Thursday, June 11, 2009

We are coming home!

We have Mariah's passport and visa we are cleared for travel. We will have one final day in Kyiv before flying out early on Saturday. We spent the afternoon seeing the sights and visiting with a family who is here from Chicago. They are adopting a little girl. It was a great afternoon and I enjoyed hearing their story.

Love Made the Difference

When we saw you for the very first time

there you were

with no one to call your own

You looked up at us

We saw the sparkle in your eyes, we heard you laugh

and watched you smile

All the waiting and now we are here

All the wondering and now we know

You are the one

You will never be alone

Now you will have a home,

a place where you belong

When you laugh

we will laugh with you

When you cry

we will dry your tears

Now you have someone

to call your own

You belong,

You belong to us

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Today is Tuesday, June 9. Brigette and I went to an International Bible Church on Sunday.After church,a missionary who is here from the U.S. took us to a lovely Ukraine restaurant and spent the afternoon with us. We had great time together. We are keeping busy taking care of these little ones and helping them adjust to life outside of the orphanage. Mariah has had a few hard times but seems to be making progress each day. This afternoon we are going to walk down to Independence Square. I haven't seen it yet and since we have the time, Brigette is going to show me around.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Kyiv and...

Thursday morning we slept in and basically rested. We did get out and buy a few groceries. We also decided we had to have a stroller. So the boys and I walked down to a kids store a couple blocks from where we are staying. We bought a stroller for us and one for Brigette. They were nice strollers. It was a lot of fun to walk down the street pushing two strollers with no babies. We got back to the apartment and waited for Mariah to wake up from her nap. We decided that we would venture out and walk down to the Ukrainian Buffet for dinner to meet Brigette and eat. It was a challenge to navigate here the sidewalks are very busy and we had to go up and down stairs. This city is not made for kids and strollers. We made and ate a good dinner. Then headed back to the apartment. We had a quiet evening and went to bed.

Friday I was going to meet Yulia in front of our apartment at 8 AM so I could go to the Embassy and change Debbie return flight. We jumped in the taxi and drove about 15 minutes to the Embassy. We got out and there were lines it seemed like all over. Yulia said follow me and we walked right up to the door and went in. I went through a metal detector and walked into another building. I walked down the hall and said I am here to do paperwork for adoption. Then they looked at my passport and reviewed the paperwork yulia gave me. I then had to raise my right hand and swear that everything was true and correct. I then signed two forms and I was done. Debbie can do the remaining paperwork next week. We headed to the Delta office to change Debbie's ticket and to buy one for Mariah. We were planning to change her flight to Thursday the 11th but it cost too much. We ended up getting her flight for Saturday June 13th. I was hoping she would get back sooner but we are thankful things went as well as they did. We found out that the passport for Mariah will be available next Tuesday. Monday is a holiday so all the offices will be closed. Debbie will be able to go to the Embassy and Wednesday and get her Visa and have the Medical exam. Debbie is going to share the apartment with Brigette who is also leaving Saturday so they should be fine. I walked back to the apartment and we decided to go to a local area where there are some churches. We did this at about 2:30 and we did not get done until 5 PM. On the way back to the apartment we stopped at McDonalds and got our dinner to go. We walked back to the apartment and packed up and went to bed. Tomorrow the boys and I are finally going home. I am excited but worried to leave Debbie and Mariah. Well I better get going the driver should be here in a few mintues to take us to the airport.

Thank you all for your prayers and continued support. We greatly appreciate it so much. Please continue to pray for our safe trip home today and pray for Debbie and Mariah while they are here one more week.

Gotcha Day and More Paperwork and Driving...

