We arrived in Kyiv a little over a day ahead of our government appointment, due to flight schedules and what was available; so, we had a day to kill first and foremost. Though we had a driver available at an hourly rate, we decided to save what we had and venture out on our own to explore downtown, Independence Square and to see how far we could get on the limited Russian we knew. The answer: surprisingly far! Fortunately, we were in a “safe” neighborhood that was close to businesses, restaurants and even an underground mall.
Compared to Guam, the freezing temperatures were truly shocking to the system, but that didn’t stop us from putting in about 7 miles on foot the first day. Our highlight of the day was wandering into a restaurant for lunch that offered a lot of prepared food (like a buffet, but staffed), that you could pick and choose what you wanted — all traditional Ukrainian fare. Our meals came out to about $5 USD total and we had way more than we needed. Everything was delicious too, especially the pelmeni and the borscht! (I really need to learn how to make those!)
The following morning, I just couldn’t sleep. The moment we had been preparing for was finally upon us, and at last, we were going to learn who was about to come into our lives. We were dressed and ready to go with about three hours to spare for our 9AM pick-up time, so we took time to journal and pray that the Lord was guiding us throughout this process and leading us to whom was supposed to join the family.
Finally, the head of the facilitation team we are using picked us up in front of our apartment and took us to our appointment at the Department of Adoption and Child Protection (DAP). We met a few other American families who were scheduled the same morning we were, most of whom were adopting teenagers they had hosted over the holidays prior. We all waited on these faux leather couches in the lobby area, as we saw people walking by with piles of files, and others dealing with walk-in issues (like a protest organized by seniors on the building’s steps outside for greater pension pay). The anticipation and anxiety hung thick in the air until we finally heard the gruff voice point to us and say “You! Come now. Your turn.”
We made our way into a small room where three files were sitting on the table. “This file is a good fit for your family” we heard from the facilitator translating for us. “You may have few minutes to look and make decision.” We looked at the files in front of us, verified their locations (as Steve can’t travel to a couple of the regions, by order of the US Military), and made our decision. When we pointed to the file, the head of the department started reading out the history they had had on them, about their needs and where they are. There was just one little picture of them — arms outstretched, eyes tightly shut and definitely crying. While saying “yes, we want to visit them” was another leap of faith, we knew this was the right path.