We received some great news to start our day. Our facilitator called at 9:00 am to tell us that she spoke to our judge. We will be getting our official decree of adoption on January 9th. This puts us right back on the original schedule we envisioned when we started our little adventure. On that Tuesday, we get the document, pick up Alexandra for good, and then spend the remainder of the day in this region finishing up local paperwork. Then we head to Kiev for another day of paper work on Wednesday. Thursday will be a day off before our flight out on Friday, January 12th...as we had originally booked. The three of us will touch down in Winnipeg at about 4:00 pm on Saturday, January 13th. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to that day. Unfortunately, I will miss our home basketball tournament. Sorry girls...I am a bit tied up right now.
When we arrived at the orphanage this morning, I videotaped the walk from the taxi right up to Alexandra's area. It was really a neat experience because the caregivers allowed Candace and I to go into the main room in her wing for the first time. Usually we just wait in the lobby area. As I entered the room with the camera running about 15 - 16 two and three year olds rushed toward me yelling papa and momma. Fortunately, there was a small fence between us that prevented us from being mauled. It was both a heartwarming and disheartening experience at the same time. You wish that you could just take every little boy and girl home with you.
After yesterday when all three of us were a bit cranky, today we had some wonderful visits. This morning following some swinging and climbing, Alexandra dug in the bag found a banana and devoured it. Candace barely got the peelings off in time. Alexandra and another little girl even played together for some time before they had a little dispute over the ownership of some blocks and had to be separated. For what it is worth, I am sure Alexandra could have taken the other girl if anything had started. I will admit with some embarrassment that I felt pride in both situations -first as I watched her share with the other little girl, and then later, as she decided to assert herself. During the evening visit, we arrived as the kids were practicing for the holiday concert. It was pretty cute and I videotaped quite a bit. It is not what I would call a professional tape job...and a lot of the footage focuses on a little fair haired girl in a yellow shirt. Our day ended eating at a nice pizza shop down the street from our hotel with our new friends from Minnesota.
One thing interesting is that lots of things change for the kids once they become adopted. I am not talking about obvious things such as their environment and their new families. I am referring to more basic things tied to their identity. For example, almost every parent changes the name of the children. There's a little Anthony who was called Vladimir up until this week, an Eddie who used to be Yuri, and so on. We decided that given her age we wanted Alexandra to keep her name because she already identifies with it. All we did was Canadianize the spelling from the Russian "Olexandra". If you think about it, children in orphanages have very little by way of material possesions. The only thing that many of them can actually call their own is their name. There are even some people who change the birthdates of their children. You see, in is not atypical for there to be developmental delays among children in orphanages. As a result, it is not uncommon for a two year old to leave with a new birthdate that makes them 18 months old. For the record, weare not doing anything of the sort with Alexandra. She is 3 years and eight months and she was born on April 8, 2003. I am tempted, however, to change Candace's birthdate to December 25th to save on the costs of presents. Plus her current July 2nd birthday always seems to conflict with the annual golf trip.
Tomorrow is two weeks since we left home and exactly three weeks beforeour flight back. Let the countdown begin!