Wednesday was Gotcha Day, finally! We woke up Wednesday morning all packed and ready to go. We decided that we were going to get the kids from the Orphanage and wait for the passports and the final paperwork in Kyiv. We got up and were ready to go by 8:30 AM. I took two bags down stairs to meet the driver and I didn't see him at first. Then I saw the van a few hundred yards away near the front of the Orphanage. I started walking toward the van with the bags and the driver started to run toward me. He took my bags and asked if we had more and I of course said yes many more. I went back upstairs to the apartment and Yulia was there. She said the driver had to leave to drop of the juvenile services inspector so he was gone. We would have to come back and get the bags later. So we headed over to the Orphanage we thought to get the kids. When we got there we had to sign more papers to get the kids released from the Orphanage. We took pictures with the director who was so sweet and excited for us. She said she was glad that Mariah had a good family. We all started to get a little teary eyed, as you can imagine. Then we left the orphanage and jumped in the van with the attorney. We drove to the bank where we had to sign more papers. This took about an hour. We bascially had to sign all these copies on a little white piece of paper on the top of each page. Then they had to review it three or four times. Then pass the papers to a teller to review two or three more times. Then we were finally done. The reason we had to do this is because each child has their own account. When they are adopted the remaining balance in the account is transfered over to the orphanage. The money that was transfered over was going to be used to finish the roof on the orphanage. All the buildings here have flat roofs and they were started to put an A frame roof on the orphanage. We were glad that the money was going to a good use. Then we were off back to the apartments to get the remainder of our luggage. We grabbed our luggage and loaded it all in the van. We then went back to the Orphanage to pick up Mariah for the last time. We went into the Orphanage and asked for the kids. They were all outside so we went out to find her. When we found her they had not changed her cloths to the ones we brought for her so they took her into the Orphanage and changed her clothes. We she came out she looked so cute. We said good bye to her caregivers and waved at the other kids. We did not have a party because they are too small. Then we loaded into the van and headed to the passport office. We were supposed to be there by 11 AM. Debbie went in with Mariah and Yulia. It took about an hour for them to do the paperwork and get another digital picture of Mariah.This is another example of how the Ukraine people have gone out of their way to help us. This office was not even officially open. I am not sure why they were not open, but I do know that they worked with us to accomplish everything we needed to have done. We are so thankful! When they came back Yulia said we had to be back at 2 to pick up the paperwork to drive to Dnipropetrovsk which is the capital city of the region. The drive was approx. 2 1/2 hours. We realized we were probably not going to make it in time to catch the 5 PM train to Kyiv. We ate lunch at this restaurant that actually had Italian food and some other things. I thought I would venture out and , it was excellent. I ate about half of it then I gave it to Debbie, but Mariah ended up eating most of what was left! This was here first real meal outside of the orphanage and she loved it! It is exciting to see her eat well. We went back to the passport office picked up the paperwork and we were off to Dnipropetrovsk. After about 20 minutes driving, Mariah fell asleep in my arms. This was so exciting, the first time for her to sleep in my arms. The drive was a little wild as the roads here are very rough. We were thrown about and bounced around. No car seats in Ukraine, so that was interesting. When we arrived in Dnipropetrovsk it was about 4:30 PM and we drove straight to the Passport office. Debbie, Brigette and Yulia went in and the rest of us stayed outside with Mariah. I had the pleasure of changing her first dirty diaper. Wow, diapers are not much fun. It took them about a half hour to finish up. It was now 5 PM and we knew we would not be able to catch the train. The next train was not until 10 PM and it was an all night train. The other option was to have our driver take us to Ukraine by car. We decided that was the best option because we didn't have anything to do for 5 hours while we waited for the next train. So we headed out toward Kyiv. The drive was going to be, we thought, about 5 hours. It ended up taking about 7 hours, at least. The drive was hot and rough. We stopped for dinner once and for changing diapers twice. We finally arrived in Kyiv at about 2 AM. We were all totally exhausted. I think we all had been bounced around and thrown around as much as we could possibly stand. It was so nice to get out of the van. The best thing is, Mariah slept almost the entire trip. Our apartment in Kyiv was near where we were the first time we arrived in Kyiv. It was on the second floor. We had two rooms (Living Room and One Bedroom) kitchen and bathroom. We were glad to have a washing machine, etc. We all passed out of exhaustion. The boys are just doing awesome, it is hard to believe how much these little boys have been through with us. It is hard for an adult, but they have been amazing!!! So we lived through Gotcha Day.It was hot, tiring, and bouncy, but most of all, exciting and a huge blessing!It will definately be a day to remember. . .

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wow, Paperwork, Travel etc.......

