Our adoption Journey was in 2006.
Below are the emails we sent from our trip
BEFORE THE TRIP
The adoption agency called us and gave us the rundown of what will happen while we are gone.
FLY forever. DFW to Atlanta Ga. Atlanta Ga. to Paris France, Paris to Kiev Ukraine, then train to Kharkov.
When we land, we will go through the customs thing and declare all we bring in.
The Ukrainian adoption worker will pick us up and take us to an apartment and grocery store.
We will rest the next day and then on Thursday she will pick us up and take us to the National Adoption Center.
They will give us permission to travel to Kharkov.
We will take a train for 8 hours.
Then, we will go to an apartment and get settled in.
We will then go to the department of education and get permission to go to the orphanage.
WHen permission is granted, we will go and visit Olya.
After we visit Olya, we will tell the adoption worker that we are ready to commit to Keeping Olya.
The adoption worker will go to Kiev and permission will be signed for a court date to be set for adoption
Then the adoption worker makes a court date for final adoption hearing in kharkov.
There will be a wait for that court date.
There will be a hearing, and we will be asked many questions. They told us to expect questions like
"Do you plan to sell her body parts?" "Why do you want a handicapped child?" Are you going to abuse her?
Then, there will be a possible 10 day wait.
After that, there will be a 3 day wait to get new birth certificate and passport
Then, off to Kiev by train again.,
We then go to the U.S. Embassy and start more paperwork to bring an orphan into the country.
Even though they have all this paperwork already, we have to bring more and 3 YEARS of complete tax returns.
They will give Olya a physical and make sure she isn't sick
Then, an entry visa is granted along with U.S. citizenship all at the same time.
We are handed a sealed envelope that we are not allowed to open. That envelope is for U.S. customs.
Then, we make arrangements to leave if the date to leave is not near the date we were planning to leave.
Travel in reverse order and we are home and life goes on. :)
During all the wait time, we plan to visit the orphanages, hospitals, TB sanitariums with Papa Dima. We will be able to have an interpreter with us most of the time,except at night, then we will have Dima's #. While I am there, I want to put myself in the shoes of those in this country who immigrate here without a lot of english comprehension. I want to see, since we will be there a month, how understanding changes over the period of a month as language gets more familiar. I wonder if we will learn anything, or just wonder what everybody is saying? I have been studying some russian, but when I listen to conversational russian it is so fast and different, I find myself looking for just one word to understand.
Yesterday our friend Hal called on the phone and said something in Russian and all I could think to say was "Bueno!" which is SPANISH!! I keep doing that! I'll try to think Russian and spanish words pop into my head. I do not understand how people can be multilingual and switch from language to language. Could it be that I'm getting close to 50!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am working, and will work hard on the plane to memorize little kid phrases in Russian like, "I need to go potty", "I'm hungry", I'm tired, "are we there yet", so we can smile at Olya and make her THINK we know what she is saying. :)
I had some sort of panic attack last night from last minute jitters, I'm sure. Getting so much done in so little time is not easy. I was able to talk myself out of it, and had a good night's sleep, but not before opening my bible to Matthew 6. I did one of those, flip it open and see where it lands thingys. It landed on , why are you anxious? And went into detail about God being in control of all things. Confirmation of what we already know. We serve such a wonderful Savior. Mike, is solid as a rock. He is working, finishing up a big job, relaxed, and taking everything in stride. I've been worrying for both of us.
Anna and Sarah are doing great. They were begging us to bring brother's home with us to put in the guest room. :) They were even trying to pick out names for brothers in the car.
We were all laughing so hard when somebody picked a funny name. I asked them, "why do you want brothers, you have 4 already!? They said, it wasn't the same because their brothers do not live at home and they cannot play with them.
The girls were playing with their happy family dolls and Sarah came in my room and said, "Mommy, is it rude for a man to marry more than 1 woman?" I was a little surprised by her question and told her, that the other wife might consider it rude, and it is also against the law. She said, "well, we are playing Jacob, Rebecca and Leah, and Anna's dolly is married to Jacob already and she won't let my doll be married to him because she said it is rude. :) So, I told her Anna was right, it would make a person feel bad if their husband married somebody else, so Leah must have felt sad when Jacob married Rebecca. So we all sat down and the question was, So why did Jacob marry 2 women, and HE is in the Bible?
Hmmmmm....... CULTURE! It was Culture! In some cultures this happens, and God allows for it.............
I love the questions.
We are really gonna have fun with 3.
See you sometime in April
UKRAINE TRIP MARCH 23
News from KIEV,
We have finished all the work to proceed to the Karkiev region. Wow oh wow
We are having a great time. I wish my stomach felt better. I have a touch
of either jet lag or flu,can't decide which. I just asked for a bathroom
(toilet') and he directed me to a hole in the ground. I think I'll wait
till we get on the train. :)
The process at the NAC was interesting. The security guard, who looked like
an old gulag guard was not so nice. He made us wait in the hall and told
our social worker, he didn't have to let us go upstairs if he didn't want
He did, after we waited patiently for 20 minutes. I'm glad he made us wait.
