It’s been a little over three years since we brought our youngest child, Maddie, home from Ukraine.
It seems like just yesterday I stepped off that plane in Kansas City with the Madster and ran into my family’s arms – exhausted from spending three weeks by myself in Ukraine, but amazed at the bond Maddie and I were slowly building.
Over the last 1,096 days we’ve worked hard on that bond. We have spent a lot of time teaching her what family is…learning how to navigate through some post-orphanage stuff and helping her to adapt to the listening world.
Today, I can honestly say…I am Maddie’s mom. She believes it…and I KNOW it. Sure, she still would walk away with a stranger…but now she would look back, she’d ask about me and she would be unsure of herself. I KNOW it…I’ve SEEN it.
It’s a beautiful thing!
She doesn’t hoard food anymore. She asks for snacks and accepts that sometimes she will get some and other times (if its too close to dinner) she won’t. She shares her toys, has good friends at school and is learning more English all the time.
Sure, there are still gaps. Spending four years in an Eastern European orphanage will do that to you, but those gaps are closing. More and more often she’s surprising me with her knowledge about things that are more than basic.
I’m hearing her use bigger and bigger words all the time. She is reading….well. Her teacher has placed her in the middle reading group in her class.
She wants to know how to spell EVERYTHING. She draws and draws and draws. She plays sports. She loves to play dress up and isn’t opposed to folding laundry.
She is growing (only one size behind her older sister who is 10! , maturing (she constantly nags the older boys for misbehaving) and becoming more beautiful every day.
And she just turned 7, which for some reason is a big birthday milestone for me. It seems that when kids turn 7 they’re no longer the ‘little’ ones…and suddenly on the verge of becoming a big kid.
And perhaps the biggest milestone of all – this year will finally mark the point where she will have been with us longer than she was in the orphanage. I. CAN’T. WAIT!
So while it does seem like just yesterday that Maddie and I stepped off that plane, in so many ways it has been a lifetime. And I have enjoyed every minute of it!