Thursday, February 28, 2013

More Details about R

Our last few visits have been great.  Nothing too major to report because we pretty much do the same thing everyday--play hide-n-seek, R gets carried around by papa, R takes a million photos and videos, we enjoy a snack consisting of a juice box and a piece of fruit, and we've started incorporating playing an educational (English learning) app on the iPad. She has really been rockin' the Reading Raven app. We love it when she reads the words aloud and it records her voice.  Her accent is sooo cute! Listen for yourself:


Today poor R came into the room limping.  She hurt her knee somehow, but we aren't sure how she did it.  Using the translator on our phone, we asked her how she hurt her leg, but instead of answering the question she typed "I love you" in Ukrainian.  We were so touched that she told us that without being prompted. We sure love her too!

Many of you have been asking for more details about R.  Although I can't share much, I can tell you her age.  She is a 10 year old beauty!  Maybe that's surprising, but God has made it so abundently clear that she is OUR girl.  How thankful we are that the Lord's plan is always mightier and more unpredictable than we could ever imagine.  Looking back, we can see how God has opened our minds to His will and led us to R through each step of our journey.  R's pure heart and strong character continue to amaze us and make us proud as we get to know her more each day.  And wow does she share so many personality traits with me and Mark.  She's spunky, persistent, and already teaching her mama and papa a thing or two!  A true Jackson!

On a discouraging note, it appears we're going to be here awhile longer.  It doesn't look like the SDA will process our paperwork until Wednesday.  The soonest available court date would be the next day, Thursday, March 7, or Monday, March 11 (Friday the 8th is a holiday).  Then add on ten days after that for the mandatory waiting period and an additional week to get R's passport, visa, medical exam, and embassy appointment.  That means we're looking at being here until the end of March.  We're trusting in God's perfect timing and are praying for a miracle to get us out of here sooner. We'd appreciate if you'd do the same!




Monday, February 25, 2013

Baths, Bags, and Bonding

We woke up to no hot water in our apartment, which is a major bummer because the cold water is literally freezing.  But Mark saved the day and boiled about ten pots of water for me to take a bath. I'd say he wins husband of the year award.  As a side note, the water in Ukraine has a green/yellow hue to it.  Even after you boil it.  I'm trying to not think about what's in the water.  Check it out:

After getting ready we ate lunch at a good restaurant with English menus (always a plus) and set out to find a toy store and some new goodies for R.  We stumbled upon one just down the street and got R a princess bag to hold the prized items we've given her.  She had been carrying them around in a plastic bag and we decided that just wouldn't do!  She was very excited to get her very own bag:
R joked that, on the top row, from left to right, is R, mama, and papa :)
As always, our visit today was fun and filled with lots of laughter. We worked on an English learning app (which she rocked) and played hide-and-seek--one of her favorite games.  She likes to add a twist to the game by snapping a photo every time she finds us.  She dies laughing seeing us huddled up "hiding" on camera! Here's Mark and I after being discovered:


R also surprised us by finishing up our 3D castle puzzle last night all by herself.  Look at this thing, it's seriously impressive! She did a great job. 

Our paperwork was submitted to the SDA today, so hopefully we'll get word that it's been processed soon. We'll keep you updated! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Remaining Timeline

Mark and I are enjoying our time in our new city.  Our apartment is comfortable, cozy, and in a great location.  Compared to Kiev, fewer people smoke and it isn't as crowded. And of course the best thing about our new city is that we get to spend time with our girl!  It's been nice to get more into a routine and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The frozen Dneiper River, complete with hundreds of crazy ice fishermen
Stray furry friends are everywhere
Monday our paperwork will be submitted to the SDA in Kiev.  They have up to a week to process it, but we are praying that it's done more quickly.  After the paperwork is processed, we can apply for a court date.  We aren't sure how long it will take to get a date, but this region of Ukraine usually schedules hearings pretty quickly.  Then, after court, there's a standard 10-day waiting period, although, while rare, the court can waive this step. After the waiting is up (and she's officially ours!), we get R's passport, visa, and finish up a few documents, all of which normally takes a week.  So as you can see, a lot of uncertainty exists.  We could be on a plane to the US in two weeks or it could be another month.  Please pray for us to be home as quick as possible. We have family, friends, fur babies, Mark's work, and mexican food to attend to! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recent Visits


The last few days have been filled with great visits with our girl.  

