Archives for July 2014

Strange Sleep

Swinging

Bonus picture that is cute but has nothing to do with this post ^^^

I erroneously believed that since we had no jet lag, our sleeping patterns would normalize once we got home.  Man was I wrong.  It is 5:30 am and I have been up for two hours.  Stephen woke me up at 3:30 with some light stirring and I put him back to sleep, then got up to check the others, while realizing that I was still dressed and had my contacts in.

I never actually went to bed as much as I passed out while putting the kids to bed.  I had been having strange dreams about travelling and flying, which has been true both nights we have been home.  I suppose I am just really sub consciously stressed about Jake and Hope’s flight in a couple of days.

So anyway, I tried going back to sleep after a while, and I was almost there when the phone rang.  It was my sweet husband who had a minor paperwork crisis (or thought he did) and needed to ask some questions.  (By the way, Skype is so cool!  He can call me from Ukraine!)  So that was fine, but it was like 5am at that point and I was thinking of all the getting ready I didn’t get done before my unintentional passing out last night.

The last two mornings in a row I’ve been up at 4am.  The first night back we all got up super early like that, and so Evangeline fell asleep at around five in the evening, could not be aroused at all, and woke up at four again.  So I was up with her.  Then yesterday the boys both took a four hour nap in the afternoon!  And still fell promptly asleep after a late dinner.

I tried to take a nap with them, but it was not in the stars.  Something always kept happening that I would need to take care of and eventually I gave up on the sleeping during the day thing.  Maybe today I will manage it!  I’m about to go wake up the childrens and schedule the day so hopefully they are all ready for an early afternoon nap (that isn’t too long) and then bedtime promptly at 7pm.

Wish me luck.  Not only would it be lovely to sleep more normally, but getting a good routine started before Jake gets home would be a huge blessing!  Speaking of which, Hope’s passport came in and they will be able to make their Wednesday flight!  We found out today that the delay was caused by the airplane that was shot down last week, the same day we were travelling home and her passport was supposed to arrive in Kharkiv.

Our inconvenience is nothing compared to the tragedy that hundreds of families are experiencing today.  We will be together soon; they will be waiting until the Resurrection.  Please pray for these precious souls and those they left behind.

HOME!

Myself and the three children are home.  Finally home.  Tears well up in my eyes just thinking about how grateful I am to be here.  I can’t even describe how I’ve missed this place; it seems more beautiful and lovely than I remember it.  Hubby and Hope are still in Ukraine waiting for her passport to come in.  This has been a totally unexpected delay, as we thought they would be here six hours ago, but it will probably be Wednesday now.  There was some crazy, rare fluke with the government mail system and they didn’t send the prepared passports to the office in Kharkiv like they always do.  Our facilitator says it has been years and years since she’s seen anything like this happen.  We are trusting God that He’s got it, and there really have been many little blessings in disguise during the delay.

There is so much to talk about and I can’t possibly cover everything, but I wanted to let you all know that we are doing really well, even during the separation.  I have lots of help from family this week, and we are being more than taken care of.  The children are all adjusting fabulously to our new normal, and we will  have a few much needed days of rest and recovery before heading back to pick up Jake and Hope at the airport and heading to the hospital for monitoring.  Below I have some quick updates on how both Jacob and Hope are doing now.  If there is something about the last five days that I haven’t covered and you’re just dying to know, please ask and I’d be happy to blog about it tomorrow!

Jacob

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This boy is doing awesome!  As soon as we pulled up to the house he yelled in Russian “It’s my home!!”  He recognized it from the pictures immediately and was so incredibly excited.  He spent about an hour or so just exploring, and asking me which things were his.  He slept really well in his new bed, although we did have some meltdowns before we got there.  Poor kiddo was totally exhausted as we all woke up at 4:30am yesterday for some reason.  No jet lag though, hooray!

His tantrums are continuing to get fewer and farther between, and less aggressive, although I expect that to vacillate probably for a while.  He is doing really great with his siblings, and they with him.  They act as if they have always just been together and it’s no big deal.  He’s getting very good about learning to apologize and forgive and give hugs after having a disagreement.

