Our new Boy!!

Our new Boy!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Now for the important one...

One thing about the process in the Ukraine is that it is very slow. Many parents here that are doing what we are doing find themselves as captives in their hotel rooms and the regions they are staying in. There is a lot of down time and unfortunately, not a lot to do. We get two hours a day with our Stasik and the rest of the time is spent walking around town, and after finally freezing, we wind up staying in the hotel room. We read, watch TV, and follow up on correspondence; but mostly we talk about this experience, both good and bad. We laugh, cry, and sometimes this cramped hotel room is just too small to hold in all of the emotion involved in this. Everyone has different outlets. My outlet has always been humor; so hopefully no one takes offense to my use of it sometimes. Twelve days ago I was so sad that it would have been impossible for me to even laugh, but today is a day to rejoice! We are less than 48 hours away from our court appearance and everyday with Stasik is just a great day. If I let everything else going on at home and here get me down than I would truly miss the miracle happening in the little orphanage we spend two hours a day in.

I guess the workers actually went and spent some time in our playroom and realized that it is freezing. Today we went to a new room. It was very bright, warm, and very pink. I think we arrived in part of the girl's wing of the orphanage. It seemed to be an area where they were doing some remodeling and one of the rooms seemed to be more new and modern. There were tons of beds and cribs and I just kept thinking, "I hope they are not getting these ready for more little babies coming in." The fact is, Debbie and I wish we could save all of them, but we can't. We can only do what we can do as adoptive parents and spend the rest of the time advocating for these kids and raising awareness. Hopefully, someone reading this blog might help save a life by either adopting themselves or by letting others know the seriousness of the situation here in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, there will never be a shortage of kids, only a shortage of loving parents.

Stasik was all over the place today. I am not sure if it was the sunlight or maybe the warmth of the room, but he could not sit still. He laughed a lot, grabbed Mama's hair several times, and kept trying to crawl up on top of us while we laid on the ground next to him. For the third day, he kept down his milk and there were officially no signs of reflux at all. We did not even have to pull out a wipey today to clean up anything. We keep looking back at pictures from day one and remembering how we felt. We remember being told about all of his problems and things he could and could not do. Now we just marvel in it everyday and think about how just small acts of love and encouragement can change the world for these kids.. We know that we are far from being out of the woods, but we are going to be glad for every good day that we have with him. We are so thankful to God for what we are seeing!

Thanks for your continued support and prayers, we can definitely feel them lifting us up!

You down with no TP!!

Well I went off the beaten path here because being cooped up in a hotel room will make you loopy. It is just my nature to not take everything seriously and I think we really needed the laughs. Deb and I have had a discussion several times and thought we might share it.

It is funny to see the differences that exist between cultures and different countries. So many people place importance on things that may not be so important somewhere else. The food we eat, cars we drive, houses we live in.....all seem so different, and probably excessive to people from other countries. Debbie and I have done a lot of traveling and we are always ready to make adjustments to the way we are used to living. In Europe everything is smaller; hotels rooms, food portions, even vehicles just do not even come close to what we see in the good ol' USA. Maybe that is why Europeans are thinner and get better gas mileage? Heck, the first morning we went to eat our free hotel breakfast, the waitress kept asking "Is that it?" Like she was surprised us glutonous Americans would actually complete our order of free food without topping it of with a slab of butter, whip cream, or heck let's add about 10 more fried eggs and some more bacon....since it's free!! Well one thing we figured out quickly is you better eat light because toilet paper around here is a rare commodity. It is like the holy grail of Eastern Europe. Indiana Jones and Benjamin Franklin Gates would have a hard time finding it here with 20 treasure maps and a lifetime supply of decoder rings. Not only is it scarce, when you buy it here, the middle cylinder is about the same circumference as a coke can. This leaves you a solid 10 feet of paper to work with from start to finish.
We were advised before we came here to bring some of our own TP. At first we thought it strange, but were told that a lot of public restrooms did not have any and well....better safe than sorry. Well we went with it and flattened a roll as much as possible to get it into our bag. When we arrived at our apartment in Kiev we realized that the laws of toilet paper do not just apply to public. We went by a grocery store on the way and I never thought, "hey I should probably pick some up". Well it wasn't a day or so before we had to go into emergency stash. Little did we know we were probably breaking 10 kinds of Ukrainian sanitation and sewage laws by bringing in my double-ply, aloe enhanced, mega roll. We later learned that the pipe and sewage system here is really only capable of handling single ply paper....oops! Dang, us Americans could have brought down the whole city; lucky for them we only brought the one roll. When we got to Priluky, we decided to go ahead and get some extra rolls when we went shopping for food. The area dedicated to TP was about the size of an American endcap. So much to choose from...hmmm, white or yellow?...soft or regular? Needless to say I did not have to take long to make a decision.
When we arrived at the hotel in Priluky we were surprised to see we had some toilet paper in the bathroom. Not a lot, mind you, but some. Most places I have stayed I might be used to getting a brand new roll, but here...you get what's left. We went ahead and unpacked and took out some of our "soft" stuff we bought at the store. I believe that their difference between soft and hard must be equivocal to comparing coarse sandpaper to a washboard. It is the worst case of false advertising since telling kids in the 50's that hiding under your school desk will save you from a nuclear explosion. Nonetheless, it was all we had....and when I say "had", I really mean it. We went out and explored Priluky only to come back to a clean room and the discovery that the maid had stolen our brand new roll of "semi-soft" toilet paper. Now I have been at places where they give you an extra roll, but I have never been a victim of TP theft. In fact they are so stingy here that if we are down to just a little bit, we are still unworthy of getting a new roll. I can not imagine how these ladies would have reacted to watching me and the boys toilet papering Mary Jone's house back in middle school. They would probably look like Fred Sanford grabbin' his heart and getting ready for the "Big one." In order to get a new full roll in our hotel, we have to hide the almost empty roll, flip up the TP holder cover, and put a sticky note that has an arrow and the word "nol" next to it and then hope for the best. Ok, I may have gone a little far with the sticky notes...but mostly because we had to use all those when the TP ran out!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Life is about the Journey..

Well today we finally got news we were waiting for. Our facilitator told us today that we would have our court date on February 2nd. I know that in the Ukraine, nothing is written in stone, but I am hoping this is at least written........ somewhere. We have been told that this is the day that really decides our fate; are we worthy or are we not? I do not think that there is a specific construct validity test that will be given. I think it is an eye ball test; a matter of personal opinion and bias; the anti-groupthink scenario where one person, not a panel, decides if we can provide better care for Stasik than the orphanage he currently is housed in. If the answer seems obvious, it should be, but it entirely depends on the region the baby is in. Good news for us is that we have heard our region is flexible and the judge is more supportive of International adoptions. That does not make this just a formality, but it definitely reduces our anxiety going into it. We heard that in one region, the judge told the husband that he had 2 weeks to learn the language and he studied as much as he could in that time. The judge wanted to know what lengths the parent would go to to preserve the child's heritage. Even though no one could learn this language in two weeks, they passed the test and took the child home.....Just the way things sometimes work around here.
Stasik had another good day today. He has definitely put on some weight and we can see it in his arms and legs. I tried to put my hand around his thigh like I did on the first day and I can no longer wrap my fingers all the way around. He also will not fit in some of the clothes we bought him. It just seems he is really growing and getting stronger. We are actually very surprised that he is so short in stature. He has long fingers and his feet look like skis. I am assuming he will hit a huge growth spurt once we get him home. We do not think it will take him long to catch up.
Today I actually pulled out the video camera and we just filmed him playing all afternoon. We were not sure we would gather much film a few days ago, but now there is just so much activity to capture. He crawled across the floor, banged on the drum, stood by himself again, and just sat and talked to us for long periods of time. He still says "dada" and reaches out for me to hold him. "Mama" is also now an official word in his vocabulary. The pictures we have taken show the changes over the last dew days, but the video just brings it all to life.
Please continue to pray for our family as we complete this part of our journey. It is amazing what we have seen and been through. When we think about this process and when it first started, it is hard to imagine we would be here. For us this adoption journey is beginning to wind down, but for Stasik, well....his journey is only beginning!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Everybody's Changin'

Although we are more than ready to come home and see Carter, our family, and our friends, we are trying to make the most of our stay here in the Ukraine. It has been a difficult change and it seems like we have been here forever, but we are staying positive as to why we are here and that soon this will all be worth the time spent so far away from home.
I am constatly reminded that this is not Western Europe. I always want to walk into a store and speak with someone in English. Debbie pointed out the other morning that the chances of that happening are about the same as me being able to comfortably wear my swimsuit outside tomorrow….and she wasn’t talking about in Texas. After listening to this seasoned Social Studies teacher do work and go through an exposition on Russian History, I realized that there really is no reason for most of them to learn English. In fact, she reminded me that just over 20 years ago, they were indoctrinated with the idea that Americans were not to be trusted. It now seemed obvious to me why they stare at us all the time and walk away when we speak English instead of their native language. I thought that this conversation might have been better to have had while on the plane ride over, but as always, her contempt of flying and a couple Dramamine put a stop to that. We have gotten to know a few people in the local businesses we frequent often and as it turns out, they really do not dislike us. They actually try to talk to us when they see that we are not the arrogant Americans they have had in their minds. I have learned a lot of Russian/ Ukrainian the last two weeks, and although probably comical to listen to, they know I am trying. In fact, the evolution in the last several days in Priluky has been amazing. The restaurant we eat breakfast at has a young guy that waits on us every morning. After a couple days, he memorized our order and now says it in English. At the pizza restaurant we eat at every day, the lady that waits on us actually now says “thank you” when we are leaving. When we walk in everyday, while every clientele in the establishment is staring holes into our foreheads, they just wave and say “hello”. Our taxi driver has been the best and he is constantly coming up with new words and as we go back and forth it sounds like a barrage of broken language from both sides. Somehow we all communicate and it has really changed the way I see this place and the people that live here.
The most amazing changes have been with Stasik. From the first day we stepped foot in his orphanage we have seen a dramatic transformation. Here is this kid that seemed so fragile when we first arrived and in just a week is doing all kinds of miraculous things. It seems that his GI issues are getting better and he is holding down food. His strength is increasing and he seems to be getting heavier. Maybe it is because of our presence and the pressures being placed on the orphanage workers; or maybe it is because we are already pushing him to excel. Whatever the reason is, we see changes. Over the last two days he has army crawled across the floor; whether it is to get to a toy he wants or to get to one of us, he has shown great effort and desire to get better and explore his environment. It could be the constant blowing of my whistle or maybe Debbie yelling through the megaphone to pick up the pace, but whatever it is he seems to want to impress us. Today he was able to lean on the couch and hold up his own bodyweight without help. He grabbed a drumstick and beat on a drum incessantly and looked at me several times and said “dada”. We are still working on mama, but he now has the “ma” part down. He kept his milk down again today and is drinking out of the bottle like a seasoned champ. Throughout our 2 hour visit, he just exhausts himself trying new things and getting better every time. He just picks up on things so quickly! We are very inspired and I feel like it is eventually going to be a race between him and Carter to see who figures out something new first.
Yup, every day is a better day here in Priluky and it seems everybody’s changin’!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Psalm 55:22....

Last night we went to bed about 3 a.m. We were able to use Skype to visit with our other son, Carter, from our friends’ house back in Texas. It has been very difficult to be away from him for so long. Throughout this journey we have done our best to keep our eyes on the big picture. We know that God has us here for a reason and that Stasik’s, Carter’s, and our lives will be forever changed because of it. We are so thankful to the supporters we have back home. Although we know we would still be here, it makes it so much easier knowing that the people we work with every day support what we are trying to do. Our church and community have rallied around us and we feel the strength of their prayers pushing us forward; resolute in their belief that we will not ever be doing this alone. To all of our family and friends, we thank you from the depths of our hearts!
After Carter kissed the screen last night and told us goodbye, we really could not hold back our emotions. With so much going on and just the ebb and flow of activities here and at home, it was just natural to just kind of let it all go. So much of it has been overwhelming and sometimes I feel like we are just carrying too much of the burden on our own. We stayed up and talked for a little while and then we both lied down to finally get some much needed sleep. I laid there for a little while and just talked to God. I asked him to help me carry our burdens, to take the worry and anxiety away, and to help me be a strong husband and father to see this whole thing through. I fell into a deep and comfortable sleep knowing that tomorrow’s mountains may not seem so high.