On Thursday, she was adorable (as always) in a pink sweatshirt and her hair had braids, butterfly clips, and rubber bands.   These girls in the orphanage seriously know how to do hair!  As soon as she saw us, she gave us each a big hug and I also got a kiss!  She took our hands and led us to our playroom for the evening.  We brought along a fashion design sketchpad with some stencils for us to draw clothes and accessories on the girls outlined in the book.  We had a lot of fun coloring and naming the colors.  We also did some drawings of our family and she practiced writing and saying her new name. 
First Family Portrait
Then papa took R on a horsey ride, carried her around piggyback, and zoomed her around the room--which she loved! She pointed for papa to go in another room and she showed us where she slept.  A whole bunch of little pink beds lined the room.  It was cute but also sad knowing the other kids filling these beds don’t have a papa or a mama to tuck them in at night.
R's bed is the last one on the right
Next we took a snack break and gave her a red apple (which she told us was her favorite fruit yesterday) and a juice box.  She shared her apple with both of us and made sure we each got a drink from her juice box.  She is just the sweetest thing.

After our snack time our facilitator came in and we got to her ask R some questions about her interests.  Here are the results:
  • Favorite Color: yellow
  • Favorite things to do: play outside, go swimming, make jewelry
  • Favorite animal: bear
  • Dog or cat: cat
  • Favorite cartoon: Luntic (??)
  • Favorite TV show: music TV
  • Favorite subject: Math
  • If you got a coat, what color would you want: Red or Orange
  • If you were to wear something dressy, what color would you like: Yellow
  • Future profession: caretaker in Kindergarten
  • Subjects studied at school: reading, English, math, beginning computer, health, behavior, nature, music, physical training lessons, logistics, literature, and grammar
  • Likes to sing and dance—singing best

Friday was a busy day spent at the notary, inspectors office, and the local medical clinic to get some of R's medical records. The pediatrician was very kind and we are grateful for the good care she’s given R.


Upon entering the clinic, we were greeted with a big bucket of...hmm...
Afterwards we were able to swing by the orphanage and spend some time with R. We drew some pictures and labeled the items in both English and Ukrainian (she speaks Ukrainian, not Russian…guess we got the wrong Rosetta Stone), played catch with, and later ate, an orange, and our facilitator measured her to try and figure out her clothing size.

Today, Saturday, we got to have TWO visits with R!  Oh happy day.  This morning we had a lot of fun putting together a girly lego set.  It was the first thing we’ve done where she didn’t say “telephone??” every few minutes.  She loved the lego set and was really good at it!  She followed the directions to a tee and would say “no papa” or “no mama” when we picked up the wrong piece.  She’s already outsmarting us!  We are also starting to see more and more of her spunky personality.  Or as the director described, she has "a character."  Seeing as though she’s a Jackson, it only makes sense! 
Our Lego Creation--a dog grooming palace!
Before our evening visit, we were able to have a phone company come out to our apartment and install Internet--woohoo! For the fastest speed it was a whopping $20 for an entire month of service.  I'd say that was a $20 well spent.

Our evening visit consisted of putting together a 3D puzzle of a castle, Mark carrying R around, and enjoying a juicebox. As always, our time went by too quick! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Metcha Day

Wow! Yesterday was the best day ever!  We left Kiev early in the morning and drove to the region our girl is in.  Once in town we picked up the local SDA inspector to be present for our official meeting with our girl--who will from now on go by "R."

Regional SDA Office
With the inspector in the car, we headed to the orphanage and spoke with the orphanage director who is an extremely kind and hospitable woman.  She truly loves her kids and works hard to create a happy and educational environment.  While the "official meeting" can be somewhat nerve-wracking, she made us feel extremely comfortable.  We spent some time getting to know each other and we showed her a photo book I made containing pictures of our home, family, and ok...pets too.  She seemed to enjoy it and then showed us pictures of her son's recent wedding.  After some socializing we began to go over R's file and medical history.  Once we were done the director had the school's lawyer go and pick up R early from school.  We all laughed about how kids universally love to miss school!  It was her lucky day.  With the director, doctor, lawyer, and inspector present (all of whom we need to write a favorable report), our little R walks in with her school uniform on (a boy's suit) and a cute high pony tail.  She looks at us and says grandly "HI!!!!" We gave her a stuffed animal and she came and sat right between us, grinning from ear to ear.  Right off the bat the director asked R in Ukrainian if she wanted us to adopt her.  She started shaking her head up and down and yelled "DA!!!!" (Yes).  She was beaming with her cute dimples and looking back and forth at us in awe.  I wish we had this on camera but I think this moment will be etched on our brains forever!  Next we went through our picture book and showed her who/what was waiting for her at home.  She was so excited!  She would say "krassivay!" (beautiful) at almost every photo.  Then she apparently felt the need to show off her English skills, as she broke out reciting, in English, numbers and colors.  We were so proud of her! She also stood up and recited a couple of Ukrainian poems from memory.  One of them was about being "sick" and staying home from school...oh boy, she really is my daughter!  After hamming it up she sat back down and told us that she would be good, kind, and very disciplined at home.  Oh what a precious baby.  She gave us each a big hug and we said our goodbyes (for now!).

