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.
A Car Ride
5 weeks ago