Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No go

We didn't pass court today. The judge called it a pretrial. We go back on the 6th. A number of things came up. Please pray that all is resolved by then. That's all I'm at liberty to say right now.
Also, there was somehow a question with the homestudy again so CIS has not yet given the approval. Please pray for quick resolution for this problem. I thought it had been resolved already. Clearly I was wrong.
Nastia, as always, is a delight. We are deeper in love with her every day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We got a connection today!

No connection yesterday, but we are on today. Before yesterday's update, a brief word about the mosquitos.
Yes, mosquitos. They absolutely LOVE me. We camp regularly and I don't get this many bites a season. I currently have 8 fresh bites on my right leg alone. And that's with bug spray!
In Twilight terms, I am Bella to their Edward. It seems my blood is their own personal brand of heroin. I am not kidding. We think Scott may have gotten one bite, but I think he is just trying to make me feel better.
It is maddness.
So when you come here to pick up your child, and you know you will be, bring bug repellant!!!

We are back at our favorite internet restaurant. Well, the only internet restaurant.
Things are going well. Nastia continues to be a delight. She is happy to see us. She is engaging and happy. While it is a long time to be here, the twice daily visits can only benefit her transition to us. We bring the same toys, holding some back in our room for the move to Kiev as well as the plane ride home.
We have had lots of excitement. The judge we were assigned to was going on vacation so we were given a court date of July 15th. This date was not going to work. (Understatement of the year. Scott leaves for home on the 8th.) We petitioned to be assigned to a new judge due to the obvious extenuating circumstances, and after a tense hour, it was granted. We still had some concern because we had not been given a date and were told to call at 2pm. The court offices were closing at 2 and Monday was a holiday. If we didn't hear by 2, we wouldn't know until Tuesday, and we were hoping for a Wednesday the 30th court date. We spent about 2.5-3 hours at this very restaurant, using the interenet and waiting to hear. Just shy of 2pm Sasha called the office and we were granted a court date on the 30th. We were so happy.
Now we wait for Wednesday and continue our visits with Nastia. We are praying for some miracles to happen in court and would value your prayers in this area. Have no fear, we are not worried about passing, we are just hoping for a truncated stay.
As always, we value your prayers and hope you are as entranced with Nastia's story as we are.

Friday, June 25, 2010

We got on line!!!

Today is Friday. We continue struggling to get any internet service. I am typing this in a very nice hotel that offers WiFi. They need to reset their system but we are unable to suggest this. I was able to post something I had typed ahead of time and then it went out. I don't know if you got 1 picture or two, but either way, it is obvious how cute she is.
We have visited her for 3 days now. The first visit for an hour went well and she was very excited to spend time with us. Durring the second visit we got to see a little more of her personality. We played with balloons and bubbles and we gave her a doll. We also read some books. Her favorite toy by far was a ball. It is clear and has little tiny colored balls inside it that swirl around when it rolls around. Her squeals of delight were awesome to hear. When it was time to leave she was clearly disturbed that we were packing up. She decided that if the visit was going to end it would end on her terms. She picked up her doll and started walking to the building without us. We were left trailing behind, jogging to catch up. When she got to the door she became very upset. It was locked. I watched the realization wash over here. If we were obviously leaving, she didn't belong with us and if the door back to her world were locked, where did she belong?
Big sobs and rolling tears burst forth. It was more than she could comprehend. I was able to hold her and carry her back down to a bench outside while Scott went in search of her group. It took about 5 minutes for him to locate them and come back to us. In the mean time, I was able to comfort her and she sat on my lap while we waited. We reunited her with her group and left for the afternoon.
The next day she was again delighted to see us and as we repeat the pattern, it is obvious to her that we aren't going anywhere and that we are there for HER. In Ethiopia, the children were welcome to come and spend time with any family who came to the orphanage, reguardless if they were the ones being visited. Here it is not that way. They don't want the children to get their hopes up. The children look over the hedge or across the playground with such desire in their eyes that it breaks my heart. If we pass them on the walkway they reach out their hands and eyes for the slightest touch or smallest smile given just to them. It is so little that we are able to give to them. A furtive touch, a wink and a smile, but most importantly, constant prayers that more families will step forward embrace them.
I know that the judge will ask why we want to adopt a child with HIV. Why her? I can only reply that every child deserves a family. Her health status doesn't preclude her from needing and wanting a home. We can't be every child's famliy, but by God's grace and the court's permission, we can be hers.
Thank you so much for your prayers while we are here. Being in Kiev was like being in Chicago. Now being here in Slaviansk region, we are truly back in time. The pace is slower, life is more simple. You buy food for a day, maybe two. The children pick cherries off the trees to eat with lunch and dinner, the hotel turns the water off in the afternoon. Our hotel has a fabulous menu. Most items are not available, but the items we do order are gourmet and served with pride.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How it's going. Finally.

