Friday, December 17, 2010

Been a long day

YES, we have Aleksa!

The day started rough and just stayed that way.  At 7:15 we walked out of the apartment and down to the taxi.  At 8:00 we sat on the side of the road in said taxi until 9:00 when another taxi came since the first was having engine trouble.  Then we finally pulled out of Kiev city and on to the day's tasks...

We went to the capital city of her region, Zhytomir, and got her passport.  There was a tiny hitch, but we have the passport!  It took an extra hour because they closed for lunch, but better than multiple days, so we'll take it.  Then we went to Korosten, the closest city to where her institution is.  There we picked up the inspector to take with us to get her.  He's the same nice man that tried for us to get her years ago and got to see it full circle.

From Korosten, we went to the institution in Pugachovka.  Chris and I went to go get her dressed... up the hill to the 'bedroom' building and we saw them 'pulling' her from the dining hall up the hill in front of us.  She wasn't so happy about missing dinner...  Can't say that I blame her!

They began dressing her in clothes from us then whisked her away-- presumably to use the toilet?-- then brought her back 5 minutes later naked and SHIVERING, carrying her in.  They'd rinsed her down and she was FREEZING.  We began dressing her and they started asking "Pampers?"  Seriously?  She's 8... she's toilet trained...??

Yes, of course I had something... I asked Chris to run to the car (down the icey hill-- isn't she sweet??) to get it.  She couldn't find it.  Then, lo and behold, it was in the bag with the clothes in front of me.  *sigh*.

We finished getting her dressed and, believe it or not, the caretakers left the last set of pants that I'd brought for her OFF!  Imagine that??  They almost always complain at orphanages of parents not dressing the kids warm enough-- hence my bringing the extra pair.  As it was, I had tights, long underwear, and some pants-- the last layer was a snowpant (thin but waterproofish).

Anyway, from there we got back in the car (after a few pic's with the director) and headed home.


The 2.5 hour drive took over 4 and a half hours!  We were stopped much of the time once we made it to Kiev and before that we were just driving really slowly because of the snow and ice on the roads...

As you can imagine, 4.5 hours with an 8 yr old who has no idea what's going on and doesn't like the idea of a seat belt and who missed dinner and who thinks this entire thing is pretty unjust was a trial in patience.  She really did well.  A few big fits which I dealt with and she got over and we all did survive the trip.   Aleksa learned quickly how to sign 'more' to get a snack and drank a bit from a sippy cup.  She used the diaper... sigh... was hoping she'd hold it but... dreaming I guess.

Back at the apartment at 8pm she ran to the bed and climbed in.  Oh, did I m ention that she fell asleep twice on the drive?  The first time I woke her immediately with food... The second I let her sleep because she was hungry and exhausted and just needed a break and to sleep.

I now regret that.

I gave her a bath while Chris reheated leftover mac n cheese.  She survived two hair washings and loved the bath!  And now she smells much better :)  We gave her the pasta and she spit it out.  Made oatmeal.  No go.

She's been to the toilet about a dozen times now and has peed all of once.  She keeps tooting, but hates the toilet.  At the institution she peed on a pot.  I bought a small potty seat 'in case' we have to use it.  But I REALLY don't want to start this with an 8 yr old using a pot.  One of the transitions that I hope she'll make immediately with me for "lack of other options."  Of course, I will change my tune if she won't continue using the toilet.  It certainly doesn't help that even *I* cannot touch the floor from the toilet.  It's made for giants.

Now, I've been sitting with her in the bed we're sharing for over an hour and she isn't falling asleep... So we continue to sit, and I decided I would try ignoring her and got out the computer a few minutes ago rather than laying right with her...

I will say, she is VERY sweet... She keeps taking my face and kissing my cheeks!  I didn't expect her to be affectionate at all, so that's a sweet discovery.

As for her-- she's holding up ok.  She's of course trying to figure out roles, as with any new situation.  I know she will hate me for at least 48 hours as I set the boundaries and rules of general living together.  Like-- no melting down and screaming "NO" to get your way right off.  Yep, it will take more than 48 hours, but she will, in the mean time, hate me for my response (or lack there of).  She's not allowed "up the step" to the kitchen and bathroom unless I'm with her.  Water, hot surfaces, toilets, glass dishes... sounded like a bad idea.  She doesn't love that decision.  She's also not allowed to hit Chris or I, or the TV.  I think she's already gotten that down because she hasn't hit me in a few hours.  Pretty sure it'll come back on and off but it disappeared for the night.

She's cried several times-- sometimes for "seemingly" no reason, but-- here's the thing.

She was just taken from EVERYTHING she has known.

Her caretakers.

Her friends/playmates/pseudo family.

Her familiar 'house' surroundings.

Her language.

Her clothes.


