Monday, August 18, 2008

Final Post

All -

Thank you so much for following our adoption story. Our intent was to create a record of our adoption process, not to continue the blog once we were home and living our new life. Even though that is a story it has been a whole different story that we are working on day by day, like you and your family. There are some pictures of the children from this summer at the end of the blog.

However, so many people have asked for an update on the children that I am going to give one last update and then we will go continue working on our life story day by day, like your families.

August 25th will be three months in the United States for Joe, Oksana (what Lyda would like to be called this week) and Matthew, August 29th for Jason and myself. We have spent the last three months getting used to each other, learning what foods we like and do not like. They like almost anything that has mayonaise slathered on it. Learning about bath time and bed time, how we eat together at the table, where we keep our clothes, how not to run across a parking lot when we get out of the car. How to ride a bicycle without training wheels (Matthew), even through the yard. How to feed Murphy and Maggie and pet them "easy."

Aside - Not many people in the Ukraine had dogs as pets so they are not exactly sure how to treat them. Most of the dogs we saw on the streets were very skittish which made us think they had been abused. So, the boys had to be taught how to have a pet that you did not abuse.

How not to just eat everything you see because you see it. How to eat what you do have slowly and one at a time. Jason would cram and entire handful of goldfish in his mouth and immediately stick his hand out for more. He is much better now. That everyone who has on a uniform is not the police - firemen, deliverymen, park rangers, etc. This list goes on and on.

Someone asked me what is the thing that they have just been overwhelmed by and thought was the coolest thing ever here in America. It is really hard to tell because everything is so different from what they experienced. We went shoe shopping at Southpoint, our first trip to a mall. I thought they would just be in awe but everyone of them down to the smallest acted like they had been shopping in malls all the time, which we know they have not because nothing like our malls even remotely exist in Ukraine, even in Kiev. Then the same week I took Matthew and Oksana to the hole-in-the-wall Hillsborough Post Office and they could not stop looking at everything. So, go figure what is going to put them in awe.

They are all doing very well with their English even though Oksana will not admit it. We beat the bushes and finally found a lady from Kiev who lives in Raleigh that does English lessons. So Monday's and Wednesday's we made the trek to Raleigh for lessons. She did not speak English that well but what she could do for us was explain the words in Ukrainian so that our guys could understand and we could practice the English with them at home and in the car. "I see a ..." and "I do not see a ..." were common phrases we spent, and still do spend, a lot of time with.

In June Matthew went to camp at the Finley YMCA in Raleigh for a week and had a fantastic time. As a matter of fact, he just took his bead necklace they gave him off last night. He has worn it night and day since the camp. After camp his English was amazingly better and he has continued to improve all summer long. To the point that there have been times when he has translated to Oksana for us. We could be saying something and tell that Matthew understood but Oksana did not and he would jump in and tell her what we meant.

One of the best things I bought was a set of children's songs on CD from Walmart. On the CD's are songs that help with counting and just good ole' children's songs. We learned our ABC's (#1) and the days of the week (#20) from this as well as counting to at least ten (that's how many monkey's were in the bed).

We went to Nana Camp twice (my mom and dad's). The cousins (Ty, Megan, Paige, Madison and Lindsay) have also been there and again after these visits and playing with the cousins their language abilities just jumped. Nana has a trampoline, golfcart (which Oksana and Matthew have now learned to drive), a seemingly unlimited supply of pop-ice and tons of fun things to play with outside. The trampoline was an instant hit and both Matthew and Oksana have learned to turn a forward flip. The second time at Nana Camp we went to Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest and that was also a ton of fun.

Jason started day-care July 14th. I thought I would be able to tell a difference in how busy I was from day to day but I honestly could not, except that I could go to the bathroom without him marking on the door in red marker. Jason has slowed down a lot since he got here. Don't get me wrong - he is still very "busy," but now he will "play," rather than destroy, something on his own.

Matthew started Kindergarten at Leesville Elementary in July. This is his fourth week of school. His teacher's name is Mrs. Kelley and he loves her and school. He does still need to learn to use his "inside voice" during center time but is working on learning to write his letters and numbers. We decided to put Matthew in Kindergarten even though he is a little older because he needs what Kindergarten has to offer, learning to work in centers, learning to share and work with others, waiting our turn to talk, etc...

