Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Court is completed!! This is what happened!!

Just kidding.

Court was yesterday and it went great.  Everyone including the prosecutor was for our adoption.  When the judge questioned the girls about our family, Vera looked him straight in the eye and spoke with such conviction about joining our family.  It was awesome.  Lydia got a little shy when she was questioned but her "Dahs" were very clear.  She relaxed a little after the judge teased her.  It was such a blessing and such a long journey to get this point. 

After court we went to a nice little restaurant in Vil'nyansk.  Started off with this delicious cabbage salad that nearly every restaurant serves (I love it), then some tasty borsh (also I have come to love this awesome soup, never dreamed a beet based soup could be so yummy).  Then the main course was mashed potatoes and pork steak that was covered in some cheesy mixture.  To wash it down we had Ukrainian drink they call compote.  It is like a lightly sweetened fruit juice and tastes pretty good.

Here are some pics of yesterday!  The girls getting ready, they loved their new dresses and shoes Bon bought them.

 Poor Jonathon had to sit behind us by himself.

New family!!!

Photo with our regional facilitator Zhenia (part of Nastyas team).  He did an amazing job!!!

Lets celebrate!!!! Vera asked for champansky lol....

So now that part is over.  We all took Bon and Jonathon to the train station last night.  It was a very sad departure for all of us.  Vera cried so hard and was clinging to Bon, then she cried all the way home.  Jonathons new Ukrainian girlfriend also went with us.  She was crying because Jonathon was leaving.  Everyone was crying!!  Except me, cuz Im a dude and we dont do that :p. 

Bon and Jonathon made it safely to Kyiv this morning.  They are touring the city today and then their flight leaves tomorrow at 5:30 am (yes, AM!!!)  I feel sorry for them.  I really miss them so much already.  It is now even harder because I have nobody to speak English with.  Veras is pretty good but still pretty limited.  We sound like cave man speech.  Me go outside, Me go toilet, Me go magazina, Me go ulitsa etc...  I am going to stay with the girls and finish up the adoption.  There is a mandatory ten day waiting period after court where it could be appealed.  After that we need to deal with getting new birth certificates issued.  Lydias will be easy, Veras could be difficult.  Someone will have to travel to Russia as she was born there.  After that we go back to Kyiv for medical appointments, new passports and embassy stuff.  All in all I expect to be here another three weeks but hoping for less!  Please pray that the Russian birth certificate does not end up taking months or costing thousands of dollars (he have heard horror stories).  We keep trusting that God will provide, he has brought us this far after all!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

So we got our court date! May 29th, Tuesday. Bon and Jonathon will catch the overnight train back to Kyiv Tues night then fly home on the 31st.  I will wait here for the madatory 10 day waiting period after court.  After the wait is over, our facilitator will need to travel to Russia to get Veras birth certificate changed.  Once this is completed, we have a couple days in Kyiv doing US Embassy stuff then I will bring the girls home.

Please keep praying for  us, the Russian birth certificate thing is still uncertain and we absolutely need that before the US blesses the adoption officially.  We have heard nightmare stories of the Russian birth certificates taking 6-9 months.  Not sure what we would do if that were the case, we are totally trusting in our awesome facilitaor team (Nastya, Alexey, Alex and Zhenia).  We know they will come through because they have been rock solid so far!

Ukraine life continues to keep us intrigued.  We had an emergency dentist trip today, it was funny watching the dentists and the dental personnel run outside to smoke after each patient.  Everyone smokes here, its nuts.  The dental trip cost us less than 200 grivna.  Under 25 bucks for an emergency abcess tooth, meds and a follow up filling.  Crazy how cheap a dentist is here.  It was a good dentist also, flat screen TV on the wall in the waiting room, very nice.

The top pic is from the graduation ceremony. The next two are pics from the river beach where we took the girls swimming.  The bottom pic is another from the grad ceremony.  Vera is leaning up against big brother Jonathon.

