Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Going against the grain

This morning, rather than making my usual visit to the orphanage to see Darya, I decided to take the morning off.  A couple of reasons being that the Parkers have court and I didn't want to go with another driver than the one we have (and risk my life!) since Lydia would be driving them (we usually carpool to the orphanage).  Also, my stomach has been a tad achy (too much chocolate and gelato perhaps?).

Anyway, I decided to go for a walk and wander aimlessly to explore more of this beautiful city on an absolutely gorgeous day.  While meandering along a path, I saw an old babushka and her grown daughter (I'm assuming it was mother and daughter, of course) sitting on a bench. What  caught my eye was that the daughter has Down syndrome.  I decided to sit down across from them for a few minutes.  I could tell the daughter just loved her mother.  I just imagined, had Darya's birth mother kept her, this could be them in 40+ years.  It just touched my heart to see this woman go against the grain of the society to keep her daughter, especially in the day and age in which her daughter was born.  I have no doubt she faced much opposition for her decision.  If the mother had given her daughter up, there is no doubt that she would have died many years ago alone in an institution.  The daughter and I made eye contact a couple of times and smiled and waved at each other. She had such a beautiful and gentle spirit about her.  I took a picture of the couple from my phone (I'll have my camera tomorrow when my sister arrives), so pardon the low quality.  But I just thought what a kind providence of God to allow me to see them.  It was such a blessing to me and I hope it is to some of you, too.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Walking on Air!

Since our camera accidentally went home with Joel (but will make its way back here in a couple of days with my sister), Kate Parker has been my photo/videographer! She has graciously taken videos and photos of Darya - thank you!!

Here are a couple from the other day when Darya was taking some steps.  Doesn't she exude pure pride and joy?

video


video


video

Monday, September 27, 2010

Some things I love about Darya

Her chocolate brown eyes
The little angel kisses scattered on her cheeks (can't wait for them to come in full-force in the Florida sun!)
Her chubby little fingers
Her sense of fashion ;-)  <---click here
The way she says, "ooooh" or "boccckkkk" or "dada" (still working on "mama"!)
The way she snuggles in close for some lovin'
The way she loves to hold my hands and walk, then goes "jello legs" on me when she's done
The way she does "itsy bitsy spider" with me
The way she dances
The way her face glows with pride after she's taken a few steps
And I could go on and on.......

But the one thing I don't like about Darya.....when she comes out with something worse than dog breath after eating who knows what for lunch! (I first thought she had a mess in her diaper)  Yuck!  Pass the Altoids please! haha ....but I love her anyway!

Do you think they miss me much?

The boys had a wonderful time in California with Grandpa and Grandma.  I know the time flew by for them because they were having such a good time.  They received glowing reports that they were well-behaved and polite.  Maybe Grandpa and Grandma will want to do this again?? ;-)  They are now back home in Florida with Joel. Saturday, a dear friend of mine planned a special birthday for Sam.  The boys went swimming, had cupcakes and pizza, and just had a good time celebrating Sam's birthday.  I'd say they are doing just find without their mama!  Sam also got a Swiss Army knife for his birthday.  He couldn't be a happier boy!  He has been sawing and cutting all sorts of sticks and branches and just having a blast with it.  I can't wait to get pictures from their California trip, but here are some from Saturday:




EDITED TO ADD 9/28: I just watched a video when they sang Happy Birthday to Sam taken by my dear friend Shelli who planned this birthday party.  In the video, Sam didn't want to make a birthday wish, but in the background Nate said, "I made a wish that Mommy was here!"  - Be still my heart!!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

9 Years Ago Today

My firstborn, Samuel Joel, was brought into this world on September 25, 2001. I loved him before he was even born and my Sammy is nothing short of a blessing! It aches me to not be with him on his special day, but I am glad to know that his daddy is there with him today. (Joel arrived just hours before the boys did at the airport last night!)  Sam was happy to sacrifice celebrating his birthday with me in order to bring Darya home :-)  He is a sweet, compassionate, kind, handsome, smart, and talented boy and it is my privilege to be his mother and watch him grow into a godly young man.

Most of my pictures are on the external hard drive back home, but I managed to find this one on my laptop of Sam making his birthday cake from last year.

I love you Sam and hope you're having a wonderful birthday!! I'll be giving you lots of hugs and kisses when I get home!!

