Friday, August 24, 2012

One Month Down And A Lifetime To Go!

It has been one glorious month since we walked out of a baby home in Arkhangelsk, Russia with our miracle.  Daniel is learning things so quickly that it makes my head spin.  And we have had to figure some things out fast, too.  Like if you miss that precious window of opportunity between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm to lay him down for a nap, we'd best just buckle up for a long and bumpy afternoon, evening and night.  We have figured out our little man is a slow waker-upper, but if you just let him wallow around for a few minutes, he will sit up on his knees, put his little hands on his little legs, give you a sleepy grin and say, "Hi!".  That "Hi" is not just a precious greeting, it is permission for us to pounce on him and shower him with the hugs and kisses that we've had to hold in for the ten hours while he slept.  (Although, sometimes, we get to sneak in a few very tender and quiet ones when we check on him at night)  We've learned that all three of sleep so much better if every man, woman and child is in his or her respective sleeping postition.  Mommy and Daddy in their bed and Daniel in his!  We've learned that Daniel does not like to be told no, but if you give him a minute, he bounces back to his usually playful and pleasant personality.  We have learned that if Brock comes home from work and quietly stands in the familly room until Daniel notices him, we get a delightful cheer and a two-year old charge!  But more than anything, we have learned even more fully that every good and perfect gift really is from God.  My very first Daniel hug came five months ago, and at that moment my only thought was, "This little boy is going to heal my heart."  I had no idea.  The patter of little feet-or should I say pounding of little feet (for 23 pounds, he is one heavy walker!) the music of his little laugh, and the supreme joy of discovering a whole new day has added such depth and richness to our lives.  Our gift is indeed perfect.

We have also learned some new Russian words.  Now, I'm not completely sure if it's true Russian or if it's Daniel's Russian, but what is communication except the ability to understand one another?  No one else in the world may get our fabulous mix of Russ-lish, but our family is making it work!  When Daniel first came home, he loved men.  He wanted the opportunity to be held by every man he saw, and he called most of them, "Daddy".  But we noticed that he would either point or go to Brock and say, "Dom Daddy."  At first we had to ask each other if our son just called his father "Dumb Daddy".  But then when we would tell him "Die" (I'll explain in a minute) for his monkey, he would throw his Obesyana (monkey-that one is certifiably Russian) over his shoulder and say "Dom!"  So, using our deductive reasoning skills, we quickly figured out that "Dom" must mean something like "Mine!"  So, every man was Daddy, but Brock was "My Daddy".  In other equally confusing Russian to English terms, if you ever see us out and about and we tell our son, "Die", we do not need child protective services called on us.  In Russian-again, this one is confirmed-"Die" means "Give".  So we are not suddenly unhappy and wishing that we never adopted-nothing could be further from the truth-we are simply telling Daniel to hand over that which could hurt him, injure us or require unnecessary headache if he spilled his juice cup on it.  Also, saying good-bye takes a little longer these days as Daniel likes to show that he is a bilingual boy.  "Bye-Bye" in Russian is "Paca Paca".  Our Daniel likes to say "Paca, Paca, Bye, Bye Bye" as if we were raising a Backstreet Boy.   We have also figured out the word for a bird.  So, please, please, please, if you ever see our son point to the sky and yell "TeeTee's" at the top of his lungs, know that he is simply a fan of fowl. We have not taught him to point out something he will undoubtedly figure out on his own when he is a teenager, I promise!  In other animal terms, Daniel likes to point out our back door and yell, "BACA!"  "Sebaca" is dog, so we've figured out that our son likes to yell "OG!" a lot.  If we ever leave and he wants to tell the "bacas" bye, he says, "Paca Paca, Baca Baca!"  Terribly adorable!

In addition to us learning a few Daniel words, he has learned some English, too.  He knows and can say with perfect clarity, purple and blue.  The other colors he's not so interested in right now.  If I count (and I'm counting a lot these days-one, two, three, two, three, two, three toys-you get the idea) I can get to, "One, two..." and I'm usually rewarded with an exuberant "EEEE!" "Please" is "Pesssss" and "Help" is the very quietly whispered word, "Elm".  I have no idea where that comes from.  He can "Huh, Huh, Huh", "Ull, Ull, Ull" and "Puh, Puh, Puh" all day long, but put those sounds together and out comes, "Elm".  I guess if it's a serious emergency, he might yell out, "Birch!" or something. 

