This is a blog post that is difficult to write and even more complicating to try to explain to everyone why we are still in Ukraine. I will do my best.
It all started 16 months ago when Brandon and Kim felt called by God to adopt a 9 year old orphan boy that was living in a Ukrainian orphanage. Because of our unique situation of being a American military family stationed overseas, we knew that it could be more complicated than most families seeking to adopt. We went and spoke to all the legal authorities we had available to us and were assured that once Vitaliy was our son that we would be able to return to Italy and process his Official, No Fee, passport and then proceed through to obtain an Italian Visa. Many factors have played into the fact that it has taken 16 months to adopt our now 11 year old son. The fact that we were married at the American Embassy in Seoul, our home-study provider didn't think that Americans should adopt older children from Ukraine, that Ukraine won't accept any documents over 6 months old (our documents expired once because it was taking so long and we had to redo many of them), our military doctors were reluctant to sign off on our medicals because they were afraid of the unknown, we had all of our documents notarized by JAG but Ukraine wouldn't accept them until they were apostilled at the State Department, and on and on and on. The worst of the problems have stemmed the our counsel from our legal office and passport office at our military base. Many of the things we were told was simply not true.
Now we are here in Kiev, our 37th day in country, we have our son, he is legally our child but we can't get to our home in Italy where our daughters are.
We have been given a IR3 visa in our son's passport that allows us to bring him to the USA. Once he touches American soil he will become an American citizen, not before. This is where the problem begins. Italy will not allow a military dependent to come into Italy to live without first obtaining an American Official, No Fee passport, and then applying to the Italian Consulate for a Missions Visa. The American government will not expedite an Official Passport for dependents. Expedited Official passports are only reserved for Active Duty personnel that are on orders for deployments. This process is expected to take 4-8 weeks. Once we receive this passport, we then must send it to the Italian Consulate to ask for a missions visa. This process is expected to take 2-4 weeks. At best that has us in the USA for 6 weeks, at worst for 3 months. Meanwhile, we have our 14 and 12 year old daughters being cared for by friends and our son is living in a transit world.
The US Embassy here has been reluctant to help us and says that it is the Italian governments responsibility. One official suggested leaving our newly adopted son with friends and family in the USA for the 3 months and having us return to Italy without him and then come back to get him when the processing of the paperwork is complete. This is not an option. Our son has been in an orphanage for 5 years, doesn't speak English, and he needs to bond with his real family in a stable environment. We were finally able to speak to a sympathetic person who contacted someone in the state department. We have been contacted by the representative from the State Department but she seems to think that there may not be any legal way to expedite this process. Since Monday is a Federal holiday, we are waiting until then to hear if there is a way.
This trip has been so challenging, in so many ways. A broken laptop, a broken foot, a process that seems to never end, but at the end of the day we look upon our new son and are grateful that he is ours. He doesn't understand many things but the question he asks everyday is, "We go home today?" We just don't know the answer to that.
We don't want everyone to think that this blog is just to complain, but we do want others to know who plan to adopt a child while being stationed overseas, that there are many more challenges than are necessary.
We know that God is in this story, we know that He has a plan that will bring all the Glory to him. We are sad, we are frustrated, and we are struggling to hold onto the promises that we know to be true. God doesn't promise that the road to follow His ways is easy. He actually promises us that it will be difficult. So why follow Him? Because His ways are always the best, His love and devotion to His followers was demonstrated to the full degree on the cross. There was no greater sacrifice and cost paid than that. It was given to an ungrateful, undeserving, and angry people. A man may die for one that has proven to be deserving but only God dies for a people that curse His name and nail him to a cross. This is the God we know and we know that His Story will be told through this adoption.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.