The language barrier has not been much of an issue.  There was only one time yesterday when he was so overtired that he kept trying to tell me something I didn’t understand.  But I knew the real reason for his distress was exhaustion, so I was able to take care of him anyway!  I’m learning what his version of Russian means for a lot of things, and he understands quite a bit of what I say.  He follows almost all of my simple commands without any issue or confusion.  His first spontaneous English usage was back in Ukraine.  Stephen had put Jake’s (hubby Jake) shoes on and was walking around the apartment with them and he told Stephen “Take off booties!”  It was great :)

He repeats words quite often, but doesn’t use them a whole lot yet.  Yesterday at dinner after we all sat down he folded his hands before anyone else.  Already learning to pray before meals!  I think he enjoys the prayer, he tries to follow along with us.  Last night I saw him say the words “guest” and “blessed” during the prayer, melted my heart!  He also says “Amen” with us at the end.

Physically he is doing well too.  He is sitting and pulling his legs into positions that I didn’t know they could stay in without some sort of pressure putting them there.  His flexibility is already improved since being in the orphanage.  He is very self sufficient, doesn’t usually need help with pottying or dressing himself and he finds ways to climb on all sorts of things.  His groupa room was on the second floor of their orphanage, so he is very good with stairs, which is great since his bedroom is on the second floor here too!

The nannies had told us that he doesn’t have favorite foods and that he eats anything.  That held true for about two days and he has now decided he doesn’t have to eat absolutely everything he’s given because there will be more 😉  Unfortunately, his taste buds have taken a turn for the worse and he is only wanting sweet things.  The only thing he ate yesterday that was not sweet were the fresh cucumbers from our garden.  No salt or anything, just plain cucumber and he ate about a whole one!  I tasted it though, and it was seriously the best cucumber I have ever had.  So grateful for Jake’s dad who has been working our garden for us while we were away!  Or maybe it’s his garden, because I’m pretty sure he’s done about 98% of the work and is generously allowing us to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of his labor :)

Ok so that’s all I can think of at this moment about my new oldest son.  His first time home and he is the man of the house right now since Daddy is gone!  Can’t wait to see how we do today, our first full day at home!  It’s totally killing me that I am right next door and can’t go to church this morning.  I have  missed it so incredibly much, both Christ and His people.  But I know it’s just not going to be possible today, I can’t wait for our first Sunday back though!  It will be absolute Heaven on Earth.  (Quite literally.)

Hope

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Alrighty, now for precious girlie!  The updates that are bolded are written by Jake, the rest will be my commentary.

Ok, seriously, its probably just babble but I’ve clearly heard her say “mama” 3 times in the last hour.  This is so awesome!!  She is incredibly intelligent and understands speech very well.  It actually wouldn’t surprise me if she is wondering where mama went (even if she’s just talking about her nannies at the orphanage…)  It must be totally strange for her to have a man being her sole caregiver!  But even if it’s just babble – she is BABBLING!  She can physically say the word “mama”, which Since she understands and can physically make the sounds, it means she will learn to associate it with it’s real life counterpart and start using it appropriately.  It could take a long time, but she wants desperately to communicate, and now that we know she can – I feel totally confident saying she will.  (If she’s not already!)

I’m amazed by Zhanna. We got here and were told in strong terms she was more or less a vegetable. Not even close! She has wanted to play and cuddle all morning with me. She seeks me out and wants to play with whatever I’m holding. I get a little upset thinking about how many behaviors she has, seemingly because she just didn’t have a family to give her what she needed most all these years. As I write she made it all the way across the bed to grab my ipod and scramble the icons for me. She’s been babbling all morning, talking about things in her way. She giggles when I give her new clothes. She’s a real delight. I’m trying to go for walks with her to prepare her for the sights and sounds of our journey home. She doesn’t like these at all. Hopefully she’ll improve over the next couple days.

This was so great to hear!!  All of this exploring and play is a huge improvement from when I was there the first couple days.  I am so so excited that she is starting to break out of her shell and that she is actually seeking out touch and affection again!

Happy to have three females in my home that feel no restraint is needed when telling me I messed up the food.

