially (later the children have said it actually made them feel loved and safe but those first few times we both felt like failures as we attempted to love these hurting children) who had wounds our eyes couldn’t see. IMG_1812 At this moment I questioned all the books we had read, having assessed the situation upon my arrival: in desperation I placed a call first to our social worker who was not available,  then to our post placement support worker. She couldn’t be reached either but I was able to leave a message. “Oh Lord what are we going to do! What have we done!” I cried out.  Only moments passed and K had returned my call. She listened so quietly and politely as Sharon shared what had happened and her fears that this would never end.  When there was nothing more that could be said K firmly and kindly told Sharon to stop immediately with itranslate, insist on English at home and with friends and to not delay school enrollment. We had felt they needed time at home just with us so we had not be rushing school attendance!

So school tours were planned the nervousness mounted and it was clearly visible with all three of the children. The older two announced that they had no intention of attending school here – period!  They had attended school in Ukraine and didn’t like it so there was no point in starting school here. Not off to a good start so far! We had one of our friends available for translation as we met with the Principals and staff of Green Valley and South Oaks Schools. What a positive experience!  The children’s point of reference for school from Ukraine had left a rather bitter taste but the tours were so positive as we returned home it was very clear excitement had replaced apprehension.  They were trying to ask when can we start?  They had toured the school with eyes full of excitement and wonder. Now we had another problem that we had not anticipated.  We had not yet received the Manitoba Health numbers for the children, even though we had applied as soon as we had returned home.  Though their enrollment could be processed, until we had those numbers in hand, they would not be allowed to start.  Niamh would be placed in grade 6, Conor grade 5, and Declan in kindergarten.

Manitoba Health numbers arrive – it’s off to school and the children ended up starting one and a half weeks before spring break. That week and a half was just enough to wet their appetite as spring break could not be over soon enough for them to return. English was spoken sparingly a few words here and there but it was coming.

First Day of School

During devotions we encouraged them to pray – Conor was eager to pray and did so very fervently in Russian and he was reading his Russian Bible at night. Difficult times at home were slowly waning but unfortunately every Sunday after church we would have the same flare up behavioral issues.  Finally, at one Sunday meal some comment was made about us speaking English around the table, they could still speak Russian among themselves but just English at the table (as per the advice of our support worker)- I am sorry but honestly that did it for me.  I, with a firm and very stern voice said “I am sorry that mama and I are not Russian speaking, that our home does not speak Russian very well,  we speak English! Why did God not ask a Russian speaking family to adopt you, I don’t know! But I do know that God did ask mama and papa to adopt you and we speak English !” I was on a roll and continued, “That does not mean that mama and papa want you to lose your Russian language, we don’t,  but you have to learn English to succeed in Canada,” . Everyone at the table was shocked, me included, but that point was pivotal for behavior in our home.  No, none of us are perfect there were still ups and downs but K’s advise was true wisdom. The kids began to really bond with us and real family life began.img_5276.jpg

We did have to withdraw from our own church for a few months due to the Russian language influence there and how it was confusing our kids emotionally and we sort of floated about through May, June, July and August.  That period was unsettling for our church family but we very clearly  needed to associate with English-speaking only folk.  I don’t want to make too bug a deal about it here but at the time it was a big deal. We met with Pastor Garry and Kimberly and shared our plight with them and they understood and gave us their support. We are grateful for the interim warmth, love and support that we received from Southland Church in Steinbach. Pastor Dyck was amazing and really helped us through some difficult times.

We attended an Adoption conference called ‘Empowered to Connect at Southland that really helped us to understand the mind and behavior of a child that has come from ‘hard places‘. The late Dr.Karen Purvis was telecast and explained how adopted children think and why they often act the way they do. Now as that adoptive parent it all made sense!

We returned home, eager, energised and armed with helpful and useful information to translate into actions to help our children heal.  We also made a point of taking a few minutes each day just for ourselves with no interuptions. We made a little seating area in our bedroom where we could just relax and read or watch tv after the kids had gone to bed.

Come September we felt it was o.k to return to our home church and it was : the children were much more settled and people were respecting our request to speak to them in English – but that is jumping ahead. When we look back on those first few weeks it seems like it was a bad dream. The behaviours we experienced then are so far removed from now,  maybe it was.  I know with this next adoption we will, in all probability face these same issues, but this time we have the past to look back at and hopefully have learned lots to help our children settle here in our home and family.

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

Declan’s Thoughts about Adoption

My name is Declan. I am  7.  I lived in an orphanage in Ukraine with my sister Niamh. My brother Conor was at a different orphanage. When they brought me to the orphanage I was 2 years old, my brother and sister didn’t know who I was.  I had only been a baby when they had seen me the last time.  My sister and brother had been in two orphanages already, I joined in the second one.

I did not like the orphanage very much. The bigger boys are mean to the little boys. I wanted a mom and a dad. I didn’t know if I would ever get a mom and a dad but I hoped I would. I had a friend in the orphanage. He was nice to me and was kind. I miss him. I want him to get a family too.

My mom and dad are adopting more kids and I am happy about that.  I want other kids to have what I have and be happy.

I love cuddling on the sofa with my mom and dad when we watch TV or read a book. They make me feel safe. I am writing a book at school called ‘A Homecoming“. Its about my time in the orphanage and what it is like to get a family.  It is not finished yet but I am enjoying telling my story.  My mom took a picture of it with her phone when we went to see my classroom and my teacher one day.

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The front page of my book.

Now I am not hungry and I have clothes to wear that are mine. When I left the second orphanage I was not allowed to take the car set that my mom and dad gave me for Christmas. The workers told me that I was getting a new mom and dad and they would buy me plenty of toys so I could leave it there for the other children to play with. That was okay but I really liked it too.  Now my favorite toys are my hockey cards, my Lego and my cars.

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We went fishing to Thompson in the summer with my parents and I caught my first fish! My mom cooked it for me for supper. It was good.

