Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pictures of Andrei

After court we went to visit Andrei.  We thought we would call him Asher, but right now Andrei seems to fit him best.  He might like Asher later. We had a great visit.  

Andrei and mama reading a book and having a snack.

 We learned our lesson from the first visit, stickers go on paper or clothes from now on.

 Yum!! Chocolate time!

Andrei and Randell had some good father-son bonding.  He was not sure about going up in the air at first, but it did not take long before his arms were up, and he was asking for more.  Boys will always be boys in every country.  : )

Look at my cute little stinker.  : )

Day 12 – Court Day

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We had court at 11:00 AM this morning. It was in a small office with a judge, an inspector, our facilitator, 2 jurors, a secretary, and us. We only had a couple of questions. It was very informal and friendly, and it only took about 15-20 minutes. In Ukraine, they celebrate New Year in the way we celebrate Christmas. When we were leaving, the judge told us we were receiving a very special gift for New Year. She was so right! Today, there is one less orphan in the world and one more member was added to our family.

Andrei Asher Coffman is officially our son!

He may not understand fully what that means yet, but I hope he will come to understand how much we love him, and soon he will know that he is now a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin… There are no words to truly express how grateful we are that Andre has been saved from a life of solitude and abandonment. We are so thankful for your commitment to praying and supporting our adoption.

We are so thankful that God has chosen us for Andrei. What an honor to be entrusted with his little life. As we prayed for our daughter from the time she was in my womb, we also pray that someday Andrei will come to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and that his life would be a testimony of the wonderful things that God can do.

This process has not been easy, and it is not over, but one thing has been made very clear to me…God is faithful! This has been a journey of God’s faithfulness in answering every prayer above what we thought would be possible. God has taken care of all of our needs beyond my expectations.

Please continue to pray for:
• our health and safety in the next 10 days of waiting here in Kherson
• getting Andrei’s birth certificate and passport quickly so that we can get Andrei
• safe travel back to Kiev and for Andrei to sleep
• medical appointment and getting visa quickly
• finding cheap flights back home
• safe travel back home with good weather and for Andrei to sleep during the long flight

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 11 – Playing with Other Kids

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today we shared the room with another family who is adopting. They are also from Texas, and they have brought their 5 year old son with them. We had a chance to see “Grady” interacting with him. Overall he did really well sharing and playing with him. "Grady" did try to swat at him once, so we corrected him, and he gave him a hug. The rest of the time they were fine. “Grady” and Madison will have a lot of fun playing together. Here they are playing with playdough.

"Grady" looked at him with admiration.  He was taking everything in.  

We bring him a snack each day.  Today, we brought a banana, and he shared it with the other little boy who is being adopted.  He looks like a little monkey when he eats a banana. He tends to shove it all in his mouth. : )

I love this pictures.  Look at those gorgeous blue eyes!

If all goes well, and we receive the needed paperwork this afternoon, we will have court tomorrow at 11:00.  Please pray that the paperwork gets here on time, and that court goes well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 10 - Getting to Know "Grady"

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We had 2 great visits today.  Things we have learned about "Grady" so far.

• He is a picky eater. He only likes some of the juices that we have brought. He likes bananas and mandarin oranges. His caregivers say he will not eat soup or meat, which are part of their daily meals. He likes bread and chocolates. : ) Today I sat with him during lunch time, and he only took a few bites of his sweet potato puree, had one spoonful of soup, and did not touch the rice or meat.
• He is potty trained and will let us know when he needs to go. He uses a little potty. He balances very well and is able to get in and out of it.
• His arms are so strong. He lifted himself up to a couch today in a blink of an eye. I could not believe how fast he did that.
• He knows how to brush his teeth and wash his hand using a sink. He will stand and balance on his little twisted feet. One foot he will place flat and the other is so twisted that he put the weight on the ankle. The shoes we bought are size 5 and they are huge on him. His feet are so tiny.
• He can open and close ziplock bags, can drink out of a water bottle, and can peal a mandarin orange.

• He knows how to take turns and does pretty well with sharing food.
• He wants to do everything himself and will get frustrated when he can’t do it. We are working on asking for help and accepting it once given.
• He will repeat everything we say. English will probably come “easy” to him.
• He is very curious and loves to press buttons. We tried watching a cartoon on our DVD player. He was more interested in pressing buttons then on the cartoons. We will need to practice how to watch without touching the buttons. : )
• He is stubborn and wants to have his way. That will be one of our greatest challenges with the language limitations.
• He loves music. He has a little drum that he enjoys keeping rhythm.

