Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's Good to Be at Home!

We are at home for a week now and it feels SO GOOD! We flew back to Charlotte, NC October 7 and the last part of our journey was a problem. When adopted children come to USA they have to go through a special office at the airport to "enter" officialy. We waited for an hour in the waiting area! The lady-officer wasn't nice at all. We told her that our plane was leaving in 15 minutes but she said it was not her problem. When they finaly asked us to the counter it took less then 5 minutes to go through the papers. We missed our plane to Jackson and next plane was in 5 hours. We were so upset. We knew that a lot of people would meet us at the airport at 6 PM but not at 11 PM. Oh well, at least we are in the states. We went for a little walk outside the airport. It was so warm! The last day in Kiev was very cold and windy, the windchil was 28F. Bob was thinking about his Ukranian winter hat we bought on our first adoption trip in 2008 but left in Mississippi this time. At Jackson airport several friends and family members were waiting for us. It was so special! Big thanks to everybody who came! Julia was very excited. Our Anastasia looked very happy to see us again. The two new sisters finaly met...

The first week with Julia being home passed quickly. She has a good relationship with Anastasia. They hold hands, they play together and ride bicycles together. They even help me in the kitchen together. Julia already started going to school. At first we were going to let her stay at home for a week and get used to this time. But we noteced she dets bored very fast. So we decided to take her to school asap. On Tuesday we went to the Health Department to get the immunization form. Julia needed to get one shot. She started crying she was so scared of that. When we got in the room and a nurse started preparing Julia's arm she started screaming. Everything took about 15 seconds and Julia calmed down right away. So that day she found out that not everything as bad as it looks. On Wednesday she went to school the first day. She came home happy, she liked school and wanted to go there next day. Good start!

On Sunday we took her with us to our Sunday school class and then to the worship service. I think she liked it. She was asking me a lot of questions: why do people sing? why do they raise their arms? why do people kneel up front? and others. She liked one song and asked if Bob could download it on the computer so she could sing it at home. I was very surprised. On Wednesday night we were going to church and the girls were sitting on the back together. Julia said,"Mama, Anastasia and I have birthmarks on exectly the same places!" I said,"It means you were ment to be sisters!" Then she said,"It was God's plan". How about that!!! I don't think I have told her about God's plans for our lives. She figured it out on her own! You are exectly right, my sweet girl! God has a wonderful plan for your life. God snatched you from satan's hands and brought you into our family. We are so exited to see what God has in store for you.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Since the court day, we have had a lot of stuff going on. We've been busy. Before it was waiting, waiting and waiting. Now we are going, going and doing. We went to Julia's school for the last time to say "good bye" to everybody and invite Julia's friends for her going-away party at the orphanage. When we came, all her classmates surounded her and wanted to be invited. It was interesting to see how she enjoyed it: before she was an orphan-girl with no family and now she is the center of attention and she is going away to live with her family in the USA. We had her party with cakes, drinks and a fruit salad. Julia's brother and his wife came to say "good bye" also. We had a good time with everybody. When it was time for us to leave some caretakers had tears in their eyes. In traditions of the orphanage, we bought a plant in a pot and called it "Julia", so, they will have some memory of her. Also Julia wrote a letter to her biological parents telling them that she needs to leave the city so she wouldn't grow up living on the streets or become a drug user. She said, "they love me like their own daughter and I love them too." Her bio parents were telling her she'd have a family of strangers, but she said, "In America I will not have a family of strangers. I will have parents, a sister, grandparents, and aunt and uncle who will love me." "Thank you that you let me go". It was sweet of her to leave a nice message after all the bad things they put her through.

On Thursday night we took a train to Balta in Odessa region. That's where our Anastasia is from. We stayed at the same place we did 2 1/2 years ago and it brought back a lot of memories. We visited Anastasia's orphanage. We saw the director and showed her our family pictures. She looked very happy to see how one of her kids is growing and progressing. She was so touched that started crying. We asked her to say something on the videocamera for Anastasia. She agreed and said a very nice message for her. We also saw Anastasia's teacher and a couple of other people we met two years ago. We tried to find some of her friends but found only one boy.

