About the adoption process
Trip Start Dec 01, 2007
24Trip End Ongoing
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Misconceptions about Ukraine:
There were alot of things we were either told or read from various sources that we have not found to be true for us: 1.) Perhaps every region is different, but at the orphanage we visited, the children were very well behaved, seemed to get enough food, had proper clothing, the workers were friendly and seemed to be kind and loving to the children. They do have a structured schedule, but the orphanage accomodated us with plenty of time to visit Anastasia. 2.) Although you do run across more people who are stoic appearing, we also encountered many smiling , laughing, helpful people. No, you don't always get the same service as in the U.S. 3.) Hotels/Apartments- This is hit or miss. We have been very blessed to have hot water (for the most part), although there have been a couple of days when it took a while of running the water to get it hot (and one day we didn't have hot water at all). Also, it just trickled a couple of times. Hotels are very different than what we are accustomed. Towels are not exchanged daily. Maids do not come in to make your bed and clean your room daily. There are no fitted sheets. We could not control the temperature in the hotel rooms or apartments we stayed in. It is customary to turn your key in every time you leave the hotel. No credit cards were accepted where we stayed. The only thing we were able to put on our credit card was the airfare to the region Anastasia was located at. 4.) Most people are willing to help if you communicate your need. In Severdonetsk, Ukrainians were fascinated by the foreign-speaking strangers. In one food store we went in, after realizing we were neither Ukrainians nor Russians, the cashier rushed to another part of the store just to let the other cashiers know we were coming- we were a novelty. Children sometimes stood around and listened to us talk in the restaurants.
5.) Crime- Don't flash you money, or let others see where you keep your money. Be safe. Our translator told us that crime is low-especially in small towns. We walked during the day and at night safely, but tried to stay on streets where others were walking. Since it gets dark so early- around 4:00 P.M. in the Winter, alot of people walk here in the dark. The only people who tried to take advantage of us were people catering to the tourists at Independence Square in Kiev. 6.) Upset stomach, diarrhea- you don't have to suffer. We were careful not to drink tap water or allow it to get in our mouth. We bought bottled water and used it to rinse cups and dishes prior to using them. We also used bottled water for brushing teeth and, of course, for drinking water. In addition we drank DanActive daily prior to our trip, and were able to find equivalents in stores in Kiev. We took "Airborne" every 4 hours on the plane. We also bought Acidophilus "Pearls" at Wal-Mart and took them daily.
Ukraine does have the best ice cream in the world!
It is cold here in the Winter! If you live in warm weather areas (like us), ask your friends from up north how to dress and perhaps they'll loan you some clothes for your trip. Dress in layers. Longer down coats are great. Take gloves with Thinsulate, thick socks, long johns (or Cuddle-Duds), sturdy water-proof boots, and a neck warmer that can be pulled over your ears and nose.
Kiev is expensive. Smaller towns are very cheap.
Pay for airfare instead of an overnight train. Your money will be well spent.
Plan to take fruit, cookies, candies, or some treat each day you visit the orphanage (enough for your child's entire class).
Spend visitation time each day with your child mixing fun activities with English lessons. The more English he/she knows before leaving the orphanage, the better it will be for your whole experience.
No matter what anyone says, bring your own toilet paper from home! (5-6 double rolls)
The exchange rate one dollar to UAH (pronounced Grivna) while we were there was 5.05.