OK all you faithful bloggees....time for an update. I know my posts are getting to be few and far between. After almost six months home, we are getting used to our new "normal." I could post more often, but I'm sure you'd get tired of..."Today I drove Emma to school. After school I picked her up, we came home and ate supper and later I put her to bed." Can you see my point? :) Today I thought I would just talk about some changes we've seen in our Emma over the past six months.....
1. Mastering the English language....
I wouldn't quite say that Emma is fluent in English (getting there), but she has completely lost her Russian/Ukrainian language. The other day, I told her that I loved her in Russian and she looked at me like I had two heads. I can't believe how fast her old language has been forgotten. It is a little disappointing, I think it would have been nice to keep her bilingual. But anytime someone confindent in their Russian-speaking ablilities starts speaking to her thinking that she will understand them, she rushes to our side and buries her face in our stomach. My guess is, she doesn't want to remember.
Emma's two favorite words right now are "why" and "because." Anytime I ask her to do something, she asks me, "Why?" Anytime I ask her why she did something, her answer is, "Because."
The one Russian word that Emma has not let go of is "ee" which translates "and." I can understand why. "Ee" is much quicker and easier to say than "and." I've just started working on changing this. I imagine it will be just as hard as it was to get her to say "daddy" instead of "papa." It took awhile, but it came...and this will come too.
When we first met Emma in Ukraine, we would run into some problems on our daily visits when it came to manners. Little missy absolutely refused to say any type of "please" or "thankyou" even in her own language. She has now mastered those two words and how to use them. She never seemed to be appreciative of anything, now she appreciates even the little things. I love hearing, "Supper is SO good. Thank you, mama!"
While we were in Ukraine, we had to buy Emma some clothes, as kids leave the orphanage with absolutely nothing...not even underwear. We attempted on a few occasions to take her to the store to try some clothes on. These visits were always disastrous, with Emma having awful outbursts and refusing to try on clothes. We basically had to improvise and guess which clothes would fit her. The same problem continued after we arrived home. It was back to school time and we needed to get her several clothes and shoes. We were at our wits end as we tried to get her to try on some shoes and she absolutely refused. We finally had to force her to do so, and I remember a sales lady rushing over to see what was happening to this little girl who was screaming at the top of her lungs. With her help, we were able to fit Emma with a pair of runners, but it was non-stop screaming the whole time.
This past weekend, we had to buy Emma a new bathing suit. Now shopping is quite enjoyable. We showed Emma a couple of prospective suits that would fit her. We headed to the dressing room, and once inside, she excitedly tore off all her clothes to try them on...talk about night and day! After each one, she would race out of the dressing room to proudly parade in front of daddy, asking if he liked it. Once all were tried, we told her to pick the one she liked best and off we went!
4. Shower/Bath time
These have never been a problem with Emma. She loves bath and shower time. Her problem, at first, was water temperature. If we even thought of turning the water from cold to lukewarm, she would shriek and cower in the corner of the tub. Obviously, the orphanage had no hot water and she was used to the cold. It took quite some time, as we tried to gradually increase the temperature of Emma's showers. Now she likes it hot and shrieks when it's cold.
Speaking of bath time, Emma absolutely loves the water. We were finally able to take her swimming for the first time in December, after getting rid of all her little stomach bugs. She went absolutely WILD when she saw the pool and asks us EVERYDAY if she can go swimming. She doesn't know how to swim yet, but she has no fear of water. She throws herself under without a problem. She comes up everytime choking and sputtering, but with a huge smile on her face. We're trying to teach her to hold her breath, but she doesn't quite get it yet. :)
In Ukraine, it was a battle combing Emma's hair. I would put a ton of conditioner in it and there wouldn't be one single tangle...the comb would just flow through her hair with no pulling or hurting. Even though all hair combing conditions were perfect, she would wail through it everytime. The ladies who ran the hotel would frequently knock on the door during these times to see if everything was alright. I would race through the combing as fast as I could and didn't bother with any styles...combing was torture enough (for me!)
Six months later...no problem. Emma loves when I style her hair cute (or should I say ATTEMPT to style her hair cute) Unfortunately, I haven't had seven years of practice on this seven year old, so I'm not the best...BUT my skills are improving.
We recently cut the majority of Emma's hair off. It was getting too difficult to manage as it was SO long. We decided to cut it off, knowing that it would grow back quickly. Even Terry, who is allergic to girls who cut their hair off, agreed it was time. I gasped when the stylist made the first cut and wondered what the heck I was thinking. But now that we've washed, combed and styled it a few times, I appreciate it much more!
6. Potty Training
Our hugest issue while in Ukraine, we took Emma to the toilet every half hour...probably a little overkill, but Terry was peed on once and he didn't want it to happen again. I think Emma was too shy to tell us when she had to go.
After returning home, finding her way to the toilet during the day was not a problem, but peeing in her bed at night time was still an issue. I know, I know...supposedly very normal for a kid her age to wet the bed. But we soon discovered that Emma was not accidentally peeing while she slept. She was waking up, then peeing, then taking off her clothes and going back to sleep. This was hugely frustrating for us because we would talk to her every night when we tucked her in and she would reassure us that peeing in her bedroom was bad and peeing in the toilet was good. Even after her reassurances, she would still do it. Against the orders of our pediatrician, we began disciplining for this action. It took many nights of discipline and many loads of laundry, but one day in October, it just stopped. It was like I was having the best dream ever that night I heard Emma get out of her bed and heard her sweet tinkling in the porcelain bowl. Terry and I both got up and praised the living daylights out of her. She was very excited that she had done such a good thing and there has not been one incident to speak of since that glorious night!
Many of you who have adopted or are preparing to adopt know about attachment issues. For those of you who have never heard of such a thing (as I hadn't before our adoption course) I will enlighten you. Many people think that when a child is in an orphanage and a lovely mama and papa come to their "rescue," that child will instantly fall in love with them and be eternally grateful and kiss the ground they walk on. This, unfortunately, is rarely the case. Many children who have been in orphanages since birth have been lacking the love and attention they need and therefore don't even know what love is or how to do it. It's not uncommon for children to push their new parents away and remain living in their own little world which is all they've ever known.
We knew of this issue before we went to Ukraine, and this was the least of my worries. It seemed like such a tiny little problem compared to the risks of serious disease, FAS, etc. Well, it's a much bigger problem once you experience it. Thankfully we had no serious attachment issues with Emma, but it did take a while for her and I to build up the bond which seemed to come so easily to her and Terry. One aspect of attachment I hadn't really considered is MY attachment to her. Don't get me wrong, it was love at first sight and I knew she was meant to be a part of our family, but it takes a little while to make the transition from feeling like a babysitter to feeling like a mom. I was recently reading anothter adoptive mom's blog who described adoption as an arranged marriage, and she was also experiencing some of the things I had been feeling. It was a great encouragement to me, and that's why I'm sharing it on my blog...for those who are feeling unattached or who may feel this way after they adopt.
I am happy to say that I have made the transition to mom. Even though Emma has only been here for six months, it feels as though she's been in our family forever and I can't imagine life any differently now. :)
So, those are just some of the changes in our family over the past six months. I believe the changes we're seeing are due to Emma feeling more comfortable and finding her place in our family. She used to push us away when she was scared or upset, but now rushes in for a hug when she sheds tears, even if its tears due to some discipline she just received. She is always looking for a reassurance of our love and we always remind her that we will love her forever and that we love her even if she does something wrong.
Every once in a while we'll all just be sitting around and she'll pipe up, "We all the same family...we all together love."
Phew! That was a long one! See you later!
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