It is a little challenging getting an internet connection so it's been a few days. I wrote this yesterday.

The driver came, we made our train, and our daughter had been moved to another orphanage so the ride was only 12 hours instead of 14, we were picked up at the village station and we were brought to meet our daughter.
She wasn't there.
No worries, she was just out receiving routine blood work. We did some paperwork and came back to meet her.
We only got to spend about 10 minutes with her that first day, but oh, how precious they were. She is quite the character. Besides the 4 of us, Scott, Sveta, our facilitator and I, there were 5 of the official orphanage people standing around watching. She had a bashful grin and held her head down, but she look up through her eyelashes with the biggest smile and the deepest dimples. We gave her a sucker, which went over big, and pulled out some bubbles. She realized right away that they were for her. She sidled up to Scott, gently reached out her hand, took the bubbles, and giggling, skittered back over to her teacher. That's the entirety of our first visit, but that's all it took. WE ARE IN LOVE!
The rest of the day was full of driving and paperwork and waiting for the paperwork to be finished. We spent nearly 10 hours in and out of the car doing these things. While we got to sleep on the train, our facilitator, Sasha, took the bus for nearly as many hours to meet us at the train, and she was the one who had to make sure all the paper work was correct. She also had to find us decent housing. We ended up in a hotel instead of an apartment. We don't have internet, but the price is fantastic and there is an excellent restaurant attached. This was the location of our next big adventure.
Because we knew Sasha was so tired, we didn't want to bother her just to help us with dinner. We brought our Russian/English dictionary along and figured, how hard can it be? Well, a little more difficult than we imagined. We are pretty sure the menus are in Ukrainian, not Russian. None of the words matched up. Our waiter, bless his heart, is so cute. I'm sure he thinks he is a tough guy, we've seen him in army boots and camo pants and a no-sleeved t-shirt for the band RUSH (written in Russian, of course), but in spite of all that, he is super sweet. He was so earnest to help us figure out what to order. He knew about 4 words in English and all we can say is thank you, but he flipped through our dictionary and we settled on a meal. We shared 1/2 a chicken and ordered 3 different kinds of potatoes. (Can’t go wrong with potatoes, and boy, were they delicious!) Naturally Sasha showed up after that, but we were satisfied with how things were going so far. She told us what everything on the menu was and we wrote down all the things we like. Problem solved.
We collapsed into bed, eager to get up the next day to go see Nastia. This is the nick name for Anastasia, and what everyone calls her. It's pronounced like NA-stia. So cute!
We get to see her twice a day. For 1 hour before lunch, and for 2 hours starting at 4:00 pm. Now I can tell you what she is really like:
She is truly a delight. Sharp as a tack. Quite obviously smart and funny and comfortable with herself. She is only a little shy, just enough to let us know that she is discerning about who she goes to. She is happy to see us and likes the different surprises we have to share. So far we have played with balloons and a ballerina doll. She has also seen the picture album we made her showing the family, house, and pets. We call ourselves Mama and Papa, and she is starting to make the connection. Yesterday she asked if we were going to come back to see her and if she could go with us. The other children realize what is going on and are happy for her. You can see that they hope it will be their turn next. How I pray that more families will come and welcome these precious children into their hearts. They are beautiful, and yearning and deserving of a family.
We took many pictures, she is quite the ham for the camera, and she also figured out right away how to charm the camera from Papa! She is thrilled to see herself in the screen.
When our hour was up, we brought her back to her caregiver. She has her own locker where she immediately placed her shoes, and she ran to talk to her friends. Quickly though, she turned, ran back, and gave Sveta a hug. So sweet.
We now know which bus to take, #7, 4 stops and then we get off and walk to the orphanage. We will make this afternoon trip alone. I think we will do fine.
Here are some pictures of our visit this morning.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