We didn't stay in Balta too long and on Sunday morning we were in Kiev. Our driver met us at the train station and took us to our apartment. That morning we were invited to go to church. We have a couple of good, christian friends in Kiev (Andrei and Olga Murzin) and that morning Andrei was supposed to preach. He asked us if we could share our adoption experience with his church. We know that his church prayed for us when we had problems and we wanted to meet these people and thank them. It was so nice to be in church and worship God with other christians! We miss it. We spoke after Andrei's preaching. Julia was up front with us. I think she didn't like to be in the spotlight. When we sat down she started crying. I asked her why she was crying. She said she was missing her brother. I don't think it was exactly true. She was taken out of her comfort zone and put into the spotlight in front of a couple of hundred of people. She is counting days before our flight and she is ready to start her new normal family life. At the end of worship we had the Lord'supper with real bread broken into pieces and real wine. It was different but very special! When we were leaving church a lot of people wanted to talk with us and say something encouraging. One lady even told us if we needed a prayer we could tell Andrei and he would tell his church. That was so sweet of her! It was a very special Sunday.

Guess what? Sunday evening the water line on our street broke! We didn't have water for almost two days. It looks like wherever we go - water pipes break. I hope Brandon pipes are better qality then Ukranian. We couldn't just sit at the house without water. It is cold outside but it doesn't stop us from exploring the city. On Monday we visited a world famous monestary that has a nickname as the 2nd Jerusalem. Underneath are catacombs of dead saints from the past. They're encased in wooden caskets with glass tops and sides. Their hands are sometimes sticking out for people to see. You can touch them with your forehead or lips only. Some are stated to provide so-called healing with a touch. We had a young tour guide. She told us about their main saints and kissed all of them. I guess she is super-healthy. At the end I challenged her asking why we need to go through dead monks when there is one mediator with the name of Jesus Christ. She said because they are holy and we are sinners. Then I asked her what the purpose of Jesus dying on the cross. The tour guide answered that we'd have to ask the head priest that question. Bob tried to give her one of Joe's gospel tracts, she looked at it and gave it back. There's all kinds of beliefs out there.

On Tuesday we did Julia's medical exam and filled out a visa application at the American embassy. Today we have to be there for our intervew and we will have Julia's visa!!! Thursday morning we are LEAVING UKRAINE!!!!!!!!!!!! Our final flight from Charlotte, NC arrives to ,October 7 at 6:18 PM, United Airlines 2590. See you soon!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And Here She Is!!!

Let us introduce you our new daughter Julia Sophia Brooker!!! She is ours now!!! We had our court today and our facilitator, Oles Sukhetskyy, arranged the immediate execution (NO 10 days waiting period!) which the judge gracously granted us. So, we got our court decree AND the new birth certificat TODAY! We are SO happy and we thank our God for this miracle.

Ok, I will tell you from the beginning. On Monday we got our last paper from SDA but we didn't know if we would have the court on Tuesday because we heard that the judge buried his mother on Monday and nobody knew if he would work. We found out about our court this morning about 1.5 hours before the actual court. The courtroom is on our street so we took a 5 minutes walk. It was kind of funny: Julia called me on the phone and without any beginning she said, "Are you comming?" I said, "Where?" I guess she thought she dialed a wrong number and said, "Oh, I'm sorry" and hung up. We had to wait for a little bit then were asked into the room. There was the judge, the prosecutor, two jurists, the lawyer, and the person from adoption authorities. The judge started reading our papers. I don't understand Ukranian language much so I tried to listen to Oles translating everything for Bob into English. We were asked some questions about us like our names, birthdates and places of work. Then the judge continued reading and started asking me all kinds of questions about us, our extended family, about Anastasia, the school, the reason for adoption and others. I started getting nervous and my mouth was getting dry. He asked Bob maybe a couple of questions, then he asked Julia some questions. She was answering all his questions with strength in her voice and without any doubt. I was so proud of her! Then the director of the orphanage said his part, followed by the lawyer and the person from adoption authorities. The prosecutor didn't have any questions. We were asked to leave the room. We didn't have to wait too long: we were asked back in the room in 1 minute! The judge read their decision and I had tears in my eyes. This girl is our daughter! After he was done he told us "congratulations". Then I saw Julia come up to his desk and said, "Thank you, your honor!" It brought tears to judge's eyes and he hugged her. I think all the women in the room had "wet" eyes that moment.

