16 August, 2012
We arrived in Kiev this morning around 06:00. Our friend Niko met us at the train station and whisked us off to our new apartment for the day. This one was located near the center of the city, which put us within walking distance of nearly everything of interest. After confirming the pick-up time for our embassy appointment it was nap time. I didn’t get much sleep on the train because I couldn’t shut off my brain. It was like a pinball game going on in my head … “Caleb is so much farther behind than we thought” … “Clare and Malachi were really behind and look where they are now” … “is the rest of the family going to accept him as their brother or as that ‘special-needs’ boy that lives with us’” … “I’m so glad that our kids don’t see anything as a disability and just assume that people are exactly as God intended them to be’ … “are we going to have the ability to work with him ourselves or will we need to get full-time professional help” … “why didn’t I think of these things before we committed” … “Jessa is so far along, if someone would have cared enough to adopt her 15 years ago she would be nearly ‘typical’” … “why didn’t anyone adopt her? Where were all those self-professed compassionate Christians 15 years ago?” … The worst of all is the inescapable fact that they were not born like this. They were born with Down Syndrome; someone decided, either through commission or inaction, to make them the way they are today. In the words of Forest Gump “And that’s all I have to say about that”. We had a quick lunch and then off to the U.S. Embassy to get the immigration paperwork started. Another family was going to their final visa appointment to bring their new son home so we shared a ride with them. Roland is a seriously cute little dude and will fit in with the California image just fine. Dads (or Moms) if you are not going to be coming back on the pick-up trip be sure that you make an appointment with the embassy to do your part of the visa paperwork before you leave to go home. On our last adoption we didn’t do this because we were told that I could do it from home. The cost, volume of paperwork, and stress of worrying if I did it correctly far outweighed any benefit derived from leaving one day earlier. I have to mention the restrooms at the embassy … it was like returning to America! After the embassy visit we had about 12 hours to kill before our pick-up for the airport so we decided to go walking. We ended up at TGI Fridays for dinner, mostly because you can get fairley descent sweet iced tea there. Erika had a chicken quesadilla with bacon (not exactly TexMex, more like UkraMex) and I had a steak. After dinner we went in search of one last person’s thank you gift. As we walked down the street we heard some hip-hop music and saw a small crowd. Of course, being the cautious Americans that we are, we immediately went to investigate. It was a group of young boys dancing “break”, as they say here. One of them was pretty good and it was apparent he spent a lot of time studying Michael Jackson. It was really funny when they started doing “Thriller”. After watching them for a while and giving them 5 uah (I told you Erika was a sucker!) we went back to the apartment, got things packed up for our 03:00 departure to the airport and tried to get some sleep. I forgot how early 03:00 arrives! On the way to the airport we were stopped by the Ukrainian highway patrol. Apparently I am the only one old enough to have “cold-war flashbacks”. I suddenly found the plot from every bad spy novel running through my head. 60 seconds after being stopped we were on our way again with an advisory to get our headlight fixed. When we arrived at the airport we discovered that everyone else who lived in Kiev had decided to fly that morning. We made it through security, customs, and boarding with about 5 minutes to spare! Note to self: next time allow three hours prior not two. After an uneventful flight, including an in-flight breakfast of potato slices, hotdogs, broccoli, and something that resembled scrambled eggs, we arrived at Frankfurt airport. My advice to anyone who has a layover here is to bring movies to watch on your laptop if you can. This place is only slightly more interesting than watching paint dry!!