Oh, this was good. It is so good to have information!! Here was what happened and some of what we know now:
We did not get to sign the paper we were going to sign. As a matter of fact, when we arrived at the office and our facilitator brought up Nastia's name the woman's response was, "Oh yeah. I forgot." Glad Marsh speaks Russian so we can know just how much they love and care about us at the SDA.
However, we did learn that we will go sign the paper tomorrow and that the director of the SDA will need to sign the papers, too, so we can have the appointment tomorrow. If she doesn't, we will have to wait until Monday.
After leaving the SDA office, we got to sit down and really discuss our situation with our facilitator. I brought out my trusty purse calendar (thanks, Mom!) and showed him exactly what we are dealing with schedule-wise. This was SO USEFUL. He was then able to work through the timeframe and give us a pretty accurate, reality-based prognosis about what we can expect depending on the variable of the director signing the papers.
We prefer not to discuss the confusing possibilities and details at this point, but suffice it to say, we would much prefer that the director sign the papers today or tomorrow and let us have our appointment tomorrow. We are blatantly asking for prayers in our behalf to make this occur. Our chances are not great that it will, but I believe the Lord can move her to do that. But if not, we will go with the flow and do have a Plan B.
One thing that is important to understand about the SDA (State Department of Adoptions) in Ukraine is that they do not care in the slightest what inconvenience or cost (in time, money, emotion, effort or otherwise) we adopting families face. I have had so many people say to me, "You'd think they would work with you to get those kids out of there because they will have a better life here!" Well, you'd think...but you'd be wrong.
They don't really like the idea of their kids leaving the country. I guess they'd rather they were adopted by local families, but people are just not able to feed and house them let alone be interested in older children.
Adoption here really only takes place if couples can't have children of their own. They then are much more interested in the younger children. Kids Ruslan's age have such a slight chance of being adopted that it is miraculous when they are. Ruslan and Nastia are fully aware of this, too, which is why they had determined they were going to stick together and not let anyone separate them. They had to have understood that making that commitment to each other meant turning down any adoption for Nastia. She was choosing to stay with Ruslan, knowing that the decision would seal her fate. I am so moved by her loyalty to him. It's remarkable.
So, back to my point...the SDA has absolutely no desire to see us (or anyone) have an easier road. They will not do anything to make concessions, bend rules, show compassion...you get the idea. There job is NOT to help these children find homes. There job, I guess, is to push papers and make sure they never do things to be accused of corruption. They also have the power, and aren't afraid to use it, to put your papers aside or in the bottom of the pile if they feel like it. It's better not to rock the SDA boat.
The local authorities are very different. They work with the orphanages and facilitators and seem to care much more about the efforts to get the children into loving homes, wherever they may be. We know from our discussion with our facilitator today that our orphanage staff is compiling papers and making sure everything is prepared for us to come and get things moving. They want to see those kids in homes and they are constantly working toward that goal.
We also know that Ruslan has been asking, "When are they coming?" The director said he's been asking and they are anxious for our arrival...it was her first question when our facilitator talked to her recently. THAT made me so happy. Without much communication with them and being isolated from our kids at home, it's made me wonder if anyone really cares about this or not. It's so painful sometimes. That knowledge gave me a much-needed boost!
Bottom line, hoping for the SDA to do anything to help us is fruitless and a waste of time, energy and creativity (trust me on that one). However, there are miracles on other levels that could possibly occur. Our facilitator gives those a 10% chance. So we've decided to plan for realities and pray for miracles!
Tomorrow is the deciding factor on how the rest of this story plays out. Pretty big hinge that director is sitting on...and she doesn't even know it! (Trust me, I already offered to track her down at her seminar, send her flowers, whatever was needed. Our facilitator's response was, "She is the perfect bureaucrat. It won't help." The rest of his comments were...well, ask me how I know all that you just read about the SDA...minus our personal experience.)
Without overwhelming you with details, I can tell you that we will be able to visit Ruslan and Nastia either this weekend or middle of next week, depending on tomorrow. We'd like to see them this weekend.
All but our faith and prayers are out of our control, so that is what we will be focusing our energies on. We invite you to do the same!
I had a friend ask me why we can't see the children now since we already have approval and the referral for Ruslan. I would like to address the entire process in a separate post so anyone who would like to have a clear picture of expectations can have it.
Short answer: they are a 16 hour train ride away from Kiev.
I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with all I've learned regarding the ins and outs of adoption in Ukraine, but perhaps the information will be of use to someone...somewhere...some day.
All I know is...I want all my kids home together ASAP.
Thank you for your prayers.