After our quick but fabulous meeting, we left for the notary office to begin paperwork. We were told in the car we had 15 minutes to decide on her new name.  We didn't realize we had such little time to think about it, but after five minutes we came to a conclusion. Her first name is absolutely beautiful so we kept it the same and added a middle (American) name. And I hate to torture you but we can't disclose her name at this point. But, I will tell you her new last name will be Jackson! :)
Working on paperwork at Notary Office
After the notary office, we went to find our new apartment.  We didn't realize it at the time, but the director arranged all the details for us and was there waiting to give us a tour!  She truly is a gem.  Here are photos of our new place:
Outside of building

Kitchen

Bedroom/Living Room

Bedroom/Living Room

Sunporch (without the sun)
After dropping off our stuff we went back to the orphanage and Miss R came to greet us in the cutest princess dress.  While our facilitator was busy with paperwork, we had about an hour to play with her alone.  She loved calling us mama and papa and we loved hearing it!  We brought a little bead kit to make jewelry.  But then I made the mistake of taking out my iPhone to take a picture.  Our girl, who excels at math, science, and technology, was fascinated by the iPhone (I don't blame her). She took a ton of pictures and then, once realizing that's not all it did, punched away on the calculator, alarm, and just about any app she could get her fingers on.  Having never seen an iPhone before, she knew how to work it surprisingly well!  After some work, we got the phone away and attempted to go back to our jewelry making.  Well let's be real, who cares about beads when there's an iPhone hiding in Papa's backpack?  She would put her hand to her ear and say "telephone??" We tried to stay firm and got out our picture book instead.  She loved looking at it and would say "mama" and "papa" and point to us every time she saw a photo of us.

Once our hour was up, R took each of our hands (talk about melting my heart!) and led us to the "concert hall" for a little performance put on by the kids. Our R was a star flower, let me tell you.  We were the proudest people in the room.  R would look out at us and just beam knowing that we were watching her.  We've got a techno, acting queen on our hands!  We were really impressed at the work that went into this fun bit of theater, and the kids seemed natural and in their element on stage (something I can't relate to).

The director then, very kindly, brought us some food because she realized we hadn't had much to eat all day.  Our orphanage meal consisted of meat (boiled...they aren't allowed to fry anything), some type of rice, beets, a coleslaw type salad, cabbage-filled bread, and apricot juice:
Orphanage Meal
After dinner our facilitator and orphanage team continued on the paperwork.  They'd been working since 11am and kept working until 7:30pm...two hours later than they normally stay.  We are so blessed to have such supportive team around us!  During this time R wrote a letter to the court stating that she wanted to be adopted by us.  She has the nicest cursive writing I've ever seen!  Having been up for a very longtime with virtually no sleep the night before, the director caught on to our sleepiness, and took us to a room with a couch to rest on while they finished up. I just can't say enough about this sweet lady.

What a long and fantastic day it was!  We go back to the orphanage this evening and will be able to visit her every day for about an hour and a half.  We're excited to spend each day getting to know our daughter better and better.  We love her so much already!

***Until the court approves our adoption, we aren't allowed to share any personal information about R or post any photos.  As soon as we get the green light we'll overload you with her cuteness! :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

3rd SDA appointment

Miracle of miracles, we were granted our 3rd (and final!) SDA appointment today.  There was a possibility we may not be scheduled until next week, so we were extremely thankful to get our facilitator's call this morning telling us to be ready at 2pm!

