Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas

We have been home with Maria almost 7 weeks now! Here are some of the things that have changed since coming home:

She can drink out of a cup without sticking her tongue out. Many children with DS have large tongues and tend to have issues with eating and drinking and thrusting their tongues out.  Her orphanage did not know how to help her with this, but they did try to blame it on a circus monkey and told me she and all the other kids began drinking with their tongues out after seeing him do it.

She is no longer sleeping in the crib and waking up everyone with her rocking. We tried out the twin bottom bunk and she seems to like this bed much better and only once did we find her on the floor rocking.  The first morning, she also got out of her room and went downstairs and turned on the CD player, which thankfully woke me when I heard it! We also put a safety thing on the inside knob of her bedroom door and she cannot get out now!

Don't bother me: I'm opening my presents!

She is now using the big potty! Daddy was really not wanting to clean out any more child potty's and so on his insistence, helped her transition.  In fact, yesterday she was dry all day. I just have to remember to take her at regular intervals. Although she seems to be able to hold it for a long time.

Her hair is getting longer! Which means it is easier for mama to get it into a cute pony with a clip or bow.  I still can't understand how they chop these little girls' hair!  It is so dehumanizing to me and yes there will be a blog post to celebrate the day I can braid her hair!

I didn't get any photos of the kids dressed up on Christmas- just in their pajamas opening presents! <sigh>

She can climb the stairs alternating her feet, one stair per foot.  We have been doing our own physical therapy where I encourage her to switch feet and not crawl up the stairs or slide down on her butt. She starts "real" therapy tomorrow!

First time at the beach!  Not sure if she loves playing more in the water or in the sand!

She can speak and sign a ton of more words! She also has been speaking more in Russian- like full sentences! We never heard her speak this much before! I think it is because of all the interaction she gets here, especially with her VERY verbal family.  I was reflecting on the fact that in her orphanage she was one of the only verbal children, so she probably did not get a lot of language stimulation.

Making a Gingerbread House with friends

She is wearing glasses now and loves seeing life through her new lenses!  She wore glasses a couple of times when we visited her at the orphanage, but we found out that the prescription was really weak- not even close to helping her! No wonder she always took them off.  She keeps these ones on and gets very excited when I put them on her and claps her hands.

Our first family pet from a supporter of Maria's: they named him Luke Skywalker

Some people have asked if we think she misses her friends or caregivers from the orphanage.  I think in the first two weeks, there were a lot of changes for her and it was a bit of a shock to her.  But I really don't think she misses orphanage life! She receives so much attention here! Playtime with her siblings, bath time, learning time, yummy, healthy food, outings to the park, zoo and other places and a mom and a dad who are always available for her to teach her and hug her and enjoy her.  We have a photo album that the orphanage gave us and she doesn't react to seeing photos of her former caregivers.  I think she "knows" it is different in a family, although I there is more bonding time needed with us before she completely understands what a mama and papa and a family are.

Christmas Eve gifts: Pajamas and Webkinz

I was very pleased when we received the psychologist report from Tri- Counties Regional Center.  I was very apprehensive about reading it because I was worried they were going to classify her abilities based on developmental age and I really don't like them saying "oh your daughter's language is at a 20 month old age." I just want all the specialists to see her for who she is and not a diagnosis.  Thank God they didn't use this method of classification! They described very well her abilities and used a mild/moderate/severe scale.

We have about 4 appointments scheduled with specialists for the month of January as we are wanting to get a thorough health picture so she can succeed and continue to thrive.

Trying out the water wings in the jacuzzi for the first time 

Life is not perfect of course. Bringing a child who is already four years old who was in an orphanage, speaks Russian and has Down syndrome into our house has not been a breeze.  But God keeps reminding me that He loves Maria so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for her. And for me. And for you.  So we will call upon Him for strength and forgiveness and love because He first loved us.
Nativity scene by Diego

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lots of firsts-3 weeks home

I wasn't planning on writing a post, but it is really important to keep people updated with how we're doing and share all of the beautiful photos we have.

Maria is doing great! During her first 3 weeks home, we have had doctors visits and are working on getting her in-home therapies.  She is learning so many new words and signs daily.  She has been adapting very well to her new life and seems very flexible to all the change.

She sleeps well at night and daily naps for 2 hours.  The only difficult behaviors we have been experiencing have been when she rocks herself very violently when she is between sleep cycles or is waking from her nap or in the morning.  It is so loud it wakes us up and sounds like she is going to break the bed! We are hoping and praying that in time, she will be able to let us comfort her and not have to self-soothe so much.


Maria's hand print turkey

Thank you Lord for bringing home Maria

Thank you Lord for our children

Thank you Lord for Pumpkin Pie

She is very independent and is used to doing what she wants. Sounds like typical four year old behavior, right?  So we are reteaching a lot of behaviors to help her adjust to family life.  She can get frustrated, but she is very easily redirected (much, much more easily than a 3 year old I know :)



First time putting ornaments on a tree

Merry Christmas!

Loving on my siblings

Look who has their first stocking!

All 7 stockings hung-  The middle one is for Jesus- we write down our prayers/thanksgiving and put them in His stocking

I am pretty tired every day from the constant training and monitoring and care Maria requires right now.  However, the other day I was rocking her before bedtime and my heart just overflowed with joy and I couldn't hold back the tears! I was singing "Jesus loves me" and when I sang the line "little ones to Him belong" the reality just hit! She is finally home! It was such a long, hard year, but I am so hopeful about what this next year holds for Maria.  I can't imagine what this year would have done to her spirit if she had been transferred to the mental asylum, instead of coming home with us. I am in awe of the timing of this all- we made it to her, right before she would have been transferred.  This fact is so present in my mind lately.  And because Jesus loves her and she belongs to Him, He made a way for us to get to her so she could know Him and His love for her.  This is what He has done for all of us, really!

 By this we know LOVE, because He laid down His life for us. 1 John 3:16

Playing dress-up: Incredible Maria-Hulk

Maria in all her cuteness

Times 2!

Times 3!