Fall 2013

Fall 2013

Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas cards

Well we got to our Christmas cards today. What I mean is we opened the cards people sent us. We want to say thank you to everyone for the good thoughts and well wishes we got. Even though we didn't have time this year to send out cards we want to wish everyone a happy New Year.

Mark and Melanie

Thursday, December 30, 2010


We made it. When we got to the kiev airport we did not have tickets, or so we were told. Thank god Olga was there to talk for us. We did have tickets but not in the computer being used at the registration desk. So all is well, or so we thought. We got to Zurich and then to Chicago. At Chicago we found the flight to Rochester was CANCILED. The first offer was for us to spend the night and get a flight in the morning. I said no that will not work. Can you get us to Minneapolis. So after a few hours of waiting we got on the plane for Minneapolis. We got home at 1am or so.  So here we are.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pray for our girl

Maia is NOT in a good mood this morning - sure she senses that something is different about today. Add to that a short night's sleep and she's having a tough time. Pray that God will soothe her precious heart and that He will use our hands to comfort and reassure her as well. We leave for the airport in 15 minutes!

VISA is in our hands!

Had a good night. It took Maia a little longer to fall asleep. We think she is starting to realize that she is not going back to the orphanage and grieving a bit. A few minutes after lying down, Maia began to rock herself. At first, I thought that maybe she was having a seizure because of the motions (she is on medication for seizures) but we determined that it was more of a self-soothing type of behavior. This breaks my heart. Every child should know the reassurance, security, and safety of parents who love them. Maia is not keen on being held or rocked so I just sat next to her bed and rubbed her back. She calmed down and eventually fell asleep.
Woke up on her own this morning (a first), had breakfast, and we got ready to head for the Embassy. Presented our copy of her medical examination and passport. We were asked if we had been informed of her medical needs and if the information that we submitted on our documents was correct (which of course it is). Waited about 45 minutes during which time we saw April and Alyona (such a beautiful girl!) again and also Jill, Debbie, and Elijah. There were 2 other families there and one of them had a little boy who looked to be about Maia's age. Wish I'd had my camera to get a picture of the little guy, Alyona, and Maia. When it was time to leave, Maia didn't want to go. She was happy to be around other kids instead of us boring adults - lol! Anyway, the most important thing is that we have the VISA! And we are set to come home tomorrow.
We had a quick lunch before coming back to the apartment. Mark is trying to get Maia to settle down for a nap right now and I am going to finish packing. We are hoping to meet up with some others for dinner this evening and get a good night's sleep before our long day!

A few prayer requests:
- First and foremost, pray for a train ticket for Olga - our wonderful facilitator. She was scheduled to leave Kyiv tonight by train. She wants to see us off at the airport and is cancelling her ticket for today, hoping that another one will be available for travel tomorrow. Problem is that this is holiday time and there are no tickets to be had. Please pray that a miracle ticket will be found for her. We've told her that she does not need to accompany us to the airport, but she feels strongly about this - she loves Maia as much as we do!
- Second, it is snowing here in Kyiv right now and snow remains in the forecast for tomorrow. Please pray that our flight is able to leave on time. We don't have a long layover in Zurich so not much room for delay. Pray that all of our flights are smooth and uneventful.
- Pray for Maia. 20 hours of travel is a lot to ask of a little girl. Pray that she will manage well, sleep during the long flight, and cope as best she can.
- Pray for Maia's parents. 20 hours of travel is a lot to ask of two old people. Pray that we will manage well, sleep during the long flight, and cope as best we can. LOL! :-)

We are so thankful for your support and encouragement over the past month! We hope you will follow along with our new adventures at home! It may be a couple days until we blog again but we'll post again soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Downhill stretch!

Time to get everyone caught up since you get the basics and that's about it from Mark. Hard to believe we have been here one month today! Our "gotcha" was a sweet, sweet moment. All of the other kiddos were in their "bedroom" when we got there. Maia was sitting on the little couch. Several of the caregivers had come to see her off. I had brought 2 outfits because I wasn't sure the one from home would fit. It was snug and I was going to put the bigger one on - the caregivers must not have thought she would be warm enough because they jumped in and put the bigger one on top of the smaller one. Poor girl, she had a dress on with a sweatsuit on top of it - she was BUNDLED UP!  They hugged her and off we went. Unfortunately, we have no pics of the moment - the batteries (2 packages) that we bought at the market were ALL dead!