More seriously, I think Zhanna’s tummy is having some grumpiness over the baby food from the grocery store. In any event she’s been so active all day, moving across the bed to cuddle with and be close. She loves holding my ipod, I presume b/c I’m always using it which means it must be fun. She’s also yelled just to get me told her b/c as soon as I do she has a huge grin that I catch in the mirror. I’m learning to tell the difference between when she’s really in pain or scared and when I’m just not doing something her way. She’s good at telling me the latter!

Not sure what that first sentence is referring to… ahem.  😀  But this is also such a great sign.  She has started vocalizing her needs, which she also did for her nannies.  Very, very good progress.  Hopefully her tummy starts feeling better!  Trying not to change her diet too much before getting back to the states and being under care of a doctor.  But Jake also told me this morning that her thighs are starting to look like they’re filling out a bit!  Praise God!  I can’t wait to see if she gains some weight between her Embassy medical last week and being admitted on Wednesday.

Feeling so blessed and at peace with everything today.  Travel day was HARD.  But this will all be more than worth it in the end, and I would do it a million times over to have the privilege of calling these children my beloved son and daughter.  They are worth every bit of heartache, cost and inconvenience and all the hardship has seriously been zilch compared to the joy of being their mother.

We Made It

We are in America with our family.

And that, my friends, is just about the only thing that went right today.  I have never had such a horrible travelling experience in my life.  Jake is stuck in Kiev for another five days because of a rare technical delay at the passport office.  We aren’t home yet.  Still at  a hotel for tonight.

I have nothing more to add.  Perhaps tomorrow.

Good night America… missed you, but I miss my husband and daughter more, quite honestly.

Running on Empty

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My heart is full… we are finally together!  When Jake put our Hope in my arms this evening and I had a few precious moments with her before things got crazy again I was so happy and relieved; the tears just came.  Holding her while watching my other three children play on the floor, all in the same room, I can’t even express the joy of it.

My cup is overflowing.  My heart is full, my arms are full… my hands are full and so is my plate.  I have one day left in Ukraine and a million things to accomplish in that short time frame!  But the last few days have taken it out of me.  Physically, emotionally and mentally I am running on empty; we all are.

We could use your prayers.  Pray that God would strengthen us to be good parents even in the hard moments.  Pray that that our Consular Officer will have mercy on our little girl and make an exception so she can get her visa on Friday.  She didn’t really eat much for us today and I would be worried sick about her deteriorating if she has to stay in Kiev three extra days over the weekend before making it to the children’s hospital in Saint Louis.  Pray for supernaturally restful sleep for everyone.  It will be a very long day tomorrow and we all need to be on the top of our game.

Please no advice.  We really have everything under control.  But there is so much outside of our control that we very much need prayers for.  And if I do need guidance about transitioning traumatized, fragile children while travelling or any parenting advice I have plenty of experienced mamas I promise I will ask.

Nor do I need spiritual advice on praying harder or trusting God more, I’m sure I know anything and everything you’ve got to tell me.  Yes, I probably need to hear it, but not it isn’t going to help me right now.  Just keep us in your prayers, and if you see a spiritual deficiency (I promise there are many) just say extra prayers for that.  It’s not that I don’t want to hear it, I am just running on empty and have literally no energy to process any well-meaning advice other than possibly “Go get some sleep and drink some coffee.”

And with that, I am going to go to sleep… and maybe we’ll have time for coffee in the morning.  After I finish paperwork anyway…

The Day Between

Today is the day between our new children’s Gotcha Days.  And earlier on our Facebook Page I wrote this update…

For some reason I can’t access my blog. *GASP* Hopefully will be getting that resolved soon. In the meantime, we are doing great here. We had one little meltdown from Jacob leaving the playground and besides the bedtime craziness everything has been smooth sailing!

I am so proud of how well our new son is taking every new thing in stride and learning so quickly how family dynamics are different than in the orphanage. His interactions with his new siblings are already getting softer and less defensive, although we did have to have a lesson in hugs today! Lol!

