Thursday, January 12, 2012

Four Months

Four months ago today a certain little Ukrainian boy landed in Orlando, FL eager to meet his new brothers.  Four months ago today three very special little boys eagerly waited for their momma and new brother to walk around a corner.  Four months.

In a mere four months Dima has come such a long way from the rambunctious little boy that we met in Kremenchuk.  I am amazed and in awe of all that Dima has overcome and has learned to do.  His biggest accomplishment thus far has been his language skills.  Every day I hear him speak a new phrase; not just words but whole phrases!

"I see you!"

"Gotcha Momma!"

"I need juice please!"

"Heeeeey Sammy!  NOOOOO!"

"I love you more, buh bye!"

I could go on and on.  Dima is just a little sponge absorbing his new language and wanting to speak nothing but English.  Just last Thursday Dima informed us that he no longer wants us to speak any Russian to him.  English only, please.  A woman who visited our church this past Sunday spoke fluent Russian and wanted to converse with Dima.  Unfortunately for her Dima was not impressed, put his hand up, and said, "Engleski, please.  No Ruskie!".

Dima is also learning American Sign Language (ASL) and doing quite well.  In fact he knows way more than any of us and sometimes we do not know what it is he is "saying" to us!  He also truly believes that Rachel Coleman (awesome gal from the show Signing Time) is his best friend.  He loves Alex and Leah, too.  We are attempting to get him signed up for some actual classes, but have not yet been able to get anything locked in for him.  We are eager to get him going on his ASL!

Another area in which Dima is excelling is knowing his boundaries.  It took several weeks of intense "training" (i.e. lots of time in his time out corner) but he now knows that it is not O.K. to jump our fence and go for a walk without an adult, it is not O.K. to go out for a walk with the dog in his underwear at 3:00 a.m., we do not take baths at 1:30 a.m., and we do not take electronics from mommy and daddy.  What is amazing, however, is seeing Dima WANT boundaries.  He wants to know what he can and cannot do.  What is socially acceptable and what is not.  That is not to say, however, that he still doesn't disobey and give his momma a hard time.  He can be so darn stubborn!

Dima has also really come out of his shell and is SO friendly to most everyone at church.  He still has his moments if someone approaches him in a way that he dislikes, but he loves to greet everyone and give out friendly hugs.  Eric and I are secure in our attachment with Dima to allow him to give "bro hugs" to people.  If we hug people not in our family, why not allow Dima?  He also loves to say, "I love you!" to everyone and we allow that as well.  He truly does love people.  He will even say to us, "Dima go church?  See people?  Love people!".  He is a people person for sure.

Fears from his past are slowly disappearing, too.  Dima used to have an intense fear of fire, a fear of showers, a fear of the dark, and a fear of men.  I can proudly say that he has overcome each of them and now adores fires in the fireplace, loves to take showers rather than baths, LOVES to play in the dark with a flashlight, and LOVES to be with his daddy.  Dima actually prefers to be with Eric over me now which is huge.  Yes, it makes me a little sad, but I am so glad that Dima loves his daddy.

Yet Dima is not the only person who has grown or changed in the past four months.  Each of us have grown or changed, too.  Dima is teaching us so much about life- so much more than we could have ever imagined.  The best is brought out in each of us and we have a renewed appreciation of life.  I would like to also take a moment to brag on my oldest son, Jeremiah.  When we first began the process to adopt Dima he was a little uncertain about it all.  Sure, he was all for us adopting a little boy who needed a family, but Jeremiah did not know what it would mean for him.  How would it affect his life?  Eric and I prayed in earnest for Jeremiah over the months and I prayed A LOT while I was in the Ukraine.  I wanted Jeremiah to be happy and love his new brother.  Would you believe that Jeremiah is not only happy, but loves to help Dima?  Eric and I are seeing a side of Jeremiah that we never even knew existed!  Jeremiah's patience for his new brother sometimes puts us to shame.  The tenderness, the love, the encouragement, and delight that Jeremiah has for Dima is just commendable.  We are so blessed to have such a wonderful son in Jeremiah.

Elijah and Sammy are also excellent brothers.  Elijah accompanies Dima and I to various doctor appointments and he reassures Dima each and ever time.  Elijah is also very good at keeping Dima accountable with boundaries and is always the first to tell me about the slightest infraction.  But Elijah also loves to sit down and share his faith in Jesus Christ with Dima and every day sets time aside to do so.  Elijah would love nothing more than to see his new brother come to know Jesus Christ and be baptized.  That shows spiritual maturity on Elijah's part.

Sammy is our baby.  Out of all 3 boys Dima's appearance has been the most difficult for Sammy, but it is something that will make Sammy a better person in the long run.  Our sweet little Sammy has been so accustomed to getting his own way and now he is having to learn how to share and be patient.  It has taken time, and there is still so much that Sammy has to work on in those areas, but when those two get along, they are best buddies.  The other evening Sammy and Dima were off in their own little world playing pretend that I really hated to have to break it up for bedtime.

As for Eric and I, well, patience and humor has been our biggest lesson from Dima.  Eric and I always thought we were pretty patient people, but apparently we thought a little too highly of ourselves there.  Dima loves to test and when the testing gets to be really...well....testy, I've had to pull out all of the patience I can possibly find.  That is also usually the time where I need to see the humor in even the most un-humorous situations.  For instance, Dima loves our dog, Jax.  So much so that they are always together.  One evening Dima thought it would be a swell idea to spit his supper out onto the floor so Jax could eat it.  Dima did not care for what had been put before him, so Jax was a logical solution to his problem.  We HAD to see the humor in that even though it really was not all that funny (Jax of course upchucked everything under the kitchen table while we were eating).

Is it always easy?  Nope.  I have my moments of discouragement, or moments when the realization that Dima is not like my other boys hits me.  Yesterday Eric had to take Dima to a psychologist to be evaluated on his intelligence.  Most anyone who meets Dima sees that Dima is very high-functioning and super smart.  And he truly is.  But yesterday afternoon the psychologist basically said that Dima was ineducable, just trainable.  It stung.  He doesn't see what Eric and I see.  We see all that Dima CAN do and know that his potential is great.  It was suggested to us that we send Dima to a "special school" where he will simply learn basic life skills.  My response?  No thank you!  I see that Dima has a desire to learn and the basic life skills will come through living in our home.  Dima will learn to read, write, do math, learn some history and science.  Dima will get to be as "normal" as he can possibly be.  Why?  Because Eric and I are going to do all that we possibly can to ensure that.  So Monday we are going to have Dima participate in Classical Conversations and see how that goes.  If it goes well, we may enroll him and let him participate as he can.  God has a great future for Dima (Jeremiah 29:11)!

So today as I sit and reflect on the past four months of our lives I realize this blog entry simply does not do it any justice.  You can, however, check out our Youtube channel and see for yourself just how well Dima is doing.  It is our desire as a family to show just how doable an International adoption of a special needs child is.  Not easy, but doable.  We desire for others to see what a blessing Dima is no matter his disability.  Dima is happy and loves life therefore we are happy for him.  More importantly we are over the moon happy that he is a part of our family and so glad that we listened to God's whisper in our ears.  We have been greatly blessed for our obedience.

1 comment:

Jed and Kimber said...

I can't wait to see how he does at CC! I think that's an awesome idea. God does have a plan for Dima- I love hearing how far he's come. :)