Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Battling for Valya

Yesterday, we had a very long day visiting three different towns for Valya's paperwork. At the end of the day, we were all tired. But we had a good day with positive results.

We started out by visiting the Inspector in Mikolaevka, which is the government seat controlling Valya's orphanage in Andreyevo-Ivanovka. She is the one in that building with the large soviet logo I posted about before. We took the important document that we had gotten the day before over in Kiliya. That was the miracle document I wrote about. She and our facilitator talked about stuff for awhile, not sure exactly what, then we were told that the mayor wanted to ask us questions.

The actual mayor is in the hospital and had been for some time. In his place now is a deputy mayor. She was very friendly. Her office was large. There was a conference table along the wall near the windows. She sat at a desk at the far side of the room with the Inspector seated at a small table directly in front and to the right of the desk. We and our facilitator were seated on chairs on the opposite side of the room.

She started out by asking us how do we like Ukraine. We commented that the land in this area is very much like where we live. We also come from a farming community.

Next, she asked why are we adopting more children, and why are we adopting from Ukraine specifically? Why not America? She also asked us about the foster care system in America. We don't know a lot about that, but we know a little. We think she was very interested in that because the Ukrainian government is pushing foster care very hard here. The rumor on the street is that Ukraine will shut off all foreign adoptions next year. Time will tell. That seems crazy, but it has happened in other countries, such as Romania. The Inspector noted to her that Valya is happy to be with us.

We had Mark along with us, so she asked, how is it that he can be here and not in school? We explained how he is doing homework and exams here and we email them back to his teachers. She took interest in this subject. She went on to ask, does he do his studies if he is not forced to? No, we have to get on him to make sure that he gets it done. How do we punish him if he misbehaves? We take his privileges away, such as computer and video games. She was amused by our answers because she has a 12 y.o. son of her own and she has the same issues and does the same punishments. She observed that children are the same everywhere.

Finally, she admonished us to always help Valya to remember her heritage. We told her that we are taking pictures for her to remember her home country. She wanted us to take a small Ukrainian flag on a stick. They looked around for one in the office but they could not find any extras. We chuckled about that because we told her that in fact we were already planning to do that anyway. They sell them in the markets here that cater to tourists. I told the mayor that we have a saying in America, you can take the girl out of Ukraine, but you can't take Ukraine out of the girl (OK not exactly that saying in America but I know you've heard something like it before). She and the Inspector seemed to like that.

We said our goodbyes and we were off to see Valya. Andreyevo is a 10 min. drive from Mikolaevka on a rural country road. It is paved, but not great. The countryside is beautiful and must be gorgeous in the summer. Mikolaevka is nestled in a shallow valley. As you leave Mikolaevka for Andreyvo, you climb out and there are sweeping vistas of farmland on rolling hills. Wheat is the dominant crop here. In all of the areas in the Odessa region we have been to (which is the largest in Ukraine, by the way), winter wheat fields are everywhere.

Our facilitator said that she had documents to take from the orphanage back to Mikolaevka and that she would drop us off there to spend time with Valya while she was gone. This would be our first time with her without a translator. We knew beforehand that we would be seeing her, so we prepared a gift bag for her of scented shower gel, lotions, and dainty chocolates. We could not find the colored tissue paper like we have in the US for gifts, so we bought a shiny Christmas garland to help fill the gift bag. She was pleased with the gift and insisted that we all pose for pictures with the garland on our heads. Her personality is starting to show. We had also brought munchies along, such as snack crackers and Clementines.

Our facilitator had suggested that we spend time teaching her some English, so that is what we did. We had a notebook along so we took that out and I wrote some simple English phrases out. I made them interactive such as,

Valya, are you hungry?
Yes, I am hungry.
No, I am not hungry.

I also drew pictures of some nouns, such as pants, blouse, socks, and shoes. I know the Russian letters pretty well now, so along with her help, I also wrote the pronunciations in her letters, along with the correct English spellings. She does know the English alphabet so that is helpful. I am not a great artist. When I drew the picture of a shoe, it had a flat bottom. She took the pen and drew a high heel on it. We got a kick out of it because the young women here wear high heels or high heel boots. She is in for a shock when she sees the way women dress down in America. Our time went quickly, then our faciliator was back and it was time to leave again. We are told that they have a St. Nicolas celebration this Thursday and we are invited. So we will see her again soon. We will bring along a tape measure so that we can figure out her clothing sizes. We will need to provide all of her clothing at the time that we take her out of the orphanage. We also want to get her a special outfit for court.