His favorite game right now is to take the brightly colored afghan I made during the waiting season (Brock affectionately calls it the 747 coozie as it turned out a little bigger than what I wanted, but I digress!) He pulls it off the loveseat, covers his head, (and usually sticks his hand out to curl his fingers in a "come here") and starts singing "Coo-Coo".  All those toys we have and he's happy with yarn  and boxes.  We made a tent with the coozie the other day and you would have thought Christmas came early!  My favorite game is to tell Daniel, "Whew! That was close!" because I'm rewarded with his little hand wiping across his face while he says, "Phwaa!"  I don't think I'll ever get tired of that one!

A close second is something that has been in our house for years.  Every so often, when Brock is getting ready, he will look in the mirror and with his cheesiest voice say, "You good lookin' guy, don't you ever die.  You know that right!"  Charming, right?  So, last week we were doing our after breakfast routine.  Vitamins (nasty, liquid foul smelling stuff-really Daniel?  You'll eat that, but you won't touch hot dogs?!) then we brush our teeth. Then Daniel puts both hands behind his back while I wash his face, at which point he then offers each of his hands one at a time to be washed, too.  So, I got a wild idea and stood him up on the counter, turned him to the mirror, and showed him how to point his index fingers.  Then, the "You good lookin' guy, don't you ever die.  You know that's right!"  He thought it was hilarious, but now I've created a monster.  Every single time we get done brushing his teeth and washing his face and hands, he pops up, faces the mirror and points his fingers.  I then get the look like "Wellll, what are we waiting for?!"

Yesterday the most amazing thing happened.  We were helping Daddy at his office and it was almost time for us to go home for nap and lunch (we dare not miss the nap!) Daddy told Daniel that he loved him so much and Daniel responded with the sweetest, most perfect, "I wumv Daddeee".  What a perfect moment!  I did get my "I wumv Mommmeeeee" only a few moments later.  It was a moment that will be etched into our memory for the rest of our lives.  What a perfect gift! God is so good to us! Daniel has exceeded our every dream!  My mom asked, tongue in cheek, if Daniel has already been worth the wait and everything we went through to get to this point.  "Oh absolutely!"  "So, everything else is just gravy!"  You know how moms say that when the doctor puts their child in their arms they forget all about the hardships of pregnancy and the pain of the labor?  That's precisely how I feel! And another miracle is that there is not even a small part of me that feels cheated out of the first two and a half years of Daniel's life.  There's only gratitude that we get to be there for the rest of it!  Every single moment was worth it.  Every uncomfortable ride to Russia.  Every heartbreak, every setback.  Our prayer is still that Roman will find a forever family and we love that we had the chance to meet him and make a difference for him, but there is not a doubt in our minds that Daniel was the one who was meant to come home first.  Who knows what the future holds for our family or how God will add to it?  God alone does and for this moment, I won't try to figure it out, I'll just enjoy the gifts He has lavished on us for this season!  I'm am exceedinly grateful for the spirit of perseverance that was given to us so that we didn't quit too soon and miss out on too much!  To borrow a song quote from Chris Rice, "My souls wells up with hallelujahs!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Life As We Know It

We have been parents for 8 days...I think.  I've never been so tired.  Or so incredibly happy.  The first two days were absolutely perfect in every possible way.  I am convinced that if we had opened the windows in Arkhangelsk, bluebirds would have flown in, singing a merry song-to which we all would have harmonized beautifully-and helped us dress.  Deer and bunnies would have been frolicking in the halls leaping over colorful flowers.  The air smelled sweeter, our hearts were lighter.  Life was divinely perfect.

And then came Day Three.

It wasn't terrible by any means, but some of the new had worn off and the ineviatble exhaustion had set in.  We found out that our precious little two year old is a bit of a bear if he gets too over-tired.  It's nothing terrbily abnormal and it is certainly attitudes that we had seen before, but for Day Three, I missed our angel!  I found myself on my knees several times begging for wisdom to find that perfect balance between establishing boundaries and overcompensating for the his previous lack of unconditional parental love.  He has most assuredly been testing both of us to find out who the boss is.  And we have been learning his rhythms, too.  I am exceedingly grateful for the advice that we received about isolating ourselves for a little while we get our bearings.  I am at perfect peace that this season of adjusting is new and none of the three of us have anything figured out yet.  But we are a team and we are working on it. 