HAPPY 9th BIRTHDAY SAM!
One year ago today, making his 8th birthday cake :-)

Another child in need: please help Yulia

It can be truly overwhelming knowing how many children languish around the world without a family, without love, and even without the basic necessities of life, especially the least wanted - the orphans labeled "special needs". There are so many orphans around the world with very little hope, and even the children at Darya's orphanage is no exception. I will share my heart on that after we get her home. This is a public blog, after all, and I'm still in country.

There are several adoption blogs that I follow, and one of my favorites is a mom by the name of Adeye. She and her husband have three biological sons like Joel and me. They then adopted two little girls from China (I think), then two more little girls with Down syndrome this year from Ukraine (through Reece's Rainbow like us). Just watching their daughters blossom once they received the love of a family and proper care is awe-inspiring to say the least. Adeye has been burdened by one very special little girl at the orphanage where her Ukrainian daughters were that has very little hope. It is not only because Yulia has special needs, but because that her life is guaranteed to be shortened. She will die shortly (within a few years) as there is no cure for Cockayne syndrome. But she will die alone in a crib, unless a family is willing to come forward and bring her home so she can live the rest of her days in the arms of a loving family. It absolutely breaks my heart. Adeye is trying to raise funds so a willing family would not have to be burdened by the financial aspect of adoption costs. In just two days over $12,000 has been donated! God is moving on hearts for sure. That is half the amount needed to bring this little girl home. It reminds me of when Lydia Hollis raised the money for Darya in ONE WEEK last year. And here I am, her mother, about to bring this beautiful child home. She has been declared my daughter. She has a family. She will receive proper medical care. And you know who's the blessed one? Us. Yes, Darya is blessed that she will now have all of this, no doubt. But we are blessed beyond measure to have been given the gift of Darya. I know that Yulia will be a gift, too, to a family.

I know my post has been long, but if you're still with me, please hop on over to Adeye's blog so you can read about Yulia. Please pray this little girl will get a family soon and that they will not have to worry about finances,and if you're able please donate, no amount is too small!:

http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2010/09/most-important-post-i-have-ever-written.html

Friday, September 24, 2010

Baby steps

Look at my duckling waddle a couple of steps! (Or as Charley Parker said, she looks like Big Bird today). Thanks Kate for capturing this!

Edited to Add: Darya took several more steps several times during today's afternoon visit!! She took 4-5 steps at a time and you should have seen her glowing and giggling with pride!!


Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

"I'm a lone lonely loner"

My boys will recognize that quote from Sid in Ice Age 3: The Meltdown.  :-)

Joel left two nights ago to Kiev and is now on his way back to Florida. He will be arriving in Jacksonville just hours before the boys are scheduled to land. He is planning to stay in the boarding area so he can be right there as they walk off the plane!  I'm praying all goes well.

Also, Joel accidentally took the camera with him, so I won't be able to take many pictures.  I do have my cell phone and could take low-quality ones, though.  Also, I could bug the Parkers to take some (which Kate did take some of Darya's awesome couture orphanage attire yesterday).

Well, nothing new to report!  Things are going well and I've knocked off two of the 10 days wait (actually it's going to be 12 since it falls on a weekend).  Off to visit Darya now......

Edited to Add: I should have mentioned that Joel will be sending the camera to my sister so she will bring it with her when she comes here next week! I will definitely be getting Gotcha Day pics!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's a Girl!

We are now the proud parents of Darya Elizabeth Fick, born on June 9, 2008, officially declared our daughter on September 22, 2010.  Just like the delivery of my three boys, today was fairly painless and went quickly!  We are so thankful for our daughter and everyone's support, prayers, and encouragement along the way of this amazing journey!

Joel will leave tonight on an overnight train to Kiev.  Tomorrow he will go to the US Embassy to sign some paperwork.  Then he will leave early Friday morning. We had him re-routed so he is scheduled to arrive in Jacksonville just hours before the boys get there with Grandpa.  Praise God!!!  

Since the 10 day wait period is up on a weekend, I won't officially be able to get Darya until a Monday.  I'm waiting to hear an estimate of how long the passport takes here so I can schedule my sister's flight out here. I am so thankful and looking forward to her coming to help me bring our adorable, sweet, and spunky 2 year old daughter home!  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I spoke too soon!

