Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday - I'm an American

We made it home to Indiana safely on Friday night as scheduled. I tried several times this weekend to post, but had trouble with the internet. This trip went very well and we were able to use our ticket that we booked several months ago, which was a guess at the time. We were able to reconnect with the Matthews and Rawleys in Kiev on Wednesday and Thursday, and that was really nice. The girls were really excited to see each other. Halle traveled very well, aside from getting sick twice on the long flight. She was a trooper, though, and was too excited to sleep. When we landed in Detroit, she had just fallen asleep (maybe 10 minutes). Her eyes flew open, she sat up, and asked "America?" When I replied "yes", she fell back in her seat and said "I'm an American!" It was great! She was exhausted when we got home. We had a great weekend, and she is doing well. She loves her brother Andrew and her dog, Obie. She tries to feed him all of the time. We will travel to Chicago next weekend, so her other brother, Nick, can meet her. He is looking forward to that. Well, this has been a very long journey, but we know it will be well worth it. We are looking forward to this new journey with Halle as our daughter. Thank you one more time for all of your prayers and encouragement. We love you all!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesday - We Have a Daughter!

Today we spent most of the day in the car, getting paperwork done, starting with a drive to Halle's birthplace. It was interesting to see more of the countryside. Due to time, we thought we wouldn't be picking her up until tomorrow, but it turned out at the end of the day, we went to the orphanage, and ended up bringing her with us. She was really excited and so were we. We took her out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants so she could get french fries. When we got back to the hotel, we got out her new clothes to give her, which she loved. We will fly to Kiev in the morning, and start with our paperwork there. Things are going well, and we are still hoping to fly out on Friday. I can't believe that we have a daughter! God is good!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday - Hello Liverpool

After a full day of travel, we made it safely to Donetsk, and are nestled into our home away from home, The Liverpool Hotel. We requested the same room, because the internet doesn't work in all of them. We are prepared to hit the ground running tomorrow. We are anxious to see Halle, but don't know yet when that will be.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back to Ukraine

Here we go again! We are at the airport getting ready to go on our journey back to the Ukraine to pick up our new daughter Halle! Although it is a long trip that we are not looking forward to, we are so excited about the result. We will arrive in Kiev on Monday afternoon, and will try to get a flight to Donetsk that evening. We will pick Halle up to be with us forever on Tuesday. From there, we will have a few days of running and paperwork in Donetsk and Kiev. We hope to arrive back home by next weekend. It was a great week at home, as we got to catch up with our boys, Nick and Andrew, and finish preparing Halle's room. I will post on days that I have internet available. Thanks again for your support and prayers!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday - We're Home

We arrived safely home Saturday night after a VERY long day traveling. Court went well Friday and the judge ruled for our adoption, so we now officially have a daughter! YEAH! Halle did very well, and when we dropped her off, she said she would be good and would wait for us to pick her up on September 9th. It was so great to see the boys when we got home. Nick came home from college since we didn't see him before he left. We went shopping today and I got to buy her first clothes. That was so much fun! We will fly out next Sunday, and I will spend this week finishing her room. If we have internet available, I will post on our next trip, September 8th through approximately the 12th. Thanks again for your support and prayers!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday - Goodbyes

This will be my last entry for this trip. We did not get to see Halle again today because they were having an inspection at the orphanage. So we spent the afternoon shopping with Joyce and Dan and then we met the Rawleys for dinner at an Irish restaurant. (That's pretty much all we do here-shop and eat). They had a band singing in English, which was fun. We had a really good time together for our last night-lots of laughs. We have become good friends and it will be hard to say goodbye. Tomorrow we will go to court at 12:00. Please pray for us that it will go smoothly. They will ask us alot of questions, and Halle too. We are so excited to go home, and see our boys, Nick and Andrew. We will be home for one week, and then can return to get our new daughter! This has been a very long "adventure" and we have had many ups and downs. Thanks so much for going on this adventure with us and for your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday- Everyday is an Adventure

Well, you never know when you walk into the orphanage what you will find. Today, when we got there our friend called us and told us that the girls were telling her that Halle was in the hospital again - this time with "something in her eye". We found out about 15 minutes later that she was in the orphanage infirmary, or clinic. We went down to see her and her right eye was all red and swollen. A translator told us over the phone that someone "touched" her eye when they were playing. It looked like she got hit in the eye, but no one is talking, and neither is she. She laid there for about 15 minutes and then fell asleep and slept for the rest of our visit. Every day is an adventure! This morning we went with the Matthews to a very nice, huge mall. I don't know why we hadn't gone in there before today, except it was hard to tell from the outside how great it was on the inside. We had purchased Twister and another board game for the girls, but did not get to participate. Maybe tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday - The Countdown Continues

