Dec 27, 2013

Our 2nd Christmas, first real one!

Last Christmas was our first one but it wasn't a real Christmas. We were still kind of secluded and bonding with each other, so we didn't do anything really, with our families. And Little Slick didn't really understand. 

Well, he got it this year. We went to see Santa, we read books about the real meaning of Christmas, he asked questions about baby Jesus, he excitedly said his night-night prayers (and snuck in some of these gems: "Dear God and Jesus, please tell Santa I want a giant excuvator" or "Please tell Santa I was good and that I love big excuvators")

And then something magical was found on and this was waiting for the little boy on Christmas morning. 

Yes, that's a giant, ride-on bulldozer with excuvator. 

And this was the result Christmas morning. 

It's not very often that you get to witness pure joy. Our little boy was SO proud, so in-love, so joyful. 

He now loves digging in our yard and flower beds, he loves telling people about this, he just loves it. 

Dec 5, 2013

In just a year...

Little Slick has mastered a new language.

He has grown almost 7 inches.

He has gained almost 15 pounds (and he's still skinny!)

He has stopped hoarding food and his toys. 

He has learned to (mostly) sleep through the night.

He now LOVES ice cream. We seriously thought he would never like cold things. 

He can walk into the pediatrician's office and not immediately cry. I mean, he does still make the window's shake from his screams when he gets his shots, but that's getting better. And as soon as they're done, he goes, "Ok, can I have a sucker and sticker?"

He LOVES the water - bath and swimming. 

He has learned to love snuggles and affection. 

He has learned to be wary of strangers. 

He has learned that we're forever, this family is forever, this is the real deal kid! 

I can't believe how far we've come in a year!

Nov 3, 2013

ABC's and 123's

Big news 'round these parts, y'all. Little Slick is in school. He's in preschool. 

::cue tears::

Two weeks ago, we went shopping. We went shopping for a back pack, lunch box, thermos, the works. As we were looking through all the backpack options, I had to work hard to fight back tears. 

1. My baby is going to preschool!
2. There was a time I never thought I'd get to experience these things, these things many forget are so precious. 
3. He was ready. 

When we brought him home I insisted on a daycare option that looked nothing like an orphanage. No large centers, no preschool type settings. I wanted warm and cozy in a house. I didn't want him to feel like I was taking him to another orphanage. He knows was true abandonment feels like, even if it just lasted that first day, I didn't want him to ever think I was leaving him like he had already been left. 

Around March of this year I contacted a few places to put him on the wait lists. I knew it could take a long time for a spot to open up, especially since many of these places have had these children on their lists since their mother's found out they were pregnant. Much to my surprise, I received notification that there was a spot! And that spot was opening up on 10/29. 

We got everything ready and I even took the day off from work so I could be the one to do drop off/pick up on his first day instead of our daycare provider. The night before I packed his lunch and he helped me write his name on his lunchbox and backpack. I successfully held in all tears that night. 

The morning of, we drove to his new school and we talked about making good choices and listening to directions from our teachers and about all the new friends he was going to meet. He was so excited. We got there early so we could meet his teachers and he could check things out a little before everyone else got there. As we walked down the long hallway, I could feel the pip in his step but could also feel how tightly he held my hand. 

His teachers are amazing and were very understanding when I explained, without too much detail, how he panics when he's hungry sometimes and he will sometimes hide food - just a few residual orphanage behaviors. They kindly told me that they'd make sure to be on the lookout for any signs of this and wrote down a few things I was saying. Being a teacher, I hated being that parent, but I've learned that there's nothing wrong with being that parent from time to time. 

We saw his hook for his backpack and his cubby for his lunch and then it was time to go down to the cafeteria where all the kids gather in the morning. We walked back down the long hallway, his teachers asking him questions and him excitedly answering, but he still clung tightly to my hand. 

They showed him where he was to sit when he arrived and he obediently sat down. 

I knew he would. I knew he would remember this type of order and rules. 

The other children started coming in and I went to give him a hug. He smiled so big, so proud, and gave me a big hug. But when I said I was going he asked, "But why don't you stay, Mama? Please?" 

"I have to go but you can stay and play with your new friends all day and have fun with your new teachers!"

"Ok Mama. Will you pick me up later?"

"Yes malyutka, I'll be here later."

With another smile and hug from him I knew it was time for me to go. He was ready. 

And I then took the 1st day of preschool walk of shame - the one where the Mama walks back to her car and doesn't even try to fight back her tears. 

Oct 9, 2013

This awkward moment brought to you by the letter B.

B as in bathroom. 

Not too long ago Little Slick and I were on the way to visit some family across state. Mr. Slick couldn't come so the little dude and I were on our own for a 5-ish hour car ride. 

As you can guess, we had a few bathroom stops. Two were false alarms, three were real. This awkward moment happened on the second false alarm stop. 

We were at a busy stop between our destinations that typically has clean restrooms (I will go out of my way and wait longer than necessary for clean places) and another mom was there waiting with her little one. This little girl was about Little Slick's height, maybe a little shorter, and they were being goofy together. 

The mom and I then exchanged polite smiles and we asked each other how old our kids were. Her's was 5 so I asked the little girl if she was in kindergarten and if she liked to read (in case you're wondering the answer to both of those is yes). And then the other mom asked how old Little Slick was and she was shocked when I said 3. 

"Oh wow! He's a tall thing, isn't he?"

"He is pretty tall."

"I thought he must be older"

::door to bathroom opens and it's our turn to go in but other mom squeezed in one last question::

"Is his daddy tall?"

And here's where I made it awkward. 

Without thinking, I responded, "I don't know, maybe!" and then smiled and closed the door. 

It was about 30 seconds in, while pleading with Little Slick to pee because he HAD TO GO RIGHT NOWWWWWW, that I realized what I said and how it must have sounded. We walked out after an unsuccessful potty attempt and I just gave a sheepish smile. There wasn't really any recovering from that moment so we just booked it outta there as fast as possible. 

So, to the random woman and child waiting in line with us that day, please know that I have a different reason than you probably think for not knowing specifics. And please know that it wasn't me or Little Slick who made the bathroom smell like that in there either. 

Mrs. Slick

Sep 17, 2013

Still a little bit of sadness

My heart is breaking for my little boy tonight. 

Most nights at night-night time, we do stories. Sometimes for these stories we tell his story, our coming home story, where our two stories met, etc. Most nights he smiles and giggles as we tell about silly things we remember. Sometimes he barely pays attention as we talk about he grew in another mommy's tummy and lived with her and then later with lots of other children. 

We sometimes look at pictures or videos of our time in Russia and he happily flips through telling us what he was doing. 

And then there are nights like tonight. Nights that when he crawls into bed he's sad. 

"Where is her, Mama?"

"Where is who, baby?"

"Where is her? My other mamas, my other babushkas? My kids too? My tummy cold and sad over there, Mama."

It's night's like tonight that remind me a little too much of where he was before us. He still grieves the loss of his other mama's, the women who cared for him in the orphanage and the children he was being raised with there. He remembers being hungry and all those feelings. 

So, we talk about his other mama's and babushka's and tonight he wanted me to know one of his babushkas had black hair and she gave him candy. I'll never get to thank her for giving him good memories. Whenever he has sad nights like this, we talk about whatever it is, I don't mind. I love hearing what his little mind remembers and when he twists his memories into something more(apparently once he built a snowman with his babushka and Mr. Slick and I were apparently there too, lol). I want him to talk about it, I want him to know it's okay to talk about it. I want him to know it's okay to be sad about it. 

I'm sometimes not grateful for all I have, but my boy reminds me of the wonderful things I have, starting with him. I hate it when he's sad but I am grateful he even has some of these smidgens of memories. His sadness is part of his story but it's not who he is, not anymore.  

Sep 11, 2013

I'm about to get up on my high horse, y'all.

Pretty much everyone we meet or know has an adoption story of sorts. 

"Oh my sister's best friend was adopted!"

"Oh, my 3rd grade teacher adopted her son!"

"My next door neighbor's brother-in-law's best friend's wife was adopted!"

Ok, I may have stretched that last one but I have heard things similar. But those kind of things don't bother me. I actually love them. It reminds me and those saying it that adoption isn't super uncommon, that it isn't taboo to talk about, that it's a normal way to build a family. 

But what bothers me are all the negative stories. These stories seem to run rampant through media outlets, while the thousands and thousands of good adoption stories for each of those bad, goes unnoticed and gets no spotlight. 

I recently saw a report about international adoption disruptions. And the story was sickening. It made me literally sick to think of the poor girl at the center of that story. The one who thought she had found her forever family, only for them to realize too late that they were not well equipped to care for her. They gave her away to another couple, without involving their agency or social workers, by just drawing up paperwork and them signing it and dropping her off. They dropped her off with criminals, people who would already hurt a damaged heart. 

This story makes me so angry because it makes it sound like these "parents" had no other option, like they had tried everything. It almost painted them as victims. There was one victim in that story and it sure wasn't them. 

But they had options, much better options. Do disruptions happen? Yes. They're obviously not ideal and they are incredibly few and far between, but they happen. However, there are ways to ensure that these children go to their true forever homes. Placing agencies would be more than willing to help counsel families, provide resources, and if truly needed, help find the child's true forever family. 

