Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cherkassy

It is 9:15 p.m., Cindy is manifesting Zzzz's (a must read: everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safron Foer). We leave tommorow morning and must wake up at 4. Lena will be picking us up by cab and we travel 2 hours south to Cherkassy. I think I am starting to talk like a ukrainian. Still fighting the smalling like one part though.

We meet with the boy tommorow around 9 and have a chance to interact. Things are realy pointing positive from what we are hearing. Sometimes the prognosis is overblown. ...but also his condition may be very treatable as well if correct. All signs point to the orphanage and professionals involved as being excellent. The region is apparently a favorable one to adopt from as well. First things first, we look forward to interacting with him.

Also thanks to Daria for the call today. She has been invaluable with her information and helping us prepare.

Today was another interesting day. We are learning. We set out at 9 in search of coffee and something to occupy our time. The translator was to touch base by 9:30 with plans of meeting up in Kiev. She called at 10:30 and said let's meet at 2.

We went to the downtown and mingled with the street vendors. They are nice people and like foreigners. We found the beergarten for a refrsher at 1:30 near where we were to meet Lena. We called to confirm. She said she was running late and would see us at 3 (see a theme here?). She arrived at 4:30.

We obtained our paperwork and went for a short walk. 5 miles later we found the bus home. Kiev has plenty of sidewalks for walking.

We stopped at the supermarket for dinner. I asked for a half chicken and was given a whole chicken. At least I got chicken. Dinner tonight wasn"t as good as last night's perogies, potatoe pankakes with fat and sourcream, and pyvo.

Kiev is my favorite european city.

-z

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Appointment

it seems like we have been waiting for this date for years. In fact we have. The day started the same as the one before. Coffee and more coffee while we waited for our translator and coordinator to arrive. we left at noon and our appt was at 4.

Galina, our coordinator is a very religious person. She wanted us to visit Kiev's largest church and pray while touching the stones of the original church structure from before the war. To get there we rode a bus, the subway ( which is a 5 minute escallator ride under the city!) And 1 more bus. At times they were so cramped that I wasn't sure if the b.o. Was mine or the lady's next to me.

The church was huge. An orthodox church with caves underneath. Many important priests are "miraculously" entombed here for all to see. Glass coffins with bodies wrapped in religious clothing. It was amazing to see the tunnels and rooms where the priests once lived. For some reason the bodies stay preserved although they have not been subject to any preservation method.

We moved on to touch the prayer stones. Galina was happy. Cindy got yelled at by a preist in Ukranian because she went into a restricted area...

To the appt from there we rode 2 oe 3 more buses. With no air conditioning and cramped quarters you can imagine it is an unconfortable but interesting ride (between the priest on his cell phone that rang with ukrainian Monk chants to the guy dressed like a russian mafia hitman).

We arrived a 1/2 hour early for the appt and reviewed our game plan. The scene was nervous outside. There were many ukrainian coordinators and apparently they are always waiting outside to submit paperwork for people like us.

Galina was able to join us in the appt which is a new thing. She was there to listen but not allowed to speak for the most part. We were introduced to the young female "psychologist" who was acting as the interpereter and the chair of the meeting, an old unfriendly ukrainian lady. The tone was unfriendly from the get go. Our plan to break the ice and hopefully gain some favor by explain my Ukrainian roots, but was met with indifference. None of this was surprising given what we have been told.

They began by explaining that most, if not all, children have medical needs of some kind. We filed paperwork hoping to adopt 2 children. They explained that only sibling groups are offerred in multiple adoptions and the only children availible now as sibbling froups were 7 or older. Too old for us.

We went through the paperwork of the availible children and there were 5 altogether. We narrowed it down to 3 right away, but all had medical issues of some kind. It was explained that although these children may not be healthy enough for what we are comfortable with, we should still choose 1 child to visit. The good news was that there is a cute boy who was, 3.5 years old, who stuck out from the start. The problem was that we were not familiar with all the medical issues listed in his file. We were told that we had 1/2 an hour to make a decision or else we would have to wait approx a week for another appt. Also, we were told that the 1/2 hour was a 1/2 hour more than other families were allowed. We consulted with our translator and coordinator outside and they agreed that the boy was a good candidate to visit. To help us feel more comfortable, they contacted 2 doctors within 20 mins to get their opinions. Both surmised that the issues are potentially treatable if not cureable. He has kidney problems and a heart murmur. We sent word that we'd like to visit him and will hear word today of where he is located in Ukraine so we can plan our travel arrangements.