Maia did pretty well the first night, it took her about 90 minutes to settle down and go to sleep. Once she fell asleep, she was out! Slept through until we had to wake her up early yesterday morning for our flight to Kyiv. Here she is waiting to board the plane.

She did all right, considering. Got a little bit cranky towards the end of the plane ride. 2 hours is a long time for a little girl to sit still.

We arrived at our apartment around 10:30am. There is a little market just next door so I went and picked up a few things. Made lunch and attempted nap time. I think our girl was over tired and on overload because she was not having anything to do with a nap! I can't imagine what must be going on in her head - she's never seen a store before, rode on an airplane. Her normal routine is nap from 1-3pm. We tried lying her down, lying down with her. Finally, we just laid down on our bed (same room as her cot), shut the bedroom door, and let her wander around. She eventually crawled up on her bed and went to sleep at about 3pm. We let her sleep until 4pm so she would still sleep last night. Went for a walk, came back, had dinner. I decided to try giving Maia a bath - wasn't sure how she would react to that. She absolutely loved bath time! Snack and off to bed without protest! She slept all night.

Our embassy appointment was at 9:30am. While we were there, we met a family from Louisiana who is adopting two little boys. We also ran into April and Alyona who were there as well. Submitted all of Maia's paperwork to get her Visa. Then, we went for her medical examination - no surprises there. We had lunch at a little cafe on site while waiting for the documents. Then back to our apartment for the rest of the day. We are going to take a walk now and pick up a couple of things (including batteries).

Tomorrow morning at 11am, we will have our Embassy interview and pick up Maia's visa. That will be the last step to get on the plane Wednesday morning. If no flight delays, we will be back in Minnesota Wednesday night!

Maia seems to be coping very well given all the changes in her world. She has her challenging moments, but the happy and joyful moments are far more frequent. We see her blossom and grow every day. And I can't speak for Mark, but I feel so blessed that God has chosen me to be the mother of this beautiful child!

We are looking forward to being home and introducing Maia to her forever family and friends! Please pray for continued attachment and bonding for the three of us as well as an uneventful embassy interview tomorrow. Pray that Maia's visa will be in our hands by noon!

Monday the Dec. 27

We went to the Embassy to get the visa for Maia. We pick it up tomorrow. We also had her physical done today. Just one more day, then we go home.


ps. send a note to Melanie to blog. She is much better at it than I am. (but she has a little girl now and not as much time as she use to)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

we are in Kiev

We have made it to Kiev. we took the plane. I wanted to take a car, Melanie won out and I'm glad she did.
we are here now with our daughter.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

we have her

We have her. Enough said.



Christmas Day in Ukraine and a perfect Christmas present!

Today is not a holiday here in Ukraine and to be honest, I'm really not feeling the Christmas mood - probably because we have missed out on the whole holiday season back home. And another contributing factor could be the temperature - even though Maia is bundled up, it is absolutely wonderful here - short sleeves and I'm wishing I had a pair of flip-flops!

 The caregivers were putting up the Christmas tree in Maia's groupa today (here they call it a New years tree) - the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates January 6-7. It was so much fun to watch the kids, they were enthralled by the tree and decorations. Of course, we are receiving the best present of all - this sweet angel will leave the orphanage tonight for the last time and we can't wait!

Even though I can't quite get in the Christmas groove, I am so thankful that today we celebrate the most precious gift of all - the birth of our Savior! May your Christmas be filled with peace, joy, a sense of awe at the greatness of our God and all the blessings of this special day.

Only a few short hours away

In just a few hours we will go pick up Maia. I think I need to grow up now.


ps. Thank God Melanie will be her mom.

Today is THE day!

Mark and I will visit Maia this morning. Then, Olga and I will do some last minute shopping. We need to get a potty chair since this is what Maia is familiar with (not sure how we will travel with that, but... we'll figure it out).

