Wednesday, December 22, 2010

End of the Year escapades

First I want to post this link to the Angel tree page of Reece's Rainbow. I am beginning to really feel the need to advocate for Kathleen in region 27. She is so cute! And man, those baby blues are gonna be dangerous:) Please take a moment if you can and contribute even a few dollars to help her grant raise to the 500.00 mark. I know from experience that without these grants it is difficult to get these children home and out of an orphanage. Kathleen is in danger of being transferred to an ugly place in a few short months and this simply cannot happen. Children deserve better in life. The Angel tree will only be up for a few more days so time is important.

And the difference a family can make is astronomical in the scope of things....just take a look at Ms. Marina!
She has really bonded into this family very well. We have a few orphanage things to work through, such as spitting when angry and showing off our back side (with our without a covering!) and she is very stubborn which is okay in the grand scheme of life. But hey, that is amazing that these are our only known battles! She loves Evan, and manages to get in equal time at the table to be funny. Dinner time is usually a riot for some reason, though I do not think it is linked to the food...we do spend lots of time in the kitchen so maybe they are just giddy and proud of their creations. Yeah, that's a stretch in my book, too. All I know is that it seems like she has been her for a lot longer than 3 1/2 weeks. We seem to belong together in a way that is hard to describe. She has taken up residence in a house that she has helped make a home. Ok let's try again. She could have made this home nothing more than a house, but she has added to it in a way that is deeply and intensely laced with love and affection and laughter. Not every "orphan" gets out that happy and well balanced. It is a joy that is hard to describe. I might add that Santa told me the other day as Marina would not get off his lap, " Usually ya can't get em up on my knee! this one is going to be hard to get off:)" Yeah, that's how it is with her. She goes the extra mile to appreciate her situation. And she kisses your hand or pats your cheek to make sure you appreciate it too. Evan has done a 180* show on his emotions almost overnight. They play chase through the house and the other day when she got put in time out for spitting, it was Evan that was there in less than a minute asking if she could come out. He remembers to get things for her if he gets one for him. He did tell her she was just weird at the table the other night when she was telling him the absolute longest story in russian, so I can safely say that all is well here. We are getting really excited about Christmas. Gifts are semi wrapped. I hit black friday because I was still on eastern europe time zone or we would not be having what we are I think, but really the gifts are only a way of saying we love each other and it is signifying the true gift of Love and Hope. If we only had each other we would be way more than fine. In the long run none of the "stuff" really matters anyway. I am grateful for friends and family, and do not take these things for granted, or at least I am trying hard not to. It is hard to tell people how really much they mean, and I wish there was an easy way to tell folks what's in our hearts. I wish there was a way to keep it there up front all year long but it's hard to be human some days.

Well Marina found one small lollipop and is set for yet another bath and another half a load of laundry. Wow, I hope the well does not go dry! Stay well and safe and thank you for taking time to see our photos. She really is a miracle that she is here. Ukraine is set to vote soon to put a halt on international adoptions so I will come full circle here and ask that if you have the time and or financial capacity, please lets make it a project to get Kathleen a home next. Time is critical for several reasons. A 35.00 donation will net you a really sweet ornament with her little face on it. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Good the Bad and the Ugly...

Where to start? How about just going in order...first the Good. Marina is doing very very well adjusting and loving and being funny. Today she was very busy in the kitchen as Tully and I watched church on tv, until I finally got up to check on her. She had found my muffin tin and broke up the extra waffle, filling the cups with the pieces, then emptied my salt shaker onto the top of them. How Yummy! I found it in the oven, baking...she watches everything and only needs to see it once to learn how to do something. I was not the one who turned on the oven either. Yesterday we got up early and went to the park to ride the train and enjoy a morning with other kids. It was beautiful outside, and a friend gave Marina a bag of really neat clothes, complete with a killer snow suit! Marina LOVED it the most and almost would not take it off once we returned from the park. I loved that she had it too, because she was the only kid out of several hundred that had on a fuscia snow suit:) Easy to spot! Again the kids had a great time and enjoyed the wide open space (as if our 3 acres is not enough). The favorite thing to do IN the house is to sit on the corner cabinet and help me cook, and that is both Evan and Marina. IF Marina would just stop resetting the auto start time on the coffee pot I might have a better chance at getting in front of the day. Hey shifting gears here, I got the best phone call the other day, and ended up getting a job at USAir here in Greenville Spartanburg. I am so excited to get that job you have NO IDEA~! Since we have gotten home, there has been very little work available through the holidays. I do not start until January 10th as it takes about a month for FAA clearances and safety classes OH HA! I only THOUGHT I was finished being back ground checked! The work is part time flex shift so I am really happy about that too. I won't get rich but we will be able to do some traveling to various places for as long as i work there. It will be a fun summer I think. Tully has filled out several applications but again, this is not the time of year to start something as most folks are in year end mode.

On to the Bad...Marina has absolutely no intention of doing anything that is not already on her list. She is as bull headed as any child I have ever encountered. Sometimes she gets in trouble and chooses to spit in retaliation. Then go rubber and then turns to molten lead, actually resembling liquid mercury. She is heavy and fluid and cannot be gotten off the ground. So we have some things to work through ab out anger management. This does not happen often but she really does not listen particularly well if she does not feel like it. On the other hand, she understands nearly every thing we tell her. Sometimes I forget she speaks Russian. The other day after she got out of the bath I told her we needed to go dry her hair. She ran to the bathroom and got the hairdryer out of the drawer. That sort of stuff is spooky because I hardly ever dry her hair so she had not heard that before. The other thing she does that I could do without is her tattling. Then I remember she speaks Russian. Poor Evan cannot blink without Marina suggesting we spank him and he has learned that sticking his tongue out can be tattled about faster than he can get it back in his mouth. I still don't know why she calls him Dasita but that is what it has been since she met him...and that is about as far from the word Evan you can get. Marina does not sleep in one place through the night, and usually comes in search of me. She usually also needs every light on in every bedroom that she encounters, which is disturbing at 4 am to say the least. She will start with Evan's room or maybe the couch, and may use her room, but needs me by the middle of the morning hours. She does snuggle right back to sleep but I never do. I am hanging on by my fingernails by then trying not to fall off the bed that everyone is in. Reminds me of the little book The Napping House where the bed breaks from too many folks napping on it. Really it is a matter of time...