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In Declan’s own words, ‘I miss my best friend at the orphanage.’ He was the boy who stood up beside me when others in the orphanage were being mean to me’. ‘He was nice to me’. ‘I miss him lots’.  He was not just nice to me but he was nice to everyone.

I am very glad that my mom and dad are adopting more children. Then I can maybe have my friend here. I hope they get him but my mom and dad say that you can’t pick out children before you go to Ukraine so I am praying that he will be part of our family too.

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Some of my friends in the Ukraine. The very first snowman I ever made when mom and dad came to take me home. Mom and dad helped me build it.

PS. Declan dictated this post to us!  As he reread the post out loud to me tonight, he began to cry and said, “I can’t read it anymore it makes me too sad that my friend does not have a family.”  He wanted in the worst way for me to share with our readers the name of his friend but to protect his identity we are unable.

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

Niamh shares her heart on adoption!

My name is Niamh Violetta Steeves I was born in Odessa, Ukraine. I was adopted by Sharon and Rob Steeves. My two brothers are Conor and Declan. Conor is 13 and Declan is 7 years old.

When I was just seven years old, people took me and my brother Conor to the orphanage. Declan joined us there two years later. I didn’t even know he was my brother when they brought him. In that orphanage were girls of all ages, from 7-16 years old. The older girls are always being really bossy to the younger girls, just because they are older that doesn’t mean that they are always right or doing the right things. There were people coming every Saturday to teach us about Bible.

When I was small I never had a Birthday, I had only one doll in my whole entire life. There wasn’t any Christmas for us until my great grandma came to look after us. On Christmas we had a very small tree and instead of having Christmas ornaments we had oranges.

On December 19th it was a special day for children because Saint Nikolai who is supposed make children dreams to come true and puts presents under the pillow almost like Santa Clause. Well my dreams never came true. When all the children are supposed to wake up in the morning and find presents under their pillow, I didn’t find anything under my pillow. My grandma said that he doesn’t came to the poor people.

Ok just imagine a little girl coming to school when everybody showing off their presents. The little girl sits down and looks at the others and one of the girls ask what did you get from Saint Nikolai and she says NOTHING. Now she is mad at him because he didn’t come to her. The girl feels really left out.

A Little girl’s dream – celebrating St Nikolai Day in Ukraine

Now lets get out of that image and start thinking the dreams of children, when their mom will came back for them or adoption family will come and take them to a home where they will be loved. These were very happy dreams. For me it was only a dream until my mom and dad came from Canada to get us. They wanted all three of us. that doesn’t happen often. Now I am happy  I have a family. I love my mom and dad and they love me. My mom and dad love children. So lets make those children’s dreams come true that every kid will feel happy.

Kootenay Plains Alberta, 2018

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

Conor Shares His Heart

My name is Conor Steeves. I was born on Christmas Eve in Odessa, Ukraine. I am 12 years old.  I was taken to the Orphanage when I was 5 years old. I did not like the Orphanage. The older boys are mean to the younger boys. They beat them. I asked God to please get a family for me that would take all three of us. I have an older sister and younger brother. I waited for nearly 6 years in the Orphanage for God to answer my prayer.

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This picture of when I first met my Mom and Dad. – my sister used mom’s camera to take

I am going to talk about family. I got adopted by Rob and Sharon Steeves on January 23rd 2017. I am happy that my mom and dad are thinking of adopting children from the Ukraine again. I think adopting is important because when I was in the orphanage I wanted to have a family and so did others. I got a family but they didn’t.

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My first Christmas with Mom and Dad was in Ukraine. They got me a skateboard. I always wanted one.

So I am asking you to donate to help then adopt again or adopt other children who want to have a family. After I started school in Canada and made friends in my new school, one of my friends parents heard what happened to me and my brother and my sister and now they are adopting from the Ukraine themselves. This makes me very happy.

In the orphanages children dream about getting adopted. Just think if you have no family, no one to love you or care for you but God. You would like to get adopted . . . that would be your dream.  The boys and girls of the orphanage have little chance for a good future. Sad. What can you do to prevent this from happening. Just think about it.

My life is so different now! Before I got adopted I felt that we were not loved or cared for. But we were loved and cared for by God – but we didn’t know that then (because we had not heard about His love). NOT knowing made a difference.  The most hardest thing was that other children in the school in the Ukraine was they had family, they had a mom and dad and I didn’t. I was made fun of because I not have a family . . .  I was called dirty,  a loser. I  was not allowed to participate in school concerts because I didn’t have parents. I was not a person!

Now in Canada, I  have mom and dad. I feel so happy and loved because I know that I am loved.

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At home in Canada – Manitoba winters. Me and my Dad.

My parents love us. It is hard to find someone to adopt more than one orphan, especially an older orphan. I am so thankful that my mom and dad came to Ukraine to get us.  I am very proud of them for doing this.  Because I got a really good mom and dad I want to share them with other orphans.  My mom and dad love children and are adopting again. This is a very good thing. Now some more children will have a chance to have a mom and dad too. Please help them to do this. from Conor.

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

 

 

 

‘Gotcha Day!’

January 23rd, 2017. It’s official! The children are ours! The court document will be  ready to be picked up on the 25th. A farewell party was planned for the evening of January 24th. It would be pizza from Mama Mia’s with pop to drink.  Everyone was excited that evening but there was mixed emotions as it was to be the last night Niamh, Conor and Declan would be able see friends that they had made in the orphanage in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi.

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Farewell Pizza and Pop at the Orphanage

Conor was laying on the stairs, waiting for us,  when we arrived at the orphanage that evening. He first took my hand and then Sharon’s and said “I love you Papa”, I love you Mama.” This was very special.  Conor continued to demonstrate his generous heart as he refused to sit at the table but helped Sharon and I distribute food and drinks to all the hungry mouths. He ate on his feet with a plate in hand with us.