Today there is not a lot to report. Our time was shorter at the orphanage, because we had paperwork to sign at the notary. It was a more mellow day with the girls. We purchased our tickets to come home today. Yeah! Court is Friday at noon, and we will fly to Kiev Friday night. Then we leave Kiev at 6:30 am Saturday and arrive in Ft. Wayne around 8:30 Saturday night. Our travel time is longer this time due to longer layovers (about 21 hours). It will be a long day, but can't wait! The picture is of the giant new soccer "football" stadium they are building. but you can only see the very top of it. Three days until court!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday - When are you leaving?

We decided to do a game show today at the orphanage. The girls had to draw a piece of paper and perform what was asked and then they got to choose a prize from three different bags. They really enjoyed that, and then the men took them down to the store to get ice cream while Joyce and I cleaned up. We went to the market this morning to purchase the prizes, and one lady that owns a makeup booth looked at us and asked "When are you leaving?" and then smiled. We have become regulars. We got our old room back today, and it never looked so good. We have a desk again. The people work really long hours here at the hotel. We saw the same security guy about 6 times today, and he just keeps smiling and laughing at us. He is now saying a few things to us in English. We realized tonight when we came home that he has been working all day, as we saw him when we first left this morning. Halle is getting really used to her new name. Brad said when they went for ice cream she rode on his back the whole way, and the other girls were asking what her new American name was, and she said "Halle Parish". They were all trying to pronounce it, and he said it seemed they thought it was cool. We weren't sure how that would work out, but she seems to be fine with it. Four days until court!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday - Chips and Salsa

We didn't go to the orphanage today as it is Sunday. We started the day by watching the USA men's volleyball and basketball teams win gold medals. That was great! This is the holiday weekend, so we ventured out to see what would be going on. There wasn't much this afternoon so we ate at McDonalds and just walked around and sat for awhile at the park. Then the Matthews called us and invited us to their flat to "hang out". She also offered to let us use their washing machine, and we were thrilled to wash a load of jeans, as we have been handwashing clothes for 3 weeks in the sink. We hung out there for several hours, and then we figured out there was a mexican restaurant just down the street that we didn't know about before. We were so excited to eat mexican food, and it was delicious! I said there were hundreds of people out and about on Friday night. Well tonight, there were thousands! There was a big concert on the square. We didn't get to move out of our small room today, because they didn't have a larger one with internet, so we didn't want to be here anymore than necessary. We accomplished that and had a great day!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday - Perfect night

We had a great day today. Halle was back at the orphanage, so we had a good visit there, with the Matthews and other girls. Today they let us walk the girls down to the corner store to get ice cream. They enjoyed that. We took little stickers for them to put on their nails, and that was a hit. This evening we ventured out farther with the Rawleys. We went on a long walk down to the park area by the lake. There was a lot going on there, with music and dancing at an amphitheater, lots of flowers and fountains, many places to sit and get a snack and an amusement park. We walked around and enjoyed the atmosphere, rode the ferris wheel, and then as we were just finished crossing the long bridge to go back, the fireworks started. It was a very nice fireworks display. Then we walked back and stopped for pizza. It was a perfect evening. We get to move back into a bigger room tomorrow for the rest of our stay here. Yeah!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday - Friday Night in Donetsk

We didn't get to see Halle today, but it was because they were transferring her back to the orphanage about the same time we were to go. So we were happy for her to get out of there and back to the orphanage. We went to the Matthews' new flat tonight along with the Rawleys and Joyce cooked for us. It was a nice change from our same old schedule. In order to venture to their flat we were quite a bit farther from the hotel than we have been at night. We walked through all of the park areas coming home, and I am amazed at how many people just hang out in the park and on the streets at night. There were people everywhere, just hanging out and socializing. The statue in the picture is of Lenin and it is in the middle of The Square. We are looking forward to going back to the orphanage tomorrow to see Halle. Tomorrow night we are going to try to venture out somewhere else new. This is a holiday weekend, something relating to Coal Miners, so not sure what all will be going on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday - The Construction Zone

