Sunday, March 07, 2010

Thursday, May 22, 2008


It is so hard to believe--- one year ago today we were in Kyiv and we had just gotten our info to head to Slav'yansk.

This is going to sound really strange, but if I knew now what I knew then (that I would return to the US to get fired from my job for saving this child's life). It would have been so much easier over there. The constant fear that things were not going well at work--- not well at home-- made it very hard to just chill and let what was going to happen unfold as God had planned.

My perspective is so much better now--

Update: Joey is doing GREAT! He just finished first grade. We have decided to move him BACK to kindergarten in a Catholic school next year. There are so many social skills that he missed in the orphanage-- a chance to be a "kid" will be a good thing! It's a half day program, We will work on academic stuff during the morning and he'll be off to St Jude in the afternoon.

He is now an English speaker. Joey still remembers his Russian. We go to a local dining spot and the host speaks Russian. They will chat as we get seated--- he still "gets it". Nice!

Again this time, the transition has been VERY easy--- easier than we deserve. Joey has blended into our family with few (if any) problems.

To our Ukrainian friends a BIG hello! Peace Corps Katie THANK YOU !!! Lera--- I know we still owe you a package-- it's on the way--promise! and to MAX our translator and even more our.. friend-- MANY THANKS--- It is very humbling to know that if it were not for all these wonderful people Joey would probably be in an institution or worse-- he would be another statistic of the sad truth of Ukraine's struggle to deal with their mentally disabled population.

There are so many more kids that need help. It is overwhelming to even think of it. Please check out and to look for ways that you can help. We feel called to do more--- we pray every day for the guidance to do the right thing---please pray for us and for all the kids that desperately need help not just to get adopted but just to survive!


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Home for a Month!

It's hard to remember a month when so much has happened in our lives. Getting Joey---Getting fired-- having all of my stuff packed to move back to Vegas for a job and then it not happening--- more job interviews---lots of lawyers---- whew!!
The good news is we have been able to spend a lot of time together to get settled in. We have been at the pool almost every day (we all have great tans!) and spent a lot of family-time!
I started a new job tonight- I host Hall of Fame Coast to Coast an oldies/classic hits radio show than is syndicated across the US--- Please call your local station and ask them to carry us (that way I won't have to take a second job).
Okay-- to the important stuff---- All the medicalsf have looked great for Joey--- no heart problems----blood draw for chromosomes was this week---we'll know the answer to the Trisomy 21 or Mosiac question in a week or so---
He has some more school testing this week--Catie will translate (the person provided by the district was not very good last time). Hard to believe we are just a few weeks away from the start of the school year!
He is sleeping a bit better with the melatonin-- but he is still testing the limits at every turn. Not only that, but he has a really foul mouth. He swears like a little Ukrainian sailor--especially when he does not get his way--- It's really funny (okay maybe funny is not the right word) to see this sweet little child with such a bad mouth. The good news is only Catie knows what he is saying and he will NOT picking up these words around the house (and hopefully not in school for a while!)
paperwork stuff:
Joey got his letter from the Office of the President with his citizenship documents last week (YAY!!)
Mary got his paperwork turned in for Social Security
Ukrainian registration papers went away
We will get his passport as soon as the SSN card gets back
That's it for now--- more later!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another Week Home

WOW-- time is flying!
Joey is doing great fitting into the family. He is taking swimming lessons daily at the swim club. He LOVES the water.
Sleep has been the big variable. If he gets his nap, he is an angel. If the nap does not happen, it's not pretty. Quite ugly infact!
We all watched the DVR'd MONK tonight. He enjoyed it, but probbaly more enjoyed us all watching together as a family. Things just feel right--- that is a true blessing!
On the downside, the stress of joblessness is growing and tomorrow I will need to decide between a couple of different opportunities. One will keep us here in Cincy, the other involves a move. There are so many variables it's tough to decide. Please keep us in your prayers that the decision will be the right one!
More in a week or so!
Jim and Mary


Monday, July 09, 2007

Adjusting Just fine!

Joey has been home for almost 2 weeks now and things are going fine! He is getting into his schedule and back to his much needed naps. We have been spending a lot of time at the pool and he loves the water (but he is fearless and sinks like a rock.). Swimming lessons start today. We have a pond in the back yard and getting him sea worthy is priority #1!

So far doctor visits have been good--- ENT and Eye doc gave him a clean bill of health--- cardio, Down Syndrome clinic, Genetics, TB Clinic and ortho are next week.

I was SHOCKED to be terminated from my job my very first day back from FMLA. My lawyers won't let me say any more about it right now, but I look forward to sharing the incredible story as soon as I can.

Matt has to be in the hospital for the next few days and I am on the road hunting for a things will be crazed. I'm sure everything will work out, but we sure did not need this added stress.

More soon!


Jim and Mary

Friday, June 29, 2007

Joey's Journey Home

Sorry this is a little late--- Things are going great at home. Only problem was he came home with an ear infection and pink eye. Both are now under control and he is feeling much better!
Tuesday morning we were up and out of Max's by 9 for our 12:15 flight. Max lives on the Left Bank so there were no problems with traffic getting to the airport (also on the LB). We stopped at a supermarket to look one more last time for some things that Catie wanted us to bring home plus get some liquid gifts for some folks back home.
We got to the airport 2 and a half hours early and waited for our check-in desk to be assigned. About 30 minutes later (and a couple of Joey breakdowns) and we were up to the Air France counter to get checked in. We got our seats (all together) and used up our last kopeks on a sandwich and a couple of Cokes to share.
Our flight boarded on time and Joey was THRILLED looking out the window for most of the flight (some squirms but good for the most part).
After and on time arrival in Paris and we were ready to try to get a transit visa.
Nightmare time--- The French (when they do decide to speak to you in English) know only one phrase: "It is not possible". We tried for 5 hours and it seems that a 6 year old with Down Syndrome is a terrible security risk to the French people (though I'm sure he could defeat them in an armed conflict). So we will spend the night at the airport. ** Note about the French workforce*** They don't work. We watched workers kick garbage out of their area so they would not have to pick it up, there were several baggage handler "strikes" forcing planes to be late in getting out. There are 5 people to do the work on one in American or Ukraine or Germany. Socialism and "Full Employment" at it's best. This country (or at least the airport) is fully dysfunctional.
We finally found a nice person at the transfer desk and she got onto an airplane and got us some food, blankets and pillows and we camped out in front of the Crown Room. Joey slept for 5 or 6 hours, Mary and I for an hour or so. At 6 we were kicked out of our resting spot and I went through immigration to get us some breakfast from McDonalds. They were closed so I was coming back through immigration and the nice officer at the B gates decided I did not need to be there since we were departing from the E gates so he refused to let me in....(Mary and Joey were just on the other side of the glass. After arguing with him for a while, I handed Mary and Joey their documents and told them I'd see them at "E".
They got there no problem. It took me over 2 hours. First the 24 hour shuttle buses were not running (the employee shuttles were running ever 2 or 3 minutes but I was not permitted in). Then I decided to walk, but could not pass through because "D" was evacuated because of a "suspicious bag". That also stopped the shuttles (that were not running anyway). "But How to I get to "E"? "It is not possible!" was all they would say. I finally caught a bus to the train station and was able to get a shuttle from there to the E gates.
On the bus, we were talking with a young woman who travels a lot for work. She tries never to connect in France. We were talking about how much better things have gotten in Ukraine in the past 3 years and how much worse they are in France. This country has some serious problems (Actually I really like France and was very sad to see how the country is slipping downhill).
We boarded the bus to the plane after having our documents checked 3 more times (full employment) and got in our seats vowing NEVER to connect through CDG ever again. Joey was very good on the flight. He ate, slept, ate, ate and watched tv. The flight crew on Delta was wonderful.  We touched down just after 3 Cincy time. Ahhhhh home. Immigrations was quick. Mary took Joey to the back room to get his papers done and I got the bags. They were finished before I was and came out to meet me. We got the bags and went through customs (It's so nice to see nice people doing good work--- we're no longer in France)
Thanks to the nice welcoming party at the airport. We stayed and visited for a while and finally at about 5 we made it home!!
The A/C at home was broken so we headed to the pool up the street for a swim. Hot dogs on the grill for dinner and all is well.
A family is whole.
If you have any questions about adoption or Ukraine or would like more detail on any part of our journey. Please feel free to email us:
marty at martythompson dot com
or stolzfamily at juno dot com
Jim and Mary

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We are home!

Just a quick note to let everyone know we made it home!

lots of drama getting here-- fill you in on all that later today. We won't be online or avialable by phone much for the next 4 days as we get settled with our new bigger family, but we'll try to post once a day!


Jim and Mary

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday June 25, 2007




It was bound to happen and it did. Both Mary and I got a serious case of the "Ukrainian trots" She thinks it was from "our café"—I refuse to believe that and think it was at ElDorado (the place with the English menu) Either way Mary was really sick starting yesterday—it hit her hard at Church. I woke up this morning sick (aches, 102 fever and the other fun stuff that I will not mention). We got right into the cipro and are both feeling a little better this evening… The best advice I can give anyone is to have your family doc write a prescription for Cipro or something that will work on stomach bugs. Only being sick one day is way better than 2 weeks last time (though I won't lose as much weight)


Ok—on to the real post—


I know most people get swamped right before they leave Kyiv and really don't have a chance to write about the last day (us included last time). This time I wanted to give those of you thinking of adopting or already in the system, a feel for the hectic last day. ( at least ours)


Joey finally got to sleep around 10 last night and not having a nap for 2 days he did NOT want to get up for breakfast and the cab at 7:30. We pried him out of bed and got him to eat some hot cereal (thanks Chef Max) and we were off to the medical center.   Medical center is actually a generous term. It is a hallway with several offices and "exam rooms" where people looking for immigrant visas for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand go to get a "physical" that is approved by the embassy (you may hear some people refer to it as the "Oil Clinic" as it is operated by an oil interest.)


Traffic was terrible from the left bank into the city. Our cabbie played "chicken" on the highway speeding the wrong direction down the road (we did not come all this way to die in a car accident you dummy head). It took an hour to get into the city.


The good news is orphans go to the front of the line at the Oil Clinic, so the hallway full of people did not slow us down. Max pushed his way into the registration room, then for weight and height and then to wait for the doctor. And wait and wait. The clinic opens at 8. Doctors start seeing patients at 9. Our "assigned doctor" never showed up so we got into the "back-up doc" at 9:45 (our Embassy appointment is 10:30). She decided that their psychologist needed to evaluate Joey to determine his level of mental delay. I refused and said the home study already has us approved to adopt a kid with Down Syndrome and that was approved by the US Government. We did not need LukOil's quack shrink to take more of our time (and I'm sure money) to tell us we are adopting a retarded kid (sorry for the pejorative). We know that! I called the embassy and I was right we did not need the extra evaluation—they are just trying to separate us from some greenbacks.


