It’s been nearly one year since we met Christopher and Lena, and so I thought it would be fun to post some updates on ALL the kiddos. (Plus, I have to put together a report for the Ukrainian Embassy, so I might as well start thinking in this direction.)
|The first picture we saw of him|
When we met Christopher, he was incredibly shy. In fact, when they brought him and Lena into the orphanage director’s office to meet us for the first time, he literally hid behind his sister. (Which wasn’t easy, since she was bone-thin and weighed about as much as our 18-month old at the time.)
|The snapshot my friend Jess sent me when she met him about 4 months before we traveled|
|The day we met him|
Based on the first few weeks I knew this boy, I thought he was going to be our moody child. He could kind of take me or leave me, and although he loved to be swung around and ride on Daddy’s back and shoulders, he was also content to ignore us and sit drawing by himself. He was taking everything in through the filter of that furrowed brow.
The first several months home were bumpy. I kind of felt like he was feeling out whether or not to trust me, and attachment was definitely not instant. Communication was difficult, and hours were spent daily, translating things through Google Translate, just so we could get through basic things. Christopher needed to be taught things like house rules, family roles, and gender roles as well. The boys and girls at the orphanage all played with the same toys, slept in the same room, and wore the same clothes. I distinctly remember the day – not long after we got the kids home – when I turned around and my almost six-year-old son was dressed in a tutu, dress-up shoes, butterfly wings, and a princess crown, sporting a purse, and talking in a high-pitched voice with a huge smile on his face.
I quickly loaded all five kids into the van and made my first outting by myself with them since having the two newbies home. I drove straight to the Dollar store and we loaded up the buggy with every last boyish dress-up item we could find. The boys came home with a stash of pirate paraphernalia, guns, swords, cowboy clothes.
For months, he was my quietest child. His favorite thing to do was sit and draw. He would ride quietly in the van, hardly making conversation. Just listening and looking out the window. He wasn’t unhappy. Just quiet. Taking it all in. I would wonder daily what was going through that mind of his. I could tell he was sharp as a tack.
We had a lot of growing pains as we went through teaching him about what lying is. And that lying is wrong. Every time. I grew frustrated each time we would come home from his friend Alik’s house, and I’d find a small toy hidden in his pocket, or stashed in his toy bin – stolen from his friend’s stash… we had to teach him that stealing is wrong, too. Every time.
|Helping Daddy build the benches for our new table|
But boy, is he a different child now! If Christopher is anything, he’s a jokester. And a HUGE talker. I hardly remember those quiet days in the minivan. Now I have to tell him that it’s time to play the quiet game. Almost every mealtime I’m having to tell him 5 minutes into the meal to stop talking and start eating. Christopher loves to laugh and loves it even more when someone thinks he is funny. He is still shy around people he doesn’t know very well, but he loves attention.
|Sporting his tie and shades for his sister’s tea party birthday|
He also loves playing with cars, trains, and especially army men. His Daddy taught him how to set up strategic battles and now it’s one of his favorite things to do. He loves to play ‘soccer ball’ at church, which to him refers to both soccer and to volley ball.
|Showing off his muscles|
Speaking of church, he loves to wear his tie almost every week – and was especially excited this past Sunday when I surprised him and added a second tie to his collection. He loves to tuck in his shirt and pretend he’s the preacher.
He’s a big helper around the house and – most days – does his chores quickly and happily. He knows he’s a part of a family. And that the job he does helps all of us – and I am quick to give him praise and thank-yous for taking out the bathroom garbage and sweeping the kitchen… and especially for killing and disposing of any bugs he finds indoors.
And he still loves to draw. He’s quite the artist, in fact. Which I love, since it was one of my favorite hobbies growing up as well.
In a lot of ways, it seems like he’s been home way longer than a year. He’s definitely a Hazleton. And a blessing!
|One Year Home (almost)|