Adopting Grace

The journey to bring our little girl home

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She’s back!

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I got a call this morning that Dr. M had decided Leeza was done at the hospital and she would be discharged this afternoon. She’d been off pain meds for several days, had blown the 6th IV and refused to stay still enough to keep any monitors on. They had also started her back on her regular bathroom routine and I don’t think the nurses were too excited about having to keep up with that. All of that added up to an early discharge, which was fine with us! Philip is exhausted and Leeza needed to get back into her normal schedule and needs to start building her stamina back up. She’s excited to be free, but can only walk for about 2 minutes before she’s too tired to keep going. We’re supposed to keep her pretty much in isolation for the next week so she doesn’t catch anything while her immunity is down and then we’ll go in next week to get sutures out and do a quick check with Neurology.

Learning

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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!

Animal Crackers for Breakfast

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The whole family finally together

I’ll post something while Leeza gets used to the fact that she has to take naps here too…it was apparently an unexpected surprise and she’s yelling ‘I don’t want it!’ in Russian at the top of her lungs. Considering how much in her life has changed in the past couple days  it’s amazing that this is the first full blown fit she’s had since being here.

Philip and Leeza started out their journey home with a quick flight from Kiev to Munich and, I’m told, she loved everything about the ride except take off and landing. Then they hopped on the 9 hour flight from Munich to Chicago. You might remember a prayer request I had a few days ago that they would be upgraded to Economy Plus to have a more comfortable flight and I understand I had a few scoffers. However, when Philip went to get their boarding passes he realized he and Leeza weren’t seated together so they had to be moved to, you guessed it, Economy Plus. They even got bulkhead seating so Philip could stretch his legs out! Thanks,God! She ended up sleeping a little bit and it sounds like it was a pretty uneventful flight home. As they were landing on American soil I got a phone call from a dear friend who had managed to get Leeza’s medical records translated for us (thank you , thank you, thank you!) so they were ready for her appointment next week and then it really seemed to hit Josiah and me that we only had a few hours until they were going to be here! The house was as clean as it gets with 3 little kids in it, they were all dressed and we were just sort of running around in circles with excitement until it was time to leave. Thankfully we got there just a little bit early because so did they! Another dear friend was there to take pictures of the kids all meeting each other for the first time. Leeza was excited to see all of us, but especially Josiah, or ‘Jew-Jewa’ as she calls him. We came home and let her explore the house a bit, bounce on the couch and play with some toys before putting everyone to bed.

We thought we were going to get off easy when she’d settled down by 10pm, but then she woke back up at midnight. As I sat beside her I could hear her stomach growling so I asked if she wanted a snack and some water and she got excited. When I came back she had her pajamas partially unzipped and I thought she might be hot so I asked if she wanted them off (they sleep in their underwear in the orphanage when it’s warm). It wasn’t until she started insisting that I find her day clothes that I did the math and realized it was time for her to get up in Ukraine and her body was wide awake, despite almost no sleep, and she thought we were starting the day! The kids there ate cookies and tea for breakfast every day so when I brought in animal crackers and water she must have just thought these crazy Americans eat their breakfast in the dark, in their beds! She was confused and wouldn’t let me leave the room the rest of the night, but she did stay in bed and try to sleep. If it wasn’t for a bad cough that woke her up every time she might have drifted off. We spent the night with me trying to sleep a little as she held my hand and styled my hair. Here’s to hoping she’s really tired tonight and we all get some sleep!

Other than sleep times she’s been doing really well. She loved playing on the fort and jumping in a pile of leaves. She took a bath with the girls and at least tried a bite of pancakes for breakfast. She LOVES milk and refuses to even touch a chocolate chip. I’m not sure she knows what cheese is and wouldn’t try it at lunch. She’s in heaven with all the hair bows the girls have and has brushed her hair (and anyone elses’ who will sit still) with every brush in the house already.  I think we have a budding hairstylist on our hands. She has no concept of ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ so we have a lot of work to do on sharing and being respectful of someone else’s things and space…and sippy cup. She is fitting in so well already and has given us the biggest smiles and loudest laughs we’ve ever heard from her while she played with the kids this morning. We still have a long road ahead of us, but we’re just enjoying today for right now.

PS Apparently nap time will take more than one day to go smoothly. Philip and I are betting we’ve got at least 2 more days of screaming before she accepts it. We feel like Super Nanny…we’ve already put her back in bed more times than I can count. :)  (Note: Day two nap time went about as well, although she did fall asleep with about 5 minutes left.)

They’re Home!!!

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Philip and Leeza are home!!! The kids have been having fun playing together and we’re trying to get everyone settled down for the first night together. We’ll write later with more details.

We know her birthdate, but will never know exactly what time she was born. Instead we know that on October 14th at 6:29pm she landed in Iowa and our family was together for the first time. Welcome home sweetie!

From the Homefront

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This is Kim…finally catching my breath after getting home a week ago! I returned to 3 VERY excited kids and have been trying to get back into our routine ever since. The jet lag took about a week to get over both ways so I’m starting to feel pretty normal today. I expected to be tired and have the kids act out some and have a lot of things around the house to catch up on…what I didn’t expect was the culture shock of coming back here. It felt wonderful to be home, but it was kind of overwhelming to suddenly understand everyone (and have them understand me!) and have so many people who wanted to talk to me and to have the kids constantly wanting to talk to me. We’d just spent 4 weeks with very few English speakers and most of the people we saw each day weren’t terribly friendly. It’s a great feeling to be able to be so clean and to know what I’m eating all the time and to drive in a place with rules and to hear my kids laughs and be in my church…it’s just great to be home!

After putting out all the little fires last week….frozen credit cards, mice inhabiting my oven, bills that we’d missed, children who thought I was leaving again every time I left their sight…we’re starting back to normal today. This was our first day of homeschool and it went pretty well. Josiah (4) and Grace (2) started their preschool lessons today and we got off to a good start. I got up in time to work out and dinner is actually planned tonight instead of just throwing some leftovers together. We even picked out Halloween costumes for the 3 kids here this morning at the library (Josiah is a dinosaur, Grace is a monkey and Kasia is a bumble bee).

I talked to Philip this morning about what the time line looks like. Tomorrow is ‘Gotcha Day’ and Leeza will officially be a Dean! Normally this is the day he would pick her up from the orphanage, but because of how things work in Ukraine it looks like he’ll leave her there for a couple days while he takes care of the worst of the paperwork. We decided this made more sense because she’s in a safe place and leaving the orphanage is usually pretty scary for the kids…it’s the only thing they’ve ever known. He will have to drive a couple hours to her birth town to get a new birth certificate issued then has more running around, and probably a  lot of waiting in government offices, before he has what is needed to get her passport and visa ordered. It didn’t seem fair to make her go through all that and scare her and neither of us wants her riding in cars over there any more than is necessary (the driving is horrible and there are no car seats…there aren’t even seat belts in most cars). So he’ll probably ‘bust her out’ Thursday or Friday and we’re expecting them to be able to fly home by the next Thursday or Friday (the 14th or 15th). Lord willing, in about 2 weeks our whole family will be together for the first time!