Vitals: A very important man signed our papers today. Tomorrow, we'll sign papers again.
More information than you want to know: So, this morning was our appointment with an official for the Boyarka District. We needed his signature on a paper in order to get Roman. I asked earlier why we didn’t have this extra step (appearing personally in order to get a signature) with Ruslan and Nadya explained that this official wanted to meet us before he would sign the paper. Now, I have to say here, that so far, all the other Ukrainian officials have been great. I wouldn’t call them punctual, but they have been kind and done their best to keep the adoptions moving along reasonably well and working in the best interest of the children involved.
Unfortunately, this official is a very busy, important man. He could not possibly meet us or sign the paper two weeks ago, when we first agreed to take Roman. So, we have had to wait almost two weeks for his schedule to clear so he could squeeze us in.
Our appointment was for 10:00 this morning. Nadya arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 9:30. We got the kids ready, packed the essentials: DS, games, TP, water, books and gave the now familiar, “YOU MUST BEHAVE” speech to the kids and went down stairs. The taxi company actually sent two taxis, because they didn’t have a car that could hold all six of us. So, I took the girls in one cab and Bill took the boys in another. We had a female driver and as soon as we turned onto the street, she pushed hard on the gas pedal and pulled out her broken English to ask me the address. Well, I had no idea what it was, so I texted Nadya, our translator. It was a little difficult to text, because the car was jerking and jolting in many directions at once. I’ve never been in such a jerky car ride. She was a really nice lady, but a horrible driver and she was FLYING. At one point, I looked up to see another car coming directly at us from the other direction, plenty close enough to give me nightmares. She was about to take a left turn, but, thankfully she decided against it. I decided not to look up any more. After I hit “send” I started to look around for seat belts. I found them easily for the girls, but mine was nowhere. Reilly finally found it on the ceiling behind me. I put it on.
So, we hung out in the taxi for about ten quiet minutes, me feeling confident in my ignorant assumption that a car accident was the scope of what I should be worrying about today. All the while we were bouncing up and down and jerking side to side in the back seat (this is your hint) when Sharon turned to me and said, “Mommy, I don’t feel too good. I feel like I want to throw up.” I told her to look out the window, since she can occasionally get motion sickness and we were definitely in some sort of a nightmare carnival ride. But, Sharon is also lactose intolerant. I started to ask her what she had for breakfast that morning, when I realized I didn’t need to ask anymore, since she had spit up.
It wasn’t too much. Just down the front of her coat. I thought I could probably salvage it, but then I remembered Bill had the back pack (with tissues) with him in the other car. I started digging in my pockets and looking around the car for some tissues, paper towels, trash, anything. Just as I spotted some widow cleaner, Sharon spit up again. This time, there was a little more volume, but definitely still just confined to the coat and now a little on her pants. While I was trying to assess the damage, Nadya called. She confirmed the address and I asked her if she could pick up some tissues somewhere. Nadya said she would look for some and also mentioned that I needed to pay the driver $50 grivna for the ride. This was definitely the cheapest taxi ride so far. They usually cost around 200 to 400 grivna. So, that was one nice surprise for the day.
Anyway, I hadn’t packed any extra clothes for Sharon, and it was cold out, about 40 degrees. I was really hoping to save her coat. Nadya seemed a little skeptical about finding tissues, so I decided, since I had on several layers, my extra shirt had to be the sacrificial lamb. I took off my jacket and prepared to take off my top shirt when Sharon spit up for the third time. Mopping it up with my shirt still seemed like my best option. I had just got the top of her coat looking presentable when out came the mother load. It went everywhere: down the jacket, over the shirt, onto the pants and then slid between her little legs, onto the seat and down to the floor.
Sharon looked up at me with tears brimming in her little brown eyes. This is when, out of necessity, I lied to my child. “Sharon, look at me,” I said. “Look in my eyes. You are OK” (lie). “It’s only a little bit of vomit” (lie). “Mommy knows exactly what to do” (lie). “Mommy can handle this” (lie). I took the one dry corner of my shirt and wiped off her mouth. “Mommy can fix this (lie) and it will be ok” (probably also a big fat lie). “Do you understand?” She looked at me with the trusting eyes of a six year old hero worshiper, nodded yes and wiped away her tears.
There was nothing else to do at this point but turn my sacrificial shirt inside out, sop up as much as I could, then take off her jacket (also inside out) and stuff the shirt inside. Had I known we were going to lose the coat all along, I wouldn't have used my shirt, but it was too late now. They both were lost. I was wiping her pants with her jacket sleeve when we pulled into the parking lot. The driver gleefully told me that we had beaten the other car! I wasn’t surprised. Nadya came over and handed me two handypacks of Ukrainian wet wipes. I pulled Sharon out of the car and stood her on the sidewalk. She was coatless, but she seemed Ok. I hid her coat and my shirt under a bush (I didn’t want to take them into the meeting with me). Nadya was worried that someone would steal it, but I was certain if they did they would get what they deserve. Then we went over to grab my fleece and talk to the cab driver who had discovered the vomit-seat. Nadya translated. Among other things, was the inevitable, “you will have to pay for the dry cleaning, 200 Grivna so 250 total for the ride.”
We finally got into the building and found a bathroom. In case you are wondering, this bathroom was a “2” on the Wetzel Bathroom Rating Scale. Two points for the flushing toilet, and one point for COLD running water. I know that makes three, but we took a point off because it was not heated. The room was cold. The water was COLD. Sharon’s pants were such a mess that I finally just rinsed them out and Reilly and I wrung them to the point that they were not dripping. I put my fleece on her and it was long enough to cover well past her knees, then I rolled up the sleeves and used her fanny pack for a belt. Thank God her shirt, underwear, socks and shoes were all OK. I told her she looked like she was wearing a very fashionable fleece dress, Reilly gave her the thumbs up and we walked out.