quick update

Ok, so here's what's happening:
On Thursday, a revised and DCFS approved homestudy was sent to CIS. Another copy was given to my friend Melinda, who took it downtown for an appostille, then she FedExed it to Ukraine. We expect it Wednesday. There was some additional concern about the way that document was notarized, but we have been assured that it should be acceptable. That is the best reassurance I can get, so we're going with it.
The driver is here.
Gotta go!
Baby here we come

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blessings and Challenges

Every adoption is filled with blessings and challenges. We are blessed to obey God and have the honor to parent the children He has chosen for us. We are challenged to rest in His peace when we don't understand delays and seeming missteps that hamper progress in our minds. You have followed as I waited for my homestudy, for my i171h approval, and most recently, my SDA appointment.
These milestones were eventually reached and the day for travel finally arrived. Our dear friends, Tim and Cindy Allen were able to travel with us and we had a fabulous breakfast at the Cracker Barrel with the children we were leaving behind, the Kocis family, who would be watching them, and my friend Jean and her 3 kids. We were quite the crew.
We got back to the house 20 minutes before our limo was scheduled to arrive. There was a message on the answering machine. It was my Reece's Rainbow representative informing me we had a problem, please call. It turns out our homestudy contained an inacuracy that not only needed to be corrected, but this caused our i171h to be invalid as well. We needed a homestudy correction, which would require new DCFS approval as well as an adjusted i171h. The homestudy would need to be submitted to DCFS, who would have to issue an approval letter. The homestudy would need to recieve an appostille from the downtown Chicago office and then Fedexed to Ukraine. Shipping takes 4-6 days and we need to recieve it prior to court, which we believe might be the 25th. The homestudy, along with the approval letter, would need to be resubmitted to USCIS so they can issue a new visa approval.
How do I do this in the next 20 minutes?
I called my homestudy agency and explained exactly what needed to be done. I called DCFS and explained to them what had happened and what needed to be done. I emailed USCIS and told them what had happened and what we needed them to do as well.
Jean and Bridget quickly morphed from the friends who were saying goodby and watching my children to my correction team. This team now includes Melinda, who is the friend who will be doing all the downtown work.
The limo arrived and we left.
The flights were uneventful, very minor turbulance and a 2 hour delay in Frankfurt, nothing too bad. We ushered the Allens through customs and left them in the hands of their driver.
Our driver, Nickoli, escorted us to our appartment and we collapsed. We did not yet have internet access. Shout out to Blackberry and Verizon. I have no idea what we will be paying in roaming fees, but I was able to continue to stay in contact with my team and push for some key calls to be made for me. It is my understanding that Thursday my corrected and approved homestudy will be in Melinda's hands. It will be hand delivered to USCIS in Chicago and on a FedEx plane by Friday evening.
Meanwhile, we had our SDA appointment and got to see more pictures of our precious daughter. These pictures were close-ups and revealed the most beautiful blue eyes!. Pray for our baby, she has aged out of the baby house and has been moved to another location. We are assured that she is in a nice place. Change is always difficult and I hope she is doing well.
The woman in the SDA office asked why we would adopt a child with HIV. We explained why and that we were honored to do it, and she asked if we could please find more families who would come and give these children hope and a family.
She also said that the previous day she had an appointment with a family with 14 adopted children, so our 6 were really not so many, would she be seeing us again?
We told her we knew we only had 6 and that we were working on it and we hope to incourage more families to come to Ukraine for these precious children.
For some reason the orphanage is closed this Friday, and is always closed Saturday and Sunday, so we will stay in our appartment in Kiev until Sunday night. We will take a night train 14 hours to the town where Bianca is and meet her on Monday. I had hoped to see her sooner, but am not anxious about it in any way.

