How was the train ride from Kyiv to where you are now?
It was not bad, but very long– 15 hours. We had first class tickets, because that is all Nikolei could get for us. The train left at 7:40. We slept for awhile, about 9:30 until about 5am for me. I was very concerned that we’d get off at the wrong place, which really should not have been a concern, because Sasha hopped on and got us. The bathrooms really are as disgusting as everyone says, though. Everything in them is wet. Bring hand sanitizer and wipes.
What is your flat like in this city?
It is huge! We pay about $45USD/day. We have internet (obviously) and cable TV, which gets channels in many different languages. The English channels, either 1 or 2 of them, are not so good.
This is our kitchen, of course. Refrig, Stove, Microwave, Sink, no oven.
This is the washing machine in the bathroom, very small and no dryer. This thing shakes so hard it will knock off whatever is on top of it. And in this case, it disconnected a bit from the waterline and leaked a bit.
This is the bedroom, very big. The bed is futon-like and not super comfortable.
Do you get any sense of the general politics there?
No. Not really. There is a very big statute of Lenin, and then down a few blocks, there is a very big statue of Artoma, a revolution leader (don’t ask me more about him!).
What are you doing about language? Will you have them only speak English, or will you try to continue Ukrainian (or Russian)? Do they speak Russian as well as Ukrainian?
They’ll speak all English. In this region, they only speak Russian. As I understand it, it is best for an adopted child to lose their first language and learn exclusively their parents’ language to bond with their parents. If they want to relearn Russian or learn Ukrainian when they’re older, we’d be happy to help them pursue that.
Are you taking a cab back/forth to the orphanage?
We have a driver. Same guy, every day. He waits at the orphanage during our visit. His name is Oleg and he is a great guy, so nice and tries to speak English to us. A taxi costs about $12.50 per visit. A driver costs about $22.50 + tip per visit. We tried a taxi the first day and he had to stop twice and ask for directions. Our taxi on the way home smelled horrible and I was about ready to vomit. Of course, most taxi drivers don’t speak English and don’t know we don’t speak Russian. I didn’t think I could deal with the surprise of a new taxi driver each day. We decided to hire a driver. Now, we share our driver with Olivia’s family, which cuts the cost down a lot. I am very happy with our driver and he will stop wherever we ask for an additional cost, which is great for getting things like groceries.