What time is it in Ukraine?


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back in the (former) U.S.S.R.

If this post sounds a bit different than what you have become accustomed to it is because Dad is posting for a while.  With Alicia still at home dealing with being sick, it is up to Landon and I to safely bring Inna home.  First I need to say that I miss Alicia intensely!  I know it is killing her to have to stay home, but we are both realizing we can't think about how something affects just us any longer.  We now have a little girl whose life is our privilege to guide.  She is truly a gift and there is nothing I can ever do to deserve the grace God has shown me first by bringing Alicia into my life, and now our Inna.

It took just under 46 hours from our house to the orphanage to see Inna.  Landon and I began our journey back to Ukraine to bring Inna home on Sunday morning at 5 am.  Our 3.5 hour flight to Washington DC left at 8 am CST, then we endured a 5 hour layover in DC.  Our flight from DC to Frankfurt was 7 hours followed by another 3 hour layover.  A 1 hour flight then to Munich followed by another 2 hour layover.  Finally a 2.5 hour flight to Kiev was followed by a lovely 6.5 hour wait at the central train station in Kiev.  After all this we hopped on a train for the 8.5 hour trek to Dnipropetrovsk.  Once there we dropped our things at our apartment, took a MUCH needed shower, and ran to the grocery store to stock up on bananas and water.  4 hours after arriving in town, we headed to the orphanage.

During this time I had a building anxiety about seeing Inna for the first time again in 11 days.  I have been avoiding videos of our girl while home because my heart just aches to be without her.  Although we struggled with the decision to come home, we were definitely looking forward to coming back to our house and recharging our batteries.  I can tell you that although seeing that red, white and blue back home and time with family was wonderful I realized that my life will never be the same again without my daughter in it.  Throughout the travels back to Ukraine my anxiety about seeing Inna began to go up.  I feared that Inna would be angry at us for leaving.  I feared that Inna would be angry at me for coming back without Mom.  My biggest fear though is that Inna would see me and not care at all as if I was a stranger. 

When we arrived at the orphanage this morning we were going to meet with the director and then go get Inna for a visit.  As we were walking towards the entrance there was a commotion on the playground.  I looked over and there was Inna waving her arms frantically at me and making all kinds of noise!  We went over and she latched on to my neck for about 20 minutes and we just stared at each other both with giant grins on our faces.  I wanted to say something to her, but the giant lump in my throat prevented me from saying a word.  The caregivers were crying to see us reunited.  Oh how I wish Mama could have shared in that moment!  Our daughter not only remembers us, but she has been waiting for us to return.

So the mission Landon and I are now on is to obtain a new birth certificate, a Ukrainian passport for Inna, and to complete the immigration paperwork at the US embassy in Kiev.  When those three tasks are complete we are getting on a train and three planes and are heading home.  I am happy to report the birth certificate is complete.  Scratch off task 1.  Task 2 is being started tomorrow with the passport application submission.  This process can take 3-7 days so please pray for as few days as possible.  Task 3 - embassy paperwork cannot even be scheduled until the passport is in hand.  The target return date is still currently set at Thursday, June 9, but the passport is the key to the whole thing.  

I'll continue to do my best to keep everyone updated.  Landon has been awesome so far and is quite the little photographer in my opinion.  We are looking forward to spending more time with Inna as the week goes on and less time in transit!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Update and prayers needed

I talked with Todd and Landon today and they made it safely to Kiev.  They are currently taking a train to meet Inna in the morning:) 

After talking with Todd, we are asking for your prayers.  Natalia and Oksana are not very optimistic about the passport process taking less than 7 days.  This has been so hard for me to swallow, and I know it will be difficult for Todd and Landon.  Please pray that the paperwork can be completed in the "fast" 3 days so my hubby, nephew, and daughter can come home!! 

Also, please pray for Inna.  The transition can be hard on and often children become sick due to the high level of anxiety.  Because the passport process could take a long time, it has been advised that we keep her in the orphanage until the paperwork is complete to lessen the anxiety. 

Hope to have pictures and videos of little Inna soon!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On the Road Again...