Today is Friday and we have had a very busy few days. Our week started out with a surprise call from Yulia Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. telling us that the train she and Brigette were going to take to Kryvy Rih was canceled. Monday Yulia was going to get the court decree and have passport pictures taken of the kids. Yulia assured us this was not going to delay us. Monday they did get the passport pictures taken for Mariah and Jacob and we were able to visit Mariah in the morning and a very short time in the afternoon. Tuesday morning we started out meeting our facilitator Yulia and Brigitte at 7:30 AM. We jumped in the van and drove to the court house to pick up the court decree. We arrived at about 8 AM. Yulia went in to get the paperwork and we were waiting in the park in front of the court house. It took about an hour and a half for her to get the court decree. She told us when we got back in the van that had to have some spelling errors corrected on our documents. We drove around the corner and Yulia jumped out to have the documents notarized,. Then we were off to the Vital Statistics office in a suburb of Kryvy Rih to get the Birth Certificate changed for Mariah. It was about a 30 minute drive. This area was a lot more rural than where we had been before. There were mostly farms in this area. We waited for what seemed like forever, but really about an hour and Yulia called and told me I needed to sign a document. While we were waiting we walked around a little and looked at some of the old buildings and let the kids play in the park. I went into the Vital Statistics office and signed the document. Then we went out and Yulia said we had to wait about an hour before the new Birth Certificate would be ready. We went to find something to eat. We found a small cafe and ordered a few things like Borsch and French Fries and drinks. We headed back to the Vital Statistics office and Yulia went in. It only took about 10 minutes or less and Yulia called for me to go in. I went inside and it was totally dark, they were on lunch break so they had all the lights off. When I got to the back office a lady was standing there holding a piece of paper. Yulia said, presenting your Birth Certificate for Mariah Joy Jennings to the parents Jason Ray Jennings and Deborah Annette Jennings. It was very exciting to see this document. The lady was smiling and seemed happy for us. They went out of their way to get our Birth Certificate done, they even finished it up over their lunch break. We were off now to the other side of town to get the Birth Certificate for Brigette's son Jacob. When we arrived Yulia got out and went into the Vital Statistics Office. We realized that we were close to a McDonald's so we called Yulia to see if we had time to go she said yes so we made a fast break to McDonalds while Yulia was in the office. We hadn't even finished ordering our food at McDonalds when Yulia called and said we needed to get back and pick her up. After we picked up Yulia she said Debbie and the boys could go back to the apartment now. It was about 3 PM and it was very hot so they were glad to be able to get out of the van. Yulia said I could stay with them for a little while and then they would come back and pick me up. I was in the apartment for only about 45 minutes. Then Yulia called I went back to the van and we picked up the attorney for the Orphanage. We rushed to the tax office to change the Ukrainian SS# from their original names to the their new names. We also stoped and dropped off some paperwork at the bank. The children each have an account in their name of money designated to them from the Ukraine government. This money is donated back to the orphanage.They have said this money will help them finish repairing their roof. We are thankful to know that we are we are in some small way giving back to the orphanage that has taken care of our daughter for the last 20 months of Mariah's life. We are thankful that she will have a home and a family now. There are so many other children that are still here. We hope that they too will someday have families!!! The need is so great. We then drove to a passport office to drop off some more paperwork. It was now about 5:45 PM. We stopped at the grocery store and headed back to the apartment. We had done all we could do for the day. Yulia still had to translate all the documents to English so she came over to our apartment to use the computer. She finished about 10 PM and we all passed out for the night.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Ten Day Wait is Over!

The ten day wait is over! We will have the official court decree in hand tomorrow and we will be able to begin the next phase of preparing to come home. We are planning to leave Kryvy Rih on Wednesday morning. We will need to go to Dnipropetrovsk to submit documentation and apply for Mariah's passport. From there, we are hoping to take "the fast train" back to Kyiv. If all goes well, we will be in Kyiv with enough time to go to the U.S. Embassy by Friday and fly home on Saturday. We will know as the week progresses whether or not we will all be able to travel home together. It will depend on the timing of the paperwork, primarily the passport. Thank you for all the support and encouragement during this exciting adventure. A big thank you to Leesha for keeping things up at home while we have been away. We also appreciate the people at IGI for picking up the slack while Jason has been gone. Mariah has a home and a family now. Thank you to all the people who helped make this possible. We are grateful.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Today we saw Mariah reach out more for Jeremiah and Zach. She wanted to get down and play with them and she let them hold her hand when we walked. It was a great visit, although it seemed short and it is sad to say goodbye. I think she has a sense of humor, which I think is a pretty great thing. She will do something that makes us laugh and when we respond to her, she will keep doing it so we will keep laughing. Yesterday she discovered how to walk backwards. We thought that was pretty funny so she kept doing it. Today she started making cute little noises to entertain us and when we laughed, it seemed to make her happy. She is a pretty sweet little girl!