Sunday, May 10, 2009

We made it!

Both home and through the first 24 hours or so of being a family of 6! LOL

The flights home went really well. The girls did pretty good on the flights, although Emily spent about 3 hours crying on the flight from Frankfurt to Chicago. She was supposed to be resting and had no real desire to do that. She didn't seem to be disturbing any of the other passengers so we pretty much let it go. By the final flight to St Louis, both of the girls were getting pretty loopy. Not too surprising since they had been up for 20 hours!

Waiting at the Kyiv airport
Waiting at the Frankfurt airport

The newest US citizens in our house (check out their cute bows!)

My mom and the boys picked us up at the St Louis airport. We got the girls home and the biggest problem was getting the boys to leave them alone! We fed the girls a small dinner then put them to bed. Bedtime actually went pretty well, all things considered. The past few nights with the girls they had been doing a lot of rocking side to side. We had been hesitant to try to correct this because it is common for children who have been institutionalized to do these types of self-stimulation/self-comfort behaviors, but this didn't seem to be the type of rocking that I had read about and seemed to be more designed to keep them awake. So our first night home, when the girls started rocking, I went in and told them no. When it continued, Danielle was disciplined and then a little later Emily--twice. Not only did the rocking stop, but tonight when they went to bed Danielle did not rock at all and Emily stopped after one verbal reminder. I think my hunch was right that this is not a subconcious behavior. We'll see how it plays out as things go on. I don't want to expect them to change behaviors that they literally cannot, but I also don't want to allow them to continue behaviors that they can change. We're just playing it by ear right now to see what they need.

Today we went to the playground twice and the girls had a really good day. We had a couple of meltdowns but very mild compared to the boys' after we brought them home. I seem to remember that the boys' tantrums increased in intensity after a little while home as they started testing more boundaries and that may be the case with the girls too. All of the kids have been playing together really well which is great.

We'll be staying pretty close to home and not entertaining any visitors for the first month or so home just to help solidify our relationship with the girls, in particular Emily. That girl would gladly go to anyone who would pick her up--not because she's searching for a new mom but because she loves to be held! We're encouraging her to do a lot of walking. Both of the girls have very low muscle tone and need a lot of exercise and play.

Tomorrow I will be calling the pediatrician and hopefully we will be able to get in this week or next to get things started. We've already scheduled Emily's team meeting (end of May) and cleft palate surgery (end of June) and we need to get a jump on Danielle's strabismus (crossed/lazy eye). We don't think her strabismus is too severe but I think it may be giving her problems with her depth perception, which also increases her difficulty with walking. One thing at a time, right? :)

Oh, for Mother's Day one of my presents from Mark was the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen." I asked him if that was a hint... ;)


Anonymous said...

The girls look great! Hope all goes well with the transitioning to being in a family.
Dr. Oscar Cruz at SLU did my last strabismus surgery. Adults, as it turns out, who had the problem when young sometimes develop it again when the old eyes change in middle age. Anyway, since you are a SLU family I thought you'd be going there for the strabismus problem, just know he is the best!! I wish he'd done my 2 surgeries when i was younger! I hope he is still there for you.


The Flying Eagle said...

Happiest mothers day wishes to you :-) We are so happy that everything has worked out so wonderfully!!!! The girls look so happy and I can not image how excited the boys are! We will be counting the days until we can come and visit !!

adoptedthree said...

The girls look so happy! Congratulations and have fun.

If you need any advice or questions about Cleft surgeries feel free to email me at

Julie said...

Happy Mother's Day you wonderful beautiful mom you!

Have I told you yet how excited and happy I am for you? Well, I am!

Diana said...

Looks like you got the best Mother's Day present ever! Happy bonding!

Leslie G said...

So happy to see you safely home.


DoveFamily said...

Welcome home!! I can't wait to see a picture of all 6 of you together :)

Kevin and Tammy said...

So glad you are home. Enjoy your time. We will pray for smooth transitioning.

Tami said...

Welcome home! The girls look sp happy! :) Praying for a smooth transition.

Erin said...

So glad you made it safely! And I'm glad that the girls (and the boys) are settling in well. Quick question (and no offense is meant by this, I'm just curious) - what kind of "discipline" did you use for the rocking that the girls were using? I know you said that you believe in the consequences fitting the infraction, and I'm just wondering what consequence you used? Thanks!

adopting2fromUkraine said...

Welcome home! Our daughter did not sleep one wink on the 10 hour flight from Kiev. She slept on the flight from NY to Atlanta, then in the Atlanta airport and on the flight home. The last two flights weren't much more than an hour each. She then didn't get to sleep at home until 2am and woke up at 7am! Mom was exhausted.

Blessings on your new expanded family!:)


schoolmother said...

Welcome home!
Joy, RR

Katie said...

Happy Belated Mother's Day - so glad you guys got home safe and sound - and a family of 6!! Holy cow!!
Just thrilled for you guys - what an awesome family...

Tonya said...

Welcome home!

I hardy-har-har'ed at Mark's idea of a mothers day gift:):):).

And good for you for putting a stop to those behaviors that can be corrected. Your kids will thank you:).

Erin said...

Thanks, Courtney. It sounds like everyone is settling in really well. And congrats on the new van...when are you heading back to get more kids? :)

Sheryl said...

So glad you all seem to be doing well. My daughter was born with a cleft palate. It was repaired at 14 months. She had a few minor speech problems when she was 4-5. She had speech therapy in Kindergarten. She has some hearing loss. However, she is very nosey and talkative, so people never realize she has a hearing loss. It is only a slight one. I was wondering about feeding, speech issues with your daughter. What is UA response to children with cleft palates?

Anonymous said...

Hi Courtney, It's Sherri Crandell..I've been intrigued by your blog adoption story and after catching up this morning something caught my attention and I wanted to share. Our two oldest granddaughters were adopted from Russia. Natalie came home to us at the age of 18 months and Miss Lily was 7 months. Natalie will be 10 in August and she's the one I want to share something with you about. Natalie has always had need for the "orphanage rock"...even to this day. It has become less and less over the years but she still needs to rock herself to sleep or back to sleep. Realizing why she came to us with this self stimulation need broke our hearts. We found out immediately that a gentle touch, a hand on her back would stop the rocking and she'd drift off to sleep. Of course, you can't do this everynight or when ever she starts rocking. But even Friday night she slept over and had settled down into the princess bed in our room (a chaise lounge)..we'd read for about 20 minutes and I knew she was exhausted. Lights out and it wasn't 2 minutes I heard her rocking...I simply got up, laid my hand on her back very gently, told her I loved her...rocking stopped and she fell instantly asleep. I share this with you because I doubt very much if your precious new daughter can release this need, what has been her major source of comfort while alone, with a demand to stop. Right now, as you know, she's doing everything in her little being to please and to adjust...if mommy says no to rocking, than she'll force herself to comply..the urge might be greater than her wanting to "obey" and thus create some huge frustrations.
I share all this with you with love and from a grandma's heart. We hope and pray over Natalie that someday she'll be able to relax and let go...otherwise, she's going to need some really understanding hubby! ha!
God bless your family.