Oksana will start 7th grade at Leesville Middle School on August 25th. She is nervous about her language skills. We are too. She is going to camp at the Finley YMCA this week, today was day one, and had a terriffic time. Hopefully this week will give her some confidence with her language skills going into next week.

We also spent a great deal of time going to the doctor and dentist to get updated on our vaccinations and toothcare.

There are so many things I could tell you about the children, as I am sure those of you with children could tell about yours. Joe and I think that the children have made remarkable progress since they have been home but that the settling in process is still underway and may take a while to really be in place. Joe and I are also adjusting to having the quiet of our house shattered and think we are doing okay.

Again, Joe and I want to express our many and heartfelt thanks to those of you who have followed us on our journey with notes, e-mails, well-wishes, moral support, kind thoughts and well-wishes, clothes, gifts and gift cards. All have been greatly appreciated in helping us start our new family.

Joe and Tonya signing off

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Eastman five

Tonya and Jason arrived home Friday afternoon without incident. Tonya would like to thank some very patient and very helpful flight attendants for their assistance on the 9 1/2 hour flight from Kiev. The entire Eastman family is doing well and happy to be at home together in Hillsboro. Thank you again for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes throughout this amazing journey. Several people have posted that they are in the process of their own adoption adventure and we would like to wish you the best of luck. I am signing off of the blog. Tonya and Joe will take it from here.

God Bless,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Coming Home!

God is Good. Tonya apparently woke the Doctor up this morning at 8 a.m. and they had received info from the CDC that the negative test was acceptable for Jason to travel home.
Tonya and Jason will pick up his Visa this afternoon and be on a plane headed for NC tomorrow!

Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support throughout this amazing journey. Tonya and Joe are very appreciative. I am assuming that Tonya will update the blog after she arrives home.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Three home two to go

Ok, where do I begin...

The good news. Joe, Lyda Oksana, and Mathew Dima are safe and sound in the U.S.A. We had a wonderful visit with them yesterday. Oksana is shy but warms up quickly and took immediately to Lindsay. She has a very pleasant demeanor and is very intelligent. With her English and a book for translating we were able to communicate pretty effectively. Mathew has a million dollar smile that makes you just want to hug on him. He and Madison immediately started coloring, working on puzzles, and eventually ended up outside playing tag. We had a very nice visit and are excited to have cousins that live so close.
Nothing in this process has been without incident and the trip home was no exception. Joe, Lyda, and Mathew missed the flight out of Kiev literally by 5 minutes because they needed the one piece of paperwork that they didn't have. By the time Ramon delivered it they had just closed the gate. They were able to get on a later flight out of Kiev and were told that they would still make their connection. Despite sprinting through the NY airport they missed the connection again by just 5 minutes. Turns out that Delta had actually closed the flight early so they put the Eastman's and 7 other travelers that also missed the flight up in a hotel for the night. At 5 a.m. they headed back to the airport to finish the journey home. They arrived safely at RDU on Sunday morning but no sign of the luggage. This led to the first of what I am sure will be many, trips to Wal-mart for necessities. I am confident in saying that Joe had probably never set foot in the junior girls department before, but he apparently navigated it like a pro. Oksana seemed to be very pleased with her purchases as we were admiring her new clothes during our visit. Joe said both children were troopers through the entire trip and that it was very cool to see them experience everything for the first time. Mathew was amazed at everything on the airplane right down to the tray table. Both Lyda and Mathew slept over 12 hours on Sunday night and the luggage arrived sometime in the wee hours Monday morning. All is well that ends well and we feel very blessed to have them home.

