6:35am. Phone vibrates. “Hello.” Oksana replies, “hey!” “Hi!” “Ready for adventure?” she asks. “Always!” I reply.
We headed out to meet our facilitators and the driver, to take us to Lyuda’s region. As we drove out of Kyiv, Oksana said, “say goodbye to the stores! You won’t be seeing them!” So, we drove out of Kyiv, on Ukrainian highways, ridden with potholes, bumping all the way.
At some point as we left the city limits, I realized I was not, in fact, ready for an adventure. I wanted to yell, “STOP, TURN AROUND AND TAKE ME TO THE AIRPORT.” It wasn’t about Lyuda or the adoption– but sitting down in the car, watching the world whiz by in a literal fog (heavy fog outside and foggy van windows), I realized that I’d left my comfort zone back in Kyiv. I share this because I think anyone going through the adoption process has moments where they want to slam on the brakes and do a u-turn. Moments of doubt are normal.
I felt better by the time we stopped halfway for a break, in a small city, which is both Oksana’s hometown and where N, our summer host child, lives.
I fell asleep in the van and every time I woke up, the roads seem to be getting more snowpacked and smaller. The kind of roads we take at home to go to a remote campground or park, not the kind we drive on for 100 miles. Finally, we reached the town where we’ll be staying and we picked up the regional social worker.
We drove another 30+ minutes to the school/internat (orphanage). I saw a few boys I “knew” from hosting listings. The children were between classes and clearly fascinated that we were there! This first visit wasn’t at all like with Reed and Lena, or with Gus. We weren’t given any additional information on Lyuda. Instead, they simply checked our papers and called her in. She gave us both big hugs.
We sat around awkwardly for a few minutes, chatting, before I asked Aaron to go get the cards from the van. I let Lyuda pick which game, Uno or Skipbo and the social worker joined us too! I was glad she played with us, instead of just observing. Meanwhile, one of our facilitators helped her with the rules and the other and the orphanage psychologist observed us (a little bit awkward).
We only stayed for one game of Skipbo. Our facilitator need to get back to the town where we are staying to complete some documents. We said, “see you tomorrow” and headed out.
We spent the rest of our evening in our hotel room. I’ve worked. We’ve watched Doctor Who. We got room service (because the heat isn’t on in the hotel restaurant– we may be the only guests right now), which was a whopping $10 (for two bottles of water, and 4 dishes + a tip).
Tomorrow, we will visit Lyuda again in the afternoon, and we will have some paperwork. We need to make a decision about how long we’ll stay here in this small town. I believe we could leave tomorrow if we wanted, but we can stay as long as 6 days. We are leaning towards staying the full time.
Hopefully, we’ll have a longer visit with more photos tomorrow.