The doctor finally relented and prepared the paperwork after her "intensive evaluation" ("he looks okay to me"). We were off to the American Embassy. (I called them again to alert then to the fact that we were running late)


*** Note to parents who get their visa physical at the Oil Clinic***

There is a really nice playground just to the rear of the building—it is a little hard to see from the street. It's a great place to go while your forms are being prepared.


The people at the Embassy are WONDERFUL!!


Max did a great job compiling all the needed documents and we only had 4 or 5 forms to fill out and sign once at the window. It took about an hour for all the paperwork and the interview. They have a fun waiting room with toys for the kids and a water cooler (not to mention the best bathrooms we have found in a public place in all of Ukraine.) We need to come back after 3:30 to get the completed visa and all the immigration documents.


We grabbed a cab and headed to the Delta ticket office. I know we could just pay for his ticket in the morning at the airport but I'd feel better having it in hand today (Flights are TIGHT through the holiday and we don't want to get stuck here because of a preventable airline issue) We were very excited when the Delta lady said she could get us home without the overnight stay in Paris—DEAL! It was not til she printed that tickets that I noticed we would still have an overnight – but in New York… We decided to stick to the original plan—beg for a transit visa at the airport and get a room at Formule One (I LOVE their "shower capsules") or something near the airport. Plus that gives us one more day for the Cipro to work before the long flight.


I sent Mary, Max and Joey off for food while I did the airline stuff (The thought of food is very bad right now). Tickets in hand, I went to a kiosk to grab a little fizzy coke to sip. I checked the tickets and they were wrong. She had Joey's right, but Mary and I were still overnighting in New York. I suggested that they may not want him to wander through CDG on his own—they hastily agreed and got the tickets fixed.


Upon picking him up from the orphanage, we learned that he had a savings account with about 450 USD in it. Max went ahead to the local branch to see what we have to do to get his money. It will take 30 days and about an hour of paperwork—seems like a good investment of time so we will get there after we pick up the passport.


We took a cab back to the Embassy (we had taken a bus from the embassy, but I'm feeling really puny) and went in to get his stuff. 3:30—nope sorry come back at 4. 4—nope there was a slight clerical error on the Visa (it had his full middle name and the passport had only the initial J). They needed to reprocess all the paperwork. No problem—we've got no where to be til 6 (the bank) We walked across the street and got Mary and Joey an ice cream and me another coke. We headed back over and it was ready (actually they decided the inconsistency was not really a problem). Again I will say—The people at the American Embassy are the BEST! They really seemed to care and were very efficient (not typical for this country).


***** Note for adoptive parents**********


there is another playground right next to the Embassy—not nearly as nice as the other one, but a good place to kill some time.


We are now officially ready to go home tomorrow—Thanks Max!!!


We went to the bank and worked a plan to get Joey's money to him. It has to be wired from Slav'yansk to Kyiv and we'll send Max a power of attorney to withdrawal the money (or transfer it into one of those cool 13% interest accounts here for him.) The process will take 30 days but what the heck. Max is willing, the bank is willing and it IS his money.


******Note for adoptive parents**********


Many kids do have a small savings account in their name when they leave the orphanage. Don't let the money just sit there—make sure you track it so the kids do not lose it.


We had a celebratory dinner of Skyline Chili (Max said he liked it and Joey LOVED it) Mary and I both ate and so far so good.


Our flight leaves at 12:15. we'll be out of here at 9 for the cab ride to the airport. The computer is staying behind in Ukraine so we will not be able to post until we get home.


Thanks for everyone following along—we will keep posting through the adjustment period. Thanks to everyone back home for holding it all together and thanks to Max and the many new friends we have made along the way.


What is the cost of saving a life--- A LOT! But there is no amount that is too much when you see those bright eyes looking back at you and knowing that they would have grown dim way before their time at Torez.