Daniel was an incredible trooper traveling to his new forever home.  He fell asleep in my arms as we took off in Moscow, and, as the wheels of the plane lifted and tucked themselves underneath, Brock and I let a few tears of utter relief seep out.  All the waiting and uncertainity were over and we, all three of us, were going home.  Daniel alternated on the plane between going to the restroom and sleeping.  In the nine hours on the plane, he had to use the restroom no fewer than 12 times.  We would get him still and quiet in the seat between us and tell him, in Russian, to close his eyes and go to sleep.  Then he would stiffen up, place his hand on his backside and give a frantic, "Kah Kah".  Brock, being the parent on the aisle, would carry him to the lavatory and our dutiful son would squint his eyes, thus still obeying the "close your eyes" instructions.  It was precious.  We landed in New York at 12:20 PM EST and at that precise moment, Daniel Wayne Williams became an American citizen. Thankfull we had no  problems and customs and immigration was a breeze.  We had one more short flight and we would be greeted by our family.  We were in the home stretch....we thought.  After navigating the horrific lines in the Delta terminal with our suitcases and a very sleepy little man, we found out that our flight had been cancelled due to inclimate weather.  It's amazing to me that we took off in January in the Artic Circle in Russia with temperatures dropping near -28 F without an issue, but a little rain stopped us stateside.  But then again with 46 adoption flights, one cancellation isn't too bad.  Brock and I just gave a weary laugh.  What would our life be like without the hiccups along the way?  We found a hotel, and Daniel barely made it through his dinner of Cheerios-a staple at this point-before crashing into eight hours of solid, healing sleep.  Naturally, due to the previous day's cancelled flights the airport was insane in the morning.  We met several new friends and Proud Papa Brock couldn't help but announce to anyone who would listen that this was Daniel Wayne Williams's first full day in America.  And Daniel was all too pleased to show off for his new audience.  He wouldn't touch anyone he didn't know-and if they tried, he'd furrow his brow, stick his thumb in his mouth and turn his head-but he was all to pleased to wave and watch to make sure everyone was watching his tricks. Our theroy was to wear him out before getting on the plane so he would sleep and it worked.  He was out in my arms shortly after take off.  Of course, almost everyone on the plane knew his story by the time we landed and, as we were sitting in the first row behind first class, every single passenger got a big smile and a "Paca Paca" (bye bye) when we were deplaning. 

In the airport just past the security line, we saw red white and blue balloons, a sign, five huge smiles and even a few discreet tears.  Daniel greeted every single one of his new family with a big kiss.  Right smack dab on the mouth.  Several times.  (Since then we have taught him how to blow his kisses and thankfully he finds that just as much fun!) We went to eat with everyone and he regaled us all with stories about his recent travels.  Or at least that's what I assume he was jabbering about.  Being that we still haven't gotten his particularities on his tastebuds worked out just yet, we ordered one of everything on the child's menu hoping that something might work.  Nothing did.  I am convinced that Jesus did a fish and loaves kinda miracle on the Cheerios while we were gone, because that small stash I took to Russia lasted us the entire week.  That and blueberry Fig Newton cookies.  After the food had all been tried and rejected, he was playing with his Uncle Robb and Aunt Pam with his crayons.  It was the best game in the world!  He would put the crayons in Uncle Robb's hand and then take them out and put them on the table and he couldn't have been more excited about it!  Some of the paper came off the crayon and we have discovered that Daniel is also very particular about trash. 

When we were in a hotel somewhere in the world, Daniel had dropped a Cheerio on the floor.  He went to pick it up and I told him "Nit!" and I showed him that he could throw it in the potty and flush it. He LOVES to flush the potty.  No sooner had the paper come off the crayon than he squirmed to get out of his booster seat and he made a beeline for the bathroom he had already visited twice.  He loves loves loves to wash his hands so anytime he has anything in the reservoir, he likes to potty.  So, with crayon paper in his hand, without looking back to make sure anyone was following he made his beeline, went to the toilet, dropped the paper in and flushed.  Uh-oh!  We are going to have to get some locks on the toilet and teach him what a trash can is!  We have learned that he says "Kah Kah" for trash.  And "Kah-Kah" for poop.  And "Kah Kah" for book. (Brock says he must have been reading crappy, trashy books!  He insisted I give him credit for that joke-as if I wanted to take any for myself!!) I am sure that to the trained ear there is a discernable difference between the words, but to our inexperienced ears there is not.  We have learned that "Kah-Kah" with one hand on his backside means he needs to go potty...STAT! and "Kah-Kah" with a smile is usually a book and "Kah-Kah" with a snarl means trash, or a fleck of something small somewhere it ought not be.  He is learning that, "Come here" with arms out means he's about to get a huge bear hug and "Come here" with one hand out means he should follow us, and "Come here" from the other room means, "You are being too quiet and I need to know what you are up to".  Not that he gets out of eyesight very much at all, but even Mommies have to "indisposed" moments. 