“Help us, Lord, to trust you with everything going on in our life. Lord, release us from our own anxiety and by your Spirit, help us to place our burdens upon you. Please carry for us those things that we cannot” - Amen

After a great night’s sleep for both of us last night, we got up to start our day. I truly felt like I was going to have to take on the arduous task of trying to explain our concerns to the workers. When we arrived, however, it seemed someone had already let them know. When we took Stasik upstairs we wanted to make sure he had been fed. At first we were unsure, but after a few minutes on his back, he spit up a little bit and that let us know he had food in his stomach. With that concern out of the way, we went about our routine of PT exercises, singing nursery rhymes, and playing with toys. He had a lot more energy today. He was able to stand for longer periods of time, but eventually figured out it was just easier to pick his legs up and have us hold him. He tried to crawl a few times, mostly army crawls, and then just rolled over and picked up all of his toys, not knowing which one he actually wanted. A few times he figured out he had fingers and just kept turning his hand over back and forth in amazement. Unlike yesterday, he was very patient waiting for the bottle. He did not seem starved and he kept the entire bottle down for the first time this week. Of course, exhausted toward the end of our time together, he assumed his position in Mama’s lap to get in another quick nap. This is the first time we have walked out of the playroom with really no concerns about what we have seen that day. We know there are still some issues, but it seemed like our prayers were answered. When we took him to his group, the ladies were setting out cups to give the kids another meal. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the exit. As we were walking out we ran into one of his other nannies. She was carrying a large pot full of food. It was as if God did not want to leave any doubt in my mind; as if to say, hey guys I got this! The language barrier was overcome today and I never even had to say a word. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Milky Day!!

Today was probably the coldest day we have experienced since we have been here. The orphanage is an older building and is very drafty. It seemed that no matter where we went in the building it was cold. Our playroom seemed exceptionally frosty! Stasik's hands were uncovered and we had to try to keep them warm most of the afternoon.
We spent the first 30 minutes of the day doing some fun PT exercises, but Stas struggled physically. He seemed to have another one of those tired days and we wondered again if he may be getting sick. He has been congested for 3 days now, but it all seems to be in his upper-respiratory area so we have not worried too much about it. Today, though, it sounded much worse. He did not have any fever, so we are hoping it will not get worse and lead to something more serious. The doctor came in again today to check on him. I believe now that maybe these visits we have had the last few days are to make sure he is doing ok. The doctor feels his head and hands, I think to check for increased temperature. These visits started the same day his congestion did.
Today was our second day to give him a 2 oz. bottle of Similac. Yesterday went well and he was able to keep most of it down. I wonder if he threw some up later, though, because today I am not sure they even fed him at lunch. He showed no signs of reflux like he normally does and there was not the sweet smell of potato and onions on his breath like there usually is. Once again, we became concerned that we had a miscommunication. Maybe they thought we would feed him at lunch? The Similac is to enhance his calorie intake, not replace it. We will probably have to talk to them again. We thought it best to give him the bottle earlier today since he seemed really hungry. When we pulled it out of the bag he looked like a baby bird getting fed in a nest. His neck was stretched toward the bottle and we could not get it into his mouth soon enough. He finished the bottle quickly and it was obvious he wanted more. It was like he was starving! Maybe he was. We hope that they do not begin to feed him less since he is being adopted; shifting resources to other kids. If so, we will have do whatever we can by whatever means necessary to keep him fed 3-6 times a day; probably closer to 3.
After the bottle we decided to also give him a teething cookie. These are not high in calories, but it is all we had and he was still so hungry. He struggles to chew anything that is not mashed or pureed, and it gave him a difficult time at first. After it softened up, though, he enjoyed it. We tried to get him to feed himself today and made a bit of progress. At first he would not hold the food in his hand at all. If it was not in my fingers, he did not know what to do. By the end of the day he would hold the food in between his index finger and thumb and would put it in his mouth when prompted. He almost took off his own fingers as well as mine a couple of times because he just wants to eat so quickly. I think they feed him hurriedly and he gets what he can in a short amount of time. It is obvious he did not get much to eat before we got there and that is definitely the opposite direction that we are trying to go.
After finishing the teething cookie, he just sat in our lap and talked. He moved around betwen us and we began to think that he might at least keep these calories consumed. Boy were we wrong! The milk and cookie suddenly launched like mount vesuvius all over Mama's black sweater. It was not a lot of food, but it came out like a can of spray-on texture, and Debbie's sweater made quite the canvas. For the most part he kept the rest of it down and we are glad, but we are going to have to make sure it is not all the food he is getting in the afternoon.
After the milky projectile frenzy, Stasik just talked some more and once again fell asleep in our arms. We still have many concerns that we will work out, but overall another great day!

GroundHog Day!