We got our news today, and it wasn't what we wanted to hear. Our court date is not until next Friday, so we will be here another whole week plus. Please pray for strength to get through this next week. We didn't have to leave the hotel, but were moved to the smallest room, which is REALLY small, and it is in the construction zone. They are remodeling almost every room on this floor, so there are workers everywhere, drills buzzing, and it smells of drywall mud. OK, so I was wrong about this hotel being brand new. Anyway, we will have to be here 2 nights. I'm not sure we are going to be able to withstand 8 nights in this tiny room, so we may move again after the 2. Also, Halle is still in the hospital, and still no word when she will be out. The girls really need to go home. We had a 3 hour dinner with the Matthews tonight, which was nice. We weren't in any hurry to come back to the room.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wednesday - Halle can read

This was day 5 for Halle in the hospital. The girls are getting stir crazy. There was another one from the orphanage in today. They were being silly, but not bad. I just hope they get out tomorrow. We probably won't know about that until tomorrow. We also may lose our room tomorrow, because they have another soccer game and the opposing team's fans have reserved the whole hotel. We have been paying a few days at a time, because there is no way to know how long we will be here. Therefore, we may have to move tomorrow. We are waiting to hear from them on that tonight. We were impressed today when Halle pulled out my passport and started reading "Laura Marie Parish", "visa", etc. They had told us they were learning some English, mainly the alphabet, but we didn't expect her to read so well. They can count to ten, and say a few more English phrases. We had asked her last week if she wanted to practice English, and her reply was "No, I'll just wait until I get to the United States, and then I'll learn very fast" (through our translator). We are not doubting that she will. Our oldest son, Nick, left for college today. I wish we could have made it back for him. We are very appreciative of good friends that are helping him in our absence. The pictures are of the hospital and our favorite pizza place, which we ate at tonight.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday - Waiting

There is not much to report today. Halle was still in the hospital today, but appears to be fine. Nastia is still with her. We took Little Mermaid coloring books, and they spent the time coloring. We are only allowed to stay 30-40 minutes. It was cooler today in the waiting area, so we were glad for that. We hope she will go home tomorrow, but don't have any idea. We continue to wait for a court date. We have our favorite restaurants we keep going back to, and are trying to just look at this as a vacation. We bought some DVDs that have Russian and English and have been watching them at night. Our friends, the Matthews have moved to a flat, and I think we are going there tomorrow night if we can find it. It actually looks like rain tonight. It has not rained yet since we have been in Donetsk, so they really need it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday - Yeah McDonald's!!!

Being a Starbucks addict, I have not had much McDonald's coffee, but we decided to ask our driver to drop us off there this am, and I couldn't believe how good their coffee tasted. It is actually like American coffee. Yeah! We are going there again tomorrow! Halle is still in the hospital. They said she has a "small temp-ur-a-tur" and has to be in the hospital for 2 days after the fever is gone (I think that's what they said). Even interpreters are hard to understand at times. Anyway, we went to see her in the hospital, and were told to wait in the lobby by the elevator again. The girls (Nastia is still there too) came running down the hall to meet us. They definitely were feeling better today. The next thing we knew there were several kids there without supervision and they were running wild. Never once did a nurse or any other adult come to check on them. Also, it was like sitting in a sauna. The weather got a lot warmer here the second week, and there was obviously no air conditioning in this old building. We are not thrilled that she will be in there for probably 2 more days. They are telling us today that we probably won't go to court until next week. We were so hoping that we could go to court by the end of the week and be home by the weekend. We are so ready to get back home and see our boys. Nick and Andrew, we miss you so much! Thankfully, we have a Skype phone, so we actually get to talk to them quite often, which has been a real blessing.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday - The American Invasion

We called our translator this morning to see if she could check with the hospital to see how Halle was and she said she could not, so we don't know anything. We now have another new friend. Wendy, a friend of the Matthews, came to Donetsk for two days with her new son, Nicola, that she just adopted from Mariopul. Lisa, do you recognize him? We all went to the market today, and had a good time. The Rawleys, Dan and Kim, walked down to our hotel, and then we walked to the market. It is fun just to walk around and gawk there. They have a food area with freezers like in a grocery store, and also have dried (?) fish (whole) on trays sitting out in the sun (YUM!) The flies and the bees were enjoying the fruit. After a few hours at the market, we all went out to eat and had lots of laughs. Nicola is a very nice boy, and Wendy is a nurse, so we hit it off.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday - What Next?

