Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The End

Since our journey to Ryland is complete and we are finally home - we thought that it was time to close this blog out and start fresh by chronicling our new life as a family.  If you're interested, please follow along at our new spot,  It's been an incredible adoption journey, thanks for sharing it with us!!!

Dustin, Cortney & Ryland Stone

Progress Update

Ryland has been adjusting ridiculously well so far...or so we think!  He's taken to our family right away and loves them like his own.  He asks for each of them by names throughout the day and gives big hugs/kisses when we see them without prompting.  Grandpa and Aunt Chandler watched him for a few hours so I could get my hair done and he was fine - no problems, no tears, no asking for mama or papa...SUCCESS!!! 

Since we have a pool, we wanted to get him in swimming lessons pretty quickly so that he could at least learn the basics.  He's having a blast and loves to go to "swim school" every night!  The teachers say that they can communicate with him just fine and if he looks confused, they just show him what to do.  Today they asked "Who wants to jump in first?" and Ry was like "ME, ME"!

I know that he doesn't comprehend most of what is going on, but he gets pieces of it and understands more everyday.  Everywhere we go, he asks if it is America too.  I think he thought that was the name of our house!!  He is still amazed by airplanes, cars, limos, trucks, trains and points every single one out!!

Our biggest struggles right now are discipline, food & playing on his own.  He likes to pout when he doesn't get his way and we are still working out our boundaries.  Food-wise, he tries everything, but isn't too keen on American food yet but he is getting there!  He wants someone to play with him all of the time and doesn't grasp the concept of all the millions of little things there are to do each day.  He gets a little better each day, but it is something that we're working through.  The last struggle is no naps...that equals no "time" during the day to get anything done.  He goes non-stop from the time he gets up!

He has SOOO much to adjust to and I am sure it's overwhelming!  The part we didn't prepare for is how overwhelming being parents actually is.  As happy as I am, there are times throughout each day that I grieve for my old life.  I guess I need a transition period, too!  As I was getting ready the other morning, I looked at my bathtub in my bathroom and just missed it so much.  It used to be clean, inviting, relaxing and bottles of potions/bubble bath were all around it.  That morning all of the bath toys from the night before were scattered in the tub and wash cloths were everywhere.  My potions and pretty towels had been moved to the side, replaced with bright colored monkey towels...I missed my bathtub.  As I am sitting there, thinking of my old bathtub, Ry comes barrelling in with a big smile saying "Mama, beautiful"!  Perfect timing...I snapped out of it...bathtubs are over-rated anyways.  I can guarantee you that he has had more fun in that tub in a week than I have had in it in 3 years!!


A boy & his dog!  Don't let Sadie's look fool you, she is loving all the extra treats that Ryland happens to give her!

Saturday, July 24, 2010 last!

Things have been absolutely crazy since we've landed and we've been going 100mph!

The long journey home was not as painful as we thought it would be and Ry was a trooper the whole way.  He never got sick (thank you, thank you, thank you) and was in a pretty good mood most of the time.  He LOVED being on the airplanes, loved watching movies & loved his new leapster that we saved for the plane ride home!  He wasn't too keen on the airplane food, but hey...who is?  Landing in DC was cool and it was neat to see the excitement on Ry's face when we finally landed in America!  The moment we landed @ DFW was very emotional for me.  I didn't even realize it would be, but the second we landed I just felt such a burden lift off of me.  Everything that we have worked so hard for, over the last 3 years, had finally all worked out.  We were a family!  I can't even begin to describe that was overwhelming. 

Since we landed at 7:30 at night, we asked our family to please not meet us at the airport and let us get him home to see the house, meet Sadie and then get some rest.  I know it was very hard for everyone, including us, not to see everyone right away, but it was definitely the best and things weren't too overwhelming for Ryland.  So after we landed, Dustin waited for the luggage and Ry & I ventured out to find the car.  Quite the trip!!  It was hot & humid and after we'd been outside for 3 minutes Ry said that Texas was hot and he wanted to take his shirt off.  GREAT...he hadn't been here for 10 minutes and he already wanted to go shirtless at the airport!!!  As we were walking, we had to stop about every 30 seconds to look at another plane taking off or landing.

