Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pictures as Promised

Masha's First Year of Pre-K Graduation

Kimani "reading" to Autumn

Masha at soccer practice

Masha's twins

Autumn turns two

Double cold at the soccer tournament

Masha feeding the goats

The apple picking field trip

Upsidedown Autumn

The daddy train

Making gingerbread houses

Autumn playing piano

Princess Autumn blowing kisses to her fans

Now children, please tell Santa you want a nanny...

Christmas morning (minus Kimani who wouldn't stay in the picture)

Christmas stocking time

Masha our rock star in training

Autumn understood the whole present thing this year

Autumn and grandpa

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Bad Adoptive Mom

Masha calls me mama , and some days it almost feels that way. (It might feel more real if she would stop calling my husband “mama” too, but that is another story.)

We adopted because I couldn’t stand looking at all those faces on Reece’s Rainbow and knowing what fate awaited them if people didn’t stand up and claim them. Every day a tiny voice would say to me, “Imagine if that was Kimani.” I felt achingly sorry for those unwanted children.

We adopted because once it occurred to us that we could, to ignore it, to refuse it, felt dirty. Once you realize you can do something right, something good, how can you eschew it without guilt?

I did not adopt because I wanted a bigger family, or because I saw Peach’s face and fell in love. In fact, it was baby Arina that wormed her way into my heart and then disappeared forever. Peach was the consolation prize. And Masha? What was she? The unplanned for bonus prize that we accepted because to not save a human life for the mere cost of an extra 6k seemed horrible?

Ok, right about now you might be thinking that I am a secretly evil person who should have never been granted two adoptive daughters, but bear with me because I am telling you all this for very good reasons.

First off, because it is the truth. I wish I could have been the adoptive mom who fell hopelessly in love before ever even meeting the child. The adoptive mom who sucks up her new child’s essence and churns out biological love responses from it.

After committing to Peach we got her full cardiac medical records and shared them with our cardiologist here. He said her unrepaired heart defect was destroying her lungs. Letting a defect like that go past a year old would be sealing her fate of a slow death (about 5-8 years). Who knew how much damage was already done. I felt sick. What had we gotten into?

Each day of the adoption process I carried on as if I were pregnant with the perfect child. I shopped, set things up, presented the perfect picture... after all, who the heck would donate to the adoption fund if they knew I was terrified inside and unsure about it all.

Was I lying? Well, maybe... but without that outward vision and your corresponding encouraging support, I may have crumbled.

Thankfully, I didn’t crumble. Because every morning I am greeted by Masha’s song, the one she sings at the top of her lungs in her crib. It has to do with Kimani, and something about being pretty, and something about “baby girl”... I haven’t quite determined all the lyrics but it is a love song for sure. And in the other room there is a little darling standing up in her crib with a smile bigger than her face. She calls out to me to come get her. And when I do I am rewarded with a face full of kisses.

I wish I could say it felt biological this love I have for them. I wish their boogers and poo didn’t gross me out. I wish I had memories of them that went all the way back to the womb. But really in the grand scheme of things, does that truly make me a bad adoptive mom? I don’t know for sure, and really I don’t care. Years from now the memories will blur, they will wipe their own noses, and my heart will no longer be able to tell which ones grew under it.

I love them... my Masharoo and The Babygirl. Their siblings love them. My husband loves them. Their aunts, uncles, and grandparents love them. We are family.

I told you this because somewhere out there is someone who feels like I felt. Someone who wants to adopt but is afraid of not being able to handle it. Someone who wants to save a child but doesn’t feel very motherly toward the pictures she sees on the Internet. To her I would say, don’t say no just because you aren’t bursting with Yes. Maybe you won’t follow your heart, but instead you will follow your head, and that’s ok.

Somewhere out there is a mom like me who already adopted and feels like she is a bad adoptive mom. She feels like she is raising someone else’s child and wonders why it can’t feel natural. To her I would say, love is action. So long as you are treating your child with love, it doesn’t matter to him what dark fears and reservations lurk in your heart. And one day you’ll see clearly that everything is alright.

p.s. Autumn is healthy and her lungs are perfectly fine, and next time I promise you pictures, lots and lots of pictures.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

She's Crazy





Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who Are These Girls?

Ten months later one might believe they are different children...










Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Masha's Box

If you have been following this blog, then you got to see lots of pictures of the orphanage where Masha lived. The grounds were well cared for, with a dilapidated swing, apple trees, and benches. You also saw the visiting area with the brown couch and mirrored pillar in the center of the room.

What you did not see was Masha’s sleeping quarters or where she spent the majority of her time in the living/play space designated to her “groupa”. On our last day there, I asked if I could take pictures of her living area so she would have them to always remember her beginnings. They graciously allowed me to do this.




I did not have the guts to ask if I could take a picture of the bedroom. It was a plain space filled with box cribs. There seemed to be no good reason to want a picture of it considering how sparse and sad a room it was. So to my husband’s chagrin, I snuck a picture of it.

All this time I have wondered which box was Masha’s. Yesterday Masha and I were looking through pictures of Vorzel on my computer and we came across her bedroom picture. She said something to me in Masha-speak. So I asked her, “where does Masha sleep?” and I signed sleep. Masha reached out and touched a bed on the screen.


I was shocked. Did she know what I was asking? I asked again... “Masha go night-night? Where does Masha go night-night?” Once again she pointed to the same crib. The one in the back along the wall... the center one.

I laughed to myself... yes it made sense that she would be in the crib with the least access to her neighbors considering how she plays with Kimani every morning...waking her up and getting into mischief. They would have wanted to keep this social butterfly as separated as possible.

The part about all this that is awesome for me is that Masha told me something I didn’t already know. My little darling has come a long way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

School Picture


Masha is so photogenic. She is lovely in real life, but stunning on camera. I can't wait to send her grandmother in Ukraine a copy of this very first school picture.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Adopted Toddler


I think there is sort of an unspoken rule of thumb when it comes to adopting children. The younger the better. Wouldn’t it be great if every orphan was adopted in infancy? Great for the child and even better for the adopting family.

Why is that? For me it was the fear of adopting a child who had already picked up orphanage behaviors, a child who had already learned not to bond too closely to one person, a child whose early intervention window was closing fast. And besides, toddlers and prekindergarteners are just not as cute as babies... right?

Babies are easy to fall in love with. It is simple to forget that you did not birth this tiny bundle. The blank slate is still yours to decorate. Crying fits, loaded diapers, and throw up are just plain more acceptable when the perpetrator is a twelve pound mass of adorable.

But I have news for you... adopting a young child, a walking and talking child, has its own unique set of joys and amazements. Because, you see, there are “firsts” awaiting this child that bio children blow through at much younger stages, much less expressive stages.

Take the bathtub for example... Masha was afraid of water. I can only assume that bath time for her had been just another caretaker chore at the orphanage. Maybe she was made to stand up and sprayed or had water poured over her. Maybe she was held tight so she couldn’t escape a hair washing even when water got in her eyes. Whatever the case, bath time and play time were not synonymous. But they are now. Watching Masha conquer her fear and become enamored with the tub has been a delight for all of us. Even the boys are awestruck as she log rolls round and round, face under, face up, like a little seal.

Or take food... everyone of my children has hit the “Ewww, I won’t eat that” stage, which seems to be lasting years for some of them. But not Masha. It is a pleasure to watch her enjoy a freshly chopped tomato, or experience grapefruit for probably the first time in her life. She is so willing to eat good healthy food... while the others are complaining, she is digging in. I say, “Masha is it good?” and she says, “Uh huh.” She is the chef’s favorite child.


But my favorite “first” for Masha is her response to affection. In the beginning she allowed us to hold her, hug her, and kiss her. She would give a kiss if told to. She would come to us for “playful” affection... to be picked up and swung around. Over time, her understanding of human touch has expanded and blossomed. Now she seeks out hugs and kisses. Now she climbs into my lap and rests against me, calmly enjoying our closeness. Now she asks to be rocked to sleep at night.

Did she come with some orphanage behaviors? Oh yes she did. She can dress herself, put on her own shoes and coat, and undress herself as well. She craves routine. She cleans up after herself (Oh Lordy, do ya think Vorzel might want a few more orphans for a while?) She does not bite, scratch, or pull hair.

Is she perfect? No, of course not. But the point is that adopting a toddler has some sweet surprises that do not come along with an infant. Not sure you believe me? Go get one of your own and you’ll see, lol!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sharing Some Love

Recently I wrote a post for as part of their orphan care series. It is titled, 5 Unexpected Ways You Can Help Orphans. Below is an excerpt...

We all know they're out there, far across the oceans, or maybe even in our own backyards... Babies, toddlers, teenagers who for whatever reason are alone in this world. Orphans, with no one connected to them by blood, or law, they move through their lives at the mercy of those presently in charge of them. Next month, next year, or tomorrow, the crib they occupy could be given to another as they are moved to a different environment. Imagine a childhood made up of such instability, where nothing and no one belongs to you.

I could never find a comfortable place in my mind for these “waiting children” (as they are referred to by adoption agencies), and thus, I neglected to act on their behalf. I forgot about them in my daily life. After all, it was too depressing to contemplate hundreds of thousands of innocent, unwanted children.

Then one day, I stumbled onto a website that had pictures of children available for adoption. I saw a little girl with Down syndrome and pony tails. She was holding a doll. Her expression was hauntingly empty. She suddenly became so real to me that I hurt for her. I wanted her to have a family, but what could I really do about it?

Read on...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Little Girls Update

I wish I could find the time to blog about everything Masha and Autumn are doing and experiencing, but really, this is an intense time for me... trying to take care of all my little ones, work, and keep my house up... and oh yes, be a wife. So I’ll just share some slices of our life with you.

She is sitting up on her own and holding her bottle by herself, two big milestones. Her medicine seems to be helping and she is gaining weight. When she came home she was in 3 month clothes and now she is just moving into 9 month outfits. She enjoys peek-a-boo and will make the b sound when it is time to say “boo”. She claps, and throws her arms up when you say “hooray” to her. And when Autumn laughs, you have to laugh with her because she sounds like a squeaky toy.




And if you have forgotten how beautiful Miss Autumn’s eyes are, here is a little reminder...


She loves school, no doubt about it. She participates in everything and has even started pool therapy there. Her ability to understand English amazes us. Masha can say and sign so many words... she has no trouble making herself understood.



Masha sings and dances, her favorite song is ring-around-the-rosie but she only sings the “ashes ashes” part and then says “po” which is Ukrainian or Russian for something falling down. (Every time something falls Masha announces “po”). I think it is cute how she translated the song into something she is able to say. When I say Masha dances, I mean she loves music and dances to it instantly when it comes on. She is so funny... the girl has moves. It is even funnier when she takes whatever toy she is holding and turns it into a microphone and starts singing along while she dances.


Masha is a helper. She clears the table after dinner... not just her own plate but anything she can find ends up in the sink. She retrieves the baby’s bottle and Kimani’s bottles and gives them back to the girls. She brushes my hair and tries to brush Kimani’s hair. Masha will scream and cry if anyone makes a mess around her, as in when Kimani dumps over a laundry basket or throws her plate. Without my asking Masha brings me a diaper when Kimani is sitting on the potty, and she gets the right kind (all three girls have different diapers).


Masha is a cross-dresser... either that or she is a super hero. She always takes the boys undies and puts them on over her pants. This child is so entertaining.


Masha does her own hair... and then plays a little music for us.



As I said, there is so much more... everyday I wish I could write about adoption, what I see and how I feel (the good and the bad), but for now, for this season, pictures and tidbits will have to do.

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