It has been precious to watch Sveta here in the appartment. I told her it is exactly like the appartments we stayed in while in Russia and everyone we have encountered speaks Russian. Starting in Frankfurt, the airline personel spoke to her in Russian assuming that she spoke Russian because of how she looks. She is old enough to appreciate this trip, but young enough to pretend she lives here. She is living out a glimpse of what her life could have been. These days are invaluable for her and I thank God for this opportunity.
That's all for now, and since we have a little time on our hands, we may get ticktets to the opera or the circus. Sveta is very excited about that.
More later,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Leaving soon

We have a ritual here at the Heim house. As the day of our trip comes closer, I call or text Cindy Allen and say,
"Five Days!"
"Four Days!"
"Three Days!"
"Two Days!"
and finally we are poised to scream:

I can't believe we are finally breathing down the neck of one day.
I woke up yesterday morning and realized that my baby doesn't have a doll of her own. Andy and I went to Target to get her one. I nearly started crying as I debated between 2 dolls and decided that she can have them both!!

Please pray for us. Pray for me. I have never been away from my family for more than a weekend. I am not scared, in fact, I am eager, I feel like God has made a date with me and He and I will be spending a lot of time together talking and planning.
My dear friend Bridget is taking the bulk of childcare while I am gone and I really appreciate it. In the past, we have only left for a week at a time, we could leave a little money and pick up where we left off. Scott will be gone for nearly a month and I will be gone for 2. I had to make a folder to hold bills and payment, insurance information, money, baseball schedules, emergency back up numbers of friends willing to help out in a pinch, etc. I have titled it "Bridget's folder of all things Heim."
I think I hit the high spots, but she will email and skype with questions.
So, starting at midnight,
"One Day!"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A little perspective

When you adopt a child, there is always that uncomfortable moment when that four letter word "cost", comes up.
How much did she "cost".
Any you gently explain that you didn't spend your first hours with your child with a bottle of goo-gone in one hand while briskly rubbing the price tag sticky off with the other.
But, why does it cost so much? These kids have nothing, why are they charging you?
Completely forgetting all of the very reasonable places the money is really spent.
Air line tickets
finger prints
government papers
government papers
government papers
foreign government papers
foreign government papers
foreign government papers
court costs
foreign court costs
and at the bottom of the list- orphanage fee (this helps keep the orphanage running for the million other children still waiting.

And still people don't understand it.

I read this on a blog today, she took if from someone else's blog, and I have blatantly snatched it from hers.
No matter, it perfectly puts the cost into perspective.

A wise person once told us as we were lamenting the cost, that we were not “buying children”, that we could not look at it that way. We had to look at the cost of adoption as “ransom.”
Think about it. Anyone of us would give up everything we had if one of our children currently in our home were held for ransom. We would pay whatever it took. Family would join in, friends would join in, strangers would line up to help. No one would think “well that kid deserves being held for ransom because of XYZ” … the thought is terrifying.

Look at adoption costs the same way. You are potentially stealing the future away from these children. But in a good way. There is a child being born in the US right now who needs a family so they do not grow up without hope! There is a child living in an orphanage where they share a 10x12 room with 15 other children at night who needs your help! There is an HIV positive child in a far away land who if they could only make it to the US would live a long and happy life because of all the breakthrough medicine. There is an older child that once they are aged out of the system will surely be forced into prostitution! Pay the ransom for these children, please … I humbly beg of you."

I would add that this goes hand in hand with the true "cost" of adoption- our lives for hers.
Jesus paid the ransom for us, and we must pay the ransom for these children.