Wednesday, March 30, 2011

He is a Lovett!!

We are proud to introduce Luke William Lovett!!! We have had so much fun with him over the past thirteen days. Here are some pictures we have taken during our time here at the orphanage. Enjoy!

Our first day. He is all dressed up for our meeting. Isn't he handsome?

I love this little guy!!

He loved the Zsu-Zsu pet

Washing the window with a wet wipe

He loves strawberry yogurt!

Being silly with daddy's  hat 

We had to teach him about playdough :)

He is a very good builder!

Love him!!

He loves his daddy

He was fascinated with my watch and how to put it on and take it off.

We had to teach him that playdough does not go on the wall but this is too cute!

We love you Luke!!

Court Day!!

Court of the best (and most nervous) days of my whole life.

I am trying to write what I thought about today and I am having the hardest time typing out my emotions! They were all over the place. It was so exciting and got me the most nervous I have ever been. I was not worried but I have never stood in front of a judge before. Now I am in a different country standing in front of a judge that I couldn't understand except for a translator. Whew...I was nervous. I did not get that way until we got to the courthouse. I was so nervous because I had to remember to say four statements (yes people only four statements) at the end of the hearing and I was so afraid I was going to get emotional and forget everything. I mean we had to answer questions throughout but nothing memorized except for the last  four things.

Let me tell you about our court date.

 Our court hearing was at 11:00am Ukrainian time. We got to the courthouse about fifteen minutes till wearing our finest. We were dressed in Ukrainian outfits that we bought here because we forgot to bring something nice to wear. Of all things not to bring! Whoops.  We entered the Judges office around 11:15 and our court session began. Those present were: The judge, the jury, the prosecutor, the inspector, the orphanage representative, our translator,  the court recorder and us.

 The judge started the meeting by reading our petition to adopt. He then told us who was in the court room with us, read us our rights, and said that we could see documents or  ask questions throughout the hearing.

 He first asked  to stand one at a time and state our name, birth place address and other questions that we said yes and no to. Then one by one our interpreter, orphanage representative and inspector stood up and said some things (i think about themselves and that they are under oath...I think).

 The judge then asked Ken to stand and tell why he wanted to adopt from Ukraine? What was his education? Where do you work and what do you do? Why do you want to adopt when you are so young (we are 24 and 25)? If you have kids in the future will that affect your adoption? Ken answered this question like this, "He will always be our first child and our first son." I love it! Ok back to what he asked Ken. Can you afford to feed this child? How much do you make in one month? How much do you spend on your house? Do you have insurance? How will you pay for his medical expenses? How will you pay for his everyday living? The judge asked Ken a lot about finances because we are young and he wanted to make sure we knew the responsibility of adopting a child and all the expenses children require.  Then he asked Ken to sit down and for me to stand up.

 Oh boy. I was dreading this. I was fine with Ken answering all of the questions but now I have to talk. He asked  me what is my education? Who decided to adopt first? We decided together. Where do I work? How much do I make? Does my family support our adoption? Do we have a good relationship with our family? How far do they live? He asked me a few more questions but I can't remember...I was just a little nervous. :) He then asked me to sit down.

 The Orphanage representative (Natoshia)  then stood and explained why she thought we are "excellent" candidates to adopt this child. She said how she has observed us being so patient with Luke and had a great connection every time she saw us with him. She mentioned about his speech delays and that my background in education would be helpful or something like that. She said a few more things I am sure they were important but I can't really remember. She was excused and then sat down.

 The inspector  stood told all about our first meeting with Luke. She told the court how it went very well and she was very pleased. She said that she agrees with the decision for us to adopt him. She said a few more things and answered a few more questions that I really can't remember (it was all kind of a big blur). She was then excused and sat down.

 The prosecutor had no questions or anything to add so on we went.

