I promised I would share our homecoming story with you. I am sorry it has taken me so long to get around to posting it! We and Eliisa are trying to adjust at home. It has not been an easy adjustment for her. Eliisa is five-years-old, yet much like a baby in a great many ways. She is also suffering from withdrawal symptoms from the medications she was on to keep her sedated while in the institution she was in. She has extreme mood swings and goes from screaming to laughing and back to screaming within seconds. We are having a hard time with her going to sleep for naps and at night time as well as getting her to eat when everyone else is eating. We have not been able to make much progress with communication both verbal and nonverbal, so that's adding to her frustration. Because she was the youngest in her group, she has learned to always defend herself, and she does not know how to receive love from her sisters. She simply pushes them away. She is still throwing toys, but now mostly when she is mad. She is having a very hard time dealing with the word "no." Yes, we are having quite a few struggles. Struggles that could have been so easily avoided. Should any child have to struggle like that? No!!!! It is hard to comprehend how it is possible that a child can suffer such great injustice in life, and yet there are so many children around the world suffering the same injustice and worse. Would Eliisa's struggles be less severe had we been able to adopt her several years ago? YES!! How I wish we could have known about her then to keep her from having to go through what she has gone through. And, yet, I know that the Lord allowed her to come into our life at exactly the right time. Even in this time, He is molding us and teaching us so many lessons that we would not have learned otherwise. We are learning how to be completely dependent on Him. I am learning how much patience the Lord has with me because I am often very unloveable and disobedient, and I don't want His help, and yet He is always there for me when I am ready to come back to Him. He is always by my side even when I am pushing Him away.
BUT in the midst of this time of adjustment, we are also seeing some great progress as well. Eliisa LOVES bath time. She cannot get enough of it. She has obviously never had a real bath as she does not know how to be afraid of the water at all. She loves to be hosed off with the shower head. She laughs and laughs. I have also learned that wrapping her tight like a baby for nap and night time is the best way to get her to go to sleep without hours of struggeling. We were told that she cannot feed herself, yet aside from us keeping her from stuffing her mouth beyond full, she has been feeding herself. She loves music and loves it when her sisters sing to her. She loves to dance whenever she hears music. Eliisa has also started to learn what to do with toys, even learned to stack legos on top of each other. She is starting to make eye contact more and more, even if it is only for a mere second. She is learning that she doesn't have to sit in one place all day long and rock herself, but she can be free to roam around the house. Little by little, I know she will learn to thrive in our family. She will learn what it means to be loved and to receive love. She will learn that it is a good thing to be held rather than fighting it. We are blessed beyond measure that the Lord would choose us to have a part in her life and watch her blossom before our eyes.
Now, to our coming home story. I am so thankful that I was able to update our blog the evening before we left, because it was the last contact to home I had before leaving Eliisa's country. I lost the internet connection I had and wasn't even able to skype with Abe and the girls one more time before leaving. :( To tell you the truth, I was not sure what to expect about our long airplane trip home. I was afraid that Eliisa would continue her tantrums like she had had and scream the whole way home. I was afraid that she would not want to sit buckled in her seat. I was afraid what would happen when we got to immigration in the U.S. because of her name problem. But the Lord carried us through each step.
Waiting in the Airport in Kiev
I felt myself carried through the whole way home. We left our first airport promptly and without any major meltdowns. I was able to meet another family who was on their way home with their newly adopted son. However, the airline would not allow them to travel together as a family due to the plane being full, so the mom had to travel ahead by herself. I know the Lord placed her there on the plane just for me. What an encouragement it was to have her help, and also to share our stories and our love for the Lord throughout this journey with her. Eliisa sat quietly for the whole two hour flight while we talked. Once we got to Amsterdam, we parted ways since the mom was going to try to arrange flights so the whole family could be reunited before making the transatlantic flight.
Eliisa and I ventured through the airport to get our tickets and then waited to get through the gate. We had to wait for a long time to get through security at our gate, but the Lord used that time to open up a window seat for us. I was so thankful that after initally being told there were no window seats for us, that I was persistent and asked again (which is totally against my nature!). I know the trip home would have been a LOT harder without being able to have that window seat for Eliisa. Eliisa got quite impatient waiting on us to go through security, but finally we were able to make it through that as well. Then we had to wait on our plane to get to the gate in a very full waiting area. I let Eliisa walk and walk until she could not walk anymore. She was trying to find anything and everything from the floor to put in her mouth. I was constantly "chasing" her to keep her from doing so. And then we were finally on our plane to our final destination in Atlanta with about a one hour delay.
Eliisa was asleep before we were even in the air, and although she did not sleep very soundly, she slept for 6 of the 9 hours that we were on that plane! Praise the Lord! The rest of the time, she just sat, rocked, played with her little taggy blanket I made her, and ate until we finally landed on American soil. Wow, what a moment!!! :) We ended up in a very short line for immigration, which is the first time that I have ever experienced that. From the first officer, we were escorted to our interview room where another officer reviewed our paperwork and put that stamp that makes Eliisa an American citizen into her passport. He was so kind! I know the Lord put him there just for us! And since I did not have any checked luggage, we were able to breeze right through customs and our third and final security screening, got on the train, and came up the elevator, and were welcomed by Gretchen and her wonderful son, Ari! Abe and the girls were stuck in traffic (welcome to Atlanta!), but they had just made it to the parking garage when we made it through immigration and customs. What a moment it was to be reunited with Abe and the girls!!! As soon as our plane had landed in Atlanta, I could not hold back the tears. I was fighting them back through immigration and customs just so that no one would declare me crazy, but once we were reunited as a family, I just couldn't hold them back anymore. What an amazing journey this has been! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us and Eliisa in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead of us!
Since coming home, we have pretty much stayed home. We ventured out on the first day to go to the park, but it was simply too much for Eliisa. Yesterday, we started out the day by going to the pool. Eliisa LOVED it, but she was constantly drinking the water. It will take some time for her to learn to keep her mouth closed. We just love our puddle jumpers! It is the BEST invention of all time for our girls. I am looking forward to many more days in the pool with my girls!! We celebrated Independence Day as a family, and what a new meaning it had for us this year! How thankful we are for the country we get to live in and the freedoms we have! I have never been so happy to be home! This week, we will celebrate Eliisa and Ellie's fifth birthday. I will share that special day with you when I get another quiet moment! :)