After the meal Niamh, Conor and Declan gave each of their group workers a gift and then it was time to cleanup followed by a few final group photos. Tomorrow they would leave with a few precious belongings . . . those did not include the clothes on their back . . . those were the property of the orphanage! It was time for a final good bye to those at the orphanage!

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Saying Goodbye to the Director of the Orphanage.

Now what had been a waiting game, became a virtual race to get birth certificates from Odessa, Passport Photographs and passport applications made and return to Kyiv.  We were delayed in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi at the Notary and were not able to pick the children at the orphanage until almost noon on January 25th.

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Leaving the orphanage for Odessa and on to Kyiv

We had not been allowed to bring the children out of the orphanage to fit them for clothes so there was a lot of ‘guess work’ in getting the correct sizes for both clothing and footwear. Sharon was a much better ‘guesser‘ than me. Maybe that’s something to do with her being a mom already. The children had to leave everything they had been wearing that day in the Orphanage Director’s office and change into their new clothes. Following the court hearing many trips to the markets were made bringing items of clothing to the orphanage for the children to try on.  Frequent exchanges were made at the various shops until we had successfully acquired just enough to get them home.

Niamh was so thin and underweight that the clothes which fit her waist were far too short for her legs!  We finally found 2 pairs of jeans that could be tightened in enough to keep her warm and decent. We brought one pair for her to try on a few evenings before we left and once she tried them, she refused to take them off again. Even the orphanage workers could not persuade her. Bar us holding her down and forcibly removing them (which we wouldn’t even have remotely considered doing anyway) there was nothing we could do! We just didn’t want them to get lost in the orphanages’ clothing as we already seen numerous items vanish that we had brought to the orphanage for the children. It had taken us considerable time to find something adequate for Niamh. It was only afterwards we realized that these were probably the first new clothes she had ever owned in her short 12 years and she wanted to wear them to school!  Niamh was very careful and the jeans were with her, neatly folded, on the day we came to get our children. Conor was easiest to find clothes that fit. Declan was about 2 years smaller in size than his age.

The children left the orphanage with only a handful of items. Declan still recalls not being allowed by orphanage staff to take the first Christmas present we bought him. The workers told him to leave the toy; he was getting new parents who would buy him lots of toys.

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Declan with the present he left behind for the children still at the Orphanage

Now it was off to Odessa to pick up birth certificates and apply for passports, so we could get the Canadian Visas for the children and return home. It became apparent once it Odessa there was some conflicting data on the court papers and birth certificates – “Oh Lord I thought not another delay!”

Yana reassured us that she would stay behind to sort out the apparent discrepancy as we continued to Kyiv with the children. It was the difference of one letter in the spelling of Conor’s name. We should still expect the arrival of the children’s passports in Kyiv by the middle of the following week.

It was dark by the time we left Odessa for Kyiv, a nearly 6 hour drive. The weather was deteriorating with another cold front settling over us from the north.  Arrangements had been made for accommodation again in downtown Kyiv.  Yura, our driver had great difficulty finding our apartment and actually solicited the help of 2 other taxi drivers before we finally arrived at #9 Mykhailivs’kyi Ln.  A series of one way streets turned the search into a maze.

We reached Kyiv in early hours of Jan 26th 2017. The 3 photos in the upper left were taken from our 5th floor apartment windows. The pigeons served to be great entertainment for the children. This flock fed regularly just down the street from our apartment less than 1/2 a block and were probably the best fed pigeons in the city during our stay!

Now all we had to do was wait for passports and visas for our children. Clearly a time to connect, spend time together and truly become a family. No work routine or schedules to adhere to.  Communication continued to be a challenge and we relied heavily on iTranslate as the little Russian we spoke was nowhere near enough to communicate everything that needed to be said by both sides. The single most important challenge was safety. The children had a tendency just to run off to play if they felt like it. We explained that as we are in a very big city, not everyone can be trusted. When outdoors, we must stay together.

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Declan enjoying a play-structure in the park in Kyiv.

We made frequent walks once or twice a day past Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral to Volodymyr Hill, a huge park on the southwest banks of the Dnieper River.

Niamh especially was thrilled with feeding the pigeons and her patience paid off.  On more than one occasion, she caught one in her hands. The smile on her face was priceless as she tried to stuff one into Sharon’s bag to take home to Canada!

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Niamh, ‘The Bird Whisperer’.

She was not at all happy when we explained that was not possible! The smile quickly disappeared replaced by a huge frown! The promise of chickens at home somewhat soothed her. During these days the children received their first experience of returning thanks to the Lord for a meal and daily devotions. In spite of the fact that very little of our English was understood, they were remarkably attentive and would ask questions through iTranslate. They willingly pitched in to help with meal prep and cleanup. What a joy!

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Niamh wanted to help us make supper in our 5th Floor apartment in Kyiv.

We were in daily contact with Inna who was working on the English translation of all the documents for Canadian immigration as we waited for the courier of the children’s passports from Odessa to Kyiv. The expected arrival date was Wednesday February 1st. 2017. We received no word all day but Inna sent Sharon a text the morning of February 2nd to say the passports had arrived so we could expect to go to the Canadian Embassy likely Monday, with another 5-7 days wait for the Visa’s. I was getting exceedingly anxious as I had already received a start date extension of 1 month for my new position – this didn’t look good.

Sharon had originally been quite adamant that after the court hearing that I could return home to begin work if needed, and she would be able to navigate with the three children home on her own. It had been a prayer request that I had circulated that we be able to travel home together. I could simply not imagine her alone for 2 weeks in Kyiv, trying to amuse the children and then trying bring them through 3 international airports and manage all the luggage too (even though my wife is a very capable person) . . . no that was not sensible or wise.  Our days in Kyiv solidified even in Sharon’s mind that yes, we had to bring the children home as couple for both safety and sanity. We prayed earnestly that the Lord would provide; either an accelerated schedule or an even more understanding employer!
Prior to our arrival we had been introduced to Music Ministry Kyiv and the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra. The Director, Wes Janzen, turned out to be married to a distant cousin of mine through the Steeves’ family tree. We had attended church services with them when we first arrived in Kyiv and upon our return from Odessa and we had enjoyed getting to know them better. We were thrilled to have fellow Canadians that we could connect with. We felt a real bond with them both and were so thankful to have them as family!

