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Thur. 6/8/00 7:30 am (12:30 am home time)

We packed everything last night after we finally gave up trying to get them to sleep. They kept immatating everything we did. They interacted with each other yest. for the 1st time. They had acknowledged each other before but now they actually play together! And last night, they kept bothering each other like brother & sister! Everytime one falls asleep, the other pokes him/her!

11:15 am (4:15 am home time)

We went to the American Embassy this morning & it was great! They opened right on time, let us in 1st, in front of the long line of Ukrainians, it was air conditioned & only Americans adopting were in the waiting room that was filled with toys. It was us & another couple from Minnasota who was adopting boy/girl twins that were 6 months old. They have been here 5 weeks! Apparently Ukrainian law has changed (again) & no one is allowed to adopt under 6 month old even with a medical diagnoses so they had to wait. At least they got to sightsee! I had thought our kids were so tiny but next to these 6 month olds, they looked big!

12:30 pm (5:30 am home time)

The kids are asleep & Mitch went with Igor to buy our tickets to Poland (we have to go through the Embassy in Warsaw). We’ve been here 16 days. (If they had been registered at the same place & Clinton hadn’t been here, we could have done it in 13 days.) Not bad considering that 4 of those days were weekends when nothing could be done! (Our 10 day wait had been waived by the judge!)

I am looking at these sleeping babies as I write this & I just can’t believe that 2 weeks ago I hadn’t known them. Or how different they were only a week ago! Ana now says 8 words in English & Alek says 3! He also started saying kakait which is Russian for… well, uh… let’s just say it’s brown & in his diaper a lot! But he’s repeating it from me, he didn’t speak when we got him! He doesn’t always listen when we say no so he’s starting to understand what “time-out” is. He doesn’t usually cry anymore, just waits out his time & then plays with something else. He may go back over to the lamp or whatever we told him not to touch but he’ll just look at it & then at us & smile & walk away. It’s like he’s trying to say “see, I learned, I just like to see how mad I can make you”!

As for the little princess, she’s picked up a few of her brothers bad habbits. (I was hoping for the other way around!) It’s going to be hard to keep up with these two! No question about that! I’m starting to think nap time is for the adults more than the kids! Oh, now when I say “potsoloy” (kisses) they give me kisses!

Fri. 6/9/00 2:50 pm Poland time (8:50 am home time)

The kids were pretty good on the flight except that Ana screamed with fear when we 1st walked on. Otherwise it was fine. There were a few other families that had adopted on our flight too. It had been 93 degrees in Kiev on Wen. so Thur. I dressed them in a sundress & shorts. It had rained & cooled off a lot so I got a lot of dirty looks. It was worse when we landed in Poland & the temp. was only 63 degrees!

So now we are in Poland & we hate it! The hotel is nice (Sobieski), but more expensive than we expected & the bathroom door slides open & has no lock! Not good for kids! [Mitch is afraid they will open the door when he’s in there & start peeing all over the place! They immatate everything we do!] It’s cleaner & a little more westernized but we just don’t feel comfortable here like we did in Ukraine. I didn’t realize how much Russian I had learned until we got here! I don’t know a single word of Polish & niether does Mitch.

We walked down the street to McDonald’s for dinner last night because the hotel was too expensive & we thought the kids would enjoy it. Wrong! No one spoke any English. We thought we’d recognize the names of food but for the most part we didn’t. I don’t know what we ordered but we ended up with 6 drinks! Unfortunately I had forgotten the bibs & sippy cups at the hotel. (Apparently in Poland McDonald’s only has one high chair, no bibs, a napkin shortage & a fear of salt!) They gave us juice boxes for the kids & Mitch tried to show Alek how to use it. It was a dissaster! Orange juice everywhere! Alek kept trying to squeeze the box & juice would spray up into the air (I had to wash his hair this morning it was so sticky) & Mitch just got fustrated. We tried our drinks with straws but they just couldn’t make it work & the cups were to soft so they just ended up pouring it all over themselves. And it was the worst fries I’ve ever had!

We came back to the hotel & went straight to bed! This morning I took the longest hottest shower. It felt so good to escape for a few minutes! The kids are coming down with a cold or something & of course I caught it from them (should have waited a few more days before I taught them that kissing thing).
We went downstairs for the buffet breakfast & by the grace of g-d found a busboy that spoke English & he found us 2 highchairs. It was so nice to eat with no one sitting on my lap for a change! Allthough we couldn’t get Alek to stop crying until we finally figured out what he wanted, a coffee cup! We put some juice in it & he drank like he hadn’t had liquid for days! Then of course Ana had to do the same. Life will be so much easier when they learn to speak.

