Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gotcha Day!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Gotcha Day!

This has been one of the longest days of my life…and currently I wouldn’t even come close to saying the best. Probably – if you were to ask me now I would say the opposite. But that’s because I’m annoyed, tired, hungry and incredibly emotionally spent. Go grab a cup of tea or something this one is going to take a while.

The day started out great. Tatyana and Valentin picked us up around 09:30 and we headed out for the day.  As we were leaving, Tatyana told us she got our court decree by train yesterday. Tatyana and Valentine took us to the Foreign Passport office in Sumy first. But, the guy she needed to talk to wasn’t there. So, we went to the Birth Certificate office instead. On the way there we noticed that it was snowing…it started out as flurries but pretty soon it was really coming down. This was the first time Brian has ever seen snow fall. J Tatyana told us this is really early snow for Ukraine. The first snowfall normally is in November.

 Snow on the ground....

Yes, it stuck...

Ok so focus back on the birth certificate office – this is where the day started to go downhill.  They told us it would be a 30 minute wait… an hour later Tatyana decided that we needed to be productive while we waited. Tatyana and I got dropped off at the tax office while the men went and got the Adoption Certificate.   Remember how we left the birth certificate place because they were taking too long…well the lady at the tax office was clueless too. Apparently adoptions in this region are few and far between. Nobody we encountered today really knew what to do. After another 30 minute wait at the tax office trying to explain what the lady needed to do, Tatyana and I met the guys outside. Their story was just as interesting. When they left, Valentin jumped the curb instead of staying on the driveway.  They had to RUSH to the birth certificate office (they close at noon for lunch) and they made it with 2 minutes to spare. When they got there the lady gave them a hard time because I wasn’t with them and she needed my signature, so Brian took the liberty of signing for me.  In the end we got the new birth certificate with our names on it. We then RETURNED to the Foreign Passport office so Tatyana could ask them a question…no red passports. Luckily the passports from Sumy take only three days processing so we *might* have our passport in Kiev on Friday. But this set back in timing may have cost us…we will see.

After all of this we didn’t get on our way to Bilopillya (I can use all our city names since Sterling his now with us) to go to the orphanage until well after noon (BAD!). We found out then that it was going to be Gotcha Day. I should mention here that my stomach was in knots and nerves all day. This was the norm all day (and it still hurts.) On the way to Bilopillya, Valentin was pulled over by the police. The guy must have diplomatic immunity of some sort because he flashed them some card, told them he was transporting Americans and the policeman let us go (after rolling his eyes.)

We first went to the Foreign Passport Office in Bilopillya (don’t know why). Tatyana got out and went in. The three of us stayed in the car (Brian, Valentine and myself.) A police man came out and let a car through the gates and waved Valentin to move. Valentin pointed and said to us, “Policia…Mafia…HAHAHA”  That gave us a giggle.

We arrived at the orphanage and began paperwork central. Well, Tatyana began paperwork central. We were in a HUGE RUSH because the Foreign Passport office in Bilopillya closes at 16:00. The doctor had to get copies of his medical and shot records, Tatyana and Nina (assistant director) did bank stuff and release stuff. They asked us to give all of Sterling’s clothes to his nurse (Oksana) so she could change him. We did so. Close to an hour went by and we were told the director (WHOM WE HAD NEVER MET) had to sign off  on us taking Sterling today. Apparently, they were under the impression that we had to have the passport before they release him. In the beginning the director was adamant that we not take him today. Then there was a huge discussion over the bank accounts. Long story short, they wanted to know who was getting the money, the institution or the orphanage in Sumy.  They were under the impression it was there choice – which it is not. We found out too that you NOT obligated to return any of the child’s account money to the orphanages – you CAN keep it. We knew all along we were donating though and when Tatyana asked who we wanted to get the money we told them the institution. It’s the only place we know and they are so underfunded. After we said that the director eased up on the bank account thing. Then he went into this tirade about how kids with Down Syndrome are too much work, they are aggressive, they can’t learn etc. He questioned WHY (really … again?) we wanted a child with Down Syndrome (if I weren’t trying to be nice so he would let us take him I would have given him a piece of my mind, especially since he was already ours.) I humored him, promised to send him information on how to teach children with special needs and hook him up with an American contact. Only then did he stamp the release.  He then tried to talk our ears off and Tatyana pretty much walked out on him and told me to follow – leaving Brian and Valentin to fend for themselves. LOL. We went back downstairs to collect the bank cards, get jackets and get Sterling. But Sterling STILL hadn’t been dressed or delivered. OY! We eventually got him (with a haircut...butchered) – but it was a COMPLETE RUSH at this point (well after 15:00 – So no good gotcha day pictures) to get to the Foreign Passport office. We arrived, dropped Tatyana off to start paperwork and took Sterling to get his passport photo. The first round of passport photos. He was cooperative and although we made a lot of efforts – his passport picture didn’t come out so great. We rushed back to the passport office to drop off the photo just in time – Brian went in to meet Tatyana and Valentin took me to the bank. They wanted a picture of Sterling too…to close his account out. That took a while and he was starting to get tired there. Brian finally showed up and we left. Thank God!