 He then asked us if we wanted to change our decision or have any questions about the petition. We said no. The judge then told Ken to stand and asked him, "What do you ask of this court?" We ask the court to approve our petition, To allow us to adopt (Son's old name) born on so and so date, to change his last name(old last name) to Lovett, his name (old first name) to Luke William, and to omit his father's name, and to write Kenneth and Sarah as the parents. Ken did so good! He remembered everything!! The judge told him to sit and for me to rise.

 Bah!! Now I had to say those four easy sentences. Sounds easy right? Well I forgot one of them and got stuck. I was so nervous! Our interpreter told the judge I was nervous  and he started laughing. Ok good! that made me feel  a lot better and lightened the mood.  I then finished what I had to say and was excused.

 The court was then adjourned so they could make a decision.

 We then came back in and the judge read the courts decision. He read our petition again with the courts decision on it. He told us that ten days from now the courts decision will be final and we will be parents. Yay!!!

 I was so excited and so relieved!! The Lord is SO good!! We are so thankful for all that went on today and for our amazing and humorous judge. I think he was a little more happy today because his grandson was being born during our court hearing.

Outside the courthouse after our court hearing. 

 Court lasted an hour or more so we were hungry and ready to celebrate! We went to this cafe that we go to pretty often and had Pizza and Borsh (a Ukrainian traditional soup).

 We then ran around pretty much the rest of the day getting things signed and notarized. It was a busy day!!

 I was so thankful that we still had time to visit little Luke at the end of the day. We bought him a plastic airplane so our interpreter could tell him about planes and how he would be flying with momma and babushka (my mom) home to the states. Ken is leaving and my mom is coming to help the rest of the time. It was the cutest thing!! He was so excited and told us where everyone was going to sit on the plane.

He pointed to where we are going to sit on the plane. The top of the plane is clear plastic with seats inside. It was a perfect cheap find!

We also found him some cute shoes for pretty cheap ($5!!) while we were out getting things notarized. He was so excited that he had new shoes!! I felt bad that they were so cheap but they were the only ones we could find and we don't really know his size (European size that is). I guess I should look it up.

Look at his shoes. He is so proud!! I love my little fella!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Court Date Has Been Changed

We found out today that our court date has been moved up a day to Wednesday at 11:00 am here time. Yay!! I mean it is only by one day but hey it is one day closer to taking our little guy home. It is also one day closer till we can show pictures!! We asked today if we could post pictures yet and we were told it is better to wait until after the court appearence. So in two days I can show you how super cute our little guy is!! I can't wait!

Tonight we were craving pizza so I decided to try and make it.  I didn't have any self-rising flour, baking soda/powder or yeast --just plain old flour. I made the dough (from a recipe online but omitted the yeast or baking powder/soda), put some kind of pasta sauce on top and tore up some cheese we bought at the store (the grater did not work and you can't buy shredded cheese here). Let me just say it definitely would not have made it on the cooking channel. It looked like a pizza on the outside but tasted like wheat spaghetti with cheese. Hum...not sure if it was supposed to taste like that. It worked though and we had some Coke to wash it down so everything was all good. :)

Ingredients left to right: salt, some kind of flour (I think it's wheat), milk, sunflower oil (sunflowers are a major crop here) and bagged pasta sauce.

We are so thankful for internet where we are, but sometimes it is extremely slow. What would take me five minutes to check back home now takes me about twenty to thirty minutes. There is one room in the whole house that gets signal (the living room) and you have to sit on the edge of the couch to get it. If you want it to go turtle fast instead of snail fast you have to lift  the laptop up in the air (I am not kidding about this!). I have captured some action shots of Ken demonstrating this so you could see for yourself. :)

Quote from Ken: "Do you remember 56K modems 15 years ago? This was just going 5 or 6 K!"

