Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We are Home


Well, of course, we are home. That's the reason I have not added to our blog. Things are busy and loud at our house.

We arrived at our home to see so many wonderful friends lining our very long driveway. I just ate up our community and felt their love. It was so very good for me. I wished they could have all stayed and just hung out for the rest of the day. But, Nina was having a very hard time with the new environment. She even broke down at the airport when Mia, Karly and Wiley approached us. It was very hard for her. It was equally painful for me to watch her go through the emotional and physical struggles. I felt helpless because I was unable to comfort her or console her. Hard times..

We had a rough few days in the beginning, especially with the introduction of our dogs! I took the advice of a friend who told me that if our dogs were non-negotiable, then Nina needed to learn to adjust to them as she is Mia, Karly and Wiley. "Just stick her in there with them," so I was instructed. After some research on the computer and more reading at the library, we did just that. For many days, it was so scary for Nina. But, she has moved far beyond that challenge. Nina kisses on the dogs, plays in their food and chases them through the house for hugs. She cried when I dropped Kona (our 80-pound, black lab puppy) off at the vet's office for "surgery." She loves them!

I am amazed at the changes which have taken place within the last two weeks. She is molding more and more to our family and our routine. She is still not eating much but has begun to LOVE milk. She is still confused about mealtimes, since she refuses breakfast and asks to eat at 10 o'clock. Thus, she is quite hungry by lunchtime! She loves Mia, Karly and Wiley. The days they spend at school have been hard for her. She anxiously desires to go pick them up from school. She loves the playground and has discovered the largest "bathub" ever! We took her to the swimming pool this week and she called it a bath. Sure. Why not? Since her skin is so fair, we have to lather on the sunscreen. (She is peeling presently from her first sunburn! Thanks, Dad!) She walks all over the shallow end of the pool holding onto a boogie board and loves the independence.

Nina sleeps in her own bed and still cries herself to sleep. I used to assume it was a longing for the orphanage. Now, I am beginning to think that she simply doesn't want the fun to end! I think she is really happy here; although she still has not taken a liking to the bugs out here in the country. And, she certainly did NOT appreciate the very large turtle we found on the property today.

Some new experiences:
-A sunburn, and now, sunscreen
-Playing in the sprinklers
-Riding on a boat
-Going to the lake
-Swimming, in a very large tub
-Riding in a kid's jeep
-Driving the kid's jeep
-Sun and lots of it!
-McDonald's chicken nuggets and french fries, YUCK!
-Grilled cheese sandwiches, SO-SO!
-Church Sunday School... she's got "AMEN" down!
-Music in the car... don't go anywhere without it!
-Grocery store, we don't really like riding in the cart
-Wal-Mart, oh my, all those toys, "Nina's???" she asked

It's been fun. We have enjoyed teaching her verses, praying. We have discussed, in her presence, Jesus' death on the cross. How fortunate we are to have this opportunity to share the Lord with her! This is all such a privilege. And not only for her, but also for Mia, Karly and Wiley. I have seen a servant's heart revealed in Karly, our five year old. Her love language is "touch." And, she has reached out and touched Nina's heart. Karly will take her hand and guide her anywhere and everywhere. Karly will carry Nina to the bathroom and help her. She will lift Nina up into the car. Karly has evolved into Nina's personal sheperd. What a joy to watch Karly's heart open up to Nina.

Wiley has had just the opposite response. We are still working on him.

Mia helps with Nina in a mom sort of way. She is very good with Nina also. When Mia sits next to Nina in the car, she loves teaching Nina songs and phrases and counting. I love hearing her patiently instructing Nina with the love of an older sister.

Those are our adventures for now! There are more to come, I'm sure.

Our Trip at an End

I forgot to post this entry I made long ago along with the FINAL picture outside of our apartment in Kiev and some pictures from our airplane adventures...

We are headed home today. Nina woke up in the hotel in New York about one o’clock in the morning. We visited the bathroom and then I explained that it was still night time. I put her back into bed. She was not happy about this prospect, however, she eventually returned to slumber. The “alarms” began ringing at 3:30am, and we started our slow progress to the lobby. At 4:02am we entered the hotel lobby to catch the shuttle. It had already left. We had to take a taxi. Nina was very compliant through most of the mornings’ activities. Although she was allowed to sit in the window seat, she was not happy about the return to yet another airplane. She’s a trooper. She has received grins and greetings from so many people. She is told constantly by passersby that she is gorgeous or beautiful. One man at the airport called her a “princess.” It was refreshing! I had the opportunity to tell one woman that Nina is adopted and enjoying her first trip to America. The woman said nothing more… you could read her expressed amazement all over her face. Nina explained to me this morning, in too many words for me to understand completely, that she is on her way to see “daddy, mommy and Nina, Karly, Mia and Wiley.” I added the dogs and Grampa to her litany of people.