I think we will head to the orphanage after Maia has had supper and get our girl! I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it! Even though I went to bed late last night, I was wide awake early this morning thinking about it. I am trying to prepare myself for a challenging next few days. Maia has lived in the detsky dom her entire life. Being away from her familiar environment is going to be a huge adjustment for her. Stores, restaurants, long car trips, plane rides? No concept. Not to mention the language barrier. Thankfully, Olga will be flying back to Kyiv with us so she can explain a little of what is going on.

I hate to ask for prayer requests on Christmas Day, but please pray that Maia will somehow know and trust that we are her parents now and we will keep her safe and protect her. Pray that God will comfort her and ally her fears as she leaves the orphanage with us later today. More later....

May God grant you the desires of your heart on this blessed Christmas Day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seeing Red?

Can you guess what this is?
Yes, it is the RED PASSPORT! And the birth certificate listing us as Maia's parents! Thanks to everyone for your prayers - what a wonderful Christmas Eve gift! The even better Christmas present will come tomorrow.

While we were waiting for the passport, we had a quick bite at a little coffee house. I had a smoked meat soup with vegetables and lemon that was terrific. Mark had vegetable soup - Olga called it borsch, but it was much different/better than our first beet soup experience here.

Olga, Vitaly, and Mark at the coffee house 

Our first official photo as parents
 On the left is Marina, the medical director of Maia's orphanage. On the right is Ludmila who is the neurologist who has cared for Maia. They are beautiful, compassionate doctors.
 And of course, what post is complete without a photo of the most important person?

We didn't get to see Maia today because she was napping when we were at the orphanage dropping off paperwork. Sounds like she is back in her groupa and doing well. Tomorrow is "Gotcha Day" - we will pick her up in the evening and bring her back to the apartment. On Sunday morning, we fly to Kyiv. Embassy appointments Monday and Tuesday. We've booked our flight home for Wednesday morning - YAY!!

More tomorrow, but want to say that we miss everyone and hope you are having a safe, joyous Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We've Got the Court Decree!

This won't be a long post because it's late and we have to be ready to run tomorrow morning. It has been a really good day! The news you've been waiting for is actually the last news of the day, but since it is already in the title of the blog... there's no keeping you in suspense.

Yes, Olga received our court decree at 5pm this afternoon. I misspoke yesterday when I said that the court official wouldn't sign it, though. In order to apply for Maia's passport, we have to go to the registrar's office. The court official had contacted the registrar's office to see if he/she would accept our signed court decree today. The registrar stated that because it had not been 11 days (10 day plus 1), our decree would not be accepted until tomorrow. So, that is why we weren't able to get it until today. Anyway... what is important is that we have it!! What does that mean? We are OFFICIALLY Maia's parents!

Legally, there are still a couple more steps. Tomorrow, we will apply for Maia's new birth certificate which will be changed to state that we are her parents. We will also apply for her passport which will legally allow us to leave the country with her.

Our morning visit with Maia was very sweet - I'll tell you about it soon. Afterwards, Vitaly and Olga took us to see a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church - this was a touching experience. Then, we had a surprise excursion which was amazing (more to come with pictures)!! Lunch at a Ukraine restaurant, we had manti which are a minced meat steamed dumpling - VERY good.

We do have some specific prayer requests for tomorrow:
- Expedient processing of Maia's new birth certificate so that we can apply for her passport ASAP
- RED PASSPORT - please pray that this is still available to us. If we have to wait for the blue passport, we may have to seriously consider coming home for a couple of weeks due to the Ukraine holidays
- Favorable travel arrangements - we are considering flying back to Kyiv versus driving (I just can't stomach the idea of the train ride again). Either one will be all right. But, just pray that we are able to obtain reasonable airfare or hire an appropriate vehicle/driver for the trip to Kyiv.