Our much-loved cousins, Wes and Kim Janzen who lived in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Sharon and I shared with them our dilemma regarding a timely departure. They asked if we could send them the details of our situation by email, because it turned out they were very close friends with the Canadian Ambassador in Kyiv. Sharon supplied the information and within a few hours we received an email from the Ambassador indicating we were being directed to the Head of Immigration at the Embassy with appointment for Friday February 3rd 2017 at 2:00 pm, remember our facilitator had indicated a Monday appointment at the earliest.

Since our return to Kyiv we had been hunting for an internet café to complete some immigration forms that our facilitator had indicated we needed to complete prior to our Embassy appointment. We were having no success with the computers or otherwise – how we wished we had brought a laptop!

Kim Janzen had been given a business card from the Embassy in Kyiv during the previous week when she and Wes attended a ceremony in Kyiv during which Canada donated several ambulances to the Ukraine. I don’t remember all the details but you can read about it in the Winnipeg Free Press article here (simply click on the preceding “Winnipeg Free Press” and you will be directed automatically to the original article of February 1, 2017). The business card had the direct phone number to the Head of Immigration and Kim gave it to Sharon, and Sharon made the call. Such relief when Sharon called, the lady in the Canadian Embassy told Sharon that since we were meeting directly with her we did not need to complete these forms beforehand. She would complete them at the office during our appointment. She stated during the course of the phone call that she already knew who we were and when we would be coming to see her.

We were maybe 15 minutes early for our Embassy appointment that Friday and had to stand outside in the snow as the security man would not let us in through the gates despite us showing him our Canadian passports. Declan sang to us outside the Canadian Embassy as we waited.  It was so beautiful! What a gifted and talented little son we have!

Outside the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The Embassy appointment went amazing. We left the children’s passports there to have the visas attached and were assured we could pick them up Monday afternoon – not even 1 full business day after application.
When we informed Inna that we had been to the Embassy and that the visas would ready early Monday afternoon with flights to be booked out of Kyiv either Tuesday or Wednesday morning – she was shocked, “I have not completed all the translation.” she told us. I have to admit to my shame, I was a bit abrupt with her, as Inna was a fantastic facilitator and help. “Well, I guess you better get to it because we are going home,”  I had retorted.  After 10 and a half weeks can you blame me? Don’t answer! I do not think she had ever encountered clientele with heavenly contacts working within the city. From her response she had always been able to simply establish her own timelines.

The Lord is faithful, I would home in time to meet my work deadline and still be able assist Sharon with the travel home with our new children. Sharon would NOT have to go alone. At Katie’s recommendation (from adoption airfare.com) flights were booked the afternoon of February 6th, 2017 once we had Visas in hand. We would be departing Boryspil International Airport 8:00 am Wednesday February 8th 2017. This accelerated departure required extra leg work on my part as our facilitator was forced to delegate some jobs to me to complete – which was fine by me, I was delighted to do whatever I could to expedite the process. God is good!!

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Selfie at Boryspiel Airport – we are coming home!

It was a bit of a challenge getting through the check-in at Boryspiel Airport in Kyiv, scary even. I thought at one point we might even get arrested! The girl at the check in counter called a security man over to look at our documents. I probably was the only one that could tell Sharon was getting a little irritated with him as she showed him the visas clearly attached to the children’s passports which replaced the older separate piece of paper visa that she had when she came to Canada. He kept holding out his hand and demanding “Visas, Papers” of her. Finally for no reason other than maybe the determined look in my wife’s eye, he seemed to accept that our papers were in order and walked away, not before taking a photo with his phone of the computer screen. Not sure why?

Now to get our bags loaded in the cargo-hold. A funny thing that happened was when the girl at check-in told Sharon her carry-on was too heavy: over the 9 kgs allowed on the plane. Sharon removed the big bundle of Adoption papers with the court order that Inna said she must carry at all times in case we got stopped with the children. The girl weighed her hand luggage again: all good this time. Then Sharon put the file back in her hand luggage and the girl gave her a sticker for her “Ukrainian Airlines: approved cabin baggage” and we continued through to our gate to await our departure from Kyiv to Paris, France on the next leg of our journey.

Navigating airport security proved to be an ongoing growing challenge especially as the children began to tire. Niamh and Conor seemed to grasp the importance of staying together but Declan’s curiosity frequently got the better of him. He was constantly wanting to venture off to explore, strolling about with him helped but he did not like to always be holding our hands during these strolls.  Two and half hours to Paris with a short lay-over and then our Trans-Atlantic flight to Toronto, Canada. Our Air France flight, though comfortable and secure, was not making me feel at home. The kids loved the movies and hardly slept at all – I dosed a little – so anxious to be home. Words cannot express the joy I felt when we touched down in Toronto – I was ecstatic and when we landed I even said to Sharon, “I feel like kissing the ground.”  The six-hour lay-over flew by as we completed  immigration paper work – the Citizenship Canada staff were amazing, helping us entertain the children as we had to patiently sit and wait and fill out papers.

