It occured to me, in the craziness of school starting, this last week marks 2 years since we first layed eyes on Sophie. I still remember it like it was yesterday and I'm still in disbelief that we traveled to Siberia THREE times!!! For those of you who know me pretty well, you know this is a huge feat in itself! I'm a homebody!
So, this quiet shy 18 month old baby girl that we visited in the Sosnovoborsk orphanage 2 years ago blossomed into a full on diva, bowling ball, outgoing, crazy fun, dramatic, beautiful little girl. I sill sometimes wonder what she would be like if she had stayed in the orphanage. Remembering that there were barely any sounds at all in the entire orphanage, it would be safe (and sad) to say, she would have stayed reserved and shy, unable to thrive. So sad, really. I can picture the faces (some severely deformed) of all those babies in her group and i wonder what happened to them, especially since President Putin decided to become a comoplete terd (yes, I used the word terd...well, he is!) and close adoptions with the USA. What has happened to all of those babies? What will happen to all those babies? We were just lucky and ended up bringing Sophie home a year before this happened. I still grieve with the families who had bonded with thier babies, and will probably never see them again. Praying that they one day will be reunited, every day! Praying God softens Putin's heart and praying for the hundreds and thousands of Russian orphans who will never know what it is like to become the best of themselves. They will never get to see, do, have, love, grow the way Sophie does.
Sophie is one tough little cookie! Since we have brought her home, it's hard to sometimes believe she has never seen or done some of these things before. Sometimes, she is doing it, or seeing it for the first time. Our biological children don't know how lucky they are. I hope one day we can take them back to her orphanage so they can appreciate all they have. Although we will not be taking Sophie back any time soon. If she goes into the country (I believe) between the ages of 17-21, she could be drafted in the Russian army and have to serve 2 years...and there's nothing the US can do since Russia considers her a Russian citizen...for life. Even though she is an American citizen, she does have dual citizenship but the US doesn't really recognize it.
Anyways, Sophie started dance this summer and OH MY WORD- it is adorable! She's not that bad either (considering she doesn't have anyone at home to model how to be "dainty". She's going to start gymnastics soon and our family keeps laughing because she is built just like a little Russian gymnasts, has NO fear and can do a lot of things already. Yes, we are shooting for the Olympics over here!!! Sophie is starting soccer this year and I can't wait to see that! It should be hysterical. She is one of 2 girls on the team, which will be great since she is surrounded by boys all the time. The boys have taught her all kinds of wonderful things like, booty shaking, under arm tooting, and my favorite-"cup check"...NOT! The day she does it to a kid in her class will be the day i send in my Dad, Scott, and my 2 brothers in for the conference. Why do guys think that is so funny?
Our 2 year post placement report is coming up next month. I just hope that us sending it to Russia will somehow show that adoptions with the US IS safe, beneficial and A MUST!!! Gotta get those babies a home!!!!! Keep praying for these orphans....they need it! Here's some pics of Sophie:
A new normal-that's what we are calling our life now! It's great, it's hard, it's tiring, it's rewarding, it's fun, it's crazy, it's messy, it's unorganized, it's loud and it's home! God blessed our home this fall! He's continuing to bless us everyday. We just need to stop and soak that in sometimes. Thank you for all the prayers, emails, letters, meals, words of encouragement and sometimes being just an ear!
This past year and a half has been a whirlwind. We've been home with Sophie now for 46 days and it seems like a lifetime ago we were in Siberia for our 1st of 3 trips! This time has really flown by and I sometimes need to remind myself that it's only been 46 days! Meaning, Sophie has been in America for only 46 days! See where I'm going here? I'm pumping myself up and willing myself to take it easy on her and myself if things don't go according to MY plan! Ha! That's where I get tangled up in this web...it's not MY plan at all!! Although, I need a lot of reminders that God's plan is to prosper us and give us a hope and a future and not that we are stuck in toddler you-know-what! Seriously, this little spitfire is full of energy and she's going to tell us who's the boss!
In Russia, and even on our first few days at home, Sophie was this sweet little cuddle bug that was showing NO signs of the fact that she is 1) a toddler 2)a girl (I've heard about how little girls show some attitude early...but this early?) and 3) an orphan. Wow! We hit the jackpot, other than a few sleeping issues, we had it made. Then, life happened! I think she realized we weren't going anywhere and she didn't have to put on a show for us to keep her around! I am glad her true personality finally arose! She is so full of energy that Scott and I just get tired watching her. She doesn't sit still for a second...not even in the grocery cart (how many positions can a 20 month old sit in in the cart?) She has personality that makes her cheeks glow, her nose crinkle and her eyes squint and she uses it to her advantage....and it totally works (for her Daddy that is!).
