Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

Browsing Posts tagged food

Little by Little


We’re making progress slowly. In the daily grind it’s easy to lose sight of that, but when I realize that Leeza has only been home about 3 weeks I can see that it’s getting better. The number of times she wakes up at night screaming is decreasing and it’s turned more into being mad that she has to stay in bed than fear. She still hates nap time, but is becoming resigned to the fact that she’s going to have a quiet time every day with the rest of us. It still surprises me that she reacts so violently to ‘spat’ (nap/bedtime) and I can’t help but wonder if she somehow thought she wouldn’t have to sleep anymore when she came home. Sorry, sweetie!

The clinginess and lost look on her face is easing some as she is learning the routine here and she’s even started looking at an occasional book or watching a minute or two of TV when the other kids get to watch Curious George. Even though there were a few toys around the orphanage the kids didn’t play with them much and I noticed they were usually kept out of reach in her room anyway. She likes the idea of toys and is interested in them when a new one is introduced, but has no clue what to actually DO with one. The same with crayons or markers. Josiah and I have been trying to work with her on how to play with toys each day and hopefully it will start to make some sense soon. We’re continuing to work through the concept of possessions. She spends huge parts of the day scooting around the house asking who each item belongs to. Trying to fold laundry with her can be exhausting because she keeps grabbing each piece of clothing (even if it’s already folded) so she can guess whose it is. Again, she likes the idea of having her own possessions, but doesn’t yet know how to take pride in taking care of something that is hers.

But in the midst of all this I’m seeing change. During school time she’s trying to be engaged and even learned how to cut with scissors this week (and did really well!). She’s trying new foods and has decided that cheese and chocolate are not disgusting and she LOVES squash. She watches over Kasia and helps her when she falls or drops something. She’s learning to take turns and how to say ‘thank you.’ And the biggest change yet….as I’ve been writing this she crawled into bed during nap time and fell sleep for the first time ever! :)

PS Totally unrelated, but these are a couple questions that I’ve gotten several times lately.

“So, what did they send her home with? Does she have a wheelchair?” No chair, no equipment, no clothes. The kids leave in the clothes that you bring and any equipment they had stays for other children.

“Is the adoption process all over?” Yes and no. She was officially adopted and is legally a Dean. However, we are choosing to re-adopt in the US so she will have a SS# and US passport. It doesn’t really change anything except that it could save her a lot of headaches if she ever chooses to leave the country when she grows up. She will be a legal citizen of both countries.



One week ago today Leeza was still in the orphanage…today she was in church, swaying to the music and holding her hands in the air like Mr. John who was leading worship this morning. I’ve cried grateful tears the first Sunday we’ve brought each of our kids to church and today was no different.

It’ll be a while before we find our new normal, but we’re already making some progress. Last night Leeza still woke up in the middle of the night screaming, but she FELL BACK TO SLEEP!! That is major progress! Philip and I were able to take shifts sleeping on the floor beside her and she was able to drift back to sleep each time she woke. I’ve been taking her over to the clock when it’s time to get to show her the ‘7’ so she can learn when it’s ok to get up. I can’t tell if she’s learning that number or if she just knows she can get up when I walk to the clock, but today she smiled and I could tell she understood. We tried laying on the floor by her bed for nap too and it’s the first day she hasn’t screamed through the whole thing. She even stayed in bed so we were able to get a little rest as well.

We’re learning what she likes to eat (eggs, bread, bananas, yogurt and milk) and what she doesn’t (chocolate chips, meat, cheese, fresh vegetables). We’ve noticed that anything that requires much chewing is confusing and when we thought about what she used to eat that made sense. Her diet consisted of cookies dipped in tea, oatmeal, soup and bread. We’re learning the quirks of clothing a child with SB…shirts with small head holes are horrible, pants that don’t fit her waist well fall down when she scoots around, thin tights can’t handle the beating she gives them and some shoes simply won’t fit on her little feet. We’re learning to find humor in having to put a child back in bed literally a hundred times before she stays and having her correct our clumsy Russian. I’m learning that despite her age, she’s a great deal like having another 10-month old in the house because she wants to get into EVERYTHING (but she can get into so much more than Kasia)! There’s a lot of growth going on right now and most of it is fun to watch. She’s fascinated with the kitchen and what I’m doing in there and loves taking baths with her siblings. Going somewhere in the car is fun and so far she’s enjoyed everywhere we’ve gone except the doctor’s office (can’t really blame her there).

