|Posted by Helen on March 5, 2010 at 7:10 PM||comments (6)|
Our Next Harry Potter
What an incredible week! First we received confirmation that our agency representative had in her hand the Interpol clearance to give to the courts. Then the next day the court told us "we would make fine parents”, but best of all we are having the time of our lives with our son Oscar!
Today was pretty much magical! Oscar was his usual excited self when he came into the playroom, we have really started to call home. After general playing, him trying to coerce candy from nurses, downing a cut up orange and being fed slices of banana, Oscar decided to focus once again his attention on his La La’s (his babies). As Oscar was about to put his babies down for a nap, I decide to give him my long sweater jacket to use as a blanket. After minutes of him analyzing just how he should position this garment as a blanket on his dolls. He quickly decides this piece of clothing is way to cool to use as a cover and realizes that he has found a new magical cape!
Oscar then starts to cruise around the playroom, donning his new found treasure! He then stops at the far end of the payroom and realizes he is missing something. Looking up to the far window sill he finds the required accessory to complete his gothic costume, a green hard hat. What else would any modern day warlock desire, to ensure he was covered in terms of his mystical abilities as well as safety! Great times were had by while our son fulfilled his magical journeys as he crossed the great divides of his playroom!
Our magician then tired of his mystical cape, dropping it to the floor, running to have daddy push him around in a tricycle that had another handle for adults to use to push and help steer. We the decided that the time was right to test a new toy we had decided to bring into Oscar’s world for the last while.
You see last week we decided to venture out to the many toy stores that adorn this classic eastern European city. We found a store called Mothercare and the toy that we hope will bridge the shock we expect little Oscar will have, when he first heads to the airport, boards a big plane and then hears the jet engines kick in! We found a Jumbo Jet toy plane equipped with a speaking (in a British accent) pilot, spaces for Mama and Papa and a compartment to put luggage. Oscar was completely consumed by this toy, even the box it came in was fun, especially when placed on papa’s head! Especially enjoyable to Oscar was when mama and papa mimed the recording of the pilot “this is your captain speaking, please fasten your seat belts and prepare for take off”! What seemed to be hours of fun was to be had putting the passengers in and out of the plane, placing their luggage into the back storage compartment of the plane, on and on again!
Recognizing Oscar was getting tired and becoming fixated on this toy, we decided that the time had come to break him away from his new found fixation. As expected this resulted in a near meltdown and to quickly alleviate the situation, Dave grabbed Oscar and started bouncing him off a large cylindrical sponge tube, used as an obstacle course for toddlers. This we found could serve as a mini trampoline when accompanied by an adult, (Dave) who would hold Oscar under the arms and bounce him down and then toss him in the air, coming to rest on the sponge tube only long enough to get bounced in the air once again!
Again, again, again, exclaimed Oscar pushing Dave past the point of exhaustion while continuously achieving that one more bounce in the air neither of us thought we had in them!
The attendant came on schedule after our 2+ hour play time. Se stepped into the room making great conversation with Oscar and him telling her of the many adventures he had enjoyed that day. She then exclaimed to Oscar it was lunch time and he should make his way to the door and say good bye to Mama and Papa. Oscar was clearly very comfortable with the attendant and she was obviously very used to him following her orders. She then outlined she was leaving, left the room and expected him, as we suspect was normal, to come running and follow her out of the room. Much to her surprise Oscar ran back to the cylindrical bouncing pad reached his arms into the air and exclaimed “again”! We were quite surprised after a number of minutes it was obvious that the attendant was not going to return and we weren’t sure if we were going to have him for the afternoon!
As it turned out the attendant didn’t return but one of the nurses did and was able to communicate to Oscar it was time for him to leave and have lunch but that mama and papa would be back again soon. Oscar reluctantly complied, realizing he had worn out Mama and Papa and suspect he had worked up an appetite and did not want to miss lunch.
It is hard to describe the sense of joy yet craving, a new parent has at this point when their new son is leaving them! To help us through this parting and hopefully to add futher joy for Oscar. We have started to wait for a little while after he leaves the playroom, until he makes it down to the first landing in the flight of stairs that leads down towards his dormitory. We then appear at the top of the stairs blowing kisses. Oscar then looks up and yells Mama, Papa and returns the gesture of sending kisses through the airwaves, back to us, incredibly appreciative new parents!
|Posted by Helen on March 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM||comments (7)|
March 2, 2010: Court is adjourned!
Well after weeks on end of watching snow melt (a good thing from weather, not so much from the description of what it feels we have been doing for 6 weeks, while we wait for what seems cold war bureaucracy!) we finally saw things kick into high gear today!