I was praying for a break, as we walked a couple of miles and then had
to climb 4 flights of stairs, for the second time in one day. The head
psychologist was very kind. We brought Sarah's life book along for her
to look at and her expression was so positive. She said she was so happy
for Olya. She had been trying to find a home for her for 6 years. She
has a baby picture of Olya at about 6 mos old, and said we can have it if
the orphanage doesn't have a copy.
We are going to be on the coolest train! We are going in a sleep car.
We will have a private room and sink. This country is very different from
what I expected.
When we landed, we heard horror stories about customs. We had 7 pieces
of luggage with several gifts we brought for the orphanage. They asked
us if we brought gifts, and I said we did, but they were not for us, but
for the children. They did not even OPEN our bags, big shock! They let
us pass through without a duty fee. Praise the Lord!
The fellow never smiled, but I could tell he was nice at heart.
The apartment was so interesting. IT slanted to one side, very badly, and
I'm wondering if that is why I'm feeling sick. Trying to stand straight
in a crooked apartment.
WE have been VERY careful not to use the water for drinking, but we did
bathe in it.
We actually ate at a mcdonalds. The money here is wierd. 1 us. dollar is
= to 5 ukrainian dollars. So 2 cups of coffee was 9.50! Psychologically
it was torture to pay 9.50 for coffee, but then you have to divide it by
5 and we were really paying less than a dollar a cup.
ALL coffee here is STRONG! American coffee is just bigger.
Lots of people speak english and we are learing our russian. THey laugh
when we say "spasiba"= thankyou.
Our interpretor is very nice. Her boyfriend is a journalist. SHe will
be taking the train with us to Kharkov and staying there for the hearings.
I get the feeling that she and Irina, our social worker are old pros at
We just saw another couple here in the cafe doing the same thing we are
doing, but they are from MIchigan.
One thing I have noticed is the cars. CARS!!! they drive CRAZY but nobody
can go over 20 miles an hour so it isn't as scarey as texas. THere are
NO suv's. YEA!
Our social worker has a new car, and I get the feeling it won't be new for
She is one crazy driver. The people park on the sidewalks and sometimes
drive on them! You'd have to be here to experience it.
The food on the plane from Paris to Kiev was really good.
WE got a letter from the little girls and they are doing well with the older
siblings. We just emailed them.
It has been very interesting sitting at Victory Square where the Orange
Revolution took place and being here for the elections. It is not like
america at all. THe political commercials are all kind of nice, not attacking.
They have an old russian looking person after each commercial hold his
hand up in the air, like, "I don't get it". It is really funny.
OUr interpretor said it is because most of the older generation was happy
with the status quo because that is all they know. SHe said things have
definitely improved here, and that the elections are a huge deal for everybody.
The speaker tonight made Bill Clinton's long speeches pale in comparison.
I've never seen a woman talk so long. Wish I knew what she was saying.
I feel like I'm in a wierd movie.
We are so excited how the Lord has moved things along and that we are going
to Kharkov tomorrow. What a wonderful experience. We cannot wait to see
We love ya'll. And, if we ever go to the other side of the world,or if
you decide to, I recommend a boat in good weather. Planes are just so unnerving.
Mike and Christie
UKRAINE TRIP MARCH 25
A great big Howdy from the beautiful and COLD city of Kharkov.
Our adventure has been great so far. We took the coolest train ride in a car with beds, all night long! In the morning Papa Dima picked us up and we went to our apartment. Our translator is staying with us. The apartment is nice. We went to the inspectors office yesterday and there was alot of yelling going on. MIke and I spent our time praying, while they were all yelling. Then, our translator came out and said everything was ok. We had permission to visit with Olya that day. The inspector lady looked at the pictures we brought of our family and she was pleased.
We then took a taxi to the orphanage which is very far in the country and down many roads with large holes in them. Everything is snow covered so it is hard to see the holes in the road. The driving here is nothing short of scary. No lines on the streets for organized rows. You just fit in where you can, and if you can't, you do it anyway.
The orphanage was very poor. Some of the children didn't have pants, just long underwear. One little boy could not stop laughing when we came in. It was kind of a nervous laughter, and we smiled at him and he would run away laughing.
The neatest thing, was that Olya was coming back from the Dr. when we arrived. The workers were helping her in to the building when she spotted us.
Her face was surprised. She took off her winter clothes and smiled at us and went in the other room to have lunch. Then, she came out and when she started to sit next to us, she then climbed on our lap and smiled and said, Mama, Papa! She kissed us and she felt MIke's beard and laughed. She then very carefully looked at all the pics we brought of the family and girls and said, my sisters! She did not stop smiling.
We had to leave her for the day, and this a.m. we went to the TB Sanitarium with \papa Dima. MIke taught a lesson on Psalms 1, as did Dima also Psalms 84. I was able to give testimony on a dream I had about Anna, and how ALL of us are in Sin and need to lift our arms up to our Savior, for salvation.
The kids asked us LOTS of questions about America. They were all so sweet. Some were very sad and crying, because of problems they have.
We are now at Dima's house and getting ready to have lunch. Mike is working on Dima's car which would not start this a.m. If he can get it going, we won't have to have a Taxi.
