Valya will be our daughter! What a day we had. After 1 1/2 years of waiting, we finally got to meet our sweet girl. Our meeting was everything we had hoped it would be.
The day started at 10:30 AM when our facilitator Nataliya picked us up at our apartment. We took the 2 hour drive up to Andreyevo-Ivanovka from Odessa. When we arrived at the little farming community, our driver asked a few locals how to get to the orphanage, and there it was. It was surreal to actually be in the place I've only seen from Google Earth. Like a dream. Andreyevo is really out there in the country. The countryside very much reminds us of eastern South Dakota or western Minnesota, except that they have no barbed wire fences here.
We had taken along a few small gifts for Valya, and the Tolly girls had given us a few presents to take to some of their old friends. While we were unloading from the trunk of the taxi, our facilitor disappeared through the gate. By the time we had gathered all of our things, she was nowhere to be found. Where did she go? We went in and headed for a building that looked like it might be offices. Nope. We found a lady and I asked "Director?" "Nyet" and she pointed to a different building back toward where we came from. So back we go. By this time, our facilitator had come out looking for us.
We headed upstairs to the social worker's office, which was adjoining the director's office. The social worker was cordial, smiled alot, and told us about Valya. "She is a calm girl." "She is healthy." "She does not wear glasses." "She likes music, and she likes to dance." A few other things such as this. She did not ask us how we knew Valya. I think she already knew. We had made arrangements last June for a person to travel to this orphanage and deliver letters and presents for us. Also, after we received notification of our SDA appt., we had asked another party to contact the director for us to let him know of it.
She and our facilitor talked for awhile in Russian. Finally, she was satisfied, and she led us into the director's office. I was taken aback by how young he was. He was a tall handsome man with dark hair and a mustache. He had a commanding presence. They asked us to be seated on an L-shaped couch. Shortly, the Inspector from Mikolaevka arrived, and a few other individuals - I'm not sure who they were. The director had received an email and asked us to tell him who these people were that sent it. They had sent him pictures and letters from us. Actually, he knows them, because they come to the orphange occasionally to visit the children. It was no problem, but I was wondering where he was going to go with this. Finally, he said, it is time to meet the girl.
We turned our heads, and there she was. The most beautiful little thing I've ever seen. OK so I'm extremely biased. I sat there numb. She was wearing a very smart black outfit - a black vest and slacks, with a pink blouse, black shoes, and bright pink socks, her dark hair pulled back in a braid. We were asked to introduce ourselves to her. She already knew our names and had recognized us. She had the cutest smile. Mark and I scooted over and she sat down between Nancy and Mark. Nancy immediately presented her with a teddy bear that we had brought with us.
She and the director talked in Russian for awhile. It was not translated for us. We told her that the Tolly girls, Lyena and Tanya, which were friends of hers here, lived in our town. Yes she knew that. I asked permission to get my laptop computer out, it was given, and I pulled up some pictures that they had given us to show her. I also had some scanned letters in Russian from the Tolly girls that I let her read. Meanwhile, our facilitator and the director were talking about something. He made several phone calls. We didn't know what was going on. It turns out that Valya had been asked if she wanted to be adopted by us and she had already said "yes", and we didn't even know it! Now, the director was trying to find out exactly which orphanage(s) her siblings are in.
We were told by the director that it would be good for Valya to show us around the orphanage. So we left the room, and went into a nearby classroom. This was Valya's room. She showed us her desk and her assignment book. In Ukraine, the children get a little book that all of their school marks are recorded in. There was a little well-worn English textbook on a desk.
In a few moments, our facilitator caught up with us, and we headed outside. We walked slowly, talking through our interpretor. A couple of the things we found out are that her favorite color is pink, there are 19 in her class, and they will be having a Christmas program on Dec. 27th, where she will be a snowflake. In Ukraine, Christmas is not Dec. 25. They observe the Orthodox calendar, and their Christmas is at the time we have Epiphany, Jan. 6. We only had 1/2 hour and we headed back inside.
We were seated on the couch again, and it was explained to us that Valya is the youngest sibling and she has a brother who lives with his father, a brother who is in some kind of medical school, and she has twin siblings, a girl and a boy, who are in an "orphanage for sick kids." We do not know what that means. The twins are 15 y.o. and no one knew where the boy is. They are trying to track him down. There are at least two bio fathers involved here, but they have the mother in common. We do not know which children are from which father.
While the director was making all kinds of phone calls, I grabbed the laptop and showed her some more pictures from our family and town. Nancy gently caressed and scratched her back while she viewed the pictures.
Finally, it was time to leave. We gave her the rest of our gifts for her, put on our coats, and headed outside. She was allowed to escort us out. Nancy and Valya were in front, and Mark and I followed behind. Valya grabbed Nancy's hand and held it in hers. When we arrived back at the car, she gave Nancy a long hug. Then she turned to Mark, and they hugged. And then me. I did not want to let her go, but I was playing it cool.
Then we were heading back home again.
I took a few pictures of the day. I wanted to take a thousand pictures of her, but I restrained myself to only a few. We will be seeing her again soon. In fact, if we can arrange it, we're going to see if we can actually stay at the orphanage for a few days.
OK. So, the next step for us is that today, we will need to visit the orphanage where her sister is. This is about 80 km from Odessa. We are told that we will be able to adopt Valya without her siblings but it is not necessarily simple. There is some paperwork that we will need to process there. And maybe some "fees". In the meantime, they will try to find out where that twin brother is. We are told that because they are only half siblings that it will not be a problem to "disconnect" them, as it is called. Her oldest siblings will need to sign a paper that says that they approve of the adoption.
On Tuesday, our facilitator made application for a court date, even before we had met Valya. We will have a combined court for both Sergey and Valya in Odessa. Before we can go to court, the approval paperwork from both Inspectors will need to be sent to the SDA in Kiev, then the SDA will need to give final approval for court.
If you are praying for us, please pray that the rest of Valya's paperwork goes smoothly for us. She really is anxious to be adopted. She was hosted in the US a year and a half ago, and the family never wrote to her after that. Also, that we can get a quick turnaround of the official approvals. In reality, nothing in Ukraine happens as quickly as one would like. And now with the holiday season approaching, one-day delays have bad effects.
I have a few pictures from the day.
Here we are together. Valya is 14 y.o., actually one month older than Mark, but she is very petite.
Valya took Nancy's hand in hers as we walked to the car.
Nancy and Valya. Valya never stopped smiling.
A really long hug for Nancy.
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