It is so hard to believe that we've been home with our son for over two months now. Let me catch you up a little. The flight home was tiring, but was fine. I was so worried about Iliya being on the plane, confined for such a long time. He was a champ. When we finally arrived at our final stop in Cincinnati (with still a 2 hour drive ahead of us), several of our friends were there to greet us. It was going on 10:00 pm, and we had friends make the drive down to see us and friends come over from the Louisville area. Wow, such a blessing. Of course, they brought our kids to us that I was dying to see so I hope they forgive me when I went several minutes without focusing on anything other than those two faces that I was aching to see and hold. Upon coming home and going to bed, it is like we instantly settled in. I can say that over the last 8 weeks our lives have become.....life. This is life. No, not every day is easy. We weren't promised that it would be, and quite honestly raising our biological children often wasn't easy either. But not everyday is hard, either....not in any way. Most days, a big "most", are wonderful. I am still amazed at what our family has transpired into. This is not a visitor in our home, this is a son...a brother. Spencer and Emilie have accepted everything wonderfully. They love him. They fight with him. They watch out for him. Spencer has come to his defense on numerous occasions...."dad, he doesn't understand yet. It's ok. He's not hurting anything". This is usually during a time when Iliya is testing his boundaries and it is clear that he knows what he is doing. But rather than getting upset with him, Spencer is coming to his defense. (Lord, I pray that this young man continues to have such compassion for others, especially for those that cannot speak up for themselves).
Yes, there are definitely still times when he tests us. It is quite possibly a protective reaction. Since he cannot yet speak the language very well, perhaps some of his outbursts are out of frustration, or just a way of dealing with the vast differences he is going through. He is doing wonderfully with the transition, but remember that he lost everything he ever knew. I can't help but believe that there are times when he remembers things, good or bad, and just has difficulty with processing it. He can't simply sit down and explain to us all of his thoughts and concerns, so it comes out in other ways. We understand this, and it's fine. Oh, we get frustrated. But we really do understand. We try to keep it in perspective and understand that our frustrations have to be so very minor compared to the frustrations that he has to deal with.
On the language, I think he is doing great. He understands A LOT of English and is starting to speak in English quite a bit. We can communicate daily and it hasn't really been too much of an issue. As for routines, it's funny how just when we start to get settled in we have a holiday vacation. So the last couple weeks have been very out of the ordinary and he will again need to find a routine once Spencer and Emilie get back to school. Speaking of holidays, how was his Christmas? I thought it went very well. He behaved himself very well around his cousins, especially the younger ones. I was concerned that the concept of "sharing" was going to be difficult but he did very well. The one thing that sticks with me from Christmas day was his focus on the gift he had opened. While the other kids would go from present to present, Iliya opened one up and saw that he liked it so he played with it. Quite some time later he still had unopened gifts under the tree because he was happy to play with the one he had opened thus far. Hmmm, perhaps we could all learn a little something from that. Perhaps we can all be content with what we have in front of us instead of rushing to the next thing hoping it is bigger and better. Just a thought.
Nighttime routines are going pretty well. He still is intrigued by the things around the room, whether they are sights or sounds or whatever. I can imagine it is hard to relax. I know that when I lay down at night my mind starts to think of numerous things. Perhaps it is the same for him and that is when he starts to wonder about the things in his room, the noises at night, the events of the day. Who knows? One thing that I've really enjoyed about nighttime is saying bedtime prayers with him. I've never prompted him to do so, and I don't believe Michelle has either, but upon completion of the prayer I usually hear a faint little voice saying "Amen". It truly warms my heart.
One last thing that truly warms my heart is watching my incredible wife with him. She is amazing. Her motherly instincts have kicked in and she is so natural with him. Believe me, he is a momma's boy. Oh he likes sitting with me in my chair for a time, watching TV or playing with something (usually an old broken remote control. Unfortunately he's probably already learned from me that when you are in that room, for some reason you are supposed to have a remote in your hand). But sitting with me doesn't last too long when momma is around. And if momma is out of the house? Then he often comes to me questioning "momma?" He goes to the window and looks out "momma's car?" Let me tell you, this little boy loves his momma. So all appears to be going well. It's natural. We know that he is quite special and we know that the circumstances of him being in our family are special...but it doesn't feel that "special", it's just....normal. This is our new life, and what a wonderful life it is.