The girls have a 17 year old brother! Yes, we were encouraged to keep that "under wraps" until we knew more. We wouldn't know more until we travelled to the girls orphanage. We were told that he was in a trade school... that is all. The day we met the girls, the orphanage director told Zhenya that their brother had been in that same orphanage and then "graduated" to a trade school. When he was at the orphanage, he didn't pay too much attention to his sisters and since he's left he has not been back to visit them. What's worse, we found out that he had run away from two different trade schools and they did not know where he was! That was not good for Sasha and "O-lee" and the Work Family, it was very important to us and to the process that we find the brother and he agreed to "release" his sisters to be adopted. Gulp, another obstacle we needed God's help to break down! The last they knew, the brother had been in a trade school 4 hours south of Kotovsk. Zhenya arranged for a long distance taxi to take us there. We left at 6:30 AM, Thanksgiving morning, not knowing who we'd find or what would happen! We had an 11:00 AM appt. with an official who had organized a search for the brother. They found him... he was working on a farm out in the country! We drove out FAR into the country... many windy dirt roads, criss-crossing without signs or signals anywhere. I asked Zhenya and Yuri (the taxi driver) how did they know where to go? He said, "Ukrainian instinct!" Plus, they stopped and asked 3 "babushka's" for directions. We ended up at the mayors office of a small village. She knew of the farm and of the boy. Debbie had to get out of the taxi and a worker drove with the men to show them where the farm was located. He was working as a shepherd on a farm! Zhenya had a LONG talk with him. He was willing to sign a release for his sisters to be adopted. He had no problems doing that. Zhenya gave him our home address and told him that we were interested in cooresponding with him if he was interested in that, that he was welcome to visit and we asked for HIS address. He said that he didn't have a permanent address, but when he did, he'd give it to us. Zhenya gave him his cell phone number and told him he'd talk to the Inspector and see if he could get him back into the trade school. The boy said he'd try it again and STAY this time. Our hope and prayer is that with the news of his sisters adoption, another crack at trade school, knowing that there's an American family open to communicate with HIM, he will have a new catalyst to set goals and have something to aim for.
Armed with the brothers release form we headed back to the town where the children were from. We did some more paperwork and were on our way back to Kotovsk when Zhenya called the SDA and read them the paperwork over the phone. They said it wouldn't work because it didn't have the word "separation" on it! So we turned around and went back to town. Zhenya went to the supervisor and she went to the regional supervisor. The regional supervisor said, NO! We must adopt all three! But, Zhenya reminded her that because the boy ran away from trade school there was no one to prepare his documents. Plus, he did not want to be adopted. SOooo, not taking NO for an answer, he appealed to the Asst. Mayor. He agreed with Zhenya and got him into the mayor's office. The mayor agreed to sign a form granting a separation. So they formed a committee of four and wrote up a document and all signed it. After hours of waiting, walking and wondering Pat, Yuri and I were amazed to hear the tensions and challenges that Zhenya had just faced. We arrived back "home" 16 hours later, worn out yet THANKFUL for all that we were able to accomplish that day. (Besides it being Thanksgiving Day back in the USA, it was Zhenya's 5th anniversary and Yuri's 21st anniversary. It was a day we will never forget! Been having alot of those lately!)