Like many of the other days here in the Ukraine, this one started out the same. Debbie and I still have bouts of insomnia, but have learned we are probably not alone in this country. We found a plethora of sleeping aids that the Ukrainian pharmacies keep behind the counter. Now in the United States that usually means they are strong drugs, but here it could just be so you do not steal them. They seem to help some, but the verdict is still out. It would probably take some sort of horse tranquilizer to completely knock us out, anyway.
Much like Phil Connors reliving his days over and over again in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Priluky is very much the same. Every day we wake up and eat breakfast, take showers, and get dressed and ready to leave the hotel. In the last couple of days we have discovered a new breakfast place, but other than that it does not change much. After walking out of the hotel at 1:00 p.m., we get into the same taxi with the same driver. We take the same road to the orphanage where Stasik lives. At 3:00 we leave and go back to the hotel, put our stuff in the hotel room and go to eat. After we eat we go to the same stores and markets; some days we actually find something to buy. After an hour of shopping (and usually freezing), we go back to the hotel and call it a night; it gets dark here around 4:30. When we get settled, we check on things back home and write on our blog. I think every day is like Groundhog Day in Priluky. Having a routine is a way of life here, especially for us. We see a lot of the same faces at the same time of the day. We have gotten to know store owners and found our routine makes our day a little more comfortable. We are probably the only Americans here and we always get long stares whenever we walk into a restaurant or store. When we try to order something in a new place, there is normally some local in line behind us frustrated, adding to our feeling of uneasiness. So a routine is a good thing for us and I think everyone else here in this small town.
The best three hours of our day are the two hours we spend with Stasik and the hour afterward when we go to eat lunch. The time in the orphanage is typically the only time that we feel totally at ease. This is our time to be ourselves and be laid back. Even though the orphanage has rules, the activities we have with Stasik change daily based on him. Some days he wants to be all over the place and some days he just wants to lie around. Whatever he wants to do, we just go along with it. We wish we could stay there all day! We found this pizza place, I know very American, right?, that we love to go to every day. We can get a good size pizza and two drinks for under $6.00. This is a great thing when you are trying to stay on a tight budget. We have become very chatty with the owners and I believe they enjoy us coming in every day. They help me with my Russian and I feel very comfortable talking to them, even when they laugh at me and my Texas drawl. When we return to the hotel after shopping is when our day just seems to drag on. A person could go crazy here in this little town in the winter. There is very little to do and walking around in the cold aimlessly is out of the question. Just to run an errand requires an onslaught of full winter accouterments and 5 minutes for dress and undress. Today was -20° C (that’s -4° F for everyone doing math at home), so indoors is sounding good to me. The problem is T.V. stations are limited to Russian dramas and American Pop videos. Needless to say we have been bouncing off the walls. We want to get home and we want to get Stasik home with us. Until then we will see you again tomorrow on Groundhog Day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Words can not express.....

We were very anxious to get to the orphanage today. Yesterday was such a good day we were just chomping at the bit to get back. When we arrived, we walked in on lunch so we were asked to leave the room. I guess we were a distraction to the kids while they were eating. They were running late today so we had to wait awhile to get Stasik. We were a little disappointed due to our limited time, but it was worth the wait! He was so happy to see us and he had the same clothes we left him in yesterday. The weather was much warmer today so he did not have all the under layers he usually has. We both think that maybe he has put on a little weight.
Every day we bring diapers for them to use and they are supposed to be for Stasik. When we packed for this trip we were not sure how big our clothes or diapers needed to be. As it turns out, everything is too big. Yesterday, we donated the bigger diapers to the orphanage, but I do not think they understood what we were doing. Stasik can probably wear stage 2 diapers and today they had him swallowed up in these stage 4’s we donated for the bigger kids. He looked so uncomfortable and we had to change him out immediately. The workers want so much to do what we ask and accommodate us. I am sure that they were wondering why we wanted Stasik in these huge diapers as much as we were wondering why they put him in them. The language barrier will do that I guess, but they mean well. We got it straightened out this afternoon and all had a laugh.
Stasik was mobile all day today. He kept wanting to stay on the move; very different from yesterday. He wanted to play and move back and forth from one of us to the other. At one point he was on his stomach on the couch and climbed up to get in my lap. He then stood up, using my chest for balance, to get his face even with mine. This was quite an accomplishment and it is obvious that he is starting to get some of his strength back. He is very determined and hard to hold when he wants to go somewhere else. We both think this is a great thing. Our son Carter had great gross motor skills early and his fine motor skills took a while to catch up. Stasik is just the opposite right now. His fine motor skills are phenomenal, but he has shown deficiencies in gross motor skills. This has to be attributed to his lack of size and I will bet when we get him home that will all change. I know he wants to stand on his own, crawl, and walk. He will push himself up to stand with help and he just keeps getting in the crawling position and rocking back and forth; t is just a matter of time. I think he is limited by his previous sickness and current diet…….oh, and also the previous absence of two gung-ho parents that will motivate him every day. We received permission from the orphanage doctor today to give him 2 ounces of Similac. We were uncertain if he had ever had a bottle or if he could even keep it down. He did great with both. We are trying to add some calories for him every day even if it is not many. Because of his G.I. issues, he will probably have to stay on milk and rice until we can determine what all else is wrong.
Today went by so quickly. People are in and out of our playroom now during our visits. We wonder if we are being observed. The doctor will come in twice to check on him and talk to us. Debbie thinks they are watching us. I think they feel obligated to come in because we make so many suggestions, they probably feel like they have to show us they care about him too. Either way, it is not uncomfortable and I think it is important for them to see how much we already love him. The last thirty minutes he sat in Debbie’s lap and just talked to us. Obviously these words were not easily understandable, but like I said a couple of days ago, my Russian is not real good! He made different and prolonged sounds today. He looked at us back and forth and you could just tell he was trying to communicate with us. He had our full attention. Even though we could not understand much of it, his eyes told us what he was trying to say.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Спящая красавица-Sleeping Beauty

Today we had our best day yet! When we arrived at the orphanage, the nannies already had Stasik ready to go. He was dressed in his same light blue jacket he normally wears. As usual, it was over two other layers of clothes. Little did he know that we bought him a brand new outfit last night. When they carried him to us he was very anxious and reached out for us. It made us feel so good that he seemed to look forward to this part of his day as much as we did. We asked the nanny if we could change his clothes and after we were given the ok we headed upstairs to our playroom where we go every day.

Now blue is the signature color for the Wingfield men, but even I know you can’t wear the same thing every day. Last night Mama bought him a green suit that has bears on the top and a hat with ears. It is a 3-6 month outfit and we hoped it would fit him. It was a perfect fit, but only with the other two layers on. After our quick change we pulled out all of the toys like we normally do. For the first time since we arrived he seemed content from the beginning of our visit. There was no apprehension and he seemed to understand what was going on and that these short periods were all we had, but were only temporary.

Today he did not have the reflux he has had the last 5 days. It was obvious to us that the doctor had followed our request to limit the big particles of food he has been eating. We are very appreciative to her for that and believe that he will be able to digest the smaller bites easier. He only spit up a couple of times the entire afternoon.

