Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Ukrainian Lawmakers,

Two of your Ukrainian babies are my daughters now. I know you want what is best for them because I spent 7 weeks in your beautiful country and visited the orphanage in Vorzel numerous times.

My girls were so well cared for... dressed in clean appropriate clothing, in clean diapers and they had clean hands and faces. Their baby houses were clean and their caretakers were working hard. My girls were loved by their doctors, their caretakers, and the facilitator and translator we used to complete our adoption. One of my girls was even lucky enough to have paternal grandparents who visited her regularly and showered her with the love of family. These girls had the best your orphan system has to offer.

But you know, as I know, that they were living this life on borrowed time. Eventually (and not too far off for my older girl) the day of transfer would come. A simple birthday would change everything they had ever known and life in a mental institution would ensue.

In their cases, before that fateful day arrived, you allowed them the privilege of a forever family in the United States. I do believe that it was brave of you to let them go far across the ocean to a world you know only through negative press. I promise you it was the right thing to do for them.

Now they have everything they had before and more. The children they play with everyday will always be with them, even as adults. Their caretakers are now a mama and papa who will always care for them. Their bedrooms, their toys, their books and clothes will always be theirs even after they turn four years old. They now have the security of a family, and family is for always.

So on December 16th as you consider voting to close down the international adoption program, think about the one thing your system cannot provide, the one thing that money and laws cannot grant an orphaned child, the greatest gift that adoption gives to a child... ALWAYS. Please don’t vote to close the door on the blessing of forever families for your orphans.

Thank you,
Masha and Autumn’s mama & papa

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Birthday Baby News

Autumn is one. This is still pretty unbelievable to me. She is just so tiny.

For her birthday celebration she enjoyed an ice cream cake and a shiny pink balloon. I think it is safe to say that Autumn has never before tasted ice cream or felt the icy sweet coldness of it on her tongue. She was very motivated to feed it to herself. And yes, when all was said and done, she puked it up.




She has started reflux medication but it is only helping a little bit. I am not so sure reflux is the real problem. Autumn has very low muscle tone and the esophagus is a muscle. Every time she burps, or stuffs her thumb in her mouth, the contents of her stomach bubble up because her muscles are not working to keep the door shut. The fact that Autumn is an avid thumb-sucker exacerbates the situation. I have taken to keeping her left arm out of its sleeve, tucked against her, with the empty sleeve wrapped behind her... straight-jacket fashion. But she refuses to fall asleep like this, so at nap and bedtime I give in and let her have it back.


Autumn’s early intervention evaluation indicated that she would benefit from physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education. Last Thursday was her first session, PT. She loved it. She is a tummy time baby. (I am guessing that the Ukrainians don’t subscribe to the “back-to-sleep” paranoia like we do because Autumn is a hard core belly sleeper.) Autumn showed us that she can stretch far to retrieve a toy, that her lower abs work beautifully so long as you hold her hips and thighs firmly, and that sitting up is not so far off. I am really proud of how hard she works and how little protesting she does during it.









My baby girl knows I am her mama now. She will track me with her eyes when other people are holding her and she will reach out to me if I come near. Her whole body does the love wiggle when I smile at her. And though she babbles “da da da” consistently, she can say “ma ma ma” which always makes me happy.


Autumn loves to eat. She will eat most anything and is getting better at taking a spoon as well as chewing. She doesn’t seem to have any texture aversions. She loves mashed bananas and whole fat French vanilla yogurt, pureed black bean soup, and mashed sweet potatoes. If I wipe her mouth or move her bowl out of her sight, she will cry. In fact, if anything at all makes her think the meal is over, she will cry.


And speaking of crying, she has the sweetest, saddest cry ever. Her facial expression freezes up and then her lips start to tighten into a line as her face turns pink. After a couple of silent seconds (warming up) a trill rolls out of her and the drops start to slide down her cheeks. Then it is just soft “waaas” until you give her whatever it is she wants. With a darling cry like that, it will be hard not to spoil her.


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