We have also learned that Daniel loves going downstairs to the basement, and if I need to say something to Brock about the downstairs, I have to spell it, or he grabs my hand and heads for the door.  Last night, we had to make an unnecessarily necessary trip to get one pair of socks because I slipped, said, "downstairs"  and he heard me and was ready to go.  He walks down the first six, holding my hand and the rail, stops, reaches up and turns on the light, and then takes the last six steps.  I've also learned that he is a huge help while I'm down there.  I hand him the wet clothes and he puts them in the dryer for me.  And then he helps me reload the washing maching by grunting and reaching to throw the clothes in the tub.  I show him the buttons to push to turn it on and his eyes light up every single time from the power he has to control that big white box.  He was a little perturbed yesterday when we had gotten all caught up on the laundry and there was nothing left to do.  It takes three times as long, but it is ten times more fun, so it's an excellent return!  

Our first night in our home was a magical one.  We had left a photo album with pictures of us and our home so when he arrived home it seemed like he knew it was home.  We mistakenly showed him his room that night and it took forever for him to go through all of the stuffed animals and toys we had out.  And those are only a fraction of the treasures he has!  We hid most of his other toys so he wouldn't go into overload mode.  He took every single single stuffed animal and lined them up just so on the floor and held his hands out and jumped up and down, pleased with his collection.  All yours buddy.  You don't have to share them with anyone.  These belong to you.  He still sleeps with his monkey though.  We have renamed it obesyana-or yana, Russian for monkey.  Another new favorite toy is Brock's chicken from his childhood.  It looks like a banana with red yarn hair.  Daniel sits on it's back, grabs the handles and flings himself seemingly recklessly through the house.  I say seemingly because, even though he is moving at the speed of light, he can turn that chicken on a dime and never touch a wall or piece of furniture.  My favorite part is watching him come to the end of the hall, slam on his brakes, Fred Flintstone style, throw that chicken in reverse, back it's booty into the bathroom doorway, turn around and zoom again.  All the while he is squealing in delight.  We had no idea we were getting such a proficient chicken driver.

As I said before he LOVES the water.  Daddy gave him a bath last night while I cleaned up the refused dinner offerings when Brock called that I had to come quick.  I raced in the bathroom to find Brock pouring a huge cup of water on Daniel's head.  He would lose his breath for just a moment, grin from ear to ear and then slap his own head twice to show that he wanted to play that game again.  Over and over and over.  He was so excited!  And so was Daniel! 

For the first time in a week, Daniel slept in his own bed last night.  I missed the little feet that would kick back on my shoulders and the little arms that would fling themselves across my face and the little bony booty that would catapult itself into my chest, but I think we all slept better.  When we were getting him ready for bed, I laid down with him to read him a book and Daddy came around the corner to check on us.  Daniel sat bolt upright, patted the bed on the other side of him, said, "My Daddy" and curled all of his fingers in a "come here" kinda way.  He wanted his whole family to hear the story.  I looked at both of my boys listening intently to Dr. Suess for a perfect moment.  I am so incredibly grateful for our little family.  I have a big man who is counting on me to be his partner and his friend and we have a little man who is counting on us to help him develop to become the man he was created to be.  For the very first time in my entire life I feel like I am doing exactly what I was designed to do. 


What an incredible and precious gift you have been to your Daddy and me already.  Our life has slowed down so much and I know that at the same time the years that we will have with you will go far too fast.  I know that I will make mistakes, but I hope you know that my deepest desire is to be the mommy you deserve.  I can't wait to see the plans that God has for you unfold and it is my deepest honor to get to be a part of those plans.  I love you more than I ever thought possible.  I love watching you learn new things and I love watching you take joy in simple things.  I love your giggles and smiles and I know that you are a happy little boy.  I love how stubborn you can be sometimes because it tells me that you have spunk and spirit.  I love how you play with us-you have brought so much joy to our home.  And I love when you play quietly by yourself, you keep checking to make sure we are still right there.  Rest assured, sweet boy, we will always be right here when you need us.  You are our miracle and this has been your story. 

All my love,