Well, Todd is leaving Sunday morning to pick up our little Inna!  A slight change of plans happened this week, as it seems plans are often changing in our lives.  I have been pretty sick and the thought of a long plane, train, and bus ride makes my stomach stir even more.  Therefore, Todd will be traveling without his wife...and without Inna's momma:( 

Please pray for safe travels, that Inna bonds strongly to Daddy, and that Momma can rest peacefully knowing full-well that God is in control of this journey.  The tears are coming full-force as I type this, but I know that it is what is best for our family...especially for both Inna and Todd.  A sick person on a journey that long is no easy task for anyone.

So, all the blog updates will be from Todd's point of view!  Also, my nephew, Landon, will be going and he is thrilled he is the first family member other than us to meet Inna!!  I will be hanging onto every word as each of you do as we follow their adventure through this blog!  Both Todd and Landon are HUGE Indiana Jones fans (we are watching Raiders of the Lost Ark as we pack and type) so this is certainly an adventure he is excited to embark upon!

Thank you for your continued prayers as we finish this leg of our journey and bring Inna Anastasia home!!

Below are pictures of some sites we saw while walking along the Dneipr River, a large river that runs through Ukraine.

This is the Circus building.  It's always advertisting a circus, but we have yet to see any activity.

We drive over this river twice a day and have a view of this fountain too!

We packed sandwiches and ate near these fountains. 

There were cute restaurants and pubs along the river and we thought this one looked fun.

A family put up a hammock for the beautiful day!

A fun fountain we saw near a wedding party taking pictures.

I LOVE this video...Inna is playing hide-n-seek with Daddy behind a giant mushroom in the playground:)  I can't wait to get my hands on this giggly, little girl of mine!!!  Soon...soon...soon!!!:)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back in the USA

Well, Todd and I are back in Kansas and it has been busy!  Family visits, a doctor appointment, a vet appointment, many loads of laundry, and some Inna shopping!  I've even managed to get a few hours of sleep but I haven't quite caught up yet.

We arrived and my niece, Jade, picked us up from the airport.  What a HUGE blessing she is...I came home to a clean house, clean sheets, and clean towels!  She also moved all the furniture out of Inna's room that I have been storing for a friend, which I was dreading!!  AND, she put together our white, twin bed, moved in our twin mattress from the "boy room", and printed a beautiful picture of our Inna and framed it in her room!!!  I love you Jade!!!  Thank you so much!  Plus, she had two dresses and some pink jellies in her closet waiting for her:)

Then we did some Inna shopping and purchased some things for her room.  Thanks to my mom, sister, and Jade, the room is nearly complete!  We completed some touch-up painting, cleaned out her jam-packed closet, and Todd fixed her chair-rail.  I used my "scrapbooking skills" to complete her name frames to match her bedding too, which was fun:) 

Once Jade left, my good friend Deb came by with a carload of goodies for my Inna...and me!  Two beautiful carseats, two extendable baby gates, some room decorations, and a little table for her!  Yeah!!  So, now I just need some furniture.

My mom and dad are came on Saturday and I couldn't wait to give them both HUGE hugs when I saw them!  Sunday was a fun day at church where we were greeted by all our praying friends!!  So many hugs and hugs and more hugs!  Such a needed welcome home party:)  Then, we traveled to St. Joseph to see Todd's parents for some yummy Mexican food! 

This is a very busy week but today I just layed around...literally.  I hung out on the couch with my dogs while my wonderful husband headed off to work.  I enjoyed every bit of being lazy.  It's only 7:22pm and my PJs are on and I'm heading to bed.  I'm still not feeling well and I think it mostly stems from not sleeping so I'm off to catch up! 

Inna is just waking up from a nap and getting ready for her snack of cookies and sour milk.  I bet she is loving her sweet treats...but momma and daddy are going to bring lots of bananas for her!!
I hope to post pictures of  her half completed room soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Change of Plans

Love this song!  We will be bringing Inna home soon!!!

But, there has been a change of plans.  Todd and I will be leaving Ukraine and heading to America for the 10 day waiting period.  Early this morning we found out that our region does not allow for a one day passport, and there is a possibility it could take up to 7 days.  With the way our 10 day wait falls, and with the birth certificate office not working on Mondays, plus with the time we’ve already spent here, we have made the decision to fly home.  It could easily be another 15 days after the 10 day wait that we will be here.  We have been toying with the idea for some time now, but after we called our translator, she thought it would be best for us emotionally as well.