Our little guy is doing really well. Nothing new has been going on. We are in a routine and he loves when we come to visit. There are times when he gets a little frustrated with things especially when we can't understand what he is saying to us. He will say it over and over. I am sure he is wondering what planet we are from! We learned the word for potty the other day. We put that knowledge to good use today! We were playing outside and he dropped what he was doing and starting saying the word over and over. So we ran him inside and everything was good! We had a feeling of accomplishment (I am sure he felt that way as well) when we understood what he needed to do and could help him do it. Yay! I guess it was some sort of break through. I mean we can understand what he wants to do or would like for us to do most of the time because he motions to us or we can pick out the words. We have already learned a few Russian phrases that he says pretty reguarly. One is "I won't give it to you" and the other is "not like that papa/momma". He uses those two phrases pretty often. Whenever we give him a toy or whatever to play with, he will say "I won't give it to you!" If it will fit in his pocket he will stuff it in there and hide it for later. He also does that with any candy we give him. When we are coloring with him he will say "not like that, papa" and then he'll draw what he wanted papa to draw. Too cute. :) I love when he gets really focused on something like coloring or playing with Legos. He will just break into some Russian song. It is the most precious high pitched thing you have ever heard. They have music classes for the kids here and I am pretty sure he is putting that knowledge into good use. : ) We are having so much fun with him and I can't wait to finally show you some face shots on Wednesday.

Please pray that everything would go smoothly at the court appearance on Wednesday.  Oh! We also got our Interpol Background clearence letter today! Yay! Thank you so much for praying!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Time Change

Today we got a call from our facilitator wondering if we knew the time had “sprung forward” and hour. So did you know that not all of the world springs forward at the same time? Not even within the same week. Back home we “sprang forward” the day we left for Ukraine which was two weeks ago. How funny is that? I guess you learn something new everyday!! When we arrived in Kiev, we asked our facilitator if Ukraine changed their clocks forward an hour. She told us that Ukraine is still on the same time. So we just figured Ukraine did not move their clocks forward an hour at all. Well we were wrong. Maybe you already knew that, but it was news to me! : ) I am starting to get confused about what time it is here and what time it is back home! Ah! All of this changing time at home, now here and all of timezone thing is throwing me off. :)

So the whole time change thing kind of threw off our morning a little bit. We got the call that we “sprang forward” when we were about to leave for the orphanage. We were running a few minutes behind (which is not new for us), it is a fifteen minute walk to see our little guy and we were already an hour behind with the time change. So with all of that, we would only be able to see him for about thirty minutes. We figured that would not be good to get there, barely have time to see him and then have to leave. He would not understand and we could not tell him why we had to leave in such a short amount of time. So we decided to relax and go to town to get a few things done before we went back to see him in the afternoon. When we went to town we got everything we needed like cell phone minutes, glue (I will tell you why we needed this in a Minute), some water (to drink and brush our teeth with), coke and Oreos (they help us feel at home here).

We then decided to explore a little of the city and found a market that we think is only open on the weekend because we haven't seen it open during the week yet. So we decided to explore. It had all kinds of clothing, food, purses, shoes and household stuff. Imagine storage containers opened up to display items and that is what it looked like, individual little stores side by side. I was really excited because I was looking for a jacket to wear to our court date on Thursday. I was not about to wear my worn Columbia jacket when everyone here is always dressed in high fashion. We found a place that had super cute jackets for a great price so I decided to stop and try some on. It was an adventure for sure!! I could barely tell what the lady was saying and she had no idea what I was saying. We pretty much played charades and laughed . I found this really cute white jacket with big black buttons down the front and wrist. I liked it ok but decided to buy it when I accidentally pulled a button off of the jacket...whoops. :) So I decided it was cute and went on. It was only after I was wearing it a while that I realized it is a unique type of pea coat. The jacket sleeves button on and off. The part that comes off is right below the elbow. It then becomes a spring jacket. Who knew? I was wondering why my elbows were really cold whenever it got windy. :) Ken said it was like those pants that turn into shorts. Oh well. It sounds strange but it is cute. I will have to show you a picture sometime.