Spring is in the air with nicer temperatures around 3-5 degrees Celsius. Hence, the nasty snow and ice has mostly melted from the roads and streets. It was a good day for a 9 hr administrative road trip. Slava our facilitator set out the day with the following goals: 1) receive permission from a judge in Kyiv to travel to Ivankiv (for the purpose of adopting Oscar) 2) travel to Ivankiv (place where Oscar was born) 3) return by the end of the day for court (to officially request to adopt Oscar). We were picked up at 9am and drove with Vadim (our competent driver) and Slava (our facilitator) to a pink colored court building. Slava jumped out of the car alone to officially request to travel to Ivankiv for adoption purposes from a judge. It seems that everything has to be officially stamped and signed for anything to be done in Ukraine. After 45 mins, she returned to the car (thankfully, I had reading material and Dave was working remotely in his car office- see photo)! Slava had a stamped and signed permission slip in hand, and then stated “If everything goes well in Ivankiv, then we’ll return today at 4pm for a formal court appearance. If not then, we’ll have to return on Wed afternoon. Anything can happen in a smaller town court house.” I quickly started to pray, “Please God, let everything work out today!”
Then, we began our 80km drive north of Kyiv to Ivankiv. It was amazingly sunny and the roads were clear (this is a rare occurrence here in winter and so far seems to coincide with important days for Oscar!). Our way to Ivankiv was uneventful; there were some nasty pot holes that our driver skillfully maneuvered. As we entered the outskirts of the city, the surroundings started to resemble Northern Ontario, with similar tree forests, silver birch trees, and open farm land. We saw several modern large home developments, older villages with smaller old brick homes, green (not gold) dome churches and large farms fields. As we entered and exited certain town, there were either large crosses or religious saint monuments at the side of the road. I take it these towns are particularly religious and devoted Orthodox Christian communities.
As we arrived at Ivankiv, it was a very small government administrative town. There were many old Lada cars, police and ambulance vehicles, several military men and government workers. We wondered if Oscar’s mother or father still lived in the area or in a small village close by. As we previously mentioned, his birth mother had gave birth to Oscar in Ivankiv, then slipped out of the hospital in the middle of the night. Slava broke my thoughts by jumping out of the car for 45 mins to receive a stamped and signed permission slip to adopt Oscar.
It was nearing 1pm and we went to a restaurant just south of Ivankiv for lunch. But, animal lovers beware! It also resembled a taxidermy shop with dozens of stuffed animals (beaver, wild boar, bears, deer’s and birds) hanging on the walls and chairs covered with wolf and fox furs. We ate traditional Ukrainian food (borsch, fish, chicken Kyiv, rice, and poppy seed crepes). To my surprise, after 6 weeks, this was also the place where I was christened to the “hole in the floor toilet”! That was an interesting squatting experience.
Unfortunately, our driver received a bogus driving ticket. Apparently, he was driving in a poorly identified ‘prohibited’ lane. Talk about a cash grab! Vadim was rightfully annoyed but then he jokingly said, the prohibited lane’s sole purpose is for the new president of Ukraine (Victor Yanukovych), which apparently lives in the region! (See photo).
Soon afterwards, we hopped back in the car for a 1.5 hr to the pink court house. We waited for approx. 20 mins then entered a small office with a judge, attorney, court scribe, Slava, social worker (all women), Dave and myself. The judge asked us several questions, such as where we lived, why we wanted to adopt a child from Ukraine and where we worked and Dave’s annual salary. The last question was addressed to me…. “Since Oscar is so young, how was I planning to care for the child”? I should have responded with “Well, Dave is planning to be a stay at home dad!” We were then pronounced the official parents for Oscar Frederickson. Dave and I were a bit shocked, thinking to ourselves “That’s it! A ten minute meeting and we’re now officially parents?!” Then, Slava congratulated us! We exited the room giving high 5’s to each other!
That said were not done, we have another meeting on 12th to review court filings, then a final court date on 16th where we get official custody. We then need to get a birth certificate from Ivankiv and then we get to actually take Oscar out of the orphanage! Then passport and immigration papers and looks like our date home will be March 23rd!
Getting late will post photo's tomorrow after we see Oscar!
|Posted by Helen on February 27, 2010 at 7:59 AM||comments (8)|
February 27, 2010-Interpol’s Most Wanted
We’re no longer on Interpol’s most wanted list. Yesterday, we finally received Interpol clearance after 5-6 weeks of hounding RCMP/Interpol Canada, Interpol Ukraine and the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv. We liked to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in making this possible (including CARC and our local facilitators, friend Piero and Keith Swinton from the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv).
We are now on Oscar’s most wanted list!!!!!
Next we require a court date; this will hopefully be Wednesday at the latest. Following this, there is a 10 day waiting period (this gives the biological family opportunity to object the adoption-since no family members have visited him in 3 years, we’re praying there’s no objection). After the 10 day waiting period, we receive court approval, and then travel to Oscar Nazar’s birth place (Ivankiv, Ukraine) for his birth certificate, return to Kyiv for his visa and passport. In total, this process may take an additional 3-4 weeks. We’ve been warned that more delays can occur due to the many municipal departments involved. We’re hoping the recent presidential inauguration of Victor Yanukovych on Feb 25, 2010, will deter any adoption delays.
Last night we decided to celebrate at the Canadian Embassy’s pub nite. We enjoyed the company of many expats living in Ukraine as well as pizza, beer and table hockey with our friends Jennifer, Martin, Laura and many new friends. The people were incredibly friendly and genuinely supportive of our adoption journey. We then made our way down the street to the Golden gate pub to see if we could catch the Finland – U.S. hockey game, however they only showed the summary of the licking U.S. handed to the Finn’s.
