So much emotion today! First of all it is Christmas Day and we are desperately missing our kids back home. They are waiting to celebrate until we come home, but it just breaks our heart that they will not start their day with the same excitement that other kids will have. We began our day in Odessa with a few Christmas songs. Kind of cheesy, but it was fun for the kiddos. We were planning on going to the orphanage to celebrate CHristmas with our new kiddos, but we got a late start. Our driver was in some sort of car accident so we had to wait for a taxi. We arrived at the orphanage to an angry woman telling us the orphanage was under quarantine again (at least that's what we thought she said). We stood outside in the cold wondering what we were waiting for. After about 15 minutes we were invited in and were immediately greeted with Vanessa. Of course she was smiling and giggling as always. We had one small gift for each of the kids, but wanted to wait until they all arrived to open them. But what goes as planned when dealing with babies. We sat her down and she immediately began digging into the bag to see what was in there. SHe was actually more interested in the bag then the gift, but once we got it out she began to play. She was soooo cute.
Then came big Eli (Arthur). His demeanor has changed so much in the short time we're been here. He's more alert and more attentive and seems to smile all the time. He still grunts all the time though :). We sat him down and he also began digging into his bag for his gift. Again, more interested in the bag than the gift. He loved the gift though and would not stop playing with it. It amazes us how much he can do with his hands even though he only uses his thumb. We played with the kiddos for awhile wondering when Elisa would be brought in. After about 30 minutes, the nice lady whose office we use began asking about "Leezka". We shrugged our shoulders and she immediately marched out of the room barking orders at people. A few minuted later, Elisa came in. We knew she was coming because she was whining on the way in. She always seems upset when they bring her in, but quickly calms down when we begin to play. We wish so much that we could understand Elisa. She sits and closes her eyes tight and then loosely as if trying to calm her nerves. We let her be and wait for her to open up and respond. It's so cute but also so sad. Elisa opened her gift and all the kiddos were playing. It was a simple little Christmas, but special because it was our first with these three.
Our visit was short but meaningful. We told the kiddos goodbye as they were taken out of the room one by one. We shared gifts with many of the workers at the orphanage and told them Merry Christmas, although we're not sure they understood. We knew this would be the last time we saw the kiddos for at least 3 or 4 weeks. As we left, we got a call from the facilitator telling us that our train left at 11pm and our driver would be there at 9:30 to pick us up. We had planned a nice CHristmas lunch for our family, but were not sure where we were going to go. All this time in Ukraine and we had only gone to fast food restaurants or the grocery store for food. We picked a place we could walk to and decided to splurge. It was a very nice restaurant, but was completely empty inside. As we sat down, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they offered us an American menu. So we had, fried shrimp, grilled chicken, Chicken Kiev (loved it), salad, french fries, and grilled cheese. The food was great even though the shrimp was not fried and still looked like it was alive. Tony peeled and ate some, but really didn't care for it much.
No were are packing...... so excited to start our journey home, but so sad to leave our babies behind. It's a bitter sweet day! We will be in Kiev by 7am in the morning and then will stay one more night until our early flight back to America. Merry Christmas to all of you who are reading! Leah