Look at my face...I'm like, "Get me OUT OF HERE!"

Tiny little steps...Valentin is point to Brian telling him to put the diaper bag in the trunk.

The FIRST passport picture.

I had Sterling asleep in my arms within 5 minutes of us leaving. He slept the whole way to Sumy. I was assuming we were going home and they would let him sleep. But – I was wrong. We weren’t done. L

You can see how tiny he is in this picture. And I must say - so angelic...


Slept like a log...until the door was slammed....

 We had to go to the Sumy Foreign Passport office too (they close at 17:00 – we got there at 17:00.) Tatyana raced inside and we were good. Valentin opened his door and slammed it – thereby awaking our little angel. Commence the nightmare from a horror movie. Have you ever awoken a sound sleeping child and then expected them to be completely cooperative and sit still for yet ANOTHER set of passport pictures (WHO KNOWS WHY!?????) Well, let me assure you it was NOT pretty.  Commence meltdown of the decade. Seriously. Full on screaming tantrum. They were aggravated with us because, “we cannot make picture when he cries.” Well, I don’t know what they wanted me to do. It was now past 5:30 he was starving and exhausted. We finally got one picture (tongue protrusion and shading – they were not happy with us.) But Tatyana told them we were done. So, we left the passport office in Sumy at 18:15. Sterling was still in a MOOD and nothing would console him. When we got home Valentin told us we owed him $100 for driving this all day…I told him that wasn’t enough and we paid him $200. He was a sport and was so patient with an uber cranky toddler.

As soon as we got here I fed him and he was much happier. Mood change. Until we gave him a bath. NOT A FAN! HATED it! Screaming, crying, flailing – absolutely hated it. Still, I forced a hairwash (the orphanage stench HAD TO GO) and bathed him FAST. Then into PJs (3T bottoms way too big – super droopy). He was very tired – rubbing his eyes and CRANKY. I tried to put him down but NO DICE. So, I’m thinking that nap was just enough to ruin his bed time. ;)  

So, it is 8:30 he is exploring in his PJs and is SO HAPPY right now. Smiling, toddling everywhere just happy with FREEDOM. Today was not my favorite day. Everyone was pushed to the limits including my 5 year old…who did NOT need that today.  I’m so glad he has calmed down and is happy again. Hopefully he stays like this for tonight and can get some sleep.

Whatcha doin'?


I'm NOT tired...no way!

I have one thought for you: BEING A PIONEER IS NO FUN! Today would have been so much better if everyone knew what they were doing. Since we were the FIRST people to adopt here – it was a nightmare of a day. Brian and I haven’t eaten all day.  Nikko is picking us up tomorrow to take us back to Kyiv. We are needing LOTS OF PRAYERS now that our passport will be ready by Friday since we stayed well past closing today. We would also appreciate prayers for us as we settle into our “new normal” and begin our life as parents.

Tomorrow, the 5 hour car ride should be interesting…LOL.
But I hope we can get some GOOD pictures for you!

Thanks for all of the prayers and well wishes! It is SO GOOD to have him OUT OF THERE!!!!!!


  1. Yay!!! And you escaped Chicken Pox!! Praying everything will fall into place for the rest of your trip.

  2. Sobbing like a baby for you!!! So happy.

  3. The very best line of the whole post was when you said, "my 5 year old" - yours - forever. Prayers for Kyiv, passports, and roadtrips.

  4. So Happy for you guys! Gotcha Day is one of those days that you are so happy to get our kids out but it is the MOST frustrating and exhausting day. Don't feel bad we had horrible Gotcha Day pictures. Just remember he is a HINZ now!! Few more days and this will be all behind you.
    Much O-town HUGS!

  5. Happy Gotcha Day!!!!
    The one thing they never tell us is how I N S A N E Gotcha Day really is;op
    Praying that y'all get some good sleep and have a better day tomorrow!

  6. Happy Gotcha Day! I'm so sorry that it was not what you expected, but think about how amazing it is that he NEVER has to go back to living in a place like that! What an awesome gift that is to you and him. Love you so much, praying for restful sleep for all of you, and for a passport to arrive much faster than you can dream or imagine!

  7. Yay for you and Sterling!

    And it may have been the beaureaucratic day from hell but you are making a difference for children in that region!!!

    Prayers the rest goes well--

    Susan WD
    adopting Alex (41)

  8. I have to tell you, it's been almost a year since our Gotcha day, and while it was a whirlwind of craziness, and I was at my wits end with being there, etc. I can smile about it. In the end all that mattered was that was the day that we finally had our boy forever. Hang in there, the whirlwind is almost over! :)

  9. Almost sounds like being in labor...Long, painful and exhausting! And at the end of it all, even though your baby is amazing you still just need a good meal and a LONG nap!

    Congrats to Mama and Papa! Sterling is AMAZING!