Settling in

There's a word my Dutch descended family uses frequently: gezelligheid. It's a word that doesn't really have an English translation.  It's a word that encompasses everything cozy and peaceful.  It's a word that envokes hospitality and making your company feel at ease.

As a child my mom would set out our afternoon tea on the weekends with cake or cookies and call to my dad and the kids, "Come be gezellig with me!"  In the footsteps of his mother before him, my dad would turn on classical music and we would sit around the coffee table, cozy on our couches, dipping our cookies into our tea cups and sharing stories together.

Gezellig is the warmth of a fire in winter, sharing a blanket with a friend on the couch, and wrapping your fingers around a hot coffee.  Being gezellig was the ever sought after goal of my parents and all their friends during my childhood.

This week, being gezellig is our goal too.  We are settling in to new routines and making peace with our new roles as mama and papa and son. We are getting cozy as a family.

We are enjoying the wonderment of our son as he sits so quietly in his stroller and takes in our neighborhood. We are delighting in his blissful laughter as he experiences the newness of his life:

swinging high at the park,

exploring the new playground equipment,

and watching, mesmerized, as the park's ducks waddle by.

Today we introduced him to the height of gezelligheid: the Christmas season. After years of dreaming about experiencing the holidays with our own child, we are drinking deeply from the well of at long lasts. At long last, we decorated together, set up the tree, and took Arie to his first ever Christmas parade. He is wide-eyed and curious through it all, taking in every new experience with awe.

We decorated the tree dark and when it was fully dressed I stood on a chair to capture the moment when John turned on the lights.  He watched with silent rapture and gingerly reached out to touch the ornaments.  Everything is new and everything is beautiful.

His papa held him up to place the angel on the top of the tree.  Tonight John said to me, "I had these ideas of what it would be like to be a father but I didn't think it would really be like I imagined.  So far, it is.  It's awesome."

Yes, we are waking up with Arie in the middle of the night and struggling to figure out what he wants to eat.  We are drinking more coffee than usual and calling, "Not it!" for diaper changes.  But we are so happy with our little man. We are reveling in the newness of it all.  After the years I spent longing for a child, I am living in deep gratitude for the precious gift of our long awaited child.  The days are long but the years fast, as the saying goes. Let me love the long days and look back at the fast years with satisfaction for a life well lived, in gratitude and joy.

Waiting for the parade of lights to begin.

Jesus is the light. Amen.

Blessed gezelligheid for the holidays.




Came home to this fabulous sign in our yard! Still don't know who planted it. 'Fess up!
Sunlight pours into the tiny oval window beside my son's seat as our plane descends onto American soil. I am silent except for my deep breaths as warm tears roll down my cheeks and drip off my chin. Each salty drop making its own path down my face; each its own humble amen to one of a thousand prayers I have prayed on this journey. Years and months and weeks and days and hours and now just minutes to the homecoming of my long awaited child. I weep with joy and I weep to wash away the pain and the longing of this journey.  I weep, making room for the at last and all the joy that comes with it.

As I swim in my ephemeral bliss, my son whimpers and moans.  The plane bounces and shakes through the air and his stomach begins to turn.  Still crying, I hold a white barf bag up to his mouth, stroking his hair and whispering It's okay. It's okay.  It's not okay though and he pukes up all the peach yogurt melts he downed an hour ago.  I catch every drop of his sweet smelling puke and cry harder because I'm so damn happy he didn't puke on the seat. Or me. John reaches out to grab the puke bag and give each other a mental high five.

Since I'm still crying and people are about to get up and notice me, I grab the napkin beside me to wipe away my tears. The blessed reality of parenting begins as I realize I'm wiping my tears with the napkin I just used to wipe Arie's mouth. Thank you nose for reminding me of this fact before my beautiful tears are replaced with regurgitated peach.  Thank you universe for welcoming me so gracefully into motherhood.