We also had another amazing day with Oscar! The second we saw him in the orphanage lobby, he ran across the floor with his arms reaching out and shouting papa, then jumped into Dave’s awaiting arms! He is really bonding with us and is far more receptive to us telling him ‘no’ when he is about to do something he shouldn’t. We are communicating with him much better despite language barriers and he was very happy the entire time. Airplane rides, trying cut up grapes for what seemed his first time, getting pushed around on his tricycle, playing with La La’s (babies) and letting us rock him in his arms. He even rocked the baby in his arms and clearly understands the wonder of being comforted and safe! He was also clearly upset when our time to visit came to an end and the attendant came into the room. Tetiana the head nurse quickly responded by passing a candy secretly to the attendant to coax him away without a fight! It is getting very difficult for us to let him go and maybe we need the candies too!
14 days into the Olympics we just found a Russian channel that has them on our T.V. and were able to catch the end of the 3rd period of the Canada Slovakia game. Thank you Luongo for getting us to the finals! We are incredibly proud of the amazing showing our Canadian athletes have shown us! Go Canada Go and will be watching on Sunday, regardless of the time difference!
|Posted by Helen on February 24, 2010 at 9:32 AM||comments (9)|
February 24, 2010
Oscar’s Birthday party was a huge success! We first set up in a music room on the second floor of the orphanage just across from the play area we visit pretty much everyday with Oscar. After we had all the decorations up we were told by Tetiana (who is very, very nice and obviousely kind) that their was no music teacher available to play piano and know seeing how much food and other goodies we had brought, decided it was better to set ourselves up in the group area where the kids spend the majority of their time. We entered his group’s area which consisted of a very warm play area with lots of toys, and an adjacent room with 8 cute little beds where the children slept. It occurred to me that the children spend the majority of their times in theses two rooms! I had not seen them playing outside or other parts of the orphanage. The children were getting dressed and getting prepared for a very special party. Between the two rooms there were two large windows so as we started putting up the decorations the kids could all see that something special was happening. Oscar started jumping up and down and waving to Dave. Then settled him down long enough to get a tie on him. Then Oscar was the first to bound out of the room his tie, white shirt and vest. We quickly placed a birthday hat on him and he started to strut the room proudly, knowing full well this was his special day! The rest of the 6 children slowly entered the play area and each exclaiming “ooooooo, yaaaaaaaah” (and they all sounded exactly the same!) at the balloons and streamers hanging on the wall. Each child had a birthday hat placed on their heads.
Of course, a couple of the children were afraid of us and started and cry. I don’t think they see many strangers and likely few men. The crying quickly resolved as I offered pieces apples, oranges and bananas. Then, one of the nurses gathered them in circle to hold hands and sing songs together. After a few songs, the children obediently gathered back at their chairs and mini tables and began to joyfully eat more fruit and drink apple juice.
Then, as the children were completely content and not expecting anything else, Dave entered the room with a huge chocolate cake with a # 3 Winnie the Pooh candle. It was placed in front of Oscar and he didn’t know what to do with it. One of the nurses started to yell out “Blow out the candle!” “Blow out the candle!” in Ukrainian. He successfully blew out the candle and then swiped his hand through the icing on the cake. He was quickly escorted out of the room by one of the attendants to clean his hand. I thought to myself, “oh, just let him lick the chocolate off his hand”. He resumed his proper chair position and shoveled huge amounts of cake in his mouth with a spoon. I thought okay he knows how to use a spoon….. somewhat. I had to quickly cut up the rest of the cake in little pieces before he could wolf down the rest of the cake. I still had cookies to give out and I placed cookies on the tables (to the nurses surprise that there was more goodies for the children!). Then came the SUGAR high and mayhem broke out as all the kids leaped from their chairs and started running around, grabbing dolls in strollers and screaming for joy!!!!
They began to pick up and play with balloons which had fallen on the floor. I must admit that a bit of paranoia overcame me and I began to worry about a child choking on a balloon. I had to calm myself down by acknowledge there were 5 adults supervising 7 children. It was amazing none of the balloons broke, despite of been sat & rolled on by 2-3 year olds. One of the girls was insistent on playing with only me and her balloon. Dave was entertaining as many children as possible including Oscar and a couple nurses decided to take a mini break. The kids were very fascinated with how the balloons could be bounced of their little heads and hit high in the air. One small boy Sasha took a strong liking to Dave. At one point when there was a loud noise emanating from an adjacent room where workmen were doing repairs, little Sasha ran under Dave’s legs holding them tight and not wanting him to move. At this point, I was boiling hot due to the room being soo warm!
Then, we brought out the gift bags! Each child had similar bags, with a coloring book, crayons, and small leaping frogs and more chocolate. One of the nurses motioned to remove the chocolate from the bags by demonstrating a ‘throwing up gesture’. I quickly removed all the kinder surprises and smaller chocolates. She appreciated my ability to master non verbal communication!