Jacob and Hope also met each other briefly and all five of us were together for a brief few minutes! Tomorrow it will be forever!! Can’t wait! Stay tuned for a more in-depth update hopefully in a few hours. If my blog lets me in….

So here is the more in-depth version! I did get the blog problem resolved obviously. :)

We are doing really great. I expected these two days to be so much rougher than they have been. I won’t lie, it has been stressful with everything going on and there have been moments of panic on my part. It hasn’t been especially pretty all the time, and in fact, sometimes it’s downright ugly.  But our newest addition is blending in fabulously and he seems to be having a great time!

We just left the playground, though, which he did not want to do at all. And he cried most of the walk home, but by the time we got to the apartment it was clear he was just milking it and he wasn’t getting any attention so he gave it up. Nothing like the tantrum we saw at the orphanage last week; it was a very mild normal kid tantrum. I’ll take it!

He did have a really difficult time going to sleep last night and that was exhausting for everyone. I am praying for a better situation tonight.  If he spends three hours fighting sleep for the rest of the week we are going to have a really long week.  (Wrote this earlier in the day, he actually had a fabulous night and was soundly asleep with the others right away!)

Evangeline and Stephen are doing marvelously with their new brother. They’ve had to learn some new boundaries, as Jacob really needs his space.  Yesterday, whenever one of the kids got close he would go straight into defensive mode and start hitting at the air and yelling. I have a feeling he usually got attacked when other kids got that close in the orphanage. He’s not used to this hugging and affection stuff coming from other little ones.

But Stephen has been thrilled to have him here so far, and he was the first person Stephen thought of this morning. He woke up and asked “Uri?” And later that morning he went over to give his new big brother a hug. Jacob was not appreciative of this and pushed him away, which I used as an opportunity to have a family hug lesson.

I said “Jacob, nyet.” And I sat him on my lap and explained (in English with lots of hand gestures and example hugs) that hugs are good things and Stephen just wanted to give him a hug, and that it is nice to let people hug us. Then I invited Stephen over and he got his hug and Evangeline gave a hug, then Evangeline and Stephen gave each other a hug, and lastly Stephen proceeded to give hugs to the rest of the room.

It ended with lots of laughter and smiles all around. He tolerates Stephen’s touches now. Stephen likes to occasionally walk up and hug people or pat them on the back or look over their shoulder to see what they’re doing. It’s really very sweet, but Jacob had a hard time with it at first and we had to really watch to make sure no one accidentally got hurt by reflexes. But this afternoon Stephen patted him on the shoulder and there was absolutely no reaction! Things are getting better, he is learning so fast.

Jacob is also quite the cleaner. I think the nannies are pretty strict about that at the orphanage. He made his bed and tried to make mine too, lol! He also loves the playground, but gets super preoccupied with cleaning all the garbage off of it (and here there is a lot of trash). Needless to say he got a thorough hand washing when we got back inside! He also seems to have designated a night stand as his shelf. Whenever we would give him a clothing, a toy or a book to look at he immediately went to that shelf and put his things in the drawers. We’re also getting better at sharing! Slowly but surely!

We had paper chasing for Hope today and everything didn’t go super smoothly, but it all got done on time and we are still on schedule for the week! She had to get passport pictures, and since I wanted to have time to visit her at the orphanage before Gotcha Day, the kids and my mom and I drove there while Jake was doing paperwork.

I was nervous about whether she would be ok or not since we haven’t seen her in so long, I should not have been concerned! As soon as she heard my voice she got a huge smile, and when she actually saw me she was giggling and kicking her legs she was so excited. It was the best reaction, and my heart was so full to see that kind of joy from my little girl!

FabFiveWe got to watch the nannies feed her so I know how much she eats at each meal, and then we got to walk out with her! We went back to the apartment where Jake was waiting, as he needed to take her for passport pictures. So all five of us were together for about fifteen minutes. It was great! And tomorrow it will be for forever!

By the way do you see how handsome my husband looks in that lovely pink carrier?!?!  How manly is that!  The things a doting father does for his little girl.  I think I fell in love all over again just seeing it.  :)

Poor baby girl had a hard time with the pictures though. She didn’t like it one bit and it took them a while to get one that would work. Jake said he saw quite a few of her anxious behaviors on the trip back to the orphanage, which broke my heart as she was just all smiles on our drive in. I hope it doesn’t make her nervous during Gotcha Day tomorrow!