Now on to the Uglys. Evan is having a hard time with Marina being here. That is the truth. He likes her and loves her but often says he prayed and prayed for her but she is different than he thought she was going to be like. I asked him what that meant, and he says it is "Just too hard" and not much else will come out about it. They are at each other often and want to blame everything on each other. I know it will level off but I feel bad for both of them. I might feel a little bad for Tully and I too...loads of referee work to be done here. When I look at her, I can hardly believe she is finally here...then I wander to where she would be if she were not here, and it really upsets me that we were not only the choice, but the back up plan as well...what if we had not come? She is so smart and funny and "electric" I can hardly bare the thought of that light nearly being extinguished, which is exactly what would have happened. So not too much is ugly since this will level off in time as we all find our places in the universe we share. It's the "in the meantime"part that gets a little mundane to say the least. I thought about leaving this out but it is the truth and anyone thinking of adoption should know that adjustments are difficult for family changes. It is also very very worth it and I would do this again in a heart beat. I believe Tully and Evan would too, Tully is grateful she is here and Evan has times of happiness too that are different than being an only child. There is much to celebrate this Christmas and we are grateful for the life that has been added to our family. The photos are just some various home life shots...Evan was a sheep in the nativity scene at the school musical, and of course Marina was proud! It was a cute production and very well done. It is getting hard to finish anymore of this post as Marina and Evan need to get in the bed soon, and Scooby Do is on as LOUD as I can hardly stand! Thanks for visiting, We ask for prayers to include those children left behind with no family this Christmas season, and especially for those who are on the transfer list. It is almost too much to bear remembering their faces and knowing that some of them will not make it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crazy Days are here again....

Ok how it got to be more than a week since the last post, I do not know. We survived the flight, arriving in time to basically pull up a chair and stuff our little faces at my sister's house, and life on our hamster wheel began again. Yesterday was Evan's first day back to school and he was a nervous wreck for some reason. As he walked in the door his friends all jumped up and mobbed him with hugs and back pats. Nerves appeased and he settled into a nice short day at school since he sabotaged the day by leaving his lunch box at home...(stinker!). Marina went with us for a variety of reasons, of course to show her off and to show her that kids do go to school here. I needed an interpreter to explain that we were not taking her to a different orphanage, as she saw the guard, sweet Mr. Bob, open the door for us and she bolted back out to the parking lot. It took a while but she came back in and hid behind me the rest of our short stay. Today was a completely different story. She slung on Evan's back pack and hopped in the car. I am always happy to see anyone in the car on time so we were happy all the way to school...and through the door, and to the class where we drop Evan off...and then it got both interesting and ugly....she was furious that we did not let her stay!! I took her straight to the park despite it was 35* outside...and we played and got dirty and then went to Barnes and Noble for a cookie at starbucks. Heck everything else was closed! I was on a mission to find a magazine we have around here called upstate parents but could only find November issues. It has a monthly list of everything a kid could do and I thought it would be a good place to start for finding fun stuff. i have also written to several very competent folks in the community to find out what I need to go ahead and get her into school. She will not be able to go to Evan's school because i doubt they are set up for Marina and also could not possibly afford it unless they both went half days. Anyhow once again Marina is on her own game plan and taking the lead in surprising me. We went to dinner at the Country Club for family spaghetti night last night and she was amazing. For one she was absolutely precious in her little gymboree dress from Shelly Burman, and for two, she was incredibly well behaved! She even asked for help every single time she wanted to drink out of her "pedastal water glass"! She was totally happy to see her cousin Laurel and hugged her a zillion times. Laurel will be three in January and every time she sees me if Marina is not with me Laurel laments..."Where's Rina!" They will be fun friends as both love to play babies, though in vastly different ways:) (Marina spends great quantities of time bawling them out and smacking them with belts or spatulas and putting them to bed.)

Evan and Marina have their differences but both love the other greatly. Marina dresses in Evan's clothes when he is gone to school and when Marina was mad and laying on the couch with her back to everyone, it was Evan who was petting her and loving on her. She is easy to put to bed as she loves to be read to, but she does not stay where she starts out. She often takes to the couch with her little blanket and pillow, but last night made her way to my room. She is like wrestling a ferret to get her to stop moving around, and I will chase her back to the couch if she comes in again. 4 am was just too early to deal with anyone who was not sick or bawling! Speaking of sick, of course she has had a cough and a runny nose since we got home and is now on a z-pack so hope that will knock it out for her at least for a while. I took her to the doctor the other day and she had the same reaction as she did with Mr. Bob--run for the door! So we did nothing other than visit and weigh her in at 46 pounds and get a sticker. Since my dad is the doctor it is important she not associate bad things with family.
the only other things to report include that Marina is the cleanest child in the USA as she takes several baths a day. She has figured out how to set the water temp and turn on the tub and is in it before you can realize she is not still beating the babies in her room! Tully set up a second swing out on the playground and that has been a good thing too. I guess in this post what the bottom line is, is that she is about as normal as they come. She runs, and jumps and falls down and does everything Evan does, half a second behind him. She inadvertently strangles the cats because they are too heavy but they keep forgetting and keep coming back for more abuse since she is the only one who will let them in. She is an easy easy child to transition into our family and I feel like we will face very little issues from her past. I still feel like the last place she lived before here was instrumental in her success at being this beautiful child. They gave her levels of confidence and self reliance that I personally would not mind having! We have taught her only one thing since she has been here and that is to blow her nose. I just wish she would now tell me she was going to blow so I could go get a kleenex! She is no longer afraid of dogs, and spends alot of time fussing poor kiki out russian style. We still have to figure out how to get her to let us brush her teeth, but I imagine that in the rear section of her mouth they probably hurt. She has at least 8 cavities that I can see. Will deal with the dentist after all her papers are processed at immigration. Maybe she will learn some English by then and can really tell some one how she feels haha!
One last thing on being fearless. We went to the mall the other night to see Santa but ended up finding the set up for that human bungee jumping thing where kids get strapped in and can jump with those rubber cables enabling them to nearly touch the ceiling. Of course it is Evan's favorite thing in the world...and Marina is half a second behind him in needing to jump as well. I relented and sure as the moon, the girl who is going to help from Russia and as bilingual as they come. The look on Marina's face was awesome! Sort of like we are holding out on her with speech but this girl forgot and spoke Russian to her! Anyhow that little Marina jumped and jumped so high! She fears nothing that I can find...and truly I am not looking very hard.
The newspaper did a wonderful story on our adoption and I will post the link separate as I do not want to risk losing this lengthy post about life that is as normal as they come. Tully is struggling to find work and I have several options for merchandising that came in this week. But we feel that we as always will find a way to make ends meet. And we struggled occasionally before she came so yes, life is normal. Except that we have girl clothes in the laundry again. And russian speaking sunshine streaking through the house. thanks for keeping up with us.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Thanksgiving...

