Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy one year "Metcha Day" to our sweet boy!

Today marks one whole year since we walked into a Ukrainian orphanage and met Tavin for the first time! A year full of firsts, new experiences, bonding, love, family. A year to see him changing into the little boy he was meant to be. A family does that sort of thing, an orphanage doesn't. The main thing I remember feeling after our first visit that evening was the realization that we had no way to know what we were getting into, really....no idea the full affect of orphanage life on our son. You tell yourself that, but then it's actually real. The last year we have gotten to see the shell that an orphanage creates falling away, and a little boy emerging. As I write this, he came out of his room from nap time, excitedly exclaiming to see mommy, full of smiles - real smiles that he didn't know how to give a year ago. In just a few weeks we will celebrate one full year of having him home!

(Look at that face- how cute is he??)

Here is part of my journal entry from the day we met. Happy "Metcha Day" to our sweet son Tavin!


We arrive at the orphanage this morning and wait in a waiting room that looks like it would be more comfortable in the '70's. Lime green wall paper covers the walls above wooden paneling and a lace curtain hangs over the window. A small wooden coffee table sports a red plaid woven place mat. On two walls are large poster boards covered with pictures of previously adopted children from this orphanage. From the room next door comes the sound of children singing, having a music lesson. Adorable.

We are told they are ready and walk out to another building, the one that houses children with special needs. We go through a room where a woman is giving a PowerPoint to a group of women (nannies?), and ring the bell to his groupa. I'm thinking "he has been living on the other side of this wall for the last two years. This very wall." We are ushered into the entry room, and our facilitator speaks with the nanny. My stomach does flips like a roller coaster. Then here is the nanny and here he is! Here are his chipmunk cheeks, rosebud mouth, distinct ears, and deep eyes. And he's not a dream, he's a real live boy. A little boy laying his shoulder on the matronly nannies shoulder, as she and another nanny animatedly tell us what a sweet boy he is..that he is their favorite. They say "we love him so much we say our love will bring him a family! And here you are!" He is perfectly adorable.

(The masks are because the orphanage had just had a lot of sickness- we were required to wear them the first week or so.)

The nannies volunteer all kind of info, like a proud mama, no doubt trying to seal the deal, as if we need any urging. He obviously likes to go outside, as he spends most of the time craning his neck to see around the nanny to the door that leads out. We give him a toy car and the nanny spins the wheels, he immediately imitates her movements. The nanny clicks her tongue and he copies her-they are obviously trying to show him off.

The nanny swoops him low to the ground to chase the car and has him laughing, a deep little throat laugh...a laugh with no smile.

After a few minutes I ask if we can have a picture with him and the nanny hands him over. I feel the weight of this real, live boy in my arms. He twists towards the nanny but doesn't cry, he's more interested in trying to get the phone from our facilitator. Phones always rank high with toddlers and he's no exception.

We visited with Tavin alone in the evening. We had planned to go outside but the nannies switched on us and wanted us to be inside. I think it was because I didn't have on a coat even though it was 65 out. We saw the effects of being in the orphanage throughout the visit much more clearly. He shows very little emotion or reaction to anything. The two words that I would say best describe him now are "curious" and "resigned". His eyes take in everything, turning to any sound from outside the room, and intently watching anyone who walks through. We brought a small ball and Steve bounced it to us, me holding Tavin on my lap. I would catch it, then put it on my palm and take his hand and help him push it off. He doesn't know how to throw a ball. After several minutes he started to push it off himself. Occasionally when we caught it he showed excitement, bouncing back and forth, but no smiles to go with it. An hour later he reached both hands out for the ball when Steve slowly brought it towards him, grasped it with both hands, repositioning hand to grasp better, before giving it a little toss. Progress! His favorite things to play with though we're Steve sunglasses which he tried to put on his own head, and Steve's wedding band which he found VERY fun to examine.

Have you considered adoption? Take a look at the many children listed on Reece's Rainbow, children waiting for a family.  Advocate, donate to a family in process, or consider whether your family could welcome one more child. 

  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. - James 1:27

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A final update for 2014 (in which we celebrate Tavin's birthday)

Apparently I'm a terrible blogger. But the time I sit down and actually post, I've composed at least a dozen posts dozens of times in my head, which unfortunately does you no good. So here I am squeezing in one last post for 2014, a year which proved one of our most challenging and most rewarding. Funny how that usually works.

December was a awesome month. Like really so good! It started with Tavin's birthday. Now if you've adopted you will know that celebrating your adopted child's birthday, if they've come from a hurt place, could go very badly wrong. Over stimulation is a good probability, the whole new experience could be scary, as your child doesn't know what to expect or what's happening or it could drum up some memory seared into the subcounsience that you have no knowledge of. So to be honest I was pretty nervous about the day. That probably sounds crazy unless you've been there. 

We gave him our gifts in the morning, so he would know a little what to expect in the evening, and so he wouldn't have as many gifts to open later in case it was overwhelming. His brothers were happy to help him rip the paper.

After that the day started off..terrible. Like bad. Tavin was resistant all morning to interaction, and one of his brothers who will remain un-named woke up on the whiny side of the bed big time. All morning I contemplated canceling his small party I had planned just for family but seeing as I come from a large family "small" really means over a dozen people so....well, not so small. By lunch I had been almost in tears more than once, and may have had a meltdown when the hubs came home before dinner. I grieved the birthdays he hadn't celebrated, and imagine his first lonely days after birth. Happy birthday right?

But nap time was a reset for Tavin and his brother. At dinner he ate spaghetti like a champ. 

The evening was awesome. He relished in the happy birthday singing, loved blowing the candles out and figured out how to rip the paper mid way through gifts. He would have been happy with any one of his gifts, stopping to look at books till we promoted him to open more. He was relaxed, sweet, engaged the whole time, and insisted on shaking everyone's hands and hugging them when they left. He's been singing his version of happy birthday ever since and blowing out an imaginary candle afterwards.

Christmas was fantastic. Two moments stand out, one was Christmas Eve as we sang carols with candles lit at my parents house, a Christmas Eve tradition from when I was young. Tavin sat tucked under my arm, sing-songing along and swaying to the music, wanting to blow out the candles and sing happy birthday. I choked up knowing the alternative his life would have been. One of THOSE moments.

The other was Christmas morning. We (and by we I mean Steve) knocked off a set of stairs that flip over to be a boat/rocker for Tavin. He loves stairs and needs sensory input as he lacks mobility in general and various kinds of input as a result of orphanage life, which the rocking will be great for. He sat on the stairs sucking a sucker (which he only recently learned how to do, his under developed mouth muscles finally getting strong enough) playing with a little toy he had opened, happy, care free, relaxed. And the image of him laying in his orphanage crib, eyes blank, where he spent too much time, was a stark contrast. His little room mates faces were again before me, and the reality that his Christmas would have been what theirs still is was overwhelming. 

We are blessed with three amazing boys. Tucker and maddox waited patiently as they took turns opening gifts, "thank you mommy and daddy!", relishing in the day, enjoying giving the gifts they chose for each other and us, and the gifts they opened.

(Home made donuts are a Christmas tradition)

It was the best kind of day. A day to celebrate the ultimate redemption, our adoption as sons and daughters into Jesus' family, made possible by the most upside down swap ever as he took our punishment and offers us His righteousness in exchange. 

Merry Christmas and happy new year!