After our time in town we headed home on the bus and then to the orphanage after that. The bus ride home was a bit longer than usual. We decided (as in Ken) to get adventurous and see where the bus went if we took it going the opposite direction from where we normally go to head home. From where we were in town, we would have to walk a long way to the usual bus stop. So we decided to take the same bus on the opposite side of the street and see how long it would go before it would eventually turn around. Well we ended up outside of town and then when it got to the end of the route, we had to get off so they could wash the seats. Great. So we were sitting at the stop for a while so they could clean the bus. At least they did not make us pay again when we got back on. :) So we hopped back on and headed back into town. We did get a great tour of the area and we also found some places we wanted to visit, like a huge grocery store that is not far from the main part of town. We also discovered that there is a bus stop right across the street from where we got on that would have gotten us home pretty quick. Oh well. But if we got on there, we would not have been able to see such great scenery! Thank you my sweet adventurous husband for a great day!

We had a lot of fun at the orphanage with our little guy today. We played outside and enjoyed the great weather and mostly dried ground (yay). After a while we headed inside to eat a snack and play. We brought him a toy we got at the market and he played with it until it got really hard to work with. It was a peg board type of thing that I saw him playing with in his group. He was having a great time with it in his group so I decided to look for something like it around town. Imagine a light bright without the light part, just the board and pegs. He seemed to like it until he couldn't get the pegs to go in the holes like he wanted them to. It was a pretty cheap looking thing and the box looked like it was from the nineties because of what the kids were wearing on the front. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. :) We then read books and played with whatever for the rest of the time.

Oh yeah I was going to tell you about the glue we bought. So yesterday when we were playing around in our usual visitor room, our little guy got a little crazy and tore some brand spanking new wall paper off the wall. That's right they just remodeled the whole room before we got there. Our little guy happened to find an edge that was coming unglued and had fun with it for a split-second. Great. So we couldn't speak his language, we are in the orphanage and he can't understand us (although I'm sure he could understand our expressions). At least the tear was only the size of a dollar bill, the wall paper was textured and he didn't tear it completely off the wall. It laid flat on the wall and really didn't look torn at all. Sweet. So since it was Saturday we decided to leave it and get some glue today in order to fix it before anyone returns to work tomorrow.  And, with the help of a Ukrainian type of Elmer's glue, the wall looks as good as new. Whew!

In adoption news, our court date is in four days!!! Yay!! Please pray for us and for the judge that everything would go smoothly. Also we are waiting for our Interpol background clearance form to come. Please pray that we would get that tomorrow. Thank you so much!

Here are some pictures from two days ago that I meant to post:

A well that the locals get their drinking water from.

There are four packs of four oreos in each box. This is the only type of American food we have found here and I have not been able to find a bigger box of these. So we each eat two Oreos out of the package every night to make us feel at home. :)

Our Little Guy loves finding new things to play with in Papa's backpack. Too cute!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Let it snow

Today it snowed. I mean it snowed a lot. Well maybe I am over exaggerating the snowing a whole lot thing. It maybe only snowed a half-inch and the walk ways were mostly clear. So really it didn't snow that much at all. But hey, it snowed. Shouldn't it be spring time already? This southern girl loves her warm weather and all of this cold stuff makes me wish I was in Florida or something. Oh that would be nice, and, back to reality. Walking in the snow today made me be even more thankful for the cars we have back home. That we can hop in and drive wherever we want in a short amount of time. We really enjoy our walk to the orphanage and it is a lot of fun to feel like a local. But, when it is freezing outside and the wind goes right through you, it would be nice to hop in a car and turn the heat to full blast.
Walking to the orphanage

We always wipe our super muddy feet off in that pile of snow outside of the house where we are staying. 

