Return to Ukraine July 2016

Seven years later we return to Ukraine. A lot of you are asking how was our trip to was absolutely wonderful.  I will admit I was nervous going back.  Meeting Anya and Tatiana's parents for the first time....getting to know their brother and his family.  I did not know what to expect. Also I was not looking forward to going to Ukraine itself. Last time we were there I saw no people with disabilities any where.  No accommodations for them at all. I quickly learned that people with disabilities are considered “imperfect” and best not seen. (check out documentary on YouTube: Forgotten Children of Ukraine)  Saddened me deeply. People were not happy there, unfriendly, sad faces.  I was told not to trust the police.  I noticed that people did not really obey any of the laws. Well, let me tell you....There is a new Ukraine! A better Ukraine. When we returned we saw a much larger and better airport than before. The train station was bigger and newer.  We needed to contact a friend that was picking us up and a gentleman offered his phone to us. Wow!  I felt pride from the people of Ukraine!  That they truly love their wonderful country. When we arrived in Poltava there were a lot more people than before.  Most of the people from the East had come to live in Poltava to seek refuge from the fighting that is still going on against Russia.  Poltava seemed so alive!  There were new restaurants and stores! They had modern trains. Most of the people, like the wonderful hotel Palazzo we stayed in were so gracious and kind.  The lady at the front desk complimented me on what wonderful daughters I had.  Made me feel so proud! As we walked the streets I noticed ramps on the side walk, ramps to the hotel, ramps in the hospital. All there for people in wheel chairs.  On the train we saw advertisements encouraging people to be kind and help those with disabilities.  Some places even had parking for the disabled.  Now granted, not all was perfect but it was so refreshing to see change happening.  Happy people! Proud people.

Back to the family....When we arrived we were greeted by Luda, Anya's best friend! They grew up together. Hugs and tears of joy happened!  I fell in love with Luda 7 years ago when I met her.  We wanted to bring her home but we could only bring two.  She has and will always have a special place in my heart.  She told me that she had two opportunities to be adopted but declined.  She says she knows God has a special plan for her in Ukraine.  She is studying to be a teacher.  She loves loves children and it was very noticeable the love she has for animals too!  She helped us get a taxi and settle into our hotel.  

Next morning we were off to the outskirts of town to meet Tamila and Sergey (brother is Sergey too), the girls mom and dad and Babushka(Grandma). Tamila hugged me so tight and kissed me on the cheek telling me Spa-ce-ba which is Thank you!  We both cried.  Then Babushka, the same thing!  We were treated to a feast from their garden and chicken.  It was so much fun.  Lots of laughter and tons of smiles.  

The next day their brother was coming home from Russia so we went to his apartment. 
We were greeted by his beautiful wife, Ira and son, Misha.  She explained that he left on a bicycle to visit Babushka and tell her happy birthday.  He had a horrible accident and was taken to the hospital.  He broke his collar bone.  He arrived home by taxi later that evening all bandaged up.  He was so happy to see the girls and they him.  He smiled through the pain.  
The next evening we all went to the girls' favorite restaurant with parents, brother and his family, their Uncle and his wife.  Brother in tons of pain but he smiled and just wanted to be with them. The next day was spent in the hospital while he had surgery.  That was an experience in itself. Check out the pics of the hospital on Facebook.  Thankful for our hospitals. Over the rest of the week we spent time with him and his family and his in-laws.  I don't think I have seen the girls laugh this much in a long time. We visited parents one more time at their home and were treated to another feast.  Man, Ukrainians are the best hosts!! Tatiana actually said she did not want to eat borsht (Ukrainian soup) for a long time!! LOL!  One day we visited the orphanage where the girls grew up.  We met a couple of teachers and the orphange director, Olivetina. They were so happy to see the girls!  We got to tour the under five year old orphanage were the girls were as well.  We saw a room of 20+ little ones taking a nap.  I wanted to scoop them up and take them home with me. 