• He can do puzzles that are age appropriate.
• He is eager to learn. Today, Randell wrote his name on a little board and showed it to him. He erased it and tried to replicate it. He got the A and some of the other letters although not the exact shape. He also tried to copy the bear I drew. He is so smart.

We gave him lots of hugs and kisses today and had some good bonding time.  He is soooo cute!

It was cold today, and it rained most of the day and snowed for a little bit.

Please continue to pray for Randell's back.  It has been hurting all day.  Please pray for me.  I have a cold, and the cold weather is not helping!  YUCK!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 9 - Little Bunny

Monday, December 27, 2010

We had a good time with "Grady" today.  Part of our visit was his therapy time, and we didn't get to spend as much alone time with him.  We did get one really cute picture today. I am not sure why, but he had bunny ears when we picked him up. So cute!

Market Place

I love the open market.  It has everything you need at low cost.  It is also very interesting to see everything they have.

The pictures below are of the inside section of the market where the meat, eggs, cheese, pastries, fruits and vegetable are sold.  The outside market has little buildings or tents where clothes, shoes, hardware, and household items are sold.  We bought "Grady" some shoes today.  We have looked for souvenirs but have not found any yet.   

 We bought some homemade cheese.  Each one had a different taste depending on how much salt is added.  They have samples of each one.  Delicious!

 I think the circus is in town, because there was a bear with his trainer and a clown selling tickets.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pictures Around Town

These are a few pictures of the center of town.  There are several monuments and lots of shopping everywhere.  The main street takes you from the train station to a river.  We are planning to walk there tomorrow. 

 The store below with the orange sign is where we buy our groceries. It's a 5-10 minute walk, and we bring our own bags, because they charge you for them. It has everything you could find in the US plus some interesting products.

This is the very center of town.

This is a school for kindergarten.

Pictures of our apartment

The apartment has been remodeled. Everything is purple, and there is plexiglass on the celing. I think it looks pretty fancy! 
We do not have an elevator, but we are only on the 3rd floor. It is a pretty good apartment, but the internet is slow, and we do not have a washing machine. I have been washing all our clothes by hand. : (

This is our sitting shower tub.  We tried standing to take a shower and soaked the entire room, so now we use the seat on the tub.  It is so weir "taking a shower."

This is our fancy entry way.  We love having a place to hang out coats.

 This is the entry to our building.  According to our facilitator the graffity does not indicate a bad section of town. Randell looks like a "home boy" next to the graffity.  : )
 This is the back alley.  We have to take our trash all the way to the end of the alley where they have large trash cans.

This is the park behind our apartment.  We have seen some kids play there and people from the surrounding apartments hang their clothes on the lines connected to the trees.

This is our view from the balcony.  There is a huge park accross the street.  I am sure it is beautiful in the summer and spring when everything has bloomed.

Day 8 - Fun Day!

December 26, 2010

We had a fun day with “Grady” today. Once again it was just him and us. We are becoming more comfortable with each other and getting to know what the other needs or wants. There were no power struggles today, but we also limited the amount of things we took. He also seemed to be feeling better, but his nose was still stuffy. “Grady” really connected with Randell today. Since there is little interaction with men at the orphanage, it has taken him a little longer to allow Randell to hold him and carry him. Today they laughed together a lot, and Randell was able to carry him back to his groupa. It was a really good day.

He is so cute when he is concentrating on something. I love how he puckers his lips when he is thinking!
One of the books had a mirror, and he reacted so funny when he saw himself. I am not sure if it was his first time, but he looked at himself for awhile and kept bringing the book closer and closer to his face. So funny!

He sat on my lap for a few minutes today, and Randell was able to read him several books. They had a good time together laughing and being silly.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 7 - Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010

We had the perfect gift today, “Grady” all to ourselves.  The only thing that would have made it better would have been having Madison here also.  We took him a stocking with some little toys and clothes.  As all typical 3 year old react to being given clothes, he was not too interested in them.  He then go to the candy, which he stuck in his mouth whole.  Then came some small little box cars.  Dad tried to teach him how to roll them back and forth, but it was not his “cup of tea.”  He likes toys that make sounds, light up, and spin.  Then he opened the slinky.  He loved it!  Last but not least was a little light up spinner that hung around his neck.  Loved it! 