We love the food here in Ukraine. It is all different and very fried. Yum! I wish I knew how to cook Ukrainian style but since I don't, I have to get creative with the dishes I do know how to make. The grocery stores here are a lot of fun to go in a try to find ingredients that would work for different dishes. I love pasta and I have learned that Ukrainians do as well because they sell a lot of ravioli (which looks like tortellini back home), spaghetti and fettuccine noodles. So that means I am one step closer to knowing how to cook Ukrainian style right? So far I have cooked Ravioli and fried chicken. Ok I know that is only two dishes and we have been here almost two weeks but let me tell you why I have only cooked two meals. We have learned that the people here eat a small breakfast, a huge lunch and a very small dinner. So, trying to be somewhat Ukrainian, we try to eat a big lunch and small dinner everyday. Ok maybe it just happens to end up like that everyday but hey it seems like we meant to do it that way. When we first came to this city, our awesome interpreter brought us to a restaurant that was down the street a little ways from the orphanage. We loved the food, it was really cheap, and no one was ever in there. So we try to support them by eating there for lunch pretty much everyday. The workers are super sweet and they always blast us out with the English music channel whenever we come to eat. Isn't that cute? So we eat a ton of food for lunch and when it is time for dinner we are so full from lunch that we end up eating some type of sandwich. So that is my explanation of why I have only cooked two meals. :) I was so proud of them I had to take pictures to show you.

Yay for lots of carbs!

Speaking of fun things at the grocery store, I bought this can of what I thought was strawberry jelly only to find out it was:

canned strawberries. We did not have an updated can opener, just an old fashioned one that we had no idea how to use (as you can tell in the picture :) ). So my amazing husband worked really hard and got the can open only to find that it wasn't jelly at all. Oh well. 

We had a lot of fun with our little guy today. We played outside, had snack and then played inside. That is the normal morning routine so far. It was really cold today so we did not stay outside for long, which means we had to play inside longer. Playing inside for longer means we have to keep him quiet for a long period because everyone is working. Yeah...try to keep a four year old quiet for over an hour. That is no fun, for us or for him. :) So we have to get creative with a snack and juice, legos, coloring and whatever else quiet thing we can think of. When we visit him in the afternoon, everyone in the offices our visiting room connects to have left for the day. So that means we get out play dough (Yes even play dough can get loud. I bet you didn't know that it could), the ball, cars and we play around and get crazy (but not too crazy because we get looks).

This morning, we traced hands and feet. He loved that! Mom needed his shoe size and gave us the idea to trace his feet and then measure the tracing with a dollar bill. We do not have a measuring tape so we had to get creative (thanks mom!). First Ken traced his own hand to show him how to do it. Then Ken traced OLG's hand and he was hooked. He loved the feeling of the crayon touching his little fingers. It was super cute. We then traced his feet and he loved that as well. He loved tracing his own hands and feet. It was too cute! We spent about an hour tracing feet and hands. I think he is now ready for Sunday School.

He also drew papa (no hair)

and momma (that is pretty much how my hair looks here in Ukraine). Too cute!

This afternoon we couldn't go outside because of the snow so we played inside the whole time. After he eats a snack, we always pull stuff out of the backpack to play with. He loves the backpack because different things come out of it everyday. Well today he went over to the backpack and found a little flashlight that my brother had given Ken for Christmas. He was in love!! The flashlight is maybe only an inch or two long so it is not that big but he didn't care. It made light and that is all that mattered! I am not sure if he has ever seen or played with a flashlight before today. He would twist it on and off laughing his cute little laugh. He would go into the next room that had the lights off and spin around shining it on the walls and on the ceiling. We tried to show him that you can make shadows with a flashlight but he didn't really care about that. :) He loved to make the light smaller by putting it closer to the floor or wall until you couldn't see it anymore. He then discovered that tiny little batteries are inside the flashlight. So he would unscrew the flashlight take the batteries out, put them back in there, and screw the thing back together. Well there were four tiny batteries and they all had to be facing the same way so the light didn't come on most of the time when he put it back together. Papa was always able to fix it for him when that happened. He is one determined and independent little fella for sure. So we had fun with the flashlight for a majority of the afternoon. Thank you Uncle Matthew for such a useful gift!