My simultaneous joy-cry and puke-catch describes our journey home so well.  It was a surreal concoction of elation and exhaustion.  It was the pleasure of a little boy's delight in opening the plane's window shade and then the pain of getting wailed in the face when asking him to stop.  Right in the glasses. It was wonderment at his good behavior while traveling and then worry about him being just plain overwhelmed.

Arie was amazing for our trip.  He was an angel in the Moscow airport- waiting patiently in all the lines, listening perfectly though security and sitting pretty with a snack at the gate.  On the first 10-hour plane ride he only slept 1.5 hours and cried for about a total of 10 minutes.  I think I told him you're doing so good buddy! once every 15 minutes.

When we got to JFK he was angelic again through customs and through a very long wait for our luggage. He literally sat in his stroller with his hands folded on his lap for an entire hour. By the time we got him some "lunch" it was 2am for him and he was exhausted.  A blank expression had taken over his face only broken now and then with a bit of worry which made my heart just want to wilt. Sweet baby. After he ate a banana we lay him down on a padded bench while we ate and he fell right to sleep.

He slept right through the next plane ride and three hour car trip home.  I carried his sweet little body upstairs right away when we came home and he didn't wake up until 5am this morning.

He's napping right on schedule today.  Basically I think we side-stepped jet-lag for him all together.  Amazing.  Though I was wishing for more sleep on that first 10 hour flight it seems his wakefulness was something of a divine intervention, which will allow us sleep recovery after the rough sleepless week we had in Moscow.  Thank you, Lord.

Since John and I got to bed at 1am last night Arie's 5am wake up was definitely met with groaning on both our behalves, but even just 4 hours sleep in our own bed and in-sync with our internal rhythms has us feeling like new people.  Last week was about surviving.  Today we move to thriving.

After snuggling our little man in bed for half and hour (and praying helplessly that he might go back to sleep), we traveled downstairs to do something we'd long looked forward to: introduce Arie to our cat Jasper.

I wish I would have videoed it.  Arie looked at Jasper and with giant saucer eyes and exclaimed (in Russian), "TIGER!!! RAWR!!"

Arie's been following Jasper around all morning and we've been trying to convince him that Jasper is a cat, not a tiger, but Arie won't have it. Whenever Jasper walks by he points and whispers to us, "Tee-ga!" Welcome to America, Arie.  The land of exotic household pets.

As we recovered from our laughter I ran a bath for Arie and washed all yesterday's travel off him with my all-time favorite baby products: Burt's Bees.  I've been sniffing Arie's sweet smelling skin and hair all day.

It is so good to home.  Last week was one of the top 5 hardest things I have ever done. One of my favorite authors Anne Lamott says the two best prayers she knows are "Help me. Help me. Help me." and "Thank you. Thank you.  Thank you."  Last week I just prayed for help.  It was wonderful, emotional, exhausting, and hard. There were times when I just wanted to break down and cry because John and I felt like we spent 80% of our time telling Arie, "No" and stopping him from hurting himself. Don't put your fingers in the socket.  Toys do not go in the oven. No no, you may not play with the cleaning supplies.  Parenting a toddler in a completely non baby-proofed apartment is awful.

Now we are home and I am moving to, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."  In our safe home we are open to a world of yeses for our little man.  He can touch and explore to his heart's content.  He can choose from a room full of toys, come and go freely from place to place, and chase our pet tiger around to his heart's content.  We are free to spend our time delighting in him and not worrying about what hazard he's getting into! We are also free to try every new food we can think of and expand his diet to include maybe one or two new items in addition to bananas, cheese, and milk.  He's already downed three clementines today!

Help me to thank you and surviving to thriving.  That's our journey this week and if today has been any indication of the week to come, there will abundant life to revel in this week.  And I'm going to suck the marrow out of it.



My own child

My Own Child
author unknown

I did not plant you, true

but when the season is done
when the alternate prayers for sun and rain are counted
when the pain of weeding and the pride of watching are through

I will hold you high
a shining leaf above a thousand seeds grown wild

Not my planting
but by heaven, my harvest.