From there, we went back to Rozdilna, which is the town where Valya and her siblings are registered. It was necessary for the Inspector in this place to approve of the separation of Valya from her siblings. When we arrived there, our facilitator told us to wait in the car and if she needed us, she would call for us to come. We said silent prayers for her. She was gone a long time, maybe an hour. We had brought algebra homework for Mark to work on, so we were able to keep him busy. She came back and said the Odessa regional office was going to call back in 1/2 hr. So we continued to wait. Then she left again and was gone another 1/2 hr. When she came back we could tell that she was very drained. Intense discussions had taken place which involved our facilitator Oleg, up in Kiev. We can only guess at what took place but it was obvious that it was a battle. In the end, she said a good result came. In her words, she said it was more good than bad and so far, it looks like we will be able to adopt Valya. If the adoption process is like childbirth, we are in the most intense moments of labor right now.

There is one more Inspector that we need approval from. It is the Inspector where Valya's brother is. He is in an orphanage for very sick kids. This is the same place where Valya's sister will be transferred to when she turns 16. Our facilitator says that securing that document will not be difficult, and we will not be needed. In the end, we will have secured permission from 4 different Inspectors and 3 orphanage directors to split Valya from her siblings. Then, the Odessa regional office will have to approve, and the SDA up in Kiev will need to approve. So, you can see, this is like a war. We need to win every battle to win the war. We rejoice with every victory then look to the next battle with great concern.

Today (Wed.), we have a down day. Our facilitator will contact us if she needs us. Today, she is going to track down Sergey's brother and grandmother to secure their approval of his adoption. Sergey and some of his classmates took the train up to Kiev on Monday to see some music concert or something. He gets back today. We plan on visiting him this afternoon. Poor Sergey doesn't get to see us much as we have been required to travel on these missions for Valya and their visiting hours are very limited.

I have lots of pictures that I would like to post. I can't do that right now because the wireless router in our apartment burned up. One of the roommates here moved it to a different outlet and something went pop and blew the plug out of the wall. She screamed. I guess it fried the cord too. We weren't here when it happened. So now I am using my cell phone for internet access, which works fine, but it is just too slow to post pictures. I'll see if I can find an internet cafe later. We offered to buy them a new router, so I am off this morning to go do that.

Thanks everyone for following along and offering your prayers for us. Peace to you.


Conethia and Jim Bob said...

Your journey for Valya sounds promising. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Debbie said...

Oh, I am tired just reading about your battles to win the war! Know that you have soldiers on their knees on your behalf.

Jim and Kari said...

It sounds like we are leading almost parallel lives right now. We have had to get permission from three inspectors' offices, a grandmother and a municipal authority so far to separate one of our boys from his half sister. We also praise God for each battle wagered on behalf of this orphan but know it is not over yet. We will continue praying for your battles as well.

Jon and Janell said...

GOD IS IN CONTROL! Remember He is fighting the battles.

Next time they ask you about keeping her heritage, ask them for some recipes of traditional Ukrainian dishes such as Borcht soup. But don't ask the cook at the orphanage!

Anonymous said...

Very happy for your family Alan to hear of your progress and hope that you continue to have doors opened. I can't wait to hear more details when you get back. Take care and God Bless.

Ashley said...

It does sound like great things are happening. I know there is still much to go, but this battle is already won. God has gone before you and He has already fought this for you. I praise Him and thank Him now for what has already happened and what is about to happen.

Keep your head up! You will soon be home with Sergey and Valya. Mark will have his brother and sister and you will have all 3 of your sweet kiddos. :)

I felt sick a little bit when you said they are trying to do away with foreign adoptions next year. I cannot allow the enemy to kick me in the stomach right now. I have to believe God is going to allow us to bring Grisha home. We are too close for it not to happen. I do not believe God would put it in our hearts and not let it happen. Eveyone, please keep praying we all can go get our children!!