Now for Tonya and Jason Vitali,
This gets confusing but here are the facts as I understand them. My last update was that Jason had an infection that needed to be treated with penicillin. The physician at the department where the physical was conducted said that it should be 10 consecutive days of anitbiotics in the form of a shot. However, they don't administer the treatment there. Tonya and Joe tried a couple of different clinics last week that had been recommended but they were "private" clinics and wouldn't administer the treatment. Tonya had another appointment on Monday with a different physician who said that she would recommend one shot per week for three consecutive weeks but after retesting Jason to verify the diagnosis her test was negative and revealed no infection. So she contacted the physician who had done the original test and apparently after a 45 minute discussion he agreed to accept her negative result. However, he doesn't have the authority to release the records without agreement from the CDC in Atlanta. Meanwhile, we have been on a mission stateside to try and seek assistance from anyone that can possibly get the records released so that they can come home (State Department, Senators, CDC, etc....). Please pray that tomorrow will result in the release of his records. Tonya has now been in the Ukraine a really long time!!!! Imagine trying to entertain a 3 yr old in a hotel room in a foreign country where you arent' very familiar with the surroundings and you can't speak the language! On top of that, she was charging the blackberry through Joe's computer that he had to bring home with him so she doesn't even have the release that she previously had of communication through e-mail. Once again let me just say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for both Tonya and Joe. Parenting is full of sacrifices and they are truly being tested right out of the gate. We are all praying that the physician in the Ukraine will arrive to work tomorrow and see a fax from the CDC accepting the negative result and releasing the records. I will keep you posted. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So close yet so far away

I am so annoyed to have to update that with only a few days to go until the Eastman's board the plane for home there has been a minor setback. The results from Monday's medical appointment showed that Jason or little V-man as Wendy affectionatly calls him has an infection that has to be treated before he can be cleared to leave the country. The good news is that it is nothing that won't be cured with a round of antibiotics. The bad news is that it is going to require one dose per day for 10 days and it has to be administered in the Ukraine. My first reaction when I read the e-mail was "Are you kidding me? Seriously, can they not just get on the plane already and come home." But those thoughts were followed by thank the Lord that it wasn't anything more serious and what a blessing that it can be taken care of with just a round of anitbiotics.
So the new plan is that Joe, Lyda Oksana, and Mathew will return home on Saturday as scheduled. Tonya and Jason will remain in the Ukraine for at least an additional 10 days. It is hard not to be a little disappointed that they won't all be coming home together but they have made it this far and they will make it another 10 days. Please pray for safe flights home, a successful round of antibiotics, and patience for Tonya and Joe as they each attempt solo parenting for the next few days.

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Good Day

Things are going well in Kiev. Below are some of the e-mails from Tonya and Joe:

Medical Appointments were fine this morning. All were tested for syphillis/HIV and because Lyda is over ten she had to get a couple of vaccinations. The actual medical check did not consist of much - a listen to the heart and lungs and a check of the lymph nodes. Planning on going to the circus on Friday night!

It it 8:00 PM and so far the day has been pretty good. Boys had grits for breakfast, the instant ones I brought, and ate them like they were candy. They were actually pretty good and I wasn't expecting them to be because they were instant. Lyda on the other hand hated them and spit hers out and ran to rinse her mouth out. As an aside the boys have not had a thing put in front of them that they did not eat like it was their last meal. Probably they have some making up to do. We never saw a meal at the orphanage to know about portion control or how much they got. They have the refrigerator figured out and are constantly drinking water and juice. Since Sunday afternoon we have gone through 12 liters of water (not sure how that translates to gallons but it seems like a lot to us). Nowhere to be this morning so we slept in. That meant seven something before the little feet pitter-pattered. We actually got Lyda up at 9:30.To get out of the house we decided to go walking toward the main square. We ended up at a park near the Hyatt (Mom the one with the brass lion that you can sit on and the playthings that look like a dragon). Met a lady there from Fargo, North Dakota - also adopting, 6 1/2 year old boy. He seemed much more filled out than Matthew. (Might explain the bottomless pit.)Lunch we had at a sandwich shop on the way back to the apartment. Pretty good. When we got to the apartment it was nap time and Jason went to sleep for 1 1/2 hours. I . After nap we went to the park near the apartment and had some successful play time. The little store near us had pasta and sause (pretty good). Joe cooked the entire package of noodles and I thought he was crazy but we ate almost every bit, again, bottomless pits. Even Lyda had seconds. Jason has learned the phrase "Did Mama say no?" We practiced our bear hugs today with much success. We are thankful for many things a few follow - sippy cups, screw on caps, wipes. Lyda spent some time today talking with her friends and was in a more jovial mood this evening. She has also discovered Joe's tetris game (thanks to whoever gave that to us). The perfect ending to a good day was that Jason went to sleep tonight without so much as a wimper.

