Sweet Reunion

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning, new mercies I see!

All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me. 

*This song has been repeatedly playing in my mind and heart the last couple days

And on the 10th day…  there was power!  And lights!  Hot water and internet?  Not so much.  But life was still good.

WARNING:  this is a LONG post, but it is a good one!

Wow!  What an incredible day we have had.  We met our driver outside our building at 8:45 this morning.  Our first appointment was at the juvenile welfare office in the district where Ilya was born.  They interviewed us briefly and asked us why we wanted to adopt Ilya.  We were so glad they asked as we love telling people about our wonderful time hosting him in our home last summer.  We told them how Brian and Ilya became friends quickly and how all the children love him.  They asked the children if they wanted Ilya to be their brother.  Of course, they eagerly, yet shyly, answered yes very much.  They asked if we had the means to care for another child and if we had space for him in our home.  We shared with them that we bought bunk beds last summer for the boys and that Ilya’s bed is waiting for his return.

Soon, we were on our way out to the orphanage.  We had to squeeze our entire family, our attorney, and a social worker in addition to our driver into the car!  Our gracious attorney voluntarily jumped in the farthest back seat with our 4 children!  It was quite a scene.  When we arrived at the orphanage, we weren’t sure what to expect.  We walked around the outside of the building to the entrance.  To our complete surprise and delight, Ilya was waiting at the top of the stairs as we entered the building.  He had a huge grin on his face and he literally ran into my arms!  I thought my heart would stop beating.  It was SO good to see his sweet face again and that big hug was beyond my wildest dreams.  Ilya is usually rather reserved and has been understated with emotion and affection.  He was clearly thrilled to see us and we were overwhelmed with joy!  He proceeded to hug each member of the family and we were all so excited to see him that we could hardly contain ourselves.  It was hard to reel back from that and collect ourselves to enter the director’s office for a brief meeting.

The director was rather serious, but kind.  She also asked us about adopting Ilya and again, we shared part of our story with her.  Ilya was out of the room for this part of the interview.  A few things were mentioned about his birth family and a brief conversation took place in Ukrainian or Russian between our attorney, the social worker, and the director.  A few minutes later, Ilya was invited into the room and Bruce and I made room for him in between us.  They asked him a few questions about his birth family and he replied shyly and perhaps somewhat solemnly.  Then we all left the office and Ilya was allowed to invite us to the playroom.

He gave us the grand tour of his bedroom that he shares with 7 other boys.  All the beds were neatly made up and the room was very tidy.  Our other children could learn a thing or two hanging out at the orphanage for a few days!  Ilya proudly showed us his bed and I moved a couple pillows to peek and see that the stuffed puppy Stephanie gave him last summer for his birthday was still with him.  I felt so blessed to see that he was allowed to keep it for himself since it quickly became very special to him last summer.  He slept with his arms around it every night while he was with us and I’m sure he has ever since!  I looked up at him and smiled and he returned a warm, knowing smile.  I knew I had connected with my son.  He continued the tour, showing us the girls’ bedroom, the school room for homework, and then we took a self-tour into the bathroom.  Ilya and his friend, Sasha, giggled as we went in there, but we were curious about the set-up they had.  It was a nice, spacious bathroom.  We were impressed with the organization of hand towels, each on their own hook with a name by it.  They also had the toothbrushes neatly organized and it was obvious these kids are being well-cared for in a structured environment with order and security.  It blesses us to know that Ilya has been taken care of in the gap between being with his birth mom and joining our family.  I cannot express to you the love we have for this child.  We are so very happy that God invited us to take care of Ilya and give him a forever family.

After the tour and Mama’s photo shoot was finished, we all went back to the playroom to spend time together and get reacquainted.  The kids took out our game of “Spot It!” and all five played together and had a blast with a mix of Russian and English.  It is amazing how uniting and bonding playing together is.  They were laughing and having fun together just like they did last summer.  Again, the mama and papa felt so blessed to be a part of God’s wonderful plans for our family.  After that, they watched part of a movie together and then we took out a puzzle that we brought.  I found it at Target and knew immediately that it would be a great group activity that all the kids could participate in together.  It is a puzzle of the world and includes Ukraine specifically (not lumped in with Russia or Eastern Europe) and also the United States, so it seemed to be the perfect ice-breaker.  The kids eagerly took out all the pieces and started working on it right away.  By the time they had it almost complete, it was time for us to go.  We were so sad to leave after such a brief visit following such a long wait.  The kids were especially sad to leave Ilya and he didn’t look up much as we left.  I think it was really hard on him to have us go again.