Jim and Mary

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday June 24, 2007

(sorry for typos--I'm on a Ukrainian keyboard) It has been quite a day today.
Little Joey has experienced more new things today that I can even imagine.
We needed to get our of Max's place while we translated documents for the embassy. So after a wonderful breakfast prepared by Chef Max we walked the 3 (Long) blocks to the Metro (Subway). Took the train into the city center and got off at Zoo. I have seen a lot of people say bad things about the zoo here and certainly it is not as nice as Cincinnati, or San Diego-- but other than the ape cages (which are NASTY) I thought it looked pretty modern. (Wait--- all the toilets are squatters--forgot that one)
KyivStar (a cellular provider) was offering free train ride through the Zoo today so we saw a LOT in a little time. Joey did manage to toss his new hat into the duck and turtle lake-- so his beloved cap is not more :-(. We saw the critters, took a bunch of pictures, ate caramel corn (I do not recommend it), rode a coupe of carnival type rides and after about 2 1/2 hours we had all had enough zoopark.
We took the metro to the main shopping street and had the obligatory meal at TGI Friday's--- Joey had a kids's burger with fries and about 1/4 of a bottle of katsup. Mary and I split nachos and a Friday Burger. It was a good taste of home.
We walked the main drag (which is closed off to all vehicles for the weekend). There is a big concert later tonight... We missed A free Elton John concert last Saturday. We will miss this one too. We had a nice stroll and went to the underground mall for some ice cream (I would not recommend Baskin Robbins--- they have 31 flavors but 3 tiny scoops cost 7 dollars-- and it was not that good--- there is a Gelateria that looks way better-- or for 1 hrv (20 cents) you can get a Mc Cone (what we should have done)
We hiked up a huge hill to the Catholic Church (St Alexander's--how fitting) but it was an hour before Mass. So we climbed a bit farther to a pretty park with a playground and PONIES!! Yes--- Joey had his first pony ride today too (Sorry James). 3 bucks for a once around the park. We dodged a little rain and headed back down to Mass. English Mass was at 8:30, we would be there for Russian.. Cool!
We arrived about 30 minutes early and waited. Joey was a perfect angel (pun intended). He copied what everyone else did and was heartbroken that he only got a blessing at communion.
After Mass, we went back down the hill to the food court a the mall. We resisted the McDonalds urge and got some pretty yummy Ukrainian fast food (baked chicken with pineapple and cheese, boiled potatoes with dill and a pork chop) Joey loved it.
By this time it was 6:30 and we were quite tired from our day of exploring. A 20 minute metro ride and the 10 minute walk to Max's and we are back--
Bath time and now Joey is laying here as I type with his eyes wide open (I'm sure not wanting to miss out on anything)
Firsts for Joey today:
Escalators (which he now LOVES and has them totally figured out---that is saying something in the land of the world's fastest escalators)
American food
time to see a real body of water (the Dnipro)
trip to the zoo and see the animals
time to ride a "ride"
pony ride
shopping mall
to see a big city
a balloon on a stick
and on and on and on....
Today was a blast! tomorrow we get our cab at 7:30 and go to the American Medical Center then to the Embassy at 10:30---
wish us well!
Jim and Mary

Suturday June 24

It is Done!!
At 11:30am Joey left Orphanage Topolok for the last time. He is ours!
We had to provide a drive from home (45 km away) and back for the director to come in on a Saturday and she was kind of a snot-- but no matter--it's over!
We took him to eat at our cafe for lunch (borsht and bread) and then to drive the power wheels at the square (I wish I could upload the photos). Joey is facinaed with TV remote controls-- A fine young American already!
Max got back from dropping off the director at 2 and we headed to Donetsk for the train. We DID (withsome help from Peace Corps Katie) find the Mexican place, "Tequila BOOM!".. It was Great. Very authentic in everything but price (75 bucks for 4 of us) but a very nice splurge.
Joey had a bit of trouble falling aspeep on the train but we loved it. Such big eyes seeing everything for the first time. The sense of wonder was amazing.
We are now in Max's apartment for the nxt 2 days. We need to get out of here for the day so he can work on documents. I'll write more later as time permits.
Thanks for everyone's thoughts and prayers--- we have only the Embassy, Doctor and an airline ticket between us and home!!
JIm and Mary

Thursday and Friday June 21 and 22

Friday June 22, 2007


STILL 1 day till Joey's release


Well, the good news is that we WILL be able to make our train tomorrow night. We have  the documents done, notarized and 100% ready for the US Embassy. The bad news is that we did not make it back from Donetsk in time to pick up Joey from the orphanage. It seems there is new paperwork that must be completed by the orphanage director before we can get him--- We did not have the documents to present to her until after her day was done. (she had an all day conference yesterday and could not be bothered to stay until 6pm when we got there).


Max got here at 6:15am and caught an hour or so of sleep. He went to the courthouse to get the signed decree at 8am---They said it would be ready and waiting. Well, it was not waiting—he was. Finally Max was able to get the decree at 10. (we were at the hotel watching Discovery Channel's "How it's Made", "Myth Busters" (both in Ukrainian) and various Ukrainian cooking shows (we can now make a mean stuffed standing pork chop))---oops almost forgot the dubbed informercial for the magic bullet…. I WANT ONE OF THOSE!! Pesto is 6 seconds? How cool is that??!??!!


Back to the real story—


Sasha drove us to the notary in Kramatorsk, then to Joeys birth-town to get the birth certificate changed.


Next the one hour drive to Donetsk to get the birth certificate authenticated and then to the passport agency---


The court decree took forever. It was about an hour to get the birth certificate---10 minutes to get it authenticated and less than 45 minutes for the passport. We were VERY lucky—to get started 2 hours late and have a 2 hour drive to Donetsk and STILL get everything done is incredible (it usually does not work that way!!)


It was 4:30 and we were wiped out! We celebrated a fruitful day by taking Max and Sasha to McDonalds (none of us had eaten since breakfast and we were not in the mood to go hunting for the Mexican place)


Time for the 2 hour drive back to Slav'yansk. We stopped off in Kramatorsk to pick up some pictures of Joey when he was little. Sadly, the workers could not scare them up.. Hopefully they will find them and send them to us.


We finally made it back to the hotel close to 7. We decided to splurge tonight and went to El Dorado. Actually, the food was just okay—we should have stuck with "our café".


10pm and bedtime.


Tomorrow Max will drive to pick up Luba from her home (45 km away) and bring her to the orphanage to sign the papers we need. We will meet them there at 9:30—sign the papers and get Joey out of there—Max will take Luba back home and do some sightseeing at the Lavra. Mary, Joey and I will take him to the square to ride a "power wheels" and terrorize the pigeons---then lunch and back to the hotel for a nap before we head back to Donetsk for the overnight train ride to Kyiv.


