Saturday, January 12, 2008

Update with pictures

(I had more pictures but this one took 15 minutes to load so I guess this will be it!)

We have been unable to post because we have been so busy the last few days. (And because the ADSL, as were the washer and elevator, that we were assured was here—was not!) We left Knoxville Sunday morning at 11:00 am with our friends Richard and Ginger, who took us to Atlanta. Ginger had prepared a nice lunch and we had a good visit on the way. We stayed overnight with Melissa’s Aunt Susan and Uncle Steve. In the morning we left for the airport and flew to JFK in New York and then onto Kiev. We arrived in Kiev and went to the train station and waited for 6 hours. We both fell asleep on the couches in the waiting area and we learned that you MUST NOT fall asleep on the couches for too long. It is interesting to be shaken awake by a police man in full camouflage speaking Russian! We finally took the 6 hour train ride to a very cold, 0 (F), Kharkov. At 00:15 am Wednesday we finally were able to go to bed!

In the morning, we picked up our court decree and went to see the boys and get some more documents. This ended up being a ten-hour day of driving and sitting in waiting rooms and freezing!

The next day was similar to the first, another ten hours of driving and documents and waiting and being a little less freezing (not because it was warm but because we were getting used to being freezing!)

Today was our favorite day so far. Why? Because we had to take our three boys TOGETHER to get pictures for passports and visas. We picked up Misha and Vitali first. Misha hopped happily into the car but Vitali stiffened and was obviously petrified of the car! Despite taking him around the car and letting him look it over and despite the sight of Misha’s ear-to-ear grin from inside the car, he would not calm down! What was the problem? We asked out translator. Turns out that most likely all of his car trips have involved trips to the doctor at the hospital which were not good experiences for him at all. Alla, our translator, assured him that we were absolutely not going to the hospital today and he submitted and snuggled up with Mama and stopped crying. Poor little guy!

We drove the short distance to Max’s orphanage and Misha was so excited to see his brother again. I (Melissa) waited in the car with he and Vitali watching him alternate between eager anticipation of seeing Max and being pre-occupied with the dome light.

Before long, Max was in view. Misha started exclaiming with joy, “Maxeeeeemmmm! (and a bunch of other stuff in Russian).”

Max was also excited to see Misha again, but the most touching part to us was after we were all settled in the car, Max kept looking over to Vitali, whom Max has not seen since he was one year old, and reaching out and petting his head or his cheek and, for most of the trip, holding his hand. He asked us, “ Eta Vitali?”(It is Vitali?) “Skolka (something) Vitali” (How many years is Vitali?)

“Three”, we told him. “And you?”

“Nine,” he said. (he’s eight) grinning, but again reaching up to pet his ‘Malinky’ (little) brother’s cheek. Then, back to holding his hand.

We had a great day with the boys. We enjoyed spotting every ‘Avtobus’ (bus), ‘Tram vye’ (electric bus), tractor, and ‘poiesd’ (train). Even a ‘Cemailot’ (airplane)! I don’t need to tell you all that with three girls, these have not been items of interest on our travels so far! The three boys and Steve and I were all sitting snuggled up in the back of a little car the size of a Ford Escort. It sounds cramped but it was wonderful—that is, until after our McDonald’s trip when Vitali threw up all over himself and Steve! (Just a quick note from Steve!) [In 8 years of having our girls I wasn’t vomited on once. I worked very hard on this and in our very first visit with all 3 boys, my crown has fallen! Vitali was also quite intrigued by standing up to use the urinals in the men’s rooms. We are going to have to find out how to say “don’t stare” in Russian! Courts can say you are the parent but getting thrown up on makes you the parent!!!]

Still, at the end of the day, it is easy for us to say that this was our best visit yet! To see Max with Vitali, so tender, and to have Vitali so unusually snuggly and sweet (he even hugged us both without being asked several times), and seeing them all together—oh this was wonderful! And we can not wait to get our boys home! Now, more than ever!

Keep praying! I am planning to fly home on Thursday and Wendy and Laurie, Steve’s mom and sister will likely fly here around then. Our hopes are that early the week of the twenty-first our sons will set foot in America!


Tami said...

What a wonderful, sweet reunion!! We're having a great time with Maddie as well. She is doing great at settling down to play, although heaven forbid another child comes anywhere near us. She chases them off with a very stern sounding warning. I think she's going to have a bit of a wake-up call when she gets home. ;)

christie said...

What a wonderful update, thanks so much Melissa! Such a sweet reunion for the boys. The Lord is so good!

Auntie G said...

What a moving story. I can't believe these boys haven't seen each other in 2 years. Tami is right, "sweet reunion."

Beth said...

That's a really cute picture of all of you. I can't wait to meet my new nephews. They look so sweet.

Kathy & Matt said...

It's so great to see the photo of all of you together. That was such a touching story of Max reconnecting with Vitali. What a blessing that you can bring these boys back together as a family.

We're praying that the rest of your trip goes smoothly and that you're all home soon!

I think we'll be arriving in Kiev about the time you're leaving. We get into Kiev late in the day on 1/20.

Grandma Falk said...

This picture is so meaningful and will be even more so to the boys someday. They have no idea what is ahead for them and how fortunate they are. Their sisters are eager for them to get here; they see the boys as constant playmates and are eager for the party to begin!

Blessings on you, Wendy and Laurie, as you go. How wonderful that you will be able to assist Steve on the trip home! We'll be waiting for you here in Knoxville!

The other Babooshka!

Nataliya said...

Wow, you must've been very tired if you could fall asleep at the train station! I wonder what the police officer said to you!

What a sweet reunion between the boys! Hope the rest of the paperwork will go smoothly without the 10-hour days driving and waiting!

Dawn said...

Sweet spite of the not-so-nice-illness-part.
We will continue to pray for you.

robert said...

It's good to be able to help you with your heating problem. I was brought to light through Richard about you're adopting the three boys.
My wife (Kathy) and I want you to disreguard the invoice for the service work of yesterday. We will shred your check. I know it's not much, but it's not out go either. God Bless all seven of you!