Today's update is lengthy, and at the end of the day filled with uncertainty and questions, rather than answers or expectation. I will start at the beginning and try to walk through today’s events chronologically as best as I can remember. We covet your prayers through this trial, and is one reason for the details provided. The other is for our own recall purposes should the need arise in the future. If you want to skip the details...here is the summary. We did not meet the girls today as expected, and we are uncertain if they have even heard of us or known we were coming.
We were met by our driver and a translator this morning at the train station. It was not our anticipated translator today, since she was finishing up with the Dewberrys and will join us tomorrow. Given that all the arrangements that had been made however, she felt it would be fine to allow another translator to step in and assist us on this opening day.
Oleg is his name, and he did a marvelous job. He is a young man of 22 years with translation experience, just not regarding the adoption environment. He was very kind and helped us in many ways, from picking up groceries after our ordeal of an afternoon and remaining very level headed and mature during the regional inspector and subsequent orphanage director meetings.
The regional inspector’s meeting went very well. We spent 15 minutes with two ladies who looked through our family photo book and asked a few questions about why we were attempting to adopt these girls. We gave satisfactory replies and they were very glad and positive about sending a representative over to the orphanage to meet the director and the girls. We received our chaperone, and on we went.
Next we arrived at the directors office, where we were greeted by the director, later the school doctor joined us, followed by one of the girls teachers. They were, and maybe still are, somewhat concerned about the medical care that we could provide to the children. They confirmed that both of them have been in the orphanage for 4.5 years and that both are diagnosed with HIV. The girls, however, have not been told that they have this disease. They are smart and suspect it, but they have not asked directly, nor have they been told directly - due to the stigma associated with it. Only one is on medication and it is oral prescriptions only given once every 12 hours. After the medical portion of the discussion was complete, we moved onto the next phase.
They wanted to know how we knew of the girls, since these were closed records. We told them truthfully about New Horizons interviews and our desire to host them. When denied due to medical needs, we decided to pursue adopting them. The director claimed to have never heard of the program or of the interviews with the children or anything remotely associated with it. He indicated this was the first time that name had crossed his ears. This was surprising to us. He also told us that the girls did not know we were coming today, and that he didn’t know if they ever received any of our packages. Lots of packages come and some get delivered and some don’t - there was no way to know, but he seemed confident that the children didn’t know us nor were they expecting us. In fact, when it came time to meet the girls, we were told that they were not there. Their grandmother had come to pick them up and would have them until June 15th. We had no idea that there was a grandmother involved in their lives (and as you’ll see in a moment - still don’t know for sure). We were told she has been very active with them since they came to the school and they were not sure how she would react to this news. If during our adoption process, she decided to adopt them, then she would have priority, of course. We understand that naturally and wouldn’t want to split up the girls from loving family members. They asked us why we wanted to adopt them, already having so many. We gave them a satisfactory answer that they were pleased with it seemed pertaining to how much we both have to offer each other in providing a family environment (and of course the hair color was perfect). They then asked if we would want to try and have a closed adoption to keep the grandmother from knowing where we were taking them, trying to indicate that this might be easier. We told them absolutely not, that we would not want to deceive the grandmother or withhold information from her - that wouldn’t be right. If they are close, then we would want to be able to maintain communication with her if she so desired and provide full disclosure. This seemed to make the director very happy as well. We basically left the meeting with the idea that the kids may or may not know who were are - but probably not; that they had no idea that we were coming today; were out of school with their grandmother; and that they would try to get them back to the school as soon as possible in order for us to meet them - that we would need to wait for their phone call.
Naturally, as soon as we left, we got on the phone with our regional facilitator and translator who was stunned by the report. She insisted that she had just spoken with the director the day before, that the inspector’s office had informed him of our arrival, that everything was setup, which is why we went with the alternate translator for the day - it was supposed to be an easy meeting based on everyone's expectations. She told us that she personally has seen the girls many times, that they consistently were asking about when Mom and Dad were coming, etc. She didn’t know of any grandmother or any relationship there, and was suspect of that claim. She then called the director and basically believes that the director is covering his tracks somehow by claiming that no one knows anything. Basically, a non-authorized caretaker allowed the girls to go with their grandmother without his permission or consent. When it was discovered that the girls were not there, he moved into this mode of claiming to know nothing and that they were gone with their grandmother. He couldn’t admit that it was a mistake and so went down the road described.
After the contact with our facilitator, and her call to the director, the facilitator called us back and said that our driver needed to be back at the orphanage at 3:00 to pick up the director and go get the girls from their grandmother’s house. So to our knowledge, that is happening this afternoon, and we should be receiving a call back from our Kiev facilitator when all this happens.
Our Kiev facilitator also confirmed the same story as our regional facilitator and even added that the director said that he didn’t say some of these things about the girls or the grandmother; that our translator mis-interpreted and that he did not want to see that young man again. Whew... we don’t know about his translation skills, but he seemed to be a very honest, kind, and careful person that communicated with us well on several other fronts as we were getting settled into the apartment, buying groceries, and picking up a gift for the girls during our first meeting. I have no reason to think that he did anything wrong or misunderstood anything. Everything so far points to a director that wasn’t prepared and was caught off guard by the unauthorized release of the girls.
Whatever the case may be, they should be back this evening and we will start again in the morning. The bigger questions are now looming. Do these girls have a substantial relationship with a grandmother? Are they willing to leave this place, and that relationship to be adopted into a US family? Will the grandmother protest or attempt to block the adoption in any way, either by attempting to adopt herself (she has no other legal rights), or merely by being a strong voice of influence against it in the girls’ ears. We do want what is best for them, and while we think we have much to offer, and to gain by them joining our family - we do not want to be instruments of a painful separation of this relationship - if it truly exists.
This leaves a pit in the bottom of our stomachs. We are confused and unsure of what lies ahead - or what the truth of the matter really is. We will need to trust our facilitators and rely on the wisdom of God to discern how to proceed. We urge you to pray for us in this regard - wisdom and discernment concerning what is true and what is best. Our hearts are heavy and burdened right now and we will be seeking God’s face and voice during this confusion. He will answer, and it will be a good, right answer - of that we can be sure.
As I finish this update, I just received a call confirming that the girls are back at the orphanage and we will meet our facilitator in the morning and go to the school. Tomorrows drama will begin again then. As we think through all that we have heard from our Kiev facilitator, the Kherson facilitator, the translator, and the director - it would seem for some reason that we are believing what our facilitators are telling us. The grandmother is still an unknown, but we already are beginning to have a sense of peace about everything. Not sure what will happen of course, but we are at ease somewhat and trusting in our facilitators and God to lead and direct all things.