Sunday is mass in Kyiv (we'll get in too late for English) TGI Fridays and the circus (we STILL can't reach Catie and James' relatives in Ivankiv L). We'll be on our own—Max will be busy translating documents for the Embassy.



Thursday June 21, 2007


1 day till Joey's release


Today was great day and a difficult day. It was great because we are but one day away from springing Joey from the joint. It was also great because of the wonderful party with his groupa. Yet it was very difficult because it was the day we said goodbye to our new friends- Lera and Mimmo and Lucia.


After a big storm last night, today was breezy and cool. It felt more like October than June. We got to the Orphanage for our morning visit and found Joey all bundled up to go outside. We headed out, but soon got cold and came inside to his groupa's playroom. We played with the hula hoops, emptied and refilled the toy basket and spent a lot of time wrestling on the mat.


Mary asked that he get  a bath either today or tomorrow before we go. They decided to give him a bath BOTH today and tomorrow so he had to leave us 15 minutes early.


We hung out and waited for  Mimmo and Lucia (the Italian couple who are also adopting) to finish up their visit and we met up with Lera who was nice enough to go with us to the ceramic market. (in case you missed it—there is a huge pottery plant here in Slavyansk. They make pottery that is resold under an Italian brand). The market was amazing. Things were just closing up as we got there but enough merchants to look for goodies. There was a HUGE coffee and tea set—it was beautiful—for 22 hrvn (less than 5 dollars). We got a few goodies to take home and walked out less than 2 dollars lighter. The Italian couple was as amazed as we were. They were familiar with many of the pieces—they actually found some items that match things in their kitchen back home. In Italy it was over 10 euro for something that was 40 cents here----crazy! We'd like to try to get back there tomorrow for a couple of minutes if there is time.


We all went to get lunch—Lera helped Lucia get something that was NOT chicken with Cheese (pretty much all she as eaten in 2 weeks) It was nice to sit as our "Mini UN." Italy, US and Ukraine (Actually Lera is a Russian citizen) all sitting down to enjoy a meal together—Leda, our waitress, was a bit overwhelmed. After lunch a sad farewell to Lera.. Thanks for being a great friend—we will stay in touch!


Max called a cab for us at 3:30 and we picked up cake, ice cream, fizzy apple juice and Champaign for the party.


4 O'clock and party time!! The kids were so excited to see the cake. We listened to music, ate, and played with bubbles. It was a very nice time! I feel a little bad for the workers. We left them with six 5 year olds all amped up on sugar.


We had a chance to take Joey outside for a little while. We fed Stimpy and walked around the grounds for one last time. Big hugs and I think Joey understands that tomorrow he gets to leave with us. We asked the workers to explain to him that we would be back around noon and we would be leaving! Tomorrow Joey will be officially and legally a member of our family.


We had a quick bus ride back to the hotel. We dropped stuff off and decided to have one last meal at "our" café. The food was good and we were pretty much able to order in Russian (amazing how much you can learn in a month). After dinner Leda presented us with a Chernihivska mug as a "present". Spaseeba!


We had Mimmo and Lucia to the room for a Coke Light and goodbyes. They have court tomorrow. We wish them well!



We are all packed and ready to go first thing in the morning. Tomorrow needs to go well—I'm confident that it shall!






Jim and Mary




Saturday, June 23, 2007

Got him

It is Julie, James and Mary's daughter. I just wanted to send out a quick update. My parents got Joey from the orphange and are on a train to Kiev now. They will be updating as soon as they can. We can't wait for them to get back!!


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Wednesday June 20, 2007

2 days till Joey's release


**** some tech stuff. As I said yesterday, Yahoo is killing it's Photos section. We have migrated all of our photos to snapfish, but I'm having trouble setting up public directories there—plus I cannot update the html on the website since I do not have my authoring tools here—sorry—no more photos until we get home (unless I have an epiphany as to how to do it) Also—I'm not sure if we'll have internet again until we get to Kyiv. Things will be moving fast Friday so Thursday's blog will probably be late at best or we may need to go dark until Sunday. Please check back early and often!


sooo close! I can't believe it— Tomorrow is our last day of visits—A regular visit in the morning and the party in the afternoon! Yippeee!


Today we rode with our Italian friends to the orphanage. They do not like the trolley-bus (too many people) so we took the regular bus (1 hrv vs 60 kopek) and we got there a little early for the "dance recital". It pretty much went the same way as the last program did--- teachers and a small group of kids performed for the rest of the kids and some dignitaries (and the adoptive parents). The theme was "back to school" and the older kids all got new backpacks and school supplies. It was quite cute except for the song for the closing credits (it prominently featured the "F" word many times—that is a first for a preschool performance for us).


We tried to get pictures of the other kids in the group after the performance, but we did not bring a still camera, just the video with a 2 megapixel still. Some photos look great—the ones we took of the kids did not--- we'll try again tomorrow.


We had about 45 minutes to play with Joey after the performance—just kinda hung out and played with the dogs.


We stopped to eat on the square on the way back to the hotel (the Italians have a translated version of the menu there). The food was pretty good (chicken with cheese and fries) but most of what we ordered was not available--- (I'm sure in honor of Mr Lenin who was peering down upon us). We were going to go to the lake, but a big storm has rolled in so methinks it's nap time.


