Leaving Kharkov was one of the biggest adventures of the whole trip. Angelina accompanied us on the overnight train to Kiev. It was a bit stressful, as we had to figure out how to get our six pieces of luggage, and Levi, on the train and into our berth during the short time that it was in the station. With the help of our two drivers we did it, and set off across the Ukrainian steppe.
Overnight trains are the most popular way to travel across Ukraine. Each ticket cost about $40 USD for the 12-hour trip. Angelina was quite the expert on how to do this, as we were clueless about all the traditions associated with this type of travel. She managed to turn her seat into a bed in a matter of seconds, while Jamie and Steve struggled a bit in the cramped quarters that all four of us shared.
Most of the time, four strangers will share this 7' x 7' space, as well as dinner that they bring on board like a potluck. In our travel book, it warned that sometimes thieves will drop sleeping gas into your compartment during the middle of the night to rob you. Angelina laughed and said that that hadn't happened since WWII!
On Friday, we had one last chance to explore Kiev on foot before departing on Saturday morning for America. Jamie took this photo of Steve and Nazar in Independence Square, which is the heart of Kiev and commemorates the country's independence from the Soviet Union.
Our last night was spent packing, and by now we had become experts on how to use all that luggage to create a playpen for Nazar.
OK, now to catch up from where our last post left off. On Saturday morning we headed for the airport, where we had a few nervous moments as the Ukrainian authorities questioned Nazar's passport. They couldn't believe that our little one is three years old! We were pulled aside for about 30 minutes, and had to produce the court decree, Levi Nazar's birth certificate, and adoption documents. Eventually, we were allowed through passport control to board the plane.The flight to New York was over 11 hours, and Levi Nazar was a trooper. He just sat in his seat between the two of us and enjoyed his new toys. He slept for a few hours, and only was fussy (as were all of us) during the final hour that we kept circling JFK because of weather.After a restful night at a hotel in NYC, we boarded our final flight to Phoenix. Again, Levi Nazar was a trooper.
We finally arrived home just as the sun was setting on Sunday evening, and discovered that our friends had showered the inside and outside of our home with all sorts of welcome signs, gifts, and food. We all appreciated this welcome, including Levi Nazar, who was only half-awake after the long journey to his new home in America. Arthur was happy to see us, and gave his new "brother" a curious sniff or two.
We are so thankful for all of the support from folks that have made this possible. In particular, we'd like to thank Andrea Roberts of Reece's Rainbow, Victoria Kats of About a Child, our facilitators Olga and Angelina, our drivers Vladim and Sasha, all of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who supported us with your encouraging comments, and to our parents, who we can't wait to introduce to Levi Nazar Yoder.
This will not be our last entry to this blog. In the next week or so, we plan to post more of our favorite photos, and in the future we plan to keep you updated on Levi's progress. Thank you all! Now the real journey begins.