In adoption news, our conclusion was turned into the court today. Yay! We were also told that our court appearance is at 11:00am next Thursday. We knew the date but not the time. I know you were dying to know the time!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and encouragement!! You all are so sweet to us and we are thankful for you!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Judge

We had a surprise meeting with the head judge of our city yesterday. We had no idea we were going to be meeting with him so we did not really dress up, we were in the usual sweaters and jeans with comfy shoes. Oh well. It was not a super formal meeting so it ended up being ok. He just wanted to meet us and ask us a few questions to see who we were. He started off asking what state we are from and then let us know he had just been to Florida to visit his daughter who lives there. He asked us what religion we were and if we went to church every Sunday. We replied that we are Christian and that yes we went to church every Sunday. We were not sure where he was going with that but we later found out that he was making sure we were not part of an extreme religious cult that does not have their own children but only adopts kids (Oh boy). Ken spotted an orthodox relic on a shelf in his office so we assume he is somewhat religious. He was also wondering why we were so young and wanted to adopt now and not wait and have our own kids. Seems like everyone here asks that question. So we just let him know we have been married three and a half years, I work with kids and love it and that we both love kids and would like to adopt. Easy enough. So pretty much that summed up the meeting. Short and sweet. Because of that meeting, we were able to get our court appointment which is next Thursday March 31st!! So after our court date, we will have a ten day waiting period and then we can take our little guy out of the orphanage. The Lord is good!

Yesterday we went to a new “cafeteria” or restaurant and tried Borsh soup for the first time (shout out to Beth back home!). It is a Ukrainian traditional red beet soup served with sour cream. Ours also had some meat in it which made it taste really good. We both really liked it. I mean I don't know if I would cook it everyday but it was really good. Thanks Beth for the recommendation. ; )

Yesterday we were only able to visit our little guy only once because we had a lot of paperwork to do and the visit with the judge. I was so sad that we couldn't visit him in the afternoon. We wanted to call the orphanage and let him know we couldn't come in the afternoon but would be back tomorrow (Wednesday) but we knew that was impossible.

Today (Wednesday) we had a lot of fun playing outside and visiting with the chickens. We have started getting in a routine that when we go outside we kick the ball around then head to visit the chickens. He is really good at kicking the ball around! He loves the “modchick” or ball. He also loves to pick up litter. Yes! He is my little cleaner man, let me tell you!! So when he picks up litter on the ground he likes to investigate it. I mean he likes to use ALL of the senses to do this. Yes, even to taste it. So...whenever he goes for litter we know he is about to lick it so we try to get it before he can grab it. Ok that might sound a little mean but the orphanage dogs have been chewing on most of the stuff he wants to pick up. So we have to be quick and distract him with other things. We love going outside but it can be tricky not getting his clothes dirty when EVERYTHING is covered in mud. I mean he is a four-year-old boy and all little boys love mud. So we have to chase him a lot to keep him out of it (“Nyet” the Russian word for No doesn't compute sometimes). Well today he decided to face plant in some mud...great. But we got him cleaned up enough and nobody said anything...yay!

Every time we go to the orphanage we bring the kiddos in our little guy's group some cookies or candy. It always breaks my heart how much they love those treats and the hugs we give them. Whenever we come around they reach their little hands up and say “candies?” or “cookies?” because they want some type of sweet. I wish we could bring them all home with us but I know this trip we cannot. It breaks my heart. I have come to love all of the kiddos in our little guy's group. They are so sweet and special and have one commonality, no mommy or daddy. They did not choose to end up where they are, someone else choose for them. Now they are left to grow up with concrete walls and floors, no privacy, no love, no special treats. All they have to hold onto is that one day maybe their mommy or daddy will come and get them or that hopefully someone will choose them to be a part of a new family. They wait patiently for someone to show them love that only a mommy or daddy can give. Whenever we enter the orphanage the kids look at us with anticipation as if we are the ones to take them home. I wish we could, but this trip we can only legally bring home our little guy. I am praying that they will have a mommy and daddy come rescue them soon.

Here are some pictures from playing outside today:

He loves the rooster

He LOVES to slide!!

He loves to pick up litter :)