We accomplished our mission during our quick appointment--we secured the referral of our girl! Tomorrow afternoon we go back to the SDA to pick up her referral paperwork, and early Wednesday morning we travel to her region.  We can't wait to see our beauty and move closer to making her an official member of the fam!

Please pray that God expedites the remainder of our time here, and that we have an instant bond with our girl.

Third Time's A Charm!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our Girl

Praise the Lord because He answered our prayers by unmistakably revealing our daughter to us!  God has selected an amazing little girl for us--kind, considerate, intelligent, polite, interactive, and beautiful.  Truly everything we could have hoped for.  We are so looking forward to spending more time getting to know her.  We need your continued prayer though, as a few final things need to fall in place before we can officially pursue her adoption.  Once those final details are taken care of, we will move from Kiev to her region of the country (hopefully on Tuesday or Wednesday) so that we can easily visit her at the orphanage.  Despite experiencing many ups and downs in our almost two weeks in Ukraine, the Lord's love and faithfulness has never ceased to overwhelm us.  He is teaching and refining us in such spectacular ways.  We are so thankful.

More details on all of this to come next week :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2nd SDA Appointment

Praise the Lord because He faithfully answered our prayers and granted us a successful SDA appointment.  Our appointment was so successful in fact that we couldn't decide on which child to pick.  We have strong feelings about two girls and we are so excited thinking that one of these beauties is ours!  Thankfully we will have the opportunity to meet both girls before making a final decision.  We're bringing some goodies for the children at each of the girls' orphanages, so our interaction with each girl will be fun and relaxed.

Obviously, the decision we now face is a significant one, and we want to continue to follow in God's will.  Please pray that we are able to discern the Lord's will for us clearly and without reservation.


Front of the SDA building
Front of the SDA building

The unassuming, yet infamous, "foreigner" entrance to the SDA

St. Andrew's Church immediately next to the SDA



Monday, February 11, 2013

Church

Despite the fact that Kiev is dotted with many spectacular, golden-domed churches dating back hundreds of years, the city, and the country as a whole, is a very dark, secular place. Maybe that partly explains why you can find so many helpless orphans here. Maybe that also explains the spiritual warfare we have experienced here in our first week.  Quite frankly, we do not believe that Satan is going to let us take one of these orphans and bring them into our home--where she will know the immense and overwhelming love God has for her--without a fight.  We are up for that challenge :)

Given the secular landscape of Ukraine, we experienced a welcomed treat yesterday when we attended church with some new friends who are missionaries in Ukraine. Even though we speak a different language than most of the congregation, what a privilege to be in the company of fellow members of the body of Christ.

The service was entirely in Russian, but we appreciated the man sitting behind us who translated for the English-speakers.  The pastor spoke passionately on Genesis 4 and Cain, Able, and the importance of obeying God.  We particularly enjoyed the worship time, which was scattered throughout the service and consisted of familiar hymns like "Holy, Holy, Holy," "And Can It Be," "Great Is Thy Faithfulness," and "All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name." With hymnals available in English and Russian, I'm sure we all made a joyful noise.
Mark interacting with children at Sunday School
Church Service


Tomorrow, we have our second appointment at the SDA at 11 am (1 am California time).  Please join us in praying that God works by unmistakably leading us to our child.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Day

We were off to a somewhat late start today. By that I mean that we went to sleep at 5am and woke up at 1pm. Whatever, at least we were able to get some sleep! We ate lunch at an undisclosed location. And by undisclosed let's just say it starts with Mc and ends with Donalds. And you know what? I don't even feel bad about it anymore because it's sadly been one of the best meals we've had here. I swear it tastes better than at home--I heard its because they don't put MSG's in the food. Whatever the reason I'll take it.

After lunch we ventured onto the metro. Considering everything was in Russian, it wasn't too hard to navigate. Here's Mark waiting for the train:
We took the metro to the Chernobyl museum. We had actually contemplated visiting the city of Chernobyl, but after we heard that you have to take anti-radiation medicine based on your gender and weight and wear a meter that warns you when you have only 30 minutes of "safe" exposure left, we decided to pass. I don't really want to come home with three legs if I can help it. So with that in mind we decided the museum would be a nice compromise. With admission costing only $1 per person we figured we didn't have much to lose. Well...I'd say we got about $2 worth. Everything was in Russian, so unfortunately I left knowing as much about Chernobyl as I did before our visit. Oh well, it was a fun outing. Here we are at the museum:

After the museum we took the metro back to our apartment and stopped and got groceries. It took us about 5 minutes to find a carton of eggs that hadn't already expired. I'm wondering if the expiration dates here are different than in the US. We asked for turkey in Russian at the deli counter and they had no clue what we meant. Seeing as though Mark's Russian is perfect :), I can only imagine they don't have turkey lunch meat. Perhaps its like asking for boar back home? ha! We also got some Top Ramen (at least we think that's what it is) and ice cream. The ice cream is delicious (yes I already tried some) and the top of it looks so pretty (or it did before I ate it).
It snowed all day today which was a fun change. By the end of the day there was even more snow than this photo shows: 
We miss our home, family, friends, and pets but are enjoying the experience of a totally new culture!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Good Day

We had a much needed fun day today, which lifted our spirits after yesterday's emotional roller coaster!

This morning Mark went to a small store across the street from our apartment and got some groceries for breakfast. Having some home-cooked food was so nice. I was impressed hearing about him using Russian to find the items we needed. Go baby!

After breakfast we relaxed in our apartment and then met another adoptive family for lunch at Puzata Hata, a Ukrainian cafeteria-style restaurant recommended to us by several friends. We appreciated the ability to see the food before selecting it, the English menu descriptions, and the opportunity to (finally!) try some classic Ukrainian dishes, such as borsch (soup), vareniki (potato and meat filled dumplings), and rolls with meat in the middle.  We plan on going back again soon to try some new tasty Ukrainian treats. Here's the outside of the restaurant:
In the afternoon we met with a couple from the US who has lived in Ukraine for the past 11 years.  The wife is a sweetheart and the husband is a pediatrician who does medical outreach. Talking about some of the medical conditions that we saw in our appointment yesterday was quiet helpful, and we are now equipped with a lot of great information.

We ended the day meeting our facilitators for coffee. We discussed yesterday's appointment and what to expect during our next trip to the SDA. We left feeling encouraged and optimistic for our next go on Tuesday. 

We've been blessed with many opportunities to spend time with other believers. We appreciate everyone who has taken the time to talk with us (in English!) and make our time in Ukraine more enjoyable.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

SDA Appointment

Today's appointment was very disappointing. We didn't accept a referral and we have to wait until Tuesday to return for a second appointment. Please pray for our next appointment to go better--for files that match our criteria to be shown and for encouragement in the mean time. We have faith that the Lord will complete the work He has begun in His own timing and in His own special way. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Day 1

Our adventure has begun!

We left our apartment around noon in search of a spot to eat lunch. We hadn't eaten breakfast yet and we were pretty hungry. My words to Mark were "I want to go to a great place for our first lunch. Somewhere that really shows the culture." The only problem was that we had no idea where to go. If you put restaurant in Google Maps all of the results pop up in Russian and there's no Yelp. We decided that we'd just find a place by walking around. We walked to the SDA to check it out and went up and down the surrounding streets. Most of the restaurants we saw had either menus completely in Russian or they were too expensive. We found a Hyatt hotel and decided to go in and ask the concierge for a recommendation. My words were "we don't want anything fancy" (aka cheap, please). He told us about an Italian restaurant nearby so we decided to try it. There wasn't a menu posted outside and you had to go upstairs to see inside the restaurant, but we decided to try it because he recommended it. When we walked in, they took our coats and gave us a claim tag. We sat down, opened the menu, and realized we couldn't afford it. This wasn't even a moment of trying to be frugal, it was that we literally didn't have enough grivna to cover even one of our meals. Our coats had been checked and we had no way to pay for our meal. Completely embarrassed and making a bad name for Americans, we tried to explain that we needed to leave and would need our coats back. We practically crawled out of there with shame. We continued to walk around in search of a restaurant. At this point we'd been walking around for over an hour and were really hungry. It was at that moment of desperation that we looked up and saw a McDonalds. My head was screaming NOOO don't do it...you don't travel 6,000 miles and eat at a McDonalds. But guess what? My stomach won and chicken nuggets were consumed. Yep, our "great, cultural lunch" was eaten at McDonalds. It felt so wrong, yet tasted so right.