Parenting, day 3

The jet-lag cloud got me again!  I was determined to stay up until 11pm Moscow time, but alas I fell asleep while I was putting Arie to bed at 8pm! Another 1:30am wake up for me, but this time I'm waking up on (American) Thanksgiving Day so let me be among the first in the world to wish my American readers a very blessed Thanksgiving Day.  We won't be enjoying turkey today, but the spirit of gratitude is rich in our hearts as we revel in the gift of our son.

Yesterday the only thing on our agenda was to get Arie's medical completed for the Embassy. Our first parenting success was getting some food into his belly followed by some anti-nausea meds to prevent another motion-sickness puke.  Whether it was the food, the meds, or the shorter car ride that prevented his puking I'm not sure, but we were successful!  We're walking to our next appointment (Friday) at the Embassy which means our final trip with him is the 40 minute drive to the airport on Saturday.  Still praying we avoid a puke then too!

His medical was completed at the Children's Hospital here in Moscow.  The daylight hours are very short right now in Moscow so when we arrived shortly before 9am it was still dark outside. I think our little Arie was already a bit out of sorts due the fact that I bet he's never been outside in the dark before!  I carried him into the hospital and held him on my lap while we waited for our appointment. He started to cry as we waited and our facilitator told me that he likely associates the hospital smell with getting shots. I now know why parents have told me they secretly enjoy these moments with their children because Arie snuggled in to me so tight and held on for comfort.  What a powerful feeling to be able to provide your child comfort in their fear! Another step forward in our attachment journey.

Our waiting area was just the hallway of the hospital's first floor.  Everything was clean enough, but very, very worn.  The dull tiles had lots of cracks in them and the paint on all the trim and baseboards was chipped and greying. Many of the office doors had signs on them made of printer paper in a page protector, just taped on with scotch tape!  Remnants of old tape from previous signs were everywhere.  Directly across from where we were sitting was a shelf with a Care-bear on it, so old it was almost completely faded under the florescent lights. What a difference from the bright, glistening and modern American hospitals near us!

While we were waiting a unique family waited on the white metal bench across from us: a Russian Orthodox priest with his wife and daughter, about 8 or 9 years old. The priest was exactly what I'd imagine a Russian Orthodox priest would look like.  Tall and thin, thick beard, long dark hair in a ponytail tucked inside his black dress-like priest's garb.  An elaborate metal cross hanging from his neck, bouncing in his chest as he tended to his daughter and went off to find her some "sok" (juice). I wish there would have been a polite way to take a picture of this family! I also wanted to somehow tell him that our son was baptized Russian Orthodox and thank you for being part of a church that cares for orphans in this way, making sure they are not forgotten by the Church! The ROC will always have such a special place in my heart.

Soon we were called in for our appointment where Dr. Boris did a fantastic job examining our son.  As he examined each area of Arie's body he asked Arie if he was ticklish there and made Arie giggle away the entire time. At the end he told us the only problem he thought we'd have with Arie would be keeping the girls away!  Ha!

At the end of our appointment we met another American family who had just adopted a 21-month-old boy! The boy's father was there with his in-laws since their daughter (the mom) was not able to make the third and final trip to fetch their son.  The boy's family lives in Alabama and the in-laws are from Alaska. It is so funny how hearing English in a foreign country immediately thrills you. We were putting Arie's coat back on in the waiting area when we heard the Grandmother remark how cute Arie is. John and I immediately looked at one another like, "AMERICANS!" and John asked them where they were from. Over the course of our conversation we discovered that we're on the same flight back to JFK! Knowing that another adoptive family will be on our flight gives me great comfort because I know if we have a puke or a long cry, we'll at least have those three sets of empathetic ears.

Back at our apartment we took another visit to park which Arie enjoyed immensely more than the first visit.  He lost most of his apprehension and enjoyed playing on the slide and chasing the pigeons.

Pointing out the pigeons...
...and he sees them!

 A few times he saw a car pull up in the parking lot near by and he called out toward it for his nanny.  John and I are guessing that he used to see his nannies come and go from the parking lot near the orphanage's playground. He was not upset when it wasn't her getting out of the car, but it is still a difficult reminder of his loss. When we get home I can't wait to take pictures of his new life and send them back here to Moscow to show the nannies how well he is doing! I am daily so grateful for their care.