It was in Toronto that Declan really tested us.  Having left immigration, cleared customs and went through security again, we headed toward our gate with about an hour wait to board our flight to Winnipeg. As we approached the seating area of our designated Gate I scanned our family, Sharon, Niamh, Conor . . .  “Where is Declan?” I gasped. Everyone was in a state of panic, only seconds earlier he was walking beside Sharon as we had slowed our pace at the seating zone. I quickly scanned the crowd milling about the gate and directed Sharon, Niamh and Conor to sit with the luggage as I caught a glimpse of the little gaffer about 150 feet ahead of us. I could not count the number of times he had attempted this type of solo excursion on our trip but he had never managed to succeed like this – a sign I guess of our exhaustion or the fact that we had relaxed as we were now back in Canada.  “O Lord,” I thought, “How can I teach him the importance of staying together?” I deliberately made my way towards him, carefully watching him and the people close by. I came to about 10 feet from him and then stopped and watched him, he was completely oblivious to my presence. He had stopped walking and began looking around suddenly realizing he was very much alone.  As you read, you may think I was being cruel as I watched him not making my presence known. Suddenly he started to call “Mama, Papa . . .  Mama, Papa” in desperation he burst into tears, he was literally spinning around looking everywhere for a familiar face.  I bolted those last few feet and dropped to my knees calling, “Declan, papa is right here” with my arms open wide . . . he threw his little arms around my neck sobbing, and buried his head in my shoulder.  I picked him up and carried him back to others, holding him close and telling him over and over that he was safe and how much I loved him. I quietly reminded him that this is why it is important that we stay together. I am not sure how much of the English he understood at that point and I am sure that was contributing to his wandering attempts. He stayed very close to us for the rest of the journey. This experience still brings tears to my eyes when I reflect and I can almost feel myself tear-up again as I write.

We boarded our WestJet flight for Winnipeg arriving in Winnipeg at almost 1:00 am exhausted and elated. We descended the escalator to be met and welcomed home by an entourage of family and friends. Gathered our luggage and 1 hour drive through snowy Manitoba from Winnipeg and we were HOME . . . THANK YOU LORD! WE MADE IT!! I hope you can feel the relief we felt!

And now our work begins!

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

The Countdown continues…10..9..8..etc…

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Some of the Orphanage children who helped us build Snowmen!

Day 42. From my Journal. Wednesday January 11th 2017 and also Day 0 of 10 days. We both had a good nights sleep. We are still waiting to hear back from Rob’s new Client Services Manager about an extended start date for him. He will not make the original January 13th one as we are now at the 11th. I felt prompted to text Kaylene and she said she would pray. It’s snowing at present here and -1 degree.

We had a super visit with the children today. I’m so glad yesterday is over, they seem  much more relaxed. Today we built 3 large snowmen at the Orphanage. Our children loved doing this and I don’t think they had ever done this before. All the children who were out playing at this time joined in and they all had so much fun when I gave them chores, like searching for leaves for eyebrows and stones or fir cones for buttons. We used some old tyres that were lying around to make a tummy divider and a neck for the snowmen and decorated them with scarves and hats at the end. I had to stop the children at one point and redirect them, as they were pulling the branches from a spruce tree by the fence, to make arms for the snowmen. It’s so easy for things to get out of hand:). I think the Orphanage workers who were out with the groups probably think Rob and I are totally crazy but I don’t care. We are doing this for the children and they had so much fun with it. The workers just stood and watched us.

    Building Snowmen with the children and their friends. It was so much fun for all of us!
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We had so much fun building these Snowmen with our children and their friends.

Day 43. From my Journal. Thursday January 12th 2017 and Day 1 of 10 days. Yesterday Rob heard back from his new boss in Canada. He has a revised start date of February 13th 2017. This is such an answer to prayer! Praise You Jesus! Once again You are faithful! I am so thankful!  I had initially offered Rob to bring the children home alone by myself if he had to go early but after the last couple of weeks, I see that it would have been a major undertaking. In fact it really would have been like ‘Home Alone!’ We went to the markets and I found 7 Hryvnia (Greev’na) just laying on the street! Bought a tape measure for 10 Hryvnia so we can measure the children for more clothes. Inna called to offer her assistance in anything we need and to say hi. Rob and I ate supper at the Fiesta tonight as the roads are very slippery.

Day 44. From my Journal. Friday January 13th 2017 and Day 2 of 10 Days. Neither of us slept really well last night. Teneille texted to say it’s  -45 in Manitoba! Concerned for our family and others out on the roads. Peter texted so I was glad to hear from him. Tracey also texted. I settle better when I know they are safe indoors. We brought clothes to the Orphanage for the children. They all fitted except for one sweater for Declan. Niamh refused to give back her jeans. She wants to keep them for school. We went for pizza and were actually able to FaceTime with Teneille, Micah, Grace and Hope. It was great! Micah has made us 2 pictures of our house and him there on a sleepover! So precious! 

Day 45. From my Journal. Saturday January 14th 2017 and Day 3 of 10 Days. We both had a reasonable sleep in our little single beds! We went to the Orphanage at 10:30 this am. as they are celebrating Orthodox Christmas! I’ve never seen SO many celebrations of Christmas here! Our children are not taking part this time.

The many celebrations of Christmas here in Ukraine.

This morning I had asked The Lord for a quiet time of just connecting with our kids and once again He answered my request! Both visits today were the quietest and most peaceful we have had with our children up until now. They played ball with us and chess and mainly just wanted to cuddle, especially Conor. We walked back from the Orphanage and saw the others at the park singing. I took some pictures of them. Later in the day we had a sandwich in our room and then to sleep.

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Some of the Orphanage children singing in the park.

Day 46. From my Journal, Sunday January 15th 2017 and Day 4 of 10 Days. We both slept well last night. Up this morning and had a shower. So thankful for water and heat and a bed to sleep in: even though it’s a tiny single bed and the mattress is very thin. Rob and I cuddled for a few minutes on my bed. That physical contact each day is so  important.  We went to the Orphanage and had a good visit with the children. They wanted to play ball and we let them. Declan’s friend came to play too. I am not feeling so well today. Hope I’m not getting another cold! I’m very tired!

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In the Park that morning during the celebrations.

Day 47. From my Journal. Monday January 16th 2017 and Day 5 of 10 Days. Today marks the ‘half way’ point in the cooling off period. So far no appeals have been filed with the court. I’m thankful for that. This morning we went to the markets to look for some more clothes for our children but they were closed. We bought a few things in little shops. Hope we have enough now and that it all fits. We just need two sets of clothes and maybe a couple of other things so that when one is soiled they have something to change into, just until we get home and then I can do more shopping for them.

