Well this is the first time I’ve ever tried to do one of these “Christmas Letters”. Mama and Papa say that everyone wants to know about us so we might as well write the Christmas letter instead of them. My name is Evan and Mama and Papa call me, Vanya. I’ve asked my sister to help me out but she’s only two and a half. Here, I’ll let her type:
J:;ldksjf poo ap0w afs;dk poo ;ksdjfa oida; bye
OK, OK, Valya. She says “poo” a lot right now, even when she types.
So, the year began with me and Valya at “Center Opeki”. It’s a big building in Mariupol, Ukraine with a whole bunch of kids in it right from little babies to big kids that are really old, like about 18. We all were in different groups. I was with kids 6 to 7 and Valya was with little kids about 1 or 2 years old. I saw her sometimes when we were outside at the same time, but we mostly were with our own groups where we ate, slept and played together. It was a good place with good caregivers. Anna Nicolai was my favorite. I really liked her.
I was going to school and learning a lot of Ukrainian and all the Ukrainian letters and sounds. I could even read books! I liked to play lego and go outside and play football and I played with lots of boys and girls. Valya liked to go with her group outside and chase after a ball and kick it around. Any ball is still her most favourite thing.
Lots of times kids would talk about new Mamas and Papas coming to take care of them. Sometimes we would see strange men and ladies come and meet and visit with kids and they’d tell us other kids about their new Mamas and Papas. I wondered if some day there would be a Mama and Papa for me and Valya. But each day was kind of like the next. Some days we did special things and in the summer our group went out at a summer camp on the beach on the Sea of Azov. It was fun being there but one day the grown ups came and took me back…after that everything changed for me and Valya.
Its time for Mama and Papa to jump in: Yes, most of you know the awesome, incredible and wonderful changes to our lives this year with the adoption of Evan and Valentina. Our adoption journey began many years ago with research into adoption in Ukraine. Then, it was finding the facilitators that would help us. Then we were submitting the paperwork and applications, then again, and then one last time. We felt that after 3 years and 3 applications it wasn’t meant to be. What we didn’t know was that it was meant to be. We just had to be patient and wait that long for two little miracle wonders to be put into our hands and hearts--- Evan (a.k.a Vanya, born May 4, 2001) and Valentina (a.k.a. Valya, born March 22, 2006). It began with a letter on December 28, 2007 from the national adoption department in Ukraine notifying us that we had a meeting in Kyiv on July 1, 2008. That was the first step in the final chapter of our adoption journey.
The planning began. Flights were booked. Work on the house went into high gear. We did make a quick trip down to Arizona and Mexico in February as part of Murray’s work. Otherwise, our focus was on getting ready for the trip. We expected to be in Ukraine anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. We left on June 25th, a quick overnight in Frankenfurt, and then couple days in Kyvi, Ukraine. Then on July 1, 2008 we met with officials from the national adoption dept. and were given a file for two little children at an orphanage in Mariupol, Ukraine. After making travel arrangements, a 12 hr overnight train ride and 2 hours by taxi followed by a 6 hour wait to see the Director of the Orphanage and another night of waiting, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 5th our life changed.
(This is Vanya again.) I got back to the Centre Opeki in the morning. They said I was going back to meet my new Mama and Papa. I hadn’t seen my sister Valya in a while. When I got there I saw her with two strangers, a nice looking lady and a big tall goofy looking guy. I was scared and confused, but they brought puzzles for me to play with which I really liked. Valya cried a lot at first but then they gave her a ball and she was happy after that. I started calling them Mama and Papa right away. Over the next few sleeps, Mama and Papa would come and visit Valya and me every day. We played soccer and Frisbee outside, had snacks, played cards and Mama started teaching me numbers and letters in English.
Then one day Mama and Papa picked us up very early in the morning and we flew in a plane to Kyiv. We stayed in an apartment there for a few days and we had lots of fun. We got to ride elevators, escalators and the Metro. We went to the zoo, ate at restaurants, and I went with Papa to a soccer game. Then we got on a very big plane to Canada (Aug 3rd). It was a long trip. I was a good boy, but Valya didn’t sleep much and cried a lot. Mama and Papa were happy to be in their home, but it was bit scary for me and Valya. Lots of strange faces and strange places and no one spoke Russian!
In the summer we did lots of stuff. I pulled a whole bunch of weeds and I made $25 that I used to buy my first bike!! Valya got a tricycle too and we rode round and round in the garage. Pretty soon I was riding on my own and I’d go visit my neighbor friends like Rachel and Madison and Emmet. I even lost two teeth right after coming home, and the tooth fairy left some money under my pillow. I spent a lot of time taking care of Valya, too. Mama and Papa say I am a very good big brother.
On Aug 27th I started school at Bishop Filevich in Saskatoon in Grade 2. My teacher is Pani Julia and Pani Marissa. I learn in Ukrainian half the day and in English the other half. I have lots of fun at school learning and playing police and goblins at recess and jumping too much. Papa drives me in the morning and Mama and Valya stay home and they pick me up after school.
In the fall, me and Valya were very busy. We took swimming lessons. I took piano lessons and Valya went to play and music groups. We went to Uncle Ken’s and Auntie Monica’s wedding. We went on a trip to Edmonton to visit our new cousins, Kara and Natasha, and we got to go to the Waterpark. At Halloween we made pumpkins and I was Spiderman and Valya was a Chicken and we got lots of candy. At home we play downstairs, I play Webkinz with Dina the Dinosaur on the computer and we read books. I learned to skate; that was lots of fun! Mama and Papa look tired sometimes. I don’t know why though. It’s me and Valya that do all the running around.
Now, its really cold outside, and its only 4 sleeps to Christmas. I wrote my letter to Santa and asked for a remote car. I’ve been a good boy, but I don’t know about Valya. She always takes my toys. Anyway, we really like living in Canada and I like to play computers and want to go sliding and skating outside when it’s warmer.
Mama and Papa say: Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Here's some pictures of me and Valya with our Mama and Papa.