Actually, we got a lot less hassle than we expected. Our adoption
facilitator did lots of running around, we spent lots of time sitting
in the car, but we got the feeling that a lot of people were really
doing all they could to make things as easy for us as they could.
This surprised us a lot, since, well, it's very common for officials
to ask for, and adopting families to pay, bribes (euphemistically
called "expediting fees", but they're not set and they're very
unofficial--let's call them what they are). Anyway, our facilitator
rightly encourages his families not to pay these bribes--while it may
be "the way it's done", there's no reason for us to perpetuate it and
expand it and makee the problem worse, which is what's happened over
there. We didn't pay the bribes. In fact, we were asked only once,
and when we refused and said we'd have our case heard on its merits,
we were never asked again, and no one gave us any trouble. Fact is,
the judge was very nice, and everyone wished us luck.
Alena's going to have an identity crisis, though. Our facilitator gave her the wrong name in court, and so all her official paperwork says different things. Some places it says Alena Grace Brannan (which should be correct). Most places say her name is Alisa Grace Brannan. (We need to fix this eventually, but having it changed in Ukraine would've been a huge pain, and we just wanted to go home!) And then, her Ukrainian passport says her name is Alise grace. She's five now, and she was four when we got her, but she's the size of a two-year- old. We were told she had lots of health problems, which was OK--we didn't want a "normal" child, everyone else wants those. Ironically, she didn't have the problems they told us she did, but they didn't tell us about her seizures, which are now under control. She really is the joy of our lives, and she for sure keeps us on our toes!
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