On our ride back from the orphanage this morning (middle of the night for most of you folks), we got a call from our translator/facilitator and have COURT TOMORROW (WED.) at 10:30am!!!!  Praise God!!!  What an answer to prayer!  Please continue praying, though, that it would go well and that Joel would still get home in time for the boys!!  Oh, we are excited :-)

No court yet

It's early Tuesday morning and we've been in Darya's city for almost 2 weeks now.  We still don't have a court date but were assured it would be this week.  Apparently here they do things a bit differently than everywhere else in the country.  In Darya's city, you have to get a local referral as well as the one at the SDA. Then it all gets sent to SDA, and now we're waiting to hear for a date.  But, we can be given short notice of 3 days or less.  We are really praying for Wednesday (tomorrow) so Joel can be home in time for the boys to be back home from visiting Grandma and Grandpa in California!  We Skyped with them this morning and I am really starting to feel the weight of being away from them.  I miss my boys a lot and can't wait for all of us to be together again soon!

As much as I love my boys, I also love this girl:

Our visits are going fine.  We never get her the full 2 hours at a time during visiting hours. Sometimes we wait up to 45 minutes until they bring her out to us (yesterday they forgot to call her groupa to say we're here!). Then sometimes they'll come get her from us early for lunch.  Oh, then there's the days where it's after 6pm and we have to track someone down so we can give her back!  My brilliant husband recorded our translator saying in Russian on his phone, "We're finished with Darya, come and get her".  So he gave it a try yesterday and it worked like a charm!  He called her room on the rotary phone in the lobby (there's a list of groupa numbers), played the recording, and they came to get her!

Even though our visit with her are short at times, we are enjoying what we can get and are looking forward to the time when she'll be with us 24/7. :-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brides

Many of you who have been here before have probably noticed the enormous amount of weddings on any given weekend.  This weekend Joel and I were doing our usual afternoon walk-about and could not believe the sea of brides. In fact, we couldn't avoid them, so it seemed! ;-)  Check out the pics on Joel's blog (our way of entertaining ourselves while we're childless):  http://strangedetergent.tumblr.com/



P.S. We got our inspiration for cheesy photo poses by how the people here pose.  As the saying goes.....When in Rome! (or Ukraine)!


P.P.S. Thank you everyone for your helpful and encouraging responses about Darya's unusual behaviors! We'll try to work on them a bit while here, but focus more on it and see what happens when we get home.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Behaviors and other random stuff

We were told we would definitely have court this week, although we don't know a date yet. That means that Joel will be home in about a week, Lord willing!  We've already been here 2 weeks and it seems to have flown by.  I hope the rest of my time here goes as quickly.  I'm thoroughly enjoying it, but think I'll enjoy it more when I have Darya all the time and not just during visiting hours!

The weather here has been absolutely perfect.  Our visits with Darya are getting better and better and we love spending time with her outside on the beautiful grounds.  Just a week ago she would get frustrated after about an hour (or less) with us. I  think she was overwhelmed and over stimulated.  We are now seeing more of the "real" Darya who is playful and content (mostly!). We are also seeing some unusual behaviors and we don't know if they're orphanage behaviors that she's learned to soothe herself or not.  Any of you reading this who might have some advice to offer we'd love to hear it.  She grinds her teeth and/or sucks on her tongue to soothe herself when she gets tired.  She will also thrust herself back and hit her head continually whens she's tired or mad.  We brought a pacifier yesterday and she wanted nothing to do with it (she doesn't like things in her mouth, which I know is normal - right Julie?), in hopes it would provide an alternate way to soothe herself rather than teeth grinding or tongue sucking.

Last night we also went out to dinner with two other RR families.  The food was great and we enjoyed getting to know everyone better.  We are all staying in the same apartment/hotel complex so while we live in entirely different parts of the States, we are temporary neighbors across the world!  One of the families, the Parkers, are adopting two girls from Darya's orphanage.

It is now Sunday morning and we just got back from worshiping with the saints at The Evangelical Presbyterian Reformed Church of Odessa.  We are enjoying worshiping our Lord with them, and it's so nice to have the service translated for us!  In the evening we will get together with the American missionary families for a time of study, worship, and fellowship (in English!).  We look forward to that.  But of course we miss our church family at ROPC in Gainesville! :-)

Here's a picture of Darya sleeping in Daddy's arms yesterday:


Dinner with the Herricks and Parkers:

Friday, September 17, 2010

We love this girl!!

