Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Day in Ukraine...

So on the one month anniversary of Katya coming home, I thought I'd share a story from while we were in Kharkov, Ukraine.

The day we went to meet Katya, we decided to adopt her. Our translator asked us if we wanted to visit her again for a few days and really think it over, then decide after that; but we decided that day to start the paperwork.

We paid to expedite the orphanage paperwork so that we could get it signed off on by another person in order for us to have court as quickly as possible.

The orphanage conclusion was expedited, but our translator could not get anyone to sign it. She tried for 2 days and said that the government was being restructed in that region, and the people who were in power had been removed TWO DAYS ago and that the new people who had the authority to sign it were not under power yet.

When do they get power? When will they sign it? She didn't know.

The most frustrating phrase in the world gets uttered more times than I care to count during an adoption process, "I don't know."

We were frustrated to say the least. We asked if we should go home and wait there until they figured out what was going on and who should sign it? No, she thought they'd sign it the next day, and if not, then definitely the day after that. Two more days... no signature.

She went back to Kiev because it was the weekend and nothing would be open until Monday; said she would come back out there when the papers were signed so she could set up a court date. We waited.... till Monday evening and they still weren't signed.

Our facilitator called us and said that the people COULD sign the papers, but they needed to stamp them with a special seal. They didn't have it yet. It should be there the next day.

Next day came. Still no signed papers. Our translator came back and said she would try to get them to sign the papers and set up a court date. She was gone all day and came back to our apartment pretty late. She said she had talked to the judge, and he agreed to set up a court date even without the paperwork being signed yet, but it had to be signed by Friday so that we could send it back to Kiev to the SDA to be processed before court.

We waited and kept annoying our translator who I'm sure was harassing everyone else. She took the orphanage director with her to try to force these people to sign our paperwork. They STILL refused. They couldn't figure out who should sign it. Their lawyers said they couldn't sign it because they found errors with our dossier. HAH! Our translator said that it didn't matter what the lawyers said, the SDA approved it. They just wanted to show how smart they were.

We waited that entire week. Oh what a looooong week it was! We visited Katya twice a day for 2-3 hours each time. We skyped with our boys when they got up in the morning and when Wes got back from preschool. We wondered if we'd ever get the papers signed. I cried a lot! It seemed so hopeless! "I don't know." That's what we kept getting. Argh. I hated to even tell people back home what was going on because we had knew to expect this (not that we liked it) but things in Ukraine just don't work the same as they do in the U.S. and you can't demand that they do just because you are an American.

So Friday morning rolled around and our translator arrived on the 6am train and set out to try to get the paperwork signed. We had sent prayer requests to our church, posted it on facebook and this blog. I was reminding God that He sent us here so I KNEW He would move this seemingly impossible mountain. For us. For her.

We didn't hear from our translator all day Friday. We visited Katya, we ate, we skyped the boys. We prayed.

Friday night our translator called us and said she was outside our apartment with the driver so we needed to run down and pay him. When she came up we were like "OK, OK already did you get it?" She said, "Its signed but I don't even know who did it. Yesterday no one can sign it, today its signed. I don't ask! I don't care!"

We sent those papers with her on a train back to Kiev and pay to expedite them at the SDA (this is where it pays to have a great facilitator) so we could have court on Thursday. Everything got processed JUST in time for Thursday. I can look back now and see how God had it all in His hands the whole time, but I'm kind of ashamed to say that in the middle of all of that, I was really freaking out :-/

Today Katya has been home one month and during this month I have been constantly reminded that we did not choose her. God chose us FOR her and then He moved the mountains in the way to bring her home.

Happy One Month Home!

Its hard to believe its been a month already in some ways... and in others I can't believe its ONLY been a month. We've had a lot of adjustments and everyone has been trying to find the new normal. I think we're getting there :)

Unfortunately Wes & Wy have both been sick for the last several days. Katya has managed to not get what they've had though so I guess she has a pretty good immune system!

We've had a lot of firsts. She had never seen a chicken before and FREAKED out when one of my banties started walking towards her. She's quickly figured out that they make eggs and live in their "chicken dom." She likes to hear them crow and says "Mama's cheekens!"