We went to the American Embassy & had to wait for 2 hrs. before everything was done because all of our paperwork was not filled out ahead of time. I had given the kids (& me) some Dimetap for their coughs so they were sleepy & kinda confused. Ana fell asleep in my arms while Mitch did all the paperwork & Anjay (our facilitator) watched Alek play in the kid area. (BTW, if you dress your kid in overalls, you have “handles” to grab onto when they want to run away! Picture me with Ana half asleep in one arm, Alek being held in the air by his “handles” with the other hand, our stuff by a chair somewhere, Mitch at yet another window in this room full of people & our facilitator outside getting the car!) There is no way we are staying in this country until Wen.! So Mitch is at the airport now with Angay trying to get us an earlier flight out. He’s been gone 2 hours already & when they are done, they will pick up the kids exit visas from the Embassy. I gave the kids a little more Dimetap when they started coughing again so they are taking their naps now. I hope I have enough left for the flights home!

Did I ever mention that in Kiev Mitch ordered Chicken Kiev & it was totally different than he thought! He thought it had ham but that’s Chicken Cordon Blue. He couldn’t believe it but I was happy, I ordered it the next night!

Mon. 7/17/00 1:50 pm

Sorry, we’ve been so busy since we got home that I forgot that I never finished the journal! Let’s see what I remember:

Mitch had a lot of trouble getting the tickets to go home. Not only did Luftansa say that they couldn’t get us on an earlier flight because they were all full, they said that because Alek was 2 (barely) he had to have a seat & there were no more available on the flight we were scheduled for 5 days later!!! So Mitch went to United Airlines (their American partner) & was able to find a compassionate person who was somehow able to get us on a full flight leaving the next morning. We ate dinner in the hotel resturaunt (a little too gourmet for the kids but we liked it) & went to bed early. The next morning we got up at 4 am. We were so ready to leave! It took 3 airplanes to get home! We flew from Poland to Germany & then had to stand in line for 2 ˝ hours with the kids on our backs (backpack carriers). I was in so much pain! The kids got fussy & I kept having to sing to quiet them down until they fell asleep in them. I think if I was holding a cup, I could have made some money! At least it’s something to laugh about now & it did help the 4 hour layover go faster!

Then we got on the 777 to America! (Washington D.C.) This plane that was so full, that Mitch had to fight to get us bulkhead seats, was only about ľ full! We had all 5 seats in our row all to ourselves! The bathrooms were right in front of us so we had the perfect spot on the plane! I put some blankets on the floor and some on the seats when the kids took their naps & they had plenty of room to run around in our row without bothering anyone else. You should have seen their faces when when we put the headphones on them. Alek had this expresion like “you knew about this & didn’t tell me sooner?!?!?!” It was pretty funny. It was an 8 hour flight but went by fast. Unfortunately I let Mitch help Ana eat lunch & I helped Alek. Never let your husband help your kid eat ravioli in a new dress when he’s had 5 drinks!

We finally arived in D.C. & went through Immegration. They were very formal at first but after only a few minutes, they came out with all of their papers & were very friendly. That was it. At 3:20 pm on June 10th, 2000, Anastacia Elana & Aleksander Ruslan Cooper were allowed to enter the United States! Air conditioning and English. We were home!

Only a very short time in the airport running around in their PJ’s with every worker giving them drinks & snacks & we were back on a plane. Just over an hour later we were at Raliegh Durham airport! It was very strange traveling for 19 hours and it never got dark! Because of that the kids had only slept for an hour on our backs & an hour on the floor on the plane so they were very shy & cranky.

We walked out of the plane to our own little welcoming party! My mom & dad, Karen, Dennis, Dana & Deni, Sherri & Dave, Johnna & Nina & Walt. We played at the airport a while & then just us & my parents went home. The kids loved their nursary! They kept running around touching everything. I thought they would sleep for hours since it was over 9 hours past their bed times but they were up at 6 am the next morning & have been going non stop ever since!

Ana eating Daddy's cooking for the first time. Alek inhaling Daddy's cooking for the first time! Bugging each other just like a brother and sister should!

They have been to the doctor & had everything tested & all kinds of vaccinations (they had 6 or 7 bandaids each when we left)! Everyone is doing fine & are very healthy children! It turns out that Ana had Giardia but they have both been treated and are now fine. They have both grown an inch and gained 6-7 lbs.! Ana has outgrown 2 sizes of shoes since we’ve been home but still wears a size 12 month with safety pins! Alek has gone from barely on the charts for weight to the 50th percentile! They are both talking all the time and some of it even makes sense to me. They are like parrots when they are in the mood & everytime they see a box at the door they squeal with delight! (They might be getting a little bit spoiled!) Basically, except for the language, you wouldn’t even know that they spent their whole lives in an orphanage!

Also, they are really starting to understand a lot of English too. We are amazed sometimes at the things they respond to. And they immatate everything. I can’t even clean the floor without them on their hands & knees behind me rubbing the floor too! Except they don’t have a paper towel! Overall, they are so cute you just want to eat them up. But you can’t because if you pretend to nibble on them, they’ll bite you back!

The End for now!

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