our adventure…life, adoption, and a little bit of everything else
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Posts from — July 2007

I’m baaaaaaaaack!!!

I am finally able to post again. I have not been able to get online since last Wed. Ugh! I miss more modern technology.

So much to write about yet I don’t know where to start. T.C. mentioned our outing this weekend to the castles. I will add that it was in the 90+ temp. and it was a WALKING tour! Ummm…we were all dying of heat. I have a hard time with long periods of time in the heat anyway..so needless to say I experienced heat exhaustion and was really sick when it was all said and done. I get major headaches in the heat and other things…which I will spare you details. Needless to say my prayer on the way back in the van was “oh God please don’t let me get sick in the van…please”!!!!! 🙂 I know we have mentioned the driving around here…so being sick with these drivers isn’t a pleasant experience. Oh well, after about a 1/2 gallon of water and some Excedrin…I felt better after a couple of hours. I was glad that I made the trip when all was said and done. The castles were amazing, beautiful churches, wonderful scenery, etc.

Ruslan Clark’s going away party was yesterday. It was crazy. The kids were so wound up. We brought them chocolates, juice, and cookies. (give them sugar and then let the caretakers suffer the consequences…) Today was day 11 for us after the court hearing. I will remove Ruslan from the orphanage in the morning. I am so excited about that. Ali and I have been in Ukraine for 3 weeks today. Just ask me how homesick I am! I have enjoyed Ukraine and all….but there is nothing like home. I miss so many things….especially my husband.

The party yesterday was such an amazing experience, despite the sugar levels. All of those children are so in need of human touch. They all want to be held, touched, loved on, etc. Mom sat on a couch and several children wanted their turn to sit on her lap. One little boy wanted to sit as close as he could to her…it was precious….but heart breaking at the same time. I want to take them all home. There are so many children at the orphanage that are so full of life, smiles, and love….but they don’t have anyone to love them back…wow! To think about their futures is a sobering thought!

Please pray for our passport situation…well, not OUR passports, but Ruslan’s passport. (and the other American family) See, recently the passports have changed and the new passports are taking longer to process. We were originally told we could wait an extra 10 days for his passport. Ummmm…..didn’t make me happy! But our facilitators have worked SO hard for us and are trying to get that changed. In fact, in the morning one facilitator is waiting to hear if SOMEHOW we can get them in the same day. Please pray for that. If that could happen, we could drive to Kiev tomorrow or the next day to start our Embassy meetings to get the heck out here. That means we could possibly fly out this weekend…if we could find flights available. I will keep you guys posted….or T.C. will.

I will close for now. I need to go and pack our bags JUST IN CASE we leave for Kiev tomorrow. We get such short notice around here…better to be safe than sorry.

Anyway…again…tomorrow is freedom day for our son! YIPPY!

July 31, 2007   No Comments

And on the tenth day…

…the children had a party! Today marked the tenth day since our adoption was ratified in court and so now is officially complete! No one came forward to object to the unpublished verdict of the judge, surprise, surprise–but we’re not complaining. The kids at the orphanage had a party today for Ruslan, Artoom, and Katia, hosted by Rachel/Ali and Don/Jackie. Some chocolate and milk for the kids–champagne for the caregivers–and it sounds like everyone had a great time. When I talked to Rachel this morning (mid-afternoon for her), she wasn’t sure whether or not young Clark would have to spend one more night at the orphanage or be able to come back to the hotel with her today. Either way, tomorrow begins the process of picking up birth certificates, applying for passports, requesting visas, and preparing to COME HOME!!!

While I don’t have any pictures of the party to share with you (Rach’s internet connection is still down), I did manage to find some pictures of the girls’ weekend to show everyone. As you know on Saturday, all three families in Khmelnetsky took a castle-hunting tour to the towns of Kamyanets-Podilsky and Chernivtsi, which are about 25km from the Romanian border. Here are some pictures I found online of the region and the castles they visted:

Castle in Kamyanets-Podilsky

Another picture of the castle…

Chernivtsi

BTW, all of these pictures are © by the US-Ukraine Foundation (i.e., I’m not stealing them!) and can be viewed here with lots of other great photographs. I highly recommend this site to everyone to get a taste of what a beautiful and diverse country Ukraine is We didn’t get to all the regions with photos, but I can vouch for every picture of Kyiv that is shown…absolutely wonderful! These will have to suffice until the girls’ internet connection is back up at the hotel or they get home, whichever comes first.

Rachel and Ali say to tell everyone hello and that they miss you and being able to read your comments here on the blog! They continue to be adventurous and find new places to eat, shop, and enjoy what little time they have away from the orphanage. At a Greek restaurant they wandered into to a few nights ago, they were getting stuck on the Ukrainian-only menu (i.e., no English), when they ran into our wonderful, somewhat-English speaking cab driver, Gnadi, who so faithfully drove us around town until someone rear ended his 26 year-old Mercedes two weeks ago…anyway, he stepped up and ordered for them and saved the day! Everybody enjoyed seeing him there as well as he quickly became our friend right after getting to town. His English, which is pretty good for someone who has never left continental Europe, the pride he took in his city (as evidenced by driving us by every WWII monument, cemetery, and memorial in town!), and the great gifts from all over Europe he and his wife sell at the local bazaar each Sunday (we bought a beautiful bronze crucifix from Germany), endeared him to us right from the start. He’s really a pretty cool guy with a great sense of humor, and we’re all praying his car gets fixed soon since driving is his livelihood.