I am so tired I probably should not be utilizing a keyboard right now...but the kids and Tully are asleep and it is 10 30 EST. The kids have been asleep since just after 2 this afternoon. Marina also slept for 14 hours yesterday, right through her nap as well. We are is not just the flight, it is the months and months of accumulated emotions finally breathed out. To be honest I feel two dimensional and incapable of big word combinations. But I really wanted to post some photos of our last 24 hours in Kiev, the capital of a country we came to love dearly. We are thankful beyond measure to have been a part of this event. Not only has Marina been a complete lottery winning, the entire journey was nothing but amazingly graced with goodness. Tomorrow we celebrate our thankfulness and it is not lost on me that of all the days we could have come home, we were chosen to arrive during the week slotted for giving thanks....Marina has cried twice since we left the orphanage. Once because she was in the car and on the way to the train and I think she was scared. Today she cried because I would not let her play outside barefooted. I am thankful for these days. Life is short, the days can be long. We make mistakes and say mean things. We are human. But opening the door, for Marina, to have a life that is vastly different from the one chosen for her statistically, we are humbled to be her family. We feel special...she is beautiful. She makes us beautiful because she is free and we have a first row seat to watch her blossom. The photos are of the view from our window in Kiev the last day. The night time shot is of a statue that stands for the liberation of Ukraine from Russia and the fall of the USSR. To me it symbolizes the thankfulness Marina feels as well. She saw the play ground out the back window this morning that Make a wish donated to us several years ago and nearly went into orbit with glee. I remember how much that playground hurt us that it was not built in time...then it became therapy to overcome pain, now it is the symbol of joy, tying all my children together. Time heals, but nothing heals better than chasing sorrow from your heart and replacing it with being thankful that we can do more than we understand about ourselves. To see Marina happy, reminds me that Cay is free too, and even more happy where she is. There are sacrifices with that level of accomplishment...we are sorrowful that Cay is not here. Marina's parents are devastated that she cannot be there. Best is not always the easy route. But better is what it is, simply better. Sometimes it can only be better for one person, even though many are involved. God is funny like that. He cares individually more than collectively and does not use the bell curve system.

I still want to post the things I love and will miss about Ukraine, but it is time to concede defeat for the day, and go to bed. And that post deserves a blog all by itself. The newspaper came today to photograph our family for a story on our journey. Evan could not have acted worse if he had been given the mission by God to be awful. I assume that the photographer was morbidly impressed that Evan did not like anyone, never mind his new sister. Now that the nap has stretched into the night by 9 hours and rolling, I understand better that tired is debilitating. I am interested to see how the photos turn out. I am glad for photo shop...anyhow it is due out sometime next week and I will post the link when the story appears.

And the thing about being thankful comes back to you....Thanks for you. Thanksgiving is all about realizing what you have, and we are grateful beyond measure, for you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rockin' in the USA!

We are home, after a lengthy journey through Kiev passport police to Munich and then on to Charlotte NC, where our first purchase was indeed a 6 pack of mini cinnabons:) The kids were unbelievably good on the flights and Marina has really rolled with the madcap ideas we have to drag her halfway around the world without complaining. Every time we disembarked from a plane she would hop into her stroller and sing her little heart out as we rolled through the airport. I know it is a song she learned in her previous location as she is perfect in her rendition every time and it includes a lot of hand gestures and waving and smiling. We had no trouble coming through the customs agency in Charlotte but that left us with about 2 1/2 hours to kill and we were already close to falling over. So we moseyed southern style, aimless and slow, and at that point Marina fell over in her stroller and stayed asleep through the next flight and getting met at the airport by my mom and dad and sister and brother in law and their two little ones. I have to say we are so humbled by the support of all of our friends and family members. The well wishes and sweet comments and just the love that has been poured out over us is breath taking and awesome. My sister rode in the van as her family went back home, and when we arrived at our house I knew why. Evidently she and her whole family (and extended family girlfriend Ms Holli) and my mom and dad cooked up this surreal idea that redefines what a "baby shower" is all about! They spent the last 17 days doing the ultimate home makeover of our place. Rye grass is planted, pansies in the pots outside, and the inside!! Holy SMOKES! Every drawer is organized. Pictures hung and new furniture in place, guitar office set up for Tully that looks like the Hard Rock cafe with guitars on the walls. This is nothing short of a miracle combined with 1000 man hours of sweat and labor. Our closets are cleaned out, Marina's room looks like a magazine ad. Heck the whole house looks like a magazine ad! When Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray wonder where the real talent is, they can look for my sister Tonja and my mother who likely has no checks left in the check book. I bet my dad worked overtime for this one too! Utter gratitude will never be enough to describe what it was like to walk into this house last night. Or to open the refrigerator this morning.