The children were fascinated with the pretty gift bags. Many of them just carried them around on their arms, but realizing they contained gifts inside. As I pulled out one of the colouring books from one of the bags, they all became very excited and quickly sat down to see what other gifts were contained inside. They quickly pulled out the crayons and colouring books in delight and started to draw their little master pieces. Near the end, we noticed a lack of crayons in most of the children’s bags. Dave noted that the smallest most unassuming girl in the group managed to claim most of the other kid’s crayons and place it in her own bag. I thought to myself, “No wonder she wasn’t coloring. She was too busy stealing everyone’s crayons!” In this orphanage, children shared everything, so hoarding is a common behavior.
We ended the party by thanking the nurses with some champagne. The nurses gave me a second glass and we all said cheers in many different languages. They were probably thanking me for adopting or for taking the rowdiest kid off their hands! After Dave finished giving all the boys and even one of the girls airplane rides, we had to say our goodbyes.
As we left we discussed how clear it was that not only was this Oscar’s special day but he also showed strong signs of being the ring leader and was more bold than the other kids. He may have also been showing off a little bit! Oscar seemed very proud of the efforts of his Mama and Papa and often referenced while chowing down cake and multiple cookies at once that “yes my Mama and Papa brought us all these!”
|Posted by Helen on February 23, 2010 at 4:05 PM||comments (1)|
February 23, 2010
Today was a watershed day in terms of the attachment we achieved with Oscar! Everything started off right from the start, it was an amazing and sunny day in Kyiv, we both had a great sleep, and the regular exercise is paying off in multiple ways! We had the best ever visit with Oscar we’ve had to date!
He has mostly recovered from his viral infection (stomatits/mouth ulcers) and was back to his Tigger (T I, double gU “ER” energetic self. Before he even entered the room we heard his joyful voice from downstairs and across the hall and made out the references to Papa and Mama. As soon as he entered the room we knew right off that he was feeling better and was ready to have some good fun with mom and dad! We had a great time playing hide and seek and chasing each other across the room. We discussed the intricacies of the Banana trade in the world today (check out photos). He cruised the room with his tricycle and his “la la” dolly in the basket and ran like a wild little man everywhere. We’ve been teaching him how to sip out of a non-spill cup. It’s taking a bit a time, but he did not attempt to unscrew the cap and dump the water on the floor this time! Small steps for Oscar, BIG steps for mankind (or at least parents of upcoming mankind!).
There was a couple of the break through moments with Helcat and Oscar. First, while pretending to give Oscar a kiss by pursing my lips and making a kissing sound, he responded by returning it with a real kiss on my cheek, TWICE. This totally stunned me and melted both Dave and I.
The second break through occurred when I pretended to sleep and mimicked loud snoring noises (not too hard to fake!). Oscar was fascinated with the fact that I was lying on the bean bag and snoring away. He proceeded to gently and meticulously cover me with a blanket, tucking in my chin and feet. Then he climbed on top of me and covered my mouth to stop me from snoring.
His main nurse (seen in the photo) was even surprised of how well he was behaving and playing with his want-to-be parents. It feels really fulfilling to also receive positive feedback from those that have obviously been the most important people in Oscar’s live and those he trusts!
Later in the day, we did our Sherpa route for some party supplies. This time we enlisted our Canadian Waterland family to assist us in our pilgrimage and had our target destination recommended by Peter and Wendy! This consisted of walking a long distance for party gifts bags and trinkets, birthday cake, juice, fruit and cookies and 2 bottles of champagne for the staff. Then, ended with taking the Kyiv Metro at rush hour (this is quite amazing task without getting completely lost! -None of us can read Ukrainian or Russian). Thank you Jennifer, Laura and Martin! As I looked at all the chocolate containing items, I think the nurses are going to have a hard time containing all the sugar high toddlers. I hope the champagne helps with any nurse agitation.
We have also included a couple of photo’s from our skating venture last week, Kyiv is big on skating and there are a number of places you can rent skates and go skating! A great break from the mental grind of the adoption process and wonderful to spend time with other couples/Families that are embarking on the same journey!
Having been delinquent updating the blog last week regularly we felt it was important to get this out. This said and trying to keep positive, we have still heard no update from the SDA and our Interpol clearance. We are now calling on all we can to try and assist us. We are keeping our hopes and faith tomorrow will be an extra special day, both with the 3rd birthday of our son and the day we get the clearance we are waiting for!
Thanks and appreciate the positive energy all of you send us everyday!!!!
|Posted by Helen on February 21, 2010 at 3:31 PM||comments (6)|
Once again it has taken us several days to update the blog and today marks 5 weeks since we landed here in Kyiv, Ukraine! Believe it or not we are still waiting to get Interpol clearance sent to the SDA or Child Adoption Ministry. Last Wednesday we had the Canadian Emabassy intervene and were assured that we would get confirmation by Friday at latest, Thursday heard from our agency contact that the delay was one person "not having time to sign the documents". Suspect the issue is that the "donation" channels have yet to be set up and people are wanting their share of the "game"?
Despite this we have kept quite a good perspective, mainly driven by the daily time, during the mornings during the week, we get to spend with Oscar. It really puts everything into perspective, as our good friend James so clearlt pointed out, we are being delayed by a few weeks, while Oscar was caught in the system for 2 1/2 years!
