Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Months Ago Today

Two months ago today Dima walked out of that orphanage for the last time.  FINALLY, he was able to take his Mama and Totie through those gates, the gates that he knew held freedom for him.
Two months ago today a little boy took a marathon bath and enjoyed every moment of it- relishing in the freedom of taking a long bath without consequence.
Two months ago today Dima got to ride in a car and see the world around him in the safety of his mother's care.
Two months ago today Dima become a beloved member of our family who has challenged us and taught us the meaning of patience over the past 2 months.
Two months ago today I become one of the most blessed mothers in the world.  But as Dima says, "I love you more".  I honestly do not know who love who more.

Two months ago seems like a lifetime ago....wow.  God is amazing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Progress Update

With it being October, Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I had wanted to write an entry every day and feature a little one with Down Syndrome from Reece's Rainbow.  Well, life got in the way of that and I have hardly been able to catch my breath let alone blog every day.  So while Jeremiah and Elijah are at the allergy doctor with their Daddy, and I only have 2 little ones at the moment, I thought I would take advantage and blog.

Overall our family is doing well.  We have been busy with homeschooling and in about 3 weeks we wrap up the first half of our school year.  The boys have worked diligently throughout the first half of the year and I am so proud of all that they have accomplished.  This is our first year doing Classical Conversations and I LOVE IT.  I wish I had done this last year, too.  It is time consuming, but the boys have learned so much and their brains are being trained to learn a certain way.  It works well for them.  I am also pleased to share that Jeremiah has stepped up and will be working towards being a Memory Master.  Basically he will be able to recite all of the memory work from memory from the entire year without prompting.  Every other Friday he goes to his friend's house to work on that with his friend and his friend's mother who is a teacher and has more experience with Classical Conversations than I do.  We are very grateful for her time and willingness to work with Jeremiah.

And then there is Dima.  I am sure that you all are dying to know how things are going, so here goes.  Dima is doing extremely well in terms of picking up English and ASL.  He counts to 10 in English, yells, "PEOPLE PEOPLE PEOPLE" when he is trying to get our attention, and he understands most everything that is being said to him in English.  He is not formally doing homeschool this year but we certainly include him whenever we can.  He loves to listen to the Classical Conversations CD that has the memory work set to music and will even attempt to sing along.  Next year he will be enrolled in Classical Conversations and I think he will do quite well.  We also take the boys to a co-op through Christian Home Educators Association each Tuesday morning.  Jeremiah, Elijah, and Sammy are doing a musical theater class and Dima LOVES to watch the kids rehearse for their play.  Again, he tries to sing along and I can tell that he really loves music.  After the musical theater class the boys attend a class called Indoor Games.  It is basically just a recess where they learn how to play various games like Duck Duck Goose.  Dima participates and LOVES playing with the other children.  He has mastered the concept of Duck Duck Goose but thinks Freeze Tag is just nuts.  He does not get why a bunch of kids run around a room screaming and "hitting" each other.  He just watches them with a funny look on his face.  I am also pleased to share that the other children and mothers are so very kind to Dima and love to include him.  Dima always looks forward to Tuesday mornings.

Dima is also learning about church.  For now he truly believes that we go to the church to eat.  Why?  Because every time we go there are snacks or cookies.  He also loves the attention of certain older women (maybe because they give him what he wants?) and knows how to get his way.  I am not going to lie; it is very draining to take Dima to church.  Since so many wonderful people want to just give Dima his way it has caused Dima to think that he can disobey me and go to someone else for what he wants.  When I then intervene Dima starts in on his "gremlin mode" and it makes for a very unpleasant rest of the day because his poor attitude carries on at home after church.  On a positive note, however, he is able to sit through half of an adult church service and do relatively well.  This past Sunday he did get a little tired so he laid down on the pew.  But I could tell he was listening.  He doesn't miss a thing.  This coming Sunday is Family Sunday which means that Eric will be preaching.  I am so eager to see Dima's reaction when Eric gets up to preach.  As Carol predicted while we were still in the Ukraine, Dima will probably yell out, "PAPA! (or Poppy since that is what Dima now calls Eric)".

As for Dima's health, he is doing relatively well there, too.  He has not had any major illness since we have been home, but is still in need of his tonsils and adenoids coming out, and I am guessing he more than likely will need tubes in his ears, too.  His hernias are also still needing to be fixed, but the boys' insurance is going at a snail's pace to add Dima.  Hopefully be the end of next week we will have everything settled and we can start the ball rolling to get Dima his surgeries.  On the weight front Dima has filled out nicely and we are now to where we need to watch what he eats since little ones with Down Syndrome are prone to be overweight.  So dear cookie ladies at church please take heed- Dima is only permitted to eat ONE cookie and not a cookie more!

