A Very Special Gift

I received a very special gift from my Grandpa yesterday.

My Grandpa is a very special man in my life. He has been the only constant male figure for me. He helped raise me and actually walked me down the aisle. He is a very traditional, proud man too, which has led to some nice disagreements over the years… particularly in my teenage years. I’m pretty sure I’m the only grand-kid who has ever really talked back to him and told him he was stubborn! He taught me how to be wise with my money, since my parents were not the best examples in that department, and taught me how to barter 🙂 I have never paid full price for any appliances I’ve ever bought! He has been very generous with his money and time throughout his life. He is very mission-minded, giving to charity, volunteered for various organizations and loaned money with out an expectation of repayment. He believes once he has loaned money it is gone, repayment is a nice surprise. Because he is such a great man and so generous, it makes you want to prove yourself to him and pay back every cent. I was so proud that he was proud when I paid off my loans from him. I hope I continue to make him proud 🙂

This past year has been really rough on my grandparents. They are in their late eighties and Grandpa’s health has taken a noticeable turn for the worse. The stress has affected my Grandma’s health too. My mom is the main overseer of everything medical for him too, so I hear everything first hand. He has been in a lot of pain this year and in and out of lucidity, depending on the day. It is hit or miss whether we will get a good visiting day or not.

My Grandma had already given Jon and I a bit of a donation towards our “Bring Sofie Home” fund which I assumed was from both of them. Yesterday I stopped in for a visit with Livi, which I usually do a couple times a month. Grandpa asked Grandma to go and get “the envelope”. He reread the note inside it and handed it to me apologizing that his writing has gotten smaller and shaky and he hoped I could read it …

In case you can’t read it, it says “Dear anxious and Hopeful Parents! Here is waiting and with much prayer that highlights you forth. May you be richly blessed! Love Grandparents with love, I & A Schmidt.” A check for the same amount that Grandma had given us was in the envelope, doubling their donation. (I did clarify that with Grandma that this was a lucid decision. She said the first gift was from her and this was from Grandpa. I like how they have “separate” money at their age!)

The money is such a blessing to us right now, as we are already using borrowed money to pay for the adoption costs, but the effort for the note and his attitude towards this adoption is priceless. On visits that my Grandpa has been able to talk, he has always asks about our adoption, though he may not remember all the details 🙂 He can’t write as well as he used to and it takes a lot of effort for him. He worked long and hard on the note but wasn’t happy with it. He wanted to throw it out and start again. Grandma stopped him and told him “it is perfect”. She is the most gracious and beautiful woman I know. I’m thankful she stopped him from throwing it out. His note outlines his attitude and the support that he has been through this whole process. Even though he is a little more traditional in his thinking, he completely understands our journey and acknowledges it!  This is not something we have encountered from the senior population.

It means so much to me that he acknowledged how anxious and hopeful we truly are. He is waiting with us, not just watching from the sidelines. My grandparents actually adopted their sixth child through a private, domestic adoption. They know what it is like to be adoptive parents. Unlike some of Grandpa’s peers, he better understands what we are doing and has only taken notice of Sofie’s Down Syndrome once or twice. Sofie will be his beloved great-granddaughter first and foremost. He mostly doesn’t understand why it costs so much, but that is the Mennonite in him talking. He thinks there is corruption in the governments for the prices to be so high 🙂

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Lets Keep It Real

This post really hit home for me. It is taken from a blog I occasionally read called Under His Wing (I linked it for you). The family has recently adopted 2 little girls from Bulgaria. I thought it might be interesting for you all to… maybe it will shed some light on the ups and downs that we might be going through once Sofie is home. 


Lets Keep It Real….

Honesty? Bleck… I hate keeping it real on this blog. To many people read it that I probably put up a pretty good front for. Well, actually I guess it is not really a front, it is just a matter of only sharing and showing the good stuff. And the good stuff is real, but so is that hard stuff, and that is what I don’t like to share.