We had some break through moments this past week, like when Oscar having decided he wanted to keep the plastic spoon we use to give him vitamins started to have a "moment" until Helen was able to calmly speak to him in Ukrainian, Bud Laska (Please) and he not only gave back the spoon, but getting the positive praise in the process also made him reach out for a loving hug from his Mama! It was amazing to see the connection when he knew he had done something he felt good about and was able to bridge the bond between mother and son!
He is still being given the anesthetic mouth medication for the viral infection he has which as you will see by the pictures makes his mouth turn blue. I thought he had just finished a big Jaw Breaker candy the first time we saw him. He has started to get back to his old energy level although his appetite is not where he was before, suspect eating is still somewhat uncomfortable! Apparently this is quite common with kids with vitamin deficiencies?
We are certainly getting to know Kyiv and have met some wonderful people. I really appreciate working for HP and ability to work even a little and also get to know people here and we are learning so much from them. The journey many have gone through over the last 25 years is something most of us in North America just cannot appreciate. The transition of life after the fall of the Soviet Empire, where before not too many years ago owning an apartment or a car was something many waited many years to achieve. Now they are living in a society where the division of classes is still very real and likely more visible with Chanel, Maserati and many other untouchable brands being right there in store fronts as you walk the streets of downtown Kyiv!
We have also had the opportunity to as Helcat says "kick it up a notch" and had another great venture Friday night, first of culinary delight followed by taking in the musical and dancing experiences Kyiv has to offer!
Yesterday we had the priviledge of joining David Sinclair, his wife Dina and their 4 year old son Charlie at a Curling Bonspeil put on by the Canadian Embassy. David runs the HP Enterprise Services business for a portion of Eastern Europe and I had the fortune of meeting him while locked out of the HP office a couple of weeks back. David is originally from the U.S. and we likely have crossed paths over the years and his lovely wife is from Russia. Although we were unsuccessful in winning a gold, silver of bronze medal, we had a fabulous day and met many other people from Canada and other countries. We even had the opportunity to meet Keith from the Canadian Embassy who has been trying to help break the log jam with Interpol Kyiv. I must admit if it weren't for Dina and Helen's skill at placing the stones in scoring position we would not have won the one game we did!
Kyiv is a cultural hot bed and this week we hope to get out and catch some of the gallery showing and there is a Latino cultural festival that looks very enticing. Can't imagine how the Latin Americans are managing the weather given we have really only seen about 4-5 days of sun in 5 weeks we have been here.
The big big event however this week is Oscar's 3rd birthday on Wednesday the 24th of February. We were very pleased when we were told we could host a birthday party at the Orphanage and have already bought colouring books, crayons, candies cookies, streamers and other assorted items to put in gift bags for the 7 kids in Oscar's group. Tuesday we will get a cake and we were also told the staff would appreciate a couple bottles of low cost champagne to enjoy while watching us play with the kids! We can hardly wait and look forward to meeting some of the other kids, watch Oscar interact and plan on taking lots of photos and likely video tape this very important event!
Thanks again for all your well wishes and support. They say it takes a village to bring up a child and we really feel we have a small country of friends and family that through their love and support make this journey incredibly special, despite the momentary set backs or "speed bumps" on our road for our family!
|Posted by Helen on February 17, 2010 at 2:13 PM||comments (4)|
We apologize for not blogging for the last few days. We were hoping we would have good news regarding to the Interpol clearance, but still no word. Today, after much badgering, we had the Canadian embassy intervene with Interpol Ukraine. We have now been advised that the clearances will be sent to the SDA in 1-2 days, this after Dave exclaimed to the agency, the Canadian Embassy and to Interpol that “ that’s okay I have nothing better to do than to keep calling you until this gets resolved!”. I’m trying to be patient by writing and drinking my 50 cent bottle of Stella Artois.
Oscar now has stomatitis (painful mouth sores) and a viral infection. We were able to see him after 5 days of waiting (for the orphanage to allow us to visit him again). As expected, Oscar was very cranky and we noted his mouth was dyed blue to due the medication given at the orphanage. I guess it may be a local anesthetic similar to our viscous lidocaine. Ofcourse, the crankiness entailed some testing. Oscar was given some water to drink and he drank some then dumped the rest on the carpet! He proceeded to laugh and play in the puddle of water he created. Dave was not soo impressed! Dave sternly told Oscar ‘nyet, ni, pohanyi’ or ‘no, bad’ in english and Oscar started to laugh more! This then required a more focused response as we try to navigate being sensitive to his situation while ensuring he understood the “beyond the boundary behaviour”. Finally, Oscar noted Dave’s disapproval and after being picked up out of the puddle of water and handed to me, he started to cry. I tried to diffuse the situation, by distracting Oscar with his daily vitamin D and multivitamin droplets (which he actually likes!).
Then, we he played for a little while on his own and soon was playing peekaboo with Dave; and in his arms watching workmen clean the snow off the roof just outside the play area window. Although the time was short again, and Oscar’s mood was far from normal, we were still grateful for understanding how to deal with him in such a circumstance. One could only imagine if he was feeling that sick and cranky and dealing with him on an airplane ride home for 20 hours! Maybe the delays are actually here to give us time to learn and strengthen the bond that hopefully will last a lifetime!
