Monday, September 24, 2012

Batter Up

Changing out the Batteries

Hey I know you should not let you kid put batteries in his mouth.  But when you have limited resources you gotta do what you can....

And yes he did put the batteries in the right way - and does everytime.

Now he is going to take the batteries out of that toy and put them in another toy and play with it.  He turns to get a small screw driver out of a bin.

Playing in the Sandbox


I Can Feed Myself

Playing with the Car

What I Learned

The great part about staying at the institution was it really gave me a chance to get to know Logan.

We've had some big debates as to what to call him...We initially found him on Reece's Rainbow and his screen name was Alix. So for about a year I have referred to him as Alix. His Ukranian name was Lyosha - thats what he responds to. I was asked to give his name official name at the time I was isolated with no contact to the outside world and chose Alix Robert. That has been vetoed. Some of the family do not like the name Alix. Some of the family want to name him Leyousha meaning for Jesus. I like it but find it too hard to say. So the decision is Logan - close to what he is used to being called. Although for now his passport and birth certificate will say Alix Robert.

Anyways...what I learned...

1. His old baby house triggers horrible behaviors. I learned the hard way that if we go near that old building he becomes a monster. I can only assume it is because he misses being there. Unfortunately he can't tell me why. He only gets angry. After the second time I wised up and did not go near the building. He would ask and I would tell him no becasue he gets sad and would imitate what he would do. After 9 days we did try again, he said he would not get sad or grumpy he was much better but still mad.

2. Electronic toys that have sound an music are addictive too him and he will not interact with people when they are around. He almost becomes autistic stimming with the lights and noises. He also does not understand why the batteries die and that sometimes they cannot be fixed. Oh the melt downs we had over batteries. At our official gottcha we left almost all the electronic toys with the other kids. We kept one helicopter and two light up spinny toys. Those have been in hiding for five days. He has been so pleasant. He has learned to play with us. Last night he found them and we have seen some of the bad behaviors return. We will keep them hidden at home for a while.

3. He loves to drink. It has taken a week for him to learn that he does not have to chug it all at once. We would give him a water bottle and he would have to drink the whole thing without removing it from his lips. He is getting better.

4. Height is about the only thing that holds him back physically. If he can reach it he can do it.

5. He adores his sister. He has named her Dasha. He mimics her all day long. If she does it he does it. If she sniffles he sniffles, if she coughs he coughs, if she talks he talks. They are so cute together.

6. He is an amazing little boy. Yes he is more like a 3 year old not a 10 year old but what he can accomplish is amazing. Oh what some time and education will accomplish.

Settling into a Routine

As time went on I settled into a routine:

6:15-6:30am The rooster would crow and wake me up

7:30am Get out of bed pack bag for morning visit and walk to breakfast The walk to breakfast (was between a quarter and a half mile)
8:00am Breakfast
8:30-9:00am Household chores (empty buckets, get fresh water from the well, start boiling water for nightly shower)

9:00-12:00 Visit Our first half hour was usually alone on the bench under the shelter. We would look at photo albums or pictures on the camera.
Then we would walk for about an hour. He would direct where he wanted to go. "Tooda" "Tooda"

 After walking we would usually find an empty field with a bench and fly the helicopter. This was by far one of the biggest excitements - until the battery would die. Then we would return to his house and play with friends. This tended to be overwhelming for both of us. 7 Kids screaming Mama Mama all wanting attention and help with something different. Having to share our toys was not something we were used to or liked to do (to start with)

Around noon was lunch for him and a nap til 4pm. I would head back to the apartment. Eat three cheese peanut butter crackers, read, nap and play on the internet.

At 4 I would go back and pick up sleepy boy. We would walk again, play with the helicopter and go back to play with friends.

Dinner for both of us was at 6 - When it was time for them to eat I would walk to dinner eat and then go back to play until bath time.