And I’m off to pack AGAIN and to do some Embassy paperwork before bed!

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. Here are some immediate prayer requests we have…

Prayer of thanksgiving that Jacob is doing so well AND that he fell asleep in minutes tonight!! Also prayers that this ease in transition would continue for him as we make the long journey back home.

Prayer for our family as we separate for several hours tomorrow so that Jacob can be in Kiev on time for his first Embassy appointment and Daddy can finish everything up in Hope’s city.

Prayers that the Embassy would have soft hearts tomorrow as we ask for special timing on getting Hope’s visa. We will need them to be open a little later Friday in order for Jake and Hope to make their Saturday flight.

Pray that all would go smoothly in the morning so that Jake and Hope can make their 1:00 pm train.

Pray for patience and strength and wisdom for Jake and I as we learn how to parent these two new precious ones along with our others and make the adjustment to a family of six.

And, of course, for safe travels!

Gotcha…

Gotcha

T-Minus 12 Hours…

And counting!  In exactly twelve hours we will show up at the gate of Jacob’s orphanage, take presents, say good-byes, get some last minute pictures, give him a set of clothes that is his very own and walk him right out of there… Forever.  So.  Excited.

So!  Here is the schedule for the upcoming week that I promised all of you before I may or may not be disappearing for a time.  I expect things to get a little crazy after Gotcha Day!  Of course, I’m hoping to update somewhere in this week, but it will probably be short, sweet and to the point.  Will be taking tons of pictures tomorrow, and hopefully can post some of those in a timely fashion as well!

This is what the week’s going to look like (if everything goes as planned!)

Monday: Jacob’s Gotcha Day

We will finish packing up in the morning and head over to his orphanage after that.  Hoping to bring gifts for all of his groupa friends and his nannies, and maybe get some pictures of him with them for posterity.  After all good-byes are said we will hop in the van and drive the two and a half hours to the train station that actually had a reasonable train ride for today.  Our train leaves at around 2pm and arrives at 7pm in Hope’s city.  We’ll get to the apartment and promptly fall asleep.

Tuesday: Paperchasing for Hope

This is going to be a busy day!!  Jake will be doing paperchasing on his own while my mom and I watch the kiddos.  We will get to make a morning visit with sweet girl and I am hoping I can get to watch them feed her at least once before we leave.  After our visit we will ask the driver to drop us off at Gorky Park to have some fun and wear the three little ones out before bed!  If Jake gets done paperchasing soon enough he’ll maybe meet us there for dinner.

Wednesday: Hope’s Gotcha Day

Unfortunately we won’t be able to get Hope out of there soon enough for the early train, and Jacob really needs to start embassy paperwork in Kiev today.  So my mom and I and the three kids will take the 6am express train to Kiev so we can get there in time to start at the embassy.  Jake will stay behind, tie up any loose ends at the orphanage, and do Gotcha on his own.  I ordered him to make sure that they took a billion pictures, because I’m so sad I’ll miss it!  Their train leaves for Kiev at one o’clock and arrives around dinner time.  Then we’ll all be together for the first time ever!!

Thursday: Embassy Work Day

Thursday will be our big day at the embassy.  Hopefully Jacob’s visa will come in so we can make our flight the next day.  Hope’s medical might have to wait since her passport won’t be quite ready yet, but at least we’ll be able to get everything started.  It will be a crazy day probably, and one I’m glad my mom is going to be here for!

Friday: First Flight Home

We are scheduled to leave on a very early morning flight on Friday back to the US!  We are due to arrive on US soil at 6:00pm CST on Friday.  My mom will help me with the three kiddos and Jake and Hope will stay behind to wait on her passport and visa.  He will be doing lots of Embassy stuff that afternoon, pray that he can finish it all in time to make their flight!

Saturday: Homecoming!

Jake and Hope also have an early morning flight out and will be arriving to meet us at around 7pm CST on Saturday.  We will have an airport homecoming and then go straight to the children’s hospital for Hope to be admitted.  We are optimistic that it won’t be a long stay and that we will be able to go home quickly after that!

Great Visit!

Today’s visit was tons of fun.  It rained so we got to play inside in their therapy room, which we hadn’t been in yet.  Stephen loved the balls and played with them pretty much the entire time, Evangeline really enjoyed climbing the ladders and Jacob was just exploring everything.  We learned that he has creative problem solving skills, nice!  I imagine he’s had a lot of problems he’s needed to solve on his own!

We also had no more behavioral issues for the second day in a row!  We did have one altercation where he thought about turning on the water works.  He saw we had brought some juice boxes.  We didn’t take them out.  Daddy had packed bananas and an orange (both of which he devoured) and I thought that was more than enough fruit!  But he noticed them anyway and was very insistent that he have some.

I told him no and offered him water, which he brushed away and continued to try getting to the juice box.  I pushed the bag out of his reach and got eye contact and very firmly but gently told him in Russian “No juice, tomorrow.  Yes?”  He twisted his face into a crying position but then quickly decided it wouldn’t be worth it and went off to play.  I was ready for a battle, but thankfully didn’t have one.

We aren’t naive enough to believe breaking this habit is going to be that easy, and we expect a whole new slew of problems after Gotcha.  But he can and is learning that there are boundaries, and that’s a really awesome start!

In other news I am missing my daughter terribly.  I am so sad that this entire time she has had no one and nothing to do… just back to her old life of nothingness.  Yes, I know we’re going to be there so soon to take her home forever.  But this wait is just excruciating.  I can’t imagine adopting from a country where you have to meet your child and then come home for months waiting to go back and get them.  I know many friends who have had to take that route and they are seriously my heroes!

Here’s a super cute picture from today.  Jacob is sitting down for his second or third round of snacks (he ate a TON today!).  Stephen is still playing with the balls and Evie is being her big sister self, probably telling him where to go.  Love my kiddos!

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TWO DAYS!!!

That is it!  Just two more days, two more visits at that orphanage before I get to walk him out of that big blue gate FOREVER.

I. AM. SO. EXCITED.

My nerves are dying down a bit and I’m just ready to get him, get Hope and go home.  Everything else will work itself out when we get there right? :)  Ok maybe not that simple.  But I am more than ready to get done and get out of here with ALL my babies!  Finally!  To see all their faces in one place at the same time, my heart might burst.  It probably also helped that we had a really good visit today to boost my confidence a little.

So here’s how it’s going to go down…

Monday morning we pack everything up and check out of our apartment.  Probably right around noonish we will go bust Jacob out of his orphanage!  After that we have to drive straight to the bigger city to catch our train.  It’s two and a half hours, not totally fun but absolutely better than the alternative, which was a 10 hour train ride… in the middle of the day… with three restless children.  No thank you.

Our train to Hope’s city leaves at around three in the afternoon and arrives at 7:00pm that same day.  We will probably ask our facilitator before we go to explain to Jacob that we will be going to pick up his new sister and then we will take another train to where the airplanes are to fly to America.  We haven’t told him about Hope yet.  With only one day having a translator there has not been a good time, really.  But he does need to know before we leave!

That night hopefully kids will sleep awesomely because we have our huge paperchasing for Hope the next day.  We also seriously need to get a visit in on Tuesday, somehow, before Gotcha.  We might just have to pay two drivers, one to help me get to visit Hope and one to do paperchasing with Jake or something like that.  But she needs to see us again before we leave.  It has been far too long and the last thing we want is for her to be terrified on Gotcha Day because she doesn’t remember us.

So anywho that is the plan for Jacob’s gotcha.  I have no idea how often I will be able to update after Sunday.  There will be so much happening so fast.  I will definitely try to lay out a day-by-day tentative schedule for ya’ll this weekend so if I can’t update you can come look and see “Oh yeah, that’s what they’re up to today.” 😛  Also please let me know if you have questions or other things you want answered before I might disappear for a few days!  Love you all!  It’s getting exciting over here!!

All That’s Left is to Pray

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^^^ Photo bomb for the win.

It’s officially official!  Yesterday Jake spent fifteen hours in the car chasing papers.  He drove two hours to pick up Jacob’s new birth certificate, drove two hours back to the first passport office, then went to the second passport office, then went to the orphanage to pick up Jacob to drive two hours back to the third passport office (How does it even make sense that there are three of them?!?!) and when they were finished he drove two hours back home, dropped Jacob off at the orphanage and came back to the apartment.

But once it was all said and done our paper chase was over and we are technically, practically, officially Jacob’s parents with legal custody and everything.  There is something about knowing I can snatch him away whenever I feel like it that just gives me warm, fuzzy happy feelings.  We have not had Gotcha Day yet, though.  The director is graciously allowing Jacob to spend the rest of this week there without even charging us for lodging, lol.  You would think we’d want him with us now that we can bust him out any time, but practically this is so much better.

The travel time between Gotcha Day and arriving home is typically extremely stressful for kids, especially in his age range.  The longer it’s drawn out the more difficult it will be.  We want to get home as fast as possible once we pick him up.  Second, we already know he gets sick a lot, and it’s very common for the children to become ill once leaving the orphanage, being exposed to so many new things during such a stressful time.  The last thing we want is for him to be sick during his Embassy medical.  We need him healthy so there won’t be any complications getting a Visa.

So, really, our best option is to wait until the last minute.  We will very likely pick him up and head straight to the train for Hope’s city, no dilly dallying!  We have been visiting each day still, and I will be perfectly honest, the visits have gone from stellar to trying.  It’s not that much has changed, there are just little things here and there… Red flags popping up that are setting our minds toward focusing on the hard realities of parenting a hurting child.

One thing we know… Jacob is not attached to us.  He loves our visits, he loves the toys and food and new experiences we bring, he loves the idea of having his own house and even of having a family.  He doesn’t want to be alone, he wants people to love him and he knows that we are offering him that.  But what he doesn’t know is that we are the only ones who can offer him these things.

As much as it hurts for my mama’s heart to think of it this way, in his mind Jake and I are totally replaceable.  We are characters in his fairy tale ending that can be switched out for new ones if things don’t quite go his way.  While they were driving the four hour round trip to the passport office yesterday, our son was actively reaching out to the driver and our facilitator, calling them Mama and Papa.  They spoke Russian, he connected with them in that moment, and since they were in his fairy tale he could put them in our roles.

To institutionalized children all adults are the same and they are totally interchangeable.  One day I do believe he will know what it means to call me Mama, but for now, to him it is a temporary title not limited to myself.  It’s one he can apply to any nice lady who might help him get what it is that he wants in that moment.  It’s a tough reality to grapple with.  Attachment is going to be work, which is why if you know us in real life it is so important that you help us keep tight boundaries with him.  He will so need them.

Attachment isn’t the only red flag we’ve seen.  He’s been testing us more; we’re supposed to be in the honeymoon period but we are already seeing behavioral issues surface.  His compliance is waning, and I am feeling a downward spiral of that coming on after Gotcha Day.  He uses his emotions as weapons and tools.  Some people refer to this as emotional manipulation, which is technically true.  But I don’t like putting that label on a child in this instance.  It’s a survival skill in the orphanage; he’s had learn to use it so his basic needs can be met.  No child should ever need to do this!  It’s tragic!

He’s not trying to be a bad kid.   This is just the only way he knows how to be.  We have also noticed that he does not have appropriate reactions to pain.  He laughs when he gets hurt, breaks my heart.  This is also a common thread shared by many institutionalized children and their atypical experiences with pain, adult reactions, etc.  Our boy is hurting, he is very much hurting.  I don’t think he understands the extent to which he has been hurt; everything up to this point has just been normal life for him.

It hurts me to see him this way.  It terrifies me to think of the great responsibility we have being the healing presence in his life.  I felt very prepared coming into this and I feel so under prepared and so inadequate as the time swiftly moves forward to bring him home and begin this long, grueling journey.  At this point all I have left to do is pray that God gives us the wisdom, patience and strength to be the parents he so desperately needs.

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