It's 7am here in London. We will head to the airport later today and look forward to being in our own beds in our own home this evening. 3 days of traveling is taking its toll. Due to the conflicts at the airport in Kiev, we only spent an evening in London. No time to sightsee. We did walk a few blocks last night to an English Pub that was recommended. It is called The Three Magpies and it was delicious English food.
As I had to deal with the roadblock with the airlines in Kiev not letting us leave, Kristi had her roadblock to deal with the next day going through the immigration line at the Kiev airport. I was separated from Kristi and Nadia briefly as I was questioned by an employee asking what was in my luggage and how much money was I carrying. He was checking to see if I had any antiques. By the time I reached the immigration lines, Kristi and Nadia were ahead of me so I got into another line.(For those families who will be leaving Ukraine with their newly adopted children, stay together especially going through immigration lines.) I was able to get through the line w/o any issue. Kristi and Nadia were detained and asked for the original adoption papers and birth certificate. She gave the papers to the attendant and was in a starring match with the lady attendant for several minutes. The attendant left her booth and went into an office with other immigration officers. I was close to the office so I had a front row seat to what happening. They all were reading the adoption papers and discussing it for at least 20 minutes all while Kristi and Nadia were left standing at the immigration booth with many people lining up behind them. The 3 officers approached me and asked if I was the "papa". They then began to question me about the timing of our adoption. They said Ukriane adoptions are never completed in the short amount of time it has taken us(less than 3 weeks). After much deliberation among themselves and Kristi and Nadia still waiting at the booth, they decided to let us proceed. Of course the lady immigration officer enjoyed the stare down of Kristi so much, she continued to do so even though she had been handed the approval from the senior officer 5 minutes earlier. I saw the officer give it to her with the stamps and signatures. It is interesting how only after being a few days in Ukraine, we were able to know what was happening and what discussions were about even through we did not know the language. Body language and tone of words speaks volumes.
Once we arrived in London it was like we were greeted by friends. We were welcomed warmly by the immigration office. I asked if it would have been ok if we had arrived a day earlier and spent 48 hours in London. He said of course and we would have been given permission to do so. I was frustrated for a moment about not being allowed to fly the day prior(paying an extremely high price for the Ukraine airport hotel and anticipating an extremely large cell phone bill being on the phone with American Airlines in the States for 40 minutes) but soon that feeling left with the knowledge that we were only 1 more flight away from being home and seeing our kids. I was so proud of my wife how she handled the tense situation with the Ukraine immigration. She was amazing!!!
We made it through the entire adoption process in Kiev, in the Dobro region and with the US Embassy without any issues. We finished in 19 days! Our problems came with leaving the country. So families who are still in Ukraine adopting, be prepared for possible issues when you leave the country. Even though we had all the documents needed, the immigration officers can still detain you if they wish. Know that we are praying for you all. It was great to meet such amazing couples from the states stepping out in faith to adopt a child.
One more full day of travel and we are home and one amazing young lady can not wait to get to her forever home. I think she may be even more ready to be home than Kristi and I. And that is a lot!!!
Thank to all who have been praying for us. Your prayers have been felt and answered all the way along our journey. Our issues with the immigration clearance in Ukraine was not just an intellectual battle between people, it was a spiritual battle of a family adopting a young child and being rescued by their heavenly father.