The most difficult part of bringing Dima home has been his disobedience.  For the past several weeks my life has been consumed with training Dima on boundaries.  It is like having a 2 year old, a very willful 2 year old!  The poor child has been in the corner a gazillion times and there have been days that I have cried right along with him.  There was even a morning that he was in time-out before 7:30 a.m. and I just felt so defeated.  But now that I think we have passed that phase of blatant disobedience. I now see that Dima was testing me.  Not necessarily to be bad, but to see how often I would react; to see if I really cared enough to discipline him or tell him , "no".  He learned, after several weeks, that I indeed DO care and that I am the boss.  Yesterday was the very first day where he did not have to be sent to the corner for anything.  He did not even break out of the house and I tested him by leaving the back sliding door open to let a breeze in (no worries our yard is fenced and I had him in my sights at all times!).  Dima loves to be outside and he especially loves to play with our dog, Jax, out in the back yard.  So he would just put his shoes on and go out without telling me or without anyone else out there with him- a HUGE no-no!!!  He would be dragged back in and put in the corner- repeatedly.  Well, yesterday he would sit at the threshold of the open door and just watch.  Not once did he go out without asking or with a brother or adult.  Eric and I were so proud of him!  For us that was a huge step.

Dima is meshing quite well into our family despite the various bumps along the way.  No matter what, with adoptions there will always be bumps and challenges.  Those bumps and challenges are different for each family.  For our family it was Dima's obedience (or lack thereof).  He loves his brothers, his Mommy, and Poppy.  He loves his dog, his house, his bed, and he loves that we are all together every day (sans Poppy since Poppy works!).  He loves the security of a family.  Dima still inquires about his friends back at the orphanage every day and we are always pleased to talk about his sweet friends.  I wish Eric and I could have brought them ALL home, but that was not at all realistic.  Instead we continue to pray for them and pray that they, too, get a forever family that will love them and care for them just for who they are.

Eric and I could not be happier with how things are going and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dima was meant to be a part of our family.  We also know that part of our adoption of Dima was a spiritual Olympics of sorts.  We were tried and tested  until it physically hurt.  But our faith and love for Jesus is so much stronger than before and we now see the world as Jesus sees it.  Sadly, however, it is not a pretty picture.  It is downright heartbreaking.  Sure, there are some good things in the world, I do not mean to be a Debbie Downer, but knowing what we know about the orphan crisis, the abuse and neglect of little ones all over the world, well....it has given us a renewed sense of purpose.  Our family as a whole seem to be called to champion for the least of these, specifically orphans.  Does that mean we will adopt again?  Well, the boys would put Eric and I on a plane tomorrow to go get them a sister if they could, but for now we will be advocating for a specific little one from Reece's Rainbow.  Eric and I have long since learned that you never say never.  Who knows, maybe someday down the road this blog will be once again used to advocate for a little one meant to be a part of our family.  Never say never.

In the meantime we are thankful for what we have and rejoice in what the Lord has done with our family.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How Easily We Forget

I've taken a break from my blog because I have been so consumed with day to day requirements:  homeschooling, cleaning, laundry, cooking, more homeschooling, etc...  So this has obviously taken a back seat.  But I have had a specific topic in mind and I now feel ready to share.

Dima has been home for almost 5 weeks.  It will be 5 weeks on Monday!  Time is flying and our time in the Ukraine seems like a dream to me.  The whole adoption itself seems like a dream for that matter and I am amazed at God's faithfulness to our family and especially to Dima.  I am also learning so much about myself and my other children with each passing day.  Dima has added a completely new element to our lives, one that at this point I cannot imagine it not existing in our home.  He stretches us, tests us, teaches us, loves us, and blesses us.  I pray that we do the same for him.

What I am about to share I do not intend to be rude, but I am not sure how else to address this other than in a blog post.  Our new little man has come a long way in 5 weeks and I am so pleased with his development.  But as his mother, I see that he still has such a long way to go.  How quickly we can forget that Dima has been through so much in his little life!  He was abused and neglected by his birthmother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  He was removed by the State and put into an orphanage.  The day he arrived at Baby House 18 he could not speak and refused to interact with others.  He had to learn how to trust, how to communicate, how to live with a measure of peace after such an awful start to life.  Then here comes these crazy Americans.  Eric and I just totally rocked Dima's world.  While he absolutely loves us and is happy to be here, at times I do not think he fully understands that this is a permanent situation.  Over the past few weeks he has expressed his fear that I would take him back to the Ukraine.  For about a week every time an airplane would fly over head he would cry and say (in Russian but I will give you the English translation), "I am afraid you will put me back on an airplane to go back to Ukraine".  How heartbreaking! We also just learned of something awful that happened to him when he lived with his birthmother that just made our stomachs turn.  Dima has healing to do, too.  Bottom line, it has only been 5 weeks, not 5 months or even 5 years.  Please be patient with him and allow him to come around on his terms.

How easily we forget....