So today was officially my least favorite day so far. I'm sure my jet lag and horrible cold are not helping with my attitude about the situation, either. Let me preface by saying that I have had four hours of sleep the last three nights in a row which I'm sure has severely aggravated my cold. I need to get better so I can rest but I need to rest so I can get better. One thing I need to overcome is the inability to maintain my emotions when my physical well being is challenged.
That being said, here is the story:
Yesterday we were told by our coordinator that there might be a problem with Nastia's paperwork. We were pretty unhappy to find out that it appears someone dropped the ball when they were supposed to be getting her papers into the SDA along with Ruslan's. It is frustrating to be be halfway across the world and find out that things are not prepared the way it appears they had been. He told us that it might not be a problem and that her papers might be there today, but that we were still facing a possible bump in the road which may include another SDA appointment in Kiev for which we would have to travel back from Mariupol.
On the way over, our translator assured us that this was nothing to worry about. That if her papers were not there, it was just a matter of doing more paperwork. We were not looking at her being "unadoptable". She also was very specific with Marsh that he not indicate that he can speak Russian.
When we arrived in the office, they put us in a back room because "of our issue with little sister". Women scurried around the three of us, helping another family from New York, looking for papers in folders and on computers. My anxiety about the situation was mounting because of my observations of their concern and my cold was actually worsening while I sat there. I sneezed and blew my nose a million times, hardly able to keep my eyes open. I was reusing tissues because we were told to stay seated and "please, not go to bathroom now". I was exhausted, embarassed, sick and worried. I think the Lord is helping me see that I really need to focus on my faith when I am not physically well. This has happened several times in this process, which I have determined is not only for Ruslan and Nastia (and for everyone else involved) but for me to have a crash course in faith. His lessons are certainly multi-faceted and this adoption is no exception.
At one point, I asked our translator if there was a problem because there was a lot of Russian being spoken with heads shaking and looks of concern. She said, "No, no problem. Ruslan MUST be in the system somewhere." I was speechless. We knew there could be a possible problem with Nastia's paperwork, but RUSLAN??
I couldn't understand why we could be told to come all the way to another country by THIS office and have THIS office give us an appointment to come into THIS office and have THIS office not have the necessary paperwork they based THIS appointment on! The SDA lady kept sitting down with us between looking around on computers and in files, waiting for someone or something, I guess, and at one point asked us if we had a picture of Ruslan. I'm not sure why she asked but at the moment I thought she needed to know what he looked like so she could locate him! It was NUTS.
As my anxiety mounted and I was still dealing with sneezing and wet tissues, I watched as these ladies (our translator and the SDA lady) talked for several minutes at a time without me having any clue about what they are saying. I was reading facial expressions for clues about what was going on. Marsh, of course, could understand but he couldn't tell me. We even tried speaking Spanish to each other so I could have a clue!
Finally, it comes out that there is no paperwork for Nastia. Apparently, our appointment was given based on the acceptance of our adopting Ruslan. I guess our "known child" page that listed both kids was completely ignored??
As the two ladies speak Russian and shake heads, Marsh whispers, "You don't want to hear this." The lady at the SDA is saying that we are looking at two months at least before we can have Nastia. Marsh, cool as a cucumber, is listening and waiting for our translator to translate so we can respond. She doesn't translate the part about the 2 months. He whispers it to me anyway. As my mind is reeling out of control, I am desperately trying to keep my emotions under control and losing the battle pitifully.
At this point, she comes with the paperwork on Ruslan. There is a picture of him, younger than he is now, attached to the form. She reads the Ukrainian on the form written by someone who cares for Ruslan, which our translator translates for us. "He is easy and kind and happy." She smiles at us and I just start bawling. Between seeing that sweet boy's picture, hearing that those who take care of him see the same qualities in him that we did and thinking we could have a major problem with Nastia, I just couldn't handle it. The thought going through my mind was, "How can they put mothers through this kind of thing? It's torture."