Today he just seemed to want to be held and be in our laps. Usually we play on the ground and do some physical therapy exercises, but today he just wanted us to hold him. We had no problem with that and took every opportunity to accommodate him. He seemed a lot more tired today and we wonder if our visits have somehow affected his sleep schedule. Or maybe he is just like us and can’t sleep waiting for the next visit. The time just seemed to fly by and after about an hour and a half, he just fell asleep in our arms. He was completely at peace and it was the most beautiful thing for us to see. It was as normal as it could be in our situation and it just killed us to have to take him back to his group. We wanted to stay with him all day.

Unfortunately, we had to take him back and upon arriving downstairs, he woke up. The nannies took him and he held on to Debbie’s jacket until his outstretched arms just could not anymore. For the first time ever he raised his little arm and waved good bye to his new Mama. The nannies looked at one another as if they were in disbelief. Maybe it was the first time he had ever shown that kind of emotion, or maybe they just could not believe the bond that had been developed in such a short time. Regardless of the reason, we were so happy…..and so sad at the same time. We wanted to ask for more time, but knew it was just not a possibility. We both kissed him goodbye and he never took his eyes off of us. They placed him in a walker to play with the rest of the group. The walker was turned away from us, but he turned his head all the way around to make sure we were still there. His positioning looked so uncomfortable, but it was obvious he did not care. The nanny tried to get his attention, but he was steadfast. Finally, she turned the walker around and he just stared at us with those beautiful bluish gray eyes. I told him, “z’avtra”, “tomorrow” and he smiled as if to let me know he understood. We backed out of the room, took one last glance and then, very hesitantly, walked away.

Monday, January 23, 2012


There are many people that have told us to use this time to relax and focus on the adoption. We need to rest because when we get home we will have to deal with a new addition to the family, time change, going back to work, etc. Well I do not know how you do that. I know that God's handprints are all over this, but I can not quit thinking about everything going on in our lives right now. Debbie and I both sit awake at night with so many things going through our minds. We think about home, our other son, our jobs, and Stasik. What is Carter doing? Is there any bill we forgot to pay? Are our classes going ok back at school? Is Stasik cold tonight? What else do we need to plan for him? What words do I learn tonight so I can tell the orphanage doctor what we need tomorrow? It goes on and on. We know that Carter is taken care of and we know that we work with great people that support us 100% in this journey, but we still can't help but worry about it. We both laid down at 3:00 this morning and here I am wide awake at 7:00 a.m., having had only a slight nap. I am already thinking about what we need to do today.

Right now I am listening to what sounds like a party in our hallway and that just adds to it. Our hotel is alive with sounds at all times of the day and night. We would change residence, but pickings are slim and we are very conveniently located. Our room is a cross between the Louvre and a cheap Vegas hotel. We have a naked replica of Aphrodite that stands between our room entrance and the main living quarters. Debbie has found a function for the Hellenistic piece of antiquity and uses it to hang her hat and scarf when we come in everyday. For several nights I believed I was being observed as a I lay with my eyes open. Even if I pull the hat down over her eyes I still get the sense that I am being watched. We have a nude picture that hangs above our bed. It could very well be the picture sketched by Jack Dawson in the movie Titanic. Rose Dewitt Bukater without the heart of the ocean necklace. There is a light that always shines through the window and as I lay awake at night I can easily see myself in the mirror adhered to the ceiling above our bed. The blue satin bedspread matches the blue tile in the vegas style, hot tub bathroom and I could swear that there is also a man that lives in the walls of the hotel and bangs on the pipes all night. Not bad for 50 bucks a night, but far from the ideal venue for a great night's sleep. Early this morning every patron staying on our floor slammed their hotel room doors and it sounded like a 21 gun salute as they locked up and went out to start their day. Note to self: next trip pack the earplugs and the sleeping mask.

More to come later today!

Come Health or High Water!!

Today we had to take our first stance has Stasik's new parents. Although it is not official yet, we already see ourselves as his providers and responsible for his security. We are not sure how all of this is going to work out and we hope that we do not offend anyone that his currently charged to his care. In three days we have seen many areas of concern for him. He is regurgitating a lot of food and of the food we have seen, none of it has a lot of nutritional value. For a typically developing kid this food is barely sufficient. For a child with Down's Syndrome, it provides few of the needed nutrients for better physical and mental development. As parents that already have a child with Down's Syndrome, we know, and we have done the research. As we say in Texas, "this is not our first Rodeo!" Stasik suffers from very poor muscle tone, normal for DS children, but extreme for an 18 month old child. Surely, some of this is a result of recent surgeries, but mostly it is lack of the proper nutrition. Today we had to change his diaper and it was the first time we have pulled away his three layers of clothing. Our tears could not be held back. We knew he was very, very small, but the extent had been covered for days. His legs had loose skin and if I put my hand around his upper thigh, my index finger and thumb would touch easily. His arms were much smaller and his stomach was distended. Obviously, all of these are a result of many things, but someone has to understand that even though the law requires us to wait for the adoption to be complete, we are not going to sit idly by and watch it happen. So we made our feelings known about a few concerns today and we are praying that the powers that be may let us add to some of his diet. We will buy food for his whole group if we have too.
The good news out of all of this is that we are just in time for him. He has such an upside that it is impossible to think that he will not rise from the proverbial ashes like the mythical phoenix. Someone once said about this journey that we need to keep perspective, "What you see in your child now, is the worst it will ever be". These children are resilient when given the opportunity to thrive. With everything that I have written over the last four days, it is amazing to see the things that he can do. It is as if he already carries the Wingfield name. He is stubborn to a fault and will continue to push himself until he gets what he wants. For such a little guy he is very strong. He has a certain will that reminds us of our other son, Carter. I believe that Carter will be his mentor and biggest supporter. It is peculiar, the similarities I see with both of them. There is no quit; only the desire to prove that they can do what they want. Once we take him from his current circumstance, he will never look back, but if only for an instance.

“Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. In those transparent moments we know other people’s joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own.”
~Fritz Williams

In four days we have seen Stasik transform into a totally different child. His pale color and sickly demeanor on day one has changed into a vibrant face and a bellowing laugh that finally arrived today. He laughed uncontrollably and he smiles more and more each time we see him. When we arrive he reaches for us and is sad to see us go. We are trying to establish a strong emotional base to let him know that we love him and that we are here for him. The process is still ongoing, but a huge part of me truly believes he would not have subsisted much longer, emotionally or physically, in his previous state. Knowing he is loved is the first part, now it is time to handle the other health concerns. We have everything and everyone in place at home, but we will just have to do what we can while we are here. We hope he knows that whether we are with him or away from him we are committed to him as any good parent would be. We will always be back for him, he is part of our life now, and always will be.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hold the Onions please!!

We are starting to enjoy the slow pace in Priluki, Ukraine. After spending a few days in Kiev it is nice to go outside and meander without worrying about getting run over. Don't get me wrong, Kiev was very nice, but everyone was always in a hurry. It was a bit of human tailgating and it seemed that I was always in someones way. Out here in the country, us Texans can just mosey on out and enjoy the day. We have met dang near every store worker in town and we have enjoyed the snickers we get when we pull out our Russian for dummies book and try to talk to them. I like to think that they are laughing with us, not at us, but usually I am not laughing. Anyway, we always come back for more, mostly because I enjoy learning to talk to them and I am sure they enjoy the comedic antecdote.

We had another great day with Stasik! When we arrived at the orphanage today we went in and I think everyone knows who we are now. They immediately dress Stas up in 3 layers of clothes and bring him to us. I am never sure whether they bundle him up to keep him warm or to try to hide the fact that he is lacking in weight. They should know that it does not matter, because when we get him home he will be getting F-A-T! Our problem is just doing what we can to keep him healthy until that happens. That is why we bought him the cookies of which we do not speak. They are really just teething biscuits, but we won't tell him that because he loves them anyway. He did not look good today when we got him. We nailed it down to what we thought they were feeding him. Two days ago (when we first met him) he kept regurgitating food and today was more of the same. It always smelled like onions and for sure today that is what it was. We tried to clear them from his mouth everytime he spit them up, but he would just always re-swallow it. Now I am no specialists, but I can figure out that giving onion soup to a 18 month old that is 3 weeks removed from gastric surgery is probably not the best thing in the world. Yesterday they gave him potato soup and he was just fine. They say that the onions keep him healthy, but the irony is that everyday they give him onions, he looks sick. Fortunately, we were able to be with him and let him get rid of some of the "esophatoxin" they were giving him. He smiled much more today than he has the last two. We can only hope that it is because he knows he is loved. We are trying to do some things to help with the diet, but our hands may be tied until he is officially ours.

We are missing Carter so much right now!! We knew that leaving him would be hard, but it is so difficult to be away from him. We try to keep our attention on the big picture, but still very difficult. After court we will go home to see him and take care of some work related items, but then I am sure we will miss Stasik. Until he is home with us we will always worry about problems that may occur here. We pray that time will fly quickly and we can make it all happen soon. We pray that the SDA here in Kiev will make a quick decision and we can have court soon. Then we can see our sweet Carter and get our Stasik home sooner, because we worry for his health. One day at a time!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes!!

For those of you following the blog, we have decided to name Braeden, Stanislav Klein Wingfield. His Ukrainian name is Stanislav and we wanted to keep his roots. His nickname is Stasik, which in the Ukraine is short for Stanislav. It is tough not referring to him as Braeden, but he already responds to his real name.

God is Good!! Today was a wonderful day. We both got some much needed sleep, albeit by accident. We have been in a daze and this morning I woke up with the worst headache so I took some tylenol. Debbie took some too and asked if I knew that I just took Tylenol PM. When I was buying items for our travel I guess I should have looked a little closer at the bottle. Needless to say after 4 of those suckers I was out. We both woke up at about 11:00 am. Of course the phone we were given by our facilitators is an hour fast so we thought that we had about 40 minutes to get up and get going. Luckily I looked at my other phone and realized we still had time. We arranged for a ride to and from the orphanage every day. We can visit Stasik from 1:00-300 and our Taxi picks us up every day at chass (1:00). Being late on our first day with the new driver would probably not have started a great 7-10 day relationship. Any way we made it out to the Taxi fully bathed and fed with all our new found time. Yesterday I talked about the people that were waiting out in the snow for rides. Today we drove through new snow which forced everyone to walk in the middle of the road. Our taxi driver was not too happy about that and we spent our 10 minute drive swirving in and out of pedestrians like we were on a cones driving course. The snow came up to the fenders on the car, but we muddled through it.

When we arrived at the orphanage the gate was shut and for a brief second I thought that we were going to be shut out for the weekend. I was thinking how horrible it would be for us not to see Stasik for two days. Yesterday was a tough day and we wanted today to be a better one. I got out of the car and luckily the gate was not locked. We went in and I tried to tell the the driver where to turn, but he did not understand my english or broken Russian. We wound up at a door that I was not familiar with and was not sure at this point we would get in. I could not talk to him and the workers at the orphanage did not know what to do with us either. Finally a familiar face....the doctor we spoke to yesterday...remember, the one that gave us all the bad news and carried around Stasik's medical history novel. Well she recognized us and pointed us in the right direction. We went to Stasik's group and waited for them to bring him to us. It is amazing the number of kids in the Ukraine that are in orphanages. We looked around the room and saw several kids just staring at us. We wanted so badly to hug them or pick them up, but we could only pick up our boy. The typically developing kids that make up most of Stasik's group can normally not be adopted by international parents until they are 5 years old. Which means that if Ukrainians do not adopt them, they sit in orphanages until they are of age for and someone from another country can adopt them. Very sad really. I know that some of the concern is the idea that some of these kids will lose their heritage or roots if they leave the country, but in the end I think it is just important for them to have a home. The positive about this group is that Stasik is in there with them and not in another group that has mostly children with more serious medical needs. For us this is a positive...the fact that he can hang with these kids and hold his own. As we sat and waited a woman came around the doorway with this beautiful kid. He had blue eyes and short brown hair. We looked at one another and were both thinking, "what a great looking kid". Just imagine our shock when she walked right up to us and put that kid right in Debbies arms. "Was this the same kid we had yeaterday?' We took a sacond look and realized that this was our Stasik. He looked completely different. Their was color in his face, the dark under his eyes was gone, and he just stared at us and smiled. Wow, what a difference a day makes!!!