On a different note, I thought I would write down some of my observations of the past Ukrainian Presidential election (first need to put forth the disclaimer that the opinions outlined below are based on the perspectives of Dave and I and do not represent in any fashion the average Ukrainian!) Hopefully, Big brother isn’t censoring this blog! First, I’ve noted a stoic post Soviet demeanor from many of the habitants of Kyiv. This seems to subside in rural and social settings involving alcohol. For example, despite of the apathetic view of some we have spoken to regarding the recent presidential election, young people in certain settings (involving alcohol); begin to disclose their dismay of the newly elected president Victor Yanukovych. One young man quoted “How is it possible that a criminal can become our president?” Victor has been convicted twice with criminal activity! The Kyiv Post newspaper headlines read “From Prison to President”. It should be noted that apparently each publication is owned by parties that have specific ties back to either party and had much to gain by their candidate being elected!
On Feb 7, 2010 Victor slimly edged out Yulia Tymoshenko (49% vs. 45.5%) in the final presidential election. To ensure a legitimate election and avoid another ‘Orange Revolution’, international observers monitored the election. In spite of this, Yulia is contesting the election, stating she has proof that 900,000 votes were invalid. “According to Chernenko, the chairman of a Western funded Committee of Ukrainian Voters, he states “ a common violation observed was the offering of money for votes, which was happening all over.” I must say, I’m feeling quite vulnerable during this controversial election! An election is the most volatile time anyone can visit a country….let alone during an international adoption!
This said we are certainly not alone and have met some great friends on this journey. Last week we had the priviledge of meeting two other families that are also here. We decided to host a dinner at our apartment Saturday night and although making the call late Saturday and having what Dave calls "camping like capabilities and tools", we had a terrific dinner.Thanks to Peter who brought over his Sling, we also saw some of the Olympics via CTV (See photo of us apres dinner)! Then on Monday evening we all went skating at Independance Square and when we get pictures from Peter, as we were rushed and left camera at the apartment , so we will post later!
|Posted by Helen on February 12, 2010 at 12:21 PM||comments (3)|
Feb 12, 2010
Well, it’s been 28 days since we left Toronto, wow how time flies when you’re on an incredible journey! Sorry for delay in getting the blog updated, we hoped that we would have completely broken the bottleneck but more on that later.
Oscar and other children at the orphanage are all sick this week and there has been a second wave of a cold/flu virus going around. Despite this we were able to visit him almost everyday this week and have really started to notice him getting more comfortable with us. Also, we have become much better at structuring our time together in order to make the most of what is typically just under a 2 hour visit.
A couple of days ago we brought in a “sample” from our fashion expose we posted. It’s hard to describe how incredibly excited he was when we declared we had some clothes we wanted him to try on? He immediately dove away from the baby, or “lah lah” as he calls it, that he was playing with and ran across the floor acting as if we were about to pull out a new“puppy” or something (imagine what he will be like when we get a new Duney!)? Our fashion choice as you can see in the photo section, as a pair of dark blue corduroy overalls, the funky “ Ramones” running shoe silk screen pull over and a pair of functional yet fashionable kids shoes. An attendant came into the room and he immediately headed over to explain how good he looked or something like that in Ukrainian followed by a “papa “ comment referencing that that was where he came into such good fortune! Hope this lasts as long as it can!
Yesterday we were only able to visit him for 30mins, which was better then what was presented as we first got to the orphanage. He has a low grade fever with some cold symptoms and fatigue++. He’s still playing which is a good sign (will take a heck of a lot more to keep this guy down!). We were grateful even for the short time we had andf tried to focus on colouring and other games that wouldn’t drain him. He still enjoys being picked up the most which we all enjoy. We’ve been asked again to not visit him till Monday.
We’ve received some good news from Interpol Canada. They’ve sent our clearance check to Ukraine Interpol as of midday Ottawa time Wednesday. But, we’re still waiting for the SDA approval and go ahead for the court proceedings. Hopefully, we hear word early next week. Due to the Interpol delay, we’ll being here for an additional for 2-3 weeks. When we finally receive the clearance, there’s a 3-5 day waiting period for the court date, then a 10 day waiting period till we gain full custody of Oscar.
Another interesting note, yesterday we received a call from the Canadian embassy apologizing for not engaging the Interpol process. Basically, they thanked Dave for doing their job. Ironically, we’ve been invited by Dave’s HP colleague to a curling event to celebrate the Olympics; which is being hosted by the Canadian embassy. I guess this will give us to opportunity formally introduce ourselves!
Other interesting tidbits, an article in paper this week warned of “wild animals making their way into the city! The winter has been so cold and more snow than usual so they are looking for food. People are warned to be especially diligent if walking the streets late at night”. Apparently sightings of wolves and bears have taken place, and we thought they were clubbers late last weekend! Warren Zevon back from the grave for a revised cover, with Werewolves of Ukraine!
