Thursday, September 20, 2007

Crazy Daze of Summer!!

I can't believe it's September and you can already feel a slight fall chill in the air!! Although I am excited for fall weather, football games and tailgate parties, I am not ready to let go of summer just yet. What will Haley do without her beloved "pool"?? It will be hard to see the warm, sunny days go!

Oh, what a wonderful summer this has been! Every new day with Haley is an adventure waiting to unfold!

Haley is a totally different child than the one we were with in the orphanage in July. She is a loving, funny, smart child who just melts our heart every time we look at her! We are having so much fun being her parents! She brings so much joy to our lives!

It’s hard to describe the incredible change in her. I keep thinking back to a story a friend told me years ago about a little squirrel who was stuck in a drainage ditch and unable to climb out to safety on his own. A man passing by reached down to rescue him, but the squirrel, unable to understand that the man was trying to help him and bring him to a safer place, fought, bit and clawed to keep the man away. When we visited Haley in the orphanage, she acted like that squirrel in survival mode, doing all she knew to keep us at a distance. She literally hit, clawed and bit us when all we wanted to do was love her, take her to a safe place and make her part of our family. So many days we would leave the orphanage feeling overwhelmed with the challenge ahead of us. Can you even tame a squirrel??

The amazing thing is that when we finally got our little “squirrel” out of her "ditch", she shed her "squirreliness" almost immediately and soaked up love and affection like a sponge. This was a great lesson for us! Hunter and I had to solely rely on the Lord for the strength to walk forward in what we didn't understand and felt ill-equipped to handle. Yet, all along Haley was just waiting for our love to finally become the sweet little girl God had created her to be. We will ask each other all the time, "Was she really that way in the Ukraine?" because it doesn't seem possible today. We have received an extra blessing in that we did not expect to see such a dramatic change in her personality and heart so quickly. It's so much fun to be a part of her life!

Now for some summer highlights:
We were able to travel and visit friends and family in August, including a trip to Arkansas to visit grandpa and her 8 cousins (some are pictured to the left), a week at the beach, and attending our first family camp (as a family!) at Windy Gap just to mention a few!

Haley experienced a plethora of firsts in her life: her first trip to the beach, her first visit to UNC, her first water park ride, her first trip down the 50 foot slide at Windy Gap (this was NOT mommy’s idea!)...see picture to the right--that's Haley and Daddy at the top...on their way down!

Not surprisingly...Haley LOVED the beach!!

It’s so much fun to see her enjoying all the fun things in life: Family, friends, hugs, kisses, I love you’s, opening presents, eating ice cream, running in the park with friends, slides, swings, long baths, trips to “gamma’s” pool, singing in the car, dancing and twirling and playing the guitar…so much joy!!

Haley started preschool at our church last week (2 days a week for 3 hours). Here she is walking to her classroom..."book" bag in tow! :) There were a few tears the first minute, but then she fit right in and started to play with her new friends. She loves her teachers and now walks right in to her classroom without looking back. A bittersweet moment for mommy and daddy!

We attended the LifeLife adoption reunion last weekend in Birmingham, AL. We were able to see the Sims and finally meet their sweet little boy, Jacob (pictured here). It was a great weekend and fun for us to introduce Haley to Donna and Anna from LifeLife who helped us with our paperwork.

What a great summer! Although I hate to see it end, I know great things are just around the corner. Hunter and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversay the end of September, my birthday in October, Thanksgiving trip to Arkansas in November, and Haley and Hunter's birthdays in December...not to mention our first Christmas as a family! So many things to be thankful for!

Blessings to you! - Lauri

Sunday, August 5, 2007

All you need is love...

We’ve been home a month exactly today…it’s been one amazing day after another. Haley is incredible and continues to blow any expectations we had out of the water. From day one, she responded to her new name (we started using Haley the moment we got to Atlanta on
7-7-07 and have not used Nastia since). If we call out Nastia, she does not even turn around to look, but quickly responds to Haley. I think she was just waiting for a cuter name!! She loves anything we do outdoors (riding in the stroller, feeding ducks, wading in the pool), reading books, and eating! She loves bananas, Costco chicken salad (which she would eat for every meal if we let her), pickles and apples to the core! She loves opening the presents our friends and family have sent her...reading all the great books, trying on new clothes, playing with all her new toys. Here she is trying on 3 different outfits a friend sent her all at once.

The second day we were home, we visited some friends at a neighborhood pool. We didn't go to swim. We only intended to stop by so that they could meet Haley. She sat on the edge with me, burying her head in my chest. Slowly, she touched the water and after 15 minutes, Hunter was able to persuade her to be carried in the water. She was quite timid at first, but after a few minutes was giggling and splashing. Ever since that day all she wants to do is go to the pool. She LOVES it! …the blow-up pool, the big pool, the bathtub, the shower…really she is crazy about anything that has to do with water.

This is a picture of Haley with her cousin, Abbie, kicking up a tidal wave at the pool.
Every morning, she’ll say to us, “pool, pool” and makes swimming motions with her arms. It’s very cute and we have been fortunate to be able to take her most every day. We’re dreading the winter and don’t know what we’ll do without sunny days at the pool for her!
Haley has made great strides in so many areas. It’s hard to imagine that she is the same little girl we took from the orphanage last month! We joke that somehow they must have switched the children on us the day we picked her up! She learned to use the “big girl” potty just after a week of being home, she’s sleeping in her own bed (although she still doesn’t like to go to sleep and has no trouble letting us know how unhappy she is about taking naps or going to bed at night).
The first week, she slept in our bed at night (although she would take naps in her own). We had heard it was important for the bonding process for her to be with us in our bed. After a week of terrible sleep (we only had a queen size bed and somehow the little thing would take up more than half of it!), we decided to see how she would do in her own bed. She normally sleeps straight through the night, so once she was asleep, she didn’t seem cognizant of where she was anyway. Most mornings, she will crawl into bed with us when she wakes up, but my mother-in-law gave us a king size bed as a gift last week and this has been a great help! Even with the bigger bed, however, she still takes up a ton of room. For some reason she likes to sleep all over my head, chest, body…some part of her body is constantly on mine (usually her feet on my head!). But it’s a delight to have her want to be near us, so I don’t mind it.

Haley’s been on a lot of play dates and has made a lot of new friends. This is a picture with Nettie Cantey. She has developed better social skills since leaving the orphanage (where she took toys from other children and hit a lot without consequence). My sister and her husband were here last week with their five children (ages 1-12) for the week and this was a great environment for Haley to learn to “live and play” with other children of all ages. Since she was only with kids her same age at the orphanage, she wasn’t used to being with children other than the two year olds in her group. She did just great…she's learning to share, to apologize when she hits or takes a toy, to give hugs and blow kisses…
she's even learned to say “cheese” when taking a picture and smile for the camera!!
Here's an example...
Haley is so open to doing new things, trying new things, tasting new things. It's great. She doesn't always like them, but she'll try almost anything! A few things have surprised us...she doesn't like swings or going down slides yet (although she does love climbing up the slide, we then have to lift her up to get her down). At times she seems fearless. One afternoon, my friend Robbie brought her kids from AL to visit. We took them to McDees indoor play area. This was the first time she had been to this type of playland with the different tunnels you can climb up and slide down. She stayed most of the time on the bottom steps, stepping up and down the first platform. Just before we were leaving, she started climbing up the tunnel. She made it all the way to the very top with Sam (Robbie's child they adopted from Ukraine 2 years ago..pictured together on the teeter-totter). She was laughing and banging on the plexiglass bubble at the top. Sam made it back down, but Haley didn't want to leave. We had to send up another child to get her down.
What a little adventure-seeker!!

Haley's learned to be kind to animals. Hunter's mother brought her dog, Sweet Pea for a visit. We were nervous at first because she didn't seem to know how to refrain from hitting animals. But once she met Sweet Pea, she learned to be sweet and soft. Haley loved walking her! She gets very excited when she sees any animal and wants to run over and pet them, even the squirrels! It's hard to explain to her why she can't pet the squirrels. Fortunately, they are fast enough to get away from her when they see her coming!

Haley attended her first wedding Friday night and was the flower girl!! She walked the aisle with a basket of rose petals (although instead of throwing them, she bent down and picked them all up and put them back in her basket). After about 2 minutes, she was “done with that event” and started walking around and getting into everything. She dumped candle wax on her dress and finger, then announced to me that she had to go potty and started to cry. (I had put her in a diaper, but she does not like to use the diaper, so I had to take her to the bathroom right in the middle of the vows.) The ceremony went on and we made it back for the crucial kiss!
Haley loved the wedding cake and bubbles that followed. It was a great evening!

At the end of the month, we are taking her to the beach! We can’t wait to see her reaction to the ocean (the biggest pool she’ll ever see!). We’re dreading the 7 hour car ride, but will try to do most of the driving at night so she can sleep.
She will also be attending her first ever UNC game! My college (JMU) is playing Hunter’s college (UNC). Of course, Hunter has already schooled her in who to root for and she even has a UNC outfit to wear to the event. She’s already practicing her Tar Heel cheer…”Go Heels!”.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on Haley's development. But we are thrilled to have her home with us. She is the most amazing blessing to ever happen to us!
Thanks for all your prayers and support! The Lord definitely has been good to us! We can't wait for you all to meet her. She is wonderful!!
Blessings, Lauri and Hunter

Our first day home…

The first morning in her new home, Haley slept 10 hours (although she fought tooth and nail to keep from falling asleep!). So much had happened in the 3 days we had taken her from the orphanage (the only home she’s ever known). A 12 hour train ride, 2 long days in Kiev without a nap, 17 plane ride to get to the USA, becoming a US citizen…I think it all finally took it’s toll and she collapsed in exhaustion. She woke up about 10 am and I held her in our rocking chair where she quickly fell back asleep for another hour. She was zonked out. When she woke up, she quickly ate a banana and some yogurt, then watched "The Tour de France" with Hunter on the couch.

When she finally woke up, we were all just learning how to be a family…what our routine would look like, how she would react to being in a new environment. We took her to the dock out back to feed the ducks and she loved it! She started out with 2 pieces of bread, after 3 trips back to the house for more...we finally just took the rest of the bag. We went through the entire loaf! What fun!!

She was doing so well, we called my mom and told her we’d come visit that very day. Who knew how long this good behavior would last and we wanted to get a visit in with family while it was still going really well. We put Haley in the car without any fuss and she rode the 15 minute drive to my mother’s place without any fanfare! WOW. One hurdle out of the way, we thought.

She was very shy at my mom’s and buried her face in my chest for the whole hour. She was dying to play with the toys they had given her, but couldn’t muster the courage to leave my lap. After about an hour, the temptation overtook her fears and she climbed down and played with some of the toys they had given her.

We stopped by Target to buy some baby gates to protect her from the stairs in our house. Haley announced she had to "potty". Fortunately, we had brought the little plastic potty, so we were able to accommodate her right there in the parking lot. Thank goodness for minivans!!

Our plan once in Target was to run in, get the gates and exit. I would take her back to the car if she was too overwhelmed by all the people and things in the store.

We headed straight to the baby aisle…but had to pass by the shoe department on our way. When she saw the shoes, she arched her back and pointed. Hunter went on to find the gates and I stayed with Haley as she SHOPPED FOR SHOES!! It was an amazing sight. She surveyed the selection and had a definite opinion of the shoes she liked and did not. She found a paid of black Mary-jane shoes and quickly put them on her feet. They were too big, but she walked around proudly. Then she spotted a pair of hot pink boots. She quickly sat down and shed the MJ’s for the boots! Meanwhile, Hunter had found the gates and had returned to find his daughter amidst her shoe selection. He said, “What are you doing?” I told I told him I had nothing to do with this. She was on her own selecting out the shoes she liked and didn’t like and was very picky about what she wanted to try on. We picked out a pair of sandals with flowers and showed them to her. She turned and said, “Ni” (no in Russian) and went on searching. He said, “You’ve got to be kidding!” It was hilarious. I told Hunter that is was proof that girls love shoes, whether they grow up in an orphanage or not, a love of shoes is innate in all women! We could see this was not a learned response—she had never been in a store in her life!! Boys somehow fashion anything they can find into a gun…girls shop for shoes!!

She's all girl!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Most Wonderful Homecoming Ever!!

The Lambeth Family is Finally Hooooooome!!
We are so excited to be home!!! It's been a whirlwind 3 days. I can't believe all that we had to do to get out of Kiev, thru customs, and finally to Atlanta. Haley was so great the 2 days we were in the apartment in Kiev. She slept in the bed with us and had very few episodes worth noting. We were in heaven! Unfortunately, she was a NIGHTMARE on the plane to JFK. She made everyone on the plane miserable. I finally stood up and apologized to all the folks around us and told them we had just adopted her and that she was scared. Most everyone around us was understanding and supportive, however, the “business suits” in the back were not smiling and rolled their eyes. I know exactly how they felt…I remember enduring long plane rides with screaming we just wanted to read peacefully and get some sleep. Now I was the one with the loud child. I definitely understand the importance of the $2 headsets more than ever now! I joked that the headsets were on me!
Haley finally succumbed to exhaustion and fell asleep about 30 minutes from Atlanta!

Our friend, Laura Passanita and her mom were in seats right behind us with the 3 boys she adopted (we didn’t realize our seats were right by each other until we were boarding the plane). It was fun for Haley to see her friend, Evan (who had been at the same orphanage, but in a different group) although it probably added to the confusion and stirred up even more excitement on the trip. This is a picture of the Passanita boys and Haley just after we got off the plane in JFK airport...the first moment they were all officially US citizens!

On the plane, Haley was too afraid to go into the bathroom and she is not used to wearing a diaper, so when she had to go “potty” we carried a little plastic pot we had purchased in Zaporizia to the back of the plane and set it up in front of the bathroom. She'd sit down and go right there in front of the stewards getting the drink carts ready. I'm sure they were soooo happy about that. But it was adorable and so helpful that we had that potty with us! She went at least 3 times and Laura even borrowed it for her boys when the bathrooms were occupied.

We arrived in Atlanta to the most amazing homecoming!! After a 14 hour trip home with NO sleep, a 7 hour time difference, and the fact that we were not able to take a shower the morning we left Kiev (because the water in the apartment had been turned off the day before), we were looking very haggard. Our outsides were battered, but inside we were so excited to be home...with our daughter!! Our dear friend, Robbie Cantey, met us at the airport (she lives in Montgomery AL, and drove 3 hours just to pick us up!!) Robbie and her husband, Tim, adopted a boy (Sam) from Ukraine 2 years ago and they were the catalyst for our pursuing adoption from Ukraine as well. I love that she got to meet Haley right off the plane! Robbie had a sign in her car that said “Haley Anastasia Lambeth”, like she was a celebrity! She had brought all the perfect things for the ride home…toys for Haley she could play with in the car seat (she wasn't too thrilled about the car seat as you can tell in this picture) and cold drinks for us! Robbie took pictures like a paparrazi and made it all so special. Always the consumate cheerleader, she added spark and excitement to our trip up 85 toward home! She provided all the perfect touches to make it such a great, memorable time for us!

When we arrived home, we saw a wonderful Welcome Home Haley poster hanging in the foyer and little colorful cut out footprints leading up the steps. It was so cute. We walked up stairs to find the most precious little girls room in the whole world. It was so beautiful I stared to cry! Friends from our church had snuck in the house and worked their magic on her little room. Ty Pennington from Home Make-over would be so proud of all they did! It was amazing.
The "make-over elves" chose the perfect shade of pink that makes the whole room feel so cozy. There was a beautiful white antique bed and they had painted some of the old furniture I used as a child in pale greens, blues and pink. It's the most wonderful girlie room I've ever seen...complete with a pink tutu hanging on the wall. The bookcase was overflowing with books (she LOVES books) and stuffed animals were everywhere! Her closet and dresser were jam-packed full of clothes. It was overwhelming!!
Haley was so excited. She immediately kicked off her sandals and put on one of the pairs of shoes lining the floor of her closet.
The “crew” also set up a play area for her in the basement with a little kitchen and tons of toys!
This sweet little one went from clutching a beat-up plastic red bowling pin as a an incredible wonderland full of fun!! What a delight…Christmas in July! This little girl who literally had nothing to call her own is now surrounded by the most gorgeous room in the world and more clothes and toys than she'll ever know what to do with. We felt so much love emanating from every corner of her room! We are so thankful to everyone who helped make this little one feel so LOVED on her first day home!!

