Monday, January 19, 2009

Gotcha Day!

I am happy to report that we are now the proud parents of Valentina Grace Louise and Sergey Alan Gordon Pretre! January 19 will always be a special day for us.

Though we were granted parental rights over the children, we cannot take them until the completion of a 10-day waiting period and the final decree.

We had a GREAT day together today. The orphanages allowed Sergey to be with us until 5:00 and Valya's has let her stay overnight with us.

Let's go right to the pictures, shall we?

Our translator, Alyona, coaches Valya and Sergey on how to act and respond to questions by the judge. She admonished both of them, this is not a time for jokes. Pictured with them is the social worker from Valya's orphanage. She also coached Nancy and me.

Pictures with the judge who made us a new family. The Prosecutor testified that no one else wanted the children and that it would be in their best interest to be adopted by us. The sad thing is that there are 14,000 other 12-17 y.o. orphans in Ukraine that nobody wants. It is a shame; many of them would love to be adopted. The judge seemed shocked and pleasantly surprised that we would ask him to be in our pictures. We told him that this is a very important day in their lives and we want them to be able to remember it.

Together as a new family outside the court room. We are sorry that Mark couldn't be here. He was in Ukraine with us during the tough ugly battles and didn't get to be here for the good part.

Sergey and his new big sis Valya outside the courthouse. They really do get along well together.

So to celebrate the big day do you think we would go to some fancy restaurant? How about McDonald's? Valya had never been in one before. She wasn't impressed, and she doesn't really like hamburger. Now she and I have something else in common, neither of us like McDonald's.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon sightseeing in downtown Odessa.

As we were walking downtown, Sergey wanted to go visit his Godmother. He was teasing us that she lived on the 83rd stair of the Potempkin stairs. He is funny that way. Actually, he said that his Godmother's sister was the director of the Odessa Opera House. Well, I'm not sure about that, but she is the director of this theatre and recital hall. We were in luck today as both of them were at the theatre at this time. We went inside and were able to meet his Godmother. She is the one responsible for getting him baptized. Not sure of the details here we need to find out more. But she was thrilled that Sergey was being adopted, and adopted by Christians. The lady on the right is his Godmother, and the one on the left is her sister, the director. They asked us to stay for a vocal recital that was in progress, but we declined as we didn't have much time. I took a quick peek, though, and it looked like high-society types in there. I told her that I would be in Odessa for a couple of weeks yet and perhaps I could visit again? She liked that so I'm going to try do it. She offered to get us her email address so that Sergey could keep in touch. That would be good.

Walking around, looking at the sites. Acting like siblings.

Are we glad we did these adoptions? The picture speaks for itself.

Valya and Sergey both like to take pictures. Valya especially likes to take pictures of us.

Energy Girl saw the Potempkin Stairs and immediately dashed down to the bottom and back. Nancy: Where's Valya? Me: Oh she's down there at the bottom.

Nancy and Sergey stroll ahead while Valya, the physical one, is being, well, physical.

"Sergey come help me! Pull me, I'm stuck." He did.

It is still the Holiday Season in Ukraine. There are several large Christmas trees on display in Odessa.

This is an ornate city government building. There are large columns and Valya was hiding from Nancy.

Outside the Odessa Opera House.

Valya discovered the doll that we bought last December. We bought it because its hair reminded us of Valya. Valya, not knowing that, motioned that its hair was like hers. She took the little headdress and put on her own head. I told her that the doll was for her. She noted that it had a Ukrainian dress. I wasn't able to explain that it was for her to remember her heritage. But I think she knew.

The is the view from the 4th floor down into the courtyard. It was fun hauling our luggage up all of the stairs as there is no elevator. It looks like a mess down there but that is because there is a lot of renovation going on.

After we took Sergey back to #4, it was just Valya and us. We stopped in for a visit with some other Americans staying here. Pictured are Jay and Martha Swinney, and Rick Partch, all from New Mexico. They are adopting 3 boys between them, Tolik, Vova, and Oleg, all of whom are 16 years old. One of the joys over here is getting to know new American friends that you can share advice and war stories with.

At the end of a long happy day we enjoyed a pizza at the Aphena mall. Everyone was exhausted and ready for bed. Tuesday, Valya returns to her orphanage, Nancy and I do some more paperwork, then she and I are flying up to Kiev so that Nancy can be there for her 5:30 AM flight to America on Wednesday, then I will return to Odessa for the mandatory 10-day wait, birth certificates, and domestic passports. Valya has a property issue, but our facilitator thinks she can take care of it during the birth certificate wait.


Debbie said...

Wow--what a great day! Congratulations!! You have such a precious family--what a blessing. It's fun to see all your pictures, and Valya and Sergey acting like siblings. I love that I can read the tops of the signs in McDonald's! (I'm with you; I don't like McDonald's either. Now, pizza, I could definitely get used to having that a couple of times a week. LOL!)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I am very excited to meet the ENTIRE Pretre family in the near future. It is a bummer that Mark had to miss out on all the "fun stuff". Best of luck with the 10 day waiting period.


Nataliya said...

Congratulations on the successful court date! Last year I was walking the same streets when adopting my 10-year old (now 11-year old) daughter. In fact one of the pictures in today's blog shows the apartment we stayed in on Vorontsovskiy street.

Hopefully the rest of the process will go fast and smooth! Good luck with everything!

Anonymous said...

Praise God! He is so good! I can't wait to meet Valya and welcome Sergey to Mitchell!

Debbie A.

Leslie said...

We're so excited for you all! Congratulations!!!

Anonymous said...

What a great day!!! Thank you for sharing it all with us. I pray that these next two weeks go very quickly and smooth for you! We can't wait till you are all back in Mitchell. Praise God for such a wonderful day!

Heather H.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! God is so good! In His time, He makes ALL things beautiful! Looking forward to meeting them when y'all come home.
Carolyn W.

adopting2fromUkraine said...

Congratulations! It feels so good to have court over, doesn't it?:) Hope the rest of the time goes swiftly!


Carrie said...

Congratulations. It has been a pleasure to watch your journey. You've had ups and downs, and have managed to get through it all. It has been an inspiration. Good luck with the rest of your journey. I hope it is quick an uneventful. You make a beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

It's one of those things that actually brings tears to your eyes to know that a good portion of the spiritual battle has been one. The pictures are awesome and we pray for safe travels for Nancy and your stay in Odessa. Sergey and Valya couldn't ask for better parents.

David & Donna

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

I have cold chills!! Congratulations to you, all four of you!!

Kevin & Pam said...

Congratulations! So exciting to see it all come together. Soon it will all be but a memory and you will be on your way to family memories at home!

Julie said...

yay, yay, YAY! I'm so happy :):) *happy dance* I'm so sad that Mark cannot be there too! big hug for Mark. Big hugs for all the new family!!! I'm just so terribly excited and I feel your 10-day wait may be waived! fingers crossed!
Love and hugs,

Jon and Janell said...

Congratulations from the Tolly's! What a great day for all of you! Isn't it hard to believe the day finally arrived? You looked relaxed and enjoying your time together. What a cool thing to meet Sergey's godmother. I want to hear more of that story.

Anonymous said...

hey mom when r u getting home? i need to know if i need to get my guitar for my lesson or if youll be home. so anyway, u seen the sun yet? still raining like crzy? its gotten warm here. like 40 here today. i had fun at airsofting. got hit in the neck... owch... well anyway tell sergey to stay out of trouble and valya not to hurt him when he does. c ya soon mom.

best son ever... so far


Anonymous said...

Congrats on a long journey Pretres!
God Bless You!

Ryan Christy