Yes, speaking of Scott, you would think Santa Claus and every famous cartoon character walked in the door when Sophie sees him! It's so cute it's nauseating! Sorry, Bud, but really, how in love can one small person be with someone she's only known for a short period of time? He says it's his turn for the spotlight since all of our boys are momma's boys (I don't think so, but, ok!). Well, he's got it! To the point that when he is home, she is attached at the hip with him. If I'm in the same vicinity of him with her, she completely ignores me and almost gives me this look like, "ha ha, he's mine!" So funny! I can't wait for those teenage years! I tend to be more of the disciplinarian with Sophie since I am with her all day. At first, when I would tell her no, she would put her hands over her face and cry like she was embarrassed. Now, it doesn't phase her when I say no. She does mind me though when I say no, so that's huge! But I told Scott the other day he needs to be more stern with her or she will walk all over us. So after dinner one night, Sophie proceeds to stand on the side table in the living room. I told Bud to tell her no. So he says, "no, no". OH, WHATEVER! Say it like you mean it! So she does it again and he sternly said, "no!" Oh, the flood gates opened and Miss Hollywood made her appearance! The next part is the funniest! So what does Scott say," I'm not doing that again, " and grabbed her and said, "come here baby girl." Oh, ooh, ugh! Yes, he is getting a little more stern with her but in her eyes, Daddy can do no wrong! Me, she's a fair weathered fan (kind of like me and Baylor).
So since we've been home, we've had to test her for EVERYTHING under the sun. So far, every test has come back great except for her TB test. It came back positive which means she's been exposed to it. She had a chest X-ray and it was clear which means she'll have to take this antibiotic everyday for 9 months! Yikes, that's a long time! She'll also most likely have positive TB tests for the rest of her life, poor thing. Not that she has it, but will have to get chest x-rays ever time she gets a TB test just to prove she doesn't have it. Or, it will be negative. The docs are still unsure about this one. All of the rest of her blood work looks good. Poor child, I don't think she has any blood left in her little body. The worst part is collecting the poo! Yep, poo! I have had to do it 4 times now! The last 2 times, the lab did something wrong and not all the tests were run so we had to do it again! I just turned in our last sample yesterday. So help me, if they call and say they messed it up again, I am taking her to the lab and making them do it! I had a tough time not tossing my cookies last time! The more "people" food she eats, the more....well, enough said!
We are taking her for her well check next week and I'm so anxious to see how she's grown. She had gained 5 lbs as of two weeks ago which is great! However, she's still below the 10th percentile in everything!
I do get a lot of people in the grocery store and Target ( our favorite outing...we go at least twice a week just to get out of the house) tell me how much she looks like her mommy! So funny, I'd love to tell them but just laugh! I love taking Sophie new places because every where we go is a first for her. Again, I'm not too sure how much outside time they had in the orphanage, but every time we are out and see a bird or dog, she goes crazy! The other day we all went to YoWay and outside were two dogs. She got so excited she started crying and went a little crazy. It's like one of those Funniest Home Videos when the parents tell the kids they are going to Disney World and they get so excited they start crying! It was hilarious! Some dog show was on TV the other day and she did the same thing. It's so cute!
All in all, Sophie is adjusting beautifully and probably better than we expected. OK,way more than we expected! She sleeps 12 hours or more at night and takes a great 2 hour nap during the day...with hardly any trouble. She finally allowed me to cuddle and rock her to sleep yesterday which is a HUGE praise! She's not big on cuddling but I've read that will come in time. One of the hardest things is when she gets hurt, she won't allow us to hold her and calm her down. She's learned that in the past no one came to her when she cried and got hurt so this is new to her. It's so hard not being able to console her. Believe me though, I try. I squeeze her and just listen to her scream. Sorry baby girl, but momma's gonna hold you!! She has her moments where I'll try and analyze why she is doing this type of behavior. Is it again, 1)she's a toddler 2) she's a girl, or 3) she's an orphan. Sadly to say, a lot of what we see is probably because of #3 but we'll get through it! I need to remember that in her short 20 month span of life, she has gone through more pain and hardship than I can ever imagine!
God gave us this beautiful, I mean, BEAUTIFUL (see, I can say that and not sound conceited because she's not biologically mine) baby girl. How did we get so lucky and blessed! What makes us so special that He gave us this gift? It sometimes baffles me. I am not a Sally-homemaker type of mom. I'm just an average mom with 3 wonderful boys, a wonderful husband and family. God must think we're something because, man, we are so blessed!