Obviously, the hardest part is going to be leaving Inna.  We will miss her very much and saying goodbye to her at the orphanage today was not easy!!  Her favorite caregiver was there and she assured us Inna would be in good hands and that she will tell her we would be back.  I can’t imagine how my next week and a half will be without her.

Please pray for Inna and that her caregivers continue to tell her how much we love her and miss her…we can’t wait to see her on May 30!!
One of my favorite pics of our little girl:)

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Great thou Art

My friend Deb sent me this song and it's wonderful!!!  I think Carrie Underwood has a phenomenal voice and this song says it allJ

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” 
It's official!  Inna Anastasia Bottorff will be our legal daughter in 10 days!!!  Court today was held in a large room with the judge, 2 recorders, 2 jurors, a social worker, a lawyer, the prosecuting attorney, our translator/facilitator, and us. 
Everything went well...we were asked many questions by the judge, which Todd mostly answered.  Then, we were both individually "cross-examined" by the prosecuting attorney.  This was not my favorite part but Oksana told us we both answered well.  Here are some questions we were asked:
1.  Why do you want to adopt in Ukraine?  2. Where do you work?  3.  Is your house paid off?  4.  Why would you want to adopt a child with special needs?  5.  What happens if you have a biological child....will you still want her?  6.  Your homestudy said you wanted a boy, will you be happy with a girl?  Explain.  7.  How do you plan on paying for her medical needs?  8.  Are you going back to work?  If so, how long will you be at home before going back to work?  9.  Have you contacted any doctors to care for her medical needs?  10.  Explain why you feel comfortable adopting a child who is not developmentally on track?

There were more questions but these are just a few.  We were done in about 40 minutes or so.  Better than the 3 hours our friends endured last week!!  We also took them pictures of Inna and the three of us and everyone thinks she looks like meJ  I must say, I was a proud Momma!  ha
Here is how the process goes from here:
**Todd and I will enjoy every bit of the next 10 days in this giant city doing the same things we've been doing since April 21:) 
**We will HOPEFULLY get the court decree on Friday, May 27th AND the birth certificate changed. 
(this is a MAJOR prayer request because if we don't, we will have to wait until the following Tuesday because the offices are closed on Monday)
**We will travel back to Kyiv and wait for the passport paperwork and the Visa.  This can take about 6 days (I think)
**Then we come home to see our family and dogs and house and bed and electric toothbrush and a little person running around in our house!!  AHHHHHH!
The three of us after court!!

On a side note, to pass the time and calm our nerves, Todd and I went to the mall.  I decided to try on dresses, including a dress that was more expensive than my wedding dress!!!  I wouldn’t have tried it on if I would have checked the price first!  ha

I wanted to give our driver, Pavel, and Oksana an "American" dessert.  Since we don't an oven, I decided to make Oreo Balls for them.  We found a cheese store that actually sold Philadelphia cream cheese on accident...yippee!  They have Oreos in the store and this chocolate bar happened to be a bitter dark chocolate (yuck).  But, both Pavel and Oksana ate all their dessert in one sitting so they liked them!:)  Any other ideas?  I really wish I would have brought KC BBQ sauce...but thanks to Ashlee, I didn't because I remember hers exploded in her suitcase on a trip!

Me slaving away on these Oreo Balls:)  ha

Last Monday was Victory Day in Ukraine.  Every city had a major celebration and Todd and I attended the beginning ceremonies.  They are celebrating the defeat of the Nazi Regime. 

Soldiers at the ceremony

Kids playing on a tank

Peek-a-Boo!  When we met with Inna, she had a scratch on her eye and under her eye.  We were told a little boy threw a block at her head:(  It didn't phase her at all though!

Are these like Dorothy's ruby red slippers?  There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home...

New hair-do!  I think I like 2 pony tails better than 4.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Court Date, "Real Date", and Inna's tea party

The blog was down last night so I couldn't update everyone about our court date.  It has been scheduled for 4:30pm on Monday, May 16th.  Thank you for everyone's prayers.  Monday will mark day 20 we have been waiting to have our court date assigned. 

