**** FOOD POISONING ALERT*******
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