Our final milestone yesterday was getting Arie to enjoy his bath!  In the orphanage children are typically showered once or twice a week and it is a pragmatic affair with no time for enjoyment.  The first time we put Arie in the bath he cried and cried and was in and out as quickly as possible.  The second time John put on his bathing suit and climbed in with him and comforted Arie but he still whimpered though it.  This time John got in first and Arie went without tears! About 2 minutes in, he reached out his little hand to touch the water.  We made a big fuss over that progress which made Arie smirk and slap the water.  That was it.  There was hardly any water left in the tub or voice left in Arie from all the splashing and screaming with delight!  This time the only tears came when we had to pull him out!  I can't wait to get him in the bath at home where our toys are so much better than the cap from John's shaving cream and a Johnson&Johnson baby wash bottle!

He sticks his little tongue out like this when he concentrates. My favourite!
We are so grateful this Thanksgiving Day for our little man and all the joy he has already brought us.  We will be giving thanks on this holiday and into eternity for a God who called us to this adoption journey and granted the desire of our hearts.  Each time I look into Arie's sweet face I stand in awe that he is ours.  The most beautiful gift from the most beautiful giver.  On this holiday of gratitude and always I will say, "Thanks be to God!"



Parenting, day one.

It's 2:45am here in Moscow and if there is one thing I have learned about parenting so far it's that it doesn't mix well with jet-lag.  Ugh.  Arie is sleeping fabulously in the bed between us, occasionally smacking us in the face with a flinging hand or adorably rolling over to rest his head on John's chest.  Last night he went down around 8pm and whimpered every hour until midnight, but was easily reassured with a few seconds of back rubbing and shhhhh-ing.  He slept until 6:45am.

John and I, however, woke up for the second time in a row to look at the clock which read "1:30am." It's late afternoon at home so no wonder our bodies are still awake!  Last night I stayed in bed with Arie while John got up to read and tonight he's in bed while I take a few minutes to blog before hopefully getting another couple hours rest.

Waking up from our first night together.
Predictably, with not even a full night's sleep between the two of us the day was long, but Arie has been a joy. It feels so natural to have him around!  John and I both cannot wait to get home again where we will feel more relaxed and be able to really enjoy him.  We are loving his smiles and cuddles already, but there are so many hard things about parenting in a foreign land.  For example, yesterday Arie fell off a chair and bite his lip open while John and I simultaneously had heart attacks and visions of trying to get to a Russian ER for stitches.  Thankfully Arie is totally fine and only has a small abrasion not worthy of a hospital visit in any country.  Phew!

He's also taken to a diet that consists of: bananas, fruit purees, crackers (goldfish and teddy grahams) and milk.  I got him to eat a few cubes of cheese by sneaking them into his snack-trap dish along with a handful of a sugary Russian cereal we bought called, "Cosmonauts." (I'll have to get a picture of this cereal box for you because it is hilariously stereotypically Russian.) All the organic toddler foods we brought and yogurt, eggs, and pancakes we bought here have been rejected.  I know he'll survive the next 4 days on bananas and milk but I just want to get him home so I can try more foods and know he's getting the nutrition he needs.

At the park by our apartment.  He was very apprehensive as you can see!
As far as bonding goes, I feel like we are making progress!  Even in the short time we've been together we are noticing that Arie is holding our gaze for longer periods of time and he is definitely loving any affection we give him!  Last night we were looking at the pictures we previously left with him at the orphanage and when we turned to the page with all three of us on it, he pointed to me and John and said, "Mama! Papa!" A few minutes later something clicked in his little mind and he looked up at us, pointed and said again, "Mama! Papa!"  Basically the best feeling you can imagine!

