Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Look Back: One Year Ago (Post 2)

**Okay, so Blogger chose to eat two posts I drafted, but hadn't yet posted about our time in Ukraine and meeting Alina.  So sorry for the delay on my "Look Back"!  For anyone who is watching closely, I owe you a post on our stay in Kiev before leaving for Alina's region.  I'm not sure when I will squeeze that in, but I'll try to do that, as well as to fill in more details of our time at the orphanage.  But first, there's an important milestone to discuss ;)...

One year ago today, we met our newest daughter.  

We arrived in her hometown just after 6 a.m. on April 12, 2010 after taking the overnight train from Kiev.

We hit the ground running, literally chasing our facilitator, Marina (who was wearing metallic gold tennis shoes--which you can see in the above picture if you look closely--and which should have clued me in to the fact that we'd be moving at a ridiculously fast pace whenever we were with her).

We sped to our hotel, dropped off our bags, slammed down a quick breakfast and had a few minutes to freshen up before leaving again for a marathon day of paper-chasing and signature-gathering, which included trips to and from the orphanage, hotel, and various government buildings.  

Our first (brief) stop was at the social worker's office to get permission to visit Alina. I remember Marina asking, Do you think this will be a "yes"?  Do you think you will want to adopt this little girl?  We both shook our heads (yes) and smiled

We then went straight to the orphanage, stopped in the front office to let them know we had arrived and for Marina to get the official paperwork necessary for us to visit Alina's room. 
Entrance to Alina's Building
Entry Hall/Lockers for Alina's Groupa

I wrote about our meeting (find the rest of the post here):  
Before we knew it, we were climbing the staircase to her groupa's room. We {Chris and I} were both a little dazed and confused at that point. We had been planning the meeting for months, and it seems like we have waited so long to finally travel. But as soon as we boarded the plane out of the States, everything began moving in fast forward.
As we rang the bell outside the door to Alina's room, our translator realized which room she was in--she said, "This is very good news. The children in this groupa are all typically developing!" We were surprised by this and elated. It means that someone sees her abilities and her potential. It also means that her delays are not as significant as they could be, given her diagnosis. 
We were greeted by an older woman--speaking Russian, of course, so I have no idea what she actually said, but our translator told us we should wait in the small room just inside the door where the children have their little lockers.
I had just looked at Chris and squeezed his hand, "This is it. We are going to meet our little girl" and then we heard her coming--clip, clip, clip. A moment later, we saw our little blondie heading toward us. One of the caregivers was standing in the doorway behind her, encouraging her to move along--she said, "Alina, mama...papa" and sent her on her way. Alina was all dressed up, with a bow in her hair. I put my hand to my mouth. "It's her. Oh my...here she is...Priv-yet, Alina (Hello, Alina)!!"
She came down the small hallway by herself, whimpering a little as she made her way to us. She seemed apprehensive, but she was really, really cute. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It was a moment neither of us will ever forget.
We saw some very neat things in Kiev, but the real show was here, in the middle of Ukraine, when a little girl with Down syndrome walked down a dark hallway and right into our life.
You can hear me whispering "Ya t'voya mama"...I am your mama...which Alina ignores while listening instead to Marina's phone ringing ;).

"Rod Stewart Pineapple/Orphanage Haircut",
Big Bow and the Blackberry
After less than fifteen minutes, we were asked whether we would like to accept Alina's referral or not (to which we answered, YES, of course we want her!), and were off once again...this time to file our paperwork to request a court date.  

We spent the rest of the day driving around town, gathering more signatures and paperwork, and finished right before evening visiting hours.  We were able to spend two hours getting to know Alina that night (which I will write more about in my next post).  

We came home, both elated and exhausted--but wanting very much to share our exciting day with family and friends--to find that we had no internet access.  Chris was able to get his Blackberry to work, and quickly typed this:  

From dad....
Today was simply an amazing gift of a day! I've seen all 5 of my children born and today I just saw my 6th. It may have been a bit different, but it felt the same. This time my little girl came running around the corner and just stole my heart in the same way each of my children did the day they were delivered into this world. I'll leave the exciting details to Lisa, but I have learned many years ago to 100% trust my wife's instincts. With our little Alina, Lisa is still batting 1000! Alina is happy, healthy, loving, funny, playful, and already an important part of the Peele family. Lisa was 100% correct that day she told me "that terrible picture just doesn't show who that little girl is or who she could become".
I was eventually able to post late that night. Below is just a little part. 
Click here to read the original post...
Please be patient with us...we are trying to get information and pictures out little by little :).We already have over 100 pictures of Alina! We saw her briefly this morning (green dress) before we completed A LOT of paperwork. We were able to go back and spend two hours with her this evening.
I have details to share tomorrow, but what I can say briefly is that we met a little girl today who melted our hearts. We met a little girl who is full of potential. She is busy, and sharp, and curious and adorable.  
This is the first picture of us with her, taken by our facilitator, Marina:

First Meeting

Chris took this picture shortly thereafter:
Alina trying to hide look under the curtain, me trying to interest her in a toy :)

Still trying to talk to Alina.  Meanwhile, she's trying to escape with Daddy's Blackberry :)

Daddy trying to get his phone back!
I did get to grab her for a quick hug...and look...she's smiling!
She came out with green ointment on her forehead. 
(It is what they use on cuts and scrapes)

Check back for Part II of Meeting Alina...


  1. I am SO glad to see some looking back posts! I have to say I have been checking daily for them! I think I may have some of these excerpts memorized for how many times I have looked over them....and yet I STILL cry! I especially LOVE Chris' point of view...it melts your heart to hear the daddy's words! can't wait for tomorrow!

  2. Love these posts! Look forward to reading more.

  3. I love seeing the absolute LOVE in your eyes for your daughter from the first moment you meet her. I hope we have that same connection when we get our girly!

    Brooke Annessa

  4. love this, Lisa, thank you!