I just got back from two weeks in Kyiv. A wonderful family was adopting their sixth, seventh, and eighth children, including one from "my" orphanage. So, I went to Kyiv to stay with the one from here, while her mother traveled to get her brother, and then to help with all the Kyiv running around (and waiting) that they had to do. I know many of you were praying for me/them/us. Thank you! We definitely needed those prayers.
It was really a treat for me to see these children start to bloom. This was just the beginning of the wonders of what they have ahead of them, but it was already dramatic. The picture above shows my little friend, and one of the ways she liked to calm herself after exciting times out in the big world. My first two days with her--while her mama was gone--she was like a newborn. She only wanted me to hold her with lots of skin to skin contact, feed her, and put her to bed. She's sixteen, but she has missed out on so much! She's very, very far behind where a 16-year-old with Down syndrome would usually be.
Then her brother joined us. He's 11 and also has Down syndrome, but he had been in a school, and is in much better shape. (He is so much fun, and he was also starting to bloom and change while I watched.) And we started spending more time out and about. The first time in a restaurant, my little friend tried really hard, but she was so fluttery and anxious that she couldn't eat at all or sit for very long. I took her out and walked her back to the apartment early. A few days later--just a few days!--we tried again at the same restaurant. This time she ate about half her food and handled everything well enough that we even sat and ate dessert; she got a little bit worked up while we were finishing that. A few more days, and we actually tried T.G.I. Friday's, where she ate a nice meal and sat happily, even in a loud environment, even when the power went out. Then... the finale: back to the first restaurant on another evening. This time, we went through the line and got our food. She gulped hers down. I went back for seconds for her. Then thirds. She would have taken more, but we stopped there, and she just nibbled off what I had for myself. This time she was perfectly calm and happy. That much progress in less than two weeks!
That's just one vivid example. I could write more about watching them gain weight, confidence, smiles, trust, ability to express themselves.... (Not to mention how much I enjoyed the super-cute baby brother, too.)
I'm adding a photo of them that I took outside the American embassy, after their last appointment there, when they got their visas: