Monkey see, Monkey do.

Today we switched things up a bit and visited Jackson in the afternoon instead of in the morning.  It has been getting dark around 4:00 and it works out better for the family that we share the driver with to go visit their older daughter in the morning.  So, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays we will start to visit Jackson in the afternoon and in the morning on the other days.

We were wondering if Jackson would notice that we came at a different time.  He didn’t really act too differently.  We could tell that he didn’t have as much energy as he does in the mornings and he could better focus on activities.  Also, he kept burping something nasty smelling. 🙂

We played with our normal toys, including the empty paper towel holder, which has become one of his favorite toys.  We also gave him baby food again, which he pounded in no time flat.  It’s a good thing because he is a skinny boy.  I changed him out of the blue painter bear shirt and put him in some clothes that we bought here.  Apparently I didn’t do the best job because his little pants kept falling down!

Jackson was having a fun time imitating Scott today.  He would repeat some of the words that Scott would say and then I noticed that he was imitating him.  Scott stood up and put his hands on his hips, so Scott’s “Mini-Me” stood up and put his hands on his hips.  Scott pretended to be a horse, and soon enough he had a little horse crawling around with him.  The cutest part was when the two of them were sitting next to each other on a long bench.  Scott would scoot closer to Jackson, and Jackson would scoot farther away.  They did this until the were all the way at the end of the bench.

Here’s some pictures of the fun today!

Getting to know you, Getting to know all about you!

Each day we are learning more and more about our little guy Jackson.  Here’s a list of what makes Jackson unique:

  • In bringing him a Halloween shirt yesterday, we learned that he likes to dress himself, and he’s pretty good at it!
  • We brought him baby food a few days last week.  Now he thinks he is too good for the crackers or bread that we bring him and he looks in our backpack for more baby food.
  • He’s not used to people wearing glasses being close to his face.  Usually the nurses keep their distance from the kids, so there has been many times he’s gotten a good grasp on my glasses.  If you wear glasses… beware!
  • If something needs fixed, Jackson will yell “Mama” in this weirdly deep voice.  This is everything from a toy needing fixed to his overalls coming unfastened.  I think he calls the nurses “mama”, so he’s not really looking for me particularly to fix the problem, but rather someone to help.
  • Jackson loves to sing and to hear music.  He’ll start to sway and dance to it.
  • It is difficult to discipline him because he laughs the cutest rolling laugh.  Scott and I have been trying to establish authority with him, so as soon as he does something that we don’t approve of, we’ll lay him down to keep eye contact with him and with a stern face say “Nyet” (no).  He laughs for a few seconds and then starts to whimper when he realizes that we aren’t laughing with him.  Then he gets up and gives us a hug.
  • Jackson loves to watch babies.  We keep him away from them in the playroom, so he’ll just sit with us and watch them.
  • Jackson picks up his toys at the end of our visit, and he makes a big production out of it.  He is very thorough and sticks with it until the very last puzzle piece, but he puts each piece in the bag in a different way.  He brings some over in his mouth, sometimes he’ll balance some of the blocks on the puzzle pieces and walk with them, and today he started putting them in his shirt and dumping them in the bag.
  • We gave Jackson a sippy cup.  He carries it all around the playroom, but he doesn’t really understand the concept of sucking from it.
  • I’ve never seen a kid eat a banana so quickly!  I think he devoured it in 6 bites.

Here’s a picture of Mama and with Jackson being ornery today:

Mama with Jackson

Court Results!

Today we had a normal visit with Jackson in the morning.  He must have known that something was in the air because he was very calm today and got very snuggly towards the end of our visit.  Today was the day that the children have their 6 month check up, so our visit was cut a little bit short.

We had court at 3:00 pm.  Man, Ukrainians cut some things so close!  Our paperwork from Kiev arrived on the 12:20 train this afternoon and even after they dropped us off at the courthouse at 2:00, they were still collecting paperwork.  Tatyana “prepped” us by asking some of the questions that the judge usually asks adopting parents.  She wanted to make sure that she had the answers so that she could correctly translate it back to the judge.  We waited in a long dimly lit hallway for about an hour.  Girls in high heeled boots kept walking back and forth with their heels clicking with each step they took.

About five minutes before we went into the court room, Tatyana leaned over to Scott and I and whispered, “Wow, when I get nervous, I start to forget how to speak English.”  WHAT?  Scott and I’s jaws just dropped!  haha!  Any amount of nervousness that we had just quadrupled.

The judge called us in and there were 8 people in the room.  She read through a book and we had to respond a couple of times that we understood what was happening, even though we didn’t know what she was saying.  She asked Scott and I questions individually and we made our way through it with Tatyana’s translation.  She later told us that the judge was speaking in Ukrainian and she was translating it to Russian and then English in her head.  After we answered the questions, she read some more, asked the other people in the room if they had any questions, and then read through our documents.  She had our dossier.  That thing has literally been around the world and back!

The preceding was over then and the judge said that she would have her verdict in ten minutes.  We went back to the dimly lit hallway, but then she called us back in about 2 minutes later.  She read some stuff and Tatyana translated that, “The court has satisfied your request to become parents of Bohgdan and that his name will be changed to Jackson.”  We were so happy!

Now that we have the judge’s decision, we must wait 10 days.  This waiting period is put into place so that if any of the biological family members have any second thoughts, they may voice their concern.  We do know that Bohgdan’s grandma and sister still visit him, but we are confident that God is in control of the situation.  In the meantime though, they have told us not to mention anything to the orphanage about already having court.  It’s just the way things are done here.

To celebrate (and because it’s Friday) Scott and I went to our usual pizza place.  Since last Friday, they have turned it into a sit down restaurant with a waitress.  We got our usual large pizza with the works, 2 beers, and a celebratory ice cream sundae!  With the generous tip we left, it was still around $10!  To top it off, the waitress really made my day by giving us a frequent visitor card and she retroactively punched it for our previous visits!  Only two more pizzas before we get the next one for 1 Hryvnia (about 12 cents)!  She must have known what a penny pincher I am!

Court tomorrow!

We have recently found out that we will have court tomorrow (Friday) at 3:00 pm.  Please think about us tomorrow morning as you are starting your day.  That’s 8:00 am Ohio and Florida time and 7:00 am NW Indiana time and 5:00 am Seattle time 🙂

Scott and I are a little bit nervous for court, just because we don’t know what to expect.  We’ve read lots of blogs and most of them make it seem like a routine process.  We just hope that we don’t say anything that sounds silly or do anything wrong!  Tatyana is our lawyer and will be interpreting for us.

Today’s visit with Jackson was comparable to a trip to the zoo!  Haha!  There happened to be 6 kids and parents in the room that we usually have to ourselves.  Jackson gets very interested in what the other kids are doing or eating, and doesn’t pay attention to the mountain of toys that we brought him or the baby food, banana, or crackers that we were feeding him.

To top matters off, today was the day that the orphanage director picked to come observe how Jackson is bonding with Scott and I as parents.  It was a disaster!  Haha!  He took a nose dive right at her feet in which every parent and nurse in the room gasped.  Also, I’ll never forget when I was walking back from cleaning up the baby food mess from Jackson, Scott, myself, the painter bear shirt, and the chair… I look up to see his little chair in a sideways mid tip and it looked like slow motion of him falling over sideways.  Of course, the orphanage director was there to witness that disaster as well.  Oh what a day… 🙂

Hopefully court goes smoothly tomorrow!

Chicken fiasco and our little pickpocket.

Choo! Choo!First before I start – No court today. At the moment it looks like court will now be on Friday. Things got a little delayed for whatever reason, but with the 10 day waiting period falling over a weekend, we’re not gaining any extra days that we will have to stay here so far.

So, I wanted to start the post today by doing a little bit of venting about how hard it is to cook a good meal here in Ukraine.  It’s so hard to be able to find ingredients in the grocery, let alone be able to read the packages they come in.  We only have a stove top and a microwave to cook with.  Luckily, we were able to find the “instant food” section of the grocery and have been eating Ramen, Soup in a Cup, and instant potatoes.

Last night, Scott and I took a chance with some chicken.  Please realize that all food that we eat here is at our own risk, since there is no FDA.  So, I was just going to cook the chicken on the stove top and mix it with some rice.  Unfortunately when I thawed the chicken, it included more than what I had bargained for!  Not only was it VERY bloody (gross!), but the package included the entire chicken.  It literally looked like they just used a sharp saw to cut the chicken into pieces.  That dinner went straight to the trash can and we went with Plan B.

At our visit today, Jackson started testing the limits a little bit more with us.  We enjoy this because it shows that he is starting to bond with us and to treat us as a more of a parent figure, rather than people who come and play with him for an hour every day.  He threw two temper tantrums today, typical of a two year old.  The first one was when we took away the plastic golf club that he whacked the mirror with and the second was when Scott put away his iPod.

We had the iPod out because we were showing Jackson his performance from yesterday.  He really enjoyed watching it over and over again.  When Scott put it away, he whined and cried, but we distracted him with a new activity.  About five minutes later, Jackson went over to Scott and started patting him down.  It was the strangest thing, until we realized that he was looking for the iPod!  It was so funny to see him looking in Scott’s pockets and down his shirt for the shiny little black toy!

Of course he did other cute things today like playing with the train we gave him and saying “Choo choo” and giving out kisses.  He was rocking the blue painter bear shirt and overalls, like usual, so our pictures are all starting to look the same!