We finally had the opportunity to meet 2 other Canadian families going thru the adoption process. After 3 weeks, it was so good to meet friendly Canadian folks and commiserate over the adoption process. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they start a similar journey and as we were wisely told reminded them that the most important thing for them to have packed for this trip, was their “sense of humour”!
|Posted by Helen on February 9, 2010 at 10:17 AM||comments (7)|
Oscar is doing a lot better and we're now visiting him everyday. We noticed his lower energy level, so we looked at books, did some coloring and allowed him to play on his own. Although he still did enjoy being chased and especially enjoyed Dave holding him upside down to pick up things he would drop on the ground! Today, he was a bit grumpy, and started to test us big time. He had another tantrum, and a few hissy fits. We are still learning how to really say the word “Ni/no” and how to avoid power struggles. He’s very smart and can read people very well. At times, we’re able to distract him, set boundaries, but sometimes, he just……. out wits us! He must being saying, “Man, you two are total novices in the parenting department”. Overall, we’re having a grand time everyday. He’s bonding and attaching to us more and more everyday.
Regarding the Interpol check, we still have no word. We’ve contacted Interpol Canada and the Canadian embassy in Kyiv, but we’ve been told that they can be of no further assistance. We keep on getting conflicting information whether it’s Interpol Canada, Ukraine or France (international headquarters) who does the clearance checks. In other words, we still have no idea what’s going on! Because this process can take up to 40 days, we’ve been given the option to leave Ukraine and return for our court date, but we can’t leave Oscar now (he’s already experienced too much loss and abandonment in his short life)! UGH!
**Real time update, just had another call from our local agency contact Lesya and she again was told by the Adoptions Agency the SDA that the delay is in fact in Canada and that all other countries have had their requests processed? We just attempted to contact the person with the RCMP (email and voicemail) who tried to help us yesterday and using all other means we have to try and break the log jam. As ridiculous as this is for us we really do hope we can break ground so other families in future don’t have to go through the same delays as it appears unless we push this will not get resolved on its own! We were told today that a U.S. family was having a similar issue but the U.S. embassy was able to assist, unfortunately for us the Canadian Embassy outlined they were informed by the SDA to stay out of it? We were also informed that apparently fake Interpol or police checks were uncovered in previous family portfolio’s that has caused the Ukrainian government to implement this step. Challenge is our government will only do it with finger prints and not by name and there is an “automated” process that countries are supposed to follow. Quote was “we have our process and will not change it for one country”, meanwhile Canadian citizens are stuck in limbo and all other countries have figured out how to get through it but ours! Frustrating, just a bit but we will keep pushing and have no intentions of leaving Oscar as some have suggested, as we are just building that very important bond and hopefully attachment!
You must be wondering how we keep from going crazy! Well, yoga helps. Dave continues to keep the pulse at HP via his blackberry and popping into HP Kiev office (thank you technology!) We’re peeling thru books and newspapers, trying to learn common Ukrainian and Russian words. We’ve almost completed the “Mad Men” series and several movie DVDs we brought with us. Thankfully, we still have the “Dog Whisperer” & “Sex in the City” series to get through (Dave also says good cheap Vodka really helps!) But let’s face it; at least for majority of girls reading this, what is the one thing that can lift spirits after challenging times…… shopping of course!
Kyiv is a modern city, and well there’s shopping, shopping and more shopping. We’ve located great children’s clothing & toys at a nearby mall (Teatraina subway). We’ve been there about x10 times (returning shoes over and over again because Oscar’s shoe size is bigger than we expected size 25 verses size 23). At the orphanage, we noticed his shoes were too small, so we went on a shoe mission. The clothes are not according to age, but the height of the child, so we had to confirm his height=95.5 cm before buying any clothes. We had fun buying Oscar cool clothing so much so we put together a fashion portfolio(see photos and needed to do something to get mind off issues!). We will need to completely outfit Oscar when he leaves the orphanage. We had to get over the fact that our little man will not be taking anything with him (no clothes or toys). We’re glad we gave him a blanket and a few toys as transitional objects when we finally break him out of the orphanage.
As many of you know, Dave loves food and cooking and we’ve located a great food market at the Mandarin Mall and even though utensils and equipment are not what he is used to we are eating very well. (Thank you Fran! You can actually park your cart, sit and have a latte, dessert at a café!). Dave equates it to cooking when you are camping! Finally, we are experiencing the Ukrainian culture through Ukrainian cuisine, entertainment and drink! All of these things hopefully will prevent us from going crazy or killing each other, while we wait and wait and wait for the Canadian government to understand that this new requirement is now law and unless they want families to continue to go through hell, they will need to figure out how to comply!
Love you all for staying with us in this journey of hope, love and family!
|Posted by Helen on February 5, 2010 at 8:55 AM||comments (9)|
Well between yesterday and today we had a triple header, and not in a good way!
First, our little Oscar Nazar is still sick with a cold and ear infection. The orphanage has asked us to let him convalesce. It will be 4-5 days before we get to see him again! Ugh! Its heart breaking not to be able to care of him while he’s ill, although we are confident he is getting good care at the orphanage.
Secondly, to make matters worse, we still have not heard about our Interpol check. More frustrating…we’ve already had 2 of these checks completed in the last 9 months already!!!! We’ve contacted the Canadian Embassy and RCMP in Canada to assist in expediting the process. We have been told by various sources that it could take anywhere from 7-40 days! We were told that the SDA requested the Interpol request thru External Affairs prior to Jan 16, 2010. We’re wondering if it’s still sitting on someone’s desk at External Affairs? Yesterday we called Ottawa to no avail and our Agency in Toronto had conflicting information as to what we should do. Last email around midnight Toronto time suggested we may want to head home until we get a court date!
