Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I am not sure why I forget that change and disruption in our schedules can be so difficult until I am just in the thick of it. We had 6 weeks together of travel, family fun and bonding. I started back to work and Dylan started back to school mid August. Tori started back to school on the 16th and also a new after school care program. Things went well the first week; she enjoyed school and seeing friends again. The weekend came and things have been well, “out of sorts”. She somewhat manifests transitions through a display of anxiety and a need to control her environment. With this, the strong willed child emerges; the child that I forget about when things are in sync and we have a good rhythm going. Yes, the one that tries to grab me by my toenails and rake me slowly over the coals. Time out for her is time out for me right? Let’s just say I had lots of time outs over the weekend and most of Monday evening. Of course I become very introspective, trying to figure out what in the world is going on and trying desperately to relate. Usually, about day three or four of this beat down, I suddenly piece it together and become enlightened about the changes and disruptions that are going on. Not sure why I need that “a-ha” moment every time. One would think I would just get it by now and be better prepared to deal. I suppose I have hopes that the “out of sorts” episodes have passed, that security is well established and no longer an issue. Someday, for sure, I still have great confidence in that. And really every day is a continuum in moving forward and growing, all of us growing.

So here is where the normalcy comes in, actually with the observance of a complete and total meltdown from another child….strange, I know. I was driving Tori to school this morning. At drop off there is such a huge amount of parents all doing the same thing, sending their kids off to school for the day. Cars line up on the street along the side of the school and drop off, no parking, just drop off and your child proceeds to the front gates of the school.

I am reminded that last year for the first four weeks, we could not do this. I walked her to a teacher to hand her off because she would cry, yes for four weeks. It was so frustrating, but what really did not help with that is she would bring the other moms to tears as they stood outside the kindergarten gate seeing their children off. Oh my gosh! Yes it was heart wrenching, I worried most of the day about her. But at times, I have got to be honest, wild expletive’s flew around in my head as I turned and walked away, reminding myself that she will be fine and also being assured by the teacher that shortly after I left her sight she was over it and was just fine. This year, none of that, I drop off, put her backpack on her back, kiss her, say “I love you” and away she goes. Progress, yes, celebrate progress! I am thankful there has been not even the slightest hint of that this year.

When I dropped off Tori today there was a white SUV in front of me in this huge line of cars. I could see some activity going on in the car and the profile of the mom in the side view mirror, sensing it was not such a great morning for those in the car in front of me. The car stops to unload its passenger and I proceed to do the same. Suddenly, the side door of the SUV is opened and a pink backpack is abruptly thrown out of the car and onto the sidewalk. Soon to follow the backpack is a lunch box, also thrown out of the car. Seconds later a little girl appears from the SUV, gathering her items on the sidewalk. The mom is very curtly saying, “Get your stuff and go to class!” And the child, “Mom, I don’t want to go to school! Mom, don’t leave me, I don’t want to go!” The mom pulls away and begins to drive off and the child begins to reluctantly walk to class. Suddenly, the SUV makes a U-turn and pulls over on the other side of the road. Apparently concerned and wants to make sure her child proceeds. I am trying to get Tori out of the car, but also distracting her from the child’s behavior. I sure don’t want her modeling this and being back to square one at drop off. The child is very aware her mom has pulled over and is watching her, so she comes back to where she was left, now just across the street from the SUV and begins the sobbing and pleading again, but with much more ferocity. With this, out the driver side window, the mom begins demanding again that her child get to class. All the while, a very meek looking older man is also observing this. I can tell he is just beside himself and disturbed that the child is so distraught. The SUV again pulls away. The child continues with her sobbing and pleading for her mom to come back and get her, the older man continues to appear very perplexed over this whole thing. At this point Tori is heading down the sidewalk to the front gates of the school and I am getting back in the car. I look in my rearview mirror and see the SUV making another U-turn and heading back to the drop off point, to her pleading, sobbing child. I proceeded to pull into traffic and drive away. I do not know the final outcome. I am sure the little girl finally made it to class, the old man moved on down the road continuing his morning stroll and I hope the mom went home and had a very large glass of wine, even if it was only 8 in the morning. ;) I suspect it may sound twisted that I found a sense of relief and inner calming with this entire episode. I chuckled as I drove away, yes, I chuckled and I went away with the thought that things in our world really are normal, quit normal actually. Every day we continue to grow. Life is good!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Victoria!♥

The Gift of Life

I didn't give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.