We slept good the first night and that next morning, most of our family came over around lunchtime.  Ry took to everyone immediately.  Big hugs & kisses to everyone, he sang everyone the ABC's, Monkeys Jumping on the Bed & Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.  Wasn't shy at all...Skype really works miracles, it was like he already "knew" everyone.  I can't say it enough...he is such a trooper!  It's literally been like he's been a part of our extended family for years!  Both sets of grandparents are just in love with him already, his aunts and uncles adore him and he & his only cousin, Nyah, are best friends already!  We've spent most of Thursday, Friday & Saturday with various family members and he has LOVED all the attention!!!  Dust & I are so relieved... 

Here's to you Ryland - you're the best thing that's ever happened to us!!

First Pic as an American citizen!!
He loves swimming in his pool and asks to go swimming at least 50 times a day
Sleeping all night, in his own room and his own bed with no far!
Ryland & Nyah
Bath Monkey!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fun Times in Almaty!

We’ve had a really good time here so far! Yesterday we went to the medical appointment for Ry and it was quick & painless. We spent an afternoon poolside and went to dinner with Lisa & Beth. We had some great pizza and shared stories about each of our adoptions so far. It was so nice to meet them both and I wish them both the best of luck in their adoptions! Their babies are absolutely ADORABLE!!! After dinner we took a quick stroll through Paniflov Park and headed back to the hotel. Ry & I grabbed some ice cream in the restaurant while Dust tried to get some work done. It’s a little tricky getting him to sleep when we are still up and Dustin is working in the same room! The internet here isn’t unlimited and we have to pay by the ½ hour.
This morning we headed to Kok Tube to take a cable car ride up into the mountains. Of course, we pick the one day a week when the cable car doesn’t run until 6:00 PM. I was so bummed, because I spent about 30 minutes this morning trying to explain to Ry, in our limited communication what a cable car was! They had a bus though that took us to the top. It was very nice and had beautiful views of Almaty. They had souvenir shops, restaurants, a small zoo & a roller coaster that went down the mountain. Ryland LOVED this and has talked about how fast he went for most of the day today! This afternoon we had a 3:00 appointment with the US Embassy and all went well. So far, everything in Almaty was quick and painless. We have all paperwork in our hands and the official told us that as soon as we land in Washington DC, Ry is an official US citizen! He his so excited to have his own passport now!

We head to the airport about midnight tonight and we are only 4 flights away from home! We are scheduled to arrive July 21st @ 7:30PM at DFW. Crossing our fingers for no delays and no lost luggage this time!!

Here’s a few pics of our excursions!
Yes, he prefers to sleep in the crib...

swim time
Russian Orthodox Church in Paniflov Park
Roller Coaster down the mountain-side
View of Almaty
The Stone's
Apples Are From Kazakhstan

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In Almaty!

We made it to Almaty with no problems. I was stressed out the whole, turbulence filled plane ride here because I just knew he would get sick but everything was fine. We are worried about the long flights coming up later this week though! He didn’t understand waiting to board the plane and asked for the plane every 30 seconds or so. He was PUMPED getting on the airplane and taking off, but was bored & restless during the rest of the flight. It’s going to be a loooong trip home!!

We have to take him to a medical appointment tomorrow and then we have an exit interview @ the Embassy on Tuesday. We want to leave ASAP, but there aren’t a whole lot of flight options. Right now we are on hold for a flight on Wednesday that has an overnight stop in DC and if that doesn’t work, we won’t be able to make it home until Saturday. We are still working with the travel agency trying to firm everything up.

We’re staying at the Hotel Kazzhol and have very nice accommodations, including A/C! I’ve visited tons of hotels throughout my life, but today I figured out the absolute best thing a hotel can do to accommodate families – have a pool! They have a beautiful, indoor swimming pool here and Ry was very happy to kill a couple of hours down there! The restaurant is fantastic and I’m worried we will gain back all the weight we’ve lost by eating here for a few days! They have specialty Swiss ice cream which is absolutely delicious.

After we got to our room, some of the staff wheeled a crib into our room. We tried to tell them that we didn’t need a crib – Ry could sleep in once of the Queen beds, but it was lost in translation. We just let them set it up and told Ryland he didn’t have to sleep in it. He almost cried and told us he wanted to sleep in it and put his stuffed bear & dog in there! We’ll see how tonight goes, but it looks like he wants to sleep in the crib!! I’ll definitely get pictures if he does! At least he can’t fall out of the crib – last night he fell off the couch and Dust found him sitting on the living room floor half awake & very confused. Dustin told him everything was OK and laid him back down and he was out like a light!