It was a tiring experience. ...but we feel good about the situation. We look forward to meeting with him. On one hand you want to let go and really look forward to meeting a child and trying to love him from the start. On the other hand, what if his problems are too severe?

We have heard that the process is still very corrupt here. Maybe the adoption authorities were unfriendly because we brought our coordinator to the meeting? A couple last week was told behind closed doors that they could have a healthy child if they paid 3500 right there. We wouldn't even want that option. To hear Leana (our translator) talk, she says the Ukrainians are disheartened with all the corruption. There is much more to the story. ...but how could outsiders feel comfortable contributing to such a terrible process?

...It is 9 a.m. Here and we have been up since 2. Another sleepless night. I am writing from a cell phone so please excuse the spelling and gammar. We will share more when we know more. I am also looking forward to sharing all the Ukrainian experiences we are having. It is amazing and sometimes a little emotional for me to be in the country from which my grandparents and parents came - to see the customs and similar looking people....I can't believe how good looking everyone is!

-Zenon

Sunday, July 29, 2007

jetlagged in kiev

After 18 hours in the air and 15 minutes of sleep, we finally made it here in Kiev!

We got through customs really easily and had no problems meeting up with our facilitator, Galina.Things were really good. So, I was really relaxed and walking, swinging my arms, talking to Galina when all of a sudden, my hand swings and precariously hits an old man reading the prompter. I think he said "yeow" in Ukranian really loud... Within two seconds of getting off the plane! Geesh!
We got to our apartment and passed out by 6PM and woke up at 2AM. Gotta get used to this time zone...

Today, we went sight-seeing in Kiev. (We took pictures to share, but we have to download them another day since we don't have internet... I am writing this from my phone.)Lena, our translator showed us around and gave us a history lesson. Kiev has really changed over the past sixteen years since their independence from USSR. The last ten have have the most significant changes (there is now toilet paper in the bathrooms Marty!). They are just starting to get international tourists and hotels are really expensive since the demand is higher than the supply(300 to 700 a night!).
Lena told us that the American tourists are the easiest to spot because they all wear plaid shirts, jeans and a belt. Funny how it was the exact description of Zenon's outfit for the day- and he isn't even American!

She took us to the main street called Independence Square.It was really fabulous. It was all built by Russian architects right after WWII so they are all ornate with arches and textures. Of course we went to a traditional Ukranian place for lunch. Yes, chicken Kiev was on the menu. Saw two American tourists in there and- sure enough- they were both wearing plaid!

Tomorrow is the big appointment day. We will most likely travel to meet some kids on Tuesday already. Everyone put out the good vibes for us!

Travel tip for the day- don't drink bubbling tomato juice.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How to Get in Touch With Us In Ukraine

We will have a Ukrainian cell phone and it is free for us to receive calls. We have set-up the following calling plan which is free for you and was cheap for us. Call us anytime! Do not call direct (without these instructions) or it will cost you about $3/minute!

INSTRUCTIONS REMOVED BECAUSE THE CODE WAS STOLEN AND USED TO CALL PLACES LIKE NIGERIA AND PHILIPPINES!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Does anyone else love researching how things work or where they came from as much as I do?

Traditional Ukrainian names:
http://www.rootsweb.com/~polwgw/namelist.html#ukrainian

I was also curious about the history and involvement of my grandfather in World War II. I remember him saying that he was in the german army but it was confusing to me. How could he be in the german army in WWII? ...wouldn't that mean he was fighting with the Germans? The following sheds plenty of light on it:

http://www.infoukes.com/history/ww2/page-21.html

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It's 2 - 1/2 weeks to go now. We have an appartment set-up for when we arrive in Kyiv which is great. I got the tip on this appt through my sister's doctor in Toronto who put me in touch with a woman he knows, etc, etc....
I tried calling the owner in Ukraine thinking maybe she would speak english, or just maybe I could carry on a conversation in Ukrainian. Sure enough she answered when I called and spoke Ukrainian, great. The problem is that after saying hello I blanked and couldn't speak anymore, so I hung up. My mom came to the rescue and called her back and arranged everything for us. Turns out the woman will even cook us perogies every night! We'll only be there for 4-5 nights to begin with, then off to where-ever the children may be in Ukraine.

We'll keep you posted as we move forward.

Zenon and Cindy.