Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13

One year ago today, we first laid eyes on our beautiful daughter:
She was dressed up waiting for us and thought we were there for hosting purposes.  Which was technically true.  But what she didn't know was that from the moment we saw her photo in a file, we knew she was ours.
Ruslana's SDA file photo
Yes, our initial paperwork only approved us to age 8, and she was 10, and I wasn't quite old enough to adopt her, but we knew she was ours.  So while we waited on paperwork changes to get her official referral, we went to her orphanage to set up a hosting program, "coincidentally" being able to meet her in the process.  I remember walking in Mark told me that he felt like he was looking at his long lost daughter.  She was beautiful.  She smiled and beamed every time we looked at her.  She hit a balloon around with us and was mesmerized with our facilitator's camera. We couldn't communicate using words, but we knew she was ours.

A few days later, on February 20th, with her official referral in hand, we sat in the director's office and waited for the orphanage lawyer to pick her up from school.  We were told that on the drive back she asked the lawyer if someone had come to adopt her.  The lawyer replied "da" (yes).  She came in wearing her school uniform and her hair fixed in a high pony tail.  As soon as she saw us she lit up.  They asked her if she wanted us to be her parents, and she said "DAAAAA!!!"  I'll never forget this incredible moment for the rest of my life.
After spending a total of two months in-country, we had lots of bonding:
 and finally came home!
What's funny about the adoption process is you always think that the step you are in is hard and that somehow once you get to the next one it will be easier.  At first you complain about the paperwork.  Then you get in-country and think you're going to die over the foreign smells, dirty (and often not hot) water, and that darn futon bed that leaves you crippled.  The spiritual attacks are unreal, but you stay strong and bring that child home.  Ahh...finally your home.  Now the hard stuff is over, right?  Wrong.  Yes, you've got your new addition in toe, and you're basking in your bed (that's suddenly the most comfortable in the whole world), but what you often don't hear about is how dang hard it is adjusting.  Somehow you naively think that taking a child out of their home country and exposing them to a new language, people, food, bed, smells, and just about everything you can think of will be easy because it's "better."  While I thought I was going to die (or at the very least go into early labor with Levi) in country, the first few months home were actually much worse in lots of ways.  To be frank, we were completely overwhelmed and in survivor mode.  Add a newborn to the mix three months later and you've got one chaotic household.  But you know what?  It started to get easier.  We started adjusting.  Behavior started to improve. We grew immensely in love and trust.  And here we are, ten months later with our darling daughter.  Our sweet Ruslana with a heart of gold, a zest for life, active as the energizer bunny, and spunk that rivals mine (oh no).  She is home, and she is loved.  She's ours.
Here's to a year of immense stretching, growing in love and patience, and true thankfulness.  God knew what He was doing when He put that photo in front of us (when it really shouldn't have been shown) and how thankful we are that we said yes and so did she!  We love you, Ruslana, and always will.  We can't wait to watch your continued growth in the years to come.

10 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your first year! Love this blog and know all too well the ups and downs of how that first year can be. Much love and prayers to your beautiful family.

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    1. Thank you, Elliott, for your continued support, prayers, and transparency throughout the entire process! We love your blog!

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  2. This made me so happy!! Love "completely overwhelmed and in survivor mode." Oh my, we all were. I love seeing how all of our babies have flourished. So blessed!!

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    1. Prudence, it seems like just yesterday your first appointment was spent changing your age range and how disappointing it was. Here we are a year later with beautiful kids! Oh, and I have to say, it's a little relieving to hear that you guys were a little overwhelmed too! ha!

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  3. Congrats to you for working through the hard stuff and holding on !! It is worth it!

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  4. I love love love your blog! She is so sweet! Please dont leave blogging! Congrstulations ruslana!

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    1. Thank you, Candela! I love your sweet comments.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your story. My husband and I started following your blog last fall when we turned in our application to adopt a sibling group from Ukraine. We have had many ups and downs with our Home Study and Dossier processing not to mention the unrest in Ukraine. We are getting ready to turn in our Dossier in a couple of weeks. Your story has given us hope. Thank you again for sharing!

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