Things are going really well and we are really bonding with Darya! We are falling more and more in love with this precious girl every day!  What's not to love?  :-)  

Look at those cheeks!



Itsy bitsy spider




Vrooom!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The routine

Around 7:30 we wake up.
9:00 head downstairs to breakfast (the apartment has a restaurant and breakfast is included with our stay here).
9:30 meet our driver who takes us to the orphanage
10:00 arrive, give them our visitors card, and wait about 15 minutes for them to bring us Darya
10:15 - 11:30ish (plus or minus depending on how's she's doing) we play with Darya, usually outside
12:00 - 12:30 drive back to the apartment
12:30 - 3:30 lunch, walk around, etc.
3:30 - 4:00 drive to the orphanage
4:15 - 5:30ish play with Darya
6:00 - 6:30 drive back to the apartment
6:30 - 10:00pm eat dinner, walk around, get online, Skype, go to bed

We are really enjoying it here, but I can see how after a while this routine will get taxing (many refer to it as "Groundhog Day" like the movie).  I can't wait to have Darya home with us and have own our routine at home!  I want to be able to feed her, play with her, let her nap, bathe her, all on our turf! ;-)  Soon enough, I know.

Today has been 2 weeks since I've seen my boys.  It's not even the halfway point until I see them again.  How I ache to hug them and be with them again!  I want Darya to be home with us, with her big brothers!

We found out today that we will have court next week for sure, though we don't know the date yet.  We are hoping for earlier in the week so please pray for that!!  Most likely it will be Thursday or Friday.  That's still pretty good as far as timelines go here.

Oh, and today she came out with NO HAT in some fancy-schmancy outfit!!  She was in a much better mood today, probably because she wasn't burning hot in this 70 degree weather in her Cookie Monster fleece outfits and her cold is getting much better.












Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Orphanage

In stark contrast to the beautiful downtown part of the city, Darya's orphanage is set back behind some old dilapidated apartment buildings on the outskirts.  Our drive there takes about 30 minutes each way.  This part of city is where the "real" people live.  There are lots of babushkas selling wares on the sidewalks from cigarettes to flowers to skinned rabbits.  You see them sweeping with old-fashioned brooms made of straw.  The orphanage seems to be nice, meaning there are lots of toys, it's clean, and the grounds have lots of beautiful trees and flowers.  But the life of the children there is forgotten and tucked away from the rest of the world.  Darya has hardly seen outside the gated grounds, aside from occasional doctor/hospital visits. Joel and I have seen more of her city than she ever has. Behind the orphanage is a school where we see kids play soccer. These are children with families, with homes.

While we visit with Darya, we notice so many precious little children with their groupas, many of them smiling and calling us "mama" and "papa" (so heartbreaking - can't I bring them all home with me?).  One little girl stole my heart when she repeatedly blew me kisses!  There is another little girl whose mom visits her regularly. You can tell her mama loves her. We have yet to see the inside of the orphanage aside from the reception area, director's office, and inside visiting area.  We don't yet know what Darya's life really is like.  We were able to see through a window several cribs lined up in a row. I wonder if that's where she sleeps?  Here is a small peek into Darya's world:

The gate we enter through

The fence and walkway around the orphanage grounds

Another view from the outside
The school behind the orphanage

Some play equipment with a peak of the orphanage building.

Joel and Darya strolling the grounds

The locked gate. Lord willing, soon Darya will be on the other side!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday - (for lack of a better title)

We didn't get to visit with Darya yesterday, but had a wonderful day worshiping with a local church then getting together in the evening with American missionaries in one of their homes.  Such a nice group of people and we look forward to spending more time with them while we're here.

The weather has warmed up a bit and it is absolutely beautiful!  I'm so glad they let us take Darya outside for both visits today even though her nose was still snotty.  We discovered that she loves the baby swing and can get herself going in it!  But her favorite thing is having one of us hold her hands and let her practice walking.  I really hope that she'll be walking independently in a few months.  The other day she stood up from a sitting position by herself.  For the most part she is a happy camper and easy to entertain, but these past couple of days we're starting to see her grumpy side :-)  It's usually toward the end of our visits.  It could be a number of things: the fact that she's 2, she's got a cold, she's off her routine with our visits, she's overly warm in all those layers, and/or over-stimulation from her doting future parents!  