We took him into the play room and emptied our bag of toys. We could not believe how much better a little love and attention could make him feel. He looked at us with loving eyes and began to smile more. We gave him a teething cookie and he ate it like it was Godiva chocolate. When we offered him some more, he had a smile that made his whole face wrinkle. I have never seen this before, but literally. his entire face crinkled up and it was the most awesome thing to see. The time flew by and before we realized it it was time to go. When the nannies came to get him, he just stared at us as they took him away. We did not want him to go and I do not think he did either. What an amazing day for our family. I know now that from here on out each day will only get better for him. What a difference a day makes!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Our Meeting Day!!

Wow!!! What a day! First, I need to say that Niko and Yulia, our facilitators are awesome. I have heard people talk about why we pay so much money for these adoptions in the Ukraine and I can say with absolute certainty that I now understand. Without the group we work with led by Serge, and run by a very organized group of people, Debbie and I would still be looking at a picture on the internet thinking one day we will be able to adopt. Since we arrived in Kiev, we have been more than informed and I believe they go above and beyond to make sure that the only thing we need to worry about is going to see our child and bonding with him. I do not envy what they do every day, but I now certainly respect it.

Our day started at about 4:00 am this morning. We got up early, because we can’t sleep, but mostly because we wanted to skype with our son Carter, whom we left back in the States. At 6:30 Niko picked us up and after getting Yulia we were on our way to Priluky. Now normally this probably would have been an easy trip, but today was a nice Ukrainian Winter day. At least that is what we were told. To me it seemed like we drove through a blizzard to get here. The wind blew across the road and we could see about 10 feet in front of us. At times I thought we should slow down, but I was reminded that Ukrainians are used to this weather every time a car passed us like we standing still. We went through many little towns and people were out at bus stops waiting, walking, and riding bikes to get where they needed to go. All of this was a new experience for us, especially coming from the great state of Texas.

After a couple of hours we arrived in Priluky. Yulia told us we would go by the child services office and then we would go by the orphanage to see our new son. The drive up to the orphanage began one of the most emotional up and down days we have had in a long time. Before coming to Kiev we were not told a lot about Braeden, not about his real name, not about where he was, or about his health. Everything we knew was that God had called us here and that God will never give you more than you can handle. When we walked into the orphanage director’s office we were told that Breaden had just been put down for a nap and that he would not wake up until around 12:00. Normally this would not be a problem, except we had just driven two hours and Yulia told us visiting time was between 10:00 and 12:00, right smack dab into the middle of Braedens naptime. Immediately we felt a sudden shock of disappointment. All of the build-up, all the intense anticipation, just shot down in a matter of seconds because of a schedule. So we were thinking, “Now what? Well five minutes later we given the news that Braeden was not yet asleep and that they would dress him up and bring him to us…..emotional up and down number one!

Now all we had seen was a picture of Braeden so we were not sure how big he was or even when that picture was taken. When they brought him in to us we were surprised at how small he was and how different he looked than his picture. I know that some adoptive families have told us stories like this, but you never really get it until you live it. Now don’t get me wrong, he is a beautiful baby. Full of life and love for others, but we really started to ask one another, “What has happened to him since that picture was taken?” We immediately took him and held him and realized that the three layers of clothes hid much more about the weight he had lost. His eyes were kind of sunken back and had dark areas under them. He looked very sickly. Our concern definitely shifted to his health. After asking about any history we were told that we could speak to the doctor later. To this point we were told that no one was aware of any health issues. We felt good about that and thought that the orphanage was just underfeeding him. The orphanage seemed very nice to us, though. Everything we had heard about some of the regions really had us concerned until we were there. They had plenty of workers and they all seemed to care about the kids. It was not overpopulated and the director really seemed to have the kids’ interests at heart. She was a proponent of adoption, even if it was by international couples. She just wanted kids in good homes. We started thinking that food was not the problem after Braeden threw some of his up all over his new dad. We enjoyed our time with him for that next half hour, but we could never stop wondering, “is he ok?” We were told that we could come back again after his nap and it was when we returned that afternoon we received emotional up and down number two.

I am able to post this because of a concerted effort by Niko to go the extra mile. During our break we went and checked into the hotel. Unlike the U.S., not every hotel has wireless internet. In Priluky the system works very strangely. One company owns the modem that allows you to log in. The hotel cannot just give you a login I.D., you have to buy a prepaid card from a company and log in using it. After trying to purchase a card we were told that they were out of them until next Wednesday. Now normally this would not be a huge deal because I could use my cell phone. Well in Priluky, there is no cell service, at least not for me. There are some internet café’s, but do not really work with the hours I need to contact people back home. I felt alone on an island without a way to contact Carter, my friends, or loved ones for 5 days. This was unacceptable to me and I began to feel uneasy. Luckily, Niko went the extra mile and we were able to put a band-aid on it, albeit at an extra cost until next Wednesday. We also had to arrange for a taxi to come and get us every day to take us to the orphanage. The drivers do not speak English, but have to understand to pick us up, drop us off, and come back and get us. This is a huge concern when our only means of translation are leaving to go back to Kiev at sunset. Thank you Yulia for handling this so that we did not have to walk, as my grandfather would say, 30 minutes in the snow, barefoot, uphill both ways.

