6 Fishies getting our pumpkins!
I apologize for the very overdue update. Our sweet Ian has really done well with the many changes that have taken place in his life over the past months. He seems very happy and is easy going – has the confidence to take on anything, and continues to be loving and affectionate. Having said that, the transition journey is not always easy, but more on that later. Ian spent the better part of the first two months of the school year at home with me, and has picked up English amazing fast! Since he is VERY expressive and animated, what words he doesn’t know, he fills in the blanks with sound effects and body language. I had been told that he would probably start losing his native language within a few months, and that certainly has happened. It’s sad, and while we have tried to Skype with his center in Ukraine and have had some people come over to allow him to speak in his native language (which he participated little in), the reality is that there isn’t enough exposure to keep it up. But, he has been eager to learn English and Ian was ready for school sooner than we anticipated. He would ask every day when he could go, and would go to the bus stop every day with his siblings with his back pack ready to go! Finally, the day came just this week, when he actually got to join them getting on the bus! ( Hence, mom finally has a moment to update the blog). He was thrilled! We have a wonderful little school that has been so accommodating and Ian was placed with a wonderful 2nd grade teacher! He sits next to a sweet boy whose family hosted a child from Latvia this past summer, so he really took Ian under his wing. I just had to smile with how God worked out that perfect little detail for him! While only a few short days in, Ian has loved everything about school! But today, I noticed that he felt a bit overloaded and tired. I can only imagine how tiring the stimulation and newness must be for him.
Before school started, we managed to get some of the unpleasantries out of the way. He’s had numerous Dr. appointments, had blood drawn from both arms, is undergoing a catch up immunization schedule, and had 7 fillings filled and a tooth extracted ( over 5 dental appts). Not only has he endured all this without major tears or protests, he was actually happy about it!!! After every filling, he would run to the bathroom and admire his teeth and say “look mamma, teeth good now”! I feel very sorry that I didn’t think to take a picture of his rotted tooth! Parents all around the world could have used it as motivation for their kids to brush their teeth better!! One day, Ian told me that his “Ukrainian mom” didn’t give him his medication for months, I realized that he sees all this as being cared for and loved! What an incredible perspective for an 8 y.o to have!
While the gift of adding onto our family has been an incredible blessing (and I know those blessings will have life changing impacts for all of us) there are certainly challenges. While I think Ian has been doing great, the shifting dynamics of everyone’s place in the family has changed and with that there have been many challenges. Much of my energies are managing these changing dynamics – the tatttle-telling, the power struggles, teaching that when Ian might say something to a sibling that hurts their feelings, that he needs to own up and apologize. Ian has a strong personality, and often we see the learned survival behaviors of orphange living (grabbing, not sharing, manipulating) and it’s a process of re-teaching these behaviors, while dealing with the ruffled feathers of his siblings that is energy and time consuming. Ian also asks and needs a lot of praise and affirmation. I try to give it to him, but often the younger of my children feel I’m giving him more than I give them of my time, love and attention. As much as we talk about it, it’s hard for them to understand that while they have had 9 years of my consistent, constant love and care, Ian has not, and needs a little extra.
We continue to struggle with getting him to eat. He can go almost all day without eating – it’s almost like he isn’t in touch with his hunger cues. He hasn’t budged from the 49 lb mark, despite trips to the Eastern European market to try to find things for him to eat. The reality is that with a family of 6, I can’t be making tailored multiple meals, so Ian is usually required to eat most of what is on his plate, which usually requires lots of coaxing.
I am so grateful for the reassurance that God gives me that He has called us so specifically to be Ian’s family. There have been nights, when hubby has been out of town, and I’ve been up since 5:30 a.m. (the only time I can squeeze in a run), and I’ve spent much of my energies managing squabbles, tattle telling, and meltdowns, homework, navigating the dinner meal, followed by an overdrawn bed time procrastination attempt, that I fall into bed and wonder how I’ll do it again tomorrow. Luckily, I am continually lifted up by the holy spirit, friends and family, and incredibly, the energy, faith, perseverance, and perspective comes again with each day.
On an end note, we were given the opportunity by Mat’s parents to get away to the mountains last weekend as a family. I could not have foreseen what I believe to have been a critical bonding time for our family. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the “just right” picture, but we are still working on it!
Thanks for tuning in!