Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

We began our journey grounded in our home city airport because all air traffic into JFK was halted. This meant that before we even took off, we knew our connection to Amsterdam was blown. The very nice lady at the Delta counter told me that she was putting us on the 9:45 p.m. flight from JFK to Paris on Air France. Ok, that is my favorite airline and flight across the Atlantic ocean. They feed you very yummy food, lots of desserts, and then you drift off to sleep to the sound of pilots and stewardesses speaking the prettiest language in the world.

But what is a trip to France without a dog? As we settled in on the night flight, a tall dark woman began loudly exclaiming in French that she hates dogs (she must be some version of fake French) and will not sit next to the woman who has her neighbor seat. Believe it or not, the lady with the Pug was American and had no idea what Ms. Mad was saying. Three airline personnel were trying to soothe the situation to no avail. I spotted my chance to snag a window seat and my husband said he did not mind at all being stuck next to Ms. Mad because he doesn’t understand french either. So I switched places... I got the window, dog lady took the aisle, and Ms. Mad spent the flight snuggled up to my husband a few rows back. The Pug was a service dog and behaved herself the whole flight.

An hour after landing in France we were on our way to Kiev, in business class thanks to the Delta representative in JFK who took a fancy to my hubby. This meant extra chocolates and cookies. When we landed in Kiev we hopped into a metro type bus that was about 150 degrees inside and rode over to the airport building. It took about ten minutes in line to get our passports stamped and move to baggage where we waited hopefully for quite some time. Once the belt stopped, we quickly headed to Lost Baggage. The line was already forming... and it takes a while to fill out all the papers. Suddenly Ms. Fake Blond #312 butts ahead of everyone and steps right up to the counter. Her audacity was stunning and the guy in front of me who had been next in line seemed just about as pissed as I was but no one said anything.

We finally completed our missing baggage paperwork and were shipped off to customs, the red line for those who have things to declare. I had been told by other Americans to just do the green line and keep walking, but with bags to follow after and without me, I thought it best to be prudent and declare the 19k we were carrying as well as the gifts that were in our missing bags. It took all of five minutes and cost us nothing. Oleg and Nadya were waiting for us outside and took us right to our apartment. Then they brought us to TGIF’s and dropped us on another family with instructions to them to show us “everything”.

They were tired and had already eaten but were gracious enough to sit with us while we ate dinner and afterward to walk us to a money changing place where we could also buy some foodstuffs. Then we were alone, off to our apartment to settle in.

(I hope I am not boring you to death, this being the longest blog post I have ever written...)

Our apartment is spacious and clean, and really quite nice. There were a couple of little things we needed to mention and ask for, but all in all, it is great here. We face the back of the building so it is quiet and the views into the windows below can be rather interesting... No description here because this is a family blog and what we saw most people have to pay to see, lol.



We slept until 2 p.m. the next day, which is 7 a.m. at home so I didn’t feel too bad about this excess. Once up, we were off to do some real grocery shopping. On the way to Mandarin Plaza we came upon some little old ladies selling raspberries in plastic cups. I wanted to buy some but my husband talked me into waiting. Then he went on to try to convince me that eating fruit that came from who-knows-where would make me sick. At the grocery store we bought some basics and it came to a whopping 1254 UAH. That is about $150. Oops. On the way home I inspected the receipt to try to figure out what the two items that totalled about $50 together were... and I really had no idea.


The raspberry ladies were still outside our apartment so I bought a cupful, and then gave 2 UAH to the disabled old lady sitting near them who was begging. She gave me a gold toothed grin in return and what I hope was a blessing in Ukrainian. The raspberries were delicious and so far I have not suffered any negative consequences from eating them.

During our second trip to the grocery store for more milk and water, I figured out that the cheese grater I bought and the chocolate ice cream my husband chose were the culprits. We will be avoiding the $17 per gallon ice cream from now on and thankfully my lovely $33 cheese grater will last a lifetime.

On the evening of the 18th, our bags arrived safely to our apartment. Everything made it just fine except for a tiny bottle of perfume that someone in TSA must have stolen. They left its wrapper. Weird. I unpacked and now it really feels comfortable here, especially since I brought my home-made latte supplies and made us each a yummy drink while we fussed with the Internet connections, Skype, phones, etc.

Today at 2 p.m. was our appointment with the SDA (State Department of Adoptions) and Nadya offered to meet us early around 1 p.m. to take us around a bit. We left the apartment much earlier to set off in search of men’s white cotton socks because somebody, ah hem, forgot to put his socks in the “To Pack” pile. We are in the heart of Kiev and in many ways it reminds me of NYC. Billboards with beautiful, glitzy models everywhere... expensive shops non-stop... Tiffany, Polo, Ferrari (goodies, not the actual cars for sale), Chanel, etc. There is no Walmart here folks, and no equivalent that we found. We walked many streets poking our heads into many doors and many times I lifted my husband’s pantleg and pointed to his sock... No socks... well we found $25 dress socks but no cheapo ordinary guy socks. We gave up and headed to TGIF’s to meet Nadya.

On the way, we saw a very long cream colored stretch limo, with balloons tied to it and a man holding the biggest, by far, bouquet of roses we have ever seen. Wow hubbies, these Ukrainian guys just raised the bar on you, big time.


Nadya walked us down a very busy famous street, Kreshchatyk which goes past several touristy type sites and a huge underground mall (socks maybe?). Beyond that we started up a long hill and went into a park with more up and down winding around with great views of the other side of the city. Then more brick stairs in the side of the steepest hill... up up up. Nadya asked me if I was tired. Yes, not exactly dead yet, but a bit sweaty and out of breath. She laughed and said that she thought it was ok to take us this way because I look skinny and in shape, ha ha ha. Luckily at the very top there is a stand that sells ice water.


Outside of the SDA there are many street vendors who are selling mainly matryoshkas. Nadya introduced us to her friend that she says will give us a good deal and I plan to go back when we have time to browse. We did see one of Obama with guess who inside? Clinton and every other democrat down to Kennedy. I cracked up. No Bush and company though. The church outside the SDA is beautiful and we will go back tomorrow to explore it.


(Need a potty break yet? Go ahead, I’ll still be here when you get back.)

Finally, the appointment... the formal referral of our girls. A guard lets us in and we are called upstairs by a pretty, dark haired woman. (Lots of pretty girls here, very dressed up, sexy high heels... poor hubby has whiplash already.) We sit down and the woman begins talking to Nadya in a tone that says something is wrong. I recognize only Peach’s last name. Nadya tries to talk her into or out of something but no dice.

Two children who are not siblings require two separate SDA appointments and Oleg will have to file more papers on our behalf for Mallory on Wednesday. Because Tuesday the 24th is the biggest holiday here and no one works Monday or Tuesday at SDA. The woman drops a stack of papers on the table and on top I see...


My beautiful Peach. They tell me what I already know and a little bit more... that her mother was a single mother and there are no siblings. Our referral for her will be ready tomorrow afternoon which means we can visit her on Saturday, if the social workers have not taken the day off for the holiday, or then on Monday unless they have also taken that day, in which case it will be Wednesday. Pitocin anybody?

Then begins a conversation about Mallory and again I can tell something is wrong that Nadya cannot fix with just her sweetness. Another stack of papers in dropped in front of us. This time there are two sides...

A very sad, unhappy baby with gorgeous blue eyes...


who turns into the cutest thing ever!


Mallory’s mother had the notary who wrote up her papers say that she could only be adopted by foreign parents. Ok, we are, that works.... but no it doesn’t because that is illegal here and now they must track down mom and have new papers written up. Seriously? For the first time since we embarked on this journey to Kiev I begin to feel a bit nervous. What if they can’t find her? Grandma can do it for her... remember grandma? Thank goodness for grandma. There is also no new info about Mallory other than she also has no siblings.

After the appointment we part ways with Nadya who has copies to make of some pages of our dossier. We head back down toward home and snap some fun photos on the way... like of the dog hangout where I thought they were all dead at first but then one moved. They were ownerless, possibly homeless. There seem to be a lot of strays roaming around this city.


The gate I would love to have to my backyard...


Another shot of the church we will visit tomorrow...


On our travels home we stopped at the mall and after about 25 stores, we finally found some cheapo white cotton socks for men, 5 pairs for $7, yay! Once we got in the apartment, we were too tired to cook so we munched on fresh bread and cheese.

Tomorrow at 9:10 a.m. one of my best friends arrives in Kiev. She will stay with us for a week. I can’t wait to see her since she lives in Florida now and I only get to see her a couple times a year when she flies north. And, she is a photographer... so hopefully my picture quality will improve!

We are all caught up now, you and I. So for tonight, it’s “A bientot,” or something like that ;-)


Becca said...

I love the update! So glad you made it safely, and I HOPE you get to see your sweet babies soon!!

Jasmine said...

I'm so glad you've made it there and were able to get some things accomplished. I laughed a couple of times throughout your story and update and, yes, I even took a potty break.

Thanks for keeping us posted.

P.S. That's fantastic about your bestfriend arriving for a week. Sounds like you're doing well. Hello to your hubby for me. And please no more whiplash. ;-) xox

Leah said...

Well, I have been waiting (as has everyone else, I'm sure!) for this update all week! What a week it as been for you. Thanks for the potty break, by the way, I needed it right about then. You're so intuitive that way. I'm glad Grandma is around, she should be pretty darned easy to get in contact with, since she visits regularly (I read that other blog too) So glad you found socks! I don't know about Kiev, but in Sofia and Belgrade, the street vendors were the cheapest place to buy stuff! And WOW! Your cheese grater and my gold plated tweezers would go well together, huh?

S said...

:) Yay Sandra!!! I have a friend who lives in Kiev she is moving soon I should hook the two of you up! I will send you a friend suggestion. Traci is her name!

Rochelle said...

Awesome update! WOW what a trip so far. I love ice cream but seriously not THAT much.
I am SO glad that grandma can sign the new paperwork. We will continue our daily prayers for you that everything goes smoothly and those two precious girls are in your arms in a matter of days!
Can't wait for pictures of you with them!!!

To Love Endlessly said...

Fabulous update, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I'll be praying the paperwork goes smoothly for Mallory. Both girls are just precious, can't wait to see pictures of the meeting!

Holly Wolly said...

I can't wait for another update!!

The Sanchez Family said...

YEAH YEAH YEAH! Your spirit is amazing...keep it up! It will all work out with Peach and Mallory!

Lacey said...

I've been impatiently waiting for an update! Looks beautiful there. Can't wait to see those girlies!

PJ said...

Keep your chin up it's an adventure! I saw a double rainbow yesterday afternoon and thought of the two of you and your trip. It will all work out.

We're keeping you all in our prayers.

Can't wait for the next update!! Can't wait to see closer pics of the church too!!

Stevenson Family said...

Oh I am so excited for you guys!! It is so much closer. I can't wait to see some updated pictures of these beauties with you!!

Laurie said...

Whew - there you are! SO glad everything is going well : ) Can't wait to see your next update!


Melissa M said...

I love the update and all the details!! I know your trip will continue to go well and you will be in my prayers. I can't wait until you can see those girls!!

Anonymous said...

glad you're safe! love that your journey includes a Parisian twist (you and i are forever linked via Paris-lusting); love your quirky comments (esp. hubby having whiplash), and praying for you and missing you!! xoxo love youuuu

Lisa said...

I think I forgot to tell you to pack blinders for the hubby. Oops. Or to pack yourself some mini skirts and stilettos and see-through blouses. Thank goodness we traveled in cold weather :)(!)

How on earth did you manage to spend $150 at the grocery? Next trip, just buy a bunch of beer at .40 a bottle and some loaves of bread ;).

Those baby pictures of the girls are precious! Oh Miss Mallory and those beautiful, big blue eyes! And Peach looks so cute in her little sleeper!

Love the details! I'll read no matter how long the posts!

Have a great day :)!

Wendy :) said...

So glad you guys made it here. Sorry we missed you at TGIF's. We were there Wed. night with 3 other RR families. Please email me and we will exchange phone numbers. Do you stay here the entire time???

Sweet Pea's Mommy said...

I love the long post and glad you made it there safe and relatively painlessly. Praying that everything with Mallory's paperwork gets worked out quickly and that you get to see Peach on Saturday!!!!

RissaRoo said...

Oh! So excited for you! And I love the new pictures of the girls. I can't wait to read your next post, hope all is going well!

Anonymous said...

Wow, That is awesome. Great update,praying for your family ,,,,

Amy Flege said...

great update!! so excited for you :)

DownTownDan said...

Great to read your looong update. I wouldn't trim a sentence. Please post more whenever you can - the city looks amazing. And where's a photo of that cheese grater, by the way?

Sandie Flannery said...

SOOO glad you made it (and the luggage too!).Enjoy the sites and don't forget the architectual museum!!!Praying it all goes smoother and you are with the girls soon!!
God bless!!

Diane said...

So glad to hear you both are doing well. Will pray all the paperwork gliches are non-issues and resolve quickly and sooner than later your holding those beautiful little girls.

Lisa S. said...

I am so happy for you!

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I love hearing from you. It is encouraging, and makes me want to post more often ;-)


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