We have permission to visit Olya again this afternoon. All the papers have been filed and we are waiting for a court date now. Please pray that it will be soon. We are already praising the Lord that we were able to get here so soon. We did not expect to travel here until Sunday, but we are here and all court papers have already been filed all on Friday. Now we wait for the court date.
In the mean time, we will visit with those around us, and visit olya.
Kharkov is pretty, but looks much more poor than Kiev.
Our last night in Kiev, we were in the victory square where there were many election demonstrations. The election is Sunday. It is funny the different colors of flags that are dominant in Kiev vs. Kharkov. Our translator said the blue color is the bad color. (communist?) There are more blue colors in Kharkov than in Kiev.
(colors of flags being waved and on cars)
That is all for now!
Much love to ALL!!!!
UKRAINE TRIP MARCH 28
Howdy from the not as cold city of Kharkov Ukraine.
We are having a wonderful time. Our translator is staying with us at our
apartment. We took a train from Kiev to Kharkov in a very cool train. It
had beds in the compartment and a nice lady served us tea or coffee. She
sat at the end of the train car all night in this little room and if you
had to use the bathroom, she would unlock the door.
Papa Dima met us at the train station and we walked to his car and then
on to the apartment. Our translator then took us to the INspectors office
for permission to visit the orphanage. After alot of yelling behind closed
doors, we were given permission. (apparently it was nice yelling?)
Then we went to the notary to sign papers. THen we went to the orphanage.
Olya was coming back from a Dr. appt. and we were able to follow her into
the house where she lives. She caught eye of us and her eyes got really
big. IT was funny. Then, she went in and had lunch and then came out to
greet us. In the cutest russian little voice she said, "Mama, Papa!" and
gave us hugs and kisses.
WE have been able to visit her each day from 4-6 p.m. She is happy to see
us. The second day, she was more nervous, because somebody told her she
would be sold in America. (papa dima was there and explained to her that
we would never sell her.) Our translator talked to the orphanage director
about it and he was very angry that somebody would tell her this, but said
it had sadly happened before.
After that, she has been very relaxed and happy. She is a definite daddy's
She is very smart and trying to learn english while we are with her. We
let her teach us some russian too.
She can say Erika, and hello and good bye and several other things. I don't
know if she understands them, but that will just take time.
THe orphanage is in very poor condition. OUR translator said it is one
of the worst she has ever been to.
WE went to the TB Sanitarium with Dima on Saturday and MIke and I were both
able to speak to the children. After the bible teaching they asked us ALL
KINDS of questions. They were such sweet children, also living in extreme
Back to the orphanage:
There are so many wonderful children that live there all so cute. Little
Misha, which is Mike, is 4 and very cute. He LOVES cookies and ate all the
cookies the workers got out for us. The other children, many of them severely
abused were coming up for hugs and sitting in our laps and Olya would say
in Russian, "they are MY MAMA AND PAPA!!" We told her it was ok. Oh to
have a million dollars to take them all home!
We have several children in mind for adoption for anybody who is interested.
Misha is 4 and has 2 brothers, 5 and 1. IN Ukraine, the new law is to keep
families together, so you cannot break up sibling groups.
THere is another little KRistina, who is adorable. THe children are all
very small. MIsha looks 2, Kristina looks 2 or 3 but is 5.
One little boy who was new to the orphanage showed us his fists and was
very angry. HE had stitches in his head in several places. Dima's wife
asked where he learned to hit, he said, "from Mama". The next day, when
we came, he ran to be held an loved. NO hitting. Just a big smile. I
was a little surprised at his change.
The workers scramble the entire time we are there, chasing little kids all
over trying to keep them from our laps. We really don't mind them coming
And sitting on us.
We were also able to attend the very first completely free election in Ukraine.
We were at the polling place with Dima. The turnout would have shamed the
Nearly EVERYBODY voted. The ballot was 4 pages long, about 3 feet in length
for each page. :)
The stores are very interesting. Using foreign money is fun, and trying
to order foods without the translator is even more fun. :)
We tried to get pizza. IT had corn and pineapple and the sauce was ketchup.
THat was different.
We attended worship at Dimas church Sunday. They meet at a theatre in a
park just off the square in the center of town. It is the largest square
in Europe complete with a statue of Lenin. They have 3 services on Sunday
and an evening Service. It consists of about 1/2 hour of
music with a 1/2 of teaching. The teaching was about Peter being led by
God with the dream of the sheet and the food and that Cornelieus was praying
to God and God directed Peter, thus we must be prayful if we want God to
do miracles like Cornelieus expecrienced.
Last night Mike talked for a long time with one english speaking man whom
Hal knows named Meisha. While initially politics was the topic, we finished
with talking about what communism hoped to bring about in men, basically
that people must think of others before themselves. Mike asked, is that
not what Jesus did? Meisha after a short pause said he never thought of
Jesus as a perfect man who put others first. Pray for meisha to come to
greater knowledge of the truth of the perfect man Jesus.
