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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | Thousand Oaks

Boy Going Home on His Own New Feet

March 30, 2000|MAIJA-LIISA NAGARAJAN

Dmytro "Dima" Korovin still has the blond hair, blue eyes and ruddy heeks that melt the hearts of all who meet him. But when the Ukrainian orphan came to this ountry six months ago, he was withdrawn and apprehensive about the world around him.

Now the 2-year-old's personality has changed almost as dramatically as his stature. He no longer scoots around on the floor to get from one place to another. Now he has legs and feet.

So Dima will walk up the ramp at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday with his foster grandmother, Sherry Shaffer of Thousand Oaks, as they head back to his homeland.

But Dima won't be back in his native country for long. He will return to the United States for good when he joins his new family in Oregon.

Dima came here six months ago on a temporary medical visa to allow him to get prosthetic legs because he was born without fully formed limbs. His left leg ended above the knee. The right one had no foot--in its place were two nonfunctioning appendages.

Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles provided the surgery and prosthetics and will continue to provide medical help for Dima until he's 18.

Now he's running around, ready to see the world after surgery in February that allowed him to be fitted with prosthetic legs. Being able to stand on his own two feet seems to have given Dima a new sense of independence and self-confidence. And the love and nurturing he has received has helped Dima learn to trust adults.

"The time has gone by so fast. It's been incredible," Shaffer said. "He doesn't seem to mind his new legs. He's a very determined little boy."

When they arrive in Ukraine, Shaffer and Dima will meet with Sue and Barry McGuckin of Yankton, Ore., who want to adopt Dima. The McGuckins, who made the decision shortly after hearing about him in November, left for Ukraine last week to finish the necessary paperwork that will allow them to bring Dima home with them.

Missionary Nita Hanson, a member of the local Emmanuel Presbyterian Church that Shaffer belongs to, works in Ukraine and found Dima at an orphanage when he was 2 months old. She made it possible for the boy to receive prosthetic legs and feet in the United States.

"We're definitely going to miss Dima," said Diane Venable, a member of the church and a friend of Shaffer. "Our hearts and attitude have been touched by the child. . . . Dima has really been like a lightning rod. I just feel in my heart that Dima will do great things."

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