Well, we are beginning to land in Atlanta. We will have lunch and catch the airplane to San Antonio, our final destination. She has been a trooper through all of this, but I am not to leave her sight. I went into the bathroom in our hotel room, and she was frantic. Over time, I am confident that her dependence on my presence will lessen. She is an unbelievably strong little girl.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Leg of Our Trip


I'm tired, so I will be brief. We left this morning from Kiev at 8:30am (from our apartment.) We passed through gates, passport checks and security and more passport stops. We met our friends from Alabama... they got their Visa. I was so happy for them. Mrs. Alabama was ready to get her tail home! We also traveled with Alina and her parents. We did not sit together but we did the airport stuff together. They are neat people!

Our flight was delayed, and we sat on the plane for about an hour. Nina could not understand why we could not go outside. She was asleep within minutes of take off. She slept for about an hour and a half. Then, she awakened and ate some cold lunch. She watched videos until the battery on the computer died. Then we read books, colored and she played in her chair by herself. She pretended with her doll. We then started our trips to the bathroom... a total of ten (I lost count!) I finally cut her off toward the end of the flight.

She was a jewel. We had a few tantrums and she tossed her body around in her seat and threw her arms around. Our neighbor had enjoyed a few too many "non complimentary" drinks. Then, they spilled their drinks all over their seats. We enjoyed the odor from that direction of the plane. Then, another passenger was sick... all over the place. We enjoyed that odor. All that aside, it was a fabulous flight. Nina was great!

We arrived in New York and survived customs and entry into the USA! I was so thrilled that I could have kissed the ground when we got here. I was bubbly until we reached our room. I am beat! It's almost 2:00am in Kiev! Nina was asleep by 6:30pm, and I am about to join her. We have to be up at 3:30am to catch our 6:00am flight. See some of you tomorrow. I can't wait to see the kids!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A few final pictures of fun

Nina is just happy to be kid and happy with her new life, so far. Kids are supposed to play and experience the world with an open mind, believing they can do anything. Our new daughter thinks she can do anything and everything. She might need some assistance, but she will get there. She has incredible upper body strength, and she never ceases to amaze me with the effort she puts forth. I often envision her swimming because of it. She is precious and fun, and I have fallen madly in love with her! She will fit in nicely with our three little action heroes back home.

Our Final Day in the Ukraine

Spring is in bloom all over the city. The tulips are comin' out. Nina has already succumb to the American way... eating and talking on her cell phone. I thought the "I love McDonald's balloon sealed it!

She's all-American! 4/24/2009

Wow! I can't believe it's coming to an end, but it is. We woke up this morning in our usual leisurely fashion. We had breakfast, got our clothes on and the telephone rang. Our ride had arrived. We exited the apartment to the elevator. Nina has been stopping in the doorway to the elevator all week. I have been hurrying her through it so that it doesn't close on us. (Actually, it slams into me everytime, and Nina thinks this is really funny.) So this morning, she hesitated just long enough that she ended up on the elevator alone when the door closed! (I don't know why traumatic events occur with my kids and elevators.) She begins to scream, and I am on the other side hoping and praying that it does not move from our floor. I also cannot tell her to push the "open door" button because she is unable to reach the buttons. Finally, the light goes out, and I push the button again. The door opened to a terrified little girl. She hasn't hesitated across the doorway since!