Are you tired of reading yet, because it’s only 10:00 am at this point. …Run while you can.
So, we waited. First we were in a hallway by one of the offices. Our appointment was for 10:00. About 10:15, I tried to hint around and discover a cause for the hold up. There were some really good food smells coming from down the hall and a lot of people walking in and out. Nadya finally said she thought there was some sort of party in there. One of the girls we needed to see kept walking back and forth between her office and the party area. At 10: 20, they moved us closer to party central. We were in an 8x8 foot alcove with four doors; one to the hallway, one to the important man’s office that we needed to see, one to an empty office and ONE to the party office. The door was opening every minute or so as people went in and out to get food and party. Did I mention that I missed breakfast? About 10:30, Reilly’s DS ran out of power. At 10:35, all the kids had enough of sitting still and we played “rock, paper, scissors. At 10: 40 we started twenty questions. From 10:45 to 11:00 we played every school/camp game that I could think of that wouldn’t make too much noise.
Finally, over an hour after we arrived, the very important man ushered us into his office. We sat around a table and he started off by offering the children chocolates and apologizing for making us wait. Now, you must understand, his “delay” has easily pushed back our return trip home at least a full week. We couldn’t file for a court appointment without his signature. If he had signed the paper right away (like the other official did for Ruslan), we could have filed for a court appointment about the same time we filed for Ruslan (two weeks ago) and had our court date a day before or after Ruslan’s. That way the ten-day waits would have overlapped almost completely. As it stands, we just got his signature today, it will probably be tomorrow or Wednesday before Oleg files and our court appointment will be late next week, just as Ruslan’s ten day wait is ending. This time is also costing us money: rent for the apartment, charges for pushing back the dates of our plane tickets, and 300 grivna in taxi fees so we could wait for an hour to meet with him. Of course, we accepted his apology graciously.
So, now we learned why the important man wanted to meet with us. He wanted to ask us why we weren’t also adopting Roman’s older brother. Certainly a rational question. Roman’s older brother is 16. Ukraine doesn’t allow children to be adopted after 16. They age out of the system. Plus, the INS only approved us for two boys. Even if the Ukrainian government approved, the US would not. I wanted so badly to smile and sweetly ask if the brother was available, and ask why the important man suddenly had concern for the welfare of a boy that he and his countrymen have kept in an institution for the last 11 years, but I let it go. We explained to Nadya why it was not possible, omitting the fact that his brother was 16, which everyone in the room was fully aware of, and she translated.
Then the important man’s phone rang. He was holding his phone in his hand on top of the table the whole time. He answered the call.
When the important man finished, he asked Nadya if we were going to teach Roman Ukrainian. I wanted to say, “well, we were, but the money we might have put into Ukrainian lessons has gone toward this friendly meeting instead.” But, I didn’t. We said “sure.”
The important man’s phone rang again. We sat in silence while he took the call and asked the caller to be sure to call back in 30 seconds.
Then the important man wanted to know if we would teach Roman about Ukrainian culture. I wanted to say, “oh yes, and we’ll be very careful to explain to him this particular meeting.” But, we didn’t. We just said ‘yes.”
After two more phone calls, which he took while we and our children waited silently, the important man signed the papers. We said, “thank you” and left.
We had sent the taxi’s on their way, so we needed to take the metro home. The nearest station was at least a half-mile away and Sharon was still in her ‘momma fleece’ coat, with bare legs. I put on Bill’s Carhart jacket and picked up Sharon. I had her wrap her legs around me and we zipped up his coat and tucked it up under her legs. She was heavy, but I definitely got the better end of the deal, because now Bill had no coat, and he was carrying a plastic bag with the wet pants and vomit clothes. When we got to the metro, we bought a pair of leggings and I put them on Sharon once we were in the train. Throughout the whole morning, Sharon never said one word of complaint. She never sobbed or wailed or said even once how cold and uncomfortable she was, but after we got those leggings on her, she looked SO happy. All the tension left her face and she sat by herself on a metro seat smiling and swinging her little legs back and forth. From now on, I’ll be lugging extra clothes wherever we go.
We got home at 12:30. We had lunch, a nap and school. I made potato soup for dinner and we debated (again) about what to do now because our plane tickets need re-scheduled and I am no longer confident that we will be home by Thanksgiving. I realized today that, since there is such a
gap between the two boys adoptions, one parent could take Ruslan and the other kids home and the other could stay here with Roman while we wait for his passport. I thought Bill would jump at this, but he wanted to wait it out together. All the kids wanted to stay too, except Matt, who is dying, but once he saw that he would be in the states with only one parent, he agreed.
So, the day was done. The decisions were made, papers signed and we were just finishing up the kitchen and getting ready to watch a movie when Nadya called. She had somehow accidentally ‘destroyed’ our paperwork for Roman and we need to make a new set of papers. The cell phone I have here is not very good and I can’t always make out what people are saying, but she said she knocked something over with her dress and that the papers were destroyed. As I posted on FB, please pray that the word “destroyed” is evidence of a limited English vocabulary rather than an extensive one. Knowing how particular the officials here have been about paperwork, I can easily see how a minor flaw can cause a problem.
We are meeting at 10:00 Tuesday morning at the Notary to re-sign some papers and find out the extent of the damage. And so it goes...