We have a miraculous court date on Friday!! All the people so far are very
supportive of us and helping Olya(our translator/facilitator). We have had
extra help from workers who went with Olga to get papaers signed and done,
normally this would take a few days, but everyone is working very hard and
God is blessing our efforts to make things move quickly. Even Olga is suprised
that things are going this well as there have been a couple of things that
could have been very difficult but went smoothly. We are continually amazed
at how God is moving all obstacles. Pray that the courts would be gracious
and wave the ten day waiting period. All the doctors and people whos opinion
matter are very supportive and I feel our chances are very good, but it
timing, and he may use that ten days for His glory.
The roads are full of pot holes. Hummers would be the vehicle of choice.
But people who own cars manage to avoid them. While the traffic is similiar
to Americans, the streets are not well marked and like Alexey has said,
"the cars are like roaches, parking and driving everywhere." It is very
anxious to be in the back seat of a car here.
The culture is too different to embrace completely and we are triing to
learn all we can. The elections were very interesting and things seem to
have turned back a bit with the communist winning the poplular vote. Pray
for Ukraine to have their eyes opened to the freedom that God gives. We
observed many wonderful things during this time and as Christie said, we
feel very priveldged to be here to watch the people excercise their freedom
and vote and campaign, we have a video of the fireworks of one party in
Kiev on thursday night.
We went to a super market finally... most storews in the city are small,
and many many small stands on the streets. We miss our chickens eggs, and
good luck finding a pizza! We are managing though and tonight we will eat
at a resturant for the first time with a English teacher from the University.
Love to continue, but we have some appointments/
In Gods Grace.....
Mike and Christi
UKRAINE TRIP MARCH 29 (phone call)
I received a phone call from Mike this AM. They are doing fine.
They are seeing a lot of cultural and societal differences. He says the public transportation systems there put the US to shame. There are busses, trollies etc. for any place you want to go. They don't look pretty but they seem to work well. The orphanage is a bit away from the city but there is public transportation to it.
The buildings in general are not very well kept. He believes this is because they are owned by the state and people don't care for them. The orphanage physical plant is run down, but the kids are clothed and well fed. They see Olya for two hours every day. As an aside, they are using the name Erika for her. Her complete name will be Erika Noelle Olya Minich.
Their court date has been changed from Friday to Monday. Normally there would be a ten day waiting period after the court certifies the adoption, but because Erika is a physical need child, they feel there is a good chance the court will suspend the ten days. Also they found out that the natural parents of Erika had to release her for adoption. This has been completed.
They are being treated quite special. Normally people come there to pick one child out of many. They are not allowed to visit one-on-one until the court approves their selection. Because Mike and Christi are after a particular child with physical needs, they have been allowed to visit Erika before the court OKs the adoption.
They have been eating at Ukranian restaurants and visiting stores. They picked up some Russian math books to bring home to the kids.
That is about all I can remember from the phone call.
UKRAINE TRIP MARCH 31
Greetings from Kharkov!
We are doing well. We finished having fish cooked Chritie style and are
now taking car of some calls and email. We are able to call for .05 [Dollars]
per minute and are hoping to call a bit more often. Timing as some know
is a problem because we are visiting Olya at the prime time to call. Later
everyone is working and going about their day.
We will have our hearing monday and will let everyone know asap how things
turn out. We have planned for a night train to Kiev to help Olya rest. The
visit today was great, Olya has added a few adjectives, like sweet and precious
before mama and papa. She asked why she had to wait 50 yrs. till we came
to get her. She said she has no freinds that she needs to say good bye to,
but we know the director of the orphanage has been VERY helpful and she
too feels he has been nice while more in the background. She is pretty ready
to go though and already is asking how long it will take to learn english,
and is sad that our interpretor can't come with us. We do have some Russian
text books to help the girls and us learn Russian! She waits expectantly
every day and follows us in the windows when we leave. Olga [interpretor]
says she seems to be very ready to leave and is responding very maturely
in comparison to other kids she has worked with.
HOwdy this is Christie,
We are having a wonderful time here. It is the most interesting place.
I could never have imagined in my life that we would be in a former soviet
block country in an apartment in the middle of the city!
We are able to go to the store and purchase "butter" masla, and "sourcream",
smitana, alone! It was really fun. I also ventured alone, a little farther
and found a neat bakery that had sandwiches. I purchased a ham and egg
sandwich. We all shared it.
It is so different here. Everybody walks, and the feeling on the streets
is very safe. There was a killing of a person in Kiev and our translator
was so shocked. She said that never happens.
Here you just don't hear sirens and feel fear like in Dallas. However,
our interpretor said that the freedoms we have, they need, the freedoms
they have, nobody needs. She was referring to a dump truck with cement
driving down the road and there was a great chance of him losing his load
all over the road. (concrete junk) Mike said, "that would be illegal in
the U.S." thus, her response.
Our interpretor is so sweet. She is very helpful and has worked very hard.
Today she went to get Olya's passport started with her new name, even though
we don't have court till monday. She found a lady who agreed to do it early.
She would be great to take home so we can understand the sweet little things
Olya says to us.