Today, we called the Canadian embassy who had not heard of the February 1st change in Ukrainian adoption but the contact empathized with our position and outlined she would contact the Adoption Agency (SDA) and try to get more detail for us. We then spoke to our local contact and she outlined that the mission for today was to get to the bottom of who the SDA was implementing this process through, and if anything we could do to improve the outlook! We were then corrected on misinformation we had received yesterday that families from “other” countries had had there Interpol checks put through in an expeditious manner and that the issue was a “Canadian” problem. We were informed that everyone was having the same issue. Not that we would wish this on any other couples but it was frustrating to think our delay was caused by our government civil servants (Sorry Dave’s Sis, she works for the Fed’s!)
Then, we had a call from Slava, who outlined she had confirmation that the SDA was working this process through Ukrainian External affairs who then would go through Canadian government and that the request has been in process for some time (waiting for confirmation as to when?), and we were working to get details on how long we should expect to wait.To say the least, we’re beside ourselves…..and have no further recourse at this time. The thought of having to return home to wait for our Interpol clearance and court date is heart wrenching! Of course, Dave is all optimistic that things will work out and is focused on working through all contacts we can (Maybe a donation can speed things up?). As a result, today we are sitting tight waiting to get an update and hopefully accelerate the process?
Third, we almost got caught up in a classic Ukrainian tourist scam. Last night when we were almost home around 7 pm we took our turn off the main street in front of our apartment (the one with secret service type guys sitting in running high end vehicles). We had a young gentleman cut past us holding what appeared to be a camera bag. As he gets a few feet in front of us, we see a small zip lock bag with a stack of bills, the outside one being an American $10, fall to the ground. Dave immediately yelled out picked up the cash and handed it back to the young man. At first, he was very thankful and shook both our hands. Then after walking a few more feet and as we were almost at our apartment door he asked if we also saw a second envelope. As Dave immediately said no, I motioned Dave to ignore the man and continue walking, as I recalled an article in the paper that outlined basically this same scenario of events. Only in that case you just see the money bag and are approached by someone to split it and immediately after a phony police officer comes by asking you to verify you don’t have the money in your wallet and the proceed to take whatever they can get from you under threat you will be arrested. We then immediately entered our apartment building and quickly got inside our apartment and locked the door. Rattled but having been car jacked years ago vacationing in Costa Rica our spidey senses were on high alert and felt good that we quickly got away from the situation.
For all those potential adoptees reading this blog if you ever see a bag of money on the ground, ignore the entire situation and move on quickly to avoid this classic scam. Thanks to the Kyiv Post for including the article two weeks back!
So that was our triple header!!!
On a different track, yesterday we visited the Chornobyl Museum and it was a sobering experience, and helped put the delays and other setbacks in the right perspective! As you enter the museum, you feel the intense horror of the worst nuclear disaster in history. In the main foyer, there were large prophetic paintings representing the disaster and referencing Revelation 8:11 and something about wormwood….. Interesting to note the word “wormwood” in Ukrainian is Chernobyl….? As you walk up the main set of stairs, town city signs hang above you, and as you exit the exhibit, the same signs have the city names crossed out in red to let you know these are now evacuated ‘ghost cities’ from the disaster. It is very surreal as you pass the identity cards and family photos, tools and equipment of those who were killed after the explosion on April 26, 1986. Large art installations remember the families who died, through family photos, traditional clothing, children’s dolls; and religious painting and church remains representing lost orthodox churches.
We watched videos of individuals who were ordered back to work to be liquidators of the disaster (engineers, lab personnel and miners) to clean up the disaster. It suddenly, occurred to me, this was a death penalty for all of them as they wore only masks during the clean up of the radioactive substances. Unfortunately, thousands of people died from radiation poisoning and many others died of thyroid and cancer related illness years after. I recall as an RN at Sick Kids, caring for a child who was a victim of this aftermath and died of cancer in the ICU several years after the accident. The exhibit did a good job of making it clear that the real victims of this disaster were the generations of children and it was heartwarming to see Canada identified as one of the countries that stepped in to assist children affected by the long term issues of this disaster.
Ukraine has certainly had more than its fair share of tough times and with a looming Presidential election coming this Monday February 7th; I can’t say there is significant confidence in changes for the average Ukrainian person. It appears issues with vote rigging and rampant accusations of corruption leave little faith with most people (the official printer of ballots was attacked by an organized group of over 100 “soldiers”and public concern that promises of the 2004 Orange revolution are merely not realistic and favour to the old regime seems to be tipping the scales!). It should be an exciting weekend and both parties having huge stages set up with Yulia Tymoshenko outside the St. Sofia Cathedral and Victor Yanukovych literally across the street outside the St. Michael’s cathedral, both of which are literally minutes away from each other and in sight!
That’s all for now and again we greatly appreciate your support, well wishes and prayers. Anyone with any political/government pull to navigate what appears to be a bureaucratic process is always welcome!