Where to begin?
First – Merry Christmas!
Second – my brain. and my heart.
Last – UV
UV has lived with us for 8+ days now… and these have been the longest eight days of my life. Possibly even “longer” than the first week with my newborn son (James not Joseph… first time mom, you know…).
Every single day I have an inner monologue that goes something like this.
“Ok today I am going to find out more about his stay. I am going to call someone, and I am going to have a real conversation through a translator. I can’t keep sitting here with this kid and not knowing how he’s feeling here. I really need to know. I mean, is he eating ok? Does the food upset his stomach? I’m not stalking him in the bathroom – he’s 14 for goodness sake! How is he sleeping? Is he comfortable? He seems to pass out pretty hard, but again, not stalking… trying to be close but also give him his space. I better call that translator. How are we going to survive four weeks like this? I mean he speaks like NO ENGLISH. I talk ALL THE TIME. What. The. Heck. Ok. Deep breaths. Time to get out of bed.”
(yep, all in my head while still in bed)
I know, I know… anxiety doesn’t help. But seriously. This has been a challenge!
But here’s the thing. This is NOT a challenging kid – at ALL! He has been a wonderful blessing to our family. He was an INSTANT best friend to our almost three-year-old son, and he just loves on the 4-month-old baby like it’s always been HIS little baby.
He is learning English SO FAST that my internal dialogue is almost instantly wiped away the minute we start our day. (Thank God!)
He is a perfectionist, in the best way. He works hard until something is done. He loves puzzles (knocked out a 100-piece in like 30 minutes, the 500-piece takes a little longer, but he’s so close!). He adores his Legos and has displayed his many creations for us. He is an artist. He paints well, but he most impressed me with cut-out paper snowflakes. Our house looks like the apartment in “Elf” after Buddy decorated.
But alas, my heart. My heart is so sensitive. I feel like I could be someone out of an old novel. Little Women? Jane Eyre? I don’t know.
My heart was breaking yesterday, on Christmas morning. I just could NOT stop thinking about how MUCH I love this day and sharing this day and my gifts with my sweet, precious children. Cultural differences aside, I kept wondering if UV had ever celebrated a “real” Christmas with his family. When did he last see them? Are his parents even alive? What about his siblings? (here goes the brain again… asking a stream of questions to which I may never have an answer…) … is this his first Christmas with a “complete” family? Mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, cousins… has this ever happened before for UV?
How many of us roll our eyes when we think about ANOTHER Christmas with the family? Or ANOTHER party? Or ANOTHER get-together? I’m guilty. I have absolutely been there.
Well, talk about a new perspective.
My heart was so full of love and joy and gratitude yesterday. And my heart was simultaneously breaking open.
I read somewhere once (probably one of the many Christian Instagram accounts I follow) that sometimes when we start to TRULY surrender and open our hearts and minds to Jesus, that it can be really uncomfortable. Because we’re not used to letting go. Not having control. It hurts.
Well, mine hurts. Mind, body, soul.
But perhaps that’s progress?
I mean, if we feel like this was a calling from God, and we’ve been blessed to add UV into our family for these four weeks, and he’s been SO WONDERFUL (I mean, what 14-year-old boy who speaks NO English just goes and cleans his room… STEPH he calls me. Yes?! Come. OK! I come up and he’s SO PROUD of his made bed, his clothes hanging in the closet. I’m thrilled, of course. Proud host mom!), and my heart starts to hurt… maybe that’s progress. Maybe that’s me FINALLY letting go a little.
Gosh, it’s a scary prospect.
Ok, enough about me… let me share a few more of my favorite moments over this last week.
- He learned my name. I told him he had to stop tapping me on the shoulder or whistling to get my attention. I said “My name is Stephanie, you can call me Steph.” He hasn’t stopped saying Steph since. And he figured out how to spell it. So my name is written everywhere. I feel like I’m back in middle school and he is doodling my name in his notebook. (ALL THE HEART EYE EMOJIS)
- He’s more comfortable each day. Adapting. Eating when he wants (we keep fruit and snacks out and available), as much as he wants, and then some. He’s a little obsessed with Blue Bell Cookies and Cream ice cream… so… sorry orphanage people, you may have some withdrawals to deal with… he asks, “Gelato??” (yes, he speaks Italian! We communicate this way a lot more than in Ukrainian)
- He wouldn’t wear his new clothes. I couldn’t figure out why. Then, I went in with scissors and cut off ALL THE TAGS. He instantly began putting together outfits (and cleaning up, see above). I don’t think he really believed they were his.
- He loves riding bikes and playing outside. He pulls James around (high-speed!) in his wagon. I love seeing them laugh and smile together.
He is super respectful, kind, patient, and smart. He is learning fast and blooming more each day. I love watching him love on my husband and kids. I got my first good night kiss last night. Cue tears.
I pray for discernment about what is to come. I pray that when we have to say goodbye I don’t fall into a deep depression. I pray that if we decide we can’t adopt him for some reason that someone else will. I pray for guidance in all of these things and more. Please pray for us, too. I can feel them. I know you’re doing it. I need you to continue. Sustain me, friends!
Merry Christmas. xo
PS – a quote that popped into my head… out of nowhere!
“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I can’t begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But… […] I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy.” – Silver Linings Playbook