The Italians and American's will take ice cream cones to all the kids to celebrate today's wonderful performance… We have 53 ice cream cones on hold at the 7-11 (well it IS open from 7am til 11pm)


More later!


And later it is!


First we took mahroshna (Ice cream—sorry for the bad transliteration) to all the kids--- lots of hugs and spaseebas! It is hard to believe so many great kids need a home--- I wish we could take them all home with us---- One girl in particular. Her name is Nastia (Natasha) She is the mother hen of Joey's group. She knows a little English and LOVES to practice on us. She has been out of sorts since her friend (and Joey's best friend here) Kristina left on the "blue bus". She is pretty and sweet. Dark hair, blue eyes. She seems to be about 5 or 6. A born leader, but not bossy at all--- we actually thought about how much it would put us back, time-wise, to go back to Kyiv and get paperwork and adopt her (we are approved for 2), But my boss is already wanting to fire me, so another 2 weeks here would no doubt cause me to spend some time in the unemployment line. The best we can do is put out the word—PLEASE—if you are even thinking about adoption—contact us and we can tell you more.


The afternoon's visit with Joey was tough. It rained and we were not able to get out much other than under "our" shelter house. He chose today to see how far he could push us. He found out the answer is "not very far". Three (or was it 4) "time-outs" a LOT of crying and I think he is finally understanding boundaries--- there will be more tussles, but hopefully we can be firm, consistent and loving in correction and it won't cause any of us too much grief!


We stopped by the Chernehivska café for dinner. Mary got something like a chicken swiss steak. I got chicken, peas, and corn in a cream sauce. Good stuff! We will miss the friendly staff and good food there!


It's hard to believe we are down to our last day of visits! We will meet the Italians at 9:30 for our last (hopefully) trolley-bus ride to the orphanage. Meat sticks and a coke and we'll be done. We'll go to the pottery market with Lera tomorrow at noon, then to get treats for the party (the director wants cake from a specific bakery—wonder if she owns it) We'll get the cake, ice cream, juice and some Champaign for the workers. We have the party play list ready to go on the computer (and no songs with the "F" word will be featured). Maybe we'll watch Kidsongs (but I hope not-- hehehehheeee)


Friday looks like this: (I hope)—sorry if this is a repeat--


8am     go to courthouse to get the court decree

9am     Drive to the notary in Kramatorsk to get everything nice and "official"

10:30   Get to his birthtown for the birth certificate

noon    back to the Orphanage to pick up Joey for the last time!!!! (YAY!!!) J

            Drive to Donetsk

2pm     Go to passport agency to get his Ukrainian International Passport

4pm     To hotel in Donetsk

5pm     McDonalds in Donetsk for his first taste of American food (this is actually up for negotiation—there is a Mexican restaurant in Donetsk that Katie (Our Peace Corps friend) said is actually pretty good. We are very curious to try it—so that may be his first taste of "American" food.)

7pm     SLEEP


If this works out, we have most of Saturday to lounge around—if not, we will be doing passport stuff then (the passport lady offered to come in on Saturday if need be!




7pm     Get on train for Kyiv

            sleep on train (we have a 4 berth 2nd class sleeper car)



            We will try to get to Ivankiv to see Catie and James' relatives. If they are still on vacation we'll go to the circus and/or the zoo and take it easy.



            AM Doctor visit

            PM American Embassy



            12 noon flight to Paris

sightsee in Paris (the French Embassy STILL will not answer their phone so our hopes for a travel visa are fading a bit)


            Fly home


We really need the birth certificate, passport and American Embassy to come off without a hitch for this to work--- it's not unheard of, but there are often problems. Max knows that we will be stuck with him and him with us for an extra week of we hit a road bump.. needless to say he's working extra hard to see that we are going to get out of here!!



Hopefully you'll see more from us tomorrow--- Keep praying for us. We need it!!






Jim and Mary








Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday June 19, 2007

3 days till Joey's release


In less than one week we will be aboard an airplane making our way home!! YAYAYAYYAYAYYAYAY!!


Thanks to Julie for finding a flight for us—there is no direct flight on Tuesday, but there is a flight that has an overnight connect in Paris. That is good news because the Wednesday flight we were booked on was sold out—no seat to buy for young Joey--- in fact there were not 3 seats on ANY flight through the holiday…. So there is extra pressure to get everything done right on schedule—we have no room for error or we will could stuck here till July 5. Keep us in your prayers that he don't hit any snags with his birth certificate, passport or at the embassy.


This morning's visit was a shopping trip. We (Mary, Joey, 2 orphanage workers and I) climbed into a Lada taxi and headed for the Rynok by the hotel.   We got him a couple of outfits, some sandals, socks and undies. Total cost about $30. Not too bad compared to Dillards—but we do not shop at Dillards. A little more than at the K-mart and the quality does not seem as good. We stopped to get his passport and visa photos done. We pick them up at 6:30. that will save us some time during our crazy day on Friday. Joey really enjoyed the trip—he did not get car-sick and was fascinated by all the motor scooters at the Rynok (Hey Prof--- can we have a ride?!?!?)


We also picked up a gift for the kids in the group.


By the time we returned to the orphanage our visiting time was over--- we were very happily surprised when the workers invited us to stay for lunch. It always smells so good.. it IS good. Clear veggie soup, brown bread, spaghetti, tomatos and a "mystery meat pieces parts" patty with homemade cherry juice to drink (I LOVE those cherries!!)


