After about 19 hours of traveling, we have arrived at our hotel in Chicago. Our two flights today went very smoothly and on-time.
Valentina and Sergey officially became US Citizens when their immigration paperwork from the US Embassy in Kiev was processed at the Port of Entry at the airport. They actually have dual citizenship. At the age of 18, under Ukrainian law, they may formally renounce their Ukrainian citizenship. But until then, they are both Ukrainian and American citizens. The US Embassy in Kiev sent home with us some helpful information that explains all of this. We would have to be careful taking Sergey over there after he turns 16 because they could conscript him into the military.
Our day started at Borispil airport, which is a city about 15 mi. east of Kiev. It is a beautiful drive to Borispil as it is birch forest almost the entire way.
After we got checked in and got our boarding passes, we headed upstairs to the international departures lobby. At the east end of a very large room, there is a collection of booths called Passport Control. It is here that they check your passports, and in the case of adoptions, check the adoption papers.
I've read bad stories about this area on other blogs, so I quick scanned the booths and picked one with a young woman. When we walked up to the kiosk, the lady was wearing an army green military type dress uniform, complete with shoulder placards with some bronze stars on it. That looked very normal. But later when she got up to do something, she was wearing a short short tight miniskirt of the same uniform material, black nylons, and knee-high glossy black leather boots. I mean this is an official uniform. It's very odd to see. Anyway I picked a woman, supposing that she wouldn't be as intimidating as the other guys.
Our facilitor had reminded us to be sure that we brought one of the original 16 signed court decrees granting the kids to us. Yep, she asked to see that along with the passports. Taking about 10 min., she read all 4 pages of the decree, then asked the children, "Do you want to leave?" In unison they both replied "Da". I guess that is the last safeguard the Ukrainian government has in place to protect the children. I wondered what would have happened had either of them said No. We got the approval to pass through to the gate and we were off for Frankfurt, Germany.
While we were waiting at Borispil, we ran into Jim Vanderburg. He was also leaving Ukraine, with his three new daughters. Turns out we were on the same flight out, and our connecting gates in Frankfurt were even near each other. Valya, of course, hit it off immediately with his girls, and they all became friends in a short time.
In Frankfurt, Jim and I spent quite a bit of time visiting about our adoptions, and the girls goofed around like girls do. When it was time for our flights to board, we said goodbyes and traded email addresses and phone numbers so that the girls can keep in touch.
As we were boarding the flight to Chicago in Frankfurt, I was suprised, but glad, that the gate agent requested to see the US Embassy packets for the kids. Yet another safeguard in the system to protect the children.
Our flight to Chicago was 9 hours, which went pretty fast, in retrospect. United gives every seat a video screen with 15 channels or so of programming, plus a dozen music channels. Valya was unusually cuddly with me, which I really enjoyed.
The kids have been great. I've never had one discipline problem in the last two weeks. Everyone was tired today, but they hung in there and never whined or complained once.
When we got to the hotel, we all showered right away, then they both fell asleep watching Sponge Bob. They are both breathing deeply in slumber. Before Sergey fell asleep he commented to me that he couldn't believe that he was in America. I know this is a dream come true for him. What a joy and blessing they are.
Tomorrow, we can sleep in and relax before we catch our 1:00 flight to Sioux Falls. We are looking forward to being reunited with Nancy and Mark as a complete family of 5 again, something we have only been able to do once before, on Dec. 27th last year.
Here are some pictures from a great day.
Jim, Miranda, Karina, and Jessica Vanderburg and us together at about 4:30 AM at Borispil, waiting for our flight to Frankfurt.
Jessica and Valya talk about music.
Last moments on Ukrainian soil, on the way to a new life in America.
Hanging with Sergey as we wait for our flight to Chicago.
Valya saying goodbye to her new friends Miranda and Jessica in Frankfurt.
A Car Ride
1 day ago