Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A quick update...  

I was going to post on Saturday, but never did it.  I've been waiting to download a video from our video camera and some pictures from our digital cameras before I post, but that still hasn't happened so I decided to just give an update without pictures.

I wish I could put into words the joy that has come into our home with Matthew & Micah.  Matthew, we assumed, would bring joy and delight to our lives.  Micah is another story.  When we first met this little guy, we honestly didn't think we could go through with it.  We seriously considered not adopting him.  But even in the same afternoon we discussed this (through many tears, I might add), we also said that we couldn't leave him in the institution.  So our decision was made to regroup and go forward.  In the next 12 hours, we made plans and formed a strategy for the next visit with him and things got better almost instantly.  While we wouldn't have left him there, there was a fear that we couldn't do it.  That he would be too much of a disruption to our family.

Today, we can say without hesitation that without him, there would be a void in our lives.  Not just a void, but a physical ache.  That's not to say that both boys haven't been challenging at times.  There have been moments when our love for them wasn't as perfect as God's love for us, or even the love we have for our biological kids.  Hard to admit, but there it is.  There did come a time, though, in the last 2 months (though we can't pinpoint the exact moment it happened) that they became ours.  Really ours.  It happened pretty early on, but it was a process to be sure.

Before we left Ukraine with them, they were ours in our minds and mostly in our hearts, but an even greater transformation has happened that we are thankful to God for.  A transformation that we couldn't plan or force.  Simply a gift from our Father.

Mary and I are doing well.  We've been so careful to protect our relationship and to still make moments for romance even when they are sometimes rushed instead of lingering together for an evening on the town.  We have some dear friends who "forced" us to let them come over once a month so we could have a date.  That's been sweet.  When we got home, we assumed that it would be months before we could go out by ourselves.  Thankfully, that was a wrong assumption.  We look for those quiet moments that come along every now and then and enjoy them while they last.  Even with the added responsibility we have with our kids, we still put our relationship on the front burner.  Not that we put the kids on the back burner (okay...I'm speaking metaphorically here...we do NOT put our kids on the stove for punishment), but we know that if things aren't good with US, things can't be good for THEM.  So things are good in our relationship and we're as madly in love with each other as always.

Our five biological kids are doing so well.  They finished the year in school with all A's and a couple of B's.  They have adjusted so well to the new boys.  They are in love with them and treat them as if they've always been in our family.  They have astounded us with their compassion and gentleness and patience.  Seth, our 7 year old boy who is ALL BOY and is always on GO becomes a tender and gentle caregiver for the boys.  He sits with them on the couch and puts his arms around them and hugs them and kisses them.  He holds Matthew's hand and rubs it (Matthew's favorite thing in the world).  He tells them He loves them (when he thinks no one is listening).  Sometimes he tells them in Russian (I think he thinks when he does, he thinks no one knows what he's saying so as not to lose the all boy persona :-)  ).

Eli has opened up to us in different ways.  He desires our attention more since he sees Matthew and Micah wanting our attention.  He comes when we call him now (sometimes).  That's something that he would almost never do before.  He's more independent (partially because we were away from him so long but also because he sees Micah and Matthew thriving and doing).  He definitely makes more of an effort to do things on his own...yet has become more dependent on us in ways that are healthy (he wants to sit with us more, he reaches out for hugs and kisses).

Matthew and Micah have blossomed and have shed many of their "institutional" behaviors (though not all).  They have become accustomed to us, our schedule, our lives, our discipline.  You can really almost feel them sigh and say to themselves, "Ahhhh.  I'm safe.  I'm loved.  I'm happy.  I'm home."  It's true joy and contentment.  They come to us when they want attention when they're hungry, when they're hurt, when they need a hug, when they're happy about something.  They have opened their hearts to all of us in ways that we didn't think could happen so quickly.

So much for a short post, huh??

Matthew has started looking AT us more than he looks past us.  You know that feeling you get when you're being watched?  Well every now and then I get that feeling and I'll look up and he's STARING at me.  When I meet his gaze, he smiles the biggest smile with his whole body.  When we're holding him, he will look right into our face and really connect with us.  It's  a precious gift.

Micah has had less "regressive institutional" behavior episodes and rarely acts like a caged wild animal anymore.  There has only been 2 episodes in the last 2 weeks or so that he regressed.  We don't know what causes it, but there are moments that he becomes the boy we first met.  It only lasts for an instant, but you can visually see it happen.  He takes off his glasses, kicks off his shoes and his eyes actually change.  They have gotten shorter and shorter and much farther in between.  We'll just keep loving them out of that boy!

Over the weekend, the boys had their first watermelon (most likely ever since watermelon isn't that popular in Ukraine and it doesn't taste very good and it's more expensive than other it's unlikely he's ever they've ever had it before).  Matthew liked it, but when Micah got it, he was laughing and eating it as fast as he could!  It was going all over him (an me for that matter) because he was trying to eat it so fast.  Like it would go away if he didn't get it eaten.  He had 2 large pieces (all we would let him have and was his pullup WET the next morning (as we knew it would be)).  We gave him some more last night.  Same reaction.  Pure ecstasy!   It was a joy for us to watch him experience it for the first time.  Matthew liked it, but the only thing he gets that excited about is breakfast!  Oh wait, Micah gets that excited over cheerios with milk.  Hmmm....  they do love to eat.  But that's another change.  They don't shovel it down so much.  They both will leave food on their plate instead of gobbling it all up and begging for more.   These are good changes.

Yesterday, the three little guys were watching a movie with me after lunch.  After about 30 minutes it was nap time.  Micah didn't want to go, but he didn't make an issue out of it.  OR DID HE?  Mary went to wake him up and get him up and there was something terribly wrong.  Before he went to sleep, he stripped, pooped and LITERALLY spread it on everything that he could reach.  He was covered top to bottom, every bar on his crib, the sheets, blankets, pillow, then he threw the poop out of the bed onto the floor and went to sleep.  It was because he didn't want to go take a nap and I'm sure he thought, I'll show you.  Well, in the end, he was the one who learned the lesson, but it's an interesting manifestation of the "institution" behavior raising it's head.  It reminds of what a dog does when he's mad at his owner.  The only thing he can really control, used as a weapon.  Hmmm...  Mary disciplined him and made sure he understood it was not okay.  I came in from a computer job I was doing at someone's house and made sure he knew from my end too that it was not okay.  As soon as I mentioned  it and asked him if he took his clothes off and made a mess in his bed he hung his head and covered his face with his arm.  He KNEW it was wrong and he knew it was not okay.  He's such a blessing.

Mary and I are trying to formulate what God is calling us to do in the adoption ministry arena in our church and area where we live.  We've seen what we seen for a reason.  Saving Matthew and Micah was the tip of the iceberg.  Pray with us.

Well...that was not a SHORT update!  I'll try to post some new pics we have of the kids and we have a couple of videos to share.  Some day.  :-)

IS THERE A QUESTION YOU'VE BEEN DYING TO ASK BUT HAVEN'T?  Post it as a comment and I'll answer it in an upcoming post.  Nothing's off limits (if it's too personal, I'll either answer it privately or not at all. :-)  ).

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