What a day this has been. At 8:30 am we dashed away from here on our way to the inspector's office to pick up our paperwork. Well, it obviously wasn't quite finished but after waiting in the car for awhile Alexi came back out triumphant.
Next stop: the orphanage. We got to see Steven for the 3rd time. We were sitting in the long hallway with a row of tall windows all down one side and a row of healthy green plants all down the other. After about 15 minutes we heard giggling and laughing and along came 7 little boys and a couple workers. Steven stayed to play with us while the other 6 headed on to their next scheduled event (their whole day seems to follow a set schedule) One worker stayed close by. Kevin got out the car we brought and sent it rolling down the hallway and Steven laughed and giggled as he went chasing after it. This was my first time to see him smile/hear him laugh and I enjoyed it a lot. He rolled the car a few times and did try throwing it a few times but thankfully didn't keep that up too long. After awhile he and Kevin were rolling it back and forth to each other. Steven was really bummed when time was up and he had to give that car back to Kevin. I also got to see that he is a bit of a tease--he would run for the door laughing and giggling, or hide the car behind his back or even stick out his tongue in a teasing way. At one point I had to disentangle him from my camera because he was pushing so many buttons in the process of pretending to take pictures. The only sound I heard him make was "b" Oh and at the end of the visit he was doing high fives and knuckles with Kevin. After Steven left we still had to wait what seemed like about an hour for Alexi to rejoin us with the paperwork from the orphanage. And then Alexi took off like a hornet toward his car and we actually had to run on the slippery sidewalk to keep up with him but we knew we were in a huge hurry to get all this paperwork back over to the SDA. First though we had to stop back at the inspector's office to sign a document verifying the receipt of all the needed documents from her office. She is a very nice lady, you could just tell from her smiles and her tone of voice that she wished us very well in our adoption pursuit. She shook our hands, gave me a booklet off of her desk that Nastya and I had looked at a few days before about foster care in Ukraine and walked with us all the way to the stairway talking all the way. It was very sweet AND kind of funny because Alexi was trying to be very polite but you knew he was under a huge time constraint and just itching to fly down the stairs. Well, we did get to fly within moments -- that Alexi can stroke (even if he's not yet feeling top-notch) We sped toward the SDA as fast as possible. But the traffic in that area was absolutely unbelievable (we are told it gets worse and worse up until Christmas). Seriously I think Alexi would have got to the SDA more quickly on his own two feet. But we did get there.
At that point he gave us the option of waiting or walking back to our apartment. We took the 2nd option because we had more shopping to do (Souvenir Alley-Andrevsky Street- is right there by the SDA. First we grabbed some yummy pizza-bread stuff from one of the roadside vendors that cost a little less that $1 apiece--one must not shop on an empty stomach :) We couldn't find the nesting-doll guy we were looking for but did find plenty of other opportunities to part with our grievnas :) When we eventually got to the bottom of the hill we tried out a new place that Kevin calls Kaptain Potato. We had a baked potato with a scoop of shredded cheese and a spoon of diced dill pickles and pickled mushrooms on it. It sounds weird but it was actually pretty tasty. AND I tried my first borsht. I don't know if fast-food borsht counts but for the record I thought the red soup was good.
After I took a nap it was about time to head for the Candlelight Christmas service. First though we got a call from Nastya saying that when Alexi took our paperwork to the court this afternoon, they were totally shocked. Even with paperwork from the SDA, the orphanage, and the inspector, they were questioning whether international adoption was even legal. They were getting out law books, etc. Nastya said that usually when adoption paperwork is presented at court that the court schedule is checked right then for a judge who has an opening in his schedule. However, that was not done today. Instead I understand that the head judge of this area is going to be questioned about the legality issue. Nastya is hoping to arrange a meeting for us with that very judge to present our case before him personally (not to grant the adoption but to explain WHY we want to adopt a child with Down syndrome in the first place) PLEASE pray that this meeting can be arranged and that God will give us great wisdom in our words and the way we conduct ourselves.
We made it to the church without trouble and only 7 minutes late :) I was kind of tickled by the fact that the bus has seating for approximately 20 people but there had to be nearly 40 of us on there. I definitely did not need all my layers of clothing right at that moment. Good grief, it was toasty in there and of course it felt like we were crawling along at a snail's pace through all the jam of buses and cars. The service was great and the sermon very encouraging--reminding me that God can do anything. Also reminding me of the example of Mary who gave herself freely to the will of God. There was another adoptive couple present that Nastya had told us about but they ended up slipping out before we could talk with them.
We got back to 'our corner', went to exchange money, picked up a few things at the grocery store and were heading for our apartment when the guy in front of us drops what looked like a wad of money in a plastic bag. So of course, we pick it up and start yelling 'sir! sir!' He turns around, takes his money, thanking us profusely and we walk on toward our apartment, me feeling the glow of having done a good deed. Just then the guy comes up behind us saying he actually had two packets of money. Did we see another one? Where exactly did we find the first packet? We follow him back out to the sidewalk. Then he starts asking us whether we took the other packet. So this guy comes up showing what looks like a badge, tells us he's a police officer, asks what the problem is, etc. So the guy tells him his story and the policeman asks Kevin to empty his pockets, inner pockets, wallet, passport holder, etc, etc. Well as you have probably already guessed it was a big scam. Supposedly all the money was returned to Kevin when the policeman decided we were honest people but when we got back inside our gate and Kevin actually counted what he had in his wallet and passport, we discovered we had been ripped off through some well-practiced sleight of hand of 350 grievnas (in 50's that we'd just got at the exchange) and $120 in twenties. This is definitely aggravating and I doubt there is any legal recourse. One thing we are SOOO grateful for is that we gave Alexi the adoption money just this morning AND that we didn't have the money for medical exam and visa nor for Caleb's new birth certificate with us. That is such a praise the Lord! But good grief, here we had been remarking how honest everyone around here seems--people get on the bus and just hand their money to the front after the bus is already in motion. We are pretty bummed.
It's midnight here and we just found out we're on the same time zone as Bethlehem in Israel where they are televising a midnight Christmas mass at the Church of the Nativity right now. Isn't that cool! Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday to Jesus!