Well, it's been well over a week and we are all pretty much settled in. Sophie is doing amazingly well adjusting to her brothers, us and the time change. She really hasn't thrown us any curve balls...yet!
Let's start with the plane ride home. I've had many of you ask how that went. Well, let's see, the first flight from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow was at 10 p.m. and you can imagine what a 1 year old does at 10 pm if they aren't asleep. Yep, scream! It was horrible. Scott had to bounce her in the back of the plane for most of our flight. We had rude stares and snarls from the passengers, especially when we tried to lie her down on the floor to sleep. Luckily, we knew it was only a 5 1/2 hour flight and then we were in Moscow. Once we arrived in Moscow, it was really 2 am (her time) but actually it was about 9:30 pm. The drive to our hotel knocked her out! She was out cold through check in, undressing her in her pj's and lying her down to sleep. She slept all night and woke up once. Thankfully, this was going to be a preview of what was to come. Yes, she is a great sleeper. At first she woke up once at night because she looses her pacifier, but now, she soothes herself back to sleep.
That next morning (at 7:15!!!) the doctor came in a checked her out for her Embassy appointment the following day. In the 10 minutes he was there he said how he knew she was a favorite in the orphanage and she knew how to get people's attention. He also said she needs to move to Hollywood! She is a bit of a drama queen...kind of like her mama:)
We hung out in the hotel that day and just let her roam the halls. We stayed in a very nice Marriot Hotel-Tverskaya! Highly recommend for other families!
The Embassy appointment the following day was a bit of a struggle. It was cold and rainy that day too so we weren't allowed to do any sightseeing (Huge bummer!) We were told Embassy would take about 15-20 minutes total, but there were about 8 or 9 families there which made it last an hour and a half! It was painful! All Sophie wanted to do was fly down some stairs and when she doesn't get her way, you better hold your ears and push the record button on the camera! It does make me laugh a little to see someone so tiny be SO dramatic!
Our flight back to the US left the next day around noon. We were pleased to find 2 other adoptive families on our flight. One who sat right in front of us (yeah!) and another from Arlington who we go to know pretty well and are so thankful we are experiencing this together! Sophie actually did really well on the flight other than she only slept about 1 1/2 hours out of 11! It made for a LONG day. There was a sweet Russian grandmother who sat next to us. She grabbed Sophie from us and rocked her to sleep and continued to hold her for the next hour. SWEET! At first I was a little concerned about the whole thing, but by the end of the flight, that sweet woman put the other 2 babies to sleep as well. She was like the baby whisperer! Oh, we also had a drunk Russian man grab our baby and take her to the back of the plane to visit his buddies. Yes, you heard me right. It was awkward but I guess that's just their culture. They have NO boundaries! Scott's responses was, "where's he going to take her?" OK, I'll trust!
So all in all, she did great with the traveling. The flight from D.C. was a little rough but the entry into the Austin airport made it so worth it! The second my foot hit the escalator I burst into tears seeing our boys, family and friends who have all had a huge part in our journey. I tried as hard as I could to hold back the tears, but it just wasn't workin'! I let it flow!
The boys have taken an immediate liking to Sophie, especially Jake. She really is drawn to Jake and he was the first one she let hug and kiss on her. Tyler's been the sweet sensitive one and alerts us if he thinks Sophie needs our attention and Brady has been such an awesome big brother. A bit of a shock for us, but he has matured SO much. Almost to the point of making me a little sad that he has grown up so quick!
We are having a few power struggles with her, like not allowing her to go in certain rooms, play with knives, you know, the "safety" things, which throw her into a fit, but she bounces back quick! Just distract he with another toy (hello ADD) and she forgets what's she's upset about. We had a little bit of trouble with her falling asleep but know have learned to stay in the room until she falls asleep so she knows we aren't going anywhere!
I sometimes look at her and think does her biological mom have any idea how precious she is! I find myself thanking her a lot throughout the day and also realize I will probably never get to thank her. But this little bundle of giggles and dimples has changed me and my family forever!
So, these first few weeks we were supposed to "nest" with her and allow only Scott and I to feed her put her to sleep, pick her up, etc....however, I was in the ER all day Saturday with a slipped disk in my upper back/neck area! Yes, of all times for this to happen. I can hardly pick my baby up so we are know counting on grandparents and great grandma to help us through this time. I went to the doctor today and am going to get the steroid injections and get in touch with a neuro surgeon to see where to go from here (no surgery...if possible). So if you could keep my in your prayers I'd appreciate it. I'm having a hard time knowing that this special time we should be having bonding with one another is being tainted. Well, tainted isn't the correct word, but you get the idea. I need to let go and let God take control over this situation, because, Lord knows, I have tried! I can't do it alone! Literally!