Tag Archives: Lena


Whew, we had a fun weekend! Our favorite Arizonans were in town. The McCoys, of course! We first met them in Ukraine and we had a nice lunch with them. I’ve always felt like we connected well with them. Both Kelly and Tori have been always very encouraging for us,when we’ve had some struggles. And, of course, Alina, Ilya and Lena are all buddies from the same baby house. We were so excited when we found out that they were coming into town, and we all just had a blast. Of course, the McCoy family also includes their 3 older boys. These three are just fantastic. They are such sweet boys, and wonderful with our kids. Carson especially had Lena’s heart and I think he might understand her Lena language better than I do!

I just love these three together.  I’d say that Lena might have been more into Alina’s brothers than Alina herself, but they did all play together. Reed and Alina really seem to enjoy playing together.  He was shy at first and then quickly warmed up and was yelling her name across the playground.

I also love being able to build a relationship with other adoptive families, especially in the case of kids who were together in the orphanage. We have so much to talk about. It’s also so cool to see a girl who I prayed for and so desperately wanted to find a family doing so well in her family.  It’s hard to believe how far the three of them have come in the last several months.

McCoys, thanks for visiting and come back soon! We miss you already!

Reed Ilya-isms

Playing “crocodile” with Papa:”No, don’t get her! She’s my sister! SHE’S MY SISTER!” (I think that’s the first time he’s ever called her that without being prompted.)

Out for a walk, talking about the sun: “I’m gonna climb, work really fast, open it up and put a geocache inside. I think the dogs cry if they go to the sun. Do you cry if you go to the sun, mama?”

Six Months Home

We’ve been home for six months today… woo hoo! Life has changed so much. It’s hard to see the progress all the time, but they’ve grown so much.

First night in their new home.

First whole day home… Christmas!

Seriously, I can’t believe we survived the last 6 months. At certain times, at least.

Taken a month ago, enjoying their first ice cream cones.

So far today, we’ve had a really good day. Actually, it’s been laughably ridiculous with crazy drivers and the stroller nearly rolling down the side of the levee. But, for the three of us, it’s been a good day.

Aaron had a talk with Reed (which Reed himself has decided he wants to be called with no pressure from us) and Lena, yesterday about the different kinds of people– family (describing the four of us), relatives, friends and strangers. He talked about how they need to check with us before interacting with strangers, etc. I always roll my eyes a bit. These conversations are usually about something I’ve told Aaron we struggled with during the day. And he’ll talk to them or just one of them, depending on what it was, and I see no improvement the next day. So I’m a bit jaded. Well, my mom paid a cleaning lady to come to our house today (thanks, mom!). We hadn’t met her before. Reed turns to me after seeing her and says “Mommy, can I say hi?” I am so impressed! He remembered and came up with the words to ask me! He also is usually painfully shy and just stares at new people, so this was great progress from both angles.

I watched some Christine Moers videos last night… such a good refresher course on parenting. My favorite and the one I tried out with my kids today, was this:

I tried it today… it works. I was shocked, but whispering to my kids made them focus on me even more. Eye contact and all. We were in the parking lot at the grocery store and I was trying to get Lena in her car seat. Reed was being a space cadet and starting to walk behind the car. ┬áIn my usual stern, moderate voice, “Reed, I need you to listen to me. Reed, I need you to listen to me.” And then I tried the whisper, “Reed I need you to listen to me (turns towards me and looks at me) and stay close to the car. ” “Okay.” I’m sold.

The Truth

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about adoption and attachment. Two things tonight really got me thinking– one was a great blog post by my friend Kelly and the other is a fantastic Facebook group for parents of hurting children by Courtney.

I’ve gotten plenty of advice on parenting over the last few months. I’ve heard comments about how my kids are doing very well considering, they’re just great children with all that they’ve been through, etc. On the flip side, I’ve also been warned that they have a lot of baggage and pretending it’s easy won’t do any of us any good.

