I'll start with this girl really is wonderful. She is funny, adorable, dramatic, quirky, and sharp. She is super observant, has a perfect memory of little things, and doesn't miss a beat.
But, just for anyone who thinks adoption is all hugs, kisses, butterflies, and gotcha day videos, the thing I didn't expect in this adoption process was that for the first three months home, I don't think I could honestly always says about her "This girl is wonderful." Those months were tough. I wanted to feel love, affection, and adoration for this sweet little girl, but I just didn't. I tried to fake it, but even my efforts at that probably failed. I'm sure Ivelina could tell most days that I was frazzled, stressed out, and irritated with her. There were many moments that I hated, and there are so many moments that I wish I could take back. Moments I hope we both forget.
I'm happy to say that this fifth month in her forever home has been the best yet! Ivelina is making such great strides in every part of her new life. I will detail just a few for you:
1.) School: Ivelina is doing so well in the Moorhouse Home School. She understands the positive reward system we have in place, and because she is regulating her behavior so much better, she is learning so much more! She can recognize all 26 capital letters now and about half of the lower case letters. She can count to 10 and recognize numbers 0-10. She knows all her colors, and she is quickly learning to recognize basic geometric shapes. Writing is her most challenging area, but she has come a long way with tracing. She loves books. She loves learning about the human body and animals. We are so proud of her hard work!
2.) Evaluations: We are still trying to get Ivelina evaluated. This month she completed her psycho-educational testing at the local elementary school. The day before Thanksgiving we will have a meeting to discuss the results of all the testing. Like most special needs parents, we long for a label. We want to know for sure exactly what Ivie's special needs are so that we can locate the professionals and the resources that will best help her. However, I suspect for some reason that the battery of tests they performed on her simply will not suffice. I feel like there are many internalized issues Ivie may have that are a product of her previous environment. These deficits simply won't register on the tests the school system performs. How do you label a deficit of parental love or a delay in physical touch or a lack of security or a deep-seated sadness? It's tough. Still, we are looking forward to discussing the results and trying to get her started with some therapy that we think will help her academically.
3.) Attachment: I have had a particularly good month for attachment with Ivie. Before adopting, I never expected me to have difficulties in attachment. I knew Ivelina would have a hard time, but I underestimated the importance of me and Jeremy attaching to her. After all the waiting and hard work to bring her home, I just thought we would naturally and automatically be ready to love her. That has been tougher than we thought, but this an area where I have seen God work in big ways! Just the other day, I went shopping with my mom all day while Jeremy stayed home with Ivelina. Normally, these moments when I can get out alone are a breath of fresh air. I feel relieved to get away and be able to drive in peace and quiet. That particular day while driving home I found myself really missing my people. I had been away for several hours, and I couldn't wait to see Jeremy and Ivelina and show them what I picked up in town. I actually missed Ivelina and couldn't wait to get home to spend some time playing with her. That was a big change for me! These changes in affections, changes in attitudes, changes in feelings have been happening more and more. I know love is not all about feelings and emotions, but it sure is an answered prayer for me to feel like a mom and feel a motherly love and adoration for my child.
4.) Language: Wow! We are impressed and amazed at this child's ability to learn English. She now repeats everything we say. She is using longer, more complex sentences. She is asking for specific things and voicing her opinions on things. She is using days of the week to describe when things will happen. She is specifying things by describing their color and shape and location. She is learning how to answer questions appropriately although she still needs a little help with that. She is learning people's names, names of places we frequent; she knows a simple prayer and she knows a few simple songs. She still has a few words that she hardly ever says in English like the word for love and the word for play. She has many words that she says both languages side-by-side. For example, she always says toy igrachki and shoe obuvki together. Most of her sentences are Englarian, or a mixture of Bulgarian and English. She says "All done liagane" for all done with nap and "Next Sunday, ella tuk little church" for talking about how we will come to small group again next Sunday. It really is nice to be able to communicate better now.
- During bath time, she almost always wants to talk to me about her old home. She mentions her friends (and a few enemies) from her orphanage, and she can answer many of the questions I ask her about her old life.
- Ivelina also prays for her friends from her old home to get new mamas and tatys. I help her pray for them. It is sad and sweet all at the same time.
- Her new favorite word is probably. However, she stutters this word horribly. It sounds something like "Mama, pro, po, prob, probab, po, probably after nap I can play with baby dolls?"
- This girl will do about anything for a sucker or a piece of gum. I am not ashamed to admit this is how I motivate her to behave half the time!
- Loves to eat salad, chili, hotdogs, chocolate, cereal, cornbread muffins, toast with butter, eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and bananas. She is starting to develop her own likes and dislikes. She currently does not like potatoes, cheese, peas, green beans, and corn. She comes into the kitchen to inspect the counter to see what I'm cooking, and if she spots a food she doesn't like, she politely says, "No thank you potatoes." It's cute. I don't totally cater to her preferences, but I try to make sure every meal contains something that I know she will eat and like.
- She blames our dog Josey for everything.
- She loves for Jeremy to pat her on the back and say "good job."
- She loves for Taty to sit on the floor and play with her and her blue monkey.
- She is such a lover of routine! We have many routines for different parts of the day. At nap time she recites the routine, "First pee-pee in the toilet then one hour nap. Two blankets, music, fish lights on." At meals "Every finish lunch then candy."
- Every morning when I am heading off to work, she hates to see me go. Lately, she's been acting like a little mama though by reminding me to get my coat and my water bottle and kiss her good bye and kiss Josey goodbye. Then she recites the routine. "Mama work, Taty school. Then mama comes home after nap time! Ivelina will be happy!"
- We love the way she tells us that she stepped on something. She says, "Ivelina step-a-ta block." Or, complaining about the dog, "Josey step-a-ta Ivelina's blanket"
- She loves animals. Loves seeing animal shows on TV. For some reason she always asks if the animal has a stinky back. Makes me laugh. I usually respond, "I don't know Ivelina. I have never smelled a tiger's back." Or fill in the blank with any other animal she is viewing.
- She LOVES church! She dances to the music like she's in da club. She definitely doesn't get her dance ability from us! She calls our corporate worship "Big Church" and our small gospel community get togethers "Little Church."
- She's getting more southern by the day. The other day she said in all English, "I can't git it." I just laughed and thought...geesh, do I really say "git?"
- Everyone is complimenting her hair these days. It is gorgeous! Thick, dark brown, and shiny. It's getting long enough to almost push behind her ears. Her favorite way to wear it around the house is with a stretchy headband. I'm so jealous of that hair!
Happy five months home, Ivelina.
|January 2014, Bulgaria|
|Halloween 2014, home|