But sharing the hard stuff is important. It is important because I have found it is all to easy to feel isolated in the struggles one has with raising kids, let alone raising children adopted from orphanges over seas and those same children with disabilities that make progress even harder, and ever sweeter! [Was that a run on sentence? ;)]

The girls have been home from Bulgaria for 8 months now. Lets start with the GOOD, well the FABULOUS really.

Miss Yana is doing amazingly well! I mean, truly, sincerely, completely, and honestly WELL! She has my heart and I feel like I am almost at 100% of having that genuine “mommy” feeling towards her at all times.

I know we all like to think that in adoption, one that we worked so hard to make happen, and waited so long for, that that “mommy feeling” is immediate and overwhelming and solid. Well, are you sitting down? Because I am here to tell you “that ain’t the way it is!”.

You see, first it starts with a overwhelmingly tender feeling every time you dream of your little one or look at their picture. Then you meet them, and most times you still have the feeling. Then you have them home and it is one moment at a time… sometimes you love them so much it hurts and sometimes you feel like you are babysitting someone else’s kid and truth be told, a really strange and unlikeable kid at that! [And that is just the highly condensed version!] [I will add that this was with the adoption of the 3 that were older. Luke, adopted as an infant, took all of about 5 seconds to win 100% of my heart. That is the blessing of newborn adoption. :)]

Relationships take time. Building good memories to get you through the hard moments and days and weeks takes time. Getting to know someone, knowing them in a way that someone else doesn’t takes time. Letting love grow from a choice into a genuine feeling takes time. And to make things harder yet, there is no time line for how much time it takes! 

Now back to miss Yana. I love this little girl!! Her smiles make me smile, her joy fills my heart with joy, her achievments no matter how small make me want to shout and do the Arsenio Hall “Wuh, wuh, wuh” with my fist.

I find it amazing that this little girl, who had NO ONE for 7 1/2 years, who attached to no one, who had no communication besides crying when hungry is following her MAMA ALL OVER THE HOUSE. She wants attention and she wants it now! If mama isn’t home, then she will find someone… usually her big sister Quincy who is a sucker like me and picks her up all the time! 🙂

She is getting so strong. She now will slap our hands to play pat-a-cake and other games. No more wimpy, half hearted attempts. She crawls very quickly and does not seem to tire easily. She is learning to be pulled to a standing position by bending her knees! That is huge! I am trying to teach her to bounce, but she doesn’t seem to have the knee muscles yet… She will stand for just a couple of seconds, sometimes as much as 10 if she doesn’t realize it :). Her personality is jsut growing by leaps and bounds. She makes eye contact, demands engagement, and knows what she wants. She will crawl to her highcghair when hungry. She will search for a specific toy, even remembering sometimes where she last saw it! She is making many letter sounds, and almost has me convinced she says her name. She did not make any sounds beside hissing and spitting and grunting when she came home except randomly on accident it seemed.

Our little girl who had no personality, no opinion, no autonomy is becoming an assertive, engaging, opinionated ball of joy within the safety and love of HER family! She is alive and loving it!!

She has such a long way to go though. She still only eats from a bottle. She needs to learn to walk. Potty training … well we don’t need to discuss what isn’t happening do we? 😉 The fact is she is doing great, and while occassionally I still get worn out with all the annoying, and sometimes embarrassing orphange behaviors… She is my daughter in my heart and I find her amazing. It seemed like a long road to this point, but looking back it seems to have flown by.

……………………………………..

Now for the hard. Little Miss Tavi. I will start by saying things are going well. And maybe if I didn’t have the twin process of Yana to compare it to I would even say things are going great!? But I can’t say that for sure.

The thing is Tavi was “supposed” to be able to bond better. At least according to all the text books and articles I read. She did have a special caregiver. She was favored by orphanage staff, adored by some. She received better nutrition, was in a good group of kids, and got around very well.