After lunch we walked around some more. This is St. Michael's Church, our next door neighbor!  Isn't it beautiful?
On our walk we exchanged our money and went to pick up a few items. One of the items on the list was a sewing kit. When I unpacked my professional outfit, I discovered my ruffle flower on my jacket had unraveled and looked like a mess. Seeing as though the jacket was fine when I packed it, I don't think it was a coincidence that it was right under a notice saying that TSA had searched the inside of the bag. We went into a small grocery store in search of a sewing kit so I could mend the jacket. We couldn't find one so in Russian Mark asked the lady for a needle and thread. She said no and let out a laugh. Mark wondered if he accidentally asked for a drug needle or something. ha! Luckily we were able to find a hotel close to our apartment which gave us a sewing kit for free.

The weather has been relatively warm. In fact we've been hot walking around. We joked that we should wear a tank top under our coat, but that wouldn't really work when we went inside and took our coats off. The women are beautiful here and wear gorgeous fur coats. Even though we've only been here a day Kiev looks like a fun city that we are hoping to explore more tomorrow after our appointment.

For Dinner we met up with another adoptive family. We had a lot of fun eating and talking about our journeys. Our appointments are at the same time tomorrow so we're hoping we both come out of there with a darling picture of our kid(s)! Please keep us in your prayers. Our appointment is at 10am Ukrainian time (California time is Tuesday at midnight). Pray specifically for clarity, calmness of spirit, and wisdom. We appreciate all your love and support!

We're Here!

We have arrived in Ukraine!  Overall our travel was pretty easy and went by faster than expected. Here we are leaving LAX:



We flew on Lufthansa and had a nice experience.  All of the flight attendance spoke both German and English and were very friendly and helpful.  On the way to Munich we were served two meals, a snack, and had hot towels for our hands.  We loved having our own "row" to ourselves (two seats next to the window), and we each had our own TV.  A long nap and a few TV shows helped to make the 11-hour flight pass quickly.

When we got to Munich we had about an hour and a half layover.  Of course our connecting flight to Kiev was on the other end of the airport, but it was nice to stretch our legs and look around. The weirdest thing about the airport was how incredibly quiet it was. There was no music and no one was talking--very library-esque. When we sat at our gate we couldn't help but laugh at how uncomfortably quiet it was.  Here's Mark during our layover:
Then, with no announcement, everyone started to get up and crowd around the gate.  I still have no idea how they knew it was time to board.  There was no method to boarding nor were there orderly lines.  Instead, it was more of a push & shove, may-the-best-man-win type of thing.  You're on!  We scanned our boarding passes on a self-service machine and onto the plane we went.  Or so we thought.  When we got to the end of the hallway, where we expected a plane, we saw a bus, which we were promptly smashed into like sardines. What we though would be a brief shuttle to our plane ended up being a 10-minute drive to a remote part of the airport.  Finally we got to our plane and with freedom in sight our captain steps on the bus and tells us that the crew was on standby and just got there so we wouldn't be able to get off the bus for 15 minutes.  AH!  Air, space, taking off our backpacks, sitting down...so close, yet so far.  After a long 15 minutes we were allowed to exit and our tiny little airplane seat never felt so good. I don't know why, but this "short" flight from Munich to Kiev seemed to last longer than the first one. I think it's because we were just ready to be in our kiddo's homeland!

Once we arrived in Kiev we stood in line for customs. It was really easy. They didn't have us fill out any forms or ask us any questions. By the time we were done our two small suitcases (which I'm very proud of by the way) were waiting for us at the baggage claim.

Then we met our driver, Eugene, who was very friendly and carried my suitcase to the car.  We got in his Jetta and away we went.  He spoke great English and I was impressed that he also speaks Russian and Ukrainian.  Triple threat if you ask me.  He pointed out the sites as we drove but it was difficult to see in the dark with the icy, fogged windows.  He took us to our apartment which is right in the heart of downtown and very close to the SDA (State Department of Adoptions), which is where our appointment is tomorrow.  It's very comfortable and we hope our next one will be similar.  Our new home has a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Here's what it looks like:
Back of the Apartment Building

Entrance to the Apartment
Apartment Hallway
Living Room

Kitchen

Bathroom
Bathroom

Bedroom (Now that's what I call a headboard!)
Bedroom
View Across the Street

View Across the Street
Once we got settled in we boiled some water to drink, ate some snacks (thanks for the orange muffins mom), and went to bed around 2:30 am Ukrainian time.  We were a little messed up on our time, but it was great to be in bed after a long day.

Thank you for all your prayers and support in getting us here. We'll keep you updated!