Disruptions can happen for many reasons. The family may not have been truly ready to adopt. They may have misunderstood the magnitude of their child's special needs (any IA can and should be considered a special needs situation while emotional wounds heal), their agency may not have been forthcoming in the child's true needs (this is rare), or other reasons. Whatever the reason, a family shouldn't consider a disruption until they have exhausted all resources. And even if their placing agency isn't willing to help, ANY agency/social worker could be contacted and help be provided some way or another. 

Parenthood isn't easy on anyone. Everyone has their trying times with it. Some people have the delusion that when they bring this child home, that all their hurt will melt away, that they will be better instantly and that's not the case. It takes time to build trust, it takes trust to build love, and it takes love to build your family. Give it time. Bond with your new baby, even if that baby is 3 or 13. He deserves parents who will go all in and be the parents he deserves. 

If you're having a hard time with your (adopted) child, talk to your social worker, email the help desk at your agency, ask for contact information from other families who have been through similar situations (I can almost guarantee you aren't the first and won't be the last family in that situation your agency has seen), and if none of them help, keep looking!  

Aug 5, 2013

Rite of passage

Today I got to experience what is a normal rite of passage for new mothers.

Little Slick had surgery today. Well, two small surgeries. They were very minor and planned but that didn't help my worrying mind.

We woke up at 4:15 after next to no sleep for me and Mr.Slick since nerves got the best of us. We got to the hospital around 5:30 and after some waiting and signing of forms we were in a room with our little guy.

He charmed all the nurses instantly and was having a ball hiding under his blanket and playing with whoever was close enough. And let me tell you, it is hard to keep a three year old little boy, who doesn't sit still, from flashing everyone his little booty when only in a hospital gown! I'm pretty sure all of pre-op saw a full moon!

And then it was time for him to be wheeled back. He was having a blast while the anesthesiologist and nurse wheeled him fast and crazy down the hall yelling "choo choo!" and "vroom vroooom!" but when he had to let go of my hand and say bye-bye to me, he suddenly realized he was going in there, without me,  without his papa, and that this was serious. He cried and clung to me. I instantly teared up too but kissed my sweet boy and told him "After while, crocodile!" I pried my hands from his, gave him another kiss on the forehead and whispered that I loved him as they wheeled him off. He looked back and told me he loved me too and they closed the doors.

I'm sure the nurses see it a lot, but they all looked at me with sympathy and a few offered me tissues as I walked back down that long hallway towards where we had to leave Mr.Slick. The pre-op nurse even teared up a little when she saw me.

We then went back into the waiting room, I guzzled two cups of coffee and after only about 45 minutes our buzzer went off and we were whisked into a consult room to speak with surgeon number 1, since his surgery was done. And much to our relief, all went well. It was only about another 30 minutes before the second surgery was done and only about 15 minutes later until we were able to see our boy.

He was super sleepy but happy to see us. The nurses said he refused to fall back asleep until we were back there :( We stayed in recovery for about 2 hours until he was finally awake enough for them to take out his IV and send us home.

It was then, I got to experience something I never thought I would get, something I never knew I wanted, something that I wish had happened under different circumstances, but something that was very special for me.

I was wheeled out to my waiting husband with my sleepy baby in my arms, ready to take him home. It's hard to imagine how much just that simple wheel chair ride can impact you but I was taking my baby home. My baby who is 3 years old and who recently broke the 30 pound threshold. My big boy who will always be my baby.

Jul 8, 2013

Things I wish someone had told me about adopting a toddler/preschooler...

We have received tremendous support along the way, bringing Little Slick home. 

We received excellent assistance on paperwork, attachment and bonding (by far the most important thing!), social norms for where we were travelling, travel tips with a little one, ways to help Little Slick learn English, and many other things. 

But I still felt, like many parents, grossly under-prepared. 

There are newborn care classes at almost every hospital, where parents-to-be learn how to feed, bathe, soothe, life-saving techniques, safety measures, etc. 

When adopting an older child, you're just kind of thrown in the trenches. 

Yes, toddlers and preschoolers require less "gear" than newborns but they still have needs. Many couples adopting "older" children are not thrown showers or given gifts (not that it's required or necessarily expected - it's just the norm for pregnant parents to receive these things) and if they are thrown showers/given gifts, it's usually toys. 

Here's a list of things you'll need:

  • Convertible car seat or booster seat - Check out this site for more details:
    • Did you know you can (and if possible SHOULD) bring this with you when you bring your little one home. Yes, even on the plane!
    • Don't ever buy a used seat or let a kind-hearted soul give you an old one either. Just don't. 
  • Toddler bed (maybe still a crib) or something for them to sleep on
    • Seems like a no-brainer but still needs to be said! 
    • Look into something that will last a few years or something that will last for another little one down the road.
    • If you're unsure what your new arrival is interested in, get basic sheets/bedding until they're settled and then let them go with you to pick out their new bedding!
    • Mattress pad/pee protectors - even if potty trained already, many children regress or just have accidents. 
    • Go ahead and have grandma make that baby blanket she's been itching to make. Even though it's not something you'll swaddle your new little one in, it's something they'll love to snuggle. 
  • Booster seat for the dinner table
    • You may want placemats too. I'm afraid my table may never recover from our first spaghetti and meatballs experience.
    • Bibs! Little Slick still gets put in one with some spaghetti.
  • Plates/Silverware/Cups
    • Little ones are unsteady and have small hands - accommodate them with things their size!
    • Even at 3 years old, we'll likely be using sippy cups for a while. Get a few brands/kinds to see what you like. 
      • And with these sippy cups/small things you'll still want a bottle brush to help clean them!
    • You may want a few bottles to help some of the little ones learn to suck and a bottle a night is great for bonding. 
  • Clothes/Shoes
    • If you're unsure of sizes, go to a local consignment store and buy up and down the size you think before you make commitments with anything pricey.
      • And along those lines, kids are messy - there's no shame in most of their wardrobe coming from places like this! Day to day clothes are mainly hand-me-down's or from consignments and going out/church clothes are what we pay the "big bucks" for.
  • Carrier/Stroller
    • I'd strongly suggest a carrier of some sort if your child is 30 pounds or under (can also do them with larger children but 30 sounded like a good mental cut-off to me). They're great for bonding and it makes maneuvering through airports/new places much easier. We have a mei-tai and it's AWESOME. Other carriers that people seem to love are Ergo's, Beco's, and Ring-Sling's. 
    • A stroller could be useful in an airport and for future family outings. They're still little, with little legs. Those 4 hours you have planned at the zoo? You'll end up carrying them eventually if you don't have something to put them in!
  • First aid
    • You can pick up a pre-made kit or make one yourself! We made one with fun colors and band-aids. We made our main one and then mini ones for each vehicle and for on the go. 
    • Ice packs for little boo-boo's
  • Go ahead and have a started kit of medicines
    • Tylenol
    • Motrin 
    • Sunscreen - visit for some good recommendations
    • Thermometer
    • Topical cream for bites
    • Boogie Wipes! You'll thank me later
    • Toothpaste (flouride free!) and a toothbrush - not really medicine but you get the picture
  • Diaper bag
    • It doesn't have to be a diaper bag but you'll want something you can pack extra clothes, gear, and it will get spilled on/in and sticky. Diaper bags are great because they're made to sustain toddler abuse and spills. 
  • Child proofing things
    • You may have already child-proofed for your home-study but if you haven't, plan on it! Even when they speak English and understand you, they'll still try to play in the formal dining room with your great-grandmother's china from 1917 - even if you're constantly watching them. 
  • Potty seat!
    • We have the one that sits ON the actual toilet and a little potty
    • Some people hate the idea of his little separate potty but when you're busy making dinner, letting the dog out, on the potty yourself, etc. and cannot go help, it's nice to have something little enough for them to go to that they can manage alone. Even with a stool, Little Slick is still kind of unstable getting on/off the seat alone that's on the big potty.
    • Oh, don't forget that stool! You'll need it outside of the bathroom as well!
    • If not potty-trained - you'll need diapers/pull ups!
  • Toys
    • Start small, especially if you don't know what they're actually interested in. 
    • Mega-blok type toys seem to be a hit with most kids
    • Stuffed animals - bonus if one looks like your pets or if they go along with a book
    • Books - the cardboard ones are amazing, still not kid proof completely, but much better than thin paper (RIP The Hungry Caterpillar :sniffle:)
      • AND reading to your kiddo(s) is great for language acquisition and for future reading fluency :)
    • Play food/cooking materials
    • Balls - seems simple, but kids love them!
    • Bath toys!
      • Don't forget that baby shampoo! We love Aveeno for our sensitive skin little one. 
    • Outside toys 
      • Tricycle - don't forget the helmet! If you make the helmet a habit early, it will be less of a fight later on :)
      • Sidewalk chalk
      • Beach toys are useful anytime! We build dirt/mulch castles and dig all the time
      • More balls! Big, little, doesn't matter
    • Toys/books/entertainment for traveling or in the car
    • Most parents let their kids watch TV, whether planning or not. If you're able to hold strong and not, more power to you. If you're like the rest of us, you'll likely let your newest addition watch a little, here and there. Go ahead and load up on some of YOUR childhood favorites or ones that you don't mind watching. I cannot tell you how many times I've realized that I'm still watching the show only to realize I put Little Slick down for his nap an hour ago. And little ones have little attention spans...but will quickly meltdown if you change from that show (that they were paying no attention to!)
  • Storage for all toys. And buy storage with room to spare as you'll collect more and more as you go!
  • Food - fact of the matter you may be plagued with a picky eater or a child who has figured out the one way they can have control is by controlling what they swallow
    • Goldfish - still haven't met a kid who didn't like them
    • Organic fruit pouches - fruit and veggies in them? I'm in. 
    • Fresh fruit 
      • When you buy bananas buy all levels of ripeness so they'll last longer
    • Many children coming from orphanage settings are used to something similar to oatmeal - you can do the packs or make your own packs! I use this recipe:
    • Fresh veggies (like broccoli, carrots, etc)
    • Little Slick has never refused rice in any form or fashion. I think it's a texture thing. 
    • You'll also need containers for all this or you'll be burning through ziplock bags super fast!
    • You'll likely want to be conservative at first with high allergen foods, just like with a newborn, especially if there is any sort of communication barrier. 

General hints: 
  • Just survive the first few weeks at home. After that you can start to "hit it hard" with your routine.
  • If they don't bathe everyday, it's ok. Babywipes can do wonders. I don't even know if I've mentioned it before but Little Slick had severe water trauma when we brought him home and we just did wipe downs for a few weeks (yep, I said weeks!) until he trusted us enough to bathe him. 
  • Don't worry if they will only eat apple slices one day. At least it's healthy, right??? No, but seriously, it's ok. Try again at the next meal, or try again tomorrow. If it becomes frequent, then call your pediatrician. 
  • On that note, if adopting internationally, don't be surprised if you have trouble finding a pediatrician willing to meet with you before you bring your little one home. Pregnant women are given consultation type appointments where they can meet the doctor/staff - you likely won't be given that privilege. Ask around for recommendations. 
    • Also be prepared to answer "unknown" on half of those new patient forms. 
  • It's ok if they sleep with you. It's great for bonding. Do whatever you're comfortable with. Little Slick sleeps in his bed, in our room. We love it. 
    • Your little one may not be used to being alone at night, may have nightmares, may just worry it's all a dream and you won't be there when they open their eyes. It helps when you're close by every time they open their eyes. Then you transition them when you're all ready. 
  • Buy books/toys that encourage them to interact with you
  • If they attach to a lovey/stuffed animal/blanket - buy a back up!
  • Even if they've never seen one before, they'll learn how to unlock your smart phone within 12.5 seconds of seeing it. Be prepared. And if you're super smart, you'll lay ground rules immediately on touching/not touching it. Go ahead and apply those rules to your laptop and the remote control. 
  • No, they're not a newborn but you will end up with bodily fluids on you within the first 6 weeks. 
  • Bring another adult with you on your first outing. Especially if your first outing is the grocery store and your child is from an environment where they never had enough food - the grocery store is a very overwhelming place. You may need back-up. 
  • Park close to the cart return at grocery stores - makes it a LOT easier. 
    • And make a "touch the car" rule of sorts for when loading/unloading so they know not to wander. It literally only takes a second for a child to step away and a car to zoom by. 
  • You don't have to share them (ok, you do with your spouse!). But seriously, tell grandma to back off. This new baby needs to learn that YOU are the Mama, they need to learn that YOU are their parent. They need to learn what a parent is. You give them food, you give them love, you give them everything they need (whether they need your help or not) for the first few months. Then slowly let grandma handle snack time, nap time, etc. You have to build that trust. 
  • Teach them from day 1 how to properly interact with pets!
  • Once they let you in, once they are receptive of your affection, never stop! Smother (ok, maybe smother is a strong word) them with kisses and hugs. They may have missed out on this prior to you. 
  • And don't ever be afraid to contact your agency for help with anything. 

Have some other hints? Let me know and I'll add them :)

Jun 26, 2013

Exactly one year ago today...

Exactly one year ago today we were making dinner. I was preparing the vegetables to be grilled and Mr.Slick was preparing the chicken. 

The day before our paperwork had been received by our agency. The day before our consultant with the agency reminded us that every time she was calling, it wasn't any cause for concern or excitement necessarily. 

Well, the phone rang. It was our agency. 

I put it on speaker so Mr.Slick and I could hear what was up. We figured they went though our paperwork and they needed something else. 

But she said something else...

She said, "Well, I have some unexpected news. There's a little boy that I want to talk to you about. Do you want to see pictures?"

We got THE call. THE CALL!

While we dropped everything and were frantically trying to wipe away traces of dinner while simultaneously booting up the computer, she started reading off some information about him. She told us some good info and then said, "And his date of birth is June 26, 2010, so today is his 2nd birthday!"

We got THE call on his birthday!

She gave us more information and then said, "The email has been sent. Call me back after you've looked over the information and pictures."

And then we opened the pictures and saw the sweetest face we've ever seen. We saw Little Slick. We saw our son. 

You're told not to fall in love, not to get attached, but I just don't know how that's possible. 

We called my parents first and told them the news and then forwarded them a few pictures. And then because we live close to Mr.Slick's family, we made an excuse to go over there under the guise of printing off more paperwork. We even got Mr.Slick's sister in on the act. While we were there, her family made a "surprise visit" over. We got the email pulled up, acted like we were calm and just printing, and then asked his parents if they wanted to see something. If they wanted to see who would possibly become their grandson. It took a few seconds but then the tears and hugs came. Tears years in the making. Tears we had all been waiting to shed. For the first time, we had happy tears in our family growing journey. 

Happy birthday, baby. We celebrated your birthday in big ways that day, even though we were across the world and you had no clue. And I've loved celebrating with you today. 

And for anyone wondering: we completely forgot about dinner that night and had to throw it all out hours later when we finally got home.

Jun 25, 2013

What a difference a year makes!

One year ago today, we made a phone call. We were calling to make sure our dossier made it to our agency. We paid $44.67 in shipping to make sure it got there the next day, to make sure our precious paperwork was in the safe arms of our agency. The paperwork that would bring us you.

It took us approximately 6 weeks, 3 trips to the state capital to get documents apostilled, over 100 notarized copies of original forms, and lots of paper cuts to get this thing done. Little did we know that this over-stuffed 3 inch binder would bring our family together so soon!

May 15, 2013

I'm Yours

Little Slick, I'm yours. And you are now mine. But you have not always been mine. You were born to another Mama, another family, another life. 

But as I look back on things, I think we have always been yours. God has been preparing me and Papa for you for much longer than either of us were aware. 

My favorite classes in college were Early Childhood Education classes that covered developmental milestones, delays, attachment disorders and bonding techniques. This is what the majority of our training was over for your adoption. During our post tests for some of our mandatory training, as soon as that first question appeared quoting BF Skinner, and later ones mentioning Piaget, I knew I had it. I knew I would ace that test and I did - without ever having to look over any of the prepared materials. 

Your Papa has always had a fascination with Russian and Eastern European history...even before we ever dreamed we'd find our first baby in Russia. He knew war stories and fascinating tidbits even he seemed surprised to know/remember when we were walking around the city in Russia. 

Even our families were preparing for you. Your great-grandfather (my mother's father), he once traveled to the city where the orphanage was; where we went to meet you, fall in love with you, and to stay with you before we brought you home. He has pictures, souvenirs  and stories about where you're from. 

My mother? One of her very good friends used to travel to Russia frequently. She already had Russian dolls and intricate artwork in her house, things that when we visit Gigi's house we can see and marvel at with you. 

When we finally chose an agency we did so because of R, the woman who works for them who met with us at the informational session. She once worked for a different agency - the agency that my aunt and uncle used for their adoptions - the adoptions of my Russian cousins...and she was one of their consultants. She's helped bring 3 Russian children home for our family. 

Papa's parents for some reason held onto his tricycle all these years. When we brought you home, we realized quickly that you loved anything on wheels and they pulled it down from their attic and brought it over. It's your favorite thing.

Had we gotten pregnant our first cycle trying, my due date would have been late-June 2010. Your birthday is June 26, 2010. 

Had we gotten pregnant on our first IVF cycle, my due date would have been late-June 2012. We received THE call from our agency on your birthday, June 26, 2012. 

I think I've always been yours and I'm so glad that you're finally mine. My malyutka. 

May 7, 2013

Dear Mama's who happened into motherhood via adoption...

The following link was shared with me on Facebook tonight and I absolutely love it. 

She gives incredible insight without getting too wordy, as I sometimes do. She keeps it real but also keeps it real for me. I like it.

Apr 21, 2013

Join the Movement

Today kicks off the start of National Infertility Awareness Week through the support and advocacy of Resolve. Join the movement and spread the word. Don't suffer in silence and don't settle. Not all pathways to parenthood are achievable, but there IS a pathway out there for you to be happy. Find your happy, for some that means making their baby, for others it means finding their baby, and for still others, it means choosing to close those doors forever. But, please find your happy.

In years past I referenced NIAW with blog posts and fb statuses about the longing to become a parent. This year, I'm on the other side. Some would say, that I've been cured of my infertility.

But have I been cured?

The cure for infertility is a baby, right? Little Slick is my baby, for sure and has definitely been the one to find the missing pieces of my heart. I don’t question that.

But am I cured?

The answer is no, I’m not cured. I’m still infertile. It still hurts me that I’ll never be pregnant. It hurts me more than anything in the world that I missed out on those things with Little Slick. It stings when I get an unexpected pregnancy announcement - especially since those unexpected ones always seem to proclaim, “We weren’t even trying!” or “This one better be a girl, I already have 3 boys!”

It hurts when friends and family seem to forget and talk with me about how much they miss their pregnant bellies and the newborn stage with their babies. It hurts me when people absentmindedly ask me things like, “When will you have another?” or “I bet he’s ready to be a big brother!”

Those things won’t come easy or at all for someone like me.

I don’t bear birth battle scars and stories. In the mothering world I am inferior in that aspect (some of you will be kind here and adamantly proclaim that’s false, but you are incorrect). I don’t remember that “newborn smell” or know what it’s like for him to look lovingly into my eyes while nursing, to which I sometimes want to yell, “Thanks so much for reminding me!” Someone else experienced those things with my baby. Someone who is a world away and I’ll never know.

I can't sanctimoniously post pictures like this on my Facebook wall.

No, I don’t want to feel your baby kick. I didn't get to feel mine. I don't have those cool videos of him throwing a dance party in my belly and seeing the waves of the belly from the outside. 

No, I don’t want to hear your pregnancy complaints. I'm sure it's terrible, and I really understand that parts of pregnancy aren't enjoyable - but please choose a different person to complain to. Please choose someone else who will understand, not someone who would give almost anything to have experienced that.

What I want is for me to be able to give all that, all those experiences to Little Slick but I can’t. I can’t give him those things. They’re forever lost and never recoverable.

So, I’m not cured but I’m managing. I’m enjoying my life and my little one. I love him more than I love myself but I’m still sad that I’ve lost these things for him - just trust me here, in my twisted mind these things are somehow my fault. I’m less of a woman because I don’t have certain experiences but I’m just as much a mother. Biology is least of which makes a woman a mother. My body failed my husband and our embryos but my heart has picked up where those left off by allowing me to not be too jaded and still love my child entirely. I’ll never be cured of my infertility; it’s chronic and never ending. I will however, triumph in parenthood.

For information about NIAW visit:

For general information about infertility visit:

Apr 17, 2013

He's got it goin' on, y'all.

Little Slick is amazing, in so many ways. We had our official post-placement visit done a few weeks ago and it went so well. 

We were sent a list of questions to look over and reflect upon before our social worker's arrival and it was really good for us. We were forced to look back on our journey in detail. 

When we arrived at the orphanage to pick Little Slick up, he spoke zero English. Heck, he barely spoke Russian. 

Part of our post placement paper work asked us to count his English words...we stopped counting at 152. 

That's right, 152 English words. He also strings them together to form simple sentences. I remember the first unprompted sentence he said (to Ryan), "You stay here, I go get mama" and he came and got me. He is even using descriptor words, "Ooooo big truck!" or "Mama! Lello cement truck, mama!" or "Red stop sign, STOP!" He gets it. 

He can count to 10 with no assistance, even though every now and then one number will fall victim to 2 year old forgetfulness. He not only can count, he understands the concept of numbers. He knows the difference between 1, 2, or 3 buses on the road. He tells me when he sees 2 motorcycles opposed to just one. He gets it. 

He knows colors and shapes. He can identify AND say: circle, triangle, oval, rectangle, crescent, pentagon, hexagon, and octagon (I'll admit - he does sometimes mix the last three up!). And not only that, he can draw circles and triangles. He gets it. 

He can do a forward roll. He can jump, he can balance on each foot, he can throw a football overhand. He can catch - barehanded and he's even done it once with Mr. Slick's old baseball mitt. He can ride his tricycle all day long. He rode over 2 miles on it this weekend, all at once. Athleticism, he has it. 

He loves us. He loves Gunner. He has bonded with us. He knows WE'RE his people. This is his biggest accomplishment. He gets it. 

Our shy boy is now only shy with strangers. He is eager to talk our ears off, eager for hugs, eager to know what everything is, and why. The single thing he's clinging to in Russian is, "Sto eta" or "What's this?" He always wants to know. He wants to get it. 

We have been 100% diaper free for over a month now. ::does the running man:: He gets it!

He not only runs to us for comfort, but he's comforting as well. When I accidentally fell, he ran to me, helped me up and said, "Awwww, mama. Sokay? Mama band-aid? Boom kiss?" Compassion, he has it. 

My little man, he's got it goin' on. 

Apr 5, 2013

Chinese finger trap

The littlest Slick is sleeping in our room still (don't worry I can hear your disapproving gasps from here). 

I know it's what's best for him right now and to be completely honest, it's easier on us. 

His bed is on the floor right next to me. If and when he wakes up before me, he just sits up and sees me. If he coughs in the night, I hear it. Last night, I was not so stealthy sneaking in when it was time for mama to go to bed. 

I woke him up. This is basically what you spend 50% of your time AVOIDING as a parent: waking the child. And I did it. Rookie mistake. 

Anyway, I climbed into my bed, leaned over to rub his cheek and sing him back to sleep. As I was about to pull away he grabbed hold of my finger and said "Mama hold hand" 


As he started to drift off into his little toddler dream land, I tried to gently take my finger back and that notion was swiftly denied. The 2 year old death grip got me. 

I relaxed my hand back and waited a few more minutes. Gently tried to pull away...he squeezed suddenly as I was almost free. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

I then resorted to trying the "quick like a bandaid" method. I'm guessing he could feel my muscles gearing up in anticipation of the pull and his finger trap kept me locked in. 

My arm was starting to go numb, my shoulder was sore, and my face was covered by my hair that I just couldn't completely clear due to the position I was in and not having use of one of my arms. 

I then got the giggles. Bad. I mean, the can't control your laughter, whole body shakes, a few snorts may have even slipped, kind of giggles. 

And I woke him up again. Mother of the year right here, folks. 

In the confusion of my giggle fit and snorting he released me from his trap. My arm was grateful but part of me was kind of sad. I know my days are numbered with this kind of stuff. He won't want to hold mama's hand while he sleeps forever. And he'll someday move into his room and I'm just not ready yet. 

So for now, I'm enjoying my uncomfortable snuggles with my boy. 

Mar 19, 2013

Always be

When we walked out of that orphanage in November with you in our arms, you didn't speak a word of English. That week and a half we spent with you, cooped up in a hotel? I'm pretty sure we learned more Russian from you than you learned English from us.

Now, you have just three words/phrases that you're holding on to. One of those being your name.

We chose the English/American version of your name, so it wasn't much of a stretch but it's still different. And what you call yourself in your 3rd person toddler speak is actually the nickname of your Russian name. You've answered to the name we gave you since our first official day as a family, but you have never let go of your Russian name.

Until yesterday. You mustered the words, "An-ne-ny's shoes"

I was taken aback. And honestly, I was a little sad. Sad to be losing my little Russian boy. But then later, during dinner, you shot me one of those looks. The type of look that tells an entire story in 2 seconds. A look where I could see that you're a much older soul than your 2 years of earthly age.

There he was. There was my little Russian boy.

Little pieces keep disappearing but it's like your Russian roots are limitless. You may lose little bits here and there, but you'll never lose it all. You'll never reach zero. To me, sweet boy, you'll always be my Antoshka. 

Mar 1, 2013

Dear Lindsay

Today has been, as usual, bittersweet. I miss you. Lots of people miss you, Linds. 

Today I couldn't wait to go get Anthony. Today of all days I needed to hug my baby a little tighter. The woman he stays with for daycare has a glass storm door so he always is looking and waiting for me excitedly. Today he was more excited than normal and wanting more hugs and kisses. 

I think you may have done that. 

I scooped my boy up and we walked out and while asking him about his day he very all the sudden took my face in his hands and turned it, "Mama yook!"  

He wanted me to look at the first and only flower growing in one of her flower beds. I don't know what exactly it was, but it was bright pink. 

I think you may have done that. 

Today I'm trying to be a little more patient, pray a little more, and to appreciate the little things a little more because that brings a little more of you back here to earth. 

Love you and miss you always. 

Jan 11, 2013


Since the day we picked you up from the orphanage, you have been my child. 

Since the day you set foot on American soil, you have been an American citizen. 

But it wasn't until 2 days ago that I was really your mama. You called me mama, of course, but until then you only came to me for food, comfort, to share a cool trick. All of those things awesome, but not necessarily  mama worthy. 

You were playing underneath the kitchen table. You had your snacks, your juice, a few toys/books all to keep you company. You'd call Gunner to come under with you and you'd share snacks and read to him. You were in your own perfect little 2 year old world. 

But that pesky table kept getting in your way. You'd stand up and bump your head. You'd back up and hit a chair, your tough little toddler head was protecting you from too much pain but it was clear it didn't feel good and you were getting frustrated. Once or twice you bumped it so hard, you came to me for a kiss or comfort but then you'd run back as quickly as you came. 

Then you bumped your head again. It wasn't so hard that I was worried you hurt yourself, I saw and heard it happen, it wasn't too bad. So I didn't immediately swoop in, I instead watched you from a distance to see how you'd react. 

You sat down, your shoulders rounded down in defeat, and then you turned around to me with tears welling up in your eyes with arms extended and yelled, "Mamaaaaaaaaaa!" 

That sight with the quiver in your voice made my feet move so fast to you. I picked you up and I loved how your tense little body softened as you nuzzled your face into my neck. You wrapped your arms around me and held me close. Your upset breathing became more regular and you calmed down with me. You let me hold you, rock you, and snuggle you for a long time. You didn't need me, you wanted me. You twirled my hair in your fingers and completely let go of the world. 

Then after a few minutes you picked up your head and held my face in your hands and you said it again, "Mama." But this time it was with calmness and a smile on your face. I said, "I love you" and you got a big grin and repeated back, "Wuv you!" and you kissed me and then wiggled down to the ground. 

It was then I became not only the person you called mama, I became your mama. Now the unprompted snuggles are more frequent, the kisses more often, and there's a softness in your voice when you say my name. 

I am your mama.