I didn't get a chance to answer everyone's questions while we were in Ukraine, so I will try to get to some of the questions left in our comments section. Please email me or leave comments here with anything else I can answer for those who are interested in knowing more about our adoption process or experience with Alina.
Q. I tried to follow your time line you have listed and wanted to ask you, did you only have to make one trip to Ukraine for Alina? If so, wow...how did you guys pull that off?
Q. Please give me your secret.... things have gone so well for you hope I have the same luck. Will you have to wait the 10 days?
Q. Are you kidding?!?!? That was the fastest court ever! And the 10 day wait will be waived?!?!? Is Marina your facilitator?
A. Since there have been many questions about our quick timeline, I'll try to address several issues at once.
I am happy to answer questions about our adoption process. Each family's experience is different. Even families traveling to the same orphanage can have wildly different experiences based on many factors (such as specific facilitators, judges, groupas, etc.). Even slight adjustments in adoption policies or requirements, or the political climate in a country can have large impact as well. Things that are out of our control, such as power outages, national holidays, a particular person being on vacation--or a VOLCANO (!)--can come into play in any adoption and make a difference on timeline and cost. Flexibility, creativity, determination and faith are all key.
The disclaimer: Please know that whatever I write about refers specifically to our experience which may or may not be similar to what others have experienced or will experience.
With that said...we were in a VERY FAST region and had a lot of good luck while in country.
We made one trip and were gone for exactly 18 days. We were in region for only 6 of those days. We had a few extra days in Kiev at the beginning (because our SDA appointment fell on a Thursday afternoon and we couldn't get the referral paperwork/travel in time to get started in region on Friday...so we had to wait until Monday to begin there). We were in Kiev an extra few days on the back end because of the volcano and difficulty getting a flight out.
Once we got to Alina's town, we did not have to wait for any of our documentation or appointments, which is unusual. We were also fortunate to have received our Interpol Clearances, which are done in batches, exactly when we needed them. Alina was actually born in Zaporozhye, so that made things easier for us as well.
In addition, many of the officials were sympathetic to our cause. The 10 day wait is often waived where we were, and the "old" passports (the red as opposed to the blue) are still available and are produced locally, so they can be done very quickly. Our wait was waived and we were able to get the old passport for Alina.
I cannot say enough about our Rock Star facilitators (Serge, Yulia, Marina) and what they did for us. They ran the show and know exactly what they are doing. We just went where we were told to go and did what we were asked to do. They handled everything else.
Q. I should know this, but can you remind us how old she (Alina) is?
A. She turned 3 in March. Bridget will turn 4 at the end of July.
Q. How did you raise funds so quickly? Do you have any suggestions for us? We have not made any commitment yet because the cost of the adoption process is a bit daunting. Any suggestions would be great. I know you are very busy, so whenever you get a chance that would be encouraging to hear how you dealt with the cost.
A. We had money set aside for something else, which we applied to Alina's adoption instead. Fundraising is often one of the most daunting aspects of International Adoptions. We do know several families who have been very successful in raising money for their adoptions. It seems like the most important things are creativity and persistence--and being willing to ask anyone and everyone for help.
Q. You will be on the look out for Tanner, won't you? If you see him, tell him mommy and daddy are coming?
A. I feel so sad that we couldn't get to see the other kids we were looking for! We tried many times to see the other RR children, with no luck. The kids are just so spread out, and they are behind closed doors. The groupas do not interact as far as we could tell. The orphanage also has several buildings, and there is no way to know who is where. Access is very limited, even within the rooms of your child's groupa. Paperwork is required to enter any room at the orphanage, and we only had paperwork for Alina's room.
Q. Are there any kids with Ds in her groupa?
A. There were no other children with Ds in Alina's groupa. We only saw one little boy with Ds outside being pushed in a stroller by a visitor. He was little--maybe 1 1/2 years old. We did not recognize him. (The kids were all in snowsuits and hats when they were outside, which is the only chance we had to see other children, so it was very hard to get a good look at them!) We recognized "Bella"--other angels--though, in Alina's groupa. We were able to observe and photograph her for the family who is coming for her :).
Q. Lisa, the picture of Alina doing your hair reminds me of you doing mine as a little girl! :) Did she yank it very hard? HA!
A. Ah, paybacks Marcy :)! Alina LOVES to brush hair, and she is so sweet when she does it. She is very careful. She did decide that she likes to try to pull my hair at other times though. It is not in an aggressive way...it happens more when she is excited...like wow, we're having fun now! Yippee for me and my way-too-long hair. Guess who will be wearing lots of ponytails and buns for a while ;)?