By the time we got back to the hotel it was too late to go to the beach (sniff sniff) so we hung out for a while, went to the internet and hung out some more.


Getting ready to head out for our afternoon visit--- more soon…




We are back from a fun afternoon! Our visit went well. Joey was wiped out from his morning adventure—it took an hour for him to finally wake up and we played tag and the "killer lion game"--- sounds too evil to write about—you'll need to ask in person. We did a lot of the usual—walk the grounds, feed and pet the dogs, climb on the playground equipment and, of course, eat cherries!!


"Priviet" to Kat and Jaye at work. It was good to get caught up. Thanks for doing such a great job while I'm away. Joey, Mary and I really do understand that you are working extra hard and we appreciate that you are busting hump!---Thanks!! YOU ARE THE best!


Kudos also to the kids for taking care of grandma and for not killing each other while mom and dad are away!!! Spaseeeeeba!



We spent some time at the internet today trying to figure out how to get a French transit visa for Joey (we would really prefer not to have to sleep in the airport) Last time Mary had to cry (literally) to the guy at immigration at CDG and he finally approved a waiver and let us take James and Catie to a hotel. I'd like for this to go better that that one. Much to our great surprise (not), the French Embassy in Kyiv does not answer their phone, so if anyone out there has any suggestions for securing the Visa, please email them to me at: marty at


We'd (okay, actually I'd) like to take him into the city and go up the Eiffel Tower, see Notre Dame and spend the afternoon being tourists. I LOVE Paris--- Mary HATES it! We'll do battle if we can actually get him through immigration!   J


We met Lira at 6 and headed to the drug store to pick up his passport and visa pictures. I must say that I have never known Joey to not be smiling. He is a really happy kid 99% of the time…EXCEPT when they flashed the picture.. Oh MY--- he has that Eastern European "up yours" scowl. It looks like he wants to kick someone's butt just 'casue it would be fun… What a hoot!


Lira, Mary and I went to café Ultra for Dinner and for English tutoring. Congrats to Lira she passed her boards and is now qualified to teach high school and college math! I'm trying to figure out who I can "fix her up with" in the US. She's a sweet girl who will have a really tough life here. (there are no jobs here for teachers right now so she is looking for work in another field). She is a "born again" Christian and seeking the same.


Tomorrow is a dance recital at 10 (that should be interesting) and a regular visit at 4. We are planning a big party for 4 on Thursday for all the kids in his group--- cake, ice cream, fizzy apple juice (they love that stuff here), bubbles and general silliness. The end is really getting close and as strange as it sounds I will kind of miss "Ground Hog's Day".


Still to do while we are here:



Pottery outlet

Chernihivska café one more time

Get a photo with Mr Lenin on the square



See ya Zaftra!





Jim and Mary!
PS Our photo link is dead (many thanks to Yahoo). It will have to wait until we get back to fix it. I'll try to get to blogger and load some pics there, but usually the only way I can post to the blog is through email and I have not figured out ho to load pics that way--- sorry


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Monday June 18, 2007

Monday June 18, 2007


4 days till Joey's release


We awoke up today to "I Got You Babe" on the radio—not really, but it is groundhog's day again—But today had a twist. We were tour guides for the family from Italy.


We met in the lobby at 9:30 for the trip on the trolley-bus to the orphanage. We showed them how to board (push hard), how and why to avoid the "B Dehot" bus (it's going to the depot which is ok on the way to the orphanage, but will not get you very far on the way home) how, when and how much to pay on the different modes of transport (on the trolley-bus the nice "sturdy" lady will squish her way through the throng, collect your money and give you a ticket---in Kyiv they will offer you a discount if you will give the ticket back to them so that they can resell it and pocket the money. On the city bus you pay the attendant as you exit) and other important public transportation tips.


Plus we helped them order lunch. Chicken Kiev for everyone—Rice with maslo (butter) for them--- fries for us. And went back to the orphanage with them this afternoon. I think they will be ready to solo tomorrow if need be!


It's fun showing people around "our town". Rain today kept us from the beach, but we will try that tomorrow. We also still need to get to the pottery market and we will take them with us. Not many people here speak any English. I am surprised that no one speaks Italian (especially since the Italian pottery company has a factory here.) We will not be able to take them to the lavra, but will show them how to get the bus so they can go if they want.


This morning the kids were back in school (it is at the orphanage). Joey (I think we are set on that name) came down from class to meet us right at 10. We got him dressed (school uniform is undies only) and headed outside--- he was very active today. We raced, ran, jumped, wrestled non-stop both in the morning and afternoon.


He also popped a gasket today at some workers at the factory next door—there was a bunch of noise coming from over there and he walked over near the wall and started shouting at them--- the only thing we could make out was "Luba". We are guessing that the factory noise is a common problem and Luba comes out to get them to quiet down in that tactful Eastern European way (scream at them and they scream at you and then nothing happens and you go to the kiosk to share vodka shots). We taped it to see if he actually saying things or just babbling (and it we should be concerned at what he is saying!) It was very cute!


I think Joey finally understands that the end of his time here is getting close. We spoke with Luba (the director) today and she agreed to let us take him out tomorrow to get clothes and shoes (the adopted kids may only leave the orphanage with what God gave them at birth). We will be provided with an escort to assure that we return with him.