At nap today he called out for his "Nini" (Nanny) in tears which was awful because I see his pain and want to fix it so badly. John and I have to keep reminding each other that this is his journey and he has to go through the grief before things get better. We also need to keep telling one another that it's not our fault he's grieving. He would be going through this pain in 2 years anyway when he transferred out of the baby home; this way he has a much happier ending.  It's the world's brokenness that is to blame and God is using us redemptively in the brokenness.  Still, it feels awful when your baby cries for his nanny and you can't give her to him.

Tonight, though, as we were putting him down he was rocking his head back and forth swish swish swish on the pillow, calming himself like he has learned to do at the orphanage, and he knocked his head on the headboard.  Instead of "Nini!" though, he cried out, "Mama! Papa!" and we were right there to scoop him up. I snuggled him so tight, kissing his head and telling him, "Mama's here baby.  Mama's here." Safe in my arms, snuggled in bed between us he fell asleep sweetly.

In the morning we will go to get his medical examination for his visa.  3 more days here, then our travel day and then home.  It cannot come soon enough.

Walking in the grace of God alone and knowing how dependant we are on your beautiful prayers,



Oh look what God has done!

God has put a family together today.

Today I leave behind the names of lonely and longing and I become Mama to my little boy.

"He sets the lonely in families" Psalm 16:6.

They sky in Moscow is carpeted with one thick, grey cloud today, stretching from horizon to horizon. The temperature hovers around freezing and every few minutes it seems a dozen wispy snowflakes fall from the sky.

John and I are picked up by our facilitator and driver at 9am. Before we go to the baby home, we are taken to a grocery store by our translator to pick up some familiar toddler foods and two cakes with which the orphanage staff will celebrate Arie's home-going. I can't tell you what it feels like to give someone a cake who has raised your son for two years. It feels more than measly- entirely insignificant.

But we load our underwhelming cakes into the car and drive a short distance to the baby home.  The thick sky casts a shadow over the baby home almost like it is night outside; the lights inside the baby home warm the building through the windows. It looks cozy inside.

We park in the same spot as usual and enter through the heavy metal doors as we have done five times before.  This sixth time is our last time and I try to notice everything about the place, exacting it in my memory.  The black lab who greets us outside, the buttery hue of the baby home's stucco exterior, the diamond waffle pattern on both sets of doors as we enter.  This is my son's home, for only minutes longer.  For every electric fiber in me that cannot wait to pick him up and walk away, there is a spot in my soul that will hold eternal gratitude for this place. Gratitude for this home and its staff who cared for my baby when I could not. Deep gratitude.

Inside we remove our winter coats and turn left down a long hallway to the director's office. He greets us with a warm and accented, "Good morning!"  We sit down while our facilitator talks to him in Russian and then we sign what are essentially our son's discharge papers.  We talk for a while and John and I sit beaming on the couch.  We cannot wait.

The first thing our facilitator hands us from a stack of papers in front of her is something she knows we've been waiting for: Artem's baptism certificate. This is a gracious sign to us: a sign that says God knew our son before we did.  God called Arie his own before he bore our name. He was marked as a child of the covenant long before we even knew he was alive. Of all the grace in our adoption journey, this is my favorite.  Before we knew him, he was baptized.  Though he was was without a family for a time, he has never been alone. Always and forever in the sight of a God who is a Father to the fatherless.

We pour over the certificate and all its meaning for a while and then our facilitator asks us for the new clothing we brought.  I fish out the outfit we so carefully selected; a red plaid button up, white undershirt, thick warm blue jeans, red socks, and blue boots.  She takes the outfit from me and brings it to a nanny who is going to change Arie for us.

We wait some more, smiling all the while.

Soon, with almost an exact replication of the very first time we met him, the director says something in Russian and our facilitator smiles, "He's coming!"  We hear footsteps in the hall.

This time, where a shy and quivering little boy once stood, our Arie strides in confidently babbling loudly in Russian and proudly waving the little blue monkey lovey we brought for him last July. I try hard to notice the monkey and "wow!" over it, but all I want to do is scoop him up, so I do. I hold him tight in my arms, kissing his cheeks and telling him how much I love him. "Oh I've missed you!" I whisper in his ears.  He smiles and shows me the monkey again.