Bath time varied on who the nightly staff person was and ranged between 7:15 and 8pm.
(Yes he gets a bath in a real bath tub and I pour water on myself in a bucket :) ) After they went to take a bath and get ready for bed I went to do the same. Boiled more water and poured it over me while standing in a bucket.

Makes you appreciate the easy life of turn on the shower and adjust the dial and sit to go to the bathroom and push down the lever when you are done Although it was hard to adjust to the different lifestyle it was good to spend that much time with him.

Day 2 at the Institution

So I was left at the institution on Wednesday with the statement I would try for two days and if it was too much I could move to a bigger city. On Thursday I spoke with our facilitator and told him it was too much I needed to move. He said I don't think so. Friday he picked me up to take me to the city an hour away to do paperwork and for me to be able to have Internet access. He said if I left now the director would be insulted - I had to stay. It took all I had not to cry the whole car ride to the big city. I explained if I was going to stay I had to have a phone with Internet. We bought one. He was not sure it would work at the institution but said we would try.
The car ride back I continued to check that I had service. As we reached the driveway the Internet worked. As we journeyed back to where i was staying it did not work. The facilitator left and I had a nice new phone but still no Internet. I spent Saturday walking back the main road a mile each way trying to recapture the service. Nothing... Thankfully Robert had made it home by then and could at least call into me. The facilitator wanted me to take the SIM card out of my working phone and cut it to fit my Internet phone. I told him "NO WAY" I had one way of communication - Robert calling in - I was not going to risk losing it.
Sunday the facilitator called the director and asked him to buy me a new SIM card. Monday the director delivered it and his staff spent two hours trying to get the Internet and phone to work. They gave up. Another three hours of working on it and the facilitator and I got it to work!!
My Apartment Building (on the left)
My Bedroom (there was a second bedroom also)
The Family Room (with all the toys to take spread out)
My Bathrooms....
Although living there was a challenge it is how most of the caretakers there live. The other residents in the apartment building there were the workers. This is their daily reality. It is hard! I was treated great! They provided for me to the best of their abilities. I was fed well. I was fed what the residents there are fed. As far as institutions go this one is probably one of the best. They are fed three full meals a day plus two snacks. Yes I struggled to eat it because in America we eat differently. I did find that after almost two weeks there I was adjusting. Yeah I still miss American food but I could now eat what was served. Not sure I will ever choose fish and coleslaw for breakfast but from a nutrition standpoint the residents are being served protein and vegetables - which is awesome!!
A meal
How much I ate of that meal (don't worry any weight I might have lost has been recovered since moving to Kiev and Dawsyn and I finding the chocolate store)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where to start..

I had good intentions of blogging daily through this process. Obviously that has not worked out. For those that have followed on facebook you have a better idea as to what has gone on. (sorry for what ever reason it is not putting lines between paragraphs....) We arrived in Ukraine on Sunday night and were taken to the grocery store and dropped at our apartment. We had an appointment Monday at the SDA where you formally ask to visit the child. If you chose to meet this child you are given a formal referral. We had been told there was a small chance we would receive that Monday since Robert was leaving on early Thursday morning. That did not happen. We received the paper we needed late Tuesday afternoon. Did some running around to sign papers and were put on the overnight train to the biggest city close to the orphanage. The train was ok. Too many stops along the way to sleep well but we had a sleep room to ourselves.
We arrived and were met by our facilitator Alix. We drove 2.5 hours to the regional SDA office and did more paperwork and picked up the social worker to take with us. Then we drove another half hour to the institiution. We did some more paperwork with the director and the regional social worker and finally went to meet the boy.
He enjoyed the attention but was less then impressed with us. He wanted gifts and did not like what we had brought. A year ago he was moved into the new section of this institution. He has had a lot of visitors - teams coming to visit and work that bring them gifts. He was a bit spoiled. After about an hour with him we had to decide if we wanted to adopt him. We then signed more paperwork and discussed where I would stay.