Enough rambling for today. I won’t leave you with any strange Ukrainian pop star videos today (though I do have a really funny Ukrainian Army recruiting video on my blog over here). Just some great pictures of castles I’ve never seen and some second-hand tales of children’s parties and new friends…can you sense my jealousy at having to come home? Ahhh…?????? (it’s ok).

July 30, 2007   No Comments

Foreign Frivolity

Well, the girls haven’t had an internet connection at the hotel for the past few days, so I figured I’d write a short blurb to fill everyone in on there news from our short phone calls each day (11pm in Houston / 7am in Kiev)…Rachel’s mom arrived without incident on Thursday evening after two long flights and one harrowing van ride from Kyiv to Khelmetsky. Little Russie has thankfully not had any more quirky, ugly toddler days since Wednesday, which is good for Rachel et al since they have enough to deal with without a moody three year-old! Other than that, Rach reports more of the same–good times playing with and loving on Ruslan Clark, Ali being the hit of the orphanage, still not understanding exactly what they’re eating all the time, and enjoying every minute of it all. As I just got off the phone with her (Saturday AM there), Rachel, Ali, and Alice (Rach’s mom) are getting ready to head off for the day to visit castles in the southwestern part of the country…I’m totally jealous!

With most of my jet lag behind me now, I’ve had some time to post some videos from our trip…both of them comedies, of course. The first is Ali’s YouTube debut (she’s so totally impressed that she’s on YouTube, grin) and is the direct result of long days in the heat, too much sugar, some strange French can-can influence, a bit of gangsta rap (huh?), and…of course…some Elvis thrown in for effect. [BTW, I had to rotate this video 90 degrees because I took it in ‘portrait’ mode, which YouTube didn’t know how to handle…hence Ali looks a bit short and stout, sorry kiddo!] Enjoy…

This second video is all three of ‘our’ orphans (Russie [in blue] as well as Don and Jackie’s two, Artoomie [in red] and Katia) being introduced to bubbles! It’s really funny to watch them but at the same time points out a lot of the observations we’ve been writing about for days, like:

  1. Ruslan’s little giggle (he’s the quiet laugh here and Artoomie is the loud one)
  2. Boys acting like boys…trying to stomp, pop, and otherwise squash bubbles
  3. All three of them pretty amazed by the novelty of everything
  4. Boys getting clocked in the head and not missing a beat
  5. The ‘orphan toy swap’…actually an attempt by Artoom that fails and ends up in a great display of toddlerhood, kids are the same around the world

Anyway, enjoy this one too…

This last clip doesn’t feature any of our clan or have anything to do with us except that it is Ukraine’s entry in the 2007 Eurovision music competition. The singer ????? ???????? (Verka Serduchka) is actually, ahem, a guy who started this ‘Boy George meets Richard Simmons’ act in college…frat boys are the same around the world too…just like toddlers. Anyway, this guy is on TV all the time and this song is wildly popular, in a sort of Russo-Germanic, pop-polka sort of way. I think the act is hilarious…and come to think of it, we did see a crew of cross-dressing types in Khelmetsky on a Monday afternoon, so maybe this does have something to do with our trip…anyway, ?????? (it’s ok!).

July 27, 2007   No Comments

Chasing the sun…thoughts on travelling home

Well, I have made it home to TX, safe and sound, after a 100 mph cab ride across Ukraine, a jostling car tour through Kiev, two flights on Air France (the best airline food ever!), and a long night sleeping less than soundly in CDG airport in Paris on a huge couch with a bunch of other vagabonds. I’ve never spent any time in this house without the girls, but even with two completely neurotic cats here that won’t let me out of there sight, it doesn’t feel like home–three-fourths of my family is 6000 miles away!

Anyway, let me echo Rachel’s humorous observations from Tuesday and make a few of my own titled, “Things I didn’t miss while I was gone…”

  1. Houston’s weather…I guess I forgot how humid it was here, ugh!
  2. American food…aside from the few moments we weren’t sure what we were eating, the food in Ukraine is outstanding and inexpensive. Fast food? Didn’t miss it.
  3. Coffee…the guidebooks are wrong, good coffee is not hard to find in Ukraine. Good espresso costs about $0.40, can be found everywhere, and (get this) comes in a real cup…you actually must slow down and enjoy your coffee. None of that nonsensical four dollar StarBUCK$ in a paper cup!
  4. Toilet paper…guidebooks were wrong here, the toilet paper in Ukraine is fine…if you can find it
  5. American drivers…sure they’re better than most drivers elsewhere in the world, except Germany (no, really, we do drive pretty well here compared to other nations), where else can driving 100 mph on the highway, passing people on the sidewalk, and driving the wrong way down a one-way street be considered ‘good driving’? How exciting! The taxis should charge more and call it a ‘thrill ride.’
  6. Cable TV…who cares if I can’t understand what’s on? It mostly sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher here at home anyway!