To say we have been irritated, impatient, cranky, and worried about things at home and finances would be an understatement.  We have had so much unexpected support rolling in financially via our blog, which has greatly helped to reduce our stress levels.  One story I just have to share because it has touched my heart. 

A little background...
Three days before we were notified of our SDA appointment in Ukraine, I had a meltdown.  Over the past several months we have had many, many stories pop up in our inbox about the horror stories of adopting overseas.  I knew of these stories and I was scared.  I was scared of what we would witness with our own eyes and scared of what God was asking us to do.  To say I WANTED to come to Ukraine to adopt a baby would be a lie.  It would be much easier to stay where I was.  I would be"safe".  But, God doesn't give up on us and He was not letting me hide behind my fear any longer.  I knew I had to come to Ukraine...

I've been in contact with several ladies and what a HUGE blessing they all have been!!  There is nothing like being able to communicate with others who have seen children in orphanages, know their needs, and also have similar fears, disappointments, and joys.  They are all a blessing and I'm so thankful God has placed them in our lives.  I just pray over and over for encouragement...someone to say, "Keep going...you're doing the right thing...God has a plan...you can do it!"  That's what friends are for...to encourage, support, and knock you over the head when you screw up!  These ladies are a gift from God and their words, emails, advice, support, and "realness", along with God's grace, has been holding me together.

Anyway, to get to my point, a woman I've been in contact with decided to send us on a date!!!  I mean, a REAL DATE!  She is currently in L.A. and adopted a little girl 2 weeks before we flew out.  Despite the jet-lag, new family member, and life, she took the time to talk to me over the phone and keep in contact with us.  Then, a few days ago, she sent us money over our blog and the name of an up-scale restaurant in Dnepropetrovsk.  What a HUGE blessing!  See, I've felt so guilty about doing anything that costs money because of all the financial support we've been raising.  This was a fabulous excuse to go out and have some fun!:)  Here are some pictures of our wonderful meal and time together.  The best part was, it felt like we stepped out of Ukraine and back into America for a few hours.  An English speaking waiter, the ambiance, and the music took us back "home" for a moment.  THANK YOU KEREN!  It was awesome...plus I got tons of kisses from my girl today.  She was a LOVE BUG and Mommy loved every single bit of it:)
"The Reporter"--name of the restaurant

Zucchini appetizer--compliments of the chef
I think I ate my first quail egg today too:)

BEST warm, cheesy bread with butter EVER!  Yum, yum!

Alicia's Greek salad...so delicious and fresh!  This is my favorite summer meal I make at home with cucumbers from the garden!

Todd's salad with scallops, bacon, and every detail covered!  It's so pretty!

Alicia's entree of grilled turkey, zucchini, and potato au gratin.

Todd's entree--a GIANT T-bone steak with some potatoes smoothered in cheese and bacon on the side.

A better shot of the steak (aka, cow on a plate:)

The happy couple:)

Apparently Mommy hit the setting button and that's why this super cute video is WHITE!  :(  We should have brought a camera-man along with us to take some footage.  Oh well!


Inna loved her $2.50 tea set.  There was more water on the floor than in our cups, but it was a blast!:) 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Tomorrow we will find out from the judge when our court date will be.  Please pray for a swift and smooth process!! 

Here are some videos as requested by grandparents.  These are old as Mommy and Daddy forgot to charge the video camera!!:( 

For the record, this is me dancing...not a pretty sight.  But, I just thought a perfect title for this video could be "babes in blue".  Even Barbie was dressed in blue:)

This day Mama wasn't feeling well and Inna wasn't either.  This is her version of saying, "flower" while putting stickers in her book.  Flowers are one of her favorite things and I can't wait to put a big bouquet of them in her new room!!! 

Here are a few pictures of things that are different in Ukraine than America.  Everything would be much easier if we could read Russian!  One thing that is NOT pictured is the lettuce Todd bought...however, it was cabbage.  That, however, could have been identified if he would have asked his wife:)

Here is our washing machine...it gets the job done!

This is where you put in the clothes.  It will hold two pairs of jeans and about four shirts per load.