Olga has told us today, she is not just calling you "mama and papa", but
my sweet mama and papa, my wonderfui mama and papa". She asked what took
us so long to get here. Etc. She is really a darling child. She LOVES
SHe reminds me of Sarah being a DAddy's girl.:)
We will have lots of work with Scottish rite when we return. She is already
asking about language and dr. etc.
I think before we know it, she'll be speaking english. She can sing Jesus
Loves me with us, and our translator was shocked she picked it up so fast.
TOmorrow we are going to TARGET! It is a super store here, but not related
to target in the U>S>
The translator said that there is a slight chance that the 10 days will
be waved, but not to count on it. Partially because she had to go and hunt
down Olya's bio parents and have them sign papers. SHe said the judge might
want to give them a chance to change their mind, even though they have never
visited her, and they do not know she is being adopted.
We wish you all love. We plan to make the best of our time here, even if
we have to stay longer.
Dima has been busy lately working on a gov't project and we havn't been
able to see him that much. We do plan to visit a different orphanage on
All the little kids at the orphanage where OLya is are so cute. I just
feel so bad for them. THey hold their arms out to be loved. That is really
all any of them want, is to be loved.
Love to ya'll
MIke and Christie
UKRAINE TRIP April 4 (phone call)
He brought us up to date. The Court approved the adoption but did not grant the waiver to the ten day waiting period. This was a technicality in the new law that didn't allow waivers. Other things are in process like the birth certificate, but the visa will wait until next Friday. This may cause them to change their plane reservations.
They now have Erika every day during the day. We talked to her on the phone and she is going to pick up English very fast. She can repeat words very well.
Mike promised an EMail in the next few hours as they were at the place where they can send one.
UKRAINE TRIP April 5
Greetings from Kharkov,
We are still in Kharkov and our adoption proceedings went well. We have
to wait for 10 days before we can go to Kiev, but they are allowing us to
take Erika from the orphanage every day from 10-6.
She had regular bread and butter, ham, juice, and salad and told our interpretor
that she couldn't beleive how good the food was. She said, "it must be
a holiday!" She was surprised that mama can cook, and do dishes.
She LOVES daddy. She likes to sit with him in the van.
Today we went to a "toy store". I remember stories of Sarah ordering the
entire store to go, when she went, but Erika was more sedate. She loved
looking a things, and only reqested 1 thing. Hair bows and lip gloss in
a package deal.:) We did get her the Trouble game, and a doll house (very
small one) She seemed to enjoy the new things.
Today, we also made baked chicken with potatos. She ate so much we had
to tell her she had had enough. We don't want her to get sick from foods
she is not used to eating. I put some spices on the skin, and she wanted
to eat all the skin.
We have learned that when you say, "class!" that means "cool!" She says
She seems to be very familiar with the TV. She LOVES TV. The stations
are not so great that she likes. SOap operas and MTV. Today, when I said,
NIET, turn the channel, she smiled and covered my eyes. :) YEsterday I
was covering her eyes and she was saying, "mama!", LIke, that is really
not necessary. :)
She is an official minich. She can burp. Then she laughs hysterically.
We officially have our tickets for the train back to Kiev set for Friday
the 14th. Lord willing, we will be able to leave on the 19th and be back
in Dallas by the 20th.
We have been able to take Erika all over Kharkov,(as far as we can walk)
in her wheelchair. We took her to the big Square where there is a giant
statue of Lenin. I pointed him out to her and said, "lenin, bad man...."
:) very quietly.
Our interpretor told us that one time an american family she was with asked
about the statue. She told them it was Lenin, and the reply was, "I didn't
know the beatles were so popular in Ukraine!" She was shocked. So am I.
It is funny though.
We went to a restaurant with an english name today. "The Potato House".
IT advertises food from all over the place, even mexico! When we went
in, everything was in Cyrillic and nobody spoke any english. So we are
going to eat at home. Our interpretor won't be back until next week some
We were able to talk to Anna and Sarah on the phone. IT was GREAT to hear
their little voices. Tim and Em are taking great care of them.
We miss our little girlies. Talking to them and Marcus and Tim and Em made
We have managed to buy groceries again this time without any help at all.
Not sure what all we bought, but we'll figure it out. THere are a million
kinds of pelmini (dumplings) with different fillings. WE can't read the
bags, so it is anybody's guess as to what is for dinner. However, we have
discovered the best butter. President butter. :)It is written in english.
AND..... if you like pizza! We'll wait to get it in America, but if you
are desperate, they do have something like it here. Comes with salad dressing
on top for added pizzazz!
Since the snow has melted, we have noticed that everybody is cleaning up.
They are burning everywhere! The entire city is in flames! There is smoke
in the air and when we come down from the higher elevation from dropping
off Erika, there is a huge cloud of smoke where it was clear before. Lots
of people are burning 6 mos. of trash and debris from the fall and winter.
There are little old ladies sweeping the roads. I can't figure out why they
use brooms with such short handles! They have to bend way over to sweep.
It seems that it would give you such a crick in the back to sweep with
such a short broom, but they all do!
We went to a children's clothing store, checking out stuff for the girlies.
