Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blame it on the cold

...or the Nyquil ;)

After I got a few comments regarding attachment, I asked Mark (without rereading the blog post) if I had said something about Danielle already being attached to us. Um, yes, apparently I did.

"Danielle is pretty firmly attached already and cries anytime she thinks we might be leaving her somewhere else (and also puts a death grip on our necks or whatever else she can get hold of)."

Sorry, not at all what I meant to say, nor what I believe is going on with Danielle. That fog of plugged sinuses apparently had me living several months in the future. :) :) In reality, Danielle is making great progress towards attaching with us, but it will be several months before I could even venture to say that she has solid attachment--maybe longer, depending on how things go. She is doing really well, but I would definitely only characterize her place right now as--at best--insecure attachment. After all, she's only been with us for 2 weeks, and part of that was still in Ukraine.

I apologize for not answering the questions about the girls' names earlier. We are currently calling them Danielle Bogdana and Emily Ivanna, and transitioning to Danielle and Emily. Danielle will already answer to just "Danielle" and if you ask her where Danielle is (in Russian) she points to herself and says "ya!" (me) with a big smile. Emily is slowly beginning to respond to her name, but she never responded to Ivanna (or Ivanka, which she was called more often) in the orphanage so we knew we'd have an uphill battle there. She's never been expected to communicate at all--she's been treated as a total mental invalid for the first 3 years of her life. Don't get me wrong--her orphanage and staff were great. But they never treated her like a normal child and her social skills (and life skills) have suffered tremendously as a result. She is now learning that communication--not temper tantrums--get you things you want and we are seeing marked improvement in her behavior and ability to communicate.

The question was asked as to why we changed the girls' names and not the boys. The boys' names were changed too--they are Alexander Dimitri and Timothy Evgeniy--but we continued calling them by their nicknames once we came home. In hindsight, I wish we had changed what we called them. I think it would have been especially good for Dima to put some of his past behind him. I'm hoping to talk to the boys some about it this summer and let them choose what they would like to be called, but at this point I think it will be strictly their choice.


Journey to our Ukrainian Angel said...

Wow...that is totally how Georgiy was treated also, like a mental invalid. No surprise I guess since Emily and Georgiy were "groupa siblings" as I call them. He had zero communication skills, could not even drink out of a sippy cup or a bottle (all skills he does fine with now!)and tantrummed all.the.time.

Reading this really validates a lot of stuff for us, thank you. We had a hard time with G. at first, and for many of the same reasons. It makes me feel better that we are not alone.

Diana said...

You're a crack up! Hope you're feeling better. :-)

My youngest was clearly not an orphanage favorite, either. Neither of my kids were, actually. Knowing what I know now, I think they were deemed the "problems" by many and they were just happy to "get rid" of them. Very sad.

However, I will always be thankful to the person who knew enough about their background to register both my kids for adoption as soon as the courts terminated the birth mother's parental rights. Doing so meant they were actually only institutionalized for less than 18 months. Not that that somehow outweighs the damage that was done before they were institutionalized...but that is an entirely different story.

Even though my Matthew chattered pretty much non-stop ALL.THE.TIME when we first met him (and still does) he was still basically non-verbal and not speaking any language when he was adopted at 2.75 yrs old. He is still very speech delayed, but getting better all the time. One thing that really helped in the beginning was teaching sign rather than trying to get him to verbalize things in English. The most important thing is to get them interested in communicating using SOMETHING other than screaming. For many kids, sign is way less threatening and has proven to be a very effective bridge. Most libraries carry the "Signing Time" DVD series. Baby Einstein also has some really good ones. In fact, my DS like those better.

The name thing is quite interseting. Nor are there any right or wrong ways to do it. With our youngest, we kept part of his Ukrainian name (Ivan) as his middle name. However, he doesn't even recognize this as ever being his name. He still does recognize that he was Vanya, though...which is what I wish we'd gone with as his middle name, but things happened so fast that we honestly didn't really know was his nickname until after we'd already given him his new name.

With Joseph, he chose his own English name and has never looked back. We've called him by his English name ever since. We knew from the start that his Ukrainian name would have been absolutely slaughtered in English. Because of his speech issues (his are CP related) even in Ukraine, HE didn't pronounce his Ukrianian name correctly and HE now recognizes only the slaughtered English version of it. Long story short, we didn't keep any of his Ukrainian name, though we do still try to incorporate it as part of his identity. There are times I really wish we would have kept it as his middle name, and there are other times I'm glad we didn't. Either way, he knows and will continue to know that if he still desires to have his Ukrainian name of Nazari back as part of his legal name, we're more than happy to change it when he turns 18.

Courtney said...

Diana: Actually, the girls were two of the orphanage favorites. Absolutely everyone from the front guards to the kitchen staff knew their names, and Danielle knew most of their names as well. The problem is that Emily's groupa was only ever treated as babies--they never expect the children to have a future so they continue to treat them as infants (very well-loved infants!).

schoolmother said...

Isn't it interesting how our expectations of kids has such an effect on their skills. Sounds like the girls are both making good progress.

Erica said...

Congratulations on your adoption! I received a link to your blog from a friend who also traveled to Ukraine to adopt but like us, came home without a child. Both of our families visited your children in the orphanage! Unfortunately, the needs were more than we were prepared to deal with and we knew in our hearts that the girls were not meant to be ours - I have prayed everyday since Nov. 2007 for your children to find a forever family and I am so grateful to know that God has answered those prayers. The girls seem to fit great with your family and the children even seem to favor slightly. They look wonderful, healthy, and most of all loved and happy. My heart is just so full with joy in knowing that God has formed a new forever family for them!

When we visited the orphanage in Nov. 2007, Emily was in a walker and had absolutely no use of her legs and very little use of her arms. The caretakers doted heavily upon her and insisted that I feed her immediately when she started crying but then they didn't approve of the animal crackers that I had brought and wanted to know where the yogurt was. Emily was content with my just holding her and loving on her.

Danielle, on the other hand, wanted to play ball and eat the leaves on the green plants. She threw a tantrum wanting to go outside and play but there was snow everywhere and it was frigid, so playing outside definitely wasn't an option. She also enjoyed coloring, so we left her crayons and paper when we parted ways. The hardest moment of my life was saying goodbye to those beautiful little girls. The caretaker told Danielle to waive goodbye and say Momma and Poppa - my heart was broken because I knew that they were not the children meant for us as their needs were just more than we could handle. I remember holding little Emily and praying that God would bring them a family quickly. To my knowledge, 2 other families visited them after we did and they had to refuse the referral for the same reasons. God was saving these babies just for you! Please continue to blog about their progress as I will definitely continue to pray for them and for the rest of your family now that I know about you.

After a heartbreaking Ukrainian journey, we are currently waiting for a referral from Ethiopia. We are #1 on the list from our agency, so finding out about your family has really helped to heal my broken heart and allow me to move forward with a joyous spirit. We returned to the US on Thanksgiving Day 2007 and even today, I still have 2 suitcases packed and ready to go in my guest bedroom floor. I've tried to unpack them multiple times but couldn't for the tears that fell because I was so devastated about our adoption journey. These suitcases are filled with items for the children we were to adopt. Now, each morning as I go in and out of the room, I am reminded first to pray for your daughters and then for the rest of the orphans of the world who so desperately need families. Thank you for the love and home that you have provided for Danielle and Emily!

Molly C said...

I know a little boy who told everyone that he did NOT want to be called by his Russian name. He wanted to be called by his new american name because he didn't want to attach the old name with the memories of his new life. It will be interesting to see what the boys choose!