Marina did wake up once we got through the door and she found her room and then discovered that we live in cat central, with 8 now full grown kittens who have been waiting to be introduced to her. (yes, they are all "fixed"). We will have to work on the dog introduction thing, as Marina wants to pet them but sheer terror and common sense keep interjecting and colliding with her desire. She finally fussed them out in Russian and shut the door. Marina has been playing baby dolls since she woke up last night and discovered that there were several things ready to play with in her room. This must be heaven on earth for her. Evan and Marina slept in her room last night, and are already up playing in his room this morning. She has dragged many baby dolls into his room so she can play near him as he watches new found old movies that have been placed with great care back in their cases. Things he thought were lost forever. Did we say thank you to our family? Evan will be hugging your necks for years to come just over the movie organization. And me? Well, it is hard to know where to start being grateful that instead of coming home and digging out of a life in shambles that it felt like we flew away from, instead it feels like what Marina feels like...a true fresh start in a life that sort of looks like our own but we wonder what we did to deserve all of this?? Heaven claps and cheers over a family that loves each other the way ours does. And I mean all of our family, Tully's and mine!

So we are ready to start the day, after a nights sleep in beds that never ever felt so comfortable. I will post photos as we locate cords to the computer and camera and slowly unpack and find a way to get back on the treadmill of life here at home. Something tells me that it will be action packed with great things as we realize how much we have to share with one small power house of a child who sasses dogs and baby dolls in Russian. My heart is so tender this morning as I realize we arrive home just in time for Thanksgiving, and we have so much to be thankful for it is hard to know where to start. I am struggling with the words this morning and jet lag will be to blame for now. But to our friends and family who made this possible, Marina's life will forever be a dream come true for her. And also for us. Yes Caylyn, we are happy to live the life example you left us with. It feels radically right, and would be perfect if you were here to play babies as well. But we know you know, that all is well today as we throw kisses through the thin veil that separates us being face to face. Thanks for what you left us with.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What a long strange trip it's been....

It has been several days since an update and it has not been with out adventures to post, just without the time or energy to manage the words. Even as I type I am practically falling off the bed tired...but here is a summary of the week in Kiev...We arrived Tuesday night this past week at 11:30 pm and the kids really got that second wind with a 2 hour train nap-- and even the time awake on the train was waaaaaay better than I had expected. It was as if Marina was born to ride the train and she sat around playing with cool floamy stuff that the facilitator had given us to keep the kids busy on the train ride. When I first opened the box of this weird stuff I thought it was a cruel joke to keep me busy writing checks for all we destroyed with mini sticky foam balls everywhere, but to my pleasant surprise it was actually very groovy as far as toys go. Buy some, it is too hard to explain but I promise you will not pick it out of the rug like playdoh. Anyhow back to arriving in Kiev. We had rented an apartment online (I have come a long way since we first landed six weeks ago and I could not buy bread by myself), and the apartment has been is huge and the mattresses are real, and the stove works and the tub is a miniature round swimming pool. At least according to the children. (Mel's son included...they are still here with us) I might add that Marina had her first bath at 2:30 in the morning because no kid has ever been so gleeful about the bath idea. She had her second bath the next morning, and one in the afternoon, and another one or two that evening. I have checked for gills and fins, they are hidden somewhere but she is surely part fish! Evan could not stand it, he finally realizes that baths are fun again and yes, you CAN get water on a 14 foot high black italian tile ceiling if you try hard. But I have jumped way ahead in the story. Did I mention I was tired? I do have to say that gotcha day was a fairy tale story as far as adoptions go. The plan was to pick Marina up at 3:30 right after nap time. We were invited up to her room which is a combo play room snack room bedroom kinda thing. The nurses and nannies were all there and helped us get Marina ready to leave. They had gathered her clothes that had accumulated with each visit where I wanted to see if something fit and Marina would never give it back digressing here and back to the play room) where the kids were all gathered around having snack and juice in these little ceramic mugs. It was awesome to see them all watching Marina get ready to leave. Everyone made such a big deal of her going, and how beautiful she looked and we said good bye to everyone we could find! I know Marina felt like a fairy tale princess...she sure looked like one! The photos are of the orphanage the last night we saw it, and the kids in the groupa, and Marina getting dressed and saying Good bye. We all cried when it was time to go, and the director came to say good bye once again, and good luck. These people are so incredibly good hearted! Anyhow the trip to the train station was less exciting and more scary, partly because traffic was horrible and also because Marina was bawling hard. Finally our wonderful driver Roman talked to her in Russian all the way to the station and when we arrived Marina was perfectly fine, and has been that way ever since! Of course we cried when we said good bye to the driver too, he was the same driver we had the whole time we were in Dnipropetrovsk and he was a great friend as well. So, back to Kiev we went. Thursday was embassy day and medical check up day. I found it odd that the doctor there was surprised that Marina followed instructions and understood what he was saying, but that in itself explains a lot. Anyhow this is a long day and a family day as well since everyone is required to be there in person. The kids were good but tired and hungry so it went as well as to be expected. We rewarded them with another bath when we got back to the apartment. I simply love this bathroom! Mel's son Timothy has come to understand that if he gets naked someone might add him to the tub as well, though usually he just gets sat on the potty so he is not always so happy about that turn of events. He is a little pistol and is really really cute but is really going to give Mel a heart attack on the plane as he grabs things faster than any kid i have ever met, and then moves right on to the next big idea of his before you get the first idea cleaned up. He can usually be diverted with food, but I fear he will one day simply explode, even though he is small. He can really pack in a ton of food! Speaking of food, Wednesday night we ate at Il Patio, a wonderful italian restaurant adjacent to TGIFriday in Kiev. We met up with two other Reece's rainbow families, Meredith and Mike Cornish and also Melissa Lorenz and her new daughter Liza, and of course Mel and Timothy were there as well. The kids were great but Marina feels it is necessary to personally tell each table in a restaurant "Dasvadonya" which is russian for Good bye. It must be accompanied with a wave, preferably a half an inch from the patrons nose. We left abruptly after several similar good byes to stunned folks we did not know and once on the side walk Marina broke into a dead run, the kind that is hard to catch in a pair of tall black boots, the likes of which I was wearing. Since we were to be at the embassy the following morning which required her physical presence, I gave it my best burst of energy and grabbed her laughing gleefully half a block away. I might mention here that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do you ever ever buy the cheap stroller in Ukraine. And by cheap I mean 60 bucks US dollars. No such thing as an umbrella stroller here. Our stroller broke right away because aluminum pop rivets do not withstand 40+ pounds, and we won't even talk about Evan sitting in it, will we? I am still going to have to replace that thing just to get home. Marina has that leadership quality that will make for difficult travels without a chariot.
So we are really really winding down the journey. I can hardly believe it and echo Evan's sentiments as he occasionally blurts out how he can't believe we get to take Marina home and how he loves having her for a sister. And indeed we do too, love her being little Marina. Today we picked up her visa at the embassy and got to meet lots of other families as well! And that is the end of our paper chase, officially!
We bid adieu to Mel and Timothy around 3 am as they head to the airport and back to Iowa. We, the Bachmans, change apartments tomorrow as this one is rented to someone else tomorrow evening, so we opted for another studio apartment that we will find our way to tomorrow....we leave for South Carolina on Monday, also 3 am. so the next two days are ours to do with as we wish, relax and roam the city in search of a see saw and some swings. Our family once again has managed to complete a journey and embark on one all at the same time, yet again. God has been very gracious. More than I ever ever dreamed. Cay would love this gal. But with out Caylyn and her journey I can surely say there would not be a Marina Hope Bachman in our lives. As always, Caylyn continues to give, even still. Thank you for your prayers. We have been overly protected along the way. Cath & crew