Thank you in advance - we know that tomorrow is Christmas Eve and appreciate your prayers and support during such a busy time. We are sending love and blessings to all of you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy to see us, Bad Haircut, and Bakhchysaray

We were able to see Maia this morning. Olga called to check with the doctors who said that Maia was doing better, although they still had her separated from the other kids. They requested that we not take her outside which was fine. We arrived at the orphanage and Masha (one of the employees who speaks a little bit of English) took us to what I would call an infirmary. When Maia saw us today, she immediately got a huge grin on her face and yelled "Mama" and "Papa." She was so happy! That lasted all of about 15 minutes - lol! Then, the tantrums started because she was throwing her markers on the floor and we wouldn't let her have new ones until the old ones were put away. She did not want affection, although I did catch one sweet moment when she laid her head down on daddy's leg.

 Yesterday was hair cut day at the orphanage. Olga had asked that Maia's hair not be cut, but there must have been some miscommunication. Poor girl - we'll have to start over growing that beautiful blonde hair.
 After our visit with Maia, Vitaly took us to Bakhchysaray which is a small town about 30 minutes NW of Sevastopol. It is considered a Tatar town. The views on the way were amazing!
 Khan's palace - unfortunately, they were closed so we were only able to take photos of the outside, but it was beautiful as well.
 We walked down the hill, past those cars, looking for an artisan workshop I had read about.
 Poor Vitaly - I don't think he was planning on accompanying us to the USTA workshop, but he must have been concerned about where we were wandering off to - I glanced back and he was behind us. This was on our way back to the car after visiting two studios and being able to speak with the husband of the workshop founder. I wish we had taken a picture of the location - it was probably 6-8 "blocks" off the main road, a dirt street with chickens roaming around, and a very small easily missed sign to tell us we had arrived.

Olga arrived this afternoon and we enjoyed a relaxed dinner with her this evening (leftover soup that I made yesterday). Tomorrow, we will visit Maia in the morning. Olga will make arrangements with the director for our "gotcha day" Saturday or Sunday - not sure which yet. 

We will pick up our court decree tomorrow at 5pm  - Maia will be "officially and legally" ours!

No court decree

We were unable to obtain the court decree today. :-(  We will visit Maia tomorrow as usual and pick up the court decree at the end of the business day. The notary has agreed to remain open until we bring paperwork to her which is very generous.

Friday is a short business day here in Ukraine so please pray that we will be able to obtain the red passport and complete all necessary paperwork by the end of the day. If we are unable to complete everything, our travel to Kyiv will be delayed until next Tuesday.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers on our behalf. We are disappointed, but not surprised with the decision.

I'll post more about our day a little later.

Urgent Prayer Request!

Olga is on her way to the courthouse right now to review the paperwork for our court decree. There is the possibility that the court official will sign our paperwork today - this is HUGE! It is now 8:05am at home in MN - please pray that God will impress upon the appropriate people to approve our court decree today. Will update you as soon as we hear!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Since we couldn't visit

I realized it has been a few days since we posted any new pics of Miss Maia. These are from yesterday's visit.

No Visit Today and Prayer Requests

We went to the orphanage and were told that we were unable to see Maia today because of a cough and fever (gathered this through gestures). We called Olga to let her know because she was going to arrange for us to be with Maia during lunch today.

Olga checked with the orphanage staff and learned that Maia really isn't too sick (she's had a cold for a couple of weeks now) but many of the children have upper respiratory infections. Because it is imperative that Maia be healthy at the end of the week, they have her separated from the other kids and staff who might bring germs in. The doctor had already seen her twice this morning and will be seeing her at least once more today. That's one thing that really impresses me about the orphanage. The doctors see the kids as often as needed, staying at the orphanage overnight if necessary for the child's welfare. We were disappointed to not have time with our girl, but understand their rationale. Her being healthy by the weekend is MUCH more important than our visit with her.

In 3 days, Maia will be legally and officially our daughter! And if we are able to get all of our paperwork completed on Friday (and the red passport comes through), on Saturday we will walk our daughter out of the orphanage for the last time! What a moment that will be!!

Vitaly took us to a few shops and we bought another rolling bag since we're coming home with a few more things than we left with - a princess girl has to have a few changes of clothes to travel with! I was able to pick up a couple of other items and Olga tells me that I will be able to get the Ukraine items that I want when we return to Kyiv.