We saw this ambulance on our walk from the orphanage to a local mall. 

This is a picture of a military cemetary on our walk from the orphanage.  We have noticed it is custom for families to pack a lunch and eat at tables in front of their loved ones' grave.  They also drink to their lives and recall memories.  This happened on Easter Sunday and on Labor Day Sunday.

Mooo!  We felt right at home next to this bull:)

Someone made a home for this little guy.  Obi and Indy...I'm coming home soon and you will get lots of treats from Mama, Daddy, and Inna!!! 

Todd has a strange curiosity for anything different.  Here is one example.  They have apple scented toilet paper and he bought some.  The bathroom smells like apples...most of the time:)

I miss skim milk.  The lowest fat content in milk here is 2.5%...but I found this 1% milk and I was thrilled!  I poured a nice, cold glass for myself and found out it WAS NOT MILK!  It was sour milk...yes, it is common in Ukraine to drink fermented milk!  Sorry Inna, no sour milk in America.  Needless to say, I brushed my teeth over and over and over again!

Mmmmmm, strawberry-kiwi yogurt!  I was so excited to have this for breakfast.  When I opened it up it was covered in chocolate.  Ok, I didn't really notice that on the container but whatever.  I mixed it and took a big old bite only to realize there were chunks of something in it.  Oksana told me it was yorgurt mixed with cheese curds.  Oh dear, I need to take her shopping with me!  Todd ate the "dessert yogurt" and didn't mind. 

These are the first set of keys to the apartment.  At this apartment, we actually have 3 keys and we feel pretty safe.  To get into the gate of the apartment complex, we have a numbered code.  Then, we use the magnetic key to get into the front door.  Then, we have one key to open the door into our apartment alcove, a key for the dead bolt that you must turn twice, then a third key for the lock that you must turn four times.  Not a great situation when you're in a hurry, but it keeps bad guys out and keeps us locked in!

This is Inna's vile of blood they took (by the way, everything came back negative:)  She is in a medical orphanage, so they took her blood on-site.  We drove the vile of blood, carried in a water bottle to a local hospital.  The orphanage wanted the water bottle and the empty vile back.  Not something you see everyday.

SQUIRREL!!  His ears are sticking straight up!  Cute thing:)

"Tualety"...ALWAYS remember to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer...and never wear sandals. 

One thing Ukraine has for the moment that America does not is Inna!!  For that, we will stay until she is officially ours:)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!

 I love this song...I've listened to it so many times over the past several months regarding this adoption journey.  "Where You Go, I'll go" was something that really spoke to me when we approached coming to Ukraine.  Now the second line, "Where You stay, I'll stay" is more meaningful to me now that we're here...especially since we are staying longer than expected!!:)  ha 
Over the past few days Todd and I have not been feeling well and it hit me hard yesterday.  Sore throat, ear aches, fatigue, and I think I had a slight fever.  We decided to skip our morning visit to sleep.   It was hard not to see Inna, but she has been VERY excited to see us:) 
This morning we played and played.  We stayed the normal 2 hours but she wanted to keep playing.  As we led her to her room, Inna ran back to us and gave us both a giant hug!  As she walked back into her classroom, she turned around and walked back twice to give me a hug :):)  She just held on to me and stared me in the eyes...best moment ever!  What a perfect Mother's Day gift!!!!  Plus, I got my first macaroni necklace...you can see me wearing it in the picture below! 
First Mother's Day necklace:)

Me and my girl!

Here is a video of Inna making the necklaces.  She really likes this:)  Mimi and Granny...you will get one when we get home too!!

Thank you for all the mother's day wishes...each one is special to me and reminds me just how incredible God is!  I have wonderful family, friends, co-workers, LFE families, and people in my life.  Hugs to each of you and enjoy this day!!!  Love you!

This afternoon visit was very different.  It started out the same, but Inna got her first boo-boo.  Todd pulled off a hang-nail and boy, she DID NOT like this!!:(  Here are the tears...and the boo-boo after medicine was put on by her favorite caregiver.  We couldn't get a good picture of the hang-nail.  Todd said he now understands the saying, "This will hurt me more than it hurts you"  :(  Daddy feels very bad about hurting his little Inna!!:(