We had difficulty trying to post a blog last Monday due to an old breaking-down computer system at the internet café in Kiev. Then there were other problems preventing a successful posting on Wednesday. But here is the latest, the first part of which was sent in a letter to family to inform them of our impending arrival in the US.
Monday, 7 April 2007
Good news!! We got the children's visas this morning and have arranged to fly home on Tuesday. The scheduled arrival is 10:19 pm on Delta flight 631. Susan, Natalie and Jennifer went to the embassy after we received a call informing us things were ready for completion there because they had a couple of things to take care of in town and I wanted to remain behind to call Delta to re-schedule our reservations and add the children's. Besides, we had been told last Friday that only one parent needed to pick the visas. When they arrived at the embassy, however, they learned that the signatures of both parents were required. Meanwhile, I had failed to get as far as a Delta agent on the phone. So the boys and I caught a taxi and everything worked out fine at the embassy (amazing!). We left in exultation needing only to work with Delta. We would grab lunch to celebrate and then I would call. Just before we boarded the subway I asked Susan to give me credit card she was carrying so I could use it to pay for the reservations. The subway was packed and I was the last person on. We were to get off at the first stop. Just as the doors opened I realized that my wallet was missing. The perpetrator was out and invisible in the masses. Natalie called the police to report it. We headed for an internet café so I could get the phone numbers to report the two stolen credit cards. I reported them stolen and called Delta to set up reservations. Susan and I had each brought a credit card to use if necessary. Up to that point they had been needed. On the last day, just before their need, they were gone and unusable. We attempted to use another credit card left at home, but if the tickets are paid for within 5 days of departure it is required to present the actual card with identification. We spent the next several hours trying to make arrangements to get money here. It was not working out in time, so I called my dear mother who is bailing us out. Regardless, we are happy and excited to be on our way. We thank all - family and friends for untiring support and prayers. It has not been easy, but it has been good. There have been miracles along the way. We are certain there are more in store. Yet there are many challenges ahead, especially for the children. They are concerned about the language and making friends. We know the people on the other end and feel confident that the children will be in good hands in the family, the ward, and hopefully at school. THANKS AGAIN AND OUR LOVE TO ALL!!!
Tuesday, 8 April 2007
We were picked up by Vladimir and a taxi driver at 7:30 am to go to the airport. The Delta office in the airport was about 4-feet square. The computer system was of about the same vintage as its counterpart in the downtown Kiev office, with an added feature of the printer’s inoperability. After about 45 minutes the agent was still unable to print the tickets. Since yesterday Susan had encouraged me to stop asking what else could go wrong. Nevertheless, I continued to wonder. Finally, another agent escorted us through the initial security gate to the passport check area where tickets could hopefully be printed.
It was at this point that the umbilical cord between Natalie and the children was cut and we could again begin the process of communicating directly with them. Natalie was a well-trained and excellent translator. Whenever she heard English it was immediately translated and passed to the receiver, and the same with Ukrainian. However, she unwittingly became a crutch to the children when she was with us and the bond we had developed earlier as we were forced to communicate with them in some way had deteriorated. Almost immediately, the children sensed the change and began again to try to communicate with us in English.
By the time we got through the line to the passport check, to our tremendous relief our tickets were indeed printed and handed to us. To our amazement we made it through the passport check without a glitch. In fact, all went very smoothly from then on. But, we were nervous at the time and anxious to board the plane and make it to the other side of the Atlantic. Once we got that far, there would be many more options if something went wrong.
As each step was passed there was a collective sigh of relief. We made it through the check of our adoption papers and then through final security. If the plane actually took off we would stand a very good chance of crossing the Atlantic.
We were assigned seats together in one row. Jennifer and Toli had never flown and were nervous about how it would affect them. To our further relief, the plane did take off. After the initial surge upward, Jennifer looked at us and indicated that she had enjoyed that part of the ride. From then on we enjoyed a sense of family and unity. Reality was sinking in for the children and it seemed to be a pleasant one. Toli did admirably well in the eleven hours on the plane, considering his usual apparent inability to stay in one place for more than a few minutes.
Once we landed in New York, the children began reading aloud signs in English. There was a revival of joviality among us as we made rough attempts at the other’s language. As we were passing through security there like greased pigs I bumped into a friend from work returning from Europe with his wife. We passed pleasantly through immigration where the children became American citizens and then through customs. There was ample time to do what was necessary and make it to the departure gate in time.
The next stop was Atlanta. There would be no further rigor through which we had to pass. All was well. We had a short layover in Atlanta, but made it comfortably to the departure gate there without a rush. We met Justin and Jo Sorenson who had been in our ward. They would be on the same flight to SLC.
The flight arrived in SLC a half hour early. As we approached the escalator to descend to the baggage area we heard shrieks of excitement and claims of sightings from below. Almost of our immediate and extended family in the valley were there, along with Macbeths, Diddles, Dodges and Garretts, who all had adopted within the past year. There were welcome signs, balloons and calls to each of our new children. We were overwhelmed emotionally by the presence of so many. We exchanged hugs and thanked each one. The reunion there lasted probably over an hour. How sweet the feeling of being home!
We drove home, introduced the children to the home, especially their bedrooms, and unpacked. At about 1:30 am we all retired to our soft beds. The children had been worried about adjusting to the 9-hour time difference. After a little undecipherable (to us) discussion among themselves, the children settled down for the night.
Wednesday, 9 April 2007
We all arose fairly early in the morning to our new life together – at home. The children had adjusted to the time shift. Stan was shown how to operate the riding mower. We all worked in the yard, kicked the soccer ball around, and enjoyed getting to know one another through the day. I obtained a new driver’s license. We ate dinner that my sister, Cindi, had prepared. There is almost a sense of normalcy about it all. I will return to work tomorrow.
Already the trials of this forty days’ and forty nights’ adventure have been obscured by the long-awaited return home with these three heaven-sent gifts. In the long road ahead there will undoubtedly be rough spots. We will swerve to miss some and be rattled, jolted and thrown out of alignment by others. But we will make it – together, with the great family and friends around us -- with the Lord’s help.