When we returned to the orphanage we got to sit down with the doctor and discuss Braeden’s health history. This doctor brings in a folder about an inch thick with sheets of information written in Ukrainian and hard to decipher in English. The expanse of medical terminology in Eastern Europe is limited and there is truly no English equivalent to explain it. So what sounds like no big deal to a Ukrainian doctor is much more serious in the states. Let me begin by saying that Braeden has spent almost the last year in hospital. What we heard next broke our hearts and made us realize that this kid needs us now more than ever. Much like our son, Carter, Braeden spent the first days of his life in a hospital being evaluated and tagged with many ail nesses associated with Downs Syndrome. Carter only spent 13 days in the hospital. Braeden spent 90 days and when he was released, his family immediately gave him up to the orphanage and never looked back. At 7 months of age he began to have a lot of reflux and could not keep food down. A doctor looked at him, but determined nothing was wrong. Up to this point, Braeden was on target for weight, but then began to lag behind and even lose weight. He began to lose strength and staff members kept an eye on him. In April of 2011 he went in to the hospital again to because it was determined he not only had a minimal open oval window in his heart, but that he had a double aorta and had to have surgery. I am not sure what the technical term is, but they went in a removed an extra dividing wall in his heart. During recovery, he still did not gain weight and continued to regurgitate his food. He was very sickly and as soon as he healed from the heart surgery they took him back to the hospital for a second opinion for why he could not keep food down. Now Braeden likes to eat. You cannot put food in his mouth fast enough. The problem was he could not keep it down. The second opinion, done on very antiquated equipment determined that he had lesions or adhesions inside the lining of his stomach and these were keeping food from getting through his stomach to his lower intestines and duodenum. Essentially, most of everything he had been eating never made its way to be digested and therefore never used by his body for energy or muscle growth. In October of 2011 he was admitted to the hospital again for a gastric surgery to fix the problem. He was set to be released in Early December 2011, but came down with Pneumonia. Luckily he was already in the hospital. So exactly three weeks before we stepped foot on the Ukrainian soil, he was being released from the hospital again. So you can imagine why when we looked at the clothes of this 18 month old baby we understood why he was in a 3 month old onesie and 6 month old clothes that fit over the top of that. We are saddened and it is very difficult to learn all of this information. It is a lot to take in in an hour and we are still trying to filter all of the information. What has he been through and what is in his future? Well his future will only get better and we are happy that we will be a part of that. Carter was very healthy and we thank God every day for that, but this kiddo needs a break and we are thankful that God placed us here to give that to him.

There are so many things going through our minds right now. We miss home, especially our son. We are in a place where we feel alone, and we have new information to decipher and muddle through. Please pray that God will continue to guide us. He has gotten us this far, but we will need a lot of strength and faith to continue moving forward. We are trying to keep the big picture in mind. We hope to give him a better life and we hope that Carter loves him like a brother should. So many things, but for now we will take it a day at a time.!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

T minus one day!!!

Today we went to the SDA (DAP) office and received our referral papers. Tomorrow we get to go to Vlad's region. It is not real far away, but still it can not be soon enough. It is very strange to think that by the time most of you reading this wake up tomorrow, we will have held our new son. We really have no expectations, just the excitement of finally getting to meet him and bring him to a better life.

We have learned a lot during our stay in Kiev. I have learned a little bit of Russian which it seems I cant use. If I say "Ya ne guvary'u pa rooskee it is supposed to mean I do not speak Russian. I am starting to believe it means please walk away and do not come back. It seems no one wants to help you if you are not a native speaker. So I tried the other plan which is to walk into a store and say, pree-ve't, preyatna paznakomitsu, which means Hi, how are you. They then proceed to talk so fast that I have this look like Bambi on opening day. I then proceed to use English as a defense mechanism and....same result. They walk away and do not come back. We have also learned that Debbie bought "cold gear", but should have purchased "colder gear". When the wind picks up it is very frigid, especially for us Texans. We hope that Vlad will enjoy a warmer climate with a lot more humidity. We know our way around pretty well now and try to reach out a little further each day. Tomorrow, though, will be a brand new city and a brand new adventure. One that we have been looking forward to for many, many months

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SDA (DAP) Appointment Today!!

We went to our SDA (DAP) appointment this morning and Braeden is officially our commitment. No one else can adopt him and that is a great (atleechna!!) feeling. Serge was great today and the people at the SDA (DAP) office were wonderful. With our referral tomorrow, one of our worst fears of losing Braeden to someone else is gone. Braeden's official Ukrainian name is Stanislov Vladamirovich Kurgan. We are not sure what part of that name we will keep, but really want to ensure some of his Ukrainian heritage. We also learned today that Vlad has an older brother that is not in an orphanage. It is so difficult to think that a family gave up their rights to him and he will not ever know who they are. We are so glad that we can be his family now and that he will grow up loved like every child should be. We can not wait until friday to hold him. We hope he knows that we will now be there for him and will take him home soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Day Adventure

We had a great first day in the Ukraine. After we arrived on the airplane we were preasantly surprised that the entire cit of Kiev is white with snow. Coming from Texas this was a rare sight. The people of Kiev have been very hospitable and the city is much more modern than one would think. Last night we went down to Independence Square which is a newer area of the city. We met with other couples that were adopting. We received a lot of insight into to process and finally were able to meet the people we have been talking to on facebook for the last few months. Most of them are headed out today to meet their child(ren), but we have to wait until Friday to see Braeden. We have an SDA appointment tomorrow and the whole process starts from there. Our apartment is in the Golden Gate area and we were very pleased with the condition and the area. We are right down the street from an embassy building, although I have not figured out which one it is. Language is definitely a barrier here. Unlike Western European cities, very few Ukrainians speak english. Even at American restaurants, such as the one we went to last night, waiters speak very little English. Thank goodness some of the menu was in English and I can point at pictures. We are trying to help communication by saying words we know, but with our accents who knows if they understand us. We will write more tomorrow when we get a chance. Hopefully our meeting tomorrow will go as planned. God Bless!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fixing to Leave

We are about 14 hours from getting on a flight to go see Braeden and I can't help but be saddened that we are leaving our precious Carter here for two weeks or maybe more. I pray that God helps us keep our eyes on the big picture and that he will help us get on the plane and bring Carter's brother home. We have never left for such a long period of time and we will miss him more than anything. I pray that God's angels surround us on our flight and we will be home as soon as possible to see him again. T-minus 86 hours until we meet the new addition to our family.