Ry’s little suitcase has not left his side for about 24 hours. He even took it with him to the bathroom this morning before we left the apartment. I think he was so afraid that we would leave all of his stuff behind!

Friday, July 16, 2010

What a Day!

This morning @ 11:15 the phone rang. Our translator. “Can you be downstairs ready for a taxi in 15 minutes to go the coordinator’s office?” Ryland was in the bath tub (we finally got hot water back around 10:30 AM this morning). We ran around finishing getting ready, bathed & dressed Ry, gathered the rent money and ran downstairs just in time. Taxi mishap…we wait outside for 30 minutes…finally a taxi comes. Once we get to Svetlana’s office we find out the following:

- The passport came!!!!!

- All paperwork to sign out Ryland from Pavlodar is in process and should be complete about 5:00PM

- The Director of the Orphanage is there and asks us if we would please make an impromptu trip to the camp where the other kids are to say good-bye.

- How can we say no???

So we leave the office and head to the travel agent to book our tickets for the 1st leg of our trip home – Almaty! Of course, they don’t take CCs and we already took out our ATM limit earlier this morning to finish up the rent money…GREAT. We had to go to a bank and withdraw money which literally took almost 40 minutes. We had to fill out a questionnaire that seriously asked us if we were the President of a foreign country or the Chief of a foreign army. No…we are just a couple of Americans looking to take out $400…not $500,000…$400. Yikes…good news though – we are now in the bank’s system so they next time we are in town and need to withdraw money, we are golden. (What a relief!)

Then we went to the orphanage to have “Tea Time” with the staff that was still there to say our good-byes. Next stop, the grocery store, so we could pickup drinks and snacks to take to the kids at their camp. About a 45 minute ride out to the camp in a large van with no A/C. Today it was about 95…I can’t remember the last time I sweat this much…I also can’t believe that I am taking the time to type this post before I take a shower…yikes. I feel like I’ve been camping for a week – I don’t even care if there is no hot water tonight! All the kids were so excited to see Ry and it was just like paparazzi. He did not like all the attention/hugs/kissing on him, but was happy to see his friends/family. We visited with everyone for about 45 minutes and then took another hot trip back home.

We finally got back to the apartment around 6:30 – craziness when we thought that we were just taking a quick trip to Svetlana’s office this morning & would be back by lunch!

Tomorrow we will be packing up and finishing up everything else that we want to do in Pavlodar and then Sunday morning we will head to the airport about 10AM. Ry is over the moon to go on the airplane! I know he will think Almaty is America… Poor thing – he just wants to finally get there and see what all the hype is about!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The passport didn't come...but it's been confirmed that it's on a train to Pavlodar right now and will be here at 7:00AM tomorrow morning. We will see!! This *shouldn't* hold us up any and it looks like we will leave Pavlodar on Sunday and head to Almaty.
To kill some time this afternoon we took another trip to the beach. Ry had fun and wanted to swim today. Swimming consisted of one of us holding him in the water and him moving his arms around in every single direction! Pretty cute. He took the big plunge and put his whole head under 3 times and is verrrrrrrry excited that he has a swimming pool at home and can swim all the time. Swimming we come!

Day 3 of no hot water in the apartment... I hate it! Showers & washing dishes is just miserable without hot water. Please come back...we miss you. Ry's bath time takes 3 times as long because I have to continually boil pots of water.

We went to dinner with our translator & coordinator tonight and had a really good time. Excellent food and great conversation. I am going to miss our "family" over here in Kazakhstan so much. Everyone that we've worked with has been absolutely amazing and I consider each one of them good friends of ours.

Ryland's English and the communication within the Stone household has been amazing. It's been 2 weeks since we were able to pick-up Ry and we haven't had to call a translator once to assist with conversation. I am just astonished and am so very proud of Ry, Dust & myself. It's like we just sync and we "get it". There is often a lot of communication to explain a simple thing, but that's working just fine for us!

The behavioral issues that we've had with him so far seem to just be a "kids his age thing". He's energetic, but what kid isn't. I'm not sure if any of these are adoption related or not and am interested to discuss with the professionals back home. We've had a couple of times where he's lied to us about something small. He cannot stand for Dustin and I to show any affection and if we do, he withdraws and pouts. We've started doing a lot of family hugs.

Hope you are all having a great week!

Signing off for the night,