Several prayer requests for today:
- Please pray for Jesse and Lisa Harman. We don't know them personally but they were in the process of adopting their daughter from here in Ukraine. On day 9 of their 10 day waiting period, an appeal was filed to overturn their adoption. The appeals court upheld this request and Jesse is returning to the US without Yulia. I can not imagine the grief that they are feeling right now. If we had to leave Ukraine without Maia, I would be devastated!
- We found out today that the Ukraine parliament vote on international adoption is scheduled to take place tomorrow morning (Dec. 22). If passed, it could stop all adoptions currently in process. This means US and many other families! Please pray that if the vote passes, wording will be included to allow the continuation of special needs adoption and those who are currently completing adoptions.
- Maia's health and that she will understand why were were not able to see her today.

Looking forward to being home soon!

Monday, December 20, 2010

comment,I put this as a comment on Dec.18. but I want all to see it

Mark and Melanie said...

Today it was hard to leave after seeing Maia. When we where leaving we helped Maia take off her coat and boots. All the other kids in her group were coming in from outside at the same time. Some of them wanted us to help take off their coat and boots too. They waited for one to get the coat off and when they left to put it away the next one came for help. They were all smiles when we helped them. At the end Melanie was holding Mathew and he had a great big smile on his face. Melanie did not have such a nice smile, she had tears in her eyes because we can't take him home too. We just don't have the resources to take care of two kids who need extra attention and medical care to grow up to be their best. This is hard on Melanie, she wants to help these kids so much.


Memorial Box Monday - What am I going to do with a tutu?

It has been a VERY long time since I posted about Memorial Box Monday. What is that you ask? Well to put it very simply, it is making a conscious decision to remember God's faithfulness in our lives. You can read more about Memorial Box Mondays here.

Even though I don't blog as much as I should about it - God is so faithful in answering prayers! I want to share a little proof of that with you.

Last December, I posted about winning a give-a-way hosted by my friend Sarah on her blog. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what to do with the item that I had been gifted with. See, it was an adorable little girl's tutu and matching hair ribbon. Although Mark and I were considering international adoption again at that point, I knew that he really wanted a little boy and I was ok with that. So, I had no idea what to do with this tutu. I considered sending it back to Sarah and asking her to give it to someone with a little girl. I also considered giving it to one of my co-workers for her beautiful granddaughter.

But, God was speaking quietly telling me to keep the tutu. I argued with him, but eventually I said, "Ok God - I am going to trust you to show me what to do with this." I put it in the closet and forgot about it. As I was cleaning out that closet last month, I came across a box and wondered what was in it. I opened it up and this was what I found inside.

God knew that a little girl named Maia would be joining our family - and what little girl wouldn't want to be a fairy princess wearing this sweet tutu. It is in Maia's closet right now - just waiting for her to get home! And I am thankful to God who is faithful always!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All about daddy and our Yalta Trip

Saturday's visit with Maia was all about daddy! We arrived at the orphanage and the kids were outside playing so we walked out to their play area. Maia saw us and came running (well, walking as fast as she can - lol!). I picked her up and hugged her, then passed her to daddy for his hug and kiss (our usual routine). From that moment on, she only wanted daddy. Mom was chopped liver - lol! She would only hold his hand, let him pick her up - she was daddy's girl. No... my feelings are not hurt - on the contrary, those were sweet moments!

On Friday, Vitaly took us to Yalta. The city is east of Sevastopol and the road is quite curvy and scenic. Here's a view out the car window.

This chapel was on the side of the road about 20 miles outside of Sevastopol. 
At the site of the chapel, there was an overlook. This is the view overlooking the Black Sea.
It was a misty day.
Still at the site of the chapel and overlook. Newly married couples climb over the railings, up these rocks, paint their names & tie ribbons (for luck and to commemorate their day). Then, the grooms carry the brides down the very steep stone steps. Would hate to be a groom on a wet day (they were very slippery)!
The road to Yalta

We were able to tour Livadia Palace which was built in 1911 for Tsar Nicholas II. It was also the site of the Yalta conference with Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt (FDR) in 1945. The palace and grounds are beautiful.  Yes, those are palm trees in front of the palace!  

 This is the White Dining Room where the signing of the Yalta Declaration took place. At the far end, there was a much smaller table with flags marking the places where Stalin, Churchill, and FDR sat.
 Street vendors outside Livadia Palace
 Yalta waterfront, the waves were fairly big since it was kind of stormy.
 Bank clock in Yalta showing international times
 Christmas Tree on the Waterfront in Yalta - note McDonald's behind it (that's where we ate lunch)
 On our way back to Sevastopol, we stopped in Alupka to tour Alupinksi palace. Unfortunately, the interior was closed but we were able to see the outside and walk the park which was beautiful even in the rain!

 Clouds over the mountain (the photo doesn't quite do it justice)
 The trees in the park were probably my favorite thing of the whole day.
Their structure and form were so strong and elegant.
I could just feel the integrity and history (they also looked like they would be great for climbing!).
 Kitty sitting on a bench in the park. Cats and dogs roam freely here.
 There were two swans swimming in the pond.
 You can't tell from the photo, but Mark and I had climbed up some rocks and were about 5 feet in the air. Another amazing tree behind us - it was growing sideways.
 View of castle from the sea side.
 Back in Sevastopol - one of the better looking apartment buildings.

Sunday Dec 19

No visit today, we take Sunday off so our driver (Vitaly) can have the day for his family. Melanie went shopping again. (Maia needed snow pants). Weather today is gloomy, some rain.  Good day to stay here and play computer games.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Beautiful vs "Beautiful"

Our daughter is beautiful - there's no doubt about it. Yes, I am biased - I fully admit that. But others think she is beautiful, too. The caregivers at the orphanage know that she is beautiful. They favor her because she is a pretty girl. She gets special treatment and extra attention. Exceptions are made for her behavior. She is well taken care of and everyone in the orphanage knows our daughter. On the CDC growth charts, Maia is in the 50th percentile for height. She is above the 90th percentile for weight. For a child who has spent the first three years of her life in an orphange, that is very unusual. Most children are tiny for their age. That was what I expected when I packed clothes for Maia. But as I said, she's beautiful. Her pictures show it. The light blonde hair, the big blue gray eyes, perfect nose, perfect lips. In fact, if she didn't have the strabismus (crossed eyes), I would guess that no one who saw her would have any idea about her medical issues. Because by the world's standards, she is beautiful.

"Matthew" is a little boy that I first saw a picture of several months ago. The Ukraine has a waiting child website and he was listed (along with our Maia) as a child available for adoption. So, when I walked in to Maia's groupa - I immediately recognized "Matthew." He's not so beautiful by society's standards. His deep chocolate eyes are crossed. His soft, straight, black hair is cut short. There are spots where it doesn't grow because of the scars from past surgeries. A raised area is on the side of his head from some undetermined condition. He's a skinny little boy who weighs probably half of what Maia does. If you saw "Matthew," you would immediately see that he is not a perfect child. There is NO question that he has special needs. Many would turn away from him because of his appearance. "Matthew" doesn't receive extra attention. Yes, he's cared for - his basic needs are met. But he's not a favorite. And it breaks my heart to know that his chances of having a mommy and daddy of his own are limited because someone out there will have to look past his lack of physical beauty. But, if you spent a minute with "Matthew" and felt those sweet arms wrapped around your neck holding you tightly, you would see what I see - one of the most beautiful souls that I have ever encountered. So while Maia's beauty is apparent to all, "Matthew" is "beautiful" on the inside and that makes his outside just as beautiful!

Friday, December 17, 2010


It's been a long day and I am absolutely wiped out tonight so I am just going to post a few pictures from this morning. I'll tell you about our trip to Yalta and post more pics tomorrow.

Although you really can't see it well in the picture, there is an "eternal flame" that is in front of the brightly colored flower arrangments. YOU can see the guards on either side. The soldier in the front comes forward every so often (not sure what the frequency is) and the guards come out from their shelters and march to the opposite side - similar to our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
 Government building (not sure what)
 Christmas Tree near one of the Stalin monuments in the square across from the Eternal Flame

Blessings to all of you! I'm missing home right now and looking forward to being there soon!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sweet visit today

We arrived at the orphanage this morning and the kids were inside (it was pretty cold out) sitting on their little "sectional" watching TV. Maia didn't see us at first (we were standing at the door just watching her), but a couple of the other kids did and started waving. When Maia realized we were there, she got up and ran over to us with a big smile on her face. I picked her up and she let me hug her before going to daddy. She actually let daddy kiss her - which was a first!