Everthing else is going good.  I love the Ukrainian people.  They are so genuine and real.  Life is hard here for a lot of folks.  There are no jobs, people carve out their own niche to make a living, selling produce on the streets, etc.  But there is a real sense of community here.  There are no "suburbs" in Ukraine.  Everyone lives in these soviet era  apartment complexes.  The government will not allow people to build single family dwellings so everyone lives in these huge apartment things. The structure makes people live together, kids play together in the common playground areas, and shop together at the local neighborhood stores and street kiosks.  It is so different from everything we are used to in the states.  We take daily walks to the market to buy our bread, eggs and milk.  If we need to go to the mall we jump on the bus (marshutka) to take us wherever we need to go.  If we get lost, we grab a taxi and ask the driver, "skolka dengi McDonalds???"  We are about a ten minute walk from the only McDonalds in Zaporozhye (nearly one million people in Zap btw).  Zap is like a Denver sized Commerce City.  Heavy industry, I have never seen such a variety of the color of smoke blooms spewing into the air as I have here.  I am sure the EPA would have a field day here in Zap.  The evenings are delightful with the scent of burning tires and howling packs of wild dogs.  It is so different here but we really have come to call it our second home.  People just live their lives. 

I will update soon, after the court date!!  We love and miss everyone back home.  I cant wait to get back to the states and enjoy a spicy burrito!!! (The food is so bland here and everything is spiced with dill, we have yet to find any type of Mexican style food =())

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Life in Ukraine

OK, I am sorry it has taken this long to finally send out an update but things have been a little crazy.  I will try and recreate our journey thus far.  I have been journaling so I will try to include everything.  We left Denver April 24th and arrived at Dulles Intl Airport where we saw this:
Space Shuttle Enterprise.  Our plane taxied right past it and luckily it was on our window side.  Ok, goodbye America.

Arrive in Frankfurt Germany airport at some point, short layover and then 2.5 hour flight to Kiev.  All that is still blurry but whatever...

Arrive in Kiev, through customs, green line red line, hmmmm....we were told to declare but they direct us into the line with everyone else so ok....Ukraine security wants to look in one of our suitcases...ok...they picked the one that was full of shoes, jumpropes, etc for the children at the orphanage.  She quickly closed it and waved us on =).  Ahhh....Ukraine....we were picked up at the airport by Alex (part of Nastyas team).  He is super nice and has a great sense of humor.  I don't think he expected us to have as much luggage but we were able to squeeze it all into his Passat and off we go.  Traffic was horrible.  It took us a couple of hours to make it from the airport to our apartment in downtown Kiev.  I had fun and took lots of pics.  Kiev is very beautiful but it is very busy like any other large city.

The next day we had our SDA appt and everything went well.  It was pretty informal so we were a little surprised.  The day after that we went back to get our official referral so that we have permission to meet with Vera.  OK good, back to the apartment, pack up and we catch a train at 11pm that will take us to Zaporyzhe (Zap from now on).  The train station is huge but luckily we now have Zhenia (pronounced Jennia) as our guide, he also is part of Nastya's team and will be our regional guide/translator etc.  He likes to talk but it is fine and he is really nice.  He gets us to the right set of tracks and we wait for the train.  Boom, on the train, the room is stifling hot and the windows dont go down!  There are four bunks and not enough room to turn around in.  Thankfully Nastya was able to get us all into one room so we weren't sharing with strangers. 
Thank you Ambien...I slept pretty good and we arrived in Zap at 11 am the following day (Saturday).
Zap is very large, about the size of Denver and is very industrialized.  We don't really have time to take it in because we immediately get off the train and into a little van that is awaiting our arrival.  We drive straight to Vil'nyanska (Vil from now on) to see Vera!!!

Vil is about 25 minutes out of Zap and is a small town.  The orphanage appears pretty old.   As soon as we pull in children are running next to the van and a couple have darted into one of the buildings. 

We climb out walk into the school. From nowhere Vera is charging at us yelling mom, dad!!  The reunion is wonderful and tearfilled.  Vera is clinging to Bon then throws herself in my arms.

Next we all meet with the deputy director, attorney and inspector.  They ask Vera if she knows us, duh, she is sitting on my lap and if she wants us to adopt her, "dah!!".  I guess they have to go through the motions.  After a couple of questions that is over and we are free to visit Vera.  We are also introduced to Lydia who is cute as a button.  If we thought Vera was small, Lydia is tiny.  She is shorter than Vera, maybe 4'5" and maybe 65-70 lbs.  She is nervous at first but quickly warms up to us. 