We were then asked to sign a book indicating that we did want permission to go to the orphanage. We both asked why we would sign it if we were looking at months before we could have Nastia. I think we were both imagining that maybe it would be better to go home and come back when we can have both kids. We were wondering if Nastia would be kept from us at the orphanage because of this, making it so we would have to go through this process twice...once for each child. It made more sense in my mind to stop right then, go home and come back when things were in order. Our translator said, "We have no choice right now. We have to go to the city where the orphanage is. Trust me, you must sign the paper." She tilted her head down and said, "I cannot tell you everything right now...here." So we signed.
We left the office with me in tears, sniffling my head off and Marsh holding my hand. Outside, our translator said, "Don't cry! It will be okay. We'll work this out." I explained to her that we have six children at home and cannot afford to come back here in two months and do this all over again. Sometimes I feel like they think we Americans are made of money or that we have endless resources of time and funds. I am aware that none of the people who are helping us created this situation, but the "don't cry, it'll be fine" attitude doesn't help when we are hearing what we heard.
Marsh was composed. First of all, he knows that bawling like a baby is not going to change anything. Secondly, he reminded me that we need to have faith that the Lord will take care of this. Thirdly, he knows that Ukrainians often give their opinion rather readily without having any factual basis for it...and that's how he felt about the comments the lady at the SDA was making. Svetlana was reminding us that we don't know where Nastia's papers are and that it is very possible they are already at the end of the "2 month" process, just not at the SDA office. She said, "There's no reason to cry because we don't know everything yet."
Apparently, the paperwork is handled on the local level. Our Ukrainian facilitator (who is really good at getting things done) just called and told me that Nastia's papers were sent from the orphanage to the regional office, but were never sent to the SDA from there. Someone in the regional office dropped the ball. Best case scenario is that this process will take a week. Worst case scenario, a month. A MONTH??
Either way, we will have to come back to Kiev for another SDA appointment for Nastia. Our facilitator said he would drive to the city where her papers are HIMSELF if he had to and get the process moving along. Unfortunately for him, it's Easter weekend. That would be like us dealing with this over December 24th to 26th. Bummer.
At this point, there is nothing to do but pray that the Lord intervenes and makes that best case scenario possible. Our facilitator said the SDA doesn't care about anything but the signatures and the paperwork, but the papers have to be in a certain place for a certain period of time. That's where the time is variable. We need the Lord to give us a miracle...again.
Our coordinator in California just skyped with me and reiterated what he also heard from our facilitator. He also explained the reasoning behind this problem not being known until now. There is a cultural barrier that we are dealing with here. The facilitator can't go looking around for information or asking people if they followed through because it is an affront to their position and could ruin his relationship with them. But, it is completely possible that he can get the timeframe to move along faster if those relationships are intact. Our coordinator also assured me that the lack of organization at the SDA was not common. He said most families can walk right in, their file is waiting on the table and they are out in 10 minutes.
We need prayers sent heavenward that will expedite this process. Both our facilitator and coordinator think that we will be able to be with Nastia in the orphanage anyway because everyone is trying to facilitate the adoption. Our coordinator also assured me that this is one of the best orphanages for getting adoptions through, even one of the best for it in the country. No one is trying to hinder us, but someone dropped the ball which does happen on occasion because people are imperfect, or they change positions and someone else takes over or whatever.
Our plan at this point is to pick up the referral tomorrow afternoon, head to Kharkov (Marsh's mission area) on Saturday morning for the Easter weekend, then take the overnight train Sunday night to the city where the orphanage is located. Monday is a holiday because of Easter so we will turn in our referral at the orphange Tuesday and hopefully be with both kids Tuesday afternoon when they get home from school. My heart starts to race at the thought! This weekend cannot go fast enough for me.
On Tuesday or Wednesday of next week (when paperwork can be done and people can be talked to) we will have more information about Nastia's situation and what we'll be required to do. We know for sure that we will have to leave the orphanage to return to Kiev sometime soon to be able to get her referral. This will require two very long train rides. So, that is where we are at this point. Feel free to send as many prayers heavenward as possible to help move this process along!
1 Nephi 17:46