We took her outside and she wanted to swing for a couple minutes, but then decided she wanted to see what was in "the bag (this is where we keep her toys, treats, etc)." She was thrilled to see her drawing book and wanted to color outside on the bench. I sat next to Maia and put my arm around her, she didn't try to move away from me. :-)

Those precious little hands got awful cold so we decided to take her back inside. The problem with that is we have to put away the coloring book and markers - this makes for an unhappy little girl. But, once we got inside - she was ok again. We brought a ball to play catch with, thinking that this might help a little with motor skills. Mark and I sat on the floor and I gestured for Maia to come and sit in front of me. She came right away. We started out rolling the ball back and forth which she enjoyed, then I helped her toss the ball to daddy. When he tossed it back, I would help Maia catch it (she really did most of it on her own) - talk about a HAPPY girl! She was thrilled. Mark was going to video this, but the disruption in throwing the ball caused her to lose interest in playing catch and she was ready to see what else was in the bag.

I brought out her apple slices and today instead of eating them herself, she fed them to me - making eye contact and watching me. I think this is a big step for bonding. After she was done with the apple, Maia wanted to color again. Usually, she stands in front of the couch and colors on the seat.  When we have tried to get close, she moved away. Today, I sat her down on my lap with the drawing book. She was very content there and stayed on my lap for the rest of the visit - which of course, this mommy LOVED (and thanked God for blessing her with)!

And as always, she was ready to go back to her groupa at the end of our time but that's ok. It is right before lunch time and her routine is to go back and eat with her friends.

We asked Vitaly to join us for lunch at McDonalds and enjoyed some American food. My fish filet was really good! Then home for a nice nap this afternoon and a lazy evening. If the weather is nice tomorrow, Vitaly will take us to Yalta which a sea-side resort town east of Sevastopol.

Here are a few pictures from today. 

I keep forgetting!

I have to apologize - I meant to come back and blog about court and our prayer requests, but I keep forgetting. So... before my day goes any further, I will do that now.

We arrived at the court house on Monday morning at around 8:45am. It is a cement building, very non-descript, actually looking nearly identical to many of the buildings that appear to be apartments. We went to the back entrance and up several flights of stairs to the hallway outside the judge's office. Olga wanted us to be there well before 9am so that our hearing would take place first (two adoption cases were to be heard between 9-10am). We waited in a bench in the hall as people arrived. Shortly after 9am, we were called in to the judge's office. She was a young woman around 30 years old. A court reporter was present (writing minutes longhand in a book), two "injuries" (jurors), the social worker from the local SDA office, Olga, and us. Court was called in session. Everyone was introduced and we were given the opportunity to refuse any of the parties present. Mark and I were asked for our passports. We had to stand and state our names, birthdates, home address, and occupation. We were asked if we had received full information about Maia's medical conditions and I was asked to read a list of her medical diagnoses. Olga was asked many questions about Maia's spina bifida and hydrocephaly - why the conditions occurred, if there was alcohol use reported by Maia's parents, how her conditions were treated, what type of care she required, her mental capacities, etc. The jurors were especially interested in this (one is a pediatrician, the other a teacher). The judge asked why we wanted to adopt her specifically and what resources we would be able to offer her including  insurance, medical care, finances, etc. The judge and jurors seemed to be reassured by our answers and our sincerity in wanting only the best for Maia. The judge asked the jurors if they had any objections to the adoption and they said "no." We were asked if we would be willing to send pictures and updates about how Maia is doing after we return home and of course, we said "yes." The judge stated that our adoption was approved and thanked us for being willing to adopt our little girl. I got tearful at that moment... I explained that they did not need to thank us - we are the ones who are blessed to claim Maia as our child and that our thanks goes to them and the Ukraine for this privilege. And that was about it. We have a daughter!!

Olga requested the waiver of our 10 day waiting period. This was denied and although I wasn't surprised, I was still disappointed. But, God is in control and He knows better than I do. The 10 day waiting period started the day after court (12/14). We are hoping to obtain the court decree at the end of the day on Dec. 23, although we may not be able to pick it up until Dec. 24.