Tonya and Joe

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Busy Days

The Eastman's have had a busy couple of days. Yesterday they said goodbye to the ophanage and headed to Kiev. I can only imagine how hard it had to be for Oksansa to say goodbye to her friends and the familiarity of the orphanage. She is so brave and I cannot wait to meet her in person.
Below is an update from Tonya:
We went back to the ophanage on Saturday. It was a special day at the Orphanage - no school because a school group from Kiev came to do a program. We went and despite the fact that it was in Ukrainian I am pretty sure it was about the founding of Ukraine. The people at the orphanage are very nice people and are very sad to see the children go. We gave them one of the NC picture books we brought with our family picture and contact information inside and they really liked it. Everyone has - who wouldn't, we have a beautiful state.
We loaded up a very tearful Lyda Oksana, a concerned looking Matthew Dima and a pretty happy Jason Vitali. Ramon said Jason was the happiest person there he also commented that he is never still. Seems like I have heard that said about some other youngsters I know. Oksana withdrew into the corner of the van the entire way to Kiev. Matthew wanted to look at everything that he could get his eyes on, from the lining in the top of the van to every " machina" on the road. Jason played with a water bottle all the way and was pretty good in general with minimal squirming. Remember, there are no car seats or apparently the using of any safety devices by anyone here so the five of us were in the back seat of Nikolai's little Renault van. Once in Kiev - at the same apartment you and I stayed in Mom- Matthew and I went around the block to the store and got some bread, jelly (which I thought was grape but I am pretty sure now is some other berry), water and chips. I had given Oksana a taste of the peanut butter Friday night and she liked it so we lit in and made PB & J's for everyone. They all liked the "American Sandwiches". Immediately after eating (about 1:30) Lyda said it was time for the boys to sleep, took them into the room and two seconds later she was back and the boys were asleep until 5:00. Wanted to write then but left crackberry in room with sleeping children.When boys woke up Joe and I took them to a playground right at the end of the block. Good thing Mom and I had already covered all this territory so we know where everything is - including the nearest McD's which we did not eat dinner at (I want to know who won the pool). Instead we went to a pizza place that was very close (other end of the block) that Nikolai showed us when he let Mom and I out. It was like fast food pizza - high counters to sit at and no low tables so we got a couple of pizzas to go and went back to the apartment to eat. After dinner the boys played a bit and then Oksana said it wat time for a bath. We actually gave them a seudo-shower. The tub has a hand held shower nozzel, so the boys stood in the tub, Lyda soaped and I rinsed em down. I am pretty sure the boys have never experienced a tub before based on their reactions. Mom you are just going to have to imagine what that was like.
Lyda emerged from the van in Kiev much better, though it still took a while for her to really seem comfortable. She has been a fantastic help today (sandwiches, washed the dishes up - boy do I hope that impulse lasts forever-, boys naps and baths). She did spend some time today on the phone to her friends and got a text tonight from Yeva saying that she was sad and crying. Yeva and Oksana are the closest but Lasia was so upset she did not come see us leave today. I actually put a picture of Lyda and Yeva in a picture frame in her room and when she was looking at the pictures of her room on the digital camera she zoomed in on that picture right away and was very happy about it.When we get back we can fill you in on other details - which I would tell you if I was able to keep up with this thing every day - but since we have been quite busy, I have not had time.
Tomorrow is Medical Appointments and Embassy so do not expect any updates until later. Hope this has whet your appetite and gotten you caught back up pretty well. Jason only took an hour and a half to ge to sleep tonight though I am pretty sure it had to do with gas - two brand new foods to his system (peanut butter and pizza). He settled down pretty quickly after giving him a children's Pepto (thanks Ribble).

Tonz (up waaay past my bedtime)