Ukraine Trip #2

This is a long, detailed description of our second adoption trip to Ukraine–a place that is so different in some ways and so alike in others. 

TRAVEL DATES: December 16-19, 2015


  1. December 16-17: Fly to Kiev
  2. December 18: Go to Court
  3. December 19: Fly Home.

This was a whirlwind trip. The purpose of this trip was to go to Ukrainian court where the judge would rule on our petition to adopt. I’ll save you the suspense:  She ruled in our favor. More on that later!

Some of the sights as we drove into Kiev from the airport.

In some places there is on-street parking, but in some places, you just jump the curb and park on the sidewalk. The traffic when we arrived in Kiev was terrible.  In this case there was one intersection that never really cleared between green lights. Cars filled the intersection so cross traffic just inched forward between whatever gaps they could find!

Architecture is so incredibly ornate. I wish I had been there with warm weather and my Canon. I would have loved walking these streets taking photos.

We stopped at a market on our way to the apartment and it was so interesting.  You serve yourself from the frozen food sections:  Taking as much frozen broccoli or fish or pasta as you want.  Or just pick a package of caviar off the end cap.

We stayed in a different apartment this time. The location was spectacular because we were just a few blocks from The Maidan (Independence Square). Jeremy spent several hours working on performance reviews for work. Having to take so much time away from work is hard for him, so I was glad that he was content to stay up until 3 AM (7 PM CST) to be productive.

When we came out our apartment door and looked to the right, we could see St. Sophia’s Cathedral. (Seriously, if I could just walk around and photograph the many cathedrals in this town…)  Turn to the left and you will see the famous glass dome roof of the underground mall in Independence Square.  Here’s some photos from Google Earth:

Sofivka Apartment

Brown door is our apartment

sofivka balcony

That’s our balcony way up there.

glass dome

Looking toward Independence Square


Independence Square

st sophias

Looking back up the street at St. Sophia’s


I didn’t walk around town taking snapshots of every street I walked on…but I sort of wish I had. There is so much character and charm in these old streets.

That first night we just walked about one block from our apartment to a restaurant that looked nice called Whisky Corner.

It was not the cheapest meal we’ve ever eaten, but the experience was unforgettable.  I ordered fish, Jeremy ordered steak.

And not surprisingly, they are known for their many varieties of whisky:

2015-12-17 at 17-53-42

The next morning, we met Lisa, our interpreter, and Roman, our driver, and to our surprise, Sasha was already waiting outside in the van!

We drove out of town and stopped at a really modern gas station with free wifi and free copying!

I took advantage of the wifi to find and save a webpage to my phone that looks like this:

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There are so many words in Ukraine that if I could just pronounce them, I’d know exactly what they meant.  for example:


Use the key above to find out what that word is!  You can see it on the outer wall of the Whisky Corner picture above.

Meanwhile, back at the gas station, Lisa made some copies and we finished our coffee and we were on our way to pick up Vova from his orphanage.

That first word on the road sign is Skvyra. That is the town where we go to court.

2015-12-18 at 03-12-54

We are in the court building waiting. Finally we get called back for our case to be heard. There is one judge and two jurors (2 older women from the community just to observe and ask questions if they have any). Also in the courtroom is a prosecutor…the state representative who asks follow-up questions.  Oh yes, and a court secretary. On our side of the room there was a representative from Vova’s school, a school inspector, our translator, the boys and us.

I wish I would have started my phone voice recording everything.  We each had to petition the judge 4 things:

  1. We would like to adopt the boys
  2. We would like their birth certificate to list us as their parents
  3. We would like their birth certificate to reflect their new names
  4. We would like their birth certificate to not change date or place of birth.

During the proceedings the judge read aloud the case study of the boys including the conditions surrounding their placement into state care–something I thought was unnecessary to bring up in front of them, but whatever.

Then Jeremy and I were individually asked the same questions: Full name, date of birth, address, how long have we been married, how many children do we have, what do we do for a living, how much money do you make, how big is your house, when did you meet the boys, why do you want to adopt the boys, where will they go to school, do you have health insurance, tell me about your family, etc.

Then each of the boys were asked several questions too. I wish I had recorded this part in particular because it would have been a record of what words they used to communicate their desire to come to America and be Bushlacks.  Maybe they will remember those moments and be able to tell us in English some day.

When the proceedings were done the judge and jurors left the room. A few minutes later the court secretary told us that we were done, the judge said, “Yes.” Meaning in ten days the court would issue a decree granting our above petitions!

Here’s the smiles that accompanied that news:

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Our translator Lisa with the boys:

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So we stopped for lunch on our way out of town and gave the boys a little congratulatory gift:

2015-12-18 at 07-02-24

I ordered a Ceasar salad which I was surprised to discover looked like this (but it was delicious…quail eggs and all):

2015-12-18 at 15-15-33

The boys finished up with ice cream. Chocolate for Sasha and Bubble Gum for Vova:

Of course Jeremy is always up for dessert:

2015-12-18 at 15-53-23

We dropped Vova off at his orphanage and let him know that the next time he sees Jeremy it will be to come and get him for good.  Then we had our driver bring us back to our apartment and paid him to drive Sasha to his apartment.  Goodbye hugs to Sasha and Lisa too.

We decided to spend the evening walking down to Independence Square and taking a look at that underground mall.  It was very fun!  Here’s the some photos from that night:

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Who needs Santa?

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2-level underground mall

2015-12-18 at 20-16-24

Look Ma! It’s an Elvis Cow!

2015-12-18 at 20-23-33

Fanny Pack Comeback

2015-12-18 at 20-54-25

I am so making this someday

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The glass dome

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The glass dome & elevator

Good night and goodbye to beautiful Kiev.

After a couple of hours of sleep, we met Roman at 3:30 a.m. and he drove us to the airport.  We flew into Frankfurt where we had a 5 hour layover.

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Frankfurt, Germany Airport

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These “Angels” sang Christmas Carols for the travelers to enjoy! It was lovely.

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Look Ma! A blue German cow!

One of the greatest sights of the whole trip:

2015-12-19 at 20-14-29

We landed in Chicago for our 3 hour layover and found our flight to Cedar Rapids was already delayed.  So we made a spontaneous decision to leave the airport and rent a car to come home.  We arrived at almost the exact same time as our plane did, but we had a lot more fun driving and talking and moving at our own pace.

It was crazy to think that between a Wednesday and a Saturday we traveled to the other side of the world and back.

This phase of our adoption journey is almost over. Jeremy flies to Ukraine on January 10.  He won’t come back alone.


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