I nearly choked! 1 cotton t shirt with the word "rich" written across the
front in sequins. 2,400 hgryvnas!!!! divide that by 5 and you will have
the price in american dollars! Yep! Nearly 500 american dollars!
That was the cheapest thing I saw in the store. Then the lady picked up
a pair of white hot pants with flowers and pointed at me!!!! Apparnetly
we could get mother and daughter hot pants. Needless to say, we said, Spasiba,
There are two large chimney looking things outside the city. They are huge,
like 3 mile Island huge. They say they are not nuclear, but they are able
to heat the entire city of Kharkov with hot water. Amazing. The hot water
pipes are huge and run above ground in some places.
I think I have figured out the driving. It is every man for himself, but
if the light turns red, you stop. If it turns green you honk. Pedestrians,
take their lives into their own hands.
However, today a driver stopped for Erika's wheel chair,she waved at the
driver, and he smiled and waved back. That was special for her.
We are really having fun. I just wish everybody could be here with us, and
that we could figure out what to do about that dead cat under our window.
I have the windows closed so we don't get the odor. IT is also GERMY!
I like our apartment, though it seems like fort knox! There are 2 doors
with locks. Then you turn the key and it locks again and again. Eventually,
you get inside, where you lock the doors behind you.
It is time to go home. We need to figure out how to cook what we bought
at the store before morning. IT is late and we still havn't eaten. :)
Mike and Christie
Hugs and Kisses to the girlies!!!!
UKRAINE TRIP April 9
We are still here. Today was Erika's first day to go to church. She has
never been inside of a church before. Her eyes were big, and there were
lots of smiles. Imagine being nearly 8 and never having been to a store!
Never having tasted butter! Never having left the orphanage yard except
to go to the Dr. Every day being the same as the day before. The workers
told us there are no changes from day to day. They do the same thing 7
days a week! She is experiencing a whole new world and we havn't even left
There was another family in the translation section of Dima's church that
was from Nigeria. I'm not sure why they were visiting in Kharkov. They
probably were wondering the same thing about us. :)
We have had some funny experiences with Erika, and in just walking around
town. The communication is getting a little easier each day. We are all
learning new words. Every day we walk. We had taken her for a walk down
to the Square, and when we got there, she had to go to the toilet', so we
had to find one. I found this fancy restaurant and carried her in, we went
to the toilet' and then she got fascinated with the hand dryer. She kept
using it again and again and laughing, while a line was forming outside
the 1 stall bathroom. oops.
Another time a man wanted to know what we were looking at! He was really
nice. He told us we were in the wrong part of Kharkov to be looking around.
We needed to go to the better part. So far, I think we have seen all parts
and they all look the same.
We have had plenty of stares with taking her around in a wheel chair or
throwing her over mike's shoulders and walking down the street with her
laughing and squualing in a very somber society. She is already american.:)
Erika had big news at the orphanage that she could tell. She had lunch
at Papa Dima's house! All the kids were talking, and I kept hearing Papa Dima
and she had a big smile. The kids are all so cute. They just flock to
us when we bring her back in the evening.
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but we did find out that Erika
was scheduled to go to the mental assylum last September. We thought they
were going to wait until she was 16, but they had actually planned to send
her there already and she was terrified that she was going to go at any
The workers would tell her if she wasn't good, that is where she would go
right away. She has spent the last 7 months in fear of leaving for the sanitorium.
The pictures Ken and Tina had given us showed a very sad child. The workers
told us that somebody spilled the beans that she was being adopted and she
waited every night for us to come and when we didn't, after a month, she
got very sad. She thought we would be coming when Ken and Tina came, and
when we didn't she had given up hope and thought for sure she would be at
the sanitarium any moment. The workers said when a car came to take her
to the Dr. she would be physically shaking she was so scared.
Praise the Lord for HIS mercy in Erika's life. We are so blessed to see
how God's timing has been prevelant in all of this. We are so thankful
to be here and see the society, and also thankful that we will be returning
to our other little girlies very soon.
We love ya'll,
God's Blessings to you.
Mike and Christie Minich
(we should be back for the new comer's potluck!!)
Love getting the bulletin, it is the only news we can read. :)
UKRAINE TRIP April 13
Hello Dear Family,
We finally remembered to bring the church directory to the internet cafe',
so I could write a few more addresses in the send box.
Things are going well here. We have a different schedule today. Usually
we go to the orphanage to pick up Erika at 10 and then back to the orphanage
to drop her off by 7, but today, we go to the court at 2:00 to pick up our
papers. If all goes well, we will be able to pick Erika up from the Orphanage
for good today!!!! Horray for everybody. That means that tomorrow we will
pack up in the evening and head back to Kiev on the night train. That train
is SOOO cool!
I think the best way to describe Ukraine is that we are living in a 60 or
70 years ago time capsule. Street cars, dirty streets, cats and dogs running
everywhere, nobody smiling and that ominous Lennin statue in the square
pointing, (right at Dima's church! :))
Most everybody walks or takes a street car, the older ladies bent over from
years of hard work sell vegetables on the street corners. Erika gave some
change to a man begging. His face lit up when she dropped the change into
his cup. I was a little annoyed at the "babushka" comment, which meant,
is this your grandmother? and she quickly told him "niet, Mama and Papa".
