Before I write about the paper chase, I wanted to clarify something for those of you who may not realize: "Isabella" was not our adoptive daughter's real name. It was a name assigned to her by an adoption advocate to protect her privacy. In Ukraine, the real names of orphans are not allowed to be used publicly. Because our girl is older, we kept her given birth name and gave her a middle name and our last name. I don't use any of my children's real names on the blog, so from here on out, I will refer to "Isabella" as Bella. So now if you look on the left column, you will see my Bella, Bou, and Buddy :)
I left Hawaii on Sunday evening. We tried to work out a way for Rob and I to travel to Ukraine together for the second trip, but were not able to make it happen in the end. We are very appreciative to our friend Amy, who offered to keep our children for the entire time, and to others who offered to help as well. Joanna, Sarah, Alice, Suzy - we are so appreciative to all of you! Unfortunately, Rob had a commitment he could not risk missing, and because our court decree had to be redone and our 10 day wait stretched past 10 days, I came alone.
I arrived in Kiev on Tuesday. As we landed I saw several inches of snow blanketing the ground below. I had some time to kill before my 10 hour train ride to the orphanage city (Krivoy Rog) and was able to meet three more adopting families during the wait. Very cool! I was also able to go to Hospitality House Kiev (one of missionary Karen Springs' endeavors) for a much needed shower and rest. It was such a pleasure to get to meet Karen and hear a little bit about her work here in Ukraine during the past eight years! After hanging out there for a little while it was time to catch my overnight train to Krivoy Rog. I was very happy to have my Russian-speaking facilitator with me - I could fall asleep and rest easy knowing that I wouldn't miss my stop or anything crazy!
We arrived in Krivoy Rog at 6am and took off to get Bella a new birth certificate - one that lists me as the mother! New birth certificates must be created in the child's city of birth, so for us that meant a two hour car ride to the town where Bella was born. When we arrived Ira told me "Wait here" then jumped out and disappeared for about two and a half hours. When she came out she said that the birth certificate still was not ready and "we must wait half hour more". So we went to the store for a snack, and I saw a really cute stray dog hanging out at the entrance, eagerly greeting every customer. On my way out I decided to feed him my some of the leftover muffin I'd brought with me from home. I broke it in pieces and put it on the ground, where he promptly turned his nose up at it after sniffing! I didn't feel so bad for him then - apparently he gets enough to eat that he has the luxury of being picky :)
We then return to the birth certificate office, and this time I am allowed to come in and sign it. Yay! Then we head to the tax office - Bella keeps the same Ukrainian tax identification number but her new name must be registered with the tax office. Ira tells me that this is the worst tax office in Ukraine to do business with, and that they always give families trouble. So she goes in and I...sit in the car. And wait. I fall asleep. I wake up and decide to get out and take a photo. The driver points to a monument across the street and motions "photo". I walk over there and take a picture of a tank monument commemorating World War II (will have to add those later, can't do it right now!).
By then I am freezing so I decide to get back in the car. About 40 minutes later Ira comes out, gets in the car, and exclaims "I HATE business in this region, everything is so hard in this region!" Hmm... Then she looks at me and says "I tell you now, everything is okay but they give us trouble. Here is what he says..."
Taxman: "Come back in two weeks to pick up tax receipt."
Ira: "No we do not have two weeks, we need to get it sooner."
Taxman: "I don't care, I will not have it ready sooner than two weeks."
Ira: "And then I start to cry," and she runs her index fingers down each cheek to demonstrate the tears flowing. "And I tell him this child is sick, this child needs medical attention and needs to go to America now."
Taxman: "Still answer is no."
Ira: "Then I stay here all day til you give it to me."
Taxman: "I don't care you sleep here, I will not do it."
Ira: "Then you have to call police to take me away."
Taxman: "Still no."
Ira: "Then I go get child's mother and she come in here and she will cry too if you tell her no, and then you have two crying women in your office. This is what you want?"
Ira walked out of there with a tax receipt that supposedly took two weeks, but was instead prepared immediately. I love her!
From there, we made the two hour drive back to Krivoy Rog and stopped at several more offices to get various documentation we need to process Bella's passport and visa. We got some run-around, and had to go to one office three separate times, but in the end we got everything we needed. I finally got to my friend's apartment at about 6:30pm. After spending two nights on an airplane and a third night on the train I was very happy to sleep in a bed last night! I woke up refreshed and ready to go this morning. It was another all day adventure, and this time we took Bella out of the orphanage for a few hours, but I will have to write more about that tomorrow!