Monday, August 8, 2011

One year adoption report...It's long, folks

Exactly one year ago today, a very tired John Urban arrived at the airport with the two newest and littlest Urban children. In some ways the year has flown by, and in others it has dragged on forever. I remember going into this adoption thinking of how Ava had grown and thrived and progressed.  I was sure---SO SURE--- that Joseph and Zoya's transition and progress would be just as wonderful. I tried to have realistic expectations, really I did.

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
*HIV positive
*severe speech delays
*feeding tube
*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.


ErinL said...

Love, Love, Love this update!

Anonymous said...

"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." You so eloquently stated what I've felt since we adopted our children 9 years ago. Although we didn't realize their cognitive disabilities at the time, we always have felt they are such a blessing. Thanks for being so honest while also living the love God has for us, through your children.

oma said...

Wish I could have gotten through that blog without crying. It was worth the tears. You really have a way with words and I'm thankful you can share the pain as well as the joy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You have chosen some special kids, and have been chosen yourselves to do this task. May each day you feel the Lord's Grace as you live life to the fullest!! Your Dad and I are proud of you all!!

Timothy said...

Your perspective, I might add, is pretty close to the same observations we had and we watched those 3 when you went to Orlando Fla. Thanks for giving us a chance to do One on One with them

Shea said...

I remember discussing the fas with you while you were in Ukraine. We both knew it was a real possibility. I also knew she was meant to be yours just like my O was. Sometimes......the alphabet soup just doesn't matter. Just so you know fas/fae was the only special need we did not feel equipped to handle. God knew better though....

Christi said...

I love reading posts like this about my little cousins! I like hearing about what they are like and what they are up to! Love you.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! It is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I so appreciate your honesty, and oh yes, you do have your hands full. But, I've never seen any family more suited for this job. You're not only helping these precious kids, but you're mentoring a lot of prospective adoptive parents. I know they appreciate your blogs; the joys and the pains. Your family is so special. Love you all, Aunt Sharon

Sandi said...

I'm getting all teary eyed reading this update. Wow. What a wonderful year for both your kids, your family AND all of us whom your heart has ministered to.

That #2 for Joseph just hit me so hard because I remember when you first posted him and the hose love/fascination at the orphanage.

We are so close to choosing adoption and it is purely because you have softened our hearts. Much love!

kirsten said...

I always cry when I read your sweet, precious blog. You & John are "parents of the Year"!

Kelly said...

Charissa, What a beautiful post! You are amazing!
I can attest to you that feeding issues are like none other. No one gets it. And there is no quick fix. Dealing with my daughters has really taken its toll on me too. I required antidepressants for a time. So I can sympathise with you in the biggest way when you say "and that as a result I would see a side of myself that I wish I never would have seen."
It is so stinking hard!

Finding Balance mommy said...

Continuing to pray for your family! Thanks for the update. So amazed at your heart for your children.

JennyH said...

awe- I love them both. They sound SO sweet. I loved hearing an update. Hope your school year goes smooth.

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Somewhere Behind the Morning said...

I am right there with your! Our "physical needs only" child turned into an emotionally disturbed/FAS child with lots of problems. But, I am still grateful. :) And, our DS daughter has blossomed more than we EVER thought possible!!

Jo's Corner said...

Hi Urbans! Thanks for the update! Although it's sounds like lots of struggles, your love for Z&J comes through loud and clear! There is a reason WE don't get to know what our future holds, huh? I am happy that you didn't know! Zoya is so beautiful and she deserved to have YOUR family become hers! All of the kids look so happy. And, each of them are beautiful. Joseph is so cute in the photo with the water hose! Ha! Lil' Stinker! When did Zoya have her 2nd palate surgery? And, was it successful this time? I will Pray specifically for healing for her eating issues. I was anorexic in my late teens and I have seen the pain in my Mother's eyes when I would/could not eat.
By the time you read this comment, the kids will likely be in school. I hope that gives you some time to regroup and take care of You! Momma's need to be happy & healthy for their babies and you've got lots of them!
Hug all of those sweet kids for me! Love ~ Jo

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a chance to check your blog in a while, but thank you so much for the updates on the beautiful Urban kids... Your boys look so grown up! I loved your post on Joseph and Zoya. I feel the exact same way about my bio daughter, if I had known the laundry list of diagnoses we would be dealing with I think I would have said, Um, sorry God you must be thinking of someone much stronger than I to be her Mom. I feel for you with the OCD, ADHD, and health challenges. It can feel neverending and exhausting... we are only human after all. There are times, I think "i can't do this anymore!" but then they do something that is so uniquely them, that brings you such joy and you remember just how much you love them all over again. You have an amazing family. :)

Jorge Everardo Vivanco Topete said...

I knew about the Urban's yesterday from Tim and Roberta. This morning I preached at my local church showing that being a christian is not to memorize the bible by verse, but giving as they do.......