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We asked if it was better now that it’s not soviet anymore. He said “YES!” before you were only allowed to have one job. Now he has 2 & can travel to other countries. Something he couldn’t do before. He did say that it was very hard for old people though.

One time when we were walking, a woman came up & started talking to us. She wasn’t very stylish but she didn’t look like a begger or anything. He said “just ignore her. Gypsy.” I have no idea what she was saying. Maybe asking for money? Many people would come up to us & try to sell us something but he just said “Nyet” before they even pulled it out of their bags.

He also said that the power does go out a lot & we’ve been lucky so far. Let’s hope this luck continues. As well as the weather. It’s been beautiful! It’s a great time of year to be here. (He said his favorite months were May & Sept.) The flowers are in bloom & the temps have been around mid 50’s to low 70’s. No rain yet.

And there is no diet soda or caffine free anything! Soda or coffee. Mitch had a cup of coffee from a lady selling it by the souvoneers & said it was pretty bad. He said the cup he had from McDonalds by the train station was worse. And if you want bottled water that’s not carbonated you have to ask for it without gas. The stores always had it but some stands and resturaunts only had with gas so I drank juice. Everyone drinks juice and when you buy it you get the whole carton! (Actually, they sell it in a box.)

Mitch just noticed that all the men in this country have short hair. Sorry Attila (my brother-in-law). And the children are (as he put it) “normal looking”. No baggy pants hanging off their hips. Nothing weird peirced. It’s nice. The only strange thing is girls like 10 or 11 years old in fishnets or black lace tights!

I just went to the bathroom again & now that it’s daytime I could see that when you step on the pedal to flush, it goes right onto the track! Yuck!

11:00 pm (4:00 pm home time)

Wow, what a day! I’m too tierd to write now. I’ll tell ya later!

Fri. 5/26/00 7:00 am (midnight home time) & throughout the day

I actually got 7 hrs. of sleep! That’s more than I’ve had this whole trip put together! Where were we anyway? Oh yeah, the train. We pulled into Kharkiv at 7 am (Mitch is amazed how the trains all run on time) & stayed in our compartment until 3 men came to get us. Igor (different one, our facilatator in Kharkiv, almost no English), Sasha (our host, little English) & Sergi (our driver, no English). They grabbed our bags & we followed them to the cars (2, both Lada’s. very small cars) where we met Lena, our translator. We drove to the hosts’ apartment where we were staying. From the outside, Mitch said he expected the place to be filled with addicts & see needles lying around everywhere. We walk in & there is a definate oder like urine but Mitch thinks it was just old & musty. The hallways are so dark it took my eyes awhile to adjust. We went into the elevator that was so small, only 4 of us fit with no luggage & we were squished! The apt. is on the 13th floor (go figure) & that button doesn’t always work so sometimes we go to the 14th & then walk down one flight. Again, very dark halls. The apartment is nicer than we expected though & we are comfortable enough. There is a tiny kitchen, a room for us to sleep (doesn’t anyone sleep in 1 bed in this country?), a living room (where they sleep) with a little table that Mitch & I eat at, a room with a tub & sink (& a washing machine!), & a tiny room with a potty. It smells old but not bad, like visiting an old relatives house when you were a kid. They had a TV & VCR (different format tapes though) & a water heater so we had hot water all of the time. Our translator told us hers had been turned off for the summer!

We were made breakfast (a sunny side up egg that was a much lighter yellow than we’re used to but very tasty. And what looked like french fries! Then there was also bread & cut up cucumbers & tomatoes.) Then we left for the orphanage!

We parked across the street & walked through the play yard. We walked up some stairs where the walls were painted with murals of children’s themes. The one that really caught my attention was of a woman with long blond hair & a child & a dove. We were led to a couch in the directors office. The room also had a small desk that the director sat at, a TV, some cabinets, a lot of small tables pushed together to make a big table surrounded by a few chairs & covered in files. Lena sat near us on a chair & the doctor & someone else sat around the room. Other people came in & out. The director & 1 of the assistant doctors are men. Everyone else, women. They were friendly & seemed to love all of the children. They asked us what age boy & girl we wanted & when we said as young as possible, they all laughed. Apparently that is the standard answer. Then they told us all about the 1 year wait & how the children are in the hospital for 4 months first. Then they said that they had the perfect girl for us. She was 20 months old & very healthy. We were lucky to see such a girl & she was just coming available so no one else had seen her. We thought it would be awhile to get her but there she was! Anastacia (one of our favorite names)! A woman brought her in & sat her on her lap across from me. Mitch & I both had tears in our eyes (but he won’t admit it now!) & just kept staring at her! They asked her in Russian what the doggy says & what the chicken says & stuff like that & she apparently had the right answers. I think animals speak a different language too because I didn’t recognize any of them! Then they asked her where the American cartoons were & she pointed to the TV! Then they told me that she had never been in that room before! She’s a very smart girl & very alert. I had my hands on her middle but she wouldn’t come to me until the woman holding her said it was OK. Everyone in the room was smiling & saying how she looked like us. She does kindof remind me of pictures of me when I was 1 but with Mitchs hair when he was little. She has a little bit of blond hair & light brown eyes, like mine. She is only about 15 or 16 lbs. & maybe 28” tall. Tiny. Mitch held her (the 1st he’s ever held a child). He asked if she was walking yet & they said to put her down. He did & she waddled right over to the lady! Then she told her in Russian to walk to Papa & she did! She can say Mama & Papa but doesn’t know it’s us yet! They said they had other girls (1 or 2) that were a little older but we were taken with her. We told them “she’s perfect”! And her birthday is a week before mine! She’s very expressive too. She kept making all kinds of faces while she looked at stuff. We put her on the couch between us & she played with my sunglasses & a bottle of Purel I had with me (we forget to bring toys the 1st time). Then they brought in a boy.

He had brown hair & was little but heavy when I lifted him. They just put him down on the couch on the other side of me. He was chewing on a toy that made him drool everywhere. He was a nice boy but I just didn’t feel anything. He was 22 months old. Mitch felt the same way at 1st but then warmed up to him. We played with him and Nastya (short for Anastaciia) for at least ½ hr. waiting for the next child (they told us they had 5 boys for us to see) when they said “OK, you decide?” I was starting to think that I could imagine this child as my son but I just wasn’t sure. We asked if we were going to see more boys & they said fine & one lady walked out. They left Yuri in the room with us too & came back with Ruslan.

He just turned 2 Sunday. The day before Mitchell’s Birthday! I was very drawn to him even though he wouldn’t come anywhere near me! He gave the director, Roman (who also happens to be the head doctor) a big smile & gave him a hug & a kiss. I went over to him & reached out my hand & he sat on the floor & made a face like he was going to cry. I thought that was good that he had stranger anxiety. I had heard it’s bad when they go to just anyone. They said that he was tired because he just came from another room where they chose another boy. They said it was the mothers 2nd pregnancy & she was 22 when she had him. He had been just over 7 lbs. when he was born (Anastaciia had been just over 6 lbs. {Apgar – 8} & the other boy not even 3 ½ lbs.!) & he was born at home. There was some kind of problem with something at birth that didn’t translate well but they said there were no problems resulting from it & they’ve run many tests. Then they said “choose”. We had only been with the 2nd boy 5 minutes & we hadn’t held him! In our hearts we knew but how do you point to one in front of the other? So they sent us away to decide & come back later.

We came back to the apartment & had lunch. (Did I mention that the host family's wife that makes all of our meals is also named Lena? They also have a son [22] named Dima.) We had some kind of chicken patty & rice & salad & cucumbers & tomato & bread & oranges. We were to nervous to eat very much so when translator Lena came Host Lena had her ask if the food was OK so we told her not to make so much!

We told translator Lena our decision to take Ruslan (she said she’d hoped that’s who we’d pick) & off we went to the notary. I wanted to go see the children now that the stressful decisions were over but we had to do this first. They said it wouldn’t take long.

On the way, we saw lots of children with flowers & teenage girls in what looked like French Maid costumes! Lena told us this was the school uniform! Can you imagine! It was the last day of school so everyone was dressed nice & brought flowers to their teachers.

Apparently, the paper we needed at the notary has been changed so they had to figure out the new way to write it while we waited. For an hour & a half! I actually fell asleep for a few minutes! Mitch asked to use the bathrooom & when he came back he told me I needed to go. I didn’t know whaat to expect but I never could have imagined this! I opened the door & there were 2 steps up to a basin in the floor with no seat! I don’t know how long I was in there just trying to figure out how to go!
When we finally finished at the notary, we went back to the directors office at the orphanage. We waited a while (I don’t know why) when our driver, Sergi, came in to talk to Lena. Igor had taken our papers to the Ministry of Education Department of the Court (?) & they had question to ask us. So off we went. We were nervous because we hadn’t heard of this before. We got there & went in. The lady motioned us to sit down as we tried to look as friendly & parental as we could. Then she told Lena that she didn’t really have question for us, she just wanted to see that we were real! OK. So back in the car to the orpahanage. Once we got there, we had to wait again. Finally, we asked what we were waiting for & were told they were changing them into something nice for us. Like I cared what they were wearing!