We met our friends from Florida and made our way to the embassy. It was so nice to have friends! My heart swells as I recall just having friends through this part of the process. We went to the visa area and waited. This was the first time we have had to wait for an extended period of time. Alina was so busy, but she has the perfect parents. I was in awe of their energy. Alina ran up and down the hallway, in and out of rooms. She was crazy. It was fun to "watch." Her parents are incredible the way they are curious about Alina, focused on her best interest, planning for her future... God put her into the perfect family. It was then that I realized we were the right family for Nina. She is perfect for us and us for her. Nina was precious and calm at first. Then, Alina got her stirred up a bit. I mourned Nina's lack of mobility, and yet I rejoiced in this moment. Instead of running, we "cruised" the hallways and waiting area. Alina's mom offered Nina some water from the water cooler. The water cooler then became the focus of entertainment. Nina decided she wanted some more water, and she wanted to get it herself. She can be quite pushy and quite forceful. She will often do whatever it takes to get to the thing she wants. We will have to work on impulse control. In this case, she pushed me aside and bullied her way up to the water cooler. The weight of her body, as she plowed forward, shoved into the HOT spigot on the water dispenser with her arm as the target. She burned her arm. She has a quarter sized blister on her left arm. It looks really painful, and yet I guess that's part of growing up and learning.

Two painful events down and it's not even ten o'clock!
We visited during the waiting period... Alina's parents are awesome. They told me about some things they had experienced, like being told that Ukrainians are a superior race. Well, what is one to say to that?

Anyhow, we met another lady who is adopting a 15 year old boy. She's from Alabama and had the accent to prove it! She quickly asked me where I was from... I guess my accent told her I was not from around "these parts." She has been in the Ukraine since March 15th! Wow! We also met another woman who lives in New York. She is originally from Ukraine and came back to get an older son. The embassy rejected her request. She did not provide any details, but she did leave disappointed.

We completed our process! There was no fanfare. I kept waiting for a bunch of people to jump from behind the curtain and yell "Congratulations and throw balloons!" Or something?!?!? There was nothing. The lady from Alabama said, "you'll have to get that back home." She was tired of being in the Ukraine. I could tell by many of her comments. She was ready to go home.

We left and went to lunch at Nina's favorite Ukrainian restaurant. She ate every bite and wanted more. So, we went for a pastry and coffee at our local bakery. We walked around the city some, and then took our toys down to the little park outside the apartment. Nina is bored with this. I think she's looking for playmates! She wanted to walk around, and we headed over to the outdoor street market. Nina fell asleep in the stroller. One little catnap later, we were awake and in the BIG park. Nina played by herself for a little bit, then she wanted a friend. She hauled me all over that park and stopped at nothing! (And, it was getting cold!) We had a great final day in the park. We left the park and freshened up for dinner.

We had dinner at Nina's favorite Ukrainian restaurant... yes, meal number two! She again ate every last morsel, then proceeded to take her spoon and put it into her drink. In the process, she knocked her glass over and spilled her drink all over the floor. I told her not to put her spoon into her drink, and she started crying so loudly that everyone was looking at us. One of the waitresses came to our table and told Nina to stop crying. She gestured around the room, and my best guess is that she was telling Nina that she needed to stop crying because she was disrupting the dinner of all these people around her. She was very stern! Nina started crying louder. So, we left. Not the best ending to our day, but kids will be kids and that waitress was one too! We came home for bath and bed. She cried about bedtime and fell fast asleep by 7:30pm. I'm glad, because we have a big day tomorrow. We will leave our apartment at 8:00am. Our flight will leave Kiev at 10:50am. I have got to finish packing. See you all very soon!

Some things I will miss about Ukraine: the slow pace, the tasty pastries, the walking, the lovely weather, the intensity of my relationship with Nina, the good coffee. Some things I will NOT miss about Ukraine: the lack of hot water/water pressure, the dirt in our noses/nails/knuckles, the unhappy expressions, the abrasiveness of the people, the overwhelming feeling of impermanence. I say these things, but it's all part of the experience. It's been a molding experience. Yes. I feel like clay! Good night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An Angel


Night, night. Sleep tight.
Today, we awakened bright and early to the sound of the telephone. Jordan provided our wake-up call this morning at 6:45am. It's so weird... he was actually going to bed because it was 10:45pm there. Well, we did the morning routine: potty, breakfast, clothes, brush teeth and hair, wait by the door for mommy to get ready, wait by the door for mommy to hang the wet clothes out to dry, wait by the door for mommy to get everything before we leave, wait by the door for mommy to make sure she has not forgotten the kitchen sink, wait on mommmmmmmyyyyy! Nope, she was done waiting on mommy. As she proceeded out the front door, I had to quickly grab my things and leave with her! The girl was ready to be outside.

