What a whirlwind the past few days have been since we left California on Sunday morning at 6 am only to arrive to our apartment in Ukraine on Tuesday night at 6pm.
The flights this time to Ukraine were uneventful and with no delays due to VOLCANOS. Thank God! It's amazing how less stressful this trip was for us. Isn't it amazing when flights take off and land as expected. It was wonderful. When we arrived in Kiev on Monday afternoon at 2pm, we were immediately taken to the train station to catch a 5:30 pm Express Train to Dnep. Well, I guess we needed just a *little* bit of drama and due to a miscommunication we missed our train and had to wait another 6 hours to catch the overnight train to Dnep...so much for getting unpacked and rested before our marathon day planned for Tuesday.
We stepped off the train on Tuesday morning (this morning) at 7 am and Marina greeted us and we HIT THE GROUND RUNNING. Seriously, running. Marina is absolutely the energizer bunny. She's organized, smart, beautiful, driven, full of energy, and does NOT take no for an answer. We did see her eat today...so we know she's human and not some adoption super hero! Seriously, this woman is amazing and I've not met anyone like her before! She is definitely in the right business and is an angel in disguise for the orphans in this country.
I lost count on all the different places and stops we made today. I swear we made over 25 different stops and trips to gather all the paperwork to finalize Sofia's adoption and get her passport documents submitted. The good news is that we accomplished EVERYTHING we needed to do today and now it's just a waiting game until the passport arrives.
Our highlight of the day (besides a Big Mac at McDonald's in the bigger city of Dnep) was seeing Sofia and getting to take her on a drive to the passport agency for her photo. She immediately greeted us with smiles and waves. They woke her up early from her nap so it took her awhile to figure out what was going on since we whisked her away in our taxi and of course the open window air and sunlight was startling to her as well. It's been a month since we last took her outside. She looks good. Her hair has grown but she still has a bit of a cold and her color is very pale. This baby girl needs to get out into the sun...needs her Vitamin D dose of sunlight. It also looks like the exczema on her tongue (known as geographic tongue) has flared up and she may have a slight eye infection in one eye but otherwise she's still our healthy little "tank". I think she may have lost any of the small gains we had made in her physical development but I'm confident it will return once we get her out of the orphanage and into loving arms and with lots more opportunity and motivation to move and explore.
On our drive to the passport agency we changed Sofia into one of her new little outfits. A girl has got to get "dressed" for a photo opportunity after all! First photo attempt after propping her on the chair with several reams of copy paper to get her to the right height, she looked right at the camera and gave the sweetest expression. First shot and it was perfect, I think she likes the camera! The outfit we changed her into is the cutest orange and pink flowered romper and we clipped an orange flower in her hair. Orange and hot pink are definitely going to be "her" colors. About halfway through the passport appointment I realized that the flower print on her romper was actually poppies. She was covered in orange poppies. California's state flower is the Poppy! How appropriate is that?!? She looked adorable. She's our own California Poppy. California...here she comes!
After the last of the appointments and after returning Sofia to the orphanage (VERY HARD TO DO), we made it to our apartment around 6:30pm and finally put our feet up and unpacked and set up our computer to check in with the rest of the world. Here is where we have to share some bad news. Hector forgot to pack the cord that downloads our photos into our computer. GASP! Ok...so we know we just lost over half of our readers with this news since we KNOW the photos of Sofia are pretty much the highlight of this blog. So...we will be utilizing our iphones and our flip camera as much as possible to share photos on our blog until we get home and can download our "good" camera photos. Don't leave us now! We'll do our best!
So...the waiting begins for Sofia's passport which allows us to return to Kiev and get her U.S. medical appointment and Visa so that we can go home. Best case scenario is to get the passport on Friday so we can get home one or two days early on the 15th or 16th. Otherwise, we are scheduled to return on the 17th. We'll wait and see what happens!
The other big news is that we can take Sofia out of the orphanage as soon as we want to. We plan on BUSTING her out of there on Thursday morning. We need tomorrow (Wednesday) to get prepared for an infant (need to purchase food, diapers and wipes, etc.) and we plan on spending the day at the orphanage trying to learn her routine and see what and how she eats, etc. We will also plan on visiting the other orphans (getting pictures of them, holding them, etc.) We are going to meet with the director of the orphanage and present her with all the amazing donated clothes that we gathered from our friends back home. We know they will be put to good use. Thank you again to those who donated! It will be an exciting day and it will be Sofia's LAST day living in an orphanage. Please pray for a smooth transition, it will likely be very scary for her to leave the only home and caregivers she's known.
On a side note, I got to see Leeza today while we were waiting for the staff to wake up Sofia. She was the only one in the room, all alone in her hard crib. They shaved her head again and she has many little bed sores on her head that are covered in this bright blue/green ointment. I walked right up to her and rubbed her back and held her little hand and I swear there is a fighter inside or her. I can see her inner beauty. When I rubbed her back and held her hand she relaxed so much and she squeezed my finger. She's an itty bitty little thing that my heart aches for. There is just something about her that I feel is so special. She could gain so much from a loving family. I know she will NOT survive if she is not adopted and on the surface it would be hard for anyone to have the courage to adopt her and the fact that she has Down syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome makes it even more unlikely and challenging and I think that is what hurts so much. I pray to God that there is a special family for this special girl. I look forward to seeing the rest of the kiddos tomorrow and we'll be snapping away with our camera that we can't download...darn it!