Those darn expectations will get you every time! Prospective adoptive parents, take note!
The truth is that a year ago we thought that 'all' Zoya would require was daily medication (no big deal) and a couple of surgeries on her mouth (also no big deal). We thought she would be the 'easy' one and Joseph would be the 'hard' one. Haha. That is funny to me now. Instead I look back on the past year and in many ways feel like a failure. We have worked so hard but have made little progress, it seems sometimes. I will blog about some of the specific challenges in a later post, but for now.......
Here are some things that we are glad we didn't know a year ago:
-That the only pediatric infectious disease doctor in town had just passed away, and we would have to drive four hours one way for doctor's appointments for all care related to HIV.
-That there was no cleft palate specialty team in town to speak of, and we'd have to take Zoya out of state multiple times for doctor's appointments and procedures
-That we would have a total of five surgeries the first year, with several more to come, and that the cleft surgery would fail and would have to be repeated less than a year later
-That her lack of therapy and intervention from her early childhood would result in such a severe speech impediment that almost nobody could understand her (except for Hope, who is an excellent translator!)
-That we would be faced with the most extreme feeding challenges including gagging, nausea and vomiting....and that as a result I would see a side of myself that I wish I never would have seen. (Apparently this is common with mothers of refusal-to-eat children)
-That even with a feeding tube administering approximately 1,900 calories a day, Zoya would still not gain weight or thrive
-That we would end up seeing about 12 specialists, multiple times in the first year, and a year later still not understand how she ticks and why she has so much trouble with eating and gaining weight, among other issues
-And of course, the fact that she would be diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome, ADD/ADHD, and that we would see firsthand just how many ways a mother can damage her unborn child through substance abuse
Now the reason I say these are things I'm glad we didn't know is this:
I am almost certain that if I had been presented with this list of 'hard-to place' qualities:
*older child institutionalized since birth
*drug and alcohol exposed
*Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
*severe speech delays
*failure to thrive
*cleft palate with multiple future surgeries required.......
.......Well I am pretty sure I would have said no thanks and told God that He should choose another family. I am glad He didn't let me know, because I am so glad to have my sweet Zoya. As crazy as our life has become managing ADD, communication, feeding and medical issues-she is STILL one of the sweetest and most wonderful little girls that I know! If you have met her I know you will attest to that. She is a blessing in our family and we are GLAD she is part of us.
These are some of the things we love about Zoya:
-She loves to smile and wave to complete strangers and shake their hands, even kiss their hands. I love seeing their facial expressions that mirror their melting hearts.
-The way she fake laughs when she is proud of an accomplishment
-The way that all you have to do is hand her a pair of old socks, and she will put them on her hands and start dusting the furniture (nice!)
-The way she loves to copy me, using the broom to sweep with, the Windex to wash windows with, and wet wipes to wipe little bottoms and toilet seats :)
-She randomly comes up to me and gives me the biggest bear hugs
-She has no reservations saying I love you to every person in our family
-She is clearly very secure here in our family and knows that she is loved.
-The fact that a year ago she was completely independent in everything, and now asks for my help-The fact that every night without fail she asks me to sing Jesus Loves Me to her
-The way she tries and tries to communicate, and doesn't give up until she is finally understood
Last week when I dropped her off at church I could not understand what she was trying to say. I kept trying to leave as we were running late, and she kept saying wait wait! (Hope wasn't there to translate) Finally I understood she was saying "I love Mommy and I love Daddy". How sweet is that. She didn't want me to leave until I knew that. Just tonight when I put some fresh sheets on her bed (we have to change her sheets daily because of the nightly tube feeding), she raised her hands up in the air, TOTALLY thrilled and said, "Yay, God!" :) I could go on and on about her sweetness, but there are just a couple of recent examples.
Joseph has been the 'easy' one after all. ALL of his medical tests have come back normal, even the ear problem turned out not to be a problem at all, other than needing ear tubes. I thank the Lord that Joseph has been so healthy because I'm not sure how much more our family could have handled in the medical department. And just like Zoya, he is a precious member of our family. My favorite thing about Joseph is his simple joy to be alive. He is pretty much content with anything (as long as his tummy is full.) :)
Here are some of the things we also love about Joseph:
1. The way he tries so hard to say 'sausage' because his dad won't give him a piece until he makes some sort of SOUND requesting it
2. The way his eyes light up when you say 'motorcycle'........ or 'school bus'....or 'water hose'
3. The way he tries so hard to be loving to the cat but ends up holding it upside down while he kisses it or squeezing it too tight in the process (Yeah, the cat is not too fond of Joseph lol)
4. Seeing the sheer joy on his face at the library or grocery store when the receipt starts to come out of the little machine, and the sheer disappointment when the receipt ends up being super short because we only bought one or two items. Hilarious. If you want to be entertained, come with me to the store for just two items. Better yet maybe I'll video tape it for you someday. :)
5. The way he squeals with excitement and runs to get his shoes when we tell him it's time to go to church or school
6.The way that he starts strumming an invisible guitar and bobbing his head at the sound of any beat
7.The fact that he would rather be in anybody's bed but his own
8. The fact that I can put all the leftover scraps in his dish, and he won't mind a bit. In fact he gives me the thumbs up as if to say, 'This is an awesome meal, Mom"
9. Watching his chubby little fingers work so hard as he tries so desperately to tie his own shoes
10. The way he puckers his lips and points to his cheek, indicating he wants me to bend down so he can kiss me
So there you have it, the last 12 months with our newest family members, in a nutshell.