Yes, yes, life is busy and I’ve written what’s on my heart but not necessarily what’s going on in everyday life :)!
First off, Wesley and Aleksa are both doing GREAT! We are amazed everyday by the new things they’re understanding and ways that they’re adapting and adjusting. They fit right in with the other kids and we no longer have any safety concerns between them and the other kids (we were cautious for a while but now things are good!). I think the biggest caution still there is with Emma and Wesley because she’s very interested in him but doesn’t know her own strength.
Aleksa is understanding new phrases in English and can follow simple familiar directions. Here are a few examples:
Take your shoes off
Put your shoes on
Put your shoes away
Do you want________ (she answers ‘da’ to EVERYTHING though…)
Let’s go bye bye
Say ‘hi’ (and she will! :) )
Give that back to ____________ (she recognizes the family members’ names)
As you can see they’re all simple short basic phrases, but they’re something we’re building on, and the fact that she is responding to all of those is just awesome! I think she is very capable of learning quickly and look forward to seeing who she becomes in the next months to come! She is a beautiful little thing with a sweet heart and a desire to please.
Now, that’s the good stuff :). Here’s the hard stuff. She’s 8. She’s lived in an orphanage for 5 years and a mental institution for 3. She’s never had a family, she’s never lived in a house, she’s never had responsibilities or expectations. She’s never been taught to do something for herself and she’s never been expected to talk or reply.
What do those things ‘look like’ right now? She cries. A lot. She cries silent tears that break your heart. And at the same time, though I know it sounds mean, they can be downright annoying too! She cries if I’m in the kitchen and she isn’t. She cries if she’s in the kitchen without food. She cries if someone else takes longer finishing their food than she does and she doesn’t have more. She cries when we grocery shop because she’s not eating. She cries a lot over food…
What do we do about it? Sometimes, all I can do is say “no, you’re fine, eat later… go play.” And hope that she decides to find something to distract her while I prepare a meal. Other times we sit and rock. Not often do I hand her food for crying at the doorway.
There’s more than one set of ‘rules’ at our house… because not all our kids are anything like each other and different levels of trust gain different abilities to roam. So it’s not a hard fast rule that no one eats before meal times. Lynae often goes to her high chair early because she’s hungry! Brianna often WANTS to but we discourage it. Both of them are BIRDY eaters, picking a little here and there to eat and they would eat at 4 and that’s it for the night. Aleksa is not a birdy eater. She eats quickly, everything, then cries for more. If we allowed her to eat before meals and then gave her a meal, she would eat and eat and eat… and that’s not a healthy habit to start. If we give her food ahead and not as much at dinner, she is finished way WAY before anyone else (since she already scarves it down too quickly) and again… the tears. So, we try to push the little girls off until dinner and we encourage them ALL to just wait until the meal is served. But… it’s hard. And no matter what we have tears.
Another hard area has been toilet training, though I think we’re at a good place for the time being. Aleksa has gone all weekend and this week in underwear again and stayed dry. I’ve sent her to the toilet frequently and when we didn’t, she wet. But so far so good and I hope to have only 5 in diapers before too long! (Brianna is full time in Underwear too!)
Aleksa still has some things that I’m sure she just doesn’t understand with toileting, though. For instance, that a person must finish peeing before standing up to wipe. I ask if she’s done and she signs ‘done’ to me then stands up as pee runs down her legs into her pants and socks and shoes… Or she doesn’t wipe anything off of her bottom and throws the rag in the trash (we are using wipes because of this issue!) and pulls up her pants before you can get to her…
Little things, things that ‘irritate’ not things that we can’t live with. Things that put you on a last nerve but don’t make ANY difference if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and are able to just go with the flow :). We are doing great- she is doing great- and we are SO glad to finally have her home with us!
I will freely admit that I never once thought I’d adopt an 8 year old and I knew immediately when we committed to her that it would be hard. And it is. And I know that many of the things that I posted about in the “whispers” post would be said of us if I got on and posted in my frustrated moments with Aleksa. But reality is this: She is an orphan no more! She is a child of MINE and a child of God! She is loved, will always be loved, and we will deal with little quirks as we go. SO MUCH of her world has changed in the last few weeks. Today is 2 months since I got custody of Aleksa. Five months since I first had contact with Alla. She’s doing GREAT!
Wesley has many fewer behaviors and such to update on since we’re still learning each other. He wants to be on my hip a lot but is glad to be in his wheelchair too. He’s happiest if I have him where he can hear me and ‘follow ‘ me around the room by hearing my voice. We got him a little recliner for his birthday and he’s got a ‘seatbelt’ in it now which helps him not to fall out of it. He’s loving it as well! It’s great to have the ability to put him down and have him HAPPY. A big milestone!
He also is responding to verbal cues now such as “hands down” or “stop spitting”. He then laughs and does it again…. there’s something we need to work on!
We just scheduled Wesley’s hip surgery today for April 5th. It’s sooner than I was thinking it would be, but that’s good to get it in there before we get hit with awful heat in the summer. He will also be able to take advantage of more water therapy if he is cast-free in the hottest months.
Lynae is a bit jealous of Wesley so one goes on each hip :) Brianna and Aleksa are dancing a bit to figure roles out too, but they- so far- have been great too.
**I tried to post pic’s tonight but Mike cleared my camera memory card, so they’re gone for a little while :)