For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn't give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
--- Unknown

Well my baby girl turns 6 today! She has truly been celebrating all month. We spent the 4th of July in Oklahoma visiting family. While there, we had a birthday celebration for Victoria. She also had an official birthday party on the 20th of July. Friends and classmates joined us at Party Kingdom in Chino. It is an indoor inflatable party place. We all had a great time and she really enjoyed the day. Today Tori, Dylan and I are headed to The Rain Forest Café for lunch.

Victoria is now 34 pounds and 40 inches tall. I am pleased with the physical growth she is making, as is her pediatrician. Since her last birthday she has grown another 4 inches and has gained 7 pounds. Since she arrived home in 2009 she has grown 7 inches total and gained a total of 12 pounds. This is great! For her age she is tiny and still below the 3rd percentile, but she really has had significant growth.

Victoria graduated Kindergarten in June. It was a fun day. Dylan and I attended the graduation. The kids did sing a song and received many awards. Victoria received an award for “Most Improved” in learning her site words. After the events at school, we went to one of Tori’s favorite restaurants. This girl never seems to have enough pasta. She loves an Italian place near our house and always orders spaghetti. Let me just say that graduation from Kinder is not what is was 11 years ago when Dylan was promoted. Wow! Families came with bouquets, balloons, stuffed animals and gifts. Um, we didn’t. Dylan headed out quickly to find some flowers, but it was still early and nothing was open. With that, we made the promise that after lunch we would go to Party City and she could pick out balloons. She had a great time doing that, and watching a large bundle being created for her.

She still loves the beach, swimming and just playing in water. She can’t get enough of the dogs, usually as soon as we walk in the door the first thing she wants to do is go outback and see the dogs. They are so loving and patient, it truly amazes me. Several times I have had to rescue, mostly the smaller one, from being tied up with a shoelace or string to something. She just loves animals, any kind will do. We also have a tarantula as a pet and she is pretty fascinated with it.

Two girls are moving in next door and have been over a lot as their parents get ready for the move in. All three girls have a great time together and are really enjoying play time. The girls are 5 and 7, perfect. I was doing yard work the other day and felt like a Pueblo Storyteller. I was sitting, weeding, digging in the dirt and they were all quite comfortable sitting on my knees, resting on my shoulders and really just on me. The big attraction was not me weeding; it was the roly-polys, of course. All three were eager to grab them as soon they were spotted. Poor things, not the girls, the roly-polys. My pleas to be gentle seemed to fall on deaf ears. They came over another time to help decorate some cup cakes, goodness we had frosting and sprinkles everywhere. It was fun though and Victoria has really enjoyed the girls coming to her house to play.

Victoria will be starting 1st grade in August. We had a difficult time with separation for over a month at the beginning of Kindergarten. That was rough. Finally, by the end of the school year; she would get out of the car at the curb, put her backpack on (which ends at her ankles), gave hugs and kisses, and would run up to the school while yelling several times , “Bye Mom, I love you!” Let’s hope we remember that I will always return at the end of the day when 1st grade begins. In a nutshell, life is good!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adoption Day!!!♥

Two years ago today I became the proud parent of Victoria Irina Rae! I know the ticker above says differently, if you are going through the process or have been through it, I know you get that. For others, after the court ruling it takes an additional 10 days for the decision to actually be final. During those ten days Tori was not able to be with me, she continued to live at the orphanage. Also, the ticker is tracking from the date in which we actually landed in the United States, which was May 6Th.

Her name:
Victoria is my mom's name and my great-grandmother's name.
Irina is her birth name and she was known as Ira (Ear-ah).
Rae was my grandmother's middle name.

It is hard to believe it has been two years. We have been blessed! Love my little girlie!!! ♥

Two years ago, at orphanage.

Upstairs playroom, she loved looking at the large world outside the window. I would often pick her up and walk around to the different windows so she could see.