We continue to discover new things every hour that the elves did in our home to brighten her world and make it a more “kid friendly” environment... kid-proof locks on the cabinets and doors, outlet covers, a beautiful gate on the back deck, adorable knobs on the night stands, not to mention the clean kitchen and bathrooms, freshly cut lawn, someone even installed our new computer (which had been sitting in boxes in our garage). The "makeover" welcome was the greatest surprise we've ever had!! Just amazing. We felt so loved…

The last few days home with Haley have been such a joy for us. She is adjusting so well and is all smiles and giggles. She is eating really well…she loves fruit and veggies. She will eat an entire tomato like an apple and loves bananas so much that I have to hide the rest of the bunch or she’d eat every last one.

The potty training is going so much better than we could have expected!
She still loves to wear mommy's running least someone is getting some use out of them!!

She loves to push her baby dolls in the toy stroller one of the little elves brought over for her.

She is such a good helper, always wants to help mommy wash dishes in the sink and put things in baskets to put away. She loves tools and had fun helping daddy lower the railing on the steps.
I am so proud of her. She has been through so much and just surprises us every day with how incredibly well she is handling all of this! Our days are full of lots of hugs and kisses. We are having so much fun with her. We are still working on curtailing some of the behavior problems, particularly the tantrums at night before bed time…but they seem to be getting shorter each night. For that we are so thankful!

She is a ball of energy each day and wears us out. We have not only been exhausted, but we started wondering how we were ever going to get anything done since she would not take a nap! Yesterday, finally, she took her first nap! Halleluia! It was a glorious four hours during which Hunter and I were able to catch up on work and clean the house!

We feel so blessed with our sweet little darling! We reached many destinations as we traveled through the voyage of adoption, the very best of which is being HOME with our little girl! We know the journey never ends and we are so excited to begin this new chapter in our family with our precious Haley.

Gotta go...Haley just woke up! The adventure continues...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Our Last Blog from Ukraine...

It's 1:30 AM in Kiev and we just finished packing and cleaning the apartment...soooo ready to head to the airport at 8:00 tomorrow morning to board our flight for the States. The last 2 days have felt a great waterfall at the end of the most adventuresome ride down rapids we never would have imagined. We are hoping we've finally reached the bottom safely and it's smooth sailing from here on out. But we've also learned not to count our chickens before they hatch (so to speak) because anything can (and does!) happen when you are adopting a child from Ukraine.
I apologize ahead of time if this is long and rambling...there is too much to cram into a small BLOG. So forgive me if this is wordy and grammatically a mess!

Wednesday night, we thought we had riden out the worst of the storm and were excited to rest on the open, calm seas for 2 days in Kiev before our flight home Saturday. That afternoon, we were able to get Haley's passport with only minutes to spare (a true blessing since we did not have the ID number required to get a Ukrainian passport). We rushed to get her from the orphanage at 6:20 (our train left at 7:20). We arrived in her room and all the children in her group were sitting at the table ready for dinner. Haley was MIA. I went to the bathroom and she was in the bathtub, having her final bath! She smiled and pointed "mama". They toweled her off and led her to a chair in front of the group, where I put her in a new dress and panties. She ran over to get her little red shoes, but I told her she had new shoes and I put some pink shoes with flowers on her feet. She was so happy. The care givers were saying things to her in Russian we could not understand, but I kept hearing "America and mama and papa" in there a lot. It felt like a celebration! We took some pictures (this is a picture of her group and care givers) and kissed the caregivers goodbye. You could tell they were truly happy that Haley had finally gotten her family!! Hunter and I were tearing up with joy! The very last thing I remember seeing was one of her care givers raising her hands in the air, clasping them together and shaking them on either side above her if to say "BRAVO! Well done". It really was a wonderful 10 minutes! We do not know what they told Haley before we got there or if she even understood what was happening, but she seemed content to go with us and happy for all the attention. (This is the picture Sergei took as we were taking her from her room at the orhanage for the very last time.)
We popped in the car, she screamed and tried to get out and then sobbed for about 5 minutes. She retreated into her blank stare, resting her head against my chest all the way to the train station. I carried her life-less body as the guys carried all our suitcases to the train car. (This is a picture of our driver, Max in white and Sergei in plaid shirt, waiting for our train). While we were waiting for the train to pull in, Haley looked around, taking it all much LIFE outside the orphanage gates she had never seen before. But she was still in a daze and unresponsive to anything we tried to tell her. Then I spotted Vitali!! Oh, what a god send!! Vitali is one of her favorite friends in her play group who is being adopted by Paul and Jessica Owens from Florida. The family was supposed to be taking a later train, so I did not expect to see them there. The minute I said his name, Haley perked up and looked around. (This is a picture when Haley saw Vitali at the station). When she saw him, her contenance totally changed and she came alive! We rushed over to kiss him and they hugged it other. The Lord is so good...their cabin was right next to ours!! We put the kids on the same bunk together and Jessica and I sat with the kids while the boys went to our cabin to regroup (I think the regrouping may have included some wine and Tuborg beer!). Picture of Jessica with Vitali and Haley playing train cabin above). The kids played for hours while the train made it's way to Kiev. We finally took Haley back to our cabin and watched about an hour of The Little Mermaid on our computer. It was already midnight (4 hours past her bedtime). She was rubbing her eyes, although she fought hard not to fall asleep. She did not want to lie down. We tried sleeping with her sitting up, but she would not fall asleep. Finally, about 1 AM, Hunter was playing a game with her, rocking her back and forth and she finally hit her wall and konked out! (Hunter wasn't sure I should post this picture of her asleep on his legs, but it's one of the cutest things I've ever seen, I couldn't resist!) She slept until 5:30 when we were about to Kiev. She awoke happy and ready for the next FUN event!

Ben Robinson (who is the LifeLine coordinator in Kiev) picked us up from the train station. She cried again when we got in the car and fought to get out, but calmed down after a few minutes. We went to get the mandatory medical exam, where they weighed, measured and looked for any signs that she might not be healthy. The doctor was great with her and she pointed to her nose, eyes, etc., said "ah", and stuck her tongue out when he asked. We were first in the door and were glad we had our appointment so early. There were 25 people waiting outside when we left! We had our papers ready and the only final step we needed to complete was getting her visa from the US Embassy.

Then we got a call...and here's where our calm, quiet ride took a turn toward disaster.

We were told that the BLUE passport we were issue in Zaporizia was invalid and customs would not let us take Haley out of the counrty without a RED passport. This would mean returning to Zaporizia to get another passport made...not only that, there currently weren't any RED passport blanks in Zap. and it could take 10-30 days to get one issued. Hunter and Sergei spent hours at the US Embassy taking to people to see what other options we had. Sergei called his friend, Igor, in Zap., who told him that 10 RED passport blanks had been sent to Zap. from another region. Igor said if we could get our BLUE passport to him immediately and sign power of attorney over to him, he could take it to the passport office and get another one made. Sergei and Hunter rushed to the airport and put our BLUE passport on a 2:30 plane headed to Dnipro (an hour from Zap) because it was the only plane headed that way in the afternoon. The plane was just about to leave the gate, so they didn't have time to take the passport to the courier service window...instead Sergei found a passenger who agreed to take the passport with her and give it to our driver Max at the other end. Sergei had called Max on the way to the airport to ask him to drive 60 miles to Dnipro, pick up the passport from this woman and take it to Igor at the passport office in Zap. before it closed at 6 PM. The plane was 45 minutes late, but Max finally got the passport from this woman at 4:30. He then made the 60 mile trip back to Zap's passport office, and $350 later, a RED passport was issued to Haley. Max then drove the passport to the train station and put it on the overnight train for Kiev. Hunter picked it up this morning at 5:30!! Unbelieveable!! ONLY IN THE UKRAINE!!! Without the quick thinking of Sergei, the kindness of strangers, the willingness of folks to go out of their way for people they just met...we would be stuck in Ukraine for who knows how long!! Our daughter comes from a great country...lots of problems with governmental "red tape", but great people!!

With the coveted Red passport in hand, we went to the US Embassy at 8:00 this morning, filled out the necessary paperwork to get Haley's visa. This process took about 3 hours. The clerk there told us that the passport had to be scanned and sent to DC and after it was approved they would give us her visa. He also added that none of the passports they sent yesterday had come back the same day. We were frantic because we needed that visa before our flight in the morning. At 4:00, we headed back to the Embassy and we were told the passport had been sent back from DC, but their computers were down and they could not print out the visa. We waited another 30 minutes and fortunately everything was resolved and they handed us her visa! Halleluia!!

So now that I've taken you on that roller coaster ride (that has been our life the last 36 hours), I'll close by saying that my baby girl is asleep in the bedroom with Hunter's socks pulled up to her knees (she loves putting on our clothes and clomping around in our shoes..yes, that's a crayon in her mouth! Yikes. We've a lot to work on!), Hunter is asleep on the couch snorning away after a very LONG 2 days, and I am listening to the rain beat down on the windows...praying that the weather won't affect our flight home tomorrow morning.