We all piled back into the car and added an older woman (who must work at the orphanage) who needed a ride somewhere.  If we thought the car was packed on the way out there, we had no idea there was room for one more!  It kind of leads us back to the analogy of The Mitten!  We had 6 adults and 4 children packed like sardines into that car!!  From the orphanage, we went back to the juvenile welfare office.  We dropped off the social worker, our attorney got some important papers signed, and then we grabbed our stuff out of the driver’s car.  We charged through light rain and wind for about a block over to our attorney’s car.  We piled in there (comfortably in comparison) and headed straight for the notary office.  We had to wait for quite a while out in the lobby area, but were thankful to have places to sit.  Our attorney did his thing, which he does very well, I might add, and then we were invited into the small office to sign our names in several places on the first of our court papers.  We did all this before 1:00, which is lunch time in Kyiv when all government offices shut down for an hour!  I really do want to brag about our attorney.  He is extremely efficient, driven, courteous and personable.  He has been nothing but a joy to work with and we are very grateful for the excellent service he has provided for our family.  Kudos to our facilitator for choosing such competent people to lead us through this complicated process.  We will be forever thankful.

We walked back to our attorney’s car, grabbed our stuff once again and our driver swung by to pick us up and bring us back to our apartment!  We thought our choices would be to walk or take a taxi, so we were very thankful for the ease of getting home.  When we entered our building, we were greeted by darkness!  Apparently the power had gone out while we had been away.  The elevators weren’t working due to the power outage, so we hiked up the stairs to the 4th floor in the dark, in pitch black for part of the way!  We are glad our apartment has a whole side with windows all the way across.  Everyone was tired, hungry, unraveling after holding it together all morning and a little emotional after seeing Ilya and having to part so quickly.  We ate a quick, snack-style lunch and then everyone just kind of collapsed.  Bruce and I ended up taking a little nap on the couch while the kids relaxed with playing the Nintendo DS’s.

Since we didn’t have supper food and had no power, we ended up going to McDonald’s again.  This time, the whole family trekked out in the rain and wind for a few blocks.  It was terribly crowded and we ended up standing near a counter top with one chair for much of our meal.  Finally, some other people left and we grabbed another 3 seats.  We are finding that people here are much more decisive than back home.  If you see an opportunity, you need to seize it, or you will quickly lose it.  This applies to driving and many other things around Kyiv.  The power was back on when we returned from supper, but the internet has not worked since!  We hoped to get 4 of us through the shower before bed tonight, but we don’t have hot water either!  As Ilya’s friend, Sasha, would say “Iss okay…  iss Ukraine!”


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Renee Fritel
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 15:37:13

    It is so great to see such caring people like you make it possible for children Ilya to go to a loving and blessed home. May God Bless each and every one of you!!


  2. Dave Ritzman
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 15:52:15

    Hey guys,

    It’s great to get to know you all and hang out in Kyiv. Great blog on your heartfelt reunion with Iilya. It’s an awesome thing God is doing to knit our hearts with these children. God is good…all the time.


  3. Tara
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 15:58:32

    This post made me tear up. I’m so glad that today went so well for all of you. God bless you.


  4. Sara Bristol
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 13:40:00

    Jill, I have loved all of your posts and feeling like we are right there with you, but this one made me cry! The scene of Ilya running into your arms is so beautiful. Reminds me a bit of the Prodigal son and how He is waiting for all of us to run into his arms with the faith of a child. God bless you all on the rest of your journey! Love and prayers!


  5. David S.
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 22:49:56

    Read every word. You’re right, it was a good one!!


  6. Jennie
    Apr 11, 2011 @ 11:42:29

    Blessings to you guys–may your time together be sweet–have a wonderful trip back. Jennie and Sophia and family


  7. Jodie Nelson
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 14:39:33

    Jeff Ellingson shared your story with me the other day, and I am finally getting the chance to view your blog. God bless you for taking this chance in bringing home a child from Europe. Our family adopted three children from Russia; our youngest 7 years ago and a brother and sister 6 years ago. The Lord definitely carried us through that whole adventure, and we are over-joyed with what these three beautiful children of God have brought into our lives. We know the journey is never easy but is is rewarding. Congratulations!


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