The rest of the day we spent doing some paperwork and walking around down town. When we were in the taxi Julia told me, "I feel like a new person and it feels good!" Oh yes, you are a new person - a new daughter, sister, grandaughter, neice, a girl with a new life starting from today. She has a new family and is an orphan no more.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Patience - One of the Fruits of the Spirit

We didn't do much and nothing important happened this week. We would get up late, eat brunch, take a nap and go to Flower's school to pick her up from the afterschoolcare. The teacher got used to see us and she even doesn't let Flower go earlier waiting for us (the kids can leave early if they are done with their homework).

On Tuesday about 3PM, the city's main water line broke which cut off water to 3 cities for and estimated 3 - 4 days. We were at the orphanage when we heard about it. On the way home we stoped at a couple of grocery stores and they already didn't have running water. We tried to imagine how people would make it without water for 3-4 days. What about schools, kindergardens, hospitals, the orphanage? When we got home we still had running water. Thank You, God! The water stoped only in the morning. I think it was the most laughing day in the whole adoption trip! It looked just redicilous to us: with all the problems we have had and are having we have to get in the survival mode now. But we have each other, we have our God and we are staying in a house (instead of appartment) with a small yard(we might need it just in case.....)! It was qite a surprise when the water came back that night. I guess the break wasn't as bad as they expected.

This weekend we had Flower with us again. We spent some time in down town and bought some books in Russian for the girls. We walked around and took pictures. Flower is happy to spend time with us and hopes IT will happen this week. She still calls me "Sveta" but she is so ready to call me "mama". We found out she saved my phone number on her cell phone from the time when I called her from the USA and she entered me as "mama". That is so sweet! We pray that this comming week we will have our court and we can take Flower home. We hope it will be this week. We hope this week this girl will be an orphan no more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finally Some Good News!

We had a good weekend with Flower. The director let her stay with us even over night! One of the reasons why he did it was that half of the kids at the orphanage are sick. So we picked her up on Saturday morning and did some shopping. She was so sweet that she said "thank you" and gave us hugs and kisses after every thing we bought for her! I wonder how long this will last... The rest of the day we spent at home. We brought her a coloring book with some mazes and challenging games in it. I noticed she doesn't give up right away and doesn't ask for help. She tries to figure things out on her own. Also we noticed she is a picky eater. Well, this will change: I use a system that worked fast with Anastasia. Right now we are on "our honeymoon", all the rules are out of the window. We stayed up late watching movies and tickling.

On Sunday we let Flower sleep until she wanted to. She has been teling us that she doesn't sleep in on the weekend and gets up at 8 or 9 AM. Well, she slept until 10:30 AM. I guess at the orphanage it gets too loud in the morning. We went slipper -shopping (we foud out she didn't have any slippers to walk around the house). Then I see Bob quickly trying to stop some people. Usualy my husband doesn't do this for no reason! And he doesn't know anybody here. At first I thought that maybe they tried to steal his wallet. But then I saw they were smiling. It was Flower's brother and his wife! What a surprise! We decided to go to a cafe and have some tea and talk. We had a good time! They asked me a lot of questions about life in America and I think they feel even more comfortable trusting Flower to us now.

Later that afternoon we went to the water circus. We were sitting in the 2nd row watching the show. Then a clown comes out and walks arownd looking for volunteers from the audience and comes straight to Bob ... OMG!!! Bob can't understand anything in Russian! This could be bad... He picks Bob and 3 more then the show starts. I was SO nervous! The clown gives Bob 2 crumpled beer cans with pebbles in them and wants him to do the "La-coo-ca-ra-cha" to the music followed by a swivel of the hips. The crowd liked that! Hey, that's MY HUSBAND! Then the other 3 do their part with other things. Then all of them do it with music playing. The clown comes back to Bob and asks him to do it again. He obviously didn't like what he saw, so he grabs a weapon (filled with air) and takes my hasband to the back, off stage behind the curtains. Then we hear a scream ... and the clown comes back alone ... without Bob ...! He had 4 candles burning, he comes to them and blows out the first one and finished with the sign of the cross (he killed Bob!!!). The people were laughing. It wasn't funny to me. I screamed in Russian, "Where is my husband?" It was too loud...nobody heard me. Flower said, "I'm afraid, I don't like it". I told her it'll be OK. In my brain I was thinking all kinds of stuff: they found out that he is an American and kidnapped him for ransom and we won't have money to finish the adopton or maybe they took all the money he has and killed him!!! I started to pray, "God, you didn't bring us so far to finish everything so bad. Please, plaese, please protect my husband. I need him and we need to adopt Flower". Then one by one the clown does the same with the other 3 people. I got it then: they couldn't kill all 4 people! Finally, they all hold hands coming out and take a bow. I don't remember the last time when I was SO HAPPY to see my husband alive!!! Thank you, God!!!