Stopped at Bdzhilka again for breakfast. This time I enjoyed some kind of a bread twist with meat in it. It was very tasty. I’m so glad to have found proper ketchup in the supermarket! What passes for ketchup here in restaurants is a brownish color and doesn’t taste of much. It was a bit of a guess buying it as the writing on the packaging is in Russian and I know pictures don’t always match what’s in there but we now have a squeeze bag that I can fit in my backpack and bring out as needed. In Victory Park there is another restaurant called The Fairy Tale. We had lunch there. This is the first time we have been here for food, as initially I thought it was just a bar by the beer smell as we walked past, but it’s not. Rob and I both had ‘hot dogs’ Ukrainian style. A bread roll with the middle hollowed out and then toasted and a barbecued smokie inside. They were very good and very cheap!

Day 48. From my Journal. Tuesday January 17th 2017 and Day 6 of 10. We both slept well despite me once again feeling that I am getting another cold. I’m sure all the different germs we are exposed to at the Orphanage and other places don’t help. I wash my hands as soon as I come back in our room after every visit to the Orphanage or trip in town and the water is always visibly dirty! One of Niamh’s group friend’s little brother spent the evening playing with us and our children yesterday and he had such a runny nose! He’s very cute and it breaks my heart to see such beautiful children without parents. Tomorrow we will be here 7 weeks. It’s going to be difficult to settle back in Canada. Our routines are nothing like at home. We sleep in single beds here and I’m not really cooking except to make sandwiches.

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Back again from the markets. We are almost done our shopping and thankful for iTranslate. Some ladies in a shoe booth gave us an amazing deal once they heard we were adopting and buying the shoes for the children. She asked if we were going to take the children back to Canada. I think she has a soft heart for orphans. She even asked our names and told us hers: Alexandria.

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Stopping at the Markets to buy treats for the children

We had breakfast at The Fairy Tale in the park, some kind of fried French toast that was dipped in egg and had cheese curds inside-delicious! We tried ordering something else too which we thought was schnitzel but turned out to be fried eggs with slaw in a sweet vinegar dressing but it was really tasty. We are finding some really good food here just as we are almost about to leave. I had been craving familiar foods recently and I tried ordering in a restaurant we found one day when out walking that prided itself in servingAmericans Food’. I ordered Bacons, Egg and Toasts-American Style’ from that particular menu, thinking it would be like at home and when I got it, the eggs were barely cooked with the whites still clear and runny. The ‘toasts’ were two tiny triangular pieces of black bread and the ‘bacons‘ was maybe a teaspoon of crumbled ham on top of the eggs. I ate it but I was so disappointed! The Fairy Tale is not like that, the food here is cheap and tasty! Inna called to say Yana has a copy of the court decree but she is unwell at present so we haven’t seen her.

Breakfast at The Fairy Tale Café in Victory Park.

At our visit this evening Conor was very anxious as to when he is coming with us. He was just in tears! He sat the whole visit just cuddled up to Rob. He didn’t play or anything, just cuddled! What has his life been like before? I don’t really know. I think he’s afraid we will not take him. That maybe all the waiting is just an excuse for us to get out of this? Even though it is expensive to call Kyiv, we got Inna on the phone and had her talk to the children and explain in a way that makes sense to them. We want them to know that we are waiting on things out of our control.

Niamh took some things out of Robs pockets when he wasn’t looking and thinks its funny. This concerns me as she can’t do this at home. We need to find a way to explain boundaries to them. In the Orphanage all the property is communal. After we came back to the Fiesta, we texted our adult children in Canada to visit. We miss them!

Day 49. From my Journal. Wednesday January 18th 2017 and Day 7 of 10 Days. ‘No good thing does He withhold from them whose walk is blameless’ I am praying for wisdom in how to handle the children and the behaviours we are seeing on a daily basis. And also for how we will integrate with our adult children at home. We are unprepared in many ways but I need to remember that He is faithful and God sees us as blameless in His Son! We went this morning to see Declan when the others were in school and did a puzzle with him. Then went back for 4:00 pm. I get the impression that maybe one or two of the workers are fed up with us coming to the orphanage twice a day. There was a female who we had never seen before at the orphanage this evening. She came into the room where we were with the children. We had been told we could meet with the children there by the Orphanage Director. This woman just took over. She turned on a cd player very loudly and did some ‘dancing’ and stretches. Not sure who she was but she was quite rude and ignored us completely,  setting up her things in our way and making it impossible to play with the children. This is probably the first rude person we have met here. To date, we have found the Ukrainian people we have met here to be very gracious and generous. Regardless, we had a good visit with the children, just had to go outside so we could have some quiet. Then back to the hotel and bed.

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Playing with the children in the snow. We had a lot of fun!

Day 50. From my Journal, Thursday January 19th 2017 and Day 8 of 10 Days. Not sure how they count the days here? Inna said they begin counting the day after court. By my adding that would be Day 1 but she says the 10 days is not up until Saturday. No matter, just a different way of counting I guess. We were up and ready to go out by 08:30 this morning. Walked through the Markets to get a gift for granddaughter Mila’s birthday. I find myself looking at the women I meet and wondering if any of them are family to my children? This is probably silly on my part but I can’t help but wonder. We went to the Orphanage later too. Niamh had a cell phone again and was listening to loud music. I tried not to let it bother me. It’s not the music, I don’t care about that: it’s that she may be vulnerable to predators through the internet. I want to protect my daughter! Back to the Fiesta. Hopefully we will have a good sleep.

