I wish every single person who ever met Vladik at Romaniv could see him now. You would not know this child.
Jed is back in Ukraine right now and has been sending me tons of pics of my babies there. When I see those pictures and then stop and think about Vladik living there I almost can’t even imagine it. The boy I know now is so much different than the boy I knew there. He’s a new creation.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Vladik is a miracle. How could a child raised there be this joyful, this full of life, this loving, this generous? Only God could do something like that.
General Transition: He’s a rockstar. Vladik is growing in his development in leaps and bounds. His language is growing as well, both Ukrainian and English. He’ll often ask us what certain words are in English, and if we tell him once he usually remembers. So, now Vladik speaks a mixture of Russian, Ukrainian, English, and “Vladik speak”. Everyone in our family understands about 99% of what he says, but it’s another story with the rest of the world. Slowly and surely he is becoming more understandable. He desires to communicate and his social skills have vastly improved, so we are not worried.
Vladik came to us with many institutional behaviors. He didn’t know how to behave in most any environment and had a lot of nervous twitches- like sticking his tongue in and out really quickly, licking his hands, and putting his elbows up to his ears, almost like he was blocking his ears. He would also make tons of inappropriately loud sounds at inappropriate times. Like if there was quiet he just had to fill it! If we were in a store or the library and it was quiet you could guarantee Vladik would start filling up the space “BEEP BEEEEEEP! BEEP BEEEEEEP!” Oy. We’ve come a long way baby. Now if he beeps we just remind him that he’s not a car and he instantly stops. 🙂 He is sensitive to environments and if all is quiet he is usually good about being quiet. The only real nervous behavior he still holds on to is the elbows up at the ears, but that one is more and more rare. He usually only does that if he knows he’s done something wrong, or if someone else is in trouble. It’s wonderful to take a moment to think back at how far he’s come. Praise God!
Family: We’ve hit a point where it feels like he’s just always been here. I no longer have that feeling like I’m the babysitter of a child who just always stays (that is a normal feeling in adoption, FYI). He is our son and it feels natural. I couldn’t have said that even one month ago. He still loves his Seth and I think when he had his surgery it bonded him more to the other kids as well. They were all so concerned for him and that empathy really helped with relationship building. He really is just one of the gang. I’m so thankful for that.
School: Vladik started school a few weeks ago and is doing amazingly well! In January he started seeing a tutor for a half hour a day while the school district found a classroom placement for him. Then in the last week of March he became a freshman at South Salem High. Ha! He’s in a self-contained classroom and we are so blessed by teachers and assistants that love him and treasure him. Vladik LOVES school. We started him going half a day at first, but now he is going full day. Most of the fun, more active learning happens in the afternoon, so we knew he would really enjoy that. Like every day his class gathers the recycling from all the classrooms and they sort and shred. Vladik is kinda obsessed with the shredder. 🙂 Today he goes on his first field trip to a recycling center! He could hardly sleep last night he was so excited to ride the school bus. I am so happy for him that he has this opportunity. Sweet boy deserves every bit of joy and life that we can offer him.
Medical: Vladik had sleep apnea, so we had his tonsils and adenoids taken out on March 30th. He also had the back of his throat expanded to make his airway larger. He did great and has fully recovered. We had a few scary hours in the recovery room after learning that his body is extremely sensitive to narcotics, but we learned our lesson on that one! I’m excited to repeat the sleep study, but I can already tell you that the surgery made a big difference. You know how when you have a newborn and they’re sleeping so still and silently that you have to go super close to make sure they’re still breathing? Yeah, I had to do that the other night with Vladik. 🙂 I’m used to being able to hear Vladik sleeping from every other room in the house, but that’s not the case now! He sleeps absolutely SILENTLY. I’m so so so happy for him!!!!!! His body used to have to work so stinkin’ hard just to get air. He had to sleep with his head back and his back arched just to keep his airway open. The ENT told us that Vladik probably had many very dangerous nights as a small child because his airways were so small. Thank you God for protecting our baby! Now I pray that he will start to gain weight since he won’t be working so hard just to sleep.
The next surgery for Vladik is on his right hand. A plastic surgeon will be giving him a thumb sometime in May. WOOHOO! That is the surgery Vladik is so excited about. We were hoping to do surgery on his feet first, but we won’t be able to. The foot surgeon will be out of the country for the months of May and June and we will simply run out of time. We need to be back in Ukraine as a family in August, so we have to let the feet go for now. Most likely Vladik and I will return for that surgery sometime at the beginning of next year. So now we just eagerly await insurance approval so we can schedule hand surgery!
Otherwise, I guess I can just say that Vladik is our joy and we love him more every day. A couple months ago we started teaching him how to hug. Vladik is very protective of his body and would barely receive a hug. He would kind of back his shoulder in to you and that was as good as it got. He would often come and kiss my shoulder, but he was embarrassed or nervous to hug. We taught him that you give friends high fives, but with family you need to wrap your arms around them and that is a hug. Now if I say “I need love” (in Ukrainian) he will wrap his arms around me and hug me tight. And yesterday, for the first time, he initiated. I was in the kitchen and he came in and said “LOVE!!!” And gave me the hugest hug! Melt.my.heart.
He’s just awesome and we are so thankful that we get to have him in our lives. Precious, precious boy.