We headed to the medical clinic at 8:30 this morning. When we arrived, there was a "new" family waiting for us. They are a couple from Miami, Florida. Dad is originally from Cuba and mom is from somewhere else? They both speak English. However, I found out later that they speak Spanish at home! He is 43 and she is 51, so mom is too old, according to Ukrainian law, to adopt. (At least, that was what I understood.) The dad is adopting the little girl, and mom is too, unofficially.

Alina is the little girl they are adopting. She is precious. She is four years old and smaller than Nina. She is extremely pale with very short hair all over. She has spirit! Their adoption is a little different from ours. They just got Alina yesterday and will leave for the US on Saturday. This was their first day with her, with doctor's appointments and the embassy visit! Wow! The parents also have two sons back home, 10 and 14. They have always wanted a little girl, and they have always wanted to adopt. They amaze me! They are sweet people and very relaxed. Mom is extremely fashionable and gorgeous. Dad is very handsome also. Their intention is to continue Alina's Ukrainian language. They have a Ukrainian nanny set up back home! They will speak Spanish to her at home. And, she will have English in school. Wow! That is amazing and overwhelming to me for some reason. I wish I could say I planned the same for Nina. I was merely focused on English... oops!

We all entered the medical center together. We waited about 5 minutes, then we were asked to go pay for the visit. We were sent into the hallway/waiting area where we waited about another 5 minutes, and a nurse took Nina for weight and height. Nina started crying. She quickly stopped when she realized it was all over. Then, we waited another 10 minutes and went in to see the doctor. He was very thorough and asked Nina all of the questions directly. She took this very seriously and answered all of the questions while looking him in the eyes. However, she did tell him that she goes to school. We told him that was not true! She laughed, so she still had her sense of humor eventhough she was stressed. He asked her to remove her shirt and did a complete physical. She laughed and did great! He handed me her immunization records, and it occurred to me that we will have the dreaded 4 year shots with her in July... ugh! Those are brutal.

Well, we dressed and went into the hallway/waiting area which was crowded with people at this point. Little Alina and her parents followed the same routine. Once all of the check ups were complete, we had to wait in the hallway for about 10 minutes. Alina is a spritely little thing. She took a drink of someone's juice (whom none of us knew), she ran crazy from person to person in the crowd waiting area (a hallway), she went up to a person and called him a witch, she apparently stamped the doctor's desk with his seal multiple times and pulled the paper from the exam table off the roll. She was out of control, like a kid with way too much sugar. I think even Nina was appalled at her behavior. Don't get me wrong, Alina was not being bad. She was experiencing a million new stimuli all at once! And, she doesn't even know these people she is supposed to call "mom and dad!"

On the flip side, our little Nina was a angel. I realized how blessed I was to have such a jewel sitting with me. She looked up at me several times for confirmation that she could play with something. She was content to sit in my lap and play with her one toy. She asked to get down from my lap and stand at my feet. She then just played quietly, talking to herself and stomping her feet. She did not leave my side, nor act inappropriately. She is just amazing!

Another note about Alina: she has some internal health issues. She was born without an anus and has endured three surgeries thus far. (She's only four!) She has one small and non-functioning kidney and the other is enlarged. She has some other internal organ problems, and they will have to address those when they arrive back in the US. She is a precious little girl who is getting used to her new world.

We went to the US Embassy after the clinic appointment. Nina and I entered with some paperwork and passports and money. We went to the office and waited for about 15 minutes. Nina started to cry... I think she was scared. She stopped when I found her a chair and stood next to her. I played some little games with her and she was fine again. I went to the counter and our paperwork was processed, which took about 15 minutes. We walked down the hallway to pay for Nina's visa. Then, we went back to the office with the receipt. The lady said, "Thank you for having all of your paperwork completed and in order. Please come back tomorrow for your final interview and visa, between 9:00 and 10:00 in the morning." That was it! Nina was ready to be outside and get some lunch. We were back to the apartment by noon. Thank you, God, for speedy work!

We went to our little French restaurant to celebrate and Nina didn't like any of the food I chose for her. She had two cookies and orange juice. We played in the main center plaza of the city for hours and Nina was filthy! Jordan called and Nina wanted to talk to him. She said, completely unprevoked by me, "I love you!" I think it melted his heart!

We returned to the apartment to get our sand toys and went out in front of the apartment and played. Nina wanted to stroll around the city. And, we actually ate pastries for dinner. (I probably should not say that outloud! It makes me sound like a bad mom.) Nina had one with sausage and cheese and finished with a chocolate pastry. We shared water and apples, oranges and bananas. This is the life, if we only had a beach!

Back at the apartment, Nina said she was ready for bath. Afterward, I started packing up a few things. She remained glued to my heels, following me all over the apartment. She still struggles a bit at bedtime, but I hold my ground. I needed for her to get some rest, because we have to go to the embassy again tomorrow. I'm not sure what the remainder of the day tomorrow looks like yet... more sand, dirt and a final stroll around the city? I think I'll treat her to her favorite Ukrainian restaurant for lunch and maybe dinner too! Nina had a good day!

I am now beginning to pray about Mia, Karly and Wiley claiming me back home. That will be a shocker for Nina since she has been my sole focus for so long. I pray she continues to feel loved, cared for and important. We met one other family at the clinic today. The dad was there completing the process and mom had returned to Indiana. They adopted a ten year old boy. He is so incredibly handsome. He seemed overwhelmed by all of the activity in the clinic, but he found security in his dad. I could tell the way he nuzzled up against his dad's arm. The dad was telling me they have no other children, that he will be their only focus. Nina will have a brother and sisters to learn when she arrives home. She will not be our only focus. I pray she is in the right family! Good night!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We're in the Home Stretch

I love these pictures... just having good kid time. And, "look mom, I'm running!" Gotta love it!

I have to add a comment about the zebra outfit and give credit where it should given. As we were gathering things to come to the Ukraine, it occurred to me that we didn't have any clothes for Nina. I looked in the stores for winter clothing, but as you all know, Texas is not really the place to look for REAL winter clothing, especially in March. A friend of ours, Anne, offered some of her girls' clothes that she had saved. I selected a few little outfits and that was one of them. She actually left the orphanage in that outfit! When we get home, Nina has some more clothes from Anne waiting in her closet. Anne, many thanks!
Well, it's official. Nina's new name is Nina Louise Post. I'm not sure if we mentioned that before or not. But, Natalia, our attorney, just called me, and she is filling out the paperwork for the passport. Nina Louise Post will be entering the United States of America on Saturday, April 25th if all goes well. Tickets have been purchased for our trip home. We opted to fly to New York on Saturday and spend the night. We will fly into San Antonio on Sunday afternoon. This will alleviate some travel stress, I think/I hope. Travelling for 20 hours is hard on anyone but especially a toddler who doesn't understand what is happening.

Today, we went for our typical coffee and blueberry muffin. Then, we walked the city some more. We ended up at this statue called the Golden Gate. Apparently, it's the entry to the city from the 9th Century. They have obviously updated things. Nina walked all over the plaza there. We returned to the apartment to change and meet Natalia at Maydan. Before she arrived, we discovered new streets and bought some bubbles. One of my favorite things is turning down a street that we have passed a million times only to discovered it's the short route to all the places we've been going! We hung out at Maydan, blowing bubbles, people watching, dog watching. Then, Natalia arrived. We had to go to the bank and take care of some account stuff. Then, as she returned us to our apartment, we stopped at our favorite bakery for more bread. The day ended with playtime in the little community park area outside of our apartment. Nina so enjoys that time. The day is done... bath, dinner, bed.
Nina sat in my lap tonight as I was doing some work on the computer. She is precious, and just like my aunt told me (who has kept kids for years) that all kids are the same. They have to go to the bathroom, eat, sleep and play in-between. She's right. The language barrier has not been an issue thus far. It may be one down the road, but really she is like any kid this age. She has to have help and direction... me, too!

Even as great as she is, Nina had a very hard, emotional day. She cried about everything! I recognized that most of the crying occurred when she didn't get what she wanted! I think she may be tired. Early bedtime is good. Tomorrow, we have to go to the final medical appointment at 8:00am. Nina has a little rash under her left arm. And, there are bumps all down her left side. My best guess is that the detergent is irritating her. It is nothing serious, and I am praying it doesn't effect the medical appointment tomorrow. If all goes well there, we will head straigh to the US Embassy from there. They will issue us her passport later in the day, or we will have to pick it up on Friday. Apparently, the embassy is somewhat unpredictable. Hopefully, we will still get the passport and be allowed to leave by Saturday. I am feeling the heart's-tug toward home. Our adventure is coming to an end... at least the Ukrain part! I know the Lord has so much more in store for us, and I'm praying that my heart will remain open to Him.