Arie's nanny has something to show me so John sits down and pulls Arie on his lap.  He sits quietly now, wide-eyed, watching and listening.

 His nanny gives me a thin cardboard folder filled with Arie's art projects.  There are drawings and painting and things he's glued.  She also gives me the photo-album of pictures I brought for him on our last trip.  In the back are tucked two dozen pictures of the last 2.5 years; pictures of Arie at a Christmas party in an adorable shirt and tie, pictures of him with his friends, of him playing at the park, and even doing tummy time as an infant. Again I think of that measly cake and I tell her the best thing I can think to say, "I will treasure these." She nods shyly and her eyes begin to gloss with tears.

Me, Arie, the nanny, the social worker, and the director.
We take a couple photos and it is time to leave.  Arie studies me as I put on his coat and hat.  He looks to his nanny again, likely wondering what is going on.  She is still fighting tears.  I once asked our facilitator what these home-goings are like for the nannies.  "They are very bitter sweet," she said.  "The nannies are happy because they know the child needs a home.  But they are sad to say goodbye."

We are walked to the door by the director, nanny, and the orphanage's social worker.  "Paka paka!" they call after us.  "Bye Bye!"  Before we get into the car I turn around to look at the baby home one last time and see more nannies crowded into an upstairs window.  I tell John to turn around; we wave and they raise their arms to wave back.

Then we climb in the car and drive away forever, to a new life.

On the way home we stop twice.  Once to get Arie's photo taken for his passport and visa and again to apply for the passport itself.  Arie is wide-eyed during this process, holding tightly onto our hands.  I hold tightly back and my heart is crying to him I'm not going to let you go. I know you're scared.  I'm not letting go.  

Toward the end of our journey Arie whimpers in the car.  He is sweating so I take off his coat and snuggle him tight.  I can tell he doesn't feel well. I whisper to John to pull out one of the barf-bags we took from the plane, wondering if is is even possible to catch a two-year-old's puke in such a narrow bag.  Thankfully, Arie falls asleep in my arms and I just stare at him the whole way home.

When we reach our apartment I wake him up and he moans again.  Quickly I open the car door, just in time for him to puke.  There is puke on him, puke on me, and puke on the ground, but none in the car.  My first motherhood victory! If you are the praying kind, you can start praying for his motion-sickness relief both for our next few car trips and our plane-ride home.  Yes, I will be carrying on at least one change of clothes!

In our apartment we clean up, eat a dry snack, drink a little and play.

Toddler's love for goldfish crosses international borders!

He and John are both sleeping now in our room.  Father and son.  Today we are a family.

Oh look what God has done!



When we come home

Photo via flickr user Joel Olives

 This will be my last post before we leave for Moscow on Saturday.

*Deep breathing*

I'm so ready.

Okay I'm so ready to bring him home. I think I'm almost ready for this final trip.  We've got the paperwork, the Russian rubles, our clothes, Arie's clothes, snacks for the plane ride home, toys for the plane ride home, and 5 different kids of over-the-counter kid meds for any kind of illness you can imagine. I even bought "sea-bands" from the drugstore to see if I can finally combat the motion sickness I suffered from on the previous two trips.  I'll let you know if they work.

We're ready, but I'll tell you what: I am going to let myself break down a little when we get to JFK and I'll probably have a full on happy cry on the three hour drive home from our final airport landing to home.  Hopefully Arie sleeps, otherwise he's just going to get an early introduction to what an emotional mess his mama will be for, oh, the next year or so.

Anyway, it's only a week-long trip. We can do this.

I really hope I packed enough diapers.

Anyway (for real this time), you might remember my attachment plan post from August in which I outlined our attachment plan.  You can go back and read the whole post for details and explanations but I'm going to give a review and add a few things for those of you who know us in person.  Developing a strong family attachment is going to be the number one priority for us in the coming months and we need the patience and understanding of our friends and family to do it.  We are going to be uncompromising in a few ways and I just am going to put a few things out there; this is not meant to offend, only to serve as an explanation for what could otherwise be seen as strange behavior from compulsive new parents.