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today is the first day of the rest of our Lives

It is Gotcha day~the official spring your child to a freedom that is going to confuse the daylights out of her and give her a life that is our responsibility to convince her through language brick walls, that this is indeed, the life for for which she was made. A good life, with lots of new adventures. Last night we were offered the opportunity to take Marina from the orphanage grounds and see how she behaved. Our (my) bright idea was to take her to the mall, which was only a few blocks away. This had visions of grandeur that did not include one iota of reality from my perspective. We dressed her in her new coat, put her in her new chariot which she liked alot, handled Evan bawling because he did not get a turn in the stroller and off we went, through the gates that have held her for the last year and a half. To the mall, all was well. In the mall, it began to unravel a bit. Then we thought, in the game room, she can roam freely and enjoy that environment. We paid for her to go play in a jumpy bouncy thing with tunnels and a climbing wall and a huge slide at the end...then we were starkly reminded that Marina has no fear of falling. She got braver with every bodily fling from the top of the slide. I aged severely. Tully went pale. Finally it was time to leave. but only by our standards. By then Ms. Freedom had gone around the bend. She was having NOTHING to do with getting in that stroller. We wrestled and physically carried a howling squirming (mad understatement) child from a game room fraught with onlookers. It does not help that the average temperature in the mall hovers around 84*. We managed to get her into the stroller and I convinced Tully to go back and play with Evan as I walked Marina back to the orphanage. As I got to the door to leave the mall with a mad ferret determined to wiggle out of the stroller, i realized I had to put her coat on. Oh crimony. Another 15 minutes and I buttoned it around her arms creating a straight jacket. Once outside, the lights and cars and ringing of my cell phone took over the moment and she was perfectly over the temper. I crossed the street and we put her coat on right as we took up the entire sidewalk to do so. I gave her juice, and my cell phone, she put on her hat and gave me a kiss. Her idea. Then she talked on the phone most of the way home, interjecting waves to cars along the walk. I, meanwhile, worked to reduce my body temperature to a reasonable degree somewhere below the internal spontaneous combustible level. We arrived promptly at 6 pm where the little princess refused to get out of her stroller. I waved PAKA as the nanny wheeled this amazing child down the hall to dinner. This was all last we take her for forever. This will undoubtedly be the most interesting week of our lives and we ask that you seriously pray for us to get through the embassy paperwork and medical exam with success. I already assume "with dignity"is out of the question. We pick Marina up at 3:30 and head straight to the train station for a 5 hour ride to Kiev. I am grateful that Melissa DeLlanos will be with us and we will continue to share the apartment in Kiev. I am grateful that God saw fit to pair us up on this journey because it has made this not only bearable but hilarious at so many intervals. We have laughed and cried and moseyed to the mall and through the supermarket so many times that I can imagine the folks of this town wonder how two crazy Americans can walk around giggling so much. Part of it is surely insanity to have come here when only 614 children were adopted from this country last year...but we all agree that the two more added to this years' list is beyond priceless. There is so much more to post later about saying Good Bye for the last 24 hours to people who have come to mean so much to us. Friendly faces at the mall, people who chose to attempt speaking english to us in order to help us, and all the work of our facilitator and driver to make our journey a true success. We have made friends along this path that will never be forgotten. They are set in our hearts. It will make leaving all the harder today.

