Hinkson Family Circle

Monday, December 27, 2010

Things I wish that I had taken to Ukraine

Here is a list of things we really missed while in Ukraine.

Rubbing Alcohol
I can't find this anywhere, I use it for a lot of things at home and really miss it here. Also not seen ever is hydrogen peroxide.

Alcohol wipes
for the cuts and scrapes and disinfecting without getting wet. I brought hand sanitizer but then you just have wet hands and then sticky hands full of dead germs.

Kitchen utensils
the kitchens have the neccesary utensils for making borsch and frying potatoes. If you need more than a potato masher, ladle, pancake turner and a grater, to cook you had better pack it.

Summer clothes
I planned to be home before now and so I brought spring clothes. I need summer clothes . I was also told that they only wear black here and so I brought a lot of black stuff. They wear all colors and you would be smart to pack something for next season too.

I still have not seen any for sale in Ukraine.. I bought some in Russia but they are very thin. If you like thick fuffy ones bring a few so they can dry between washings.

Light weight clothes that dry fast.
I have one shirt that dries in a day and the rest take longer because it is so humid. I am tempted to wear it everyday and pack or give the rest of the gothic looking clothes that I will probably never wear again at home, away.

For the night trains and time changes. It may have helped to regulate us better. There is nothing more annoying than wishing for sleep that won''t come.

More American Money
We thought that we could get money in ATMs but we can only get gryvnia. We can exchange it at the bank but it takes time to find one that has US bills. They want US money for the bribes (I mean exp fees) and they are really picky if the bills are old, faded, torn or stained) Take plenty of new crisp US money.....the more conterfeight looking the better. ( Someone should make a movie about a couple who takes countefeighted money to Ukraine for the bribes. What are they going to do really?)

Shoes with good tread
There are a lot places with no drainage on the roads or sidewalks. We are here in rainy weather and I have almost slipped several times because all of my shoes are too slick. Maybe this is why the high heels are a hit because it lifts at least the the heel away from the water below. But It also is farther to fall.

More to do in spare time.
I brought things to crochet, read, write, play, stitch, etc but it was not enough. I wish we had movies in English, more to read , more games to play anything....

More for the kids to do
What I would't do for an UNO game or something that we could play together that wouldn't require language skills. We have spent hours looking for things to entertain the kids while we WAIT. There is a really slim assortment of any kinds of products for kids here especially games or cards or anything of good quality.

Instant foods that can be made with boiling water.
On the trains there is hot water available that you can make instant oatmeal or ramen or other things with. I used the 2 packets of instant oatmeal that I brought from home today and gave it to the boys for breakfast but they didn't eat it. I didn't know how to tell them how precious that stuff is.

Friday, December 24, 2010


We called Alina yesterday so that Spencer could talk to her for Christmas. She said what some people have predicted she would say: she now wants to be adopted again. She said that she wants to come to our family and when Spencer said "If our family can't adopt you do you want to go to another family in America?" She said "Yes." I think that she misses Spencer and especially at Christmas she wants family. The boys told her about all their presents and the fun things they are doing and I think that probably makes her feel like she is missing out even more.

She said that her aunt/cousin/sister, Marina told them that she was going to adopt her and Spencer and that is part of the reason she decided not to be adopted when we were there. When she allowed us to adopt Spencer, (she had to sign a paper saying that it was OK), Marina told her that since she had let Spencer go that she wasn't going to adopt her anymore and swore at her. She hasn't been back to see her and hasn't called. Alina's best friend, Anya, who the Meyers hosted, has now been adopted by her grandmother and so Alina is facing a new frontier in Ukraine.

Our hearts go out to her but we are a lot more reserved than we were before. We honestly had our hearts broken and have pretty much convinced ourselves that the right things have happened in the adoption. Since we have been home we have noticed how much harder things would be if we had adopted Alina too. Now the thought of going back and doing it all again is a bit overwhelming. I told Dave about the conversation and he said that he is 95% sure that he doesn't want to go back and do another adoption. I have been thinking about it a lot and IF we ever did go back to Ukraine to adopt again, we would definately do things differently.

If we were going to adopt from Ukraine again we would:

1. Adopt through Cathy Harris/Ukrainian Angels. who only charges $4,500 for the facilitators and the whole adoption part in Ukraine and only $1,500 for the whole Dossier prep portion. That is it. She is also the most knowledgeable and very fast, efficient and HONEST.

2. We would not be so desperate to get over to Ukraine. Desperate enough to pay same day expedition fees or Fed EX charges to send things there so fast when Priority Mail is 1/10th the price and almost as fast.

3. We would not be so desperate in Ukraine and feel like we had to have everything done as fast as possible so that we could get out of there. We would pay NO BRIBES or expedition fees to anyone. When people know that you are American they instantly feel like they have to take advantage of you. They act like they need to be "encouraged' to do their job which translates into a bribe. They don't care about the welfare of the kids as much as the money they are coveting. If the judge said that he couldn't do a court for 2 months unless we bribed him, we would say "Ok see you in 2 months" and be on the next plane home for 2 months. We feel strongly that by being a part of that whole process, we are not helping to clean up the corruption, but are reinforcing it.

4. We would take more things to the orphanage and give the kids gifts and candy in person. We found out that the package that we mailed to Vitaliy last Christmas never made it to him. This year he asked if I had mailed a package to his friends in the orphanage and I told him that mailing things to orphanages in Ukraine is a bad idea. They either get stolen during the mail or inspection process or taken by the administration and given to their friends or sold. The gifts RARELY reach the kids. I have heard too many horror stories about good hearted people doing a lot of nice things that are spoiled by evil hearted people.

5. We would take the things we missed while in Ukraine last time. I will find the list I made and repost it. Things that we just assumed would be available in a modern country that were very hard to find when we got there. We would take a long shower and enjoy our fluffy towels and eat the foods we like and prepare to "give up" the comforts of home for awhile so that we could give the comforts of home to someone else forever.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Christmas in a Family

My last post was pretty negative and it was a bad day/week/month. Everything I said is true and frustrating, but I think the spirit of the season is helping us to see the wonder that our new boys are experiencing. Evidently Christmas is not the same in Ukraine. It sounds like New Years is a bigger celebration and the the holiday lasts for a couple of weeks. One more chance for Ukrainians to get drunk :)

Spencer and Vitaly are so excited for Christmas. They are happy that school is almost over this year and that they get so many presents and they keep looking at the gifts and restacking them etc. They love the treats and the fun of Christmas. Vitaly has been on extra good behavior (at home) and hugs us more and says he loves us A LOT more. I hope it is permanant and not a ploy to get more presents :)

We are excited to get to talk to our Missionary, Bryan who is serving in Ukraine. He says that we get to talk for 3 hours. He has a pretty lenient mission president. (Tyler could only talk for 45 minutes.) If you know Bryan, you will wonder how we will ever talk for 3 hours. It will be fun to have him and the new boys speak some Ukrainian and I will be smiling for days just hearing his voice. He is doing well and was just transferred from Kiev to a remote area in Western Ukraine.

We are in the midst of concert season. The kids have concerts almost every day and between singing as a family and attending each of their events we are a singing bunch. The weather outside is frightful but at least our voices are warmed up.

We hope everyone has a fabulous Holiday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


OK Wendy's comment made me feel a little guilty, she said that I tell it like it is and don't sugarcoat things. Well the last post WAS sugarcoated. I left out some details that I should probably mention so that someone else doesn't think that there is something wrong with THEIR child. Yes, the boys have made tremendous progress in English and they do act a LITTLE more civilized than when we first adopted them, but they still cannot match their clothes for school and seem to show up in the worst possible outfit ready to walk out the door. I have made "matches" of clothes for them but they just mix them in with the other clothes and find the pair of pants that they (mostly Spencer) has torn the knee out of and the most wrinkled shirt and think that they are just fine. I have tried MANY tactics to get this issue resolved but it is simply not sinking in. It is more than a little frustrating.

We STILL have to remind Spencer to shower and wash his hair with SHAMPOO and spell the whole procedure out so he doesn't think that splashing his shoulders with water from the tap will be just fine. We still deal with tattling, lack of responsibilty and immaturity on a grand scale. They STILL have orphanage behavior popping out whenever it wants to, like yesterday when Vitaliy got called to the principals office because he got involved in a fight that 2 other boys were having and I am anxiously waiting the phone call on that one. We have heard from each of his teachers about how his behavior is disruptive and they are all sick of his lack of respect. I am trying to muster my courage and enough humility to go to parent/teacher conferences tonight. I explained to him that when a teacher has to call the parents it is a pretty serious thing. Maybe we have just had pretty perfect kids up to this point. Maybe we needed to be humbled in a big way. Maybe we needed to have our parenting questioned on every level and our lives turned upside down for some reason. I will be sure and blog when we get all the answers but I have a feeling that I will grow old and leave this life with plenty of questions still in my mind (if I even have a mind left, that is :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

embassy annual report

We are mailing in the annual report that is required by the Ukrainian Embassy in San Fran for Vitaliy and Spencer. I thought that it was a good time to record some of the things that they are doing well with and some of the things that they struggle with.

Both boys seem to be able to understand the material in their age appropriate grades. The school wanted us to put them into 7th and 4th grade and they have risen to the challenge. Most of the problems they face are related to behavior instead of academic deficiencies. Vitaliy has pretty much been in trouble with every teacher because of his behavior. He has a hard time respecting adults (especially women) and he is learning slowly by surely that you have to do what the teacher says or else. His issues are not too serious (just blurting out comments and talking and throwing things in class etc.) We have had to take away things he likes and have him write papers and letters to the teachers to try to teach him about appropriate behavior. What I think it will take is a cute girl to tell him to shape up and stop being a jerk in class. I think that would do the trick. I keep hoping. Maybe I should have Alisa offer a reward or something.

We had the teachers do a pass fail grade for the first term at school so that Vitaliy cculd adjust to the classes and not be discouraged when he got a C or a D. Now the teachers are expecting more and not making as many "allowances" for him. If he can get his behavior under control, he should be in good shape.

Spencer is doing great and has only had a couple problems with pouting and being disrespectful in ESL. The teacher in that class is a female and his 4th grade teacher is a male. I really think that there is something to my theory that these boys respond better to male authority. It certainly is the case at home. When Dave says something it carries a lot more weight than what I say with the new boys The main problems with Vitaliy's behavior seem to happen with his female teachers.


The boys are meshing better than ever at home now They get along with the other kids and are picking on Scott less now They really had some jealousy issues at first but now they are realizing that Scott is pretty fun and so they are mostly buddies instead of rivals like before. They both really love feel attached to Dave. He is the more lenient parent to them and they love to sit by him and talk to him and go on a "date" and get a shake etc. They are loving to everyone but they really do love Dave the most. Spencer will curl up next to him when we read as a family and they both want to sit by him all the time.

They have become accustomed to "the Drill" at home and help by doing their jobs and they hold their own with the other kids. There isn't any more special guest treatment going on from the other kids and Spencer and Vitaliy are just one of the gang now and that is what we were shooting for, (although we did enjoy the extra courteous behavior from our other kids at first.)


The boys have been doing great with church. Both were baptized and Vitaliy is a deacon and enjoys passing the sacrament and doesn't complain about doing fast offerings (which is great.) Spencer bore his testimony last month and seemed to really enjoy the experience I think that they are growing in knowledge and developing like the rest of us. We hope to have them sealed to us and are thinking that we will do it when Bryan gets home from his mission in Ukraine. This will also give them a little longer to gain an understanding of what it means to have an eternal family. I want the sealing to be a really special anticipated experience for the whole family.

Other stuff

It has been almost a half year since we arrived home and although we still have frustrations, things are a lot better now. We don't have the constant tattling and smelliness and struggles with understanding each other. The boys speaking really great English and can still talk up a storm in Russian with each other and Tyler. Tyler is planning to go out East this summer to work and we are not even worried about being able to communicate without him here to translate. They seem to be able to find the words for everything now.

Spencer is pretty compliant with all of the family rules and it is probably due to his age (9) and his personality. Vitaliy questions everything and usually decides to follow suit eventually. He really wants to have a girlfriend (at 12) and he doesn't like us to tell him that he is too young. Some girls at school are ready and willing and one even kissed him on the cheek and texted him that she would kiss him for real the next day if he wanted. The older brothers found out and scared off the girl by calling her Dad. Oh the challenges of having cute boys :) Vitaliy also said that he wants to have a bunch of tattoos and get his ear pierced. He said that when he is 18 he is going right out to tattoo and pierce himself to death. I told him that what I want for Christmas is for him to promise me that he won't. He thought that was a pretty weird Christmas wish. It is a little hard to try to convince him that the things that are so cool and common in Ukraine are not really that smart. Our life is more interesting the more we learn about our children. We are experiencing things that we never expected before. It will be fun to see what the next 6 months bring :)


We had a fun thanksgiving at home with the kids. Just our family is a group in itself. Happy Holidays!

Blake and James

Here are a few more cute pictures of Blake and James. They are a true source of joy in our lives and we are so blessed to have such awesome grandchildren. We look forward to meeting little Ali (the probable name of Heather and Joe's baby girl that is due in February.) We can't wait until she comes out to play :)