Those first few months home were so hard. Harder than I let on to most people– really anyone but Aaron. I didn’t want to go to sleep at night, because getting up meant doing it all over again. Is that post-adoption depression? Perhaps. Is it adjusting to the new experience of parenting? Partly. But I think that there were a lot of experiences and emotions I didn’t fully understand or share that also came into play. It’s easy to tell you how my child wets his pants and that is frustrating. It’s hard to tell you how my child picks any adult over me and how painful and difficult that is.  Not just as a parent trying to move forward from the past and resolve an issue, but as a human being choosing to love somebody and feeling pushed away.

In many ways, we have had it easy. I know their are families who struggle with far more difficult than we do. But the truth is, that we do struggle.

A large part of my own thinking was that it was all in my head. Feeling jealous, feeling upset that my child picked another adult over me, that was me being controlling and insecure. I didn’t generally want me and the kids to spend time with other people, because of the sort of behavior and emotions I’d get out of the kids and myself. Manipulation, triangulation and a tantrum thrown in for good measure once everyone leaves. Those are awfully big words to throw around– we’re talking about preschoolers here, right? But, for a child who spends their young life needing such survival skills, it’s not far fetched at all. Dealing with those sorts of emotions and behaviors always leaves me feeling frustrated and inadequate.

I don’t want to make our situation out to be worse than it is. But, the truth is, parenting a hurting child is different and in some ways more difficult than your typical parenting. The truth is, it’s not all in my head. I am acknowledging this, because I know I must not be the only parent who doubts themselves and thinks perhaps it is normal or just age-related, like other parents say. I also don’t want to give you the impression that our life is all cute kids and fun outings. It’s not. We are slowly making progress and it’s really only in retrospect that I can see how hard I’ve been on myself over the past few months.

Looking back, I remember one of the first posts I read on Courtney’s blog,

Why can’t I love my adopted child? 

If you tell me you haven’t said it out loud or at least thought it, then either …. 

A. You don’t have a kid with attachment issues and your kid is just one of those kids that came out of trauma unscathed. (which like never happens)

B. You are lying. 

C. You are in denial. “

I have certainly thought that before, especially in the midst of everyone else saying how much they loved my kids, and I guess I just figured it was all me. Someone suggested maybe it was just Post Adoption Depression. I think I personally just thought it was some failure of my own. But, I’ve just long been in denial of my own emotions and the real reasons behind our struggles. 

Where are we going to go from here? Well, first of all,  I’m going to be a bit easier on myself. Friends, especially those of you coming home soon or right now, the last thing you need when you get home is to be hard on yourself. Secondly, I need to do some re-considering what attachment and parenting mean for our family. And third, I might punch the next person who tells me that it’s normal age-appropriate behavior. 

(P.S. Please don’t take it personally if you have told me something like that. I know it is easy to see things that way and to think that something sounds like an age-appropriate behavior or to only see how well our kids are doing, when there is actually more to it.)

If you want to…

Preschool is all set up. It is a private, Christian preschool. We would not qualify for the free preschool through the district and this is a bit cheaper than the district preschool option.. plus we don’t have to wait to find out if we qualify for this.

We went to meet with the teacher today and ended up staying for about an hour. Her grandkids and niece’s daughter were there too and Ilya and Lena were just having a lot of fun playing. Ilya had been hesitant to begin with, so I wanted him to remember having a good time with the other kids. I think Lena is going to be very upset that she doesn’t get to go, but she still has another year before she starts kindergarten and I don’t really want to juggle taking them both (one would be in the morning and one in the afternoon) and the cost for both of them. I think we’ll probably send her when she’s 4, too.

When we asked Ilya yesterday about going to school and what he thought, he told us “Maybe later.”

We’ve also been talking to Ilya about his name and what he wants us to call him. He seems to be leaning towards “Reed”. I am not sure if it’s because it’s a new name to him, or if he’s tired of people mispronouncing Ilya (he’s corrected people before). He told me twice that he wanted the teacher to call him Reed, so that is what she’s going to do. He also said he wants me to call him Reed, but I’m having a hard time getting used to it. When I asked Lena what she wanted to be called, she told me “Reed.” When I told her that wasn’t an option, she decided to stick with Lena.

Now that we’ve set it up, I’m not so sure that Ilya needs preschool. He might have to teach the class himself. Here is a video of him reading to Lena… it was a bit longer, but Flickr cuts if off at 90 seconds…