OK, now about the good news. I called the Russin Interpol on Monday. They said they mailed my clearance! So, it is on the way or maybe it is already in Kiev! It means we are not coming home without Flower! She was happy to hear that, too. She trys to guess when our court hearing will happen and counts the days. Yesterday we visited her for a little bit. When it was time to go we hugged her and told her "bye-bye". She said, "One day we won't say "bye-bye" to each other any more" and smiled. One day it will change. One day this girl will be an orphan no more.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Another Bump in the Road

This whole week we didn't do much: we were getting up late, ate brunch, did some grocery shopping and went to the orphanage or to school to pick up Flower. We were spending our evenings with her at the orphanage or at the park. One evening we were at the orphanage and Flower's mother came. She didn't see us. Flower went to talk to her but she realy didn't want to. It looked like mother started accepting the fact that Flower will be adopted and will leave Ukraine. Next evening she brought Flower her book. We haven't heard from her again.

Another evening we met Flower's older brother and his wife. He is the only descent person in the family who works hard and doesn't drink. He understands that it is better for Flower to be in our family. We talked for about an hour and exchanged our addresses and phone numbers.

We even got to go to a parents-teacher conference. In Ukraine a teacher meets with all the parents at the same time. We stayed a little late and asked her some questions about Flower. The teacher told us only good things and nothing bad. It sounds too good to be true!

This weekend local people celebrate the city's birthday. There are all kinds of stuff going on everywhere. On Friday in the park we were watching the national children's concert-competition. The children were dancing, singing and playing on musical instruments. The youngest were probably 5-6yoyoung adults. up to Some groups were very good. We enjoied watching them very much.

Ok, now about the "BUMP". We thought we would have our court on this comming Monday. No, it's not going to happen. We are missing my Interpol clearance. Without it we can't have the court. We were realy bummed out when we first heard about it. Now we are better: it will happen some day anyway. We love Flower very much and she loves us too. I think we will know some details on Monday. We believe nothing is too big for God. He can move people in Interpol, too. We pray that He will work things out. We can't wait to call Flower "our daughter" (& tell you her real name) and she can't wait to have a forever family. It will happen. It is getting closer to the day when this girl will be an orphan no more.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On Saturday we waited and waited and waited some more for the repair guy to come and fix our fridge and the leaking pipe in the bathroom. We waited for the fridge guy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - he didn't come. The home owner said, this is the only fridge guy she knows. The pipe started leaking on Wednesday. Finaly, by 3 PM on Saturday everything was fixed and we went to the orphanage. Flower told me she didn't think we would come. We brought with us bags of "Silly Bandz" and Flower gave them to all the kids in the orphanage. We played ping-pong for some time, then we had some tea with a Ukrainian apple pie in the kitchen.

On Sunday we left for the orphanage about 10 AM. We took our video camera and told Flower to be a tour guide. Bob was taking movies. The caretakers let us take Flower with us for the whole day. About 10 minutes after we left we got a call from the orphanage: Flower's mother came to visit her. Coincidence? We've had all kinds of problems, but because of God we're still here progressing along. We give God all our praises, all our thanks, and all the credit for everything that has happened and everything that will happen. She was told that Flower left with friends. She got mad and went to the park near the orphanage to look for us. We were at the Farmer's Market that time. The rest of the day we spent in the house. When we told Flower about her mother she said she didn't want to see her mother, she didn't want go back and asked if she could stay with us one night. We HAD to take her back to the orphanage - we can't break the rules - she's nor ours yet.

Flower surprises us sometimes with her thinking and understanding of the world around her. She doesn't know hardly any table manners, but she understands the situation with her parents and doesn't paint it in pink colors like a lot of kids do. She likes to play with toys just like any child, but she told us that we are gettiing closer every day we spend together. In some ways she is very mature for her 10 yo. She doesn't live only in the moment, she askes about life in the USA and about Anastasia's experience. She is ready to start a new life. It is getting closer to the day when this girl will be an orphan no more.