THREE MONTHS HOME!
I can't believe it, but three months have passed since my mother-in-law, myself and one small Ukrainian landed on U.S. soil. It was a crazy trip with 3 layovers and over 24 hours of travel, but we made it. I was so grateful to have the help as traveling with a child who doesn't understand what is happening and it excited to maximize his new-found freedom is... challenging. CPS was NOT waiting for us in Chicago (where we went through customs) much to my surprise based on the struggle it was to get Kanoa to put his seat belt on for landing, but we made it!
The reunion with Paki and the kids was awesome! They had "met" Kanoa through Facetime throughout the 3 weeks we waited for Kanoa's passport in Kiev. We walked through the door at Paki's grandmother's where everyone was waiting for us and he easily accepted a hug from his new daddy and siblings! It was better than we expected and we were thrilled that this first hurdle was a win!
I was so grateful to be home and have the parenting support of Paki. Those weeks in Ukraine trying to adjust with Kanoa were very hard and took a lot out of me. I was angry, frustrated, resentful, and at the end of my rope. This is also part of the reason I have not said much up until this point. I had/have a lot of things that I am working through.
|Celebrating Kale'a's belated birthday a week after we got home. Kitty Cat theme, if you couldn't tell. :)|
As for Kanoa, he is doing great. We've made huge progress with his behavior, emotional out-bursts, and language. Once he gets going talking, it's hard to make him stop! Having our next two children so close in age as him has helped tremendously. He imitates their interactions and words, and they are helping him with his pronunciation. While I was in Ukraine, I was able to observe a "session" with Kanoa and the orphanage psychologist with my interpreter. The psychologist took him through some exercises and problem solving/identification scenarios. At one point she said, "Maybe he will be better at sports." I was irritated that she would say something like this in front of him. Now that he's been home for 3 months, knows some of his letters and can count to 15 in English (he was unable to count to 5 in his native language without help and knew NO letters), I want to go back and yell at that woman that these children just need a chance to learn!
|First visit to the Aquarium|
The things that Kanoa has learned and developed in just the last 3 months shows how much a child needs a family to fully develop to their potential. I am amazed at the simple things in life we take for granted. Things that Kanoa was not afforded or never given the opportunity to experience. So as we continue to integrate Kanoa in our family and adjust to all the changes, we continue to be amazed at the plan the God designed in family and children. We are relying daily on God's strength and pray for wisdom and creativity to meet each challenge.
|First time making s'mores, around a fire, on the beach. We had to cut him off after 2 s'mores!|
Here are some things I have learned in the past 3 months:
1. Love is not instant and if we rely on our emotions for it, we will be disappointed. Love is a choice.
2. If you think you're a good person, godly person, or generally on the up and up... adopt. You will quickly see the true ugliness in your heart, and it will scare you. I have never been so aware of my own sinfulness and need for a savior than in the last 3 months.
3. Expectations are yours. You are responsible for what you determine them to be and how you will react when they are or are not met. Expectations need to change, often.
4. Forgiveness brings redemption and redemption brings freedom. In that freedom, we are able to love.
5. When to walk away and when the battle is worth fighting. There has been much "dying on swords" in our house over the last 3 months. We soon realized there are certain things that we just need to let go of and adjust that expectation to a spot further down the line. This has not been easy.
6. Costco memberships are worth their weight in gold. Kanoa can out eat Paki most days... I'm scared of the teenage years!
So please keep us in your prayers. We have our good days and bad days, but for each step backwards, we can still clearly see God's hand reaching out to pull us through to that next step forward. As a dear friend told me today, "As parents, we're not just raising our children to be 'good', we're shaping their hearts to follow God."