Meeting Our Daughter

Today we had our second visit with Janna.  The first visit was hard, not on us, but certainly on her.  They wheeled her out three different times.  Initially they tried to bring her out while we were still discussing her medical records with the doctor.  I smiled at her for a minute and our facilitator asked for her to be taken back until we were finished talking.  (Which I was grateful for because she was obviously overwhelmed by the new environment and all the strange voices!)

The next time she came out the nanny sat down on the couch next to her and said her name to try and comfort her.  She sat there holding her hand and listening for her voice and was much calmer, though her coping behaviors were still evident.  I said her name a few times and she ignored me at first, but about the third time she turned her face in a shy sort of way and giggled.  It was our first “connecting moment” and it was so sweet.

We talked to her nanny for several minutes and so someone wheeled her back down the hallway again.  Again, I was happy for that as she was not doing well while her nanny was distracted.  She needed constant reassurance or she would resort to her loud vocalizing, rocking and appearing quite distressed.   Poor sweetie.

After we finished all our conversations Jake and the kids came upstairs and they brought her out one more time to meet the whole family.  The nanny stayed by her and held her hand, talking to her the whole time, but she was already overstimulated at this point.  She could not focus on any one person and that seemed to agitate her, and she was very nervous.  We didn’t stay long.

We both felt immediately connected to her, and after meeting Janna there was no real doubt in our minds that we would bring her home, but we slept on it just to be sure.  This morning we called our facilitator with our decision and after our visit this afternoon we went to the notary office and signed the paperwork needed to begin the court process in her region.

Today’s visit went so much better.  I wasn’t expecting to see any progress after yesterday’s short meeting, but the nanny carried her out and handed her right to me.  That sort of contact kind of demanded progress!  She melted into my arms and held on super tight.  I never wanted to let go.  It was such a beautiful moment, and one I had been waiting for so long.

Evie and Stephen said hello to their new sister and then Daddy took them downstairs so she could relax a little more.  There was much less rocking and vocalizing.  Sometimes when she rocked I would start bouncing or rocking for her, which she just absolutely loved.  The best way to calm her down when she would start crying out or becoming distressed was to sing.  Singing totally relaxes her and she soaks it in.

She also loved, loved, loved skin-to-skin contact.  That was the one thing she was constantly seeking during our visit.  She loved holding hands and touching my face and hair, and when she wasn’t doing that her hand was always resting right on my chest, sometimes even under my shirt, so she could have that skin-to-skin.

That was totally fine with this Mama!  I know how important it is for babies especially to have that, and she has never had it.  I am so glad that she is seeking it out, because that sort of touch will do wonders for her not only in bonding with us but in her healing process as a whole.

I was also told she understands speech.  I called her “My sunshine” in Russian.  I also told her I was her mama and that I loved her.  When I first told her “I am your mama” she got a huge smile on her face.  I really would love to believe that she completely understood what I was saying.  And she did relax for me a little more after that.  The cynic in me thinks she was just glad to hear me speaking a familiar language… but I really hope she knows her Mama is here now.

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There is so much to say, I can’t possibly get it all down in one post!  She is such a spunky, fun girl.  She has a big personality, and it shows even now.  When I was trying to switch her from one arm to the other she tensed all of her muscles half way through (it’s a bit of a process at this point with her being so stiff) and wouldn’t let me keep going!  I stopped and looked at her and said her name in a mind-your-mother tone of voice to which she just laughed!  It was so funny!  And she LOVES Evie and Stephen; we brought them in for a few minutes while I was passing Janna off to Jake for his turn.  She is so interested in them and reaches out for them all the time.

Stephen is still pretty reserved around her, he holds her hand and just kind of stares.  But Evangeline wants to play and chat and she bounces around.  Janna is obviously wanting to follow her and is very interested, but I can tell she also gets overwhelmed quickly by all the activity.

We had about an hour with her today, which was just about the perfect amount of time.  We will try to lengthen our daily visit as she gets more comfortable with all the attention.  I would love to do two visits a day, but the orphanage is far away so driving there is pretty expensive and I think we’ll be able to do the bonding we need to do before Gotcha Day with just one.  Ok I will stop rambling now.  I was just so excited to share her with everyone!  She is such a priceless treasure!!

Love and Grief

We had our first visit with Juri today.  I have spent the last few hours trying to decide how I want to describe everything we saw and experienced.  There is so much that it is totally overwhelming.  After lots of Facebooking with fellow adoptive parents about all of the things we saw, we are feeling a bit better, but we do want to be honest about what is going on.

Adoption always comes from loss, it’s hard, and we are very much grieving for Juri and the things he has lost.  He has had so much hurt and neglect in his short life, it is difficult to even imagine what he might be going through.  We would really love your prayers for peace and wisdom on our part and for healing for our son’s heart, mind and body.

Juri is much much more delayed than we were prepared for.  Skills that we know he had previously are gone and he seems to have regressed substantially.  This is very common in the orphanages here for various reasons.  But the good news is that he should regain those lost skills fairly quickly once he comes home.

But now that that is all out of the way, let’s get to the fun part!!  Juri is a sweet, lovely, fun boy.  We absolutely adore him.  He is much taller than we thought he would be!  We know that they have not told him yet why we are here, but I think he is figuring it out on his own.  He almost immediately started calling Jake “papa” and not long after started using “mama” for me.

The little bit of Russian we have has been super helpful.  I used several of the phrases I knew, and although we couldn’t understand each other completely I do think it helped with bonding.  I am going to learn a couple more phrases for our visit tomorrow that I wish I had had today.  “I don’t understand” being one of them!  He was very talkative with us and just seemed tickled to have someone’s attention.

We just listened most of the time, and when he wanted something he was pretty good at pointing.  I don’t think he gets to play in the dirt often (like at all!)  We did a lot of playing in the sand boxes and he kept looking at the sand on his hands, trying to rub it off and giggling about it.  I would help him clean off his hands which would make him laugh more and then he would point to his clothes and his wheelchair for me to wipe those off too.  It was lots of fun!

Whenever he would ask for something I would hand it to him and then say in a repeat-after-me tone of voice “Spasibo” and he was hesitant at first, but then would always repeat it to say thank-you to whoever handed him the toy or cookie.  Which, by the way, he loves cookies!  The nannies said he loves food and will eat anything and everything.

After his third cookie I said “Nyet” no more cookies!  But Evie kept handing them to him, so he started asking her!  After that it became a game, he would try to get Evie’s attention for cookies and I would say “nyet, nyet, nyet” with a big smile and he would try to convince me in Russian.  I think he thought his sweetness would change my mind!  He seemed very taken with Evangeline and Stephen and was really listening when we told him their names, though he didn’t repeat them.  We did get him to say a few English words like sand and car.

We had a whole hour with him to ourselves with no translator, which was intimidating but lots of fun and it turned out very well I think.  We can’t share any pictures yet, hopefully soon!  For now here’s a picture of the sign outside his orphanage which means “Welcome!”

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