We went to DAP at the end of April. The next day we received our referral and headed to the small village where she lives in an orphanage for children from ages 3-9.
It was very cold and there was a lot of snow everywhere. The road on the way to the orphanage hadn't even been cleared, only packed down by vehicles driving over it.
Once we arrived we were led to a room with a long table and a small couch. We sat on the couch and waited, very nervously. When they brought Olha in, she looked so scared and shy. The assistant director, Olga, encouraged her to go to us. She really wanted to play with Hudson. She grabbed his hand and said, "my hand is big and his hand is small." She immediately loved Hudson.
To break the ice, I pulled out the iPad and opened an app that has vivid pictures of animals that can be scrolled through. Olha had a blast looking at the pictures and identifying them for us and the nannies.
The orphanage doctor was there with her medical files and explained her conditions. She had surgery last summer for her heart and is doing much better since the surgery. Before she had a hard time breathing and now she can run around and play much more without getting winded.
After the meeting we were taken to the playroom for our first playtime visit. Our facilitator stayed in the playroom with us the first few days and translated. She was very excited to have visitors and the individual attention was very much overstimulating for her. By the end of the visit, all of us were exhausted.
|Making a bracelet|
|Running with windmills|
With each visit she became more calm. For some of the late afternoon visits, she seemed exhausted and so we shortened them so she could rest more. We felt like she may be feeling the need to preform for us; maybe even to help us want to adopt her. There is even a possibility she was being told to be a good girl or we might not want her.
I also noticed that she became very nervous when we were around other kids in her groupa and really did not want us to talk to the other children. When we arrived and she was outside with her groupa, we would take her to another play area so that she could relax.
|Finally in Daddy's arms|
|Making funny faces|
We were able to visit with the children a bit though and several children did ask if I was their mama. One little girl who was Roma wanted me to pick her up like I did with Olha. She was so sweet and I was broken hearted that she waited in an orphanage, quite possibly since birth, passed over because of her ethnicity. We would love to see her hosted in the US by a Texas family.
Our court date was delayed because someone was on vacation and we waited for almost a month. Court finally did come. We brought Hudson with us with a bag of cookies. I kept his mouth full the entire time and he loved the SDA official and her necklace.
The judge asked a lot of tough questions and vetted us well to satisfy his concerns. There were two jurors who were totally straight faced. I was pretty nervous. He had a lot of concerns like her age being below the age of five and that locals want to adopt young children. Jon responded that is why we are adopting a sick child. We knew, as it had just been read into the record, that she had been abandoned as a baby and was passed over all these years by local families wishing to adopt. The judge asked Jon many questions about our families finances and our family's opinions about our adopting.
One of the questions he had, was why I had chosen to adopt a child with her specific illness. I explained that we had learned of sick children who were not wanted and who waited in orphanages for families for many years, sometimes never adopted because of their special need. I explained that my heart was broken for these children and I wanted to bring one into our family where we could get her medical attention, love her and help her reach her full potential. He was not satisfied and asked again but why this specific need. So, I explained that we live near Texas Children's Hospital which has one of the top pediatric hospitals in the world. We also have excellent insurance to help pay for her care. Again he was not satisfied. I was confused.
I finally just said it is something that cannot be full explained. I believe it is a supernatural desire, placed in my heart by God. It is an unexplainable desire, to want to turn your life upside down to adopt a sick child. I love her so much already, before I even met her. I want give her the world, for her to have every opportunity to be healthy and happy.
He was either satisfied, or tired of asking.
We then went to the foyer to wait as they deliberated, and the SDA official smiled and winked to reassure me. I was pretty nervous. They were very serious as they should be. This is a huge decision for Olha, and they do not know us as our friends and neighbors do.
We were called back in and the judge read the ruling to make us Olha's parents. We were so happy and we all had a big group photo.
Then we gave the SDA official and the prosecutor a ride home on the way to the orphanage. Olha was outside playing with her groupa when we pulled up. She ran up to us and hugged us and our facilitator explained to her that we were legally her parents now and we had to go away but would come back soon to get her. She was very happy. It was all I could do not to burst into happy tears. Olha asked for a new pair of shoes, sunglasses, and a purse. I cannot wait to go shopping for her Gotcha day outfit. I just love that she loves all things girly!
We gave her the photobook that had pictures of our family and the house and parks nearby. We also pasted the photo we had snapped of our family including her in the front. The nanny sent her inside to put it away so it wouldn't get harmed outside after we said goodbye. She hugged and kissed us, and Hudson.
Our facilitator drove like a mad-man to the airport hotel, and we flew out early the next morning.
I have so so much more to share, but will have to in more posts later. We will leave on May 12th to go back to Kiev to begin the "paper chase" so we can legally bring Olha home. Gotcha day may be soon after the 12th which has surprised me. I will try to post more on the second trip.
Thank you to everyone involved in helping us bring Olha home. We don't even know who everyone is. We decided not to pull our FSP stats to keep it anonymous. We know that there are many many of you and likely people we have never met before. I received many emails from people who have never met us or Olha, but who love Olha so much!
Many people have said how lucky Olha is. I think we are the lucky ones. We are so blessed to call her daughter. I am so sad for her first four years, but I have seen how much of a blessing she has been to her nannies while she was in the orphanage. I wish things could have been different for her, but I know that God's plan is perfect and He knew and had been working out His plan for us to make the journey to meet her.
My prayer now is for all the other orphans. So many children wait, so many with special needs. My prayer is that God will use our story to stir more hearts and those hearts will respond in obedience to the call. Domestic, international, typical, special needs, adoption, prayer support, financial support, the calling is different for many people and may not make sense to the one called or their family or friends, but it is your calling. Go!