1. Please allow me and John to be the only ones to hold, touch, and feed Arie. Arie has had many different caregivers in his short life and he has learned not to give his heart away because when he becomes attached, he gets hurt when the caregivers turn over. John and I have to earn his trust and show him that we're here for him.  We're here to give him hugs, serve his meals, fuss over his scrapes and bruises etc. We want him to recognize that we are his caregivers and no one else. So basically- don't take care of him. Let us do it. We will let you know when this stage has passed, but it might be a while (months).

2. Please do not swarm us at church. This is probably one of the hardest ones for me because our church community has been incredible during our adoption process and all I want to do is bring him to church and show him off to the world! But we do not want to overwhelm him and we especially do not want him to develop a fear of church, so our plan is that I will sneak into the service late, finding a back seat or a place in the separate infant calming room, and sneak out early again before the service is over.  Give us a wave and a smile and shake my hand during the mutual greeting, but when we're ready for him to meet new people I will stay with him after the service.  If you don't see us outside of the service it means he's not ready yet.  At the very earliest, it will be January before we start introducing him after the service. 

3. If you stop by after we're home to bring a meal or a gift please do not be offended when we don't invite you in or bring Arie to the door.  Evey good manners instinct in me will want to say, "Come on in!" and introduce you to Arie, but our goal is to keep our home quiet and peaceful for him so we won't be inviting you in quite yet. But thank you very much for the meal!!

4. Before the new year we plan to introduce him to: our immediate families (and a few relatives at Christmas) and my daycare families. That's it.  If you are not in those two categories you will likely not be meeting him unless you bump into us at church, a Christmas parade, grocery shopping or taking a walk outside.  Even then our hello will be brief. Again, we wish it was different but with the holiday busy-ness coming up we've decided to really limit things in order to not overwhelm him and to facilitate good bonding with us. We will re-evaluate what he's ready for in January.

I feel like a real meany-pants, over-protective, isolating mom and I guess I am, but I just want so much for our loved ones to realize that these decisions we've made are ones we've anguished over and ones we've made for our family's best interest and not because we want to keep Arie from all those who love him. I've had many, many people ask me when we'll "let up" on these rules and a lot of it will be based on spiritual guidance and our parental instincts but there are a few things we will be looking for:

1. We want to see him come to us for touch, food, and comfort.  We are so thrilled that even during our visits he has already come to us for laughter and tickles; this is a good sign!  But we also saw him fall down (hard) and not cry or reach out for help.  He just brushed himself off and kept playing.  This is not "normal" toddler behavior; he has leaned to rely on himself in certain ways and we want to see him seeking comfort from us for these types of things.

2. We want to see appropriate "stranger danger" and caution. When Arie first met us he was shy and we were happy to see that and even more thrilled to hear him cry when we took him away from his nannies.  This is healthy toddler behavior! When he meets new people, we want to see him look to us for assurance.  We want him to trust us as the ones who will protect him and let him know who and what is safe and who or what isn't safe.

3. We want to see "orphanage behaviors" wane. We don't know yet what behaviors he will exhibit but we expect a few like rocking himself to sleep, banging his head for stimulation, drinking excessively (because fluids are so limited in the orphanage), and eating with haste and panic.  As he adjusts to his new life and begins to trust his new routines (ie: food and drink are readily available, mom and dad will comfort his fears at night etc), we want to see those orphanage behaviors melting away.

As we see these things in Arie we will be more and more comfortable treating him (and allowing him to be treated) like any other kid. As I said in previous posts, when in doubt about how to treat him just ask us! We will not be offended.

My next post will be coming to you from Moscow!  We are picking Arie up from the baby home on Monday! We have a few things to do with him before returning to our apartment, but I hope to get a post up on the blog before dinner time back home.  Let the butterflies open their wings and start flapping around my stomach!

PS: Check out the Christmas gifts you can buy from the awesome fundraisers listed on my A More Meaningful Christmas! And please keep sharing the post! 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...