We had a lot of fun playing with building toys and playdough.  It’s amazing how quickly he is taking everything in.  It only takes showing him how to do something once, and he does it. 

Today we got to experience his stubborn side twice for a minute or two.  The first time, he had finished playing with building toys and wanted to move to the next thing (slinky).  His speech therapist has trained him to clean up before playing something else, and we want to maintain that practice.  So we asked him to clean, and he “cried” for the slinky.  We pointed to the toys, and showed him what we wanted him to do.  He pouted, but then began cleaning.  When he closed the bag, we praised him, and he got the slinky.  The second time, he dumped the playdough toys on the floor because he was frustrated.  He became frustrated with me, because I was trying to help him with the playdough when he was struggling with doing something.  He will not accept help at all and want to do it all himself.  Independence is good, but part of bonding process with parents is the understanding that they are there to be a support system and accepting help is part of that support.  On the other hand, I need to let him ask for help on his own.  I’ve got a little of a stubborn side myself.  : )  He dumped the playdough toys on the floor, so I said no, sat him on the floor and told him to pick them up while pointing at what to do.  He pouted for a second, and then began picking up the toys.  We praised him and off he went to the next toy happy as ever.  I had forgotten what it was like to have a strong willed little one.  Good thing we had a lot of practice with our first little one, because it all came back like riding a bike.  : )  He is a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for tomorrow.

We did not take pictures today, because with all the Christmas presents and toys, there was already a lot of stimulus today.  Tomorrow, we need to tone it down.  Also, I am not sure he was feeling too well.  He seems to have a cold.  On a side note, he knows how to blow his nose. 

We also had a chance to walk around town today, and went to a toy store and the open market.  The region we are in is very different from the capital.  I'll share some pictures and sights and sounds of the region on another post.  The open market is a mix between a farmers market with fresh products and a flea market with odds and ends.  We will be going to a restaurant tonight with another American family from Texas who is adopting a child from “Grady’s” groupa.  What are the chances of that!  Our facilitator is so sweet.  She has arranged everything so that we could celebrate Christmas tonight by going out to eat a nice meal. 

Madison we miss you and wish we had been there to see you open the gifts that Santa brought you.  Hopefully we will be able to Skype later and talk with you a little more.  We LOVE you!

Merry Christmas to All!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 6 – Time with Grady & Pictures

Friday, December 24, 2010

We saw "Grady" today. He is amazing!  I wanted to add more pictures, but our internet if very slow here, and they will not load.  We'll try to find a place with Wi-Fi tomorrow.

He is absolutely beautiful! His caregivers said that he slept with the bear we gave him. He has not separated himself from it. Tomorrow we are taking a blanket and some clothes to him besides the usual toys to play with.  We are trying to alternate the toys we have so that he does not become too bored with them.  He loves music and gravitates to anything in the room that makes noice.  : )

We took him some stickers today, and he placed them all over his arms. So cute! Unfortunately they stuck really well, and when we took them off it hurt and left little red marks. Poor baby! He did let me take them off, and I kissed his little arm.

He is a typical 3 year old, always on the move. He is very independent and can get from one place to the other easily. He is also able to sit in a little chair by himself, pull his pants on and off, and take his shoes off and put them back on. He has a thing for shoes, just like mama. : ) I was measuring his arms and legs to determine his size, and he gave me his shoe to make sure I measured it.

I love this picture!  He is the happiest little thing! I am amazed at his determination and how advanced he is. I am so thankful for his caregivers and therapist. They truly have done an amazing job with him. Today we took some playdough.  He had no difficulties molding, pushing, pulling, cutting with tools, and picking up the smallest little pieces. When he finished, he placed even the smallest piece of playdough back and cleaned the table with a sponge. He also can make patterns, follow dirrections, and match colors and shapes. As we read books, he was able to repeat key words.  He is so eager to learn.  The speech therapist is so patient with him, and has done an amazing job challenging him and helping him become independent. She has a son with CP and is wonderful with the kids.

