Yesterday Kyla was officially "home" for three weeks. Three weeks that in some ways have spanned ages and in others have passed in the wink of an eye.
I apologize for the silence in the meantime. I am still amazed by the number of people who have walked this journey with us...cried with us, rejoiced with us, prayed for us. Thank YOU for caring. It means more than you can imagine.
So......NO, the plane did not go down and we are not stuck in a holding pattern above Moscow. We made it home and the story did not end--in many ways it just got started! In some sense the recent silence alone should be a loud enough story. The first week was simultaneously pretty amazing and pretty rough. In retrospect it really wasn't as bad as I perceived it to be but as the author of these memoirs there was a good reason that the keys stopped typing.
We arrived home late Tuesday night (Nov. 27th) after 24 straight hours of travel. Kyla did beautifully. Incredible, actually. When we walked in the door of her new home there were signs up to welcome her and Remington and Karis were ecstatic to meet their new little sister. Our living room was quickly transformed into a play room as Karis searched every nook and cranny of our home for dolls, stuffed animals, tea party pieces... whatever she could think of as she took on the "very serious" role of big sister. Remington decided that hugs and kisses were his love language of choice but Kyla was not so sure about that welcome tactic. In spite of all the commercial entertainment items (and the brotherly affections) the highlight of the evening was a large cardboard box that the three of them turned into a train car as they marched around chanting "choo choo" in Kyla's Russian accent. It was a great, albeit it VERY late, night.
The kids stayed home from school on Wednesday to spend the day with Kyla. It was a great day. It snowed, we made cookies, Christmas music went on, the tree went up, Kyla laughed readily. It was good to be home!
Another thing I learned in the past few weeks is something that I already knew but that is always nice to be reminded of... I have an absolutely incredible, patient, loving, fun, compassionate and gracious husband. Thank you, Neil! You are a rock.
So how's Kyla doing? She is awesome. She is funny, joyful, smart, ornery, determined, independent, curious, playful. She is a gift to our family. She amazes us with what she is capable of doing and she is picking up English quickly. She speaks a funny mix of English and Russian at this point...Russlish we call it. She loves her sister and she shows great sympathy toward her baby brother when he falls yet has no problem scolding him when he is making a mess pulling things out of drawers. She was slowest to warm up to Remington (who absolutely adores her) but it has been fun watching that relationship improve with each passing week. She loves bananas, boiled eggs, almonds, peeled cucumbers and corn dogs but won't touch ice cream or pizza!!! She throws an impressive Oscar-award winning tantrum but thankfully the tantrums are short in duration and time-outs work beautifully (thank you, thank you-not sure what we would do if that weren't the case). The time-outs started on an old pew by our front door but we quickly realized that with as much as she was being plopped on there she may learn to hate sitting in a pew for years to come so we have since changed to a fairly uncomfortable decorative chair ("pointless furniture" according to Neil) as her new spot. Fortunately the time outs have also been fewer and fewer with each passing day. A couple other areas of praise: we had our first post-adoption visit from our social worker last week. She came to check in on Kyla and on us. She was amazed with how well Kyla was doing and how "bonded" she appeared to be to us (thank goodness she didn't ask about the corn dog diet!) We also had Kyla's first visit to the pediatrician and everything appears to be great--her heart, lungs, legs, skin, behavior... the doctor said she looks amazingly healthy!
So yes, not only are we surviving but we are finally starting to see that we are thriving. Even in the midst of the "yuck", and actually mainly there, we are growing in ways that we couldn't have imagined. I have mentioned before that people often tell us how blessed Kyla is to have a family, how great it is that we have "saved an orphan". As I watch our family change, as I experience so unequivocally my inability to have everything "in control" and as I learn that that has always been the case even in the midst of my "controlled" denial I see that adoption is not just about the orphan child but really about the orphan soul. Life without parents is the recognized definition of an orphan but living life as if I don't have a parent, a Father, that is totally and utterly in love with me and who would give and has given up everything for me... that is the orphan who is truly being saved in this process. I am far more often the orphan than I realize. Watching Kyla struggle to trust us and then seeing glimpses of that trust break through her fiercely independent exterior shows me a picture that I desperately need to see and learn to embrace....but that is fodder for a whole other post.
It's now time for bed. Let's hope the whole clan sleeps through the night...
Thank you, again, for traveling this journey with us.