The morning we were leaving, parents, uncle, brother and sis in law all met us at the train station an hour before we were to leave. I hugged momma tightly and told her I loved her.  I was very emotional but tried to hide it.  She was as well. We were taking the express train to Kiev.  It pulls up, literally opens the doors for 2 min and then starts closing the doors. Oh my gosh! Uncle jumps on the train and starts pulling our luggage on. (stupid Americans need to learn how to pack light!) Everyone was on but me.  I was struggling with my bag. My hands were in but not my feet. The door shuts on my arms.  I yanked it open and jumped on.  The uncle is still on, he had to yank the door open to jump off.  It was crazy.  As soon as he jumped the train took off. We were in the entry way and Anya began to sob and so did I.  No last hugs or kisses.  Crazy frenzy!  The girls seats were a couple of rows up from us.  I went to check on them and neither wanted me to console them.  Very painful for them to leave even though they were missing home.  Very painful for me to see them upset. I love them so much! 

Once we arrive in Kiev, we stored our luggage at the train station.  That was an experience. See photos on Facebook  Then we needed to get to the square to meet up with our friend Linda. We thought about taking the subway but so crowded and we decided we didn't want to endure that. So we started looking for a taxi.  So proud of the girls!  We went from taxi to taxi until they were satisfied of the price!  We were quoted up to 200 Ukraine dollars (about $8 USD) for all four of us! The girls got a taxi for 80 Ukraine dollars (about $3.50 USD) Made Mark proud!  We met up with Linda and walked around, shopped for souvenirs and then went back to the train station to get our luggage.  There we met our friend Katia.  Katia was a very important person during our journey of bringing the girls home. She translated many phone calls for us. She and her husband took us to their beautiful new home in the country. We spent the night and they took us to the airport shuttle the next morning. That began a ridiculous journey home.  We arrived at the airport around 8:40. Flight to leave at 9:50! yikes! We had to go through security at the door, long line. Then get in another long line to get our boarding passes by this time it is 9:15. Once we got boarding passes we had to go thru another line of security once again to get to the gate.  We met up with some rude people trying to cut the line.  I would not let them pass but they pushed through and got in trouble by the security agent and had to go back. LOL! It was 9:30 before we get to the gate and they were already boarding!  Not done yet with the craziness....we arrive in Paris, France. Thinking we had an hour to get to the next flight....the restrooms were right when we get off the plane.  So girls go and then when they were done Mark decides he needs to! Ugh! Then we find out we have to go thru another security check to get to our gate.  Waited in a line for that. Mark keeps beeping.  They wouldn't let him through! He has taken everything out of pockets and his belt and shoes off.  He keeps beeping. Finally he removes his wallet and is free to go.  He left his wallet behind but didn't realize it until about an hour into the flight!  We are running to catch the shuttle that has to take us across the airport to another terminal.  We look at the clock on the bus and we have 15 minutes before plane is to leave! Agh! We get off shuttle, run up an escalator, run through several perfume stores, run down three moving side walks to get to the gate.  They were on the last call for boarding.  I was about to die of an asthma attack.  Anya was last to board and they shut the door behind her!!! Not done yet!  We get to Detroit and have to go thru customs. We were told we have to get our luggage and recheck it after customs.  We are waiting and waiting and waiting for our luggage. Then we hear our name over loud speaker.  Lady tells us our luggage was routed through Atlanta and it will be at DFW when we land.  So we go thru customs and catch our next flight home.  No luggage when we get there.  They said it is to arrive at 8:30 the next morning.  Only one arrives and we were told next three would be at 1:30.  I go at 6:30 after work and no luggage.  He tells me it will be 10:30pm before they arrive.  He said they will be picked up at midnight for delivery.  He said they would deliver between 2-3AM!! They showed up the next afternoon! Wowwweee! Crazy getting home.  So they found Mark's wallet and want $100 to ship it.  It has or had $500 in it! Oh man! Most important though is we are home. Safe and sound. We miss Ukraine. We miss brother Sergey and his family! We miss Luda! We miss our friends!  It was a wonderful trip!

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