My beautiful children now! :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mommy, You are My Very, Very, Very BEST Friend!!♥

It seems like it has been forever….I know, I know!

It is hard to believe I am coming up on the two year mark of when I was standing before a judge in a Russian courtroom. And of course, a couple of weeks after that landing at LAX, finally bringing my daughter home. Today lots of memories came back to me, for a couple of reasons I suppose. My social worker is due to visit within the next month for Victoria’s post adoption report. Additionally, just today I was contacted by a single female living in San Diego. She contacted through email and received my information from CHI. Of course, she is considering adopting from Russia and her note consisted of many questions about my experience.

I met a wonderful couple in Russia on my second trip. They had a court date the day before mine. In Russia, though you have a judgment of custody, you are not able to actually have custody of your child until 10 days after the court decision. Justin and Heather were adopting Blake. Blake was in the same group as Tori at the orphanage. During the ten day wait we would visit the children during the week. So we had several drives together to the orphanage and also enjoyed playing with our children together. I remember one distinct conversation that we had. I cannot remember if it was on one of our drives to the orphanage or in the lobby area of the Vlad Inn, but the conversation has always lingered in my mind.

The conversation centered on the idea that we, the adoptive parents, could quite possibly be their, the adopted child’s, trauma. Sure, as an adoptive parent you would like to think the life you will offer a child will far exceed that of being raised in an orphanage. BUT you are also taking them from their comfort, their familiarity, their life as they know it. You are removing them from their life because you have a better plan….essentially they really don’t know you or trust you. They don’t know the mental preparation you have gone through. They don’t have that same chance, knowledge or ability to do any sort of mental preparation. Sure the caretakers might refer to you as their Mama when you are due for a visit, but really a young child just can’t comprehend or understand what is going on. They just know you have disrupted what they had, whether it was good or bad.

Thinking back to the beginning, when I first brought Tori home, I do think in some ways I was her trauma. The transition was difficult at times for her and rightly so! Our life began together hanging out in a hotel, having a grand time. Soon we were on a long plane ride heading home, what I know as home, not what she considered home yet. Everything was unfamiliar to her; people, food, language, home, bed, etc….those first days were rough. I remember after getting everything taken care of at the airport, we headed to my dad and Jan’s. I requested Tori have a Happy Meal waiting for her. Yep, I wanted my new American girl to have a Happy Meal. She really had no interest in a meal, mostly was interested in the dog and wanted a big drink of water. I remember walking up to my dad’s house and I put her down on the grass. I was stunned (seems really dumb now to admit that) at her reaction to her feet on the grass. It dawned on me; she had never felt grass on her bare feet before. She was not pleased by the sensation, but also not frightened. She really just did not know what to make of it.

I remember the drive home that night, to our house. She screamed and cried the entire way, all 50 minutes of the drive! The sun had set and it was dark. She was also strapped into a child car seat, something they did not use anytime we were in a car in Russia. She was struggling and trying with all her might to get out of that seat. My poor baby girl! Her brother just kept asking me what was wrong with her, why was she so upset, can't we just let her out of the seat? Everything was new and different, really just about everything. The first few weeks were rough, not all the time of course. Nights were very difficult for her, often crying in the night. All I could do was go in to her room, soothe her, rub her back, kiss her, hug her, do what I could to comfort her….sometimes several times in one night. I often found that while she was crying in the night, she was not even awake. As I write this, in my heart I celebrate the growth we have made. Yes, we….I have grown so much, just as much as Tori. Dylan has grown too, he is an amazing brother! Not only has the growth been huge, but the trust and love that has been established is tremendous. I am totally in love with my daughter! She truly amazes me on a daily basis. When I look at her and think of her personality, words and phrases that come to mind include (Dylan added some words too): strong , persevering, full of life, compassionate, funny, joyful, enthusiastic, fearless, caring, silly, adventurous, loving, eager, comforting….these are just a few…… God has truly blessed me, us!!! Several times a day she tells me and her brother how much she loves us and; “Mommy, you are my very, very, very, best friend!!” Life is grand!

I promise to update again after my post adoption visit….