When we arrived at the orphanage today, we could tell something was not right. The director was rattling off something about Yulia, and we had no idea what she was saying. Finally, she got a teacher to come down that spoke a little english and we found out that Halle was in the hospital. We were obviously surprised and concerned, and the only thing they could tell us was that she had a high fever. We arranged for our driver to come back and get us, and we went to the hospital. The hospital here is definitely not like our hospitals. The nurse was speaking to us in Ukrainian and we had no idea what she was saying either except for "temp-ur-a-tur". Then Halle met us in the hall, fully dressed and we were escorted to the lobby to visit with her. She was burning up, and just wanted to be held. Her little friend, Nastia was with her. We only stayed for about 15 minutes and she wanted to go to bed. Our driver called a translator, and they explained to us that they think it is just the flu. We are praying that they are right. There were no other signs and symptoms evident to us, and we tried to call a translator while we were with Halle, so I could ask her some questions, but we couldn't get her. They will not allow visitors in the hospital on Sunday, so we will not see her until Monday. We have been here long enough that the staff is getting used to us, and now we see mostly smiling faces when we are greeted. Brad showed one of the guys in the cafeteria to greet by doing "the knuckle". Brad was even invited to be the "Fifth Beatle" (see photo).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday - Another Girl Party

Yes, Dian, they have "Coke Light" which is pretty close to our Diet Coke, but we don't use the ice, so its not always very cold, but I am VERY thankful for it. Today was another good day at
the orphanage. We took coloring books, which they enjoyed, and then it was back to makeup and hair. Yes, Kelly, we did take nail polish, too. They really like that. I told Brad that I'm not sure how we are going to explain to her that she is really too young to wear makeup in the US. Joyce took it one day, and we thought it would be fun for them. We went back to the open air market, and were able to get alot of that stuff there. When we were there, I was sizing up whether a top would fit me, and the lady tried to get me to just take my shirt off and try it on right there in front of everyone. I very politely said "nyet", meaning NO! Just minutes earlier, there was a lady doing just that. The culture here is definitely different. Halle really warmed up to Brad yesterday. She hadn't wanted much affection from him until then. Our translator said we need to remember these girls aren't used to being around men. All of the orphanage workers are women. Well, she was jumping on Brad's back and begging for him to pick her up and twirl her around. Now he gets hugs, too, and she will hold his hand. That makes for a happy Papa!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday - I miss my Starbucks!

What I wouldn't give for a great big cup of Starbucks in the mornings. When I get back, that will be one of the first things I will get. The coffee here is so different. Most of the time its very strong instant, and its not always easy to get milk or cream. We survived the soccer mob last night. The Donetsk team beat the Croatians, so they didn't have much to celebrate. They were loud when they came in, but I don't think any damage was done. This morning when we went down to the lobby though, there were still cops, and the Croatians were everywhere. We went with the Matthews to an outdoor market this morning and bought a bunch of stuff for the girls, and today at the orphanage we had another makeup and hair party. They have alot of fun curling each other's hair and putting on makeup. They are all so adorable. Our interpreter went to Kiev for a few days (maybe a week), so we are on our own, except for the driver. It will be challenging at times to communicate, but we will do the best we can.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday - More Friends

We have made a great connection with the Matthews and they are doing well. They have decided to adopt the little girl they were visiting yesterday. We had breakfast with them and decided to try to be at the orphanage at the same time some days so that we can be together. Then we found out that another couple was coming today, and we had seen them at the SDA, and then met them again at the airport, as they were on our flight. They actually went to another region, which did not work out, so then made another choice, and it happened to be here! Amazing! We were all 3 at the orphanage at the same time today. We actually took Halle to the park and for ice cream first, then we knew that the Matthews were coming, so we waited for them and they brought all sorts of stuff for the girls to do their hair and makeup. Their girl is 11 and her group of friends are probably all 11-12, whereas Halle usually hangs with the younger girls. We took her to the room where the other girls were and she brought one of her younger friends. They had a good time making themselves up. We did not get to talk to the other couple afterwards, but they asked where we were staying, so they may end up here also. This has been a real blessing having other American couples to spend time with. When we got back to the hotel there were at least 20 police officers in the parking lot and foyer. We were a little concerned, to say the least. We found out that the Donetsk Football team has a game tonight against Croatia, and a very large number of Croatian fans are staying here. The police are expecting trouble. They say football fans can cause a lot of trouble in Europe, breaking windows, etc. The Croatians are everywhere, and they are loud. The problem is, the game hasn't even started, I'm sure it will be much worse when they come back from the game. Hopefully, there will be just as many policemen here then, and they will keep them under control. We will try to watch the game to see who wins.