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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