Friday, July 1, 2011

Momma, I Like You White

Vlad and Dima, Day 2 in Texas

Today is Day 3 of Vlad and Dima being in our home.  Yesterday they learned that our family is committed to helping both boys learn respect and obedience. :-)  They learned about time-outs (or time-ins, as we call them in the attachment/adoption community), and after both boys had several time-outs/ins for disrespect and disobedience, they are both learning that it's best to obey and respect so that they'll be safe and have a fun time while staying with our family.

All in all, the boys are having a blast.  Vlad is very outgoing and his little brother, Dima, does whatever Vlad does.  Both boys have no fear.  They have a ton of energy and need to stay active.  They require constant supervision, as they navigate life in our home, much like a toddler who has just become mobile.  It's a good thing we've got lots of eyes and helping hands in our family!

The boys have been eating our American food without a problem (just a little encouragement required here and there, but they have healthy appetites, so that helps).  Overall, the boys handling the transition to Texas quite well.  Vlad is extremely intelligent, and he's learning, remembering, and using English words daily, which is so fun to see.  Dima is more reserved and lacks confidence in using English words, but he watches Vlad, so I know he's learning.  I can see that big brother has talked for little brother much of the time.  It's sweet to see their relationship, which is quite traditional in terms of big brother protecting and caring for little brother.

Hands down, the boys' very favorite thing is swimming in our pool.  We spent the entire day yesterday in the pool.  Vlad (the 9 year old) is now swimming independently, even in the deep end of the pool.  Dima (the 6 year old) is getting better and better at swimming without swallowing water, but he still requires a flotation device for safety.  He has no hesitation and no fear and no English, making it a little challenging to keep him safe, but he is learning to respect our rules. Sitting in a chair and watching everyone else swim isn't as much fun as obeying the rules and being in the water alongside everyone else.  :-)

Kiefer (age 3, from Haiti) declared boldly while studying my face as he sat in my lap in the swimming pool yesterday afternoon, "Momma, you brown. I like you white, Momma, I no like you brown."  After spending about 8 hours in the pool yesterday, my face had apparently changed colors before his very eyes, and he wasn't very fond of that change!

All of our kids are such huge helpers.  They are enjoying having Vlad and Dima in our home, and I'm so grateful to have lots of kids with lots of energy who love to play, play, play.  (Vlad and Dima are not acclimated to the Texas heat yet though, so encouraging them to play outside with all of the other kids requires constant encouragement!) 

We have never participated in an orphan hosting program before, so this is a new experience for all of us, but in many ways it's the same as each time we've welcomed an international orphan into our home.

Here's a list of some of the things that are the same for us, as we host these 2 boys from Ukraine:
  • learning to communicate with 2 boys who don't speak or understand English
  • learning about the boys (what do they like/dislike, what are their interests, what are their favorite foods, what are they afraid of, what is their story)...quite challenging when we don't speak their language and vice versa
  • helping the boys to learn what life in a family is like
  • helping the boys to obey and respect our rules/expectations (This is always challenging, as non-English speaking children often try to use the language barrier to their advantage.  Many times they test the limits, thinking they'll get away with being wild and disrespectful simply because they can, but in our home, we've been there and done that, and we've learned the hard way that no matter how hard it is to teach non-English speaking children about respect and obedience, it's essential that we not let them get away with things that our other children wouldn't be allowed to do.  This training, no matter how exhausting, is vital.)
  • helping the boys acclimate to Texas heat! :-)
  • helping the boys learn how to brush their teeth properly
  • helping the boys to eat healthy
  • helping the boys adjust to Texas time
  • helping the boys learn our schedule
  • helping the boys practice patience and self-control
  • helping the boys to keep track of their clothing that they seem to shed or change every few seconds!
  • helping the boys learn to swim
  • helping the boys learn that it's OK to flush toilet paper down the toilet in America
  • helping the boys to learn that they're safe, loved, protected, treasured, and cherished
  • praying for the boys regularly, hoping to show them who Jesus is, what He's already done for them, how much we need Him, and how much He loves them
  • teaching the boys to wait for the blessing/prayer before meals
  • teaching the boys about seatbelt use
  • clothing the boys from head to toe
  • saying bedtime prayers
  • giving lots of hugs and kisses
  • giving lots of praises
  • loving unconditionally
And a few things that are different:
  • Remembering that these boys are only here for 5 weeks, and no matter what, they must return to their home country on August 4th.  Their visas are only visitor visas, and the boys must return to their orphanage as part of the agreement of the orphan hosting program.
  • Praying for God to reveal if He wants our family to adopt these boys or if He placed them in our home because someone in our circle of relationships is supposed to adopt them.
  • Reminding ourselves of this quote: 
    "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable." 
    ~CS Lewis, The Four Loves

Here's another pool video from Day 1 (I was in the pool the entire day yesterday, so I didn't get any pics/video, except for the photo at the top of this post, which I took before I entered the pool):

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