Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The American Embassy, Quick Visit, Flight

OOPS! These pictures actually go with the Feb 13 visit. Oh well, they're still cute: Caleb with banana; Caleb with the bus
Yesterday (Monday) our first stop was at the American embassy. I've never been to an embassy before so I kind of envisioned a dazzling white building, maybe with white pillars sitting on top of a grassy hill with limousines parked in front or something. I was surprised when our driver pulled into a narrow driveway between two buildings and then turned left down a steep and seemingly even narrower driveway. We got to the bottom of the hill where there were several lines of people already standing. The driver opened our doors for us and told us 'Go! Go!' Our translator was not with us for this one. I guess seeing our confusion the driver led us right to the front door and told the guard we were Americans. I felt very proud to be an American but also a little guilty for cutting to the front of the line. We opened the door into what turned out to be a very small building, like a security shack. There we went through the usual security check--emptied pockets, walked through the scanner thing that's shaped like a doorway and then they used the handheld device to scan me because I beeped when I walked through. I had forgotten about the little metal flashlight keychain in my inner coat pocket. They also carefully looked through my 50-pound notebook which contains every legal document which any person ever intimated there would be even the remotest possibility of needing in Ukraine (plus several photocopies of many of them!) I got to keep the notebook but all the other stuff had to be put in a little drawer and traded for piece of plastic which I believe had #82 on it.

We stepped outdoors on the other side, walked a few yards and entered the actual embassy building. Here signs were written in my native language. We followed the arrows for 'Adoption' all the way to the end of the hall--room # 14 or #15, I believe. This office also served people applying for immigrant visas so I was surprised to hear that most conversations in that room were still in Russian or Ukrainian (I really don't know which) One beautiful sight was Old Glory. As much as I like Ukraine, I had a strong urge to kiss the Red, White and Blue or at least touch it. I did neither but I loved our flag with my eyes.

When it was our turn, Kevin explained that he is flying out on the 12th and needed to sign the paperwork ahead of time. The lady behind the bullet-proof glass had us slide the papers and our passports under the glass, she looked them over, got our file from somewhere and compared the age and number of children which we'd been approved for with the child we had listed on the paperwork, though apparently she couldn't find the section in our file that gave that info. Anyway we both signed the papers and slid them back to her. She told us to 'have a sit' and she'd have us talk to someone else. When our names were called, we proceeded to another window where the guy (also behind bullet-proof glass) had us raise our right hands and swear that what was written on the form was true. He kept the forms, returned our passports and we were free to go. (It is surprising to me how valuable our passports suddenly are. These are documents that are stored in a metal box all the rest of the time but here we seriously don't leave home without them--usually we're wearing them in a pouch around our necks.) I will be returning to the embassy on Friday for something in regard to Caleb's visa. Then back down the long hall, out the door, back into the security shack to trade the #82 tag for our stuff, and up the hill to our waiting driver.

This driver is/has been (I can't tell which because of language difficulties) a history teacher and knows great facts about many buildings and monuments in Kiev. I get the idea that history teachers don't make a lot of money so now he is driving. I enjoy listening to him but I also get a kick out of riding with him because he is zipping from one lane to the other, riding 2 abreast in one lane, trying to get the nose of his vehicle in front of the next guy, talking about other drivers who 'sleep and drive,' beeping his horn if the guy in front isn't pedal-to-the-metal when the light changes--he even did a u-turn in the middle of the road at one point. I don't feel unsafe with him though I do keep prayed up :) There are areas of this city that have way more traffic than the streets are designed for and I guess agressive driving is the only way you make it from point A to point B. This guy was telling us there are around 4 million people registered in Kiev plus around 2 million who are not. (Sorry if I already told you that.) I don't know the current stats but I know that in the not-too-distant past the whole state of Idaho had just over 1 million.

So we raced out to Vorzel and had about 30 minutes with cutie bug. He was kind of crying again-particularly when someone he knew would walk out of the room and close the door. 2 good things: (1) when Kevin said 'shh' Caleb actually stopped crying for a couple minutes and this was repeated several times and (2) I thought he was getting tired of sitting on my lap so I tried to put him down and he wouldn't put his feet on the floor--so I guess he liked my lap.

We scurried back to Kiev for a quick lunch and met up with Dima who was just returning from the orphanage where Nancy and Juan's girls are so invited him up to eat with us. I told him I needed him to settle something: what is the correct way to say the name of this city. I have heard keev and kee-yev and kie-eev. According to him the Russians said it one way and Ukrainians say it another and he calls it kee-yev. So kee-yev it is.

The 3 of us got in with Dima's driver and headed back the same direction we'd just come from--but to Irpin not Vorzel. There Dima did some more paperwork, copied our passports and had Kevin sign a couple papers and then said Kevin was free to fly.

So Kevin was picked up promptly at 4:45 this am for his 6:50 am flight from Kiev to Munich. I'm hoping the 55 minutes between flights was sufficient. The longest leg will land in Denver, then Boise where he will get a taxi and pick up his car out at UPS Freight and drive the two hours home. He's supposed to land at 4:56 pm Boise time which is about 1:56 am Wed Kiev time. Please pray for his driving safety. I know he will be so very exhausted. Kids, Daddy is on his way home!!! I'm guessing he'll be home by 9 or so--he might have to stop along the road and rest for awhile. I know that's past your bedtime but I do hope you'll be able to give him lots of hugs either tonight or in the morning. Sorry I didn't get this posted before you left for school but you can read it when you get home. I love you guys more than you can imagine. Pretty soon it will be my turn to fly home with your new little brother. Don't let all his crying worry you. He will soon love us all. We just have to be very gentle with him because he is scared.

I went back to bed and was awakened by wonderful sunshine pouring through the windows. I've spent the day catching up on emails and blogs, doing some housework and reading--and never quite making it out the door into the lovely day. Now it's dark.


Wendy said...

I had that driver and his wife is the history teacher! He said that she only makes $150 a month. We also learned later from someone else that a surgeon only makes a little over $200 a month. Your driver also likes to make comments about women drivers and they usually are not positive ones!

adopted Macey from Ukraine in July/Aug

Christina said...

Looks like the countdown has begun! I hope the rest of your visits with Caleb go smoothly, and before you know it you will be on your way home!

RR Group

Anonymous said...

We will be praying that he has a safe journey home to the children. Glad to hear that soon you will all be together again

Charissa said...

That driver was Sergei, it HAD to be Sergei. Sounds like Wendy had him too. :)

kevin said...

Hi honey i made it home miss you already love Kevin

Linda said...

Hi, Joy.....you brave soul!!! I'm so proud of you - makes the hair stand up on my arms to think of being in your place. I'm praying every day for you - God put angels in front, back and each side of you wherever you go. We're here waiting anxiously for you to come home with little Caleb! Oh, my goodness, I know it will be a wonderful day, won't it, to be back on home soil. You are wonderful, girl! Bruce says Hi!
Love you, Linda