Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Home :-)

You know what I hate? Following someone from "homestudy to home" and then having them fall off the face of the earth ;-) I have probably sat down at my computer and started at least a dozen posts only to find myself in a puddle of drool on my keyboard minutes later (EW, I know! But it's the truth!). I AM EXHAUSTED!! Happily exhausted however, and now that I seem to be able to hold my eyes open past 8 pm, I feel that it is time to turn some of my attention back to the prayer warriors and cheerleaders who have helped me to get to this happily exhausted state!

The trip home went as smoothly as can be expected when you are traveling halfway across the world with two children whose worlds have been turned upside down and inside out. Honestly, they both did much better than we expected them to. Alayna proved to us once again just how adaptable she really is. Aside from asking to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes and refusing to sleep (she was so excited to finally be going to America, I think she was afraid that if she closed her eyes, she would miss it), I think it is safe to say that she was having the time of her life! Fortunately, Lily appreciated the opportunity to curl up on mommy's lap and get some sleep, allowing mommy and daddy to get a little rest as well. Unfortunately, sleep was the only thing Lily appreciated about our time in the air. When she was not sleeping, she was begging the stewardesses for juice (which, we have learned the hard way, is not kind to her system) and trying her hardest to lead me to the nearest exit :-) Take-offs were especially difficult for Lily. On top of being terrified of the loud noises, warp speeds and the sensation of lifting into the air, poor Lily was in pain! Although she has had surgery to repair her cleft palate, it did not heal properly and there is still a hole in her palate making it nearly impossible to keep her ears from popping. The look of fear, confusion and pain in her eyes still haunts me.

Officially US Citizens! Sitting in the Chicago airport watching the planes as we wait to board our final flight.

We made it home without incident and we were lovingly greeted by family at the airport (and, thanks to my step-mother, Tina, we have photo documentation)! I wish there were words to describe just how incredible it was to fall into the arms of loved ones after such a long journey! Although I know that the girls were confused, exhausted and overwhelmed, they hardly let it show. Alayna immediately began talking up a storm to anyone who would listen and Lily could not wait to finally get into the car (her absolute, favorite thing) after a long day of flying.

Our family waiting to greet us at the airport!

I honestly expected the first few days home to be somewhat chaotic, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that was not the case! This was, in large part, due to my amazing brother and sister-in-law, Ben and Lauren, who did an incredible job keeping the kids on the schedule/routine that I had worked to establish before we left (have I mentioned that they VOLUNTEERED to take two weeks out of their own busy lives (less than two months after getting married) to take care of our five, very active children, without compensation!?! We are blessed)! Because they had run such a "tight ship" we were all able to fall into a beautiful routine from the beginning and it has been WONDERFUL!

The kids are all getting along beautifully. It is as if they have always been together. In the beginning, several of the kids were a little shy due to the language barrier, but it didn't take long for all of them to realize that the language of play is universal!

The Magnificent Seven playing in the dirt in the backyard!

Lukas, Alayna, Jacob and Joshua enjoying some bounce time

Maren and Alayna helping mommy "make" chocolate chip cookies

Alayna has adjusted well from the beginning. She is an absolute wonder to me! At 8 years-old, I expected her to come home with a lot more "baggage," but, aside from the occasional waves of sadness from missing "home" and friends and a few "orphanage behaviors" (a separate post that is currently "in progress") you would never know that she spent the first 8 years of life in an orphanage! She is loving, compassionate, smart, funny and absolutely NUTS (Lukas has finally met his match for the title of "Class Clown")! She could spend hours playing in our play kitchen and/or with her baby dolls/stuffed animals (which really just blows my mind as, knowing how to play is something that a majority of post-institutionalized children must be taught how to do). I absolutely LOVE watching her hold, love, kiss, rock, sing to and tuck her baby dolls into bed! She LOVES peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches and would probably eat them for every meal if I let her and she is a girl after my own heart when it comes to chocolate! She wants to be wherever I am (which is another reason I haven't had much time to update) and I think it is safe to say that Alayna and I are firmly attached!!

Isn't she gorgeous!?



Lily is a whole new ballgame for me and I will save most of my update on her for a separate post (because there are many things I feel are important to share and I want to be sure to give those things the time and attention they need). Lily has had a much harder time adjusting and has a lot of emotional hurdles to conquer, but we have already seen HUGE progress in the week+ that we have been home. When we first arrived home Lily completely shut down emotionally and it has taken a lot of hard work, dedication and love to draw her out, but we are finally starting to see the "real" Lily! She LOVES being in the car and this is one place where she lets all of her walls down (and we get lots of smiles, laughter and even singing!). She also loves the bathtub and playing in the water (though she isn't a fan of the pool) and she could spend hours and hours digging (and she is literally covered from head to toe in dirt when she is done. . .so it's a good thing she loves the bath!). She could live off of oatmeal with homemade strawberry jam and milk, pizza (soaked in water. . .gross, I know) and. . . . .pot roast (this kid is serious anemic! I'm afraid that, if I live cow walked by, she wouldn't think twice about devouring it on the spot!). This beautiful little lady is a fighter (in every sense of the word) and, although it will take some time, I know that she will eventually blossom into the incredible person that the Lord intends for her to be and we will be here to help and love her every step of the way!

WATER!

Covered in dirt from head to toe. . .Lily's favorite fashion statement!

All-in-all, this transition has been much easier than it was with the boys almost three years ago (can you believe they have been home from almost 3 years!?!) and I find myself grateful for all of the extra time we had to prepare ourselves this time around. Though there have been many "surprises" nothing has truly been unexpected and that has made dealing with those "surprises" much less overwhelming. There is still so much to tell and I hope to have the opportunity to share all of our experiences with you, especially those that will benefit all who will follow in our footsteps.

12 comments:

Leah said...

Oooh I've been waiting for an update! I don't know if I've commented here before. I'm Leah, and was with Shelley in Serbia and Bularia in April, and am currently in the process of adopting from Serbia.

Arizona mom to eight said...

Welcome HOME!!

I have been checking twice a day since your last post for this one. I began to get socnerned thinking something was wrong, I am a worrier...I am glad that for the msot part things are going well. I am too familiar with how wonderful yet trying home transitions can be. Prayers for everyone.

I cannot it was almost 3 years since we brought Kara home myself, it can't have been that long ago!

Julia said...

Thank you for posting and yes I am VERY INTERESTED in post-adoption stuff as we are close to that stage ourselves. We leave on Monday! It is so cool to see them becoming a part of your family!!

Amy L said...

Valerie,
Your girls are beautiful! I am so happy to hear that they are doing so well. Your family was precious (especially your kids) in the picture holding up their signs at the airport. I am in happy tears reading about your family and seeing them all together. I know you have another little sweet one waiting still and I will continue to pray that things move quickly so you can bring her home as well. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have all of your children home before Christmas? God Bless you all!
Amy

Jill said...

It's so fun to see the girls home! You must be exhausted!!! They are so beautiful and will, no doubt, fit right in to your beautiful family in no time!

I noticed that Lily sticks her tongue out when she was pouring the water. My Anna sticks her tongue out when she is concentrating on something, too. So cute!

Miss you! (((HUGS)))

Kristen said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us. Just today, we received our court date to go get our new son from St. Petersburg, Russia! He was born with the effects of Amiotic Band Syndrome, including club left foot, missing right leg below the knee, and deformities of his right hand. He will turn three while we are there. Your reflections have already helped me as I've followed your last three adoptions, and I know they will continue to inspire and inform me. Thank you! Our prayers are with you all!!

Anonymous said...

Precious girls! Is Maren happy to have sisters?? I will pray for Alexis, may the Lord keep her safe until you can bring her home

karmathecat said...

Val,

We go in for cleft palate surgery #2 on Aug 31 with a follow up in January. Please let me know if you have any questions about what to expect from the surgery.

Cass and Rog said...

Welcome HOME !

I have been following your journey on bringing the girls home. The magnificent seven look great together and you can now expect seven times the mischief!

We are in Ukraine finally with Oisin and have met ours gorgeous daughter Alina. let me know if you would like an invite to our blog. We hope to be home mid sept.

Hoping you get back to b to bring home your other little one.take care, Cass

Anonymous said...

Yeah, not sure "gorgeous" is the word...
Perhaps "manly" is a bit better?

adoptedthree said...

I bet Maren is DELIGHTED to have some sisters finally :):)

Let me know if you need anything and I have tons of clothes needing a new home size 4-6!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am missing the updates! How is everything going?