Wednesday, April 7, 2010


We're back after a super long hiatus. I'm finding it more and more difficult to find the time to sit and spend time blogging. Or maybe it's not quite as easy as we have been home from Ukraine for almost two years now (scary) and I don't have as many cutesy first words, phrases or experiences to share like I used to.

Not that there isn't a lot going on in our lives. We seem to always be busy, and relish the days where we get to sit at home and do nothing (total opposite of when we were not parents!) We've kept Emma busy with gymnastics which she totally loves, and swimming lessons which she also loves but has a bit of a hard time learning.

Over the past few months, the reality of Emma's delays have been hitting us hard. Now that she's been here for awhile, we can clearly see that her difficulties are a result of more than just a language barrier. We feel we were a little bit "duped" by our Ukrainian facilitator who kept insisting that there was nothing wrong with Emma, despite the warnings the orphanage gave us. She assured us that even though Emma did not recognize numbers, letters, colors, etc., that she spoke very clear and concise and a little time spent on these things would surely catch her up. I find that a little hard to believe.

Don't get me wrong, there are no regrets. Terry and I have disscussed it in depth how we both knew in our hearts that Emma was for us and there is no way we could have left her there even if we knew the extent of her delays at that time. The fact remains that she will have a far better life and a far better chance here than there.

Now it's a matter of trying to find out what's causing Emma's delays, which may remain a mystery. Since being assessed by a psychologist late fall, the ball has started rolling. Genetic testing, upcoming MRI, meeting with therapist, developmental and mental specialists, psychologists,'s all a little overwhelming. Whomever Emma meets, she completely baffles. On the surface, the first impression Emma gives is an adorable, charming, engaging little girl...totally normal. However, when assessed in functionality, she just can't seem to do what's asked of her.

The hardest part for me has been seeing the struggles Emma is running into socially. She used to be the cool kid from Ukraine who didn't speak english. All the kids were intrigued by her and wanting to hang out with and help her all the time. Now that the grace period is over, I see many old friends avoiding her and she's been in some fights on the playground. Other kids mom's who used to love having Emma over on playdates have suddenly started coming up with excuses why Emma can't come over. You know, kids acting like idiots is one thing, but when you see the same stupidity in adults, it's very frustrating. Emma's teacher has taken away her recesses because of "fights." When we question Emma about these "fights" she tells us how the other kids were also kicking and hitting her. Now, who's starting these spats, we won't know for sure because we're not there to watch her, but we were irate when we found out the other kids involved in these fights have not lost their recesses. Teacher "didn't know" that other kids were involved. She was just listening to the tattle tales and not even asking Emma about it. And Emma just doesn't have the ability to jump up and defend herself.

So, the last few months have been a struggle, especially when it comes to blogging. I've debated time and again as to whether or not our personal lives should be shared with the world, but ever since starting this whole adoption process, I've found message boards and blogging buddies to be some of the best supports and advice givers out there. Perhaps someone out there is going through the same type of struggles we are and will feel better that they're not the only ones. Or perhaps they will send me a word of encouragement. Whatever the case may be, many of you have been on board since the very beginning, and I definitely don't want to paint a false picture of our lives. Everyone deals with struggles, and this is one of ours. But we deal with it day by day as best we can.

During spring break, Emma stayed at Terry's sister's place in Devon. He would wake Emma up early in the morning while I was still sleeping and drive her in on his way to work. It was really strange to me to wake up in the morning to a quiet empty house all by myself. Terry told me his last day driving out, Emma was in the back seat sniffing quite a bit. This is not all that uncommon, as Emma frequently picks up coughs and sniffles. But he told me that when they got out of the car, she had her glasses in her hand and he saw that she had been crying. When he asked her what was wrong, she told him, "I miss my mommy." That story just brings tears to my eyes. It makes me want to scoop Emma up in my arms and hug her to bits. For so long I fretted over attachment issues. Now, me and Emma, we're like two peas in a pod. I love her to pieces and am so glad she's a part of our family. What the future holds, we don't know for sure. But again, we take one day at a time, trusting in God to give us wisdom and strength to raise this beautiful little girl!


  1. Love the picture!

    It's so good to hear from you again. Don't give up blogging! You are right, it is one of the best support networks you'll find. Oh yah, I'm right there with you on all of it! The delays are incredibly frustrating, epsecially when people insist that our kids are "fine" and they treat them and discipline them just like "normal" kids - and our kids have no clue why. UGH!

    Some thoughts on delays: I'm sure you've already considered most of these, but just in case you haven't, here's some obvious places to look.

    ADD (She doesn't have to be hyper to have ADD/ADHD. My older son isn't any more hyper than any other normal 10 year old boy, but he can't rub two thoughts together without his meds! But boy, have those meds ever been a God-send!)

    And finally, I hate to say it, but don't dismiss the big elephant in the room just yet...attachment. She may well be bonding nicely with you (BIG, BIG YEAH!), but there is WAY more to attachment than just that. Attachment affects very literally everything, including one's ability to form lasting relationships with anyone. It also affects a child's ability to differentiate between various social roles and the varying degrees of significance regarding relationships with different people in their world (grandma vs. teacher vs. the store clerk, for example.)

    Stupid blogger made me cut my comment in half. Ugh! There's more...

  2. It is also important to note that if a child has been attachment challenged or disorganized or lacking at some point, the issues that stem from it, a child's low stress tolerance, and the faulty hard wiring of their brain caused by attachment deficiencies won't go away just because they learn to bond with with their mom. Indeed, that is a HUGE step...and one that many kids with full blown RAD never do get past, but it really is only the first step of many necessary for true and complete healing to happen.

    Also realize that even though there is HUGE progress being made in the attachment department, the attachment even with you is most likely still pretty insecure, meaning that she's learning to love, both on the giving and receiving end of things, but at the end of the day (and any other time she can't physically see you) she's still terrified at her core that you will leave.

    She likely also hasn't yet transfered that attachment skill to other people. She may well be learning to love and trust you, but she doesn't trust anyone else. After all, they don't put the time and effort into forging the relationship that you do. While that my be an obvious DUH! to you and me, it isn't to her. She is still very likely struggling at her core and probably subconsiously to understand why mom always comes back, and why mom will never leave her permanently, but why it's ok, perfectly normal, and oft times even desireable that other people do leave and may or may not ever come back at some future point in time.

    As for the charm and aggression issues, attachment challenged kids (and many "normal kids" in today's society as well) really and honestly DON'T KNOW HOW to form appropriate and mutually beneficial relationships with all kinds of different people. They have to be taught and taught and taught and taught...and if their relationships at home are still shaky or still forming, they're not going to even begin to get the concept of having actual relationships with other people. In their heads, we're all just here in the world doing our own thing trying to survive just like they are.

    Don't give up, though. Keep on working on it. Keep on reminding her 100 times a day that she is safe and you're not leaving. As she's able and ready, start teaching her both through word and example how to have safe, positive relationships with other people. Go slow here, becuase object permanance is very likely still lacking - it is with most PI kids - and even though she might someday really trust that she's safe with you and you won't leave, she may not be 100% clear (or may not even have a clue) why that isn't the case with other people.