Well, it has been five days since I took Vlad out of the orphanage. It has flown by and we are ready to come home tomorrow thanks to a new visa in hand. I am very, very ready to get on the plane and fly home with my new son. I need some semblance of normalcy. I am dragging a bit, so I will put this post in a top ten-formula. I don't really have a theme. Perhaps we can call this my top ten musings before I get up insanely early for my flight.
1. Delights. If you come to Kyiv, this is the grocery store to visit. I found it just in time - two nights before I am to leave. That was a tired, sarcastic remark. What is not sarcastic is this: Delights is the Whole Foods of the city. I actually found asparagus and did not need to weigh my produce. There is a man who will carve your roast beef by hand. I was looking for a fight in the produce section but came away with nothing. Oh well. I'll just ram my grocery cart into somebody at the Jewel in St. Charles for the heck of it.
If you do not understand this last part, check some of my earlier posts in which I detail some of my grocery store encounters.
2. Vlad continues to amaze me. He loved the train ride and eats vegetables. Look out Syrus, your days of quesadillas and pizza only diet are numbered.
3. My sister, Rebecca is amazing. She flew in Sunday and her timing could not have been more perfect. Rebecca has been huge in helping me with Vlad, who has taken an extreme liking to her. An extreme liking. Meaning, when she leaves the room to go get a drink of water, Vlad breaks into tears and walks after her. Evidently I am now chopped liver. Of course, if you know Rebecca, it is hard to blame Vlad for his new perspective.
4. There are an absurd number of trip hazards in the Ukraine. I entered one restaurant, and I counted four different little steps just going through the door. They are everywhere and reach up to grab you. I only bit it twice. It must be a record. If you come here, be aware.
5. Vlad loves to change his clothes. When I brought him back from the orphanage, he went over to his suitcase and took out all of his clothes, one by one. He then tried on half of them. I just sat and watched him take off his shirt, put on a new one, take that one off, put on a new one...and then he found the shirt I traded for from the orphanage. It is the yellow one we saw him wearing in the first photo that we saw a couple of years ago. He smiled, put the shirt on and then began to walk around.
It hit me even harder that Vlad is toughing out a really hard, life-altering transition. This kid is a brave little one.
6. If anyone complains about the facilitators here in the Ukraine (and anywhere for that matter) as they try to help you with the adoption process, make sure to check yourself. We Americans have a lot to be thankful for. I, for one, am very thankful for the rights that so many have created, fought and died for so that we can enjoy them today (and I really do say that in the least cliche manner possible.) As a United States history teacher, I am completely appreciative of what our founding fathers (and mothers) went through to ensure these rights. One thing that we have to be careful of, however, is taking this pride in having personal rights and allowing it to evolve into a nasty sense of entitlement. These people work amazingly hard in their area of social work. Marina was our main facilitator here during our adoption of Vlad. To watch her work was something to behold. She was on top of everything, pushing when things needed to be pushed, and showing prudence just at the right time. God truly blessed us to have her as our facilitator. She would answer the phone at any time - even in the middle of cooking dinner for her son (and when I tried to get off the phone she refused.) When my internet cut out, it was clear that she was more worried about it than I was. She went above and beyond what she needed to do to make sure that our stay was as positive as possible. Every night, another facilitator, Luda, called to make sure everything was ok. It was a joy to hear her pleasant voice on the phone, checking in even when she probably didn't have to. Serge was cash money during our SDA appointment. If I had to go into battle with someone, Serge would be the man I would call because he wouldn't need a weapon. He would simply break the enemy with his fingers - and I say this after only meeting and hanging out with him for about two hours. And Serge cares about children so deeply - on Facebook under his basic information, he only has one thing: "EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY." Amen, brother.
Everyone - Roman, Nico, Eugene, just to name a few others, were so generous with their time and made us feel safe. I will miss Roman's jokes, Eugene's super-detailed narrative of the history of Kyiv, and Nico's willingness to be flexible with his time so my sister and I could get to know his wonderful city a bit more before we departed. Get that new van soon, Nico - you deserve it.
7. Thanks to Roman's mother who made sandwiches for me. They were tasty. I will be making them back in the States.
8. I will be training Vlad to be our housecleaner. He already has a head start. The first night in the apartment, I watched him fold his clothes, pick up pieces of paper, put them in the trash, and pull out a mop and push it around. I am not making this up. On the train, he pulled out a wipe and proceeded to clean his legs, hands, arms, neck, and face. He then scrubbed, and I mean scrubbed, behind his ears. Seriously?
9. It is almost midnight. What the heck am I doing up?
10. Best moment of the night? After I gave Vlad a bath (which he loves to do by the way...the other night, after his bath he decided to take OFF his pajamas and get BACK IN the bathtub...) and got him dressed. We were hanging out a bit and then Vlad started sobbing because he thought he could not take the broom back into the kitchen to clean while Rebecca was finishing up the dishes. Vlad's tears were mainly due to him not having a nap today and he was exhausted. I can't think of another reason why he was upset because I was not preventing him from his cleaning duties. But I picked him up and let him cry on my shoulder. Within minutes he was snoring on my shoulder, laying on me like a warm blanket. I just watched his back rise and fall with each heavy, sleepy sigh. I then thought of the fact that tomorrow night, the same scenario would be playing out in little West Chicago, Illinois. How cool.