I'll get over it, he is old and his sight was dim. :)
However, with the lovely bed we are sleeping on, and the walking and the
car rides (2 plus hours a day) that make the 6 flaggs texas giant seem like
a piece of cake, my back is telling me, you are a BABUSHKA! with a bad back!
I told Mike, before going to the chiropractor when we get home,we should
rush the girls to six flaggs, go on the terrible rides. It will seem like
nothing, compared to the roads here. THIS IS NO EXAGGERATION! There are
pot holes big enough to fall in.
Speaking of God's timing::::
Dima told us the roads to Erika's orphanage were unpassable because of ice
and snow until about 2 weeks before we arrived. If we had come earlier,
we would not have been able to get to the orphanage.
We have been so blessed by all of your prayers. It seems that each specail
person we have had to see, and each official has not given any trouble for
paving the way for Erika to be with us. Our translator has been very pleased
with the process and said it has gone as well as it could.
We have another little musical person in the family. Erika LOVES music.
However, we will need to fine-tune it to a different direction. She listened
to classical music yesterday, and like praise music too. The M.T.V. stuff
we will have to wean her from. She can really dance. She told the translator
that "mama and pappa are letting me have disco time".
The newest thing that we have found out, it that it is possible that Erika
doesn't understand adoption. She possibly thinks we are her real biological
parents. (long lost parents who have finally come to claim her) She doesn't
understand everything yet, and with the language barrier, it is to hard
to explain. Our translator/social worker said, it will come at the right
time but she didn't feel this was the right time.
I feel terrible thinking that she possibly thinks that we abandoned her
and are now claiming her, but God knows, and we will be able to communicate
better with her about these things next year.
We have her medical recoreds and her parents hand writing stating they are
giving her up, so we can explain when the time is right.
I just can't imagine what is going on in her mind.
Our translator asked her if she missed her mama and papa in the orphanage
and she said yes and that she didn't understand why she was there, and that
she cried many times at night. She asked her if it helped her to cry and
she said yes.
We also explained to her that she will be visiting a doctor who will help
her with her legs and feet. She said, "then I can get rid of these bricks!"
speaking of her bulky braces that help her to walk.
She has a sense of humor. :)
She also said that when we get to America, we can get rid of these shoes!
Her shoes hurt her feet badly, as they are too small and the workers make
her wear them anyway.
The workers are very nice to her, but then they do things that make no sense.
It seems so harsh to see a little girl with bruises and sores all over her
feet being forced to wear something that hurts, but they don't seem to put
together that the shoes cause her pain. They can be very tender with her,
and then be harsh, making her walk up and down stairs alone. They won't
let mike carry her.
But today or tomorrow! We taught her to say, "let's blow this joint!" and
we will carry her out for good.
We are on the last leg of our trip and should be home in less than a week.
We can think of at least 10 other kids to bring home with us. :( But we
took pictures and some movies.
I got a great pic of Misha and we think we know which one is his older brother.
They are darling. The baby is in the baby house so we havn't seen him.
Praise the Lord for his mercy and grace
and for our beautiful little daughter.
And only because of your support and prayers.
Love to all
Mike and Christie Minich
our next letters will be from Kiev!!
UKRAINE TRIP April 15
We took the long train ride to Kiev last night. It is really great taking
a train as long as you don't have to use the bathroom. They are really disgusting.
We had a woman who looked like she belonged right out of a prison camp from
WOrld War 2 take our tickets and then she brought us drinks and juice for
The water was seltzer water. yeck.
We were given numerous warnings about snoring by our translator, who stayed
in our train car with us on the way back. She told Mike if he snored she'd
be sure to wake him up and let him know. Well, guess who snored off and
on all night? SHE DID!
In Kharkov, I was woken up by the man upstairs snoring. It is really an
We were very blessed to be able to use Erika's wheel chair until we get
to the Airport. Then, the social worker will make sure it is returned to
I was emailing Gary Boatman a few minutes ago, maybe an hour ago, and erika
said the famous "toilet" word. ARGH! We were up stairs and the only bathroom
here is a hole in the floor. I tried that and it didn't work. Her braces
got in the way. She sounded desperate, so I carried her down stairs and
then up stairs to a McDonalds about a football field away, then went down
another flight of stairs to find a code on the bathroom door. I knocked
desperately and about 25 nice ladies opened the door. They saw the look
on my face and made a path for us to go to the bathroom! :) SPASIBA a million
We made it. Then, there was the famous "tinkle"! all that desperation
for a TINKLE!!!
Then, it was back up the stairs, back across the square up more stairs and
I finally felt like i would pass out. Erika happily walked over to mike
who was downloading pics and he said, "where's ma ma? she pointed while
I was collapsed at a table with my head down. I raised my hand to let
him know I wasn't dead, yet.
His turn next!
We will be going to the american medical center on Monday, the U.S. Embassy
on Tuesday and hopefully to the Airport on WEdnesday! We are almost home!