We were walking around the orphanage and I told him we needed to hurry to get to the Duoma (home—also what the kids call the orphanage). He started jumping up and down shouting Duoma! Duoma! Duoma!—I felt terrible. He thought we were leaving for our home right now… sigh! Soon little man, soon! Joey was very "clingy" both times we had to leave today. We all want "ground hogs day" to end.


Random notes:


  • Our dog family has grown to 3—Stimpy, Stinky (formerly known as Wren but he got his new name since it appears his favorite past-time is rolling in poo), and Scared-ey. (his tail never comes out from between his legs). Not too much food for them since Joey eats most of it (Hot Dog in a blanket, apple turnover and meat and cheese and a meat-stick).


  • Cherries are EVERYWHERE--- Joey loves to pick them but is tired of eating them—I am not—I do not think I have ever eaten so many cherries. They are tiny but full of flavor—there are 20-30 cherry trees on the grounds and all have branches drooping from the bounty. (I'm working on mouth sores from cherry overload!!)


  • The corner 7-11 got a shipment of ½ litre bottles of Pepsi. We have never actually seen Pepsi outside of an occasional kiosk in Kyiv—not that we are big Pepsi fans,   but you tend to notice stupid little stuff when you relive each day over and over.


  • Meat-Sticks weigh exactly 100 grams and cost 45 cents. (sorry that is real minutia)


  • When it storms here the sky turns orange. I assume from pollution?? Rich Appuzo where are you?


  • There are no storm drains or sewers.  When it rains it floods. You may have to drive/walk/wade/swim home at any time.


  • Happy news we are back in our "BIG" room—it's an extra $20/night and worth every penny—we feel human again!


We are really excited to be able to take Joey shopping tomorrow—it should be a great day. We also will probably go to the beach and we meet Lira (the college student we are tutoring in English) at 6 for snacks at Café Ultra.   More tomorrow----it's getting close!!






Jim and Mary

Monday, June 18, 2007


It seems that Yahoo Photos is going bye bye...
We are migrating all the photos to the new site, but it will take some time and I do not have my design software with me here in Ukraine----- I'll try to get no pics up tomorrow, but we may be at the end of the line on photos until we get home--- check back tomorow


Sunday June 17, 2007

5 days till Joey's release


Ground Hog's day is back!  It's the same day over and over and over—the good news it that it is a great day!


We got up this morning and went to the Rynok to get Joey (pretty sure that is what we will call him at home) a backpack of his very own! He LOVES it! Big enough to hold all of his stuff (ball cap, crocks, pen, paper, Delta travel kit, pop and snacks) little enough for him to carry on his back! Cost was about 6 bucks (I do love this country!!!)


We had to pass on our first bus ride this morning because it was too crowded—even the iron willed babushka could not get on the trolley-bus. We took the next regular bus and got to the orphanage just a tad late. This morning --- we:


  • Ate cherries (a lot of cherries)
  • Watched Kid Songs on the computer
  • Looked at pictures of Joey from Antoshka (the first time he has ever seen them) He was impressed and seem to love himself thoroughly.
  • Tuta! tuta'd! 3 times
  • Ate bananas and meatsticks
  • Fed the dogs (Stimpy returned with her boyfriend Wren (sp??))
  • Talked with the Italian family who are also adopting.
  • And got called in early for Joey's bathtime--- he NEEDED it!


We stopped by the internet café by the university and ate lunch at Café Ultra (Mary had sweet and sour chicken---very authentic actually-- and I had Chicken Kiev—yes they eat that here)


We headed back to the room to request the upgrade for the rest of the week (we get our room back tomorrow) and another "load of laundry". I have taken to doing laundry with my feet in the shower. Clothes get cleaner—my feet get clean and my hands do not crack open and bleed--- I do not see a downside!


We had a much better trolley-bus ride this afternoon (we go the coveted rear standing place against the back window where you can place your bags on the ledge and lean on the wall—YAY!!!)


Our afternoon visit was much like the earlier visits. Joey was tired and a little grumpy. He had a couple of "time-outs" and was not allowed to play with the sobakas because he was being rough (poking them in the eye--ouch).   Queenie  (our 14 year old black lab/chow mix) requested that we make sure he is "dog friendly" before we return so she does not have to eat him.


This afternoon we:

  • Ate Cherries (actually only I ate cherries—Mary does not like them and Joey likes to pick them and hurl them to the ground—he no longer has cherry picking privileges)
  • Fed the Sobakas
  • Ate a hotdog in a blanket
  • Played beach ball soccer
  • Played the "backback game"
  • And tuta tuta'd 3 times


We were going to show the Italian couple how to take the trolley-bus today, but the orphanage workers called them a cab so we shared it back to the hotel (they are staying here too).


I am embarrassed that my Italian has gotten so bad--- I barely remember the basic pleasantries L. The wife speaks pretty good English. We will take them to the trolleybus stop tomorrow and try to show them around town. (We were so lucky that Peace Corps Katie found us and helped us get settled—we'd like to return the favor). The translator for the Italian family headed back to Kyiv today so they are on their own.


We splurged and ate out for dinner tonight. A storm blew in while we were at the outdoor café. We sat and ate and watched the dust blow by and finally a few raindrops with lightning and thunder. Back in the room now and to bed by 9! YAY!!!   Check out the photo page for some shots from Munich and we'll take more pictures here in Slov'yansk tomorrow!






Jim and Mary


PS We will NOT be home Tuesday as there is no Delta flight that day—looks like Wednesday will be the best we can do--- we'll keep you posted!