We are at home for now. Last Tuesday morning, after finding out that we would not be getting court, Nancy and I took the bus over to the airport to look into getting a flight out of Dodge, er Odessa, as soon as possible. Turns out that we were able to get tickets for that same afternoon that would get us to Chicago. The gal at Lot Airlines suggested that we get our own tickets from Chicago to Sioux Falls, as she thought they would be cheaper. So we go a taxi from the airport back to the apartment and went online and learned that that were no seats available from Chicago to Sioux Falls for Tuesday. We were able to get them for Wed. so we decided to stay overnight in Chicago.
So we quickly packed, summoned a taxi, and we were off to the airport for our 2:00 flight. Our connection was in Warsaw, where we caught the flight to Chicago. It was 1.5 hrs. to Warsaw from Odessa, and 9.5 hrs from there to Chicago. We had no trouble in customs and we were at our hotel by 10:00 PM Tuesday. Flying west works out really well because when you get home it is time for bed, which works out perfectly, unlike going east.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at O'Hare. After being in Ukraine for a month, it was like heaven. We have been in a lot of HIE's, and this is one of the better ones. It is near the airport but we never heard one airplane. If you have a need for an overnight at O'Hare I recommend it. It was funny, I never appreciated the breakfast buffet like I did the next morning. Finally, food that tasted like we are used to. And there was no one to weigh the portions on a scale!
We had set up a 5 PM flight out of Chicago thinking that we would be wiped out from jet lag, but actually we were all up pretty early, so we just relaxed all morning. We arrived in Sioux Falls on New Year's Eve, and then drove to Mitchell. We got home about 9 PM.
Did you know that South Dakota's state motto used to be The Sunshine State? Back in the 90's we changed it to The Mount Rushmore State. I mention it because the sun has shone brightly every day since we have been home. In fact, yesterday and the day before there were NO clouds in the sky at all. What a difference that makes. I don't know how the people in Odessa can stand the gray every day. It is truly depressing. People that live there say it will stay overcast until March. Ick.
OK so what about the adoptions? We have court scheduled for Mon. Jan. 19. Nancy and I will be flying back to Odessa on Jan. 17, and will arrive on Jan. 18. At this time, it looks like Nancy will fly back home to America again after court and I will remain. This is subject to change but that's my thinking right now. Our plane tickets for this last trip were $1700 each. We don't want to make too many trips at that price. If our internet is good, then I will be able to work from Odessa and it would be better to stay. If not, I will need to come home as I have to get work done for my job. My vacation time is totally exhausted, plus I have an important project to complete.
After court, there is a mandatory 10-day waiting period where absolutely nothing official happens adoption-wise. If no one appeals the ruling, then there will be an automatic final judgment and the kids are ours forever. They will then be free to leave their orphanages. However, there are still new birth certificates and domestic passports that must be issued, plus Valya has a property issue. I will probably elect to keep them in their orphanages until these are resolved. That way I can get some work done and they won't be bored out of their minds. Once they have their passports, we can leave for Kiev for medical exams and US immigration paperwork at the US Embassy. Then we can come home for good.
While we were in Odessa, we were wanting to take some time to thank you all for your kind words and prayers for us. Until you've experienced it, you just have no idea how uplifting it is to be so far from home and hear from friends and family. Here is a sampling of some of the things people wrote to us. It is by no means complete.
I just want you to know that I am praying constantly for this to be resolved with Valya. I am on pins and needles waiting to hear, but I know God has it all under control. It may be hard to see right now, but I still believe He is going to work this out. I can see how much you love Valya and how much she loves you.
I am praying for you and hope that you have a good time there with Valya and Sergey. I know it is really hard to go to different country and live there for a month 0r two I know how it feels because my parents go throught the same way like you right now.
My dear friend, you have been in my prayers constantly... all of you! I know it's hard being away from home right now, spending Christmas in a foreign country with people you hardly know, and missing all the sights and sounds and faces of home. But actually I think the Christmas you are celebrating in the Ukraine is much closer to the first Christmas than anything you would have in the States.
Like Mary and Joseph, you are in a foreign land, far from family and friends, in humble circumstances, not certain of what lies ahead. They were certain only that the baby would be born. You, like them, await a new addition to the family - actually, two of them! And just as the Lord was with them, was their strength and confidence, He is with you there. I am praying that He will make His presence more clear to you there than ever before, that your Christmas can be rich and full of joy.
Just think - next Christmas you will again be in your now much noisier home, surrounded by all that is familiar, yet experiencing the joy of His birth in a new way, with Valya and Sergey. I can't help but think you will then look back on these days and view them as a very precious time in your lives!
I miss you dearly and can't wait till you are back home.
God will never give you more than you can handle and he will never get you to it without getting you through it.
I can't imagine the weariness that you must be feeling right now. We pray that God will give you strength, peace and encouragement to press on. I will be waiting to hear about your news of the court date on Tuesday. You got to think positive!!! We love you guys and it is such a terrific thing that you are doing for these children. You have sacrificed a lot for them and I know that God will bless you for this.
THe LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He give strength to the weary, and increased the power of the weak. Even youth grow tired and weak, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31
Yes, I do find it a bit odd to think and feel so much for people, a family, I've not met, but your blog writing has made me feel close to you in some odd way, and I just feel the need to let you know I'm out here thinking of you and hoping for your family to be together soon.
Here is a picture that our friends sent us of Sparkle.
Thanks again to you for thinking of us.
While we would have wished that this adoption wouldn't have been split up into multiple trips over there, I am still very grateful that all of the adoption approval paperwork was completed. That was a huge thing for us. You may recall that Valya's adoption was by no means assured. I feel that we went to battle for her and we won. Some day, the kids will understand what we went through for them and we will have tangible evidence of our commitment and love for them.
Nancy says it is God's money anyways. If He has decided that we should spend it on airfare and living expenses over there, then so be it. Since He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, I suppose he could sell one and provide us with the funds! I joke, but everything we have does come from His hand.
We never got to wish you Merry Christmas, so here is our greeting to you, and our prayer for you that God makes Himself real to you in some way in this New Year. Blessings to you.