My options were the big city 3 hours away. I would pay $200/day for a taxi to visit him and would not visit daily. Option 2 was stay an hour away - pay $100/day and still not visit daily. Or I could stay onsite. The director was open to my staying there but did not think I would be capable. There was not running water. No microwave, no stove, nothing. I agreed to try it for 2 days. Or facilitator was coming back Friday to pick me up to take me to the city an hour away to do paperwork.

We took the social worker back to her office a half hour away and picked up some bottled water for me and some raman noodles and candy for the kids then they dropped me off. Robert and the facilitator drove 12 hours back to Kiev to the airport.

I got to visit that night from 4-6 and then after dinner. That 4-6 visit was horrible. He wanted to return to the place he lived before going to the "Happy House" He has several friends there. He obviously ran the place when he was there and would have nothing to do with me. When I said it was time to go he took off and refused to come with me. As I pushed the issue that we were leaving he became more defiant. Finally a caregiver stepped in and told him he needed to go with me. I carried him out and put him in his wheelchair and started to push him back to his place. He saw the "dinner train." He went ballistic! It was awful. He started screaming, hitting, kicking, he turned and started to bite me as I was pushing the wheelchair, then started putting his leg in between the wheel and the chair to stop it and spit at me. He dove out of the chair and took off. I caught him and tried to carry him and push the chair. He kept trying to headbutt me, spit and bite. I left the chair and carried him back to his place for his dinner, returned the chair and went to my dinner.

I cannot begin to describe how hard that night was! I was alone, no way to communicate with anyone, no Internet, no way to talk to anyone. I had no running water, the outhouse was over a block away and it was just a whole in the ground. I cried more than I ever have. I also did a lot of praying. I knew the obvious physical handicaps he had. I was not prepared for everything else. Physically he is a mess. Missing the limbs he is is nothing compared to everything else. Both hips are dislocated, neither shoulder works, he has severe scoliosis, his rib cage/ back are severely deformed, his jaws do not line up, he does not seem to chew his food, he has speech issues, his eyes cross, the one "knee" he has goes back and forth both ways and to top it off he is severely delayed mentally and was quite mean.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Autocephalous Orthodox Church: Cathedral of the Holy Apostle Andrew (Above)
Our apartment is up the street to the right of the building with red sign on top
Underground mall area
Saint Sophia Cathedral (Above)
Saint Michael's Cathedral (Above)
A movie being filmed between St. Sophia and St Michael's Cathedrals


Today was a bit of a slow day for us today- not in a bad way just different then what we are used to. We had an appointment at noon and were told we would be picked up at 11:30. So after sleeping in and showering we walked many blocks to an underground mall. At five till 11 we get a call that a taxi will pick us up in 5 minutes. So we got to hustle back up hill to meet him. At our appointment the government official looked thru our boy's paperwork and asked us a few questions. Serge translated for us. There were some issues with the paperwork so it took about twenty minutes. The other couple that was there with us was in and out in 5 minutes. When we finally finished we met up at a pizza place with three other families. (Dawsyn it was Haleigh, Ryder and Susan's families). We paid off Serge and then went back to the apartment. With nothing to do until 4 tomorrow we took a nap and then did some serious walking before dinner. For dinner we had a shasleek and some meet filled fried pastry followed by ice-cream and an hour in a coffee house. It's about 9:30pm and we are in for the evening. No English tv here so we both are on our iPads. We've been able to FaceTime and Skype the kids!! Love technology! Jennie is spoiling them rotten! I will try and post pictures of the city later.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Starting the in country process

We are in the Eastern Europe country we hope to bring home another child from. This country prefers we not name our location on the blog. Today we are awaiting going to our first paperwork appointment. At this appointment we will learn more about our boy. If all goes well we will be given and accept a formal referral for him. Typically that piece of paper is ready the next day. Once we have that paper we will head to his region. His region is an 8 hour train ride away.