A Flower Bribe & Jackson in Concert!

Today was a very special day with our visit.  Let me start with the car ride.

Valentino picked us up at the normal time.  Most of the time we go straight to the orphanage, but sometimes he makes a stop at this old building and he says, “Documents- Administration.”  We all just shake our heads and wait in the car.  This morning he was in there for a long time!  We knew that the other family was waiting on a signature on some documents and the paper was just sitting on someone’s desk.  We figured that Valentino was helping get the signature.

All of a sudden Valentino comes running out of the building and hops in the car and starts looking all around him at the booths on the side of the road.  He pulls a U-turn in front of one and runs inside.  He comes out a few minutes later carrying this big orchid in a pot.  He puts it in the car and drives back to the building and runs inside with the orchid.  About five minutes later, Valentino comes strolling out of the building with the signed papers.  I guess he knows how to get stuff done around here!!!  It was hilarious!

So after the orchid adventure we arrived to the orphanage much later than what we usually do.  Scott and I made our way to the music room where we usually play with Jackson at.  We could hear someone playing the piano and when we walked in, we saw that Jackson’s groupa was putting on a presentation for the other nurses and a few visitors!  Jackson ran up to us as soon as he finished his song and we hugged him and led him back to the other kids.  He finished up the presentation, but kept an eye on us the whole time!  Scott and I never imagined that we’d get to experience this part of parenthood so quickly, the part where you are standing with a video camera capturing the little one’s performance!

Here are Jackson’s performances.  He’s the little one in the middle with the jean overalls and striped shirt:

Just Another Day in Paradise

Yep, today was just another day in paradise, haha, just kidding!  Maybe if the weather was warmer and there was a beach nearby…

Today we played outside for our entire visit.  It was only about an hour because it takes the nurses like 10 minutes to change him into his outdoor clothes and to put his jacket and scarf and hat on him.  There were lots of little kids playing outside today and he likes to run up to them to see what they are doing.  The nurses were walking the other kids in circles around the building.  Every time they came by we would wave and say hi.  One precious little girl would stay and wave a long time!  A few of the kids called me Mama today!  It melts your heart!

Jackson was being cute in his own little way today.  Again he was imitating EVERYTHING that we did, which included throwing and kicking leaves and sitting down on a bench.  There was an older lady outside with the other kids today and he ran right up to her and she picked him up.  She started bouncing him on her leg and singing a song.  He loved it.  Then she asked him, “Where’s Mama?” and he turned around and pointed at me and yelled “Mama!”  Yay!  He did the same thing with Scott when she asked where Papa was.  He’s catching on so fast!  When the nurse took him away today he started crying and waved goodbye to us all the way into the building. Here are some pictures from the day.

A Tribute to our driver, Valentino

I’m dedicating this post to our crazy driver, Valentino because without his driving we wouldn’t be able to see our little buddy each day!  However every time I get in Valentino’s silver BMW, I get carsick.  I’m afraid one of these times I’m not going to be able to hold back!  Let me explain…

Scott always said that he wanted to go to King’s Island or Cedar Point with me before we became parents, and unfortunately it never worked out before we left the states.  But now I feel like we’ve fulfilled that activity together because the best way to explain Valentino’s driving is that it feels like a roller coaster ride, with the same amount of speed, quick turns, and G forces.  And his BMW can handle it!

In Kharkiv, there are trolley tracks in the middle of the road, and no marked lanes.  The rules of the road are that you can pass on the left side or drive on the trolley tracks as long as you get back on the right side before you hit another car  or trolley head on.  I try to not look out the front window for fear of what I might see coming at us!

When you pass on the left in rush hour like traffic, it means that you have to drive very fast to pass the cars and cut cars off in order to get back into traffic.  Everybody usually stops and lets him in because they think he is important because of his car, if they don’t get over, then he usually sounds his siren.  Yes- the BMW is equipped with a siren!

Valentino does not like to sit at red lights.  Therefore if he sees one about to change and cars slowing down, he will pass the cars who are stopped at the red light and drive around them and then proceed through the yellow light.  If he needs to turn left at a light that is changing, he will go ahead and create an additional left turning lane and gun it when he turns left so that he can get ahead of the other cars turning left.

The last point about Valentino’s driving just blows my mind and I’d rather not know the details.  In Ukraine, it is common that the police will pull you over and demand you to pay them money for them to let you go.  We’ve heard about it happening to other American families and it did in fact happen to the family we share Valentino with.  They were on their 90 mile afternoon drive to the orphanage of their older daughter and got pulled over.  They told us that when the cop came up to the window, Valentino flashed a “special card” and the officer immediately started apologizing and backing away from the car!?!  What in the world!?!