She also had never seen a real dog. She knew what one was but when we went to my MIL's house and Tammy (fat, slow, beagle looking for a treat) starting walking towards her, she again absolutely freaked out. But she gets over being scared really quickly and within 10 minutes she would feed Tammy a treat and tell her "LeonaaaDa!" (hands off!) when she licked her lol.

She likes to "help" me cook dinner. I don't think she had ever seen anyone make food before. She was so fascinated with what I was doing and then thrilled that I made food and put it on the table for us to eat. We made cookies yesterday and she "got" the idea that the cookie package would end up as cookies AFTER we mixed them up and baked them.

I do not think that she had much opportunity to play with toys because she had no idea what to do with mega blocks or even very simple puzzles. I'm confused by that because they had a large playroom with blocks in it and sensory equipment; and I remember seeing things like shape puzzles but Phillip and I are pretty sure that Katya wasn't allowed to go with her grouppa to play because she couldn't walk and couldn't participate in the group activites the kids were doing.

She is sitting here building a block tower as I speak and she has figured out how to put together very simple puzzles. :) She wants to play the boys' Leapster Explorers but she's not quite ready for that yet!

I'm not sure who's picking up more of another language, Katya or the boys. Phillip and I were finishing up dinner and heard "Leonaaada! Eta myoo!" No big deal, except that it came out of Wesley's mouth with a perfect Russian accent. He told Katya, "hands off that's mine!" She tells them "STOP!" Katya is really hanging on to Russian. She speaks it so well that its a shame that she will lose it, but at the same time we need her to learn English so we can communicate. She is picking it up a lot though and she understands most of what we say now. She knows many Russian songs and sings them very loudly when the mood strikes. They are long long songs that go on and on... I have no idea what she is singing about! She sits on Phillip's lap when he comes home and tells him about her day. For about 5 minutes she talks non-stop in Russian and we try to pick out what she's saying. "Kalashka" (her stroller) "mya dom" (the playhouse) "Cheekens!"

We have been doing a lot of stretches with her at least twice a day and trying for three times. We've seen a lot of improvement in her flexability and strength so far. She could not sit up on her bottom when we came home and we've been working on it during our stretching time, but I found her sitting up on her bottom by herself yesterday. Its hard for her and she has to hold her knees to do it, but she can do it now and as you can see in the picture she can sit on the sit and spin the right way now :)

Happy One Month Anniversary, Katya. We love you!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Well THAT went well...

{Warning this contains graphic (yet realistic) descriptions of stomach contents}

Yesterday we decided to take a little road trip. We needed to go to Wal-Mart and get a few things and I had several things I needed to exchange and return which I had been putting off until Phillip could come with me and watch the kids. Wesley hadn't been feeling well, but we couldn't really see anything wrong other than his face was very flushed and he had a bit of a fever. He said nothing hurt and he wanted to ride so we loaded the kiddos up and went to Wally World.

I had a chashier cheat me out of a $5 coupon last week on a Leapster game. (yes I'm a little bitter about it) I asked if it worked and took my $5 off the total and she told me yes it did. I got home and found out that no, she did not. So I took the receipt back up there with the coupon and asked for an adjustment. The lady in customer service refused because it wasn't the same day. She also refused to take back the broken Leapster that we got Wes for Christmas because I didn't put the CD for loading it onto the computer back in the box... Ugh. I had it, but who knew they'd want it back. The thing is broken. Anyways we'll be going back!

After that we rode around for a while to look at some stuff with Daddy and then we took the kids to Cracker Barrel. Wesley said he didn't want to eat (not even ice cream!), he wanted to go home. I should have known that when he says something like that, we should make a hasty retreat.

So we went into Cracker Barrel and noticed that Katya had flooded her diaper (we've put her back in diapers because of some issues but that's another post) so Daddy had to go change her in the van. I got a table with the boys and Wyatt promptly dumped Wesley's cup and sliverware in the floor. Why did they think it was a great idea to sit us in the table up front? Phillip said we were "The Show." As in Dinner and a Show... ha... ha...ha little did we know...

Daddy and Katya came back, we ordered our food and waited while the kids drained their chocolate milk. The food came, and we had just started eating when I heard a noise and saw Wes upchuck into his mac and cheese plate.

No, "Hey mom I feel sick" or "My stomach hurts!"

nope, just BLECH into the plate. Nice.

I started giggling. I mean REALLY? Our first dinner out with all three kids and this is how it goes?

So Phillip ran off with him to the bathroom in case that wasn't ALL of it. I flagged down a waitress and told her what happened. "My son just threw up and I need a trashcan." Her response? "For him?" I almost laughed again. Yeah sure I want to put my kid in the trashcan.

So another waitress comes over with a big tray and while I set the puke filled plate in there she says that something must be going around cause another little boy just stood up and threw up in the floor a little while ago.


Daddy and Wes came back and Wesley informed us that his maccaroni and cheese was mean to him and made his belly mad. Would it happen again? We said we hoped not.

As quickly as possible we ate dinner and went straight home. Poor Wes was burning up and feeling really bad by the time we got here so I gave him some medicine and put him to bed. I honestly expected everyone to wake up sick this morning because Wyatt was crying and saying he was sick too but everyone woke up all right today. Wes still doesn't feel well but the fever is gone and no more throwing up.

Phillip and were asking ourselves what is it about Cracker Barrel and Wes? About 4 1/2 years ago when Wes was 6 months old, Phillip had to go to training in Reading, PA for a week so Wes and I went with him. One night we went to Cracker Barrel and right in the middle of dinner, Wes made the world's largest poop that exploded out of his diaper and completely covered his carseat cover. I had to bathe him in the sink in the bathroom, put his clothes in a ziplock bag, and he had to ride back to the hotel with no seat cover.

I think he was eating mac & cheese that night too...

Friday, January 21, 2011

A step in the right direction

This morning while Wyatt and Katya were playing with baby dolls (yes I know haha), Wyatt whacked Katya in the head for taking HIS baby. They had been fighting over HER baby (LaLa) so I went to get his baby (Glowbaby) and two minutes later she tried to take it from him.

When he hit her head, she didn't hit back. She didn't scream uncontrollably. She hollared "Mama" and started crying. She wanted me to pick her up and comfort her. That is pretty huge. I feel like we've made progress. Before when she got hurt she'd either just get mad and scream or lash out at what hurt her.

I made Wyatt sit in timeout and then come appologize and kiss her. (He really didn't hit her hard- but hitting is not tolerated).

So the hitting was not a good thing, but Katya wanting and accepting comfort from me was :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where's my baby girl?

This is my three sweeties hugging each other silly this morning. Katya would scream when they tried to touch her, but now she just hollars "Mya Braaaaatchik!" (My brothers)

So a little background... before we ever started the adoption process, Wesley asked for a baby girl. Every single day. He said he wanted a baby girl. "Where's my baby girl at, mom?"
God had a plan for her. I think He whispered to Wesley that he had a sister but mommy and daddy had to go get her first and maybe they needed some nudging. In September 2009, I felt God just breaking my heart for a child I hadn't met.
Katya's 3rd birthday was in September 2009.
At 4 years old, most special needs children are transfered to an institution.
God knew how much time she had.

She came home 3 months after turning 4.

Wesley got his baby girl. She has always been his sister and it looks like he knows it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What the PI Found...

So I posted several days ago that we had hired a private investigator in Ukraine to search for Katya's birth family.

We wanted to find out more about the circumstances surrounding her being placed in an orphanage and we wanted to try to get as much family history as possible to share with her when she gets a little older.

We also really wanted to find the families that adopted her older brother and sister. Her brother is here in the U.S. and we really want to find him. Her sister is in France.

Yesterday our PI emailed us and said he'd found the family and he sent us a long report on them along with lots of pictures!

Katya's bio mom is actually Russian and her mother (Katya's grandmother lives in Moscow). Several of her siblings were visiting their grandmother in Moscow so the PI couldn't get pictures of them.

Katya's bio father is Ukrainian and met her mother in Moscow in the mid nineties when he left Ukraine to find work in Russia. They fell in love and she moved back to Ukraine with him to the village they live in now.

We got pictures of their house and they are very poor. They said that when Katya was born the doctors told them that they should relinquish parental rights because they would never be able to care for her because of her cerebral palsy. Its sad to say, but the Drs were right. Katya really was better off in the orphanage. An orphange is not a good place for a child, but in her case they did try to take care of her as best they knew how. Her parents really did what they felt was best for her because they did not have the means to take care of her. Our PI said they were very happy that we adopted her and told him to thank us for taking their baby to our house and that they were sorry that they couldn't take her home with them but they were very happy to see that she had been adopted and was being taken care of the way they weren't able to do.

They want to have contact with us, gave us their address and cell phone, were happy to pose for pictures; and the surprise news was that Katya has two baby sisters! One is even named after her. I plan on sending them birthday and Christmas presents and as Katya gets older I will get her to help me pick out things for them. The littlest one looks just like her!

We realize that this is probably not the ordinary "happy ending" adoption story but we are very happy for Katya that she will have this connection with her birth family.

The bad news is that the word that rhymes with "itchy"(and I mean witchy -hah!) orphanage director refused to give us or the PI any info about the families that adopted Katya's brother and sister. She has it but refuses to share the info with us. We thought she was hateful during the adoption process but thought that maybe it was just how things were done. The hoops she made us jump through (as if there weren't enough!) and the extra documents we had to have done up by notaries and the strict visitation requirements and no photographs policies she had just drove us nuts the whole time. (example)
She told us that we had to buy them copy paper before they would start paperwork on something we needed. So we went walking around 15 degree Kharkiv by ourselves looking for copy paper. I would say we found it by dumb luck, but I know God just guided us to that little office supply shop before we froze to death!
(example 2) She told us that we had to visit twice a day for a combined total of more than 3 hours. Problem: we had to sit on a couch in a hall with nothing to do. How long do you think it took Katya to get over the novelty of that? One day. We tried walking her around. No, you can't let her walk, its bad for her legs. You can't play with the grouppa. You can't take pictures. You can't go outside. You can go upstairs to sit on the couch up there. You know, the one with only one light bulb. FUN!
(example 3) When she found out that only Phillip would be coming back to pick up Katya, she made our translator write an ENTIRE PAGE of stipulations to add to my POA. We had to have this extra document typed up and notarized just for this lady because she said without it, Phillip couldn't take Katya out of the orphanage. Nice.

We asked about her siblings twice. Both times this lady refused to give us the info.
We had hoped that once we adopted Katya and sent pictures back of her happy with her brothers would be enough to convince this lady that she deserved to know her brother.

I had to laugh because our PI was M.A.D. at this lady for how rude she was to him lol! We thought he'd have better luck with her than we did but evidentially not. He said she was not a good person and kept demanding money from him. He said he felt he was talking to a wall and an alive person. Haha Yes, that's how we felt, but thought maybe it was the language barrier? Nah, not so much. This lady really rang our bell while we were there and we just had to take it because we wanted no problems with her while we were adopting Katya.

So our PI suggested that we contact the SDA and ask them about the families who adopted Katya's siblings. I might try to do that but last I heard, the SDA had closed down and was moving to a new department but no one knew when, where, or how long this would take. At this point I feel like I've hit a dead end.

Argh! I really wanted to find her brother. If anyone out there has any suggestions (other than posting on FRUA or Ukrainian angels yahoo group) I'd love to hear them. Her brother is 7 so they are pretty close in age and would be able to have something in common while growing up. I also have lots of info on his bio mom and dad that his parents might like so this is so frustrating to not be able to find him.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First time since Nov. 7th

We all made it to church today! Yay! I am so happy with how well it went considering that we had not all been as a family since Nov. 7th. It was so great to be back as a family of 5!

I took the boys once while Phillip was gone, but other than that we had not been to church since before we left. So today we decided to just go to Sunday School and take Katya to our class with us. The boys went to their classes ok, and she was great in our class. Whoo hoo :) We're hoping to gradually ease her into Wesley's class at some point.... or maybe Wyatt's. We're still not quite sure where she is developmentally. Some things are more obviously than others and some are hard to tell when you can't understand each other. She's doing great though and we're really happy with how everyone is adjusting.

Daddy and the kiddos are outside setting up the trampoline that they all got for Christmas from NiNi. This should be interesting... Wesley has been hounding us since they got it to put it up. We were gonna wait till Spring but ya know... a 4 year old's persistance can take its toll lol

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hired a PI

We decided to hire a Private Investigator in Ukraine to find out more about Katya's birth family. We know that she has several siblings that live with her bio mom and 2 siblings that were adopted. Her 7 year old brother is here somewhere in the U.S. and we really want to find him so they could at least meet each other at some point in time.

We debated (briefly) if we should go ahead and do this now since we just got back, but it really doesn't cost that much since our money is worth so much more in Ukraine and we figured that its better to do it now while the information on the documents is current and everyone involved in our adoption remembers Katya. We had intended to do this with whatever child we adopted because it seems like it would be wrong not to get as much information for them as possible. The last thing I want is a child asking me questions that I can't answer but could have if we had looked into things.

I may post about some of what we find out or I may not. Its Katya's story and while I try to be really open about our adoption because I want people to get the full view of what its like, her story isn't really for public digest and she may or may not want people to know details when she gets older.

Overall, we're excited about it. We have reason to believe that her bio mom did the best she could for Katya at the time of her birth, so I am hopeful that she will be happy to share information with us :)

Its just like God

I'll admit I was feeling a bit whiny the past few days.

Maybe even doing a bit of pouting...

feeling overwhelmed...

But I decided to stop focusing on the negative and what I was having trouble with and focus instead on what God has done for us and all of the progress we've made so far.

Wouldn't you know that only a day later, someone shows up on my doorstep with a gift from our Sunday School class. Honestly, I felt kind of bad. Here I had been complaining and then God decides to bless us right when we really needed it. Its just like Him to always have perfect timing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Future Praise Team Member?

This is Katya listening to Chris Tomlin. She loves music and "dances" like this in the car as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coming soon... The List

So somewhere around here I have compiled a list of people that have helped us in various ways with our adoption. I wanted to have the list to show our child how God moved in so many ways to help bring her home. There have been times when I wondered "How?" and God would provide a way.

There have been times when things were really tough and we wondered if we were really supposed to be doing this, and we'd look back and remember people God placed in our lives and things that have just "worked out" for us in ways we never thought possible.

Sometimes when I get frustrated or overwhelmed, I forget just how many people have helped and supported us along the way and how God has confirmed to us that this IS what He wanted us to do.

Now to find the list...

Honeymoon Over?

Well it seems that the "newness" has worn off of Katya for the boys. They were infatuated with her and wanted to give her all their toys and hug and kiss her until she fussed at them to stop. Now it seems that they have decided that having a sister can be annoying, especially one who likes to get right up what they're doing and tell them that its HERS. For the past two or three days there has been constant picking, bickering, and squealing for Maaaaaaaaaaaaama!!!!

Wes has even taken to acting baby like and pointing at things instead of saying what he wants and Wyatt has been acting just plain jealous.

So Daddy decided to spend some extra time with Wesley last night after sneeking him out of the house once the other two were in bed. Last night was the first night that Daddy didn't have to stay in our room with Katya for an hour or more to get her to go to sleep. She didn't go right to sleep, but she didn't cry and scream either and she did eventually go to sleep. The Daddy time seemed to make Wes feel special and he's been better today even though we've been stuck in the house all day because of bad weather.

Wyatt has been just ORNERY! Could be that he's 2 1/2 and could be that he just got a new sister that he feels is threatening his mama time. But we had to establish some "personal space" today and that seemed to greatly help him. I let him play with the playdoh by himself and would not let the others touch it until he was done. Both Katya and Wes got a timeout for messing with him after I said not to and this seemed to reassure Wyatt that I meant what I said about just telling me when someone upsets him and not hitting or screaming at them.

Katya has also decided to test me on everything. Going up stairs (we don't want her to do it herself b/c we're afraid she'll get hurt), throwing toys across the room, bad table manners and screaming just for the heck of it. She looks at me each time to see if I am watching her and then waits to see what I'm going to do about it. She isn't happy about sitting in timeout but it seems that afterwards she is actually in a better mood.

So far today has had a lot of timeouts but I feel like we've made progress in establishing boundaries for each of the kids and that seems to make them feel more secure.

And what about me? Well I've quit breaking down in tears every day and texting my hubby just to ask him to tell me one more time that I'm a good mom. My biggest issue has been just not having time to spend enough time with each of the kids. People seem to think that adopting is not like having a baby and if you already have 2 kids then adding another 4 year old should be easy. Well its not. And unless you've done it you don't understand. Its ridiculously hard and probably the hardest thing I've done (funny how many times I've topped "hardest thing ever done" in the past year). BUT I can see that the reward for those who trust God and just do what He asks and trusts that He will provide you with what you need when you need it is far better than a life of complacency and always wondering what if... Katya was well on her way to being transferred to an institution from the Baby House. Children in Ukraine with special needs are not looked upon kindly by society and usually around 4 years old they are sent to an institution for the rest of their life. The orphanage director confirmed this with us at our last meeting.

Katya needs me to spend extra time with her making up the 4 years we didn't have together so she can form a healthy attachment to me as her mom. She was showing signs of an attachment disorder so we have just stayed at home so I can be the only one who takes care of her. This makes my boys feel like they are missing out and this makes me feel like I also need to spend more time with them. Then I have to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for all of us every day and we cannot afford fast food. I buy stuff as cheap as possible at the store so I can make everything from scratch. Its better for us, cheaper, but it takes more time.

Then the laundry! Ay yi yi! Katya was treated for a parasite upon arriving home and I had to sanitize all of her clothes (and everyone elses just to be safe cause they were all together) and the bed sheets once she finished her medication. So until she finished it, I sanitized the toilets daily and kept everything sprayed down with disenfectant. Maybe not all necessary but I am just a germ freak like that.

The dishes. Oh boy. Cooking for 5 makes a lot of dishes!

Cleaning the house... like I said I'd been trying to keep everything really sanitized the first week home with my steam shark mop and antibacterial windex. Now I'm just trying to keep up with the dried playdoh, mud, sand, and chopped up paper pieces I keep finding all over the house.

My nemesis NAPTIME. Ugh I dread this everyday. Naptime takes me the entire afternoon. Katya is JUST now getting to the point where I can walk out of the room and she won't scream. I have to put both boys to bed, and I mentioned that they have been feeling left out, right? Well they show it most at naptime. Every time I think I've gotten one settled they'll call for me. Or get out of bed. Or make a huge racket so I have to go lay them down again. Each time ONE does something, they ALL hear it. I get so frazzled by the end of naptime that I couldn't nap with them if they would all be quiet at the same time. I feel like I'm on "High Alert" most of the time. I've gotten so tense that I've had a screaming nerve in my neck for days. And I mean SCREAMING as in can't turn my head or it makes me want to scream.

And what about paying the bills? Oh oops I forgot about this for a few days and missed some payments. Nice. I plan on calling and asking for the late charge to be removed due to frazzled mama syndrome.

Through all of this Phillip has been so great. He comes home from work and plays with the kids so I can finish dinner (or start it depending on what the day has been like). He lets me take a shower before we put the kids to bed because that is the only time of day I can get one. I don't know what I would do without him because its just me and the kiddos all day. I love this man. I have always felt like I knew I loved him but when I had Wes and I NEEDED him, he was there for me to do what I couldn't and that made me fall in love on a deeper level. Then the same thing with Wyatt. I needed him and he was there. Now I need him even more and even though this has been a long, tough, stressful journey, we are all lovey dovey with each other because we NEED each other. I really love this man. I told him last night that once the turmoil has calmed down, we need to figure out some couple time because we are both seriously missing each other. We have no time to ourselves right now because its all poured into the kiddos.

I would like to thank my cousin and his wife for making us dinner and delivering it the night I picked Phillip and Katya up from the airport. And me picking them up is kind of funny because I promptly got lost leaving the airport and Philip had to drive us all home. He just spent 24 hours on airplanes with a crying 4 year old and had to drive us home. Poor man. I am just not great at driving in the dark when I don't know where I'm going.

So what I have learned is that some things are harder than you ever ever thought they would be. Katya and I didn't bond right away (and are still working on it) and that threw me for a loop. She felt like a little stranger here almost and I thought there was something wrong with me for feeling like that. All of my frantic attempts to keep the house clean, kids fed, laundry and dishes washed probably didn't help either. I have had to make myself stop what I'm doing and spend time with the kids.

I keep waiting for the housecleaning service and personal chef to show up on my doorstep because I told God I needed them, but I think they must be busy somewhere else lol

I hope this post doesn't come across as me regretting our decision to adopt or that I think I've taken on too much. I don't feel that way at all. I am more than a little frustrated with the lack of support we've had since we've been home, but to be honest I expected it and part of my frustration is at myself for expecting myself to be supermom and then falling short. I think I need to give myself a break. For real.

What I do have is joy. Joy unspeakable :) I look at the 3 of them playing together and my heart is happy. Its all worth it and a thousand times more.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


So I've been working on a longer "update" post; but its not done yet (big surprise - I'm busy!) so I was wondering if any of you guys who follow had any particular questions regarding our adoption of Katya and how she is doing so far?

I keep the blog as our personal diary so years from now we can look back and remember everything we went through; but I have learned so much from other people's blogs that I like to also put as much information as possible about what its like to add to our family through adoption.

We do have an appointment at the Internation Adoption Clinic next month to have a full workup done with Katya. We will have a Russian translator there so they can actually talk to her and understand what she says!

I have mentioned before that she has moderate (in my opinion) spastic cerebral palsy and cannot walk unasisted at this time. We are hoping to address this as soon as possible and get her braces or surgery so she can run around and keep up with her brothers. Nothing was ever done to help her cope with cerebral pasly in Ukraine but we really think that she will be able to walk with the help of Drs. here.

That's all I have time for now!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1 Week in

Last Thursday was our first full day at home as a family of 5. We have survived the first week!

I feel like we've been adjusting well. The kids seemed to instantly have a bond with each other and have been getting along fairly well. Katya has some typical orphanage type behaviors. She gets extremely upset if she thinks someone is touching something that is "hers" because she is used to things being taken away and never getting them back. She is very territorial and feels like she has to claim her space. I think since she couldn't walk around like the other kids at the orphanage and she was one of the smaller ones that she may be used to people just taking things from her and running off. She also will YELL very loudly and with way more volume than is necessary if someone even touches her and she doesn't like it. Again, I think it comes from being ignored unless she was screaming. I've seen an improvement in this already just by quietly but very firmly telling her not to yell and showing her that the boys aren't trying to hurt her or take things away.

I've been supervising them closely while they play just to try to teach her that its ok to share and that the toys are everyone's. She will get very upset if one of the boys picks up something that she had played with previously and they aren't quite sure what to make of that. They have picked up some of her Russian and what I use to communicate with her and now try to boss her and me in Russian. We get lots of "Ni!" "Nyet!" "Stoy!" "Da" "Yeist" "LaLa"

All 3 kiddos think that its ok to boss each other like they are the mommy. Phillip and I have told them that WE are the mommy and daddy NOT them. Wes keeps saying "Well I will get bigger and then I'll be the daddy and then I can pick up Katya." Ummm... ok buddy. He can already pick up Katya and both of them think its hilarious.

Speaking of the size difference. Wes is still the oldest. He will be 5 in Feb. Katya turned 4 in September of this year so they are 7 months apart. Wes weighs 46lbs and is about 4 feet tall. Katya weighs 26lbs and is only about 2 1/2 feet tall. HUGE size difference. Wyatt is 2 and weighs 28lbs and is as tall as Katya. The two of them look like twins.

We are working on fattening her up. We got a prescription called in right away for parasites because most children in EE have them and we suspected it of her right away because of excess gas and not wanting to eat much. Her stomach also would get upset. 2 days on antibiotics and we have a child who now eats as much as our kids. She ate soup for the first couple of days and that was all she would eat. It was familiar so I had canned several jars of it and she was happy to eat nothing but soup and drink juice.

However she noticed that the boys weren't eating soup so she wanted to try what they were having. She will make the most awful face when tasting something for first time and then ask for more. So far she likes toaster strudel, chocolate cereal, bread, chicken nuggets, hamburger helper, mashed potatoes, broccoli, and teddy grahams. She finally drank some milk today in the form of hot chocolate. I had tried milk before mixed with ovaltine and just plain. Both warm and cold. Nope. So I made the boys hot chocolate today as they requested and guess who had to have some?

So far the sleeping issue has gotten a lot better. She would scream and thrash like we were committing her to a fate worse than death by putting her in bed even if we sat in the room with her, and we understood that she was probably scared we would leave her so we tried a few different things... put her in Wyatt's room with him. Did not work. The two of them fussed at each other. Tried just her in there and him with Wes. SCREAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMING. And the two boys wouldn't go to sleep either... Then we put her in our room and that seems to be working ok. I feel like we've lost "our space" but at least she is secure enough to sleep. I really hope that pretty soon we can move her either back in with Wyatt or put the two boys together again and her alone because once we put her to bed at night its really imposing on what we can do. Our shower is in there and all of our dressers with our clothes and closet. Phillip gets up early to go to work and he has an alarm that goes off and then he has to get ready while trying not to wake her up so we're showering at night in the dark after she goes to sleep. Urgh... Its not ideal by any means for all 3 of us, but we're hopeful she'll settle down pretty soon. At least things are the same for the boys. That seems to work for them.

(I thought about not blogging this part, but I have learned SO much from reading other people's bluntly honest blogs and sometimes the greatest comfort is just knowing that you are not alone!)

Bonding: well no one mentioned that it went both ways. Everyone prepares you for how much difficulty your child will have attaching to you and how its up to YOU to make sure that they develop a healthy bond with you, but no one ever mentioned that it could be really hard for parents to bond and attach to their new child as well. I think that more than anything has been by far the hardest for me to deal with. I wanted to have this instant connection with the child we adopted and I didn't. Yes, we saw her and knew we wanted to adopt her and asked God to move mountains on our behalf so we could bring her home but that doesn't mean that I immdiately had that "I would walk through fire" feeling for her. I wanted to. I expected to, but really what I felt the most was nothing. We visited her every day at the orphanage and I enjoyed seeing her and playing with her and wanted to bring her home, but I was terrified of why I didn't fall in love with her right away. I thought it must just be because I was missing the boys so much, but even when Phillip came home with her I still couldn't work up those super motherly feelings.

She was here and that was it. WHAM! So I felt terrible all week and cried my eyes out and wondered what was wrong with me... I mean something must be right?

Then I talked to two other adoptive moms who were like "Oh yeah that is so normal. I felt the same way and I am still working on growing in love with my child."

Wow so I'm not a terrible person. Just hearing that made me feel so much better.

She's only been here a week and my expectations weren't fair of myself. So we are working on bonding to each other. Not just her to me, or me to her, but to each other. Maybe this is for the best since if I was instantly in love with her, I couldn't empathize with how hard it might be for her to develop an attachment to me.

We had a pediatrician appointment this week and that went pretty well. We were told a lot of scary sounding stuff at the orphanage and were wondering if she might have more complex issues than we originally thought but it seems that its pretty much just her CP and possibly an eyesight issue that we need to address. Her CP is severe enough that he feet stay flexed constantly and its really hard to put shoes on her foot. She can't walk unasisted but crawls and pulls herself into chairs

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Monday

Well, today Phillip went back to work and Wes went back to preschool. I was DREADING being alone with the 3 of them by myself but it hasn't been so bad as you can tell because I have found a few minutes to blog.

We moved Katya's crib into our room (and yes she's in a crib b/c its the closest thing to what her bed at the orphanage was like) and that seems to have alleviated her screaming fits for bed and naptime.

Overall, we are adjusting well I think. We are really trying to work on bonding with her because she did not seem to be attached to a caregiver at the orphanage and has not mentioned once missing her grouppa or anyone there. She will go to anyone so we know that we really need to focus on getting her to form a healthy attachement to us.

So what that means is limiting her interaction with anyone else until she understands that we are the only people who will take care of her. She calls us mama and papa but she doesn't really understand what that means. For now we are sticking close to home and getting her used to being a part of a family.

All three of the kids seem to be doing well with adjusting to each other. Katya scolds the boys in Russian and they fuss at her in English. They all seem to get tone more than words anyways. She has a baby that she calls "LaLa" and Wyatt is obsessed with telling her that its not a LaLa its a baby! Oh well... Katya loves to pretend being a mama to LaLa and gives her a bottle and wraps her in a blanket and kisses her. I think that is great for her to be able to show affection. She also hugs and kisses the boys who hug and kiss her and then they all get tired of the love fest and shove each other off lol

Katya is sleeping all night except for waking at 5:30am to "peesit" pee then goes back to sleep.

We have a Dr. appointment tomorrow so I am hoping that goes well. We're leaving our boys with NiNi so we can both focus on Katya and what the Dr. has to say.

That's all I have time for now! Just wanted to update those of you who follow the blog.

I really think that the adjustment has been the hardest for me. I have cried at some point every day since we left for Ukraine in November. Whew! (except for today...)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Pluggin Along

So we've been adjusting the last few days. I won't sugar coat it. Its hard!

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson