This is an account of what takes place at the SDA for those who are also facing that experience. Our personal situation has become complicated so I will simply give you an idea of what families can expect there and leave the details of our unique situation for my "daily events" post.
Our SDA appointment was at 9am so we were picked up by our driver, Serge, and our coordinator for the day, Svetlana, at 8am. We departed early enough to deal with the morning rush hour.
The SDA office opens at 9 so we were just a few minutes early and waited outside. Another American couple were also waiting there. They are from New York and also have six other children! I hadn't expected to see anyone else there so that was a nice surprise.
The SDA appointment is a matter of gathering the paperwork of the child you wish to adopt (which has already been sent into the SDA) and then answering a few questions. The official's first question to us was, "Who are you here to adopt?" She also asked us how much Russian we knew. (Marsh had specifically been told not to disclose his ability to speak as well as he does.) Whether her question was official or out of curiosity, I don't know. There was a lot of talking between Svetlana and the woman at the office, but she only translated a little of what was said. We also signed a paper officially declaring that we want to visit Ruslan and Nastia in the orphanage.
I was surprised at the amount of running around and gathering of paperwork they were doing. I would figure they would have everything they need because our appointment was set for a specific time. As it was, they were having to look for the kids' paperwork as if they didn't know they were coming. Don't be alarmed if this happens to you.
Once the paperwork was located, we were given information that was on the record including health issues and personality observances by adults in the childrens' presence. Further information about the children and their history/parents/etc. will be given at the orphanage and are dealt with on the local level.
It was a fairly short visit. As is common, we are to return tomorrow afternoon to pick up our permission to visit the orphanage and then we are done with Kiev.
Lastly, I would like to include here some things we learned from Svetlana on the drive over to the SDA office. I thought it important that families who are adopting children from Ukraine (UA)understand these traditions. I want to honor the traditions my children are used to and look forward to and I'm sure you do, too. Here is in list form:
- Just as Christmas is the most involved and anticipated holiday in the US, the celebration of the New Year and Easter are the most anticipated holidays in UA.
- The New Year was the most anticipated community holiday during the time of the Soviet Union when religion was not allowed. Since there are now various religions in the the former USSR, Easter is the biggest religious holiday.
- Christmas here is really more for giving a gift to, and visiting, god parents. Sounds like it's fairly low-key.
- Easter traditions:
- The week before Easter is a type of Lent. People eat only fruits and vegetables and abstain from other foods.
- On Good Friday, there is a fast for the whole day.
- The women try to make Paska (Easter bread) and something made by hand to give to others.
- On Easter Sunday, the Easter basket (which includes bread and other homemade items) is taken to the church to be blessed by the priests which includes the sprinkling of holy water on the bread/basket.
- People can stay for a sermon and music if they so choose.
- After the blessing, people go home and gather with family and friends for a feast including the Paska. Here are some pictures of different Paskas so you can have an idea of what they can look like:
- May 9th is Victory Day. This is in celebration of Ukraine's victory over the Nazis who had taken over all of Ukraine and came through Kiev killing 100,000 Jews. There is a forest where those 100,000 Jews were massacred and it remains as a memorial to them.
- August 24th is Independence Day. It celebrates Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union which just occurred in 1991.
- Each of these holidays are very important to the Ukrainian people. What a great opportunity to honor our childrens' history by including these traditions and celebrations in our families and using them as an opportunity to teach what these people have been through!