We picked up our referral from the SDA on Tuesday, September 30th. We met a couple of other families while there. One was adopting from Poltava and we told them about the kids we knew in Birmingham that were from Poltava. They were from Georgia. We also met a family from North Carolina. The south was rocking the SDA this week!
We left the SDA, with Zhenya riding along, and made our way through traffic back to the airport as we had been told that our lost luggage would arrive that afternoon. As we approached the airport I reached in my bag to retrieve our passports but they were not there. I searched high and low through Sasha's car and our bags. I told Sasha and Gabe: I now longer care about that luggage; without our passports we can't get to Lugansk or even continue to adoption process!" We were about to call the SDA to see if I had left them there when Jay got out of the car and there under him were two passports. And sure enough the fact that our luggage had not yet arrived did not upset me at all.
We drove to Zhulany, the other airport across town to catch our 8:00 flight to Lugansk. Anton met us, we stopped by the supermarket then got settled in at the Hotel Lugansk. He picked us up at 8am. It was cold and raining but nothing could spoil my day. I was about to see my sweet children. We drove to Anratsit for our meeting with Sasha and Lena's Inspector. That is what the social worker is called. She was very kind and gracious. On the way to the orphanage, I showed her photos of our home and family. We got to Shotova and went into the school building. The first person we saw was Pasha. He gave us a big hug then said he would go find Lena. We headed down the hall to a conference room to do paperwork and soon around the corner came Sasha, then Alosha, then Lena. Best hugs ever.
We were in the conference room several hours as the Inspector reviewed the kids' files and Sasha and Lena signed their consents. These can have no mistakes and they had to be redone several times. But alas the job was complete. I am so thankful that Alosha came. He is at a trade school and his paperwork will be done by a different inspector; but it would not have been the same without him there the first day. We took him with us to Lutigino to sign documents at the Notary then on to Alchevsk to meet his Inspector. We ran into a little more difficulty there and ended up making an appointment to go to his trade school the following day at 1:00 PM. We went back and got Sasha and Lena walked to Green Park, a nice restaurant in Antratsit, for dinner. Finally, Sasha got his pizza he had been craving. Afterward, we went back to the Hotel Wellness where we were staying and had a little birthday celebration for Sasha who had tuned 15 in September.
Thursday the snow was moving in. By now my friend and translator, Katya, as well as my friend and fellow adoptive mom, Brandy, had joined us. While Anton took care of a document issue, the three of us went to Shotova to visit. When we got there we learned that the office at the orphanage had been broken into and a computer had been stolen. The kids were not having classes and were under lockdown. We spent the morning there then Anton picked us up and we drove to Alchevsk. The snow made for a beautiful drive. The Inspector came out to meet us and we drove to Losha's trade school. We met in a small teacher's lounge and once again, reviewed documents and watched Alosha sign his consent. The afternoon went by fast and everyone was helpful, professional and kind. Anton took us back to Antratsit and this evening we took a cab to Green Park and had dinner with Sasha, Lena, Kostya, Brandy and Katya.
We spent Friday morning at the orphanage visiting with all the kids there and watching a performance they did for Teacher's Day. Ideally, paperwork would have been completed by now but one of the kids' court documents was missing a case number. Anton spent hours dealing with that but finished up everything late Friday afternoon. Paperwork complete except for our petition for a court date which he put off until Tuesday after he submits all our documents to the SDA. He is doing that today. We will go back to Lutigino to the Notary's office tomorrow and sign that petition then Gabe will head back home until court. We are hoping for court on October 24th.
All three kids spent the weekend with us in Lugansk. We shopped for shoes, warm coats, hats and jeans. Our luggage is supposed to be delivered today. I hope all their new shirts and socks and underwear, etc are still in there! But in the scheme of things, it won't really matter. Praising God for His goodness, mercy and grace that has surrounded us thus far.