The photos are from passport day and my favorite one of Marina and Evan on the see saw, and also from last night at the mall. I did not see the need to take photos of Marina bawling mad so you will have to take my word for it.:)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Passport day:)

Yesterday was one of those long car days that was both exciting and cumbersome. We left the apartment at 8 am with our housemate Mel, along with me Tully and Evan and got in a small nice little Chevy with the driver and facilitator (Marina). Off to various passport agencies and orphanages to gather papers and then back home to drop off Evan and Tully for the afternoon and I went back to the orphanage around 2 so Marina (facilitator) and I could meet the driver and Mel and the orphanage nurse and Mel's new son Timothy (he is in a different orphanage but nearby) and then all head to the regional passport office to get the children their applications to leave the country. This is also why we left Evan and Tully back at the apartment because they would not remotely have fit into the car. The kids were totally awesome on the ride and behaved really well in the passport office. The thing I was most impressed about was how loving little Marina was to Mel's son who was sitting on Mel's lap beside us in the car. Little Marina would lay her head on Mel's arm and stare into Timothy's eyes with just the biggest pool of LOVE swirling around! She patted his hair and stroked his face and was the most gentle little child. I had not seen this in her specifically yet, though I had no reason to think she did not have this tenderness about her. Timothy will be 5 in January so they are only a year apart but he is in size 18 months so seems much smaller, therefor younger. Anyhow with the additional side trip back to the bank to add a needed signature we had missed earlier in the day, we were looking at nearly 6 pm by the time our little Marina got back to the orphanage. She was tired but very happy and had spent the day either letting me carry her, snuggle her, or hold her hand. It was a great day and we should have passports either monday or tuesday...and the minute we have that paper in our hand we are off to Kiev with the kids free from the life they have known up to this point! WOW! Gotcha day is fast approaching! I will post photos later of Marina and Timothy at the passport office but am trying to hurry and get everyone breakfast and dressed and out the door to go visit Marina for the morning. We love spending time together and hate even missing a minute! Thanks for continued prayers and good cheer that you send our way, we love hearing from everyone:) Love, US

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marina is decreed a Bachman by the courts!

Yesterday the 9th of November I spent the day in the car with our facilitator Marina as we had a very busy schedule! First we met at the orphanage and then went to the court to pick up our decrees that the court has said they agree we are now little Marina's parents. Then we went to the department of vital statistics and picked up the new birth certificate which also says this. When that was accomplished we took a ride over to the tax code office (similar to the social security office at home, complete with the long line) and let them do some paperwork that I signed my name to as well. The fact that I cannot read one iota of what I am signing is fine because our facilitator is so amazing that she checks and double checks everything and we trust her completely. She is so helpful and a lot of fun to hang out with for a whole day too! It was a great day overall and I am sure the driver of our car went home and took the eastern european version of tylenol after listening to us two yak and giggle all day! I had left the orphanage in the morning at ten thirty and had barely enough time to hug little Marina as we hopped in the car and left. I managed to return just as she came running down the hallway to greet us at almost 5 oclock but she was a little bent out of shape that I would not see saw in my dress and also that I had missed morning visit so she spent most of the time either putting me in time out over by the wall in a pile of leaves, or just fussing at me and making me stand in the street. Sigh, if she only knew that today her name was changed to Marina Hope Bachman! Tully and I were standing at the see saw as Marina and Evan were utilizing it and Marina was pointing to each of us, all four of us one at a time and saying something in Russian...but we knew she knew we are now a team of Bachmans by the way she said the words. When I was standing in one of my various time out spots another little girl from Marina's "groupa" ran to hug me and Marina came and grabbed me by my hand and claimed me from the other child, fussing out the other little girl for honing in on Marina's mama:) Both instances are huge leaps! Marina also signs MORE when it is snack time and she sees our green bag.
The weather here continues to astound everyone with the balmy winds and not cold enough for a coat (unless you are born here or a child- then you are bundled so only your eyeballs show and your arms are at a 45 degree angle out beside you from the extra layers) but I know we are enjoying it tremendously! I was battling a bit of congestion yesterday but slept extra long last night and feel much better today. Tully is climbing out from his bit of Marina's cold as well.
Tomorrow I meet with our facilitator again and we go to apply for little Marina's passport, which is a 4 day wait, and we can get it hopefully of tuesday next week, then we can go to Kiev and our embassy appointment on thursday and friday...maybe to leave saturday? Our flight is tentatively scheduled to leave the monday just after that on the 22nd and I know that the flight on saturday is nearly full already, so we will keep everyone posted and not get too ahead of ourselves in planning. We certainly know better by now! Anyhow we are so excited to have come this far and yesterday was monumental in the events of this journey...Marina is officially a Bachman!

ps-the photo is taken on a jungle gym climber outside and reflects the apartment buildings that circumvent the outer perimeters of the orphanage, which is surrounded by a high cement wall creating a courtyard of several playgrounds. This one is surely for older kids as it has much "higher" equipment to play on and requires Tully to get the kids across the monkey bars.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Circus story and Marina has long hair!

The weather here for the last couple of days has been gorgeous! More like going to the beach too early in the spring than autumn in UA--cool air blended with a warm breeze undertone. Unfortunately when the landlady came to clean yesterday she concurred we were just too nuts with the windows open so she turned off the heat completely. I might add here that the nights are not as climatically wonderful as the days and we were mighty chilly last night! Anyhow windows are closed again but we will have to make some adjustments to our southern attitude and see if we can grovel in sign language and get the heat back on. But back to more fun stuff...Marina has LONG hair! This is sort of a surprise since it is always in a really high pony tail and is never down. Her hat would not stay on outside the other day and so I had to take her ponytail holder out and re-fix her hair so the hat would accommodate. Most eastern european countries have a practice of cutting orphans hair short or shaving it all together for the summer months. Even the hairs on this child's head has been protected and it appears that it has been for several years! I have noticed that in this particular orphanage there are several children with gorgeous hair cuts or very long beautiful braids and I cannot imagine who takes the time to keep them all so outstanding in their grooming. I am hoping to get to braid Marina's pigtails as we rapidly approach Gotcha Day. Her outfit for leaving the orphanage is all picked out right down to the black leather mary jane shoes:) Can't wait for that photo!! And to see her step through that gate she is so intent on escaping will totally be the highlight of the journey!