As I was sitting in the airport this morning (Paris), I did think of one thing I missed about the States. You’re going to think me a total redneck to saying this, but…uhm…I missed country music. Yep, it’s official, I can write this and own it, right? I missed country music. Every nation I’ve ever visited recognizes good classical music, no problem. Every nation listens to U2, Avril Lavigne, and Maroon 5, for better or worse depending on your taste. Every nation has their own pop/club music, which really sounds all alike whether or not you understand the words. But nobody else, and I mean nobody, has country music.

One example will suffice, and then I must tend to these crazy cats…As soon as I got home I ran to Wal-Mart to get an international calling card (which has atrociously high rates, BTW, got a much better rate from the phone company). I started the car and dialed up the country station I listen to most just in time to hear, “She thinks my tractor’s sexy, it really turns her on…” Ahhhh, home, sweet, home.

July 25, 2007   No Comments

Friendship is not bound by language

I have come to a realization lately that friendship isn’t bound by language. Isn’t that amazing? Ali has had the greatest experience at the orphanage with a few children from Ruslan’s group. There are a couple of boys that look to be maybe 5 years old that totally took to Ali. They will daily come to her for hugs, wanting her to pick them up, and they try talking to her. Well, today we were playing outside with Ruslan and his group came walking by and they ended up playing near us. Ali likes to “spy” on them and watch the children from a distance. Today their caregivers allowed these 2 boys to come play with Ali. They played together for at least an hour. First it was looking for snails, then climbed on the jungle gym, slid down the slide, etc. They just had the best time…the kids new she didn’t understand them…but somehow they still managed to communicate. We have had a similar experience with another family that is adopting from the same orphange. They are from Israel, speak very little English, but through hand gestures we manage to get our points across. They are a precious couple becoming a family of 3 with a beautiful 2 1/2 year old boy. What a miracle God works through adoption…allowing a couple to become parents who wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity. What an amazing God we have!

We started out our day on a very rough note. Ruslan Clark was in RARE form and a terror…if you must know. To think of the calm easy kiddo we met those first couple of days. WEW! I was looking for some gypsies to sell him to…hahaha…you know I am kidding. I left our visit completely disappointed. We went to lunch with another couple, then came back to our room to regroup for our afternoon visit. God reminded me that I did not agree to be Ruslan’s mom only when things were going well. I am his mom from now until forever…regardless of his actions. It is an honor to be his mother…I know God will direct my path. I waited a long time to be his mother….and am so blessed to have 2 children that God has trusted us with. I am so grateful for the woman that gave birth to him…I wish she could know he is loved and will be well taken care of.

So….I was a tad bit nervous to return for our afternoon visit. However, it went considerably well. He came out of his room all smiles and glad to see us. We brought him a new toy and he loved it. He played and played and was sad to say good bye. I wish he understood that we won’t be saying good bye for much longer. Today was day 5 of our 10 day wait…then he will say good bye to the orphanage forever. I know that will be a bittersweet day for him…not fully understanding what is happening. Our precious boy just has no concept of what family is. I can’t wait for him to figure it all out…and figure out that there are so many people that love him…something he has never had.

I must confess…there won’t be any pictures…for a while at least. I knew I shouldn’t have tried that. I erased our memory card………….can you believe it? Thank goodness it was a new card and not the one we used for most of the trip. This card we just switched out a few days ago. I couldn’t believe it. I am just glad we only lost a few days worth of pictures. But, it did have a family picture that we took the day T.C. left…at his last visit to the orphanage. I know we will have many opportunities for family pictures soon! But, I think I messed up the format on the card also. Leave it to me!!!! I am going to talk to T.C. when he gets home about it and see what I need to do. I know I shouldn’t have messed with a computer written in Cyrillic. DUH!!!

T.C. gets home tonight…well, it is day there. I can’t wait to talk to him. It is strange being this far away from him. Right about now my mom is waiting in the Houston airport to head over here. She is in for a culture shock. Ha!! I think she will arrive at our hotel around this time tomorrow evening. (well, evening here) She is flying in the same day as another American couple. One of the families we are here with have parents coming in tomorrow also. So, we planned Mom’s trip around when they were coming in. That way our translator can drive them all here together. It is about a 4 hour drive from Kiev…which is where they are flying into. Mom is so excited to meet our little man. Hope he doesn’t act like he did this morning! 🙂

Again, thank you for your comments and prayers. Jill…I bet you can relate to our stories….has it been 2 1/2 years since you were here? Kay…yes, I can imagine how Sarah felt when she held her son. It is something you just can’t describe. Our little Samuel Ruslan Clark is an answer to pray…it was just all in God’s perfect timing.

Until next time…..

July 25, 2007   No Comments