It looks like we are adding one more to a long family line of strong willed and determined Coffmans and Leons. "Grady" likes to do everything himself. He reminds me a lot of our daughter…strong willed, determined to learn, and eager to please when boundaries are presented. I miss her!!!! She and “Grady” will make a fun pair.

Our facilitator is working hard to get all of our paperwork in to the court system.  She spoke with the judge today.  If we receive the interpol paperwork back in time, we should be able to have court by Dec. 30th!  Please pray for a speedy interpol process.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 5 - Arrived in Region and Met "Grady"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We arrived in region at 10:00 am. I could not believe we were in the same region as our son and only a day away from meeting him!!!

Little did I know we would actually be meeting him is about an hour. Our facilitator took us straight to the social worker’s office. There his file was pulled and we found out more info about his family. I would rather not share that information at this time. The social worker was very sweet and you could tell that she really cares for the kids in the orphanage. We showed her our photo album, and then we went to the orphanage.

My heart was pounding, but I was trying to appear cool. When we arrived at the orphanage, they were doing some renovations through the building. It is going t look great when it is all done. They have a great area to walk around, a play area, and a garden. Little ones were walking with their caregiver. One of the little girls turned to us as if to say, “Are you here for me?” We went into the first building and met the director. She was beautiful both inside and out. She really cares for the kids under her care. We shared our album and talked about our family and how happy we would be to have “Grady” be part of it. She shared “Grady’s” medical condition which arthrogryposis of the lower limbs and it is affecting his knees and feet (they are not clubbed but turned in at the ankle joint). They were planning on sending him to have surgery in December, but decided to wait when they found out we were coming. I am so glad that they did.

Our facilitator told us that “Grady” is one of the favorites and that he is actually one of the older kids in the baby house. He should have been transferred at 3 years old from the baby house, but the director postponed the transfer. She sees in him a great desire to thrive. When he first came to the orphanage at 2 months, they were not sure if he would speak or be mobile. He is a very bright little boy and is working hard to be mobile. His upper body is very strong. He is crawling and pulling himself up.

THEN…”Grady” was brought in. We could not believe it. There he was…our son! He is beautiful…from his cute little lips, blond hair, gorgeous blue eyes, big hands (like daddy) with calices from crawling, to his sweet little feet. He was told that we were his mama and papa. I think he was very surprised. We gave him a teddy bear and then showed him our photo album. He sat on my lap and looked at our pictures and said mama and papa. I did not want to cry, but I could not help it. I am tearing up now thinking about that moment. Then Randell started tearing up. They told him that we were crying because we were so happy. We have looked at a little picture for months, hoping and dreaming of what this moment would be like. It excided every expectation. At that moment the world faded away, and all the paperwork, all the waiting, the long exhausting hours of travel, and the long days ahead no longer mattered. It is all worth it! He is God’s precious gift and we are so blessed that he will be part of our family.

We then played in a small room where the psychologist shared that he knows his colors, shapes, can draw, match items, can count 1-5, and is potty trained. It did not take him long to warm up to us. He moves around so fast and he is very independent. He can remove his clothes by himself. He loves music and any toy that makes sounds. His caregivers have done an amazing job caring for him and providing him with every opportunity to thrive. He is a happy little boy who is very loving and also has a strong will to thrive. The therapist believes that with therapy and surgery he will be able to walk. She says that he has the developed the schema in his brain of how to walk. This is why he is pulling himself up and trying so hard to “walk”.

When we were ready to leave, he said goodbye to all his caregivers and other friends (he blew kisses at them) and said he was going with mama and papa. He was sad to find that he was not leaving today, but we reassured him we would be back. He gave us each a kiss. We have already began the in country paperwork.  We hope that court can be before the end of the year.  Please pray that everything can be completed quickly.  We can’t wait to get him home!

Sorry no pictures today.  In the excitement, I left my camera in my bag.  I will post pictures in the next few days of "Grady", our apartment, and the region which is very different from the capital.  I am going to bed...exhaustion has set in.

Train Experience

When you hear pack light…take it seriously. We had to drag 2 full suitcases, a backpack, a large purse, 2 carry-on bags, and a bag of water and food down 2 flights of stairs at the apartment because the elevator does not go up to the 5th floor anymore. At the train station, we also had to drag them across a very bumpy parking lot, down a set of stairs and up to the train car. Thank goodness for Niko and the young man who was walking by and helped Randell down the stairs. His back is stiff but holding up.

