Thursday, June 16, 2016

Worn Part 1

I have so much to write.  So many things to share.  I have been hesitant to write the truth about some of the difficulties we have encountered as I don't want to scare people from adopting an older child. I don't want our friends and family to judge Ariya nor our decision to adopt her.  I decided that I will tell our story and be honest about the good as well as the bad.
Shortly after court Thad had to fly home so he could care for our other kids.  When my mom and I went to officially take Ariya out of the orphanage a large part of the staff was all there to see her off.  I could hear her coming down the stairs and I couldn't wait to see her reaction.  You know, where she runs from the worker's hands and into my arms.  Where she exudes love and gratitude and where all the staff see how much she loves her new mom.  WRONG!  Ha!  She came down those stairs, took one look and me and stopped in her tracks, shook her head "no" and turned around to go back upstairs!  The staff didn't quite know what to do or say!  Luckily my mom had brought a small doll that I was able to use as bribery!  We said our goodbyes to the staff and were on our way back to the apartment.  The night went well with her and we had a decent sleep and the next morning we had to leave early for the 4 hr. express train to Kiev.  This is where things started to get hard for me.
We got ourselves settled on the train easily enough but after a short time Ariya started becoming a challenge.  She can swear (in Russian) better than a sailor.  Her favorite choices are translated to "F off" and "bi*ch"  She also has flipping the bird mastered.  Our train ride was about 3 hours of her shouting those words, hitting and kicking, and just general naughtyness.  I was very embarrassed.  That was a feeling I would become very familiar with.  The next couple of days I admit were hard.  Hard for me, hard for her.  I have read all sorts of blogs and books about behavior issues that can accompany adoption.  I was prepared and ready to handle anything.  I was wrong.  I had adopted
an uncaged wild animal.  At least that's what it felt like.  In the apartment she was wild.  She would bang on the walls, jump on the bed, throw things.  She would hit, slap, kick, bite and spit. I couldn't get her to settle at night so I would sit on the edge of the bed so she would stay there and she would kick me and bite so hard we broke the skin.  I truly wanted to run and get away from her.  I wanted to bring her back to the orphanage.  I was scared.
When we left the apartment and went walking she was a little better - at least toward me.  She let me hold her hand so she wouldn't run off and she would walk fairly nicely.  However she continued to spit and passersby or cars, she would kick at people walking by, she would reach out and try to swipe at them, all the while flipping the bird and cursing.  Loudly.
One good thing is that when we went out to eat she would be good.  She sat quietly and ate anything I ordered her.
We fell into a routine of being out as much as we could.  She would ask to walk and so that's what we would do.   She started being a little easier to handle.  Days were decent, nights were a little harder but we started to figure each other out.  Our last day in Kiev was another very bad day.  She had reached her limits and she couldn't keep it in anymore.  She cried and cried.  She refused to walk while out.  She crawled around the ground barking like a dog,  We survived our Embassy visits and Dr. visits but barely.  Close crowded areas don't make for an easy environment to contain her in.  I dreaded taking her home.  I like my routines.  I like respectful children.  I like order and I like my sleep.   When Ariya would see other children in Ukraine she would not be kind.  She would spit at them, try and push them, be a bit of a bully.  I was afraid of how she would treat Sienna and Ember.
One night I was having a particularly bad pity party.  I was filled with regret and exhaustion.  I listened to a song that spoke to how I was feeling.

Click to hear music file

Here are the lyrics:
I’m tired, I’m worn

My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win

Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

I know I need

To lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

My prayers are wearing thin

I’m worn
Even before the day begins
I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So Heaven come and flood my eyes

Yes, all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though, I’m worn
I’m worn

I would listen and listen to this after Ariya fell asleep, feeling sorry for myself.  What had I done?  What was going to become of my peaceful household?  Later I opened my email from a very wise individual.  In reading what he wrote, while sympathizing with me and reassuring me he also pointed out some things that helped put things in perspective.  Imagine how Ariya was feeling.  She had been taken from place she lived and was familiar and brought to another strange place where she didn't know anyone.  She had to establish herself in the pecking order of a new orphanage.  Learn a new routine.  Not only that but some weird people keep visiting.  She can't understand a word they say.  They want to invade her personal space.  To make matters worse one day these strange talking people take her away once again and she is expected to stay with them and be happy about it.  She can't understand us.  We can not understand her.  She has no way to communicate her wants, her fears, her needs, nothing.  I would act out too.  I would probably bite, scream, hit, etc.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

One less

Much has happened since we said our temporary goodbye to Ariya last week.  First I will get to the meat of the message then I will fill in the details of the past few days.
Today (6/1) we had court.  Court went so smoothly and we were awarded the honor of being Ariya's parents.  The 10 day wait has also been waived which means our time in Ukraine will be that much shorter.
Pre-court selfie

We now begin the 2nd stage of the adoption which is gathering a new birth certificate, passport, medical exams, Embassy visits for a Visa, etc.  Basically lots of running around!  As of today we officially have a new Senti!

Secretly taken court room pics!

Rewind to yesterday.  We flew back to Ukraine and arrived late Monday night.  Tues. we went to visit Ariya for the first time in a week.  I was nervous!  She had not yet become super comfortable with us yet.  Would she remember us?  Would she still have to be forced to come see us?  Well I need not have worried.  As we waited outside the staff brought her out to us.  She saw us, took a second and then ran down the stairs and into Thad's arms.  It was a beautiful thing.  She then gave me a hug and we all had a glorious group hug.  My mom is on this trip too so even she was granted some notice by Ariya.  We had a great hr. long visit until she decided to be done with us.  The visit was full of great things.  We saw many facets of her from affection, to stubbornness to laughter and silliness to defiance.  When she was saying goodbye to us she asked if we could take her with us in the car.  I wish we could have right then and there.  Little does she know that will happen soon enough!

Our apartment in Krivoy Rog

It has been such a good couple of days!  Tomorrow we start early again with much driving and paperwork.  I don't know if we will have the chance to see Ariya tomorrow but I hope so!  I want to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers so far.  They have been heard and they have been felt.  This adoption is so clearly a work of our Father.  His hand is in every step.  We're so lucky!