But she is not bonding well. Her emotions are not engaged. Oh she shows happiness readily enough. She even cries sometimes. But not really when she should. If she gets “yelled at” or “in time out” or some other thing that conveys displeasure she appears clueless…. sometimes she will draw into herself a little bit, but not much. If she gets hurt she will occassionally cry, or laugh, or hit herself and laugh… but that is the exception not the norm.

She appears to LOVE everyone. She is so exicted to be picked up by someone new. She does not like coming back to me. I know that some people take this as she loves them to pieces, and I like to see Tavi happy, but I do get irritated to and want to say “You know, she really doesn’t care about you at all…”

I CRAVE a sincere emotion from my 5 year old daughter. I CRAVE REAL interaction from her. My heart is longing for her to see me as more than the constant care taker who represent sameness, boring routine, been there done that kind of things. I dont’ care if it is extreme dislike, I just want it to be genuine.

She is still living in her shell, and I am constantly brain storming and searching for a trigger to let her break free. She is a sensory addict. She craves tactile input. She loves to be thrown in the air, spun around, wrestled with, snuggled up tight, rocked, carried around like she’s riding a pony and so on.

She is obsessed with that stuff so much, from absolutely anyone, that I am developing an aversion to interacting with her like that. How’s that for real? 😦

It is such a hard thing to figure out. I know the rules of no holding or hugs except from immediate family… but when you can not see, and your eyes are your other senses, esp. touch… what is the answer?

Part of me knows I just need to give it more time. I really hate that word! How many times do we have to “give it more time” in the adoption world?!

She is a brave and independent little girl. She will roam around most new places securely figuring out her environment. But then, if you put her on the potty, or in a chair or on the floor in a way that conveys “break time” she will sit frozen and I am guessing for HOURS! The most I have given it is 45 minutes! I just want to scream at her sometimes to “be normal”. But again, I know to “give it time.”

Now just let me say, my heart loves her dearly, but the fact is choosing to love her happens still more often than being overcome with that “mommy feeling” towards her. I don’t like it, but that is the way things are.

And I am confident that time will work things out. I have been praying about the relationship Tavi and I have often lately. I am confident that God is not only listening, but working things out for the good of my family!

I am her mommy. She has me for life.
 I guess you could say she “had me at hello”. She will find herself someday. She will have her whole family behind her every step of the way!

Love is growing, it is just still under construction. The paint is still wet. The Lord just isn’t finished yet.

Being confident of the outcome can still leave me quite emotionally spent in the process though. So in an effort to encourage others, in an effort to encourage international adoption, in an effort to communicate real struggles I decided to share a bit of my heart.

But even with all my scattered emotions, Tavi John still does amaze me! 

Spring!

Is it actually spring now? I think it is. The weather this week has been mostly fantastic and couldn’t have come at a better time. The winter blues were getting to me. I needed to be reminded why we moved to Chilliwack again… OUR BACK YARD! I love it. Plus, we are just around the corner from a school with two pretty fun play grounds. Each day it hasn’t been raining we’ve rode Livi’s bike to the school and played hard! I’m loving the sleeps I’m getting out of her because of it.

 She is getting really good on her run-bike now!
 Climbing the rock wall! She was such a Pro on it! 
It freaked Mommy and Daddy out a bit but she didn’t even blink at the over 6 foot wall!
 “I DID IT MOMMY!”
 The school has a fun wiggly, rocking balance beam that she enjoyed!
She was “smiling” for the camera here 🙂
 Learning to pump on the swing.

 She wanted to climb everything, just like the big kids!
 This was the scariest ladder on the play ground…
I don’t think she liked that Mommy was underneath taking pictures. She did it all by herself though!
 We wouldn’t let her try this alone, so Jon helped. 
 My big girl!
Surprisingly the only picture taken in the back yard this week. 
Drawing on herself and not the ground, as usual.
I like this picture 🙂 Morning hair!