We did not go to visit Marina last night and it was the first visit we have not attended. We had inquired of our driver Roman if we could take his family to the circus on Sunday afternoon if he would drive. He had other business at that time but instead got tickets for us and took US to the circus and then came back for us! I did get a couple photos before I got the finger wag about cameras in the circus...but if you EVER for some crazy reason get the chance to go to see a circus in this country, you really should. The show is more compact than three rings and less lights, but the heart of performing is at least as big as the tent can hold and these performers really gave their all! My opinion is that the clown was one of the funniest I have seen in all circus performances in ANY country! It was a 2 hour show and we had a blast. No language skills necessary:) Well...speaking of language skills, I did manage to tell Roman that the one thing I did not care for at the circus was the turkish toilets in the ladies room. With the language barrier and the fact that they do not call the holes in the ground turkish toilets (I am assuming), all he caught from the conversation was that I did not like something at the circus. This concerned him until he realized that surely I said "circus toilets" and not turkish toilets. Then we were all killing ourselves laughing in the car as he realized I had not encountered this lovely opportunity up until now. So if the wikipedia definition for turkish toilets ever includes "also known as circus toilets" you will know why. I am almost certain now that this was funnier in the car when we did not have all the necessary language skills--it is something akin to playing pictionary but more like russianary. It will either make you mental or you will be killing yourself laughing at some point. And as for the full mental picture of the bathroom just for a post with waaay too much information, consider a row of outhouses, no roofs, with little doors on them that won't lock, and you have to step up 6 inches to a ceramic platform with a hole in the center of it on the platform floor. Do not ask if there is toilet paper, just always keep kleenexes in your pocket. I know why the ladies' boots are so tall in this country now. It is so their feet will stay dry at the circus. ? Only a guess, only a guess. Oh by the way, that first photo is Evan in heaven over getting to go buy cotton candy! We sent him halfway across the event center to buy that stick of manna, and he LOVED it! (duh...)

We will anxiously head over to the orphanage this morning to see if Marina is upset with us for missing our visit last night. Evan came out of the circus and said, Hey! It's dark so we missed Marina! I was near thrilled that he was despondent over that, except that I felt twinges of it as well. We genuinely missed seeing our girl last night and look forward to only a few more days...we should pick up court papers declaring her a Bachman tomorrow. Perhaps birth certificate the same day!?? Maybe today we will hear something good! Pray for our housemate Mel and her adoption journey too, we just got word that her vital statistics person is out sick and she can't get a birth certificate for her son until that person is well and back at work. Maybe the weekend was good to their health and we have worried for nothing! We would love to continue on in sync with her as we head back to Kiev sometime this weekend or early next week and go to the embassy. We ask that prayers be lifted for our own journey to continue on in the grace that has covered us since we set foot here. Thank you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday and Saving each other...

It is Sunday morning here in UA and it is the middle of the night in the US. November 7th has been designated as Orphan Sunday by the church and the purpose is to spot light the plight of the 147 million orphans world wide who do not know the love of a family or the significance of a home. When you look at a number like 147 million it has the impact of say...talking about the deficit or some near infinite government number that creates a numbness just by the sheer vastness of it. It makes you want to question the reality of it all. And it is overwhelming. But when you look at one face and know that she is becoming "one less orphan" and the power of that knowledge is just as infinite as the waiting numbers. I had a lady tell me once "Oh, I could NEVER do that!" Really? Says who? I have others say "What about kids here in the US? and I ask, well, with that level of concern, what are you doing to help? Honestly, adopting feels as right as rain to me now. I can't imagine NOT doing it. And I wonder what stands in the way of others adopting. Is family too perfect or too chaotic or too big or too small at your house to let someone have a chance at a life? I think the blindness to this idea comes from just not considering it at all. That it's for other people to do but the truth is Jesus called all of us to care for widows and orphans. (James 1:27) To not know the need is almost to be exempt from the cause...almost. "Once our eyes are opened we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and knows our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act." There are so many ways to help if you simply cannot adopt. There is giving and volunteering and helping fund raise and awareness raise. And there is praying, the most significant act of obedience there is. I realize with our blog on adopting Marina it has seemed like this has been a walk in the park (if you do not count the paper chase which was a journey through a tornado vortex). We have loved nearly every minute of being here. I should tell you we are the exception to the rule. For another beautiful post on the plight of orphans already transferred to an institution I encourage you to visit my friend Julia Nalle's post on Micah 6:8. It is powerful. I do believe one person can make a difference but I think it is easier when it is a team of people with a heart for making a difference. It becomes a story of fishes and loaves multiplied. And in the grand scheme of things, are children not so very very important to the world while they have a short time before they grow up, or get lost along the way? They teach us beauty and love and innocence and wonder, in a way that we should never give them a chance to be lost at all!

I will be available when we get home to come tell our story of adoption to anyone who would like to hear it since I have had several requests to do so. And I want to officially say that I completely mis-named our blog. We are not saving Marina. Truth be told, God is saving each of us from a plight of sadness and sorrow with out each other. We love her just as much as she loves us. I know we belong together as a family. The rainbow was drawn from our house to her orphanage more than 6500 miles apart and shone directly over her head. We couldn't miss her! Where does your rainbow end?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 8 of the wait...

I have come to update several times but the mini computer has conflicted with the free wifi here at the mall so today I lugged the big 8 pounder over to the mall so maybe I can get lucky and upload a video. That is my personal challenge at this point, to get a video of how dadgum cute Marina is while she jabbers away in russian. I had originally abandoned the idea of the video but our housemate Mel managed to get one uploaded so I have a renewed competitive interest in doing so now:)

Our ten day wait expires on Sunday but since the ten day wait covers two weekends we may have to manage to wait until tuesday for it to be official. This will seriously throw off the time line of breaking the kid out of the orphanage on wednesday and will update for sure when we know. This is a government requirement to wait ten days to see if anyone steps up and claims the child. Interestingly enough, this information is not posted anywhere for anyone to actually know about to my knowledge. I am grateful for the ten day wait as we have been able to get to know her so much better and for her sake I think it has been good too. She is beginning to really grasp that we belong to her now. Marina did sign MORE yesterday and would sing the pledge of allegiance if she thought it would get her more sweet green grapes! She is heavily addicted to them and has learned they always come in the green ingles shopping bag when we arrive to play with her.

Oh wow. I just got a phone call from our facilitator and we will get to take Marina out of the orphanage on the 16th of November which is a tuesday...we may get her monday the day before but will likely leave this region on that tuesday and head back to Kiev for her medical check up and embassy appointments. I was hoping to have her at least one night before we go to Kiev in case I have any questions I can ask the orphanage before we leave but the recommendation has been to leave little Marina in the orphanage for as long as possible to minimize the possiblity of her getting sick from the change in foods outside the orphanage. At least two families have had this happen here recently and it is extremely difficult to find a doctor who will see a child with down syndrome. (Socialized medicine is not always social). So that puts us in Kiev around the 16th or 17th of November and then home a few days or so after that. I try not to make plans since they do not materialize in the order I dream them up. I revisited our journey to Belize and then before that with Caylyn and realize that the concept of being flexible is critical to survival.

Tully is getting a sinus infection and he and Evan are taking a nap for now. Last evening Evan was still asleep as Tully and I left for the orphanage so Mel agreed to watch him until he woke up. He was still asleep when we got back at 6:30!! Dinner was even already ready!! (Love having Mel at home:) Anyhow Marina was beyond crazed that we had the audacity to leave Evan somewhere she could not see him. We played outside and she called him and called him. I have no idea WHAT she called him but it was soooo sweet to hear the tone in her voice. Occasionally she would holler WOOK! at the gate when someone came through and she would think it was Evan. It was neat that she missed him:).
I am attempting to upload a video of Marina playing in the mirror of the lobby of the orphanage where we play if we are stuck inside. She had also just gotten some new clothes which is guaranteed to send her over the edge with glee, that kid just loves having her own things. She wears the little pink boots we bought her here in Dnip to the point that 1) I can't believe we did not buy black ones, and b) we will have to go back and get another pair! Maybe we will get the black ones:)

So Mel and I just did the math and it is going to be 19 days after court before we get to spring the kids...we are both kind of stunned but it is what it is, and we will have our band of merry US to get us through this. I know all in God's time but that does not make it less complicated to be gone from home for so long. I am very grateful for her friendship and the fact that we are able to have access to all the luxuries we do. And mostly for laughter. And the therapy of getting to be homesick and share it with someone who is really clear on the battle-journey right now. Please pray that we do ok with the wait. We seem to be protected but our hearts are getting weary. Thanks for keeping up with us.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Time falls back here too!

Today was a beautiful day outside and we took full advantage of getting to enjoy being outside. Marina loves sunglasses so we are currently at the mall enjoying a promised happy meal to Evan and watching skaters and children dressed in halloween costumes I do not recognize. My sister Tonja has a little girl Laurel who will be vying for the title of cat lover with both Evan and Marina. The pair spent the day chasing kittens around the playground, and having the very best kind of day. Marina has had a cold but is feeling better and for that we are grateful. Not too much to report but they do roll the clocks back here as well as in South Carolina, which I was suprised to find out. That is one thing that I would change about this world, though it is small, it drives me nuts that you can make the waking hours dark for longer in an already bleak season. How goofy is that??? I thought I would try to upload the video of Marina and Evan running to meet us from getting Marina from her groupa this morning. Evan was chosen to go get Marina and also therefore got to see her room and play room which he candidly reports on always hoping this uploads sometime today!! We tried for the longest time to watch the sermon from first baptist last week and that was to no avail...since it was on adoption I was very interested in this of course. May try to post the link here even though I cannot see it myself as the few seconds that did stream down looked really good. Will take the rest of the day off from posting unless anything earth shattering occurs, otherwise, enjoy Sunday and hope your last day of October.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ground hog day continues, and every day gets more fun!

This is Mel(adopting Timothy), I decided to guest post on Cathy's blog... ok, the computer is sitting on the table, and her and Tully are cooking dinner, so I just sat down and started typing. They have been so wonderful to let me come stay with them since my husband left to go home to be with our other kids. We are all in the same place in our process, so it's been a God-send having them here at the same time. God has been watching out for us for sure.

Back to me!My turn:) Yes, Mel is right on, God is looking out for us this season for sure. We just finished dinner and laughed and told all sorts of stories, have been talking non-stop since she got here, and have not even begun to run out of material. The next 9 days we wait through the court appointed wait time and then start the process for passports and birth certificates. Those take four more days, so that gives us another 2 1/2 weeks in country give or take a few days. We will get Marina most likely to come live with us next Wednesday the 10th and include a party at the orphanage if they will let us. This is both exciting and scary, since Marina's favorite past time now is to test her special needs parents and see what in the world we have in mind for her testing phases and sticking her tongue out and wagging her back side at us. She has some unique talents for sure! She also does not take no very well, unless it is being directed by an official member of the orphanage delivering it in smooth Russian lingo. I will definitely have to get some of those phrases before we leave! All I know is that someone needs prayed for, and I think it is probably us. Evan and Marina are a bit more bonded these days, they play together fairly well and I can see the teams being divided into an us against them fashion. This is scary. But fun at the same time. And then scary some more...

I am posting the photos from court looking out the window, and Marina's birth parents as well as just more candid shots of us at the orphanage. Oh!! I almost forgot to mention the mall tonight..Evan and Tully went to the mega game room and Mel and I went downstairs to watch some version of Ukraine's Got Talent! It was amazing. First uh, hard to describe but there were three grown men each harnessed with a life size puppet on poles on each side of them. When the men danced they moved the poles and it was like a can can line of dancers. Anyhow you won't be able to mentally grab that one but trust me when I say it was amazing. Next was three girls who were belly dancers with a candelabra on their heads, that was naturally lit (all 14 candles per girl). I won't even begin to tell you how long I think it will take to get the glitter off those gals, but it too, was very impressive. Joe Biden would have needed heart surgery and he has already commented on how beautiful the women are here! Well, enjoy the photos and will update more soon. No, I do not have pictures of the girls in candles...