Day 51. From my Journal. Friday January 20th 2017 and Day 9 of 10 Days. We slept fairly well despite noisy neighbours in the room next door. This is one of the disadvantages of a hotel room rather than an apartment: we never know from one day to the next who is going to be sleeping in the room next door. We toured the Markets to get some last-minute items. Don’t need much. The visit to the Orphanage went well. The kids like to rough-house with their Dad. I smiled as I sat and watched them play and thought how nice it was to see. He may be the first man in their lives to be reliable. The first man they feel comfortable enough to trust. Then back to the restaurant for a salad and to bed. I don’t feel at all well and my nose is running again. I’m so fed up feeling like this! At home I’m hardly ever sick!

Day 52. From my Journal. Saturday January 21st 2017 and Day 10 of 10 Days. We made it! The cooling off period is over! No appeals were filed and court is not open today. Inna says the courts will not issue the decree on the weekend so it will be Monday now before anything is done. This is ok! Jesus You are faithful! We are a family for real! Went to the Orphanage later and we played outside on the swings.

The back of the Orphanage is in even worse shape than the front! There are pieces of rusty tin and old tyres that the children play around. This is dangerous! The mom and nurse in me sees cuts and falls but so far they seem to be ok so maybe they know how to be careful. I have another bad cold 😦 The visit at the Orphanage was ok but there was a lot of rough-housing at the start between Conor and his friends. Rob stayed to play with them and Niamh and I went out to the swings with Declan.

The roof is missing ridge tiles and the pathway cracked and broken.

We still had fun playing outdoors.

Day 53. From my Journal. Sunday January 22nd 2017. We slept well and had breakfast in the park. Then Rob and I walked to the Akkerman Fortress. We had such a beautiful walk and time together. This is going to be one of the last few times where it’s just to be the two of us for a while. In a couple of days we will be a family of five. There was a film crew from England and the US there and they were talking about ‘shooting scenes’ and what would work best for different shots. I tried to listen to see if I could hear the name of the movie but they didn’t say it. Hopefully we can find it when we are back in Canada. That would be cool! We met the cutest little cat that followed us all over the Fortress. He reminded me of ‘Fish,‘ our cat at home, my ‘first friend’ in Steinbach. We tried our hand at bows and arrows. Rob was a way better shot than me.

Then we walked back to town and got Yura to bring us to the Orphanage for 4:00 pm. We had a very nice visit with our children and their friends. Then back to the Fiesta and relaxed for the evening. My mother called us from Ireland and sang ‘One Day At a Time’ over the phone to us : so beautiful!

Day 54. From my Journal. Monday January 23rd 2017. Slept well again-thankfully! Quiet time and then breakfast in the park. Yana is here in Bilhorod, but we haven’t seen her yet. We want to get another suitcase for the extra things we have and then go to the Orphanage. Tonight we are having a farewell party for our children and their friends. We need to order the pizza and buy the pop. Hope it all goes well. It will be difficult to leave Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi. In a short time ‘here’ has become our home. I am looking forward to going home to Canada though but part of my heart will always stay here I think, especially at the Orphanage with the children who we have grown to love.

Familiar brands for the Farewell Party this evening.

Tomorrow we pick up our children and visit the Orphanage for the last time, At least for now.

Rob will tell you about the party and our last evening at the Orphanage in the next post.

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.

Court… then the Countdown Begins……

Day 36. From my Journal. Thursday January 5th 2017. Today Teneille sent us a video clip of Micah, Grace and Hope. Micah was singing ‘Jesus loves me’ and it was so beautiful and it makes me miss them immensely! Why do some things have to hurt so much?’ I love our beautiful grandchildren and I can’t wait to hold them again! Thankfully Rob and I slept much better last night. We both feel so much improved today. I am so thankful!

Today Rob asked me ‘How come you brought stuff for 1 girl and 2 boys?’  The only answer I have is that The Lord prompted me to.  I have no other answer.  I had ‘felt‘ for some time that it was going to be a girl and two boys but I couldn’t say how I knew that?  Feelings are not always reliable. That’s what I brought to the Ukraine: 1 girl blanket and 2 boy blankets and one girl gift and two boy gifts. There is no other way for me to have known as Ukraine is very specific about adoptive parents not knowing anything about their potential children until their SDA appointment. We didn’t have any idea who we were getting until that first meeting with the SDA official on December 5th 2016.

Praise Jesus! My sinus infection is better! Three days ago I felt like I needed 4 root canals but today my bite is back to normal and I have no pain! This is a miracle again!

Practicing for another Christmas performance.

We had such  a good visit with the children today. They are practicing now for Ukrainian Christmas and we are invited for Monday 9th January to see them perform. They are singing and carrying a banner with the Madonna and Child. They are all involved this time. Niamh had a little hissy fit with the lady who is teaching the singing today. Not sure why? Some disagreement over her part perhaps? She sat with a face like thunder but then she wanted to go outdoors after practice. She played on the swings until 5:30 pm!

Day 37. From my Journal. Friday, January 6th 2017. This morning Teneille sent us another adorable video from Micah, Grace and Hope saying ‘Hello Grandma and Grandpa and children’ and introducing themselves. They pulled silly faces. It was so cute! Then we got a text from Michael saying he had an accident and broke his hand! He’s in the ER. A truck engine slipped of a hoist and fell on it! He sent pictures! (for our readers, I won’t post those) It’s a really nasty wound. It was good to hear from him but the mom in me wishes I could be there for him right now.

Today it is blowing a blizzard! We made it as far as the coffee shop but we were unable to make it to the Orphanage. The roads are just too bad! Yura brought us from the coffee shop back to the hotel but he said the roads are not ploughed here and they will only get worse. He also said they will all be closed an hour from now! We spent the rest of the day in our room after getting a few groceries to keep us going on case we get snowed in. Very stormy! It was a difficult day and fear overcame us at times. Still waiting on some paperwork to be approved. Finally go an email late in the day to say they would be issuing a confirmation letter soon. ‘Praise Your Name Jesus’!

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On the way to the coffee shop.

Day 38. From my Journal. Saturday January 7th 2017.  We woke up to a white and very windy landscape! Don’t know if we can make it to the Orphanage today either. We set off walking later in the morning but had to turn back: it’s just too cold! I’m inside now while Rob is getting a few things at the little store down the street that we can just eat cold later, without heating up.

