Monday, April 12, 2010

Family Update

Family update time!

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. Grandma's funeral was more like a celebration in my book. A time to remember a remarkable woman with the security of knowing that she is in the presence of God.

Now on to the updates:

Elaina is doing better with her sleep. We've seen a sleep psychologist twice. He gave Elaina some good ideas about relaxing and preparing for her night of sleep. But really, most importantly, I think he gave her a platform to talk openly. This last year has been tough on our oldest. She's nine and for some reason she has decided she is really eighteen.Elaina was in Ukraine with me for seven weeks for Evie's adoption last summer and was the eternal optimist the whole trip. Once home, she adjusted to life with another sibling and then Polly's Moyamoya diagnosis came along. Lainie internalizes everything and I think it's all been a bit much. "It feels so good to get everything out," Elaina said during her first talk session with her sleep doctor.

I think Elaina mainly needs to know that although her little sisters take up a lot of our time and energy and focus, Sergei and I are equally there for her and ready to help her with her problems.

Elaina has so many wonderful qualities, especially empathy. I am thankful to have her as my daughter.

Zoya is doing well. She sleeps like a log (one out of four ain't bad). A few months ago she was having some problems with reading and writing in school but recently she has pulled up her grades and is quite pleased with herself. She turned eight in March and celebrated her birthday in Michigan with her Grandpa who has a birthday the day after. Zoya is still in to science and math. She is starting to really enjoy reading and I see her becoming more of a team player at home. Zoya is strong. She's courageous. She's always thinking. I love her.

Polly is growing up! Her surgeries for Moyamoya have not slowed her down...instead we've seen another jump in her cognition. She answers who and what questions with three and four word sentences. Whenever a candle is lit (which is a lot b/c I choose to light candles when company comes over instead of cleaning), she insists that we all sing 'Happy Birthday.' She so wants to blow out the candles. Ironically, due to my grandmother's passing we haven't gotten to her official birthday party yet. But our cutie doesn't mind!

Besides a little wobbliness, Polly does not seem to have any lasting effect from her strokes and seizures. She's still on her seizure medications and takes an aspirin every day to increase blood flow. She makes our whole family laugh out loud. The other day Zoya was coughing and Polly leaned over and said, "Zoya, no cough on me."

Polly amazes me. She is the light of my life. I remember the fearful mother who gave birth to her four years ago. She was a measly five pound raisin. A child with Down syndrome. A plague on my life.

I was so very wrong. I am humbled.

And Ms. Evangeline. We've seen progress with Evie, mainly in bonding. It's hard to admit how difficult our first months with Evangeline were. Many times I questioned God. "Did I jump the gun on this one Lord?" "Was bringing this child home really part of your plan for our lives?" Sometimes I wanted God to tell me yes, that I got it all wrong. That I really wasn't supposed to love the person rocking in the corner eating her own hair.

But that's not what I heard. Over and over, through scripture, through others and through my daughter, I heard God telling me to trust him and to open my heart to Evangeline regardless of her response to me. He reminded me that I too was an orphan adopted into his family, that love on this side of eternity isn't perfect and usually isn't pretty. It's messy and takes sacrifice...but nothing compared to what Jesus has already done for me.

So I pushed through, loving Evie outwardly when inside I was screaming for help. Sometimes my heart attitude leaked out on to my youngest daughter. I'd be mean in tone, or put her to bed too early, pay more attention to the other girls.

With help from other mothers who have walked the adoption road and through prayer, God has showed me that Evie is worth my attention. We started spending more time together. I'd swaddle her like and newborn and rock her and sing 'Jesus loves me.'

And magic started happening. Evie looked into my eyes intently with love.

And after a while I was able to reciprocate.

Evie loves school in the morning, she joins in with her sisters at play, even if that just means she moves to where they are. But most of all, she seeks Sergei and I out. She laughs when we pick her up from school and she smiles and raises her arms to us when we get her out of her crib in the morning.

We haven't seen a lot of cognitive growth in Evangeline since we've brought her home.

But we have love now.

And somehow, stacking blocks and reading books or lack thereof does not matter anymore.

She's our daughter.

That's all.

Sergei and I are overwhelmed, thankful, a bit freaked out and tired. Our church is growing which is both wonderful and brutal. Our whole married life in ministry has been with small groups. Now we have 80-90 people on a Sunday morning. 80-90 people that we love. We take ownership. We pray for them and try to be there for them. Sergei's also still plugging along in his Master's degree in Church History. This semester he did two classes which was a bit much (don't tell him I said that).

Five years ago I was in Kiev, Ukraine, speaking Russian comfortably, attending our house church, making open-faced meat sandwiches, wondering how schooling and ministry and life really was going to work in a foreign country for my children and for myself.

Now I'm here, in a house for the first time in my married life, a part of a church filled with real people who love God, partnered with a husband who loves his job; loves the people of his church and loves his family. I write. I pray. I make macaroni and cheese.

I have family close by and family over the ocean whom I miss.

If we are honest, I think life is usually overwhelming. But I'm not alone in that, right?

I am thankful for health; for my kids and my husband. I have friends on my street and friends from childhood who still care.

What about you? What's your update?


  1. What an update! I love the way you didn't just make comments on everyone's status, but that you shared what they mean to you. What a treasure you are giving your family by your words chronicling your lives.

  2. Gillian, what an awesome post. Thanks so much sharing your heart, especially regarding the difficulties you've had bonding with Evie. I know exactly what you feel, I've asked those same questions. It's such a slow process, but God has called us to adopt for a reason:->

  3. What a beautiful update Gillian! You are doing great, great stuff.

  4. Thanks for the beautiful update! You're awesome!!

  5. Gillian, thank you, thank you for writing this!!

  6. What a beautiful family you all are. The girls are all going to be great. They are already. God bless all of you.

  7. so happy to hear about evangeline's attachment progress and yours! and about how things are going well for elaina, zoya, and precious polly! my update with 6 kids would be waaaaay long....but thanks for asking!


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