Here’s a few notes about our visit with Jackson today- he is doing lots of imitating!  On our first round of ring around the rosy, he decided that today was the day that he would start falling down with us!  We didn’t have to prompt him or anything.  Also, we sing Itsy Bitsy Spider with him and do the motions.  He usually just stares at us but today a few times he started to do the spider motion with his little fingers.  Scott usually chases Jackson around the room with his arms out and today Jackson turned the table and started chasing Scott with his arms out.  He repeated a lot of the sounds that we were making like “Up” and “Mama” and “Ruff ruff ruff”.  No pictures today because they basically look like all of the previous days. But if you missed the video from yesterday, be sure to check it out! We are anxiously awaiting court in a few days. Please pray it goes smoothly and that the questions we get asked our not too tough to handle.

The plumbing works.

Today was another visit with Jackson.  It’s Saturday, so there is a different staff that works at the orphanage.  I think that they are more like babysitters on the weekend.  We gave Jackson crackers like usual, and we gave him a jar of baby food and a spoon.  He went to town on the baby food!  He can feed himself, which is typical of orphans.  They are usually given a plate of food and have a short amount of time to eat it before it is taken away, so learning to use utensils is a skill of survival.  He is so cute though when he uses a spoon because he concentrates so hard on it!

There weren’t any nurses in the room with us, but there was this VERY old lady who takes care of the orphanage on the weekend.  She wasn’t very nice and she kept saying “American”.  She also yelled at Jackson and really got in his face.  He wouldn’t make eye contact with her!  We talked to the other American family who we ride to the orphanage with and they said they had the same experience when she came into the room and the dad actually told her to go away!  Don’t worry little buddy, we’ll break you free from that place soon!

After that, we soon learned that the weekend staff did not put a diaper on him like the regular staff did during the week.  Indeed the plumbing does work!  Jackson is “forced potty trained”.  At certain times of the day, all the kids have to sit down on buckets and once they go to the bathroom, they are allowed to get up and go onto the next activity.  Kind of like house breaking a dog, in a sad sort of way.  So, he is not able to communicate with us when he needs to go sit on the bucket and he got a little wet today.  Once the old lady saw this, she quickly whisked him away and muttered something about “American”.  And that ended our visitation.

Here’s an adorable video of Jackson’s laugh:

Day Three with Jackson!

Today Scott and I woke up to sirens going off in the city this morning and lots of rain!  We never did figure out why there were sirens, but we looked out the window and people were scurrying around like always.  No one seemed alarmed, so we went on with business as usual.

Today at the orphanage there was a different nurse in the room with us when we played with Jackson.  There’s always someone in the room and sometimes it feels intimidating, like they are watching and judging us. This nurse was a lot more interactive with Jackson.  She sat in a chair and waved her finger at him a couple of times.

The new nurse also showed us where they hid more toys in the room.  She got some blocks out and we were very excited to see Jackson use his motor skills to build stacks of blocks.  He got them up to five blocks high and then would hit them down.  Usually orphans are developmentally delayed, so to see him building towers was an awesome thing!

We also solved the cracker-throwing problem.  I realized yesterday that Jackson is not used to having adults come down to his level and to hand him pieces of food.  So today we brought a tupperware container of crackers and pushed one of his little chairs up to a bigger chair to make a table.  I set the crackers on the lid of the tupperware container to make a plate and he gobbled them right up.  Didn’t throw any of them!  I did get in trouble with the nurse though because I was breaking the crackers into pieces and she wanted him to bite them with his teeth.  Oops!

We also experimented with drinking from a cup today.  I packed a sippy cup that has two handles on the lid.  The nurse indicated that we should only give him a little bit of water.  The kids are on a strict potty schedule, so the nurses don’t like to give them something that will get them off schedule.  I poured the water into the cup and gave it to him with the lid off.  He drank it perfectly and didn’t spill a drop.  Such a big boy!

Other activities that we did were to read the Sesame Street book again, play with the car, blew bubbles, and hit a balloon back and forth.  We found out that he loves “ring around the rosy” but doesn’t get the whole falling down part at the end.  We’ve been trying to identify ourselves as Mama and Papa, so we stood on different ends of the rug and he ran back and forth between the two of us and we would point and say Mama or Papa.  At the end of our visit the nurse told Jackson to pick up the toys, and he did it!

The orphanage director came in again and observed our activity with Jackson.  She is a heavy set woman with short curly black hair and glasses.  And she wears bright pink lipstick.  She’s almost like a Grandma, or Great Aunt figure to the children.  She just shook her head and smiled, so hopefully we are doing okay. 🙂 The other family that we ride to the orphanage with said that this is one of the nicest orphanages that they’ve seen in their Ukraine adoption journey.

Here’s a couple of videos from today.  Today he was wearing the blue Painter Bear shirt again.