We now have court scheduled for next week for both of our kids! Aleksa's will be MONDAY, and Wesley's will be THURSDAY! We will fly back to the USA on Friday, without our kids...
Here's a little about the process from here on out, and why we're still not home free after court.
Ukrainian law requires a 10 day appeal period after court before the court decree is issued. Until that decree is in our hands, we cannot work on getting a new birth certificate, tax code, and passport for our child with their new name and including us as their parents.
And so... Friday we will go home without our kids. We'll be home for one week, then a friend that is like a 'third grandma' (but a YOUNG one ;) ) to our kids and a great friend and mentor to Michael and I, Chris Harm, will be returning to Ukraine with me. We're planning for that to be on December 11th that we begin travel, which will land us in UA on the 12th and we can start the process to get everything done for the kids on Monday the 13th. We may return earlier if Aleksa's court decree will be available sooner and I am needed to physically be here to pick it up.
Here's the hard part... Ukraine is currently putting a bill amendment through Parliament which is intended to stop all international adoption from multiple countries including the USA. It is set for vote on the week of December 14-17th. If passed, there is a time frame for the President to sign it in to law. As soon as it's signed in to law, it can (and likely will) immediately affect everyone that is in the process of adopting.
Until today, I was under the impression that if we had the court decree, that we would be 'safe' to be able to get our kids home. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. I understand that in the past when changes like this were made (such as not allowing single people to adopt which was voted in during our 2008 adoption) that people were affected on all different levels. Including the re-issuance of birth certificates and obtaining passports...
Our children were both born in the same city (both were in the same baby house but Aleksa was transferred further away in '08). Birth certificates are redone in the city of the child's birth... so those two will both be done at the same location. The birth certificates can take 1-3 days to get. After getting a birth certificate, some regions require that the child acquire a new tax code, which is like a social security number. The tax code can take 1-7 days to get. After getting a tax code (if required), then a passport can be applied for. This is done in the capital city of the child's current region, which means that the two kids' paperwork needs to be filed for in two different places. The passport can take 2-10 days. THEN, we bring both kids to the capital city (whenever their previous parts of the process are done) and they go to a medical appointment in order to have that information sent to the US Embassy. Generally that same day a first appointment is held and the next afternoon the final appointment is held at the Embassy and the Visa for travel is given. The next day we can go home!!
As you can see, this is another long process! 1-3 days Birth certificate 1-7 days Tax code 2-10 days Passport 2 days medical/visa
That's a MINIMUM of 6 days... but that is VERY unlikely, especially with two children in different regions. It's more realistic to think about 10-12 days, and possibly even 22.
We are hoping and praying that we can get all of those things accomplished in TEN DAYS, allowing us to fly home on day 11... December 23rd. Just in time for Christmas...
If we miss Christmas, that isn't the end of the world. Michael will be home with our kids, and Chris' children are all older (youngest is...17?) so Christmas could wait a few days if needed.
The BIGGER issue, is getting everything as quickly as possible so that we are able to get through the ENTIRE process and get our KIDS HOME if the worst happens and Ukraine does indeed close down all international adoption from the USA-- including children with special needs.
We are praying that Ukraine will NOT close to special needs adoptions, if the bill passes at all. But while doing everything that we are able to do from here... we are also preparing ourselves for the possibility of all of this happening and asking for the way to be paved in prayer.
God has brought us this far!! HE will continue to guide each step, to guide our hearts, and to protect our children.
And... by the way... we spoke at the Embassy Consulate today and it was very well received :). Thank you for your prayers there! I'm thankful to have had that opportunity and for Michael to be there with me to be able to contribute from his perspective to answer questions as well!
Where would I be without Michael here beside me? I certainly couldn't do any of this without God or my best friend :)