Yesterday was our meeting with the officials at the orphanage. We met with the orphanage director in her office with our facilitator/translator and the psychologist, doctor and social worker.
Our translator told me what each person was saying while Marsh was able to understand by himself. I took notes, which was easy because there is a pause between translations of what is being said so I could easily finish what needed to be written down. I have now typed up all that information, as well as some other things we talked with the kids about, and it fills four pages, single-spaced in size 10 font! LOTS of great information.
I won't share such personal things on a blog, but I will say that what we were told only confirmed what we already felt we knew about these children. The officials talked with such sweetness about these kids and spoke highly of them and only had positive things to say. They talked about their intense desire to stay together as a family. As children, they had to make the decision to stick together and had made known their desire to do that. After an intensely difficult decision about Nastia's biological father, they declared that they would only allow themselves to be adopted if they were adopted together, otherwise they would stay at the orphanage until they graduated and then live together and go to trade school to try to make a life.
When Ruslan goes anywhere, they told us, he leaves something for Nastia so she knows he is thinking of her while he's gone. When he is taken somewhere away from her, he brings her treats when he comes back. They said he has been like a father to her and that we are lucky to have them because they are so close.
They talked about how well-behaved and well-mannered they both are and that they are able to organize other children for games. They study well and are obedient.
The director said that sometimes bad things cause people to become evil (I'm using the translation to express this thought, so bear with me), but these children have good hearts and have not let the bad things they have been through turn them evil. She said, people with good hearts will not allow that to happen, no matter what life brings them.
After receiving all their health information and history of their parents, it was time to go. The meeting had been about 30 minutes. When we stood, the director (who is fully respected by the children, but is a very strong woman who rules the orphanage with an "iron fist") told us a story. See, during the meeting, she had excused herself a couple of times and left the office. Apparently, during one of the times she was in the hallway, Nastia (who had been taken out of school with Ruslan to visit with us) stopped her and said, "I love you." The director was surprised by this because Nastia had never said that to her before so she asked, "Why makes you say that?" Nastia responded, "Because you found parents for us."
We were then escorted out to the hallway where the kids were waiting for us. After lots of hugs and smiles, we went into the room where we were the day before. We sat down with them and there was a spirit of calm and thoughtfulness while we sat there. Marsh started a conversation with them and some wonderful things were talked about. We discussed their great relationship and Ruslan's example and strength. We talked about our desire to let them remember their mom and have her be a part of their lives and memories. We asked them if they knew why we had to leave and come back again to which they responded they did. Apparently they had been told everything and understood about Nastia's paperwork situation.
We talked about their favorite holidays and why they liked them. Nastia's favorite is her birthday, which is in just a few weeks. Her second favorite is the New Year. Ruslan commented that he liked New Year too because that is when they put up the tree. He likes the lights, he said. See, Christmas happens mid-January on their calendar, so the New Year would be not only an exciting celebration when they get to stay up all night (we heard that NOBODY goes to bed on New Year's Eve!), but also when they are ushering in the Christmas season. I wonder what it will be like for them to change all that by coming here.
Marsh told them that, at some point, they would need to consider what their American names would be. He explained that there is no reason to change their first names unles they want to and that we were allowing them to completely make their own choice about it. We told them about middle names in America and asked them if they wanted to keep their last (or "family") names as their middle name (they both have different last names). Both children were quite adamant that they didn't want their last names at all. They wanted them dropped completely. This surprised me because I would have thought they wanted to keep some connection with that part of their lives. I was wrong!
As the conversation continued, Ruslan suggested that he should talk to Chris about what name he should have. He seemed quite certain that Chris would know what was best for his American name. I thought that was so cute...he really does see Chris as his older brother who "knows the ropes".
Ultimately, Ruslan chose to let us decide what his middle name would be and both children kept their first names as they are. We told them we liked them and were happy to let them keep them as they are. We suggested Nastia take her mother's name as her middle name (Ruslan had suggested she take mine, which I thought was so sweet but I didn't want to push her into something she might not be ready for) and at first she refused, then accepted. We now have full names for these kids, ones they are happy with. They will receive new birth certificates before leaving Ukraine, so these are necessary.
We finished out our time together walking around the orphanage outside and hearing stories about what they do on the playground, where their bedrooms are in the building, how they play with the younger children. We took video to show our kids back home and then went back inside.
We talked about their closest friends, got the names and birthdates of those children and played games and made hairclips for the rest of the two hours (yay!) that we got to spend together. I made it clear that Nastia could make clips for her three special friends, if she wanted to. She started working like a crazy person getting them done! She chose the fabric and buttons to design each one and sewed the petals together while I finished them off by sewing the buttons on. These are usually made with hot glue so they are quick and easy, but that wasn't an option without an outlet so I was also sewing loops for the clips to slide into. They worked GREAT and she LOVED them! She was very specfic about who was getting which clip and designed them specifically for each girl. She is a very thoughtful planner who learns quickly and works hard!
Marsh and Ruslan played war and chatted while we worked. It was a wonderful, comfortable morning and we felt much more like family. When we said goodbye, we assured them we'd be back in a month. There were smiles and hugs all around. Nastia leaned up to kiss me on the cheek and gave Marsh "the look" that he had been hoping for! Sure didn't take long for her to warm up to us. I wondered how that would go but always felt deep down that she was happy and ready for this. As a matter of fact, now that I write that, I remember that I had two dreams about her. In both dreams, she was so happy and peaceful. She smiled at me in those dreams and I when I awoke from them, I felt that they were confirmations from the Lord that this was what she wanted and that she would be a happy person. I just realized that those dreams were to prepare me for who she would be, what she would be like. I am amazed at the Lord and His workings in our lives. I have no reason to ever doubt that He has our best interests in mind and is working for that continuously.
I am honored that He has chosen us to have these children. I am honored to have the children I've given birth to, too. They are completely open to loving and accepting these new siblings into their lives, their rooms, our home. I wouldn't have been that unselfish and loving in my childhood. We are surrounded by great and valiant spirits and are being blessed with two more. It leaves no dought in my mind that we are loved by a God who is fully invested in us and desires to bless us with all He possibly can.
As we drove away from that orphanage, with all those feelings swelling in my heart, I realized the necessity of faith. Without faith in Christ, we are unwilling to step into the darkness when the Spirit moves us to. I think all blessings are based on faith and He is waiting for us to trust Him so He can make Himself known to us and bless us beyond that which we ever thougth possible. It is in the act of letting Him lead us, as unreasonable and illogical as it may seem at the time to do as we are prompted to, that He can open the windows of Heaven and pour out more and greater blessings than we knew our lives could receive.
And with that great confirmation and peace, we head home. We are anxious to hold our other children and share with them what we have experienced on the other side of the world, aware that the Lord desires to bless them, too, with these new wonderful siblings to love.