After court, we went to the passport office where Olga confirmed that a red passport is still available. We can not apply for the red passport until we get the court decree so there are no guarantees that it will still be available on Dec. 24. Please pray that this will be the case.

I need to get ready to leave for the orphanage so will post more later, but thank you for your ongoing prayers and support - they are so appreciated!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday the 15th

First things first. Happy birthday to Gavin.  Gavin is my nephew.

now about us. we had a short visit today, Maia was not there when we got there to see her. She went to get her pasport photo and to see the Dr. All is ok, it was just a normal Dr. visit. So Melanie went shopping (again) We needed boots for the ride home $90 in U.S. money for boots. Then we went back to see Maia. She is always happy to see us when we get there. Then to the market for some food. We are trying new things (we have no idea what most of it is). We got potatos with garlic and olive oil (I think) they were good for lunch. We also got word that the vote we have hanging over our adoption (by the Ukraine government) will not take place until the 24 of Dec. (maybe later) we should have Maia by then.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A lot of temper and a little exageration

Maia was at music class when we arrived at the orphanage this morning. As the kids came towards us, she came to me first but then immediately went to daddy (I keep telling Mark that she is going to be "daddy's girl!"). It was still a little cool outside so we stayed indoors during our visit. Maia immediately went looking for treats. We had decided to try to keep snacks healthier so gave her some banana and apple. Played with her MagnaDoodle and colored for a while. Maia decided that it was a good idea to start throwing her markers on the floor. We showed her that she was not getting new markers to color with until she picked up the ones she was throwing. Well, that did not make her happy and she decided to hit mommy in the face. Away went the markers for a while. She pouted for a minute, then resumed playing. Her hands were covered in marker so I washed them off with some hand sanitizer. Maia was absolutely enthralled by the small bottle. New toy - Mark made sure the cap was on very tight and trying to get that off kept her attention for a while. It was close to the end of our visit so daddy took the hand sanitizer bottle away and put it in his pocket. Boy... you would have thought we were torturing the poor thing. Oh, yes - screaming, wailing, the caregivers wondered what we were doing. We told Maia we were going back to her "dom" (home) and she took my purse and was ready to go. Problem was that she didn't want to give my purse back when we get there. So... another tantrum. She didn't care one bit that we left today - lol! We don't take it personally, know it is expected behavior. She is used to getting her way and I think bullying a little bit, too. Stinker!

Afterwards, Vitaly dropped us off at the coffee shop we visited the other night. There are two small eating areas - here is one of them.

A "salat" does not have lettuce here. I had a "Chesare" salat which was chicken, cheese, and green beans.
 Mark had the "Francoise" salat, I think. It was chicken, tomatoes, croutons, and mayonnaise. We split a plate of chicken with grilled vegetables. Yes, notice the green pepper and tomato sitting on the plate - they were still there when we were finished. :-) The mushrooms were very good, though. Then, we shared ice cream with bananas, dark chocolate sauce, and almonds for dessert.

We walked home after lunch, stopping at the market to buy some onions, oranges, bread, and cheese. One of the stalls is a second hand clothing store. Even on new clothes, finding a label with the size is next to impossible so I had to guess at what I purchased. But, I hope I have 2 pairs of pants, a sweater, hat, and pair of shoes for Maia. This is where the "little exaggeration" that I mentioned in the title comes in. Mark makes it sound like I have been constantly shopping. It isn't the same as at home where you can go to one store and buy every item you need. So... over the past two days, yes I have done a little shopping for Maia. And yes, she has 3 hats (I know... totally unnecessary - one would be enough), but she does not have 4 shirts and 5 pairs of pants. A girl needs a few clothes for travelling - especially since we need to be prepared for "accidents." Still need to get a pair of boots for sure and I will have to take inventory for other items.

Here are a couple of photos from town.

And I'll leave you with a few more pics of the princess. The first one was taken yesterday after court - our first "official" family photo. As you can tell, Maia is much too busy contemplating her social contacts to be bothered with looking at the camera!  ;-)