During some of our down time in the afternoons and evenings, Joel and I have really been enjoying walking around outside.  We are just absorbing the lovely weather and the beautiful sights.  We are staying in the heart of downtown where there are cobblestone streets, ornate architecture, rose gardens, and fountains around every corner.  Just beautiful!  We are also hoping to catch a ballet or opera one evening (for less than a movie ticket back home!). 

We are hoping to have court by the end of next week (the 23rd or 24th). We were hoping that Joel would be back before then to be with the boys when they get back from California (they fly back to Florida on the 24th). Sam's 9th birthday is on the 25th and we are sad that both of us will miss that.  After court, Joel will have to go back to the capitol and go to the US Embassy to sign some paperwork.  (It's basically to say that he is aware and okay with Darya's diagnosis, since I will be the one to stay and finalize everything.)  After that, he can leave.  But flights out are usually really early in the morning, so he will likely leave the day after his appointment at the Embassy. They are closed the last Friday of every month, so even if court is on Thursday the 23rd, he would have to wait until Monday the 27th, meaning he would fly back on the 28th (that's actually the date we booked his return flight for).  But we can still hope and pray for a sooner date! :-) 

Okay, on to some pictures!  Joel's blog will be the one with any videos since it seems to take a long time to load them on here (could be in the internet connection). So enjoy this sweetness! 




Love this face!


The opera house around the corner

Cobblestone walkway 




Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 3

Today we got to see Darya twice.  Unfortunately she's got a bit of a cold so we had to stay inside.  It was actually good because then we could let her crawl around on the floor and not worry about getting her clothes dirty.  She was a bit more tired today so didn't last very long and actually fell asleep in Joel's arms for a bit.  It was pretty sweet. We are also seeing a spunky temper side of our little girl!  When she doesn't like something she growls.  It's pretty funny!  There is also one word she keeps saying, it sounds something like "bockkk", with the emphasis on the "k" sound.  The said she knows how to say "bye" which is something like "paka" so maybe she just likes to repeat that?  I don't have any pictures to post right now as I just wanted to give a little update before going to bed.

We saw lots of people today in providential encounters!  It was really cool.  This morning we ran into a RR dad at breakfast (well, they are staying in the same complex as us, but it was still cool). Then we spent the afternoon with a RR mom and her adorable 5 year old daughter and had a really nice time. Then this evening we went outside so Joel could call the missionary of the local church that we'd like to visit (we were trying to find out where and when the church met for tomorrow). When Joel told him where we were standing, he said they were a hundred yards away! They were right up the street from us out for a walk after dinner.  We met with them and found out that the church building is just a block away. Then when Joel and I sat down for dinner, Oles, the young man at the train station walked in (did I tell about him in another post?  If not, I'll do it tomorrow)!  Joel called his name and he came and chatted with us for a minute then left.  We have no idea why he was in there. This is no small town but we seem to know quite a few people already ;-)  God has been so kind to us in so many ways and we are so very thankful!  Are we allowed to have this much fun and enjoy our adoption journey this much?

We got to Skype with the boys this evening and of course it was so wonderful to see them.  Ben showed us some cool rocks that he found, Sam showed us a family picture he drew (including Darya), and Nate showed us a sword he made and we heard about the "experiments" they've been making with Grandpa (mixing all kinds of odds and ends from outside). Tonight they're going to an Angels baseball game and we know they are going to have a blast.  I just wish we could teleport and be with them :-)

Well, I'm wiped but will update again more tomorrow. We're not going to the orphanage tomorrow. I hope to have a bit more time to catch up. I'll post more pictures tomorrow (and hopefully some video clips if the internet connection lets me).





Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 2

This morning when we arrived at the orphanage, we saw Darya sitting in a white van on some lady's lap getting ready to leave.  When we went to check in at the office, we found out that she was on her way for a cardiologist appointment for a check-up.  Needless to say we were sad that we didn't get to spend that time with her.

We had a wonderful afternoon visit with her!  She is just precious and we are so thankful for her. What a blessing she is!  It is fun as we are getting to know each other, and discovering her personality.  She is a very sweet little girl and takes pleasure in the simplest of things. She loves bubbles, the swing, the slide, singing, and just being loved on.  Her giggle just melts our hearts!  While we were walking the orphanage grounds today and Joel was softly singing to her, she started to sing her own little song.  It was too sweet.