Later this evening we were able to get Yura to take us to the Orphanage but the roads were awful! Our children were outside playing and we didn’t stay long. We are glad to get back to the hotel though. The weather is getting worse! Thank the Lord for a warm room! I hope all the children will be warm and safe tonight.

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Walking in the snow across town. See how the warm air coming up from the underground sewers melts the snow in places. It doesn’t smell too good walking past sometimes.

Day 39. From my Journal. Sunday January 8th 2017. We had breakfast in our room again as it’s snowing. Big, soft, white flakes falling slowly outside our window. We are watching ‘Fine Living’ on our little tv. Somewhat difficult as it’s all dubbed in Russian. Rob has a headache and I jokingly diagnose it as caffeine withdrawal. We haven’t been able to go for coffee now for two days. We finally brave the weather and walk to the Bdzhilka for coffee and a tart but really just to get out of our 9′ x 13′ roomNo headache now! The streets are snow-covered and not cleared. So thankful we are able to get around! The fresh air is good for us.  Inna called to say court is confirmed for January 10th at 2:00 pm! Yana is to come here just before that. It will be good to see her again.

The children put on another Christmas pageant.

Day 40. From my Journal. Monday January 9th 2017. We went to the Orphanage for Ukrainian Christmas pageant this morning. It was very good! The costumes were lovely and the children did very well.  Again the only ones to watch them were Rob and myself. We went back for 4:00 pm and played mostly outside in the snow.

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Playing in the snow!

Then Rob and I walked across town for pizza. Inna called to tell us what to expect at court tomorrow. Also to tell us the Orphanage already got their donation and were hoping to do some renovations right away. Waiting now on Yana to come. Also got texts from Marlene and Kaylene as well as our kids in Canada wishing us well for tomorrow.

Day 41. From my Journal. Tuesday January 10th 2017. Today we have court. We decided to fast from food before the hearing. I did allow myself some black tea as I am still recovering from the infection and don’t want a relapse. Anyway, it’s not a legalistic thing where we can’t eat, it’s a choice not to at present, so we can pray about the day ahead. Read from Psalm 91 this morning. ‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty, I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my strength, my God in whom I trust’ and also ‘He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways!’ That’s where we are dwelling. I can’t think of a safer and more secure place to be right now! Thank you God that You are my strength. So often I feel I have none of my own but then I remember that You say that Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. At 11:30 am we had still not heard from Yana. Getting a little anxious! Emailed Inna and then Yana called.

Myself and Rob all dressed up to go to Court for the Adoption Hearing.

We got a taxi to the courthouse at 1:30 pm and waited inside for the children to arrive. Only Niamh and Conor came as Declan is still not in school and he didn’t have to be here apparently. I am disappointed as I would have liked for him to have been here for pictures. I want to make memories for him too but I didn’t know he wouldn’t be required to attend and it’s too late to go and get him. I wish this had been discussed with us in advance. Never assume anything I guess. Present is the judge, the Orphanage lawyer, Yana, a court stenographer who writes with pen in a book, a representative from the Office of Children’s Services and two jurors (one male and one female). The whole proceedings took just less than an hour. They asked both Niamh and Conor if they wanted to be adopted by us and they both said ‘yes’ they did. The representative from Children’s Services talked to the judge about the children’s family situation before the Orphanage and how no one has shown any interest in adopting them or even coming to see them since entering the Orphanage. It’s all very sad. I wish that the children hadn’t been in court to hear some of what was discussed. I wanted to hold them to protect them but they seem stoic and maybe it’s okay that they know. I think we sometimes unnecessarily shelter our children from the hard things in life. Yana continually translated for us as things went along. At the end they asked Rob, myself and the children to wait outside the courtroom for a few minutes while they deliberated, then asked us to come back inside again. Rob asked Yana later if the hearings are normally this fast? Yana said it was fast as ‘we are nice people’ but I think she was just teasing us as she was laughing as she said it.

Outside the courtroom door where our lives would change forever. Waiting on the children.

Before court started, the children wanted to play with Rob and myself in the hallway. Rob was a little unsure as he felt that they may get too rowdy. I felt it was ok as long as things didn’t get too carried away. They can get noisy! It really worked in our favour as the representative from the Office of Children’s Services remarked on the good relationship she observed between us and the children when she spoke during the court hearing. She said she noticed how well the children played with us and how they referred to us as ‘Mama’ and “Papa’ and how she thought after reading all the information, and talking to the Director at the Orphanage and the Orphanage lawyer about how our visits were going, that it was really in the best interest of the children to be adopted by us. Conor sat between Rob and myself and held our hands tightly throughout the whole court proceedings.

Outside the Courthouse after the Adoption hearing. The children are wanting hugs from their new Mom and Dad.

Finally it was over and now we wait the regulation 10 days ‘cooling off period’. (currently this has been increased to 30 days but when we were there it was still 10 days) This is to ensure that there are no appeals against our adoption, and that no family member would suddenly decide that they wanted to adopt these children instead. The children are excited to be adopted by us, and I know from what the Orphanage Director has said, that they have not had any visits from any relations in the last few years. We are hopeful but not complacent. I have read of cases where a family member files an appeal because they don’t want anyone else to have the children and even if they are not in in a position to parent, it can tie things up for a while as the court case gets dragged out.

After court Rob and I with the children and Yana, went to Mama Mia’s for wood-fired pizza to celebrate. The kids ate really well and were very happy and animated. I think they are glad that today is over too. I know they have been worried and stressed about the ‘sudpronounced ‘suit’ (Russian for ‘Court’) as they have mentioned it several times over the last few days. After supper we got a taxi and dropped the children back at the Orphanage. The Director was waiting and congratulated us on a successful hearing, shaking both our hands. Then back to our hotel room to text all our children and our friends in Canada and then finally to sleep! So thankful and so tired!

If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.