And she's not a baby who will just adjust without question.  She's an 8 yr old little girl who has experienced a lot in her lifetime.  She has scratches and bruises and scars all over her little body to prove it.  She doesn't really understand what's going on, but she certainly understands enough to where she should be frightened to death.

She knows me, sure... she's seen me 4 times before today over the course of a month.  Not exactly best buddies.  But she trusts... or, she has a pseudo trust of me that she's willing to go with me and to allow me to hold her.

And when she cries... that's exactly what I do.  There's nothing else I can... just hold her and talk to her and reassure her.  It's gonna be ok.

At the same time, I'm telling myself the same thing.  This is forever.  This is the new reality.  And it's gonna be ok.

I will be very honest-- today has been HARD.  After the 9th or 10th trip to the bathroom where she wanted to take every piece of clothing she was wearing off before peeing, and she screamed at me for stopping her then ran to the tub area when I wanted to wipe her, then squirmed to get away as soon as we got back into the bedroom area... I was out of patience.

We knew, KNEW, that this adoption would be very different from our others.  Aleksa is 8.  She's lived in an institution for 3 years.  She's "moderately functioning" at the moment (excuse the term, just needed a descriptive) and understands that she's not had anyone 'forever.'  Yet she doesn't understand that we ARE forever.

She's made bonds before-- shallow ones.  Ones that came and went as the caretakers came and went from the institution and the orphanage before that.  Ones that were daytime bonds and ones that were nighttime bonds.  Nothing that said forever.  No one that she didn't want to leave.  No one that shed a tear over her leaving.  No one that hugged her and said goodbye.

We've got a long way to go.  ALL of us.  It's going to be a lot of work for us all to form those bonds that we've all missed out on for the last 8 years.

I have no doubt that God brought us here to Aleksa.  And in that I know that He will hold us together and help us to be the parents that He wants us to be for her.  Not perfect by any means.  But ready and willing.

Now that I've taken sweet girl once again to the potty and she took over one of my hands so she can hold it... it's time for me to hit 'publish' and once again work on getting this little one to sleep...

Pictures in a few minutes on a separate post because I started typing this online and hate adding pic's that way :)

Day one with an 8 year old.  I've never had an 8 year old before!  God is good... ALL the time.  Even when our patience runs out and it's midnight and a very awake little girl is scrambling for your attention and wiping snot on your arm! :)

I love her.  And she's forever mine.  And I'm forever grateful.  God has done amazing things.


  1. Chills and tears here...I'm SO happy she's going to go HOME now! What a journey. What a relief. Congratulations to all of you.

  2. I'm so glad HE chose you to be her mommy. So very proud of you. Praying for you girls.

  3. Tears, tears and more tears. I am still in awe of the circumstances of 3 months ago. A meeting, a photo, same director..different decision. God is amazing!!!! With all of the sadness in my families life with my sisters diagnosis....this story, Aleska's story has touched me deep in my soul. It gives me faith, and hope. Thank you for sharing this story!! I can't wait until you are all home safe and sound.

  4. You sound like you are doing great! She has to test the waters to see if you are for real. Forever isn't a concept that comes easily. Love you and happy to see her photos as well. Love mom

  5. No words, just tears...It is a miracle!Just Jesus Christ can do it no one god! Our God is alive Who still makes miracles like 2000 years ago!

  6. How awesome! A post 3 years in the making :). Everyone in the Smith house is cheering for you tonight and excited for Monday!

  7. Hugs and prayers. I am so glad that Chris is there with you, what a tremendous blessing!
    It is hard, it is so hard, but it is worth it.These days will ne hard, it is hard just to have a "normal" when it is not your normal, and it is not yet the "forever" but you are doing a fantastic job and we are all praying!

  8. Wow, what a day. I am praying for both of you. I know she is terrified, and I know you have to be frustrated at not being able to make her understand. But, I do know this is temporary, and thankfully you know that too. Everything about this journey has been God driven and this trip is not over yet. He will give you what you need to make it through.


  9. Wow! This story is amazing and so beautiful. But I understand that it is going to be TOUGH! This is a hard road that you are on, no doubt about it. But Aleksa is family. And you will get through the challenges and celebrate the joys, and it will all be part of the experience that is your life together. Congratulations and all the best! Liz

  10. Congratulations! I'm so happy for both you and her, though it's really hard for you both to adjust. I'm sure it will be fine!

    I so appreciate your honesty. For those of us considering adopting an older child that's also older than all children already in the family it's good to get a real picture, not a sugar-coated one.... Thank you.

  11. A very hard day indeed, but your faith is clearly shining though! The part about Alexa sweetly kissing your cheek made me think you are an angel :). I'm saying a prayer right now for you all! Yes, God is good all the time, and His grace is abundant! Oh, and if you ever decide to write a book, I'll be buying it :)