We are riding first class. It is a compartment (box) with two “beds”. I would highly recommend paying the $50 per ticket. The rocking motion of the train helps in falling asleep, or it might be the Motrin PM I took. : ) If you need to take a train, wear a t-shirt or tank top under your clothes. It is hot in the compartments! Also, take some water and snacks. They will serve tea and coffee in the morning, but did I mention how HOT it is in there. Imagine being placed in a sauna for 12 hours. We were down to our skivvies at night, and we kept thinking that if we passed out from heat exhaustion, they would find a couple of half naked Americans. That would be sight.

The bathrooms on the train are an interesting experience. It is difficult to use them while the train is rocking and rolling. The bathrooms are locked when you start slowing down for the next station. There are lots of stops, so you have to time your bladder just right. Randell considered using one of our empty water bottles during a 30+ minutes stop. : ) You might be wondering, why would they close the bathrooms? It would be easier to use when the train was stopped. It is all about gravity, air flow, and most of all keeping the station areas clean. When you “flush” it all is left on the tracks, so on a side note, do not walk on the railroad tracks.

Or facilitator is riding in another car. I am so glad she is with us on this trip.

Sights and Sounds Around the Capital

While in the capital, we did not have much of a chance to do more touristy things like visit the museum, opera, or some of the beautiful churches and statues around town, but we have enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of the city. Here is a small glimpse.

It has been unusually warm the last couple of days. It is cold but not unbearable. We have layered on top, but have not needed our thermal undies. It is very walk inside buildings. We have opened windows in the apartment to cool it down. If you are an RR family traveling soon, the packing lists say to bring warm clothing for sleeping, I would also recommend something light in case your apartment is as warm as ours.

People dress very fashionably. There are lots of dark colors, boots of every size, style, and height, and furs. Women always seem to be made up. Layers, scarves, and a big heavy coat is the norm.

This is a large supermarket near our apartment in the capital. It is like a Sam’s club. It is located at the corner street from our apartment, and it was the landmark that helped us find our way home the other day. The first floor is food, the second floor had Christmas decorations, and the third floor has anything and everything you could possibly need including toys.  It is set up like our super markets. I highly recommend the breads and pastries. They are delicious. An interesting side note, all the cashiers sit down and they place your change on the little tray on the counter.  Also, milk is delicious, 2% tastes like whole milk.

There are several malls in the center of the capital.  We went to one that had 5 stories of shopping and had a coi pond on the bottom floor. It was very clean and the stores look more like boutiques with a minimalist approach to how items are displayed. I wonder if there is a Walmart or Target type of stores? We have not seen one yet, but there is a large underground mall and the prices there were lower than the fancy mall. There is lots of shopping around the center of the capital, but we are enjoying all the “window watching”. Our $ is going to something more valuable than anything the capital has to offer.

Traffic and Parking
Traffic laws, what traffic laws!? Your eyes do not deceive you, people do drive and park on the sidewalks. : ) Walking around town is like a game of Frogger. Interesting enough, they are not angry drivers. They push their way through without much honking, screaming, or making certain hand gestures that are common in the US. : )

The buses are small and packed, but they run regularly and easy to access if you know where you are going.  Since we already got lost walking, taking a bus is not an option.  If you know Randell and I, you would know that we get lost regularly.  They also have electric trolleys which are really more like 2 large buses that are connected and run on electricity similar to those in the US.

This is a coffee truck. Do not be deceived, although it looks like there is a line in front of the truck, it is actually a blob of people. There is no such thing as forming a line. You push your way in and ask for what you need. For those of you who know me, I was very excited to see that… they sell expresso everywhere!  

 This is the view down our street. There is lots of shopping and old architecture in the capital. Walking is part of life here. Drinking is allowed on the streets, and alcohol is sold in kiosks or a type of stand that sell magazines, cigarettes, and odds and ends. Smoking is the national sport. : ) Often you can see people in clusters hanging out on the corners smoking. Smoke usually triggers my asthma, but after the first couple of days, I have gotten use to it.

Some building and shopping areas have Christmas decorations. I have see some of the most beautifully decorated Christmas trees in the store fronts.