This evening as we were walking around downtown (just outside our apartment) we saw a little boy with Down syndrome dancing to some music. He was so cute!  It was encouraging seeing him and hope that more families here choose to and are able to keep their children born with Down syndrome.

For now, my blog posts have been somewhat bit brief, but I plan to share more about our experiences with travel, the culture, the orphanage, the people, etc.  It's been great so far and are so grateful how wonderful this whole experience has been for us thus far.

Though we are having fun, we miss our boys dearly.  We were finally able to Skype with them last night and it was wonderful!  Boys, if you're reading this I want you to know that we love you and miss you and are praying for you! We hope you are having fun with Grandpa and Grandma!  We can't wait to give you big hugs and kisses when we get home. We just know that Darya is going to love her big brothers!!

Thank you again everyone for your kindness, support, love, and prayers!  We are so thankful for all of you.  This is such an amazing journey that the Lord has brought us on.   We love reading all your comments and are encouraged by them :-)

Here are some pictures from today. For more pictures and videos, please check out Joel's blog:  http://strangedetergent.tumblr.com/
Enjoy!



















Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Big Day!

Suffice to say that we are exhausted, but in love!!

We took the overnight train and arrived to Darya's city early this morning.  No one was there to pick us up, but it worked out alright.  We were supposed to deliver some papers to somebody here for another facilitator and he met us as we got off the train.  Later he came back to pick up another couple and took us to McDonald's where were were able to get some breakfast and talk.  Our interpreter then met us there and took us to our apartment where we had about an hour to unload our things and rest.  At 9:00am she and the driver picked us up. We made a few stops (local administration building, then to the notary to drop off the papers).  Then we finally went to the orphanage!

We met with the orphanage director and some other people where we were given some information about Darya.  She had corrective heart surgery last November, but is doing well and overall pretty healthy.  We received some of her personal history but will likely wait until after court to share it. The big moment arrived and she was brought in!  Oh, my, what a doll!  She was a little shy at first but quickly warmed up to us.  Her speech therapist was there (great that she's getting some therapy!) who appeared to really care for her. She told us that Darya loves music class, can walk while holding on the edge of something, can point to her nose, chin, cheek, and say a couple of words!!  She said she loves to be tickled under her chin :-)

They then whisked her away, and we were on our way. We got the "rules" and our visitor card which we will bring each visit (twice a day).  We went back to our apartment, ate lunch, got some groceries, then went back for our afternoon visit.  They brought her out to us in warm clothes and we were pointed to go outside.  We happily took her out there and just loved on her!  She is such a doll and we are in love with this little girl already.  She is very sweet, smiles, and loves to try to walk! She really wanted to get on the ground, but there was no where appropriate to crawl.  After about a little over an hour, she was getting a little grumpy and we could tell she was tired, so we let her go back to her caregivers.  We are looking forward to tomorrow's visit!

Okay, what you've been waiting for!  Without further ado, I give you Darya!:
Our introduction

First afternoon visit - what a bundle of love!

Daddy's girl

Weeee!!!


video



another quick update

We had a busy time in the capitol city - it's been an adventure here for sure so far! We had a great time and the Lord has been gracious to us even with a couple of small hiccups.  I'll post about our time there later along with some photos.

We are now in Darya's city.  We took the overnight train and are now at our apartment.  Our translator will be here in about 20 minutes to pick us up and in just a matter of a couple of hours we'll be meeting Darya!!!!  You will probably all still be sleeping :-)  We just found out that she is in one of the "easier" orphanage to adopt from here, as another one in this city is much more difficult. We thank God for that and are praying for a quick and smooth process.  This is one exciting adventure!

p.s. for those of you who have asked, it is much colder here than we expected.  I'm glad I brought a jacket.  I brought a scarf that doubled as a head covering when we visited some orthodox churches (just a light weight gauze type one).  Oh, also pack light on the toiletries as everything is readily available here!

Next blog will be the "big one"!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The first few days




This is Marianne logged in on Joel's laptop. Okay, to give you all a quick run-down of the past few days I'll try to keep it brief and show a few pictures. We'll be getting a walking tour of the capital city tomorrow, then the next day we'll be in Darya's city. There will be more exciting pictures then!

We arrived without much of a hitch on Sunday afternoon, aside from our lost luggage. We did get it the next day with nothing damaged or missing, thankfully. Yesterday (Monday) we were thankful to have a day to rest and try to get adjusted to the time change. We met up with another adopting couple that we met on the plane and spent the afternoon and evening with them. This is their second time here so they were helpful in showing us around. We had a nice time!

Then today we had our SDA appointment. "Uncle Niko" (our driver - super nice and helpful man!) picked us up and drove us there. Outside we met Yulia and Serge. Then Serge escorted us upstairs with a dark-haired woman. We sat down in her office, she pulled Darya's file, gave us some brief info (we found out she has a heart defect, possibly ASD? and something with her eyes - both very common with DS, but we'll get her checked out when we get home). We were able to exchange a current photo of her (from the RR site) with her baby one which I'll show below. Serge and the lady talked in their language for a few minutes. Then that was it. We left.

After we got back to the apartment we decided to go get some lunch. We decided to get some lunch. As we were walking into the cafe, we ran into Lyndi Shupp and Fedya! We sat down with them to eat. Fedya is ADORABLE though I'm sure he wouldn't want to be told that. They looked so happy together. Afterward Joel and I decided to walk around and explore. It is so pretty here! There is so much shopping (we just browsed) and there's even a whole labrynth of underground shops. On our way back to the apartment, we ran into Mallory and Peach's parents. So fun! We are having an awesome time and are excited to meet up with other RR families here in about 15 minutes (at TGIFs). But the best part is yet to begin when we finally get to see Darya!

Well, I'll leave you with a few photos, but plan to post a bunch more later one when we're in Darya's city. Thank you everyone for your continued prayers! We are so thankful :)





Quick note

SDA was quick and went well this morning. I'm standin outside TGIFs using their free wifi on my iphone right now, but will post later. Oh, we did get a baby picture of Darya and she was a doll baby!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We're here!

We made it safely and are now at the infamous TGIF eating dinner and getting in touch with family and friends.  Tomorrow we should have a modem in our apartment and will be able to have internet connection from there. This picture was taken Saturday morning before our first flight (Maria - do the shirts look familiar?)....you wouldn't want to see us now! We've been awake for over 24 hours and are exhausted.  Joel didn't sleep a wink but I did catnap a bit :-)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Joel's blog

Joel has a tumblr blog that I thought I'd share with you: http://strangedetergent.tumblr.com/

Saying goodbye

What a bittersweet week this has been!  Joel dropped the boys and me off at the Jacksonville airport early Monday morning and I think the goodbye was harder for him than the boys.  He had to go home to an empty house and they had California with a fun-packed itinerary to look forward to.  But we would rather us be the sad ones!
Joel and the boys' goodbye
Monday when we arrived to Los Angeles, my dad aka "Pop" picked us up. We pigged out at an oriental buffet for lunch, then enjoyed some California sunshine, cool breezes, and the Pacific Ocean.  Oh, how I miss the Pacific!  Later on we met up with the Franciscos and their 4 kids (hi Emma and Ethan if you're reading this!) - remember Andrew is our inspiration for adopting Darya!

The boys and Grandpa Chucky (Marianne's dad)
Then on Tuesday we went to Disneyland! We got the hook-up from a high school friend who works there as we all got in for free (can't beat that!).  It was a wonderful day as we also met up with other friends there....my step sister Michelle and her son Willan and Missy (a friend since junior high!) and her adorable cupcake Lily.  Let's just say we had an awesome time!!  We also got to see two out of three of my brothers this trip!
The Ficks, the Franciscos, and my nephew Joey on the far right at Disneyland

Me and my princes in front of the castle
Wednesday was the heart-breaker day.  Joel's parents picked us up from Anaheim, took us to In-N-Out for lunch (cheeseburger animal style!), then the dreaded drop-off.  Saying goodbye was so hard. The boys cried a bit, but I think they were just so excited to be going with Grandpa and Grandma (Sam couldn't stop thinking about the Angel's baseball game that they're going to!).  I was better after a while. But I know this is for a season and we will all be okay!  We Skyped with the boys last night to test it out and I think it will help a lot!

Lunch with grandpa and grandma

Saying goodbye!
Well, lots to do today. Gotta finish packing and cleaning! Tomorrow we are Eastern Europe bound!!  To Darya or bust!