A couple of days later we are back at the orphanage doing lots of paperwork, running back and forth to the notary etc but the biggest deal is that Vera wrote her official letter telling the courts she was us to adopt her:
We played with some kids at the orphanage and had a good time.  It is so sad to see so many kids that need families.  However, we tried to entertain them for awhile:

Jonathon and Lydia, notice her vertical challenge lol.

OK, thats about all for now, we are now officially in waiting mode for our next SDA appointment for Lydia.  I will try and update the blog more often.  Keep praying for us, we have had some hurdles that we did not anticipate and a very large one yet to overcome in the form of changing Veras birth certificate as she was born in Russia.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Here we go!!!

We finally received our SDA appointment!!! It is on April 26 at 10 am.  We are leaving for Ukraine on April 24th.  It looks like Bonnie will be there for about 3 weeks.  She will then fly home with Jonathon.  I will stay the remaining 4-5 weeks to complete the adoption(s).

We thank everyone so much for their generosity!  If anyone is on the fence about donating, this is the time!!!  It is now or never!!  Conservative estimates puts the Ukraine side of the adoption right at $25k, this includes facilitator fees, orphanage donations, travel and living expenses while in country. Thanks so much!!!!  Please pray for us through this process!!

The McKinneys

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Meet Lydia....

So we prayed and prayed for God to show us our second Ukrainian child.  We know if he astounded us with Vera he would show us to our other child.  For those who have not been following, go back and read ALL of my blogs!! Just kidding..., no serious, go read them, OK just kidding... We had initially planned to adopt two and were driven at the beginning by two sisters in Kherson that our friends the Roge's are advocating for (appears they have found a family so Praise God for that!!).  When Vera came in the picture we were still left with a home study and I171H that approved us for two kids.  To that end we have been praying that if God wants us to bring another child home we would be open to that. Why not?  We are a little crazy anyhow!  We also spoke with Vera about the possibility of adopting another child and not only was she on board with it, she was ecstatic about it!  She made it clear she wanted a sister. 

Leave it to Vera, that kid never stops amazing us.  She picked out her own sister! Vera knew we could only adopt one other child (besides her).  That means the other child could not have siblings.  We have discovered that this situation is kind of rare.  Most of these orphans have multiple siblings and we really wanted to adopt a child from Vera's orphanage.  It is much easier to adopt two from the same region than to be chasing all over Ukraine. 

It seems that Lydia will be our other child.  We have never met her but we did speak to her on the phone.  Vera says she is a good girl and she wants her to be her forever sister.  Lydia is 12 or 13 years old.  She has an older brother who has aged out and is no longer in the picture (we think!!).  Vera has evidently convinced Lydia to come to America with her.  We also have some new friends that are currently in Ukraine adopting a different child from Vera's orphanage.  They confirm that Lydia is a sweet girl; they even said they would adopt her if they were able to bring two kids home.  This was awesome news for us!  Fist bump Jesus!  Again, it appears He has shown us our other kid!! We really hope things work out and everything gels when we meet Lydia, we are certain they will.  Thank you Lord for blessing us and we continue to walk forward in faith with just enough light to see our next steps. 

On a side note, our dossiers are in Ukraine and we are now awaiting appointment dates.  Everything has been timed to try and put us there in early-mid April (Vera's availability date). We thank you for your prayers and ask that people continue to pray for us.  If you are moved to donate there is an easy "donate" button at the top of the blog.  It runs through paypal and is deposited directly into our adoption fund account.  If you are not moved, that's OK!  Just pray for us then!!!  Thanks!!!!

Lydia is giving the thumbs up on the left (your left)!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Host Trip 2011

I figured a video would be better than any words I could use to describe our month with Vera.  Thanks to all of you who helped make an amazing Christmas.  We love you guys!!!!!
 (To watch in full screen click the youtube icon on the bottom right of the video, you can view full screen if viewed from youtube website)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vera is back in Ukraine for now...

Well, Vera is back in Ukraine. I really hope she realizes how much she is missed. The house is so quiet without her. We are in the process of getting all of our paperwork updated. The adoption agency we were using decided to close so we had to switch to another one. We followed our social worker to Chinese Children Adoption International. They have been amazing!!! They have already updated our home study and have been so kind and caring through this process. We hope to get all the paperwork gathered together within the next month. Then we will send all of the paperwork to Ukraine and keep our fingers crossed! We will keep everyone updated!!