But I also know we have been through worse, so no matter what comes up...we'll figure it out! :)

Hopefully, we will be on that flight home...and land in Atlanta at 7:30 to meet our friends, Robbie and Tim Cantey who have so graciously offered to drive from Montgomery, AL to pick us up at the airport!! In a way, it seems appropriate to complete the circle. They adopted a son from Ukraine 2 years ago, and after meeting their precious boy, Sam, Hunter and I made the decision to adopt from Ukraine as well. We are so happy we did...We have great memories of this country and the people here, we've made a friend for life in our facilitator Sergei. and best of all we have a beautiful little girl, who we adore and can't wait to bring home to meet all of you!!


Lauri (and Hunter from dreamland)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It's the final count down...

Sorry we haven't been able to post the last few days. We have been in a whirlwind of activity getting our papers in order to get everything we need for the Ukrainian government to issue a new birth certificate and passport for Haley Anastasia. Yesterday, we took her to get her passport pictures made. It was the first time in over 2 years that she had been outside the orphanage gates. Hunter carried her on the 15 minute walk to the passport photo office. Once inside, she started to cry. (I think she thought it was the doctor's office and got scared because she's had to have some shots lately). She retreated into her zombie stare and rested on me for 20 minutes while we waited our turn for the photo. It was so hot in the store, we were both sweating. The poor thing looked so unkempt. I had fixed her hair earlier, but after resting on me in that hot place for so long, her bangs were everywhere. We all tried to get a smile out of her, to no avail. Here's what we ended up with! We think she looks adorable! I hope she can one day smile at all this (like when she is 18!)

Yesteday afternoon, Sergei told us he had to make an unexpected trip to Haley A's birth city (Komonsquare) because the Uk. government told us we needed an ID number for her (given at birth) in order to get her passport. When he arrived in Komonsquare, he was told she was never issued an ID number and we would have to apply in Kiev for another one. This process could take up to 10 days. We were shocked...but Sergei forged ahead, undaunted. This morning, we continued working on getting all the referrals and papers we needed to apply for a new birth certificate. We picked up the final court decree, visited several notaries and other government agencies, travelled back to Komonsquare where we were issued a new birth certificate, stating that we were her parents. So happy to see it in writing...albeit, Ukrainian writing! We rushed back to Zaporizia just in time to get to the passport office before it closed. Sergei presented all the documents we need to get her passport (there were about 10 items). He was hoping that they would overlook the missing ID number. Somehow it worked and they told us we could pick her passport up tomorrow at noon. We are still holding our breath until we see the actual passport, but we are hopeful that all will go well and we will be on the train to Kiev tomorrow night (Haley A and passport in hand!).

Yesterday, while Sergei was in Komonsquare, he did some investigating and found Haley A's grandmother! She lives in a very poor section of town (no running water, no electricity). Our driver Max had remembered we had left our video camera in the car and Sergei video-taped the grandmother. He told her he was doing a piece for a local newspaper. It was great to have a picture of her grandmother for when she is older and wants to know her heritage. We are still hoping to get a picture of her mother at some point, but the grandmother said she had moved a way several years ago and she had not come to visit in a long time. At least we have the picture of her grandmother and the area where she was born. We are told this is extremely rare to get this information, so we are happy Sergei was able to find it!

Tomorrow is Independence Day! What a fitting day to be taking Haley A out of the orphanage! We will take balloons and cookies for her group to "celebrate" and take her back to the apartment for a good bath and new clothes. We have been debating all week whether to take the train or plane. We know both will be a shock to Haley A. This sounds terrible, but we are hoping she reacts by retreating into her zombie-state rather than the screaming tantrum she's prone to throw if she gets scared. Because we will have a little more control over her on the train (in addition to the fact that the engine is fairly loud and can block out screaming and loud snoring) we chose to ride the overnight train back to Kiev. It's a 10 hour ride and we are hoping she will sleep through most of it.

Sorry this is so scattered. We are rushing to get this online before we head to the next hurdle...

Thanks for all your prayers for our journey! We are so excited to get to the States and begin life as a family there!

Hunter and Lauri