It has been a couple of days since I posted. I am trying to figure out a schedule when I can blog, plus I am working on my job back home, plus I have Sergey and Valya with me now.
We picked up Valya from her orphanage Thursday morning. I had wanted to have a party of some kind for her, but the timing here was just all wrong. Her orphanage is a 2 hr. drive from Odessa and it was just too hard to get that coordinated. It is also very expensive to hire a driver to go there, and after so many trips up there I am really tired of paying for it. Plus I am anxious to get home as soon as possible so it just didn't work out.
Sergey and I, our facilitator Nataliya, and our driver Sasha left Odessa at 7 am for Andreyevo-Ivanovka. It was foggy and misty in Odessa so we thought, Oh great, it's going to be bad weather in Andreyevo, as it is further inland and colder than Odessa. I have a running joke with Sasha, I say, "It is always sunny in Andreyevo". I would say this because our sweet daughter was there. Back in December, Sasha had slid his car off the road near Andreyevo due to an ice storm. Sure enough, by the time we turned off on the little road to Andreyevo, there was freezing rain beginning to coat everything.
I had asked Nataliya to call the orphanage the day before to tell them that we would be coming for Valya and to let her know. I wanted to be sure that she had ample time to say her last goodbyes to her friends and to be ready emotionally to leave.
We got to the orphanage at about 9 o'clock and headed to the director's office. There was a little paperwork to take care of, such as signing some papers. The director and social worker visited a little with Sergey as we were doing that.
Valya had been in class and was called in wearing her school uniform. She had a big smile on her face. We had brought two bags with clothing, shoes, and her new coat. The coat was still in the bag from the market, and when she took it out she said it was "beautiful". I don't take the credit for that, Nataliya helped me pick it out at the market in Rozdilna the day before. She needed to change clothes and the director said she could change in his office. He had said it in Ukrainian and I didn't know what he said, as Nataliya had gone somewhere else to make a photocopy of something. I followed everyone out and was waiting a little and then went back in to see Valya and saw that she was changing. Oops! I turned around quick and went back to the other room and the director and other workers were chuckling at me. She put her orphanage clothes and shoes in one of the empty bags and left it with the director.
Pretty soon, all was finished there. We exchanged email addresses with the director. He asked if we had a scanner so that Valya could send handwritten letters to them. He figured that we did not have a Russian keyboard for our computer. A scanner? If he only knew... I even have one with me here in Odessa!
I asked the director if he would take a picture with Valya and he got a big smile. Da, da! He led her over to sit down on his couch together for the picture. This is the same couch that Nancy, Mark, and I sat on when we met Valya for the first time. So this is where it started and ended. I'm weird I know but it stood out to me.
On the way out, we gathered one last time to say goodbyes to the officials. The director said several things to Valya, and according to Nataliya he was congratulating her and admonishing her to behave herself in a way that would make her parents proud. The director turned to me and also congratulated us. One of the things that stood out was he told us to provide the things for her in America that she lacks here. Well... we intend to do exactly that!
The admin offices and classrooms are in the same building. Classes were in session. The classroom doors have glass windows so I could see the children in there. I wondered who else of them would have a day like Valya's today.
We got outside and it was very quiet. We took the walk out to the driveway to the car and loaded up. Everyone was in the car but me because I was putting some stuff in the trunk. Suddenly, here came a boy running down the driveway yelling something, I did not know what. He went over to the car door and talked to Valya and she got out and dashed back through the gate. Apparently, she had forgotten some things in her room - her teddy bear we gave her the first time we met, and her photo album. So, Sergey and I went back in also and caught up with her back behind the classroom building again. By this time there was a group of about 20 or 30 kids that had gathered to say goodbye. Some of them I knew from my stay there a week ago. The boys were very friendly and smiling, but all of the girls I spent time with, except for Alyona, wouldn't greet me. I understood why and expected that this day would be very hard on them and it would be my fault. Alyona, though, was very kind to me, as always. She is such a sweetheart. Well, they are all sweethearts, just grieving at this moment.
We paused again for a group picture and it was time to leave again. This time for good.
Valya was all smiles as we left for her new life out of the orphanage.
When we got to Odessa, Nataliya took the kids to get their visa photos taken, then sent them back to our apartment, which was near there. We had the rest of the day to ourselves as a new family.
In the afternoon, we took the bus over to the Privoz market where we did some shopping for the kids. I let Valya pick out a few personal care items, such as a new hairbrush and lip gloss, also bought her a new tote bag that she wanted. Got Sergey a backpack. They will both need these for the airplane trip back to America. I was also looking for a buttondown shirt and blouse for them but didn't have any luck with that. They only have tshirts and sweatshirts and I would like to visit the opera house with them. We did find belts for them, though.
All in all it was a nice day, like a dream to be together for good.
Here are some pictures from the day.
Yet another ice storm, but It is always sunny in Andreyevo! as I say.
This is the entrance sign to Andreyevo-Ivanovka.
This is the sign at the entrance to the Andreyevo orphanage.
This is the main drive into the orphanage. The classroom and admin building is the one on the right.
After signing Valya out, she and her orphanage director pose on the couch in his office for a final portrait. This is the same couch that Nancy, Mark, and I were sitting on when we were introduced to Valya for the first time. Her she is wearing her school uniform for the last time.
A final goodbye to some friends. We would have already been gone if I hadn't been taking my time putting something in the trunk of our car. My buddy Alyona was the last friend she hugged.
Valentina and her teddy bear take one last look back and then we were gone. Another chapter in our adoption story comes to a close.
Andreyevo-Ivanovka is considered a village. It is very rural, farm country. The houses along the main road are very quaint. Most are buff-colored with vivid sky blue highlights. Some others have elaborate texturing for trim, somewhat corinthian looking.
Valya combs Sergey's hair in our apartment in Odessa. The kids have been getting along well. I never know what they're talking about, though. Valya speaks Ukrainian, Sergey speak Russian, and he will never translate for me, even if I ask.
On a mashutka, or city bus, on the way to a large marketplace for shopping.
On the way back to the apartment, Valya poses with her new tote in front of the landmark Aphena mall.
4 weeks ago