We even tried Sunday school and church this morning and she did fantastic! She so badly wanted to style one little girls’ beautiful white-blond hair and likes another girls’ jacket so much she wouldn’t stop petting it (we have to work on the ‘personal space thing’), but the other kids were so kind and all wanted to sit beside her. She had no idea what we were all saying, but she did all the hand motions with her teacher and followed along during snack and craft time (I stayed with her and will be a helper in her class this year). She and Josiah sat quietly during most of the sermon with Philip and we left a little early to avoid the crowd at the end, which had scared her between Sunday school and the service. As we get ready to start our first full week with her home we’re encouraged that she’s adapting so well and that our other kids are working so hard to show her love and patience. It should be an interesting week and we’re certainly appreciative of all your continued prayers!

Ukrainian Potpourri


Just little things we’ve noticed since coming here…

-There are very few American cars. The first one we saw had a flat tire…our cars just can’t handle the beating they get over here.

-Watching women walk on 5 inch heels on these sidewalks is incredibly entertaining.

-The 70s are still alive over here…every time I see a man dress in head to toe white with pointy leather shoes I want to giggle.

-The 80s are still alive too…rat tails, acid washed jeans and rhinestones are all the rage.

-Restaurants put boxes of tissues on the tables for you to use as napkins. I’m guessing families with little kids don’t go out to eat much.

-Weddings are much different. They have their service at a gov’t office and then go around town taking pictures in front of all the important monuments and taking pictures. Most people don’t get married in church because that means you can never get divorced. If you marry with the gov’t and then later decide you want to stay with this person forever you can then go get remarried in church.

-Ice cream comes in tubes, mustard, salad dressing and yogurt come in pouches (like Capri Sun) and they only have about 10 kinds of cereal but a whole aisle of different kinds of ketchup.

-They eat pickled watermelon.

-Natural hair color is not popular here…at the very least most women have hight lights. More often it’s bleach blond or a strange red color.

-Man-purses are everywhere.

-You will easily be identifiable as an American if you wear tennis shoes or any type of cargo pants.

-They think it’s odd that we immediately remove our deceased family members from the house. They keep theirs there over night to say good bye and then go bury them.

-There’s a hot dog chain here that really needs to re-do their name…it looks like ‘crap dogs’ in English!

-There’s a reason no one uses shopping carts at the grocery store. You better only buy what you can carry because you have to carry it all the way home by hand.

-They get their money’s worth from their tires! They’re all Russian-made and poor quality so they don’t last long on these streets, but instead of just throwing them away they recycle them! They are used as planters, play ground equipment, decoration and to mark pot holes (which are common because the lids are stolen for scrap metal. They just shove a tire in sideways in the hole and you better avoid it while you’re driving!

-No one drinks just plain water; it’s always at least tea or coffee, even for little kids.

-Their bread is amazing and doesn’t have a bunch of preservatives like ours does, which means you better not buy more than you can eat in about 2 days.

-They have a national obsession with sunflower seeds. They love them! We passed huge sunflower fields on the train that must have been beautiful in summer.

-The crosswalk signs downtown show people walking, but those out by the orphanage have running people. I suppose it’s their way of warning us that we better get out of their way!

-The skinniest of women in Kiev are the ones we kept seeing eating huge ice cream cones. I want to know their secret! An ice cream diet sounds great to me. :)

-When you order a hot chocolate here you get exactly that…melted chocolate in a mug. It makes for a very rich drink!

-We’ve seen quite a few street performers here, but 2 guys in full military outfits singing and playing guitars are my favorite so far.

-We did find one American style toy store here and most of the dolls looked pretty normal, but this one was a little creepy. This is also the store where we were stalked by guards with walkie talkies as we took our purchases to the cash register. They didn’t seem to care that we had shoes with us, but the $1 hair clip was kept under lock and key and they practically escorted us to the register with it. I’m guessing hair clips are stolen a lot here?