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12 noon (5:00 pm home time)
sitting outside the orphanage

You will never believe this! We came back to the orphanage & ended up watching the 4 & 5 year olds putting on a show because itís a holiday here. I think itís child day (we got very emotional watching them). Anyway, after about 30 min. of ďweíre almost doneĒ, we decided to at least say hi to the kids since we were so close. We went to see Ana & the teachers were (I think) asking where she was going to live. So, I pulled out the scrap book. You should have seen their faces! I wish I understood what they were saying! We said goodbye & went to say hi to Ruslan. On the way, a woman grabbed Mitch & started talking loudly. I caught enough to figure out that she wanted him to carry the props from the play from the hall back into the room. Now you have to remember that we are dressed for court in suits & he is wearing a tie & it is very hot inside! We get to see Alek finally when Igor getís me & says they need me right away. So Mitch had his 1st all alone time with his son. He said it was scarry! When the teachers came to check on them, Alek was so hot & sweaty from clinging to Mitch that they gave him hot tea! That makes sense! Also, someone must have bought them a new fridge & they were trying to install it in Alekís room. Mitch is still trying to figure out what all the tools were for, including an axe & a power drill! At lunch time, Mitch came to find me. I was in the basement (lawyers office?) typing our own court forms in Ukrainian! Itís a regular keyboard that has English letters in black & Cyrillic letters in red on each key & bugs were crawling across the keyboard! Everytime I had to type the letter ďiĒ, I had to switch the program language to English & then back while Lena pointed out the next letter to type for me. How was this faster? When I figured out that I was typing our names again, I showed her I could copy & paste it. Wow technology! (Good thing the shortcut icons look the same!)

Itís now 1:10 pm & we are finally going back to court. They called me back in to show them how to make the printer work. I turned it on & clicked on the print button. Ta-da! They didnít like the way it looked so I changed the margins & everyone was happy. Go figure. Itís a good thing Iíve done this so many times because everything is in Russian & you have to remember what it says & hope your right! Itís a good thing Mitch had come back in too because he figured out that I had hit pause print by mistake & so nothing was happening!! (We just found out that they were supposed to have these papers for us yest.)

Fri. 6/2/00 8:00 am (1:00 am home time)

We waited outside the courthouse for awhile until the Judge was ready around 2 pm. We walked into the old looking building, down a corridor, through a front office with a secretary & into a little room with some chairs and a little desk. The judge was behind the desk. She seamed nice & friendly. The secretary came in & wrote everything that was said by hand. They told us that the prosacutor knew about this adoption & was in favor of it so she didn't need to be there. Then we had to stand up one at a time & state our names, birthday & address & then they asked us questions. They asked me why we wanted to adopt? Why Ukraine? Have you thought this out? Do you know about the health of these children? Who will take care or them? Why donít I work? Can we finacially afford to take care of them? Do we have relatives? Will we take care of them & not return them to this country? What language will you teach them? Did we select them at the adoption center or the orphanage? Have we had time to get to know them? Do we have a house?

They asked Mitch if he agreed with everything I said & if he was for the adoption. They asked if we had bonded with the children & if we were happy with our choice. Mitch said ďyes, we love themĒ! Then they ruled that Ana & Alek were legally ours & we all cried. Even Lena was crying as she translated the judges speech about how the children should always be thankful to us & someday give us many grandchildren. We showed her our scrapbook & she asked if we could adopt her too!

So exactly one year to the day after we found out that we were supposed to have twins, we finally became the parents of 2 children.

We stopped by the orphanage to tell the staff (the kids were napping) & everyone gave us hugs & kisses & were calling us Mama & Papa! Then the paperchase started again! We had to go to the notary & get everything stamped official. On Thur. everything closes at 2 pm. It was after 3 pm! But after a little persuading, they stayed open for us. We got to watch for 40 minutes how they stamp all 7 copies with different seals & sew other papers onto each copy with purple thread. Then they have to register everything in books that they hand write! We would have been board to death if we wernít so amazed at all of the work involved! Then we went to get Alekís new Birth certificate. (We got lucky that they were both born close by but they were registered at different offices.) They were also closed but had been warned that we were coming & were waiting for us. We had to apply to ďdestroyĒ his old birth cert. & when that was done we had to ďapplyĒ for a new one. When it was done, they brought us into a very nice room & had us stand at a ceremonial type of table & made a big production of us signing for the birth certificate & handing it to us. It made us cry again. They called the place where Ana was registered but it was already 5pm & they were long gone.

We went home to change & were served a ďlightĒ lunch since it was 5:30 pm (soup, rice & meat). By the time we got to the nursary we only had about 40 min. with the kids but when we returned Nastya, we got to see her eat all by herself & then they gave her a bath! All the other kids were sitting on their potties the whole time! Lena was able to get their daily schedules for us & we went home. It had been a long day! When we walked in, the whole host family was waiting with Champagne!

We had dinner (pancake thingys, colliflower & an egg). They donít seem to have different foods for breakfast, lunch & dinner, just different amounts! Then we got the room somewhat more child-proofed by putting stuff away or up high.

1:00 pm (6:00 am home time)

This morning we had breakfast (hot dog thingy with cheese in it, egg, french fries, cucumber, tomato & cookies) & then we waited. It really doesnít matter what time you say to people here, they just show up when they want.

We finally went to get Anaís Birth certificate & were told that there was a problem. In one place on one paper, it read Alan Mitchell instead of Mitchell Alan. We tried to tell them that they just wrote it the right way for Aleks but she said she couldnít. So we went to where we have to bring the birth certificates to leagalize them to let them know whatís happening because they close at 11 and it was already 10! The office was on the 9th floor but the elevator only stops on the 4, 7 & 10 so we got off at 10 & walked down one flight. It was scarry. When we left we took the stairs. All 243 of them! (Mitch counted!)

Then we went to find the judge so she could stamp the paper saying that she meant Mitchell Alan but she was hearing criminal cases. Lena waited for her while Sergi dropped us off for 2 hours at the orphanage. Unfortunately, we only had Ĺ hour before they had to be back for lunch but we got to see them & drop off clothes for later when we pick them up. While we were waiting in the hall, we saw the Durham family who were in the process of deciding on a daughter. They are also from NC & using CAS. We had talked on the phone before we left but this was the 1st time we met in person! We also had an interesting conversation with an Italian couple who spoke no English (we speak no Italian)!

We just picked up Lena (the judge finally took a break) & now we are going back to get Anaís birth certificate. Every time we get in the car they say ďitís right down the road hereĒ & we drive for at least Ĺ an hour! At least the rain cooled things off & made it a comfortable temperature!

3:40 pm (8:40 am home time)

We got to the building & the door was locked! It was lunch time! They finally opened & said it would only be a few minutes. Ukrainian minutes must be longer than ours. While we waited we saw 2 weddings. They called us in, had Mitch sign & shoved the new birth certificate at him. Not quite the same ceremony as for Alekís!

So we run to the car to go back to the place to legalize them. You know, the one that closed at 11 but said they would do us a favor & wait until 2. It was now 3! We run onto the elevator but they said it was to full so they left Sergi behind. But he had the wine & chocolate he had bought to make them happy! (Itís Friday & the next time they are open is Tue.!) They helped us right away (thank g-d!) & told us they would meet us downstairs because the Birth Certificates need 2 stamps. One is on the 10th floor & the other on the 1st! itís just a rubber stamp! Canít they buy more than 1! We get on the elevator & the operator says they canít hold more than 3 people to go down (it had 2 men on it but on the way up it had about 15!) so Mitch & I had to walk down all 243 steps again! We didnít want to ride on their stinkiní 1928 elevator anyway! (That reminds me, when you stop at a light here, all the cars kindof pile in close to each other with no order at all. So everytime we stop, Mitch looks at me & says ďLines, we donít need no stinkiní linesĒ!) so now we are at yet another notary office waiting to fill out an application for passports. Everything is so repetative itís unbelievable! At least Igor will take care of everything after this without us. I hope everything can get done so we can leave soon! They tell us everything is going well & Lena doesnít keep crossing herself anymore so I think thatís a good sign.

Itís a trip waiting in these offices. People will run in, stop short when they see how many people are waiting (as if they are surprised!) & then shove to the front & start yelling at the people working! Every single office. Even court!

My neck is killing me. I think itís from when we stopped short not to hit someone crossing the street. I think most drivers here would have just run the guy over!

Sat. 6/3/00 10:00 am (3:00 am home time)

We finally finished there & Igor flew out of the office to get to the passport place in time! (He did by the way!) And we went to pick up our babies for the last time. 1st we signed some forms with the director & his assistant, gave them gifts & thanked them for taking such good care of our children until we were able to come & find them. Then we thanked the orphanage lawyer who gave us a whole speech about how now that weíre parents, my body will work right & Iíll have lots more babies because she knows all American families have at least 5 kidsÖ OK.