Love to Ya'll.
Anna and Sarah, Tim and Em,
Momma and Daddy love you. we cannot call now until we find a better way,
but if you don't hear from us, Happy EASTER!!!!! Happy REsurrection DAy
And now, I must go take a nap!
UKRAINE TRIP April 17
I talked to Mike at 1 PM today, Monday. They are in Kiev and have accomplished a couple things today.
The first was the physical the American Dr. gave to Erika. That all went OK and it was no more expensive than a Dr. in the USA would charge.
They got their plane reservations changed, which really is the climax to a longer story. They went to a restaurant in Kiev, and while waiting for a table a man asked them, in English, if they would like his table. Turned out he was an executive for Delta Airlines. He told them where the Delta office was, about two blocks away. They got to it but the door was locked. When they explained that they had to change a reservation they were let in. The bottom line is they will be leaving Kiev about noon on Wednesday and expect to get home about midnight Wednesday. So now the reservations are all set for the three of them.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, they go to the American embassy and get a sealed packet of papers which they give to the immigration people when they enter the US. Erika has her visa already. The birth certificate will be sent later in the mail.
They are getting near the end. I think there was more to say but his time on the phone ran out.
UKRAINE TRIP April 18
Howdy from Kiev everybody!
We just returned from our appointment at the U.S. embassy. There was a
very nice fellow there from San Diego Ca who did our paperwork. It was
so nice to see a smiling face!
When we were at the American Medical Center yesterday a russian man asked
us if we were americans. He told us he could tell because we were the only
people smiling and we offered him a seat.
He said he loves america and lives in Virginia. He was there getting a
green card app. for his mother in law to immigrate to the U.S.
Erika is doing great. We were all laying on the bed this a.m. and she was
howling with laughter as we were reading russian sentences to her from our
english russian book. Like, "I have a cough!" or "I'm starving", can you
tell me where the train station is?" Apparently our accent is quite funny.
WE have another little miracle to report.
We were not able to keep our original flight for the 18th and needed to
change the tickets to the 19th. Our translators were not really helpful,
and we felt kind of REALLy on our own. We tried to get ahold of the airlines
and the phone number was wrong. It was also easter holiday and everybody
was on vacation here.
So we went to go to dinner and worry. The place we picked for dinner was
terrible and there was smoke and m t v so we left. We were wandering down
the street and heard about a TGI Fridays. I talked mike into checking it
out to see if there was an english menu. THere was! And there was no room
at any table. WE told them we would wait.
Then a nice man sitting at a table by himself said, I'll move so you can
have my table. IN perfect english.! WE said, WHy don't we just join you!
He said, great! HE wound up being the director for international flights
to the u.s. and Kiev, for the airline we are using. He had been in Ukraine
for 5 weeks.
He told us the reason the phone number didn't work is because it is down
right now because they just moved their offices. The offices were about
3 blocks from where we are living. We went in on MOnday and they changed
our flights for us, with less expense than we expected!
It was a great blessing from the Lord to comfort us when we were down.
We will be home on WEdnesday around 11:59 at DFW coming in from Atlanta
Ga. flight 1179!
See ya'll soon!
UKRAINE TRIP April 19
WE are at the airport!
Mike and Erika are eating "mushroom flavored chips" YICK! and she is drinking
You cannot buy regular potato chips here. They are flavored with pork,
mushrooms or tomato. Wierd.
It is a good way to go on a chip diet.
We are so thankful for all the Lord has done for us this past month. We
look back on it with awe.
Our little girlies are doing well with Tim and Emily, who we are forever
grateful to for caring for them.
Erika is smiling and happy at the airport. She is really excited about
getting on the airplane.
When we arrived at the airport, our social worker said, do you have ERika's
original birth certificate? I need to get it apostilled and mail it to
ARGHHH!!! So we were in the parking lot going through all our luggage to
find which little cranny I had put the unneeded paperwork in. That is,
what I thought was unneeded.
Found it though. It was in the suit case I thought it was in and didn't
see it the first time around. :) Needless to say, we were relieved to give
it to her.
We understand that it is a little warm in Dallas.Erika is going to be in
shock when she doesn't need to bundle with tights, undershirt, over shirt,
jacket over jacket hat gloves scarf etc. They bundle these kids so that
they look like little mischeline men running around, even when it is nice
Checkin is open now, so I will close with a big thankyou for all your love
and prayers. THis trip would never have been possible without them.
A little girl. Just one little girl, will now have a life, praise be to
the Lord who resuces us and pulls us from the mirey clay and sets us upon
the rock to stay.
God Bless and Much love
and Erika the newest member of the family.
UKRAINE TRIP April 20
It was raining when we left and it is raining now! We can't believe we are back! Back to reality! :)
The girls were singing on the way home in the back of the verkler's van.
Whoever bought the tortilla chips. I LOVE YOU!!!! We haven't had them in so long. :)
Actually, thank you all for the wonderful food left in our fridge. That saves me a lot of work tomorrow.
The girls are snug in their beds, and we are going to eat a chip or two and then sign off.
Christie and Mike Minich
Anna, Sarah and Erika
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)