A couple's journey through international adoption to becoming a family

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Monday, July 16, 2007

4 Eyes

Ruslan finally got his new glasses. The optometrist told us that his whole world has been blurry. Now he can see! She expects that lots of things will change for him. (We were amazed to hear this, because we think he is exceptional already). He wears them all them time except for sleeping or swimming. There is a 50/50 chance his eyes will eventually improve. We may need to patch his eyes down the line.

His teacher at school told us that he has really been paying attention much better since getting his glasses. That is a positive change already!

He is a beautiful boy, with or without glasses!

In the last couple of weeks, we have noticed a remarkable improvement in his language acquisition. He speaks English most of the time. I call it caveman English, but he is being understood much better by his playmates. We have playdates several times a week.

Ruslan has also taught himself to swim. He loves the water and wants to go to the pool every chance he gets. Usually he wears a swim vest, but he has been taking it off and swimming about half way across the pool. He loves to canonball into the water to see how big a splash he can make. He has also recently been somersaulting into the water. He is quite acrobatic. He has been practicing his ninja moves on the lawn out back. He does cartwheels and ninja rolls by throwing himself over and landing on his feet. He surprises us all the time.

Only 2 more weeks of summer school, then we will be on vacation in Tahoe.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Just wanted to share this picture from our recent camping trip in Petaluma. It was great to share something that we enjoy with our son.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Family Life

So much has happened since I last posted, this is going to be a long one. We had Ruslan’s birthday, end-of-year field trips/BBQs/parties, Ruslan’s kindergarten graduation, our 17th anniversary, our first camping trip with our son and Father’s Day. In looking at all of it, I just have to say how happy I am. What a great family and a wonderful life! I am having so much fun and know that I am abundantly blessed.
We kept Ruslan’s birthday a little bit low-key this year. We took him to a carnival with his little Russian-speaking friend, Anton the weekend before his birthday and unveiled his new bike when he got home, then on the actual day (Tues, June 5th) we brought cupcakes to school where he was king for the day. Later in the afternoon Noah came over and we all went bowling and had a few more presents with cake and ice cream. Ruslan loves to bowl; it was his 2nd time and with bumpers, he is not half bad. Even though we thought we were keeping things relatively low-key overall, we almost overwhelmed him with new activities and gifts.
Ruslan was so proud of himself for graduating from kindergarten. He really does do his best to participate in as much of the class activities as he can. He struggles to fit in and communicate. His struggles often break my heart, but I am always impressed at his resilience and fortitude.
We also kept our anniversary low-key. We debated on getting a babysitter, but both decided that we really didn’t want to be without Ruslan, at least not just yet. We spent a nice day together bike riding as a family on the Foster City levy and then we went to dinner at a family style chain restaurant. We don’t go out too much these days, so it was a treat for all of us.
Camping with Ruslan was really great. He wasn’t really sure that we were going to spend the night in our camper, he kept thinking we were going to eventually go back home. He was a little afraid, but when he realized we were altogether in the venture, he settled into it. Most of all Ruslan loved swimming, riding his bike and he particularly loved the campfire, especially the smores (don’t we all).
The Sunday morning of our camping trip was Father’s Day. The campsite we were at had a pancake breakfast in the lodge. Ken went to pay and was really excited that the fathers got to eat FREE. That was Ken’s 2nd best gift. His first best gift was a beautiful tile that Ruslan painted for him. It had a steam train and a rainbow. Ruslan knows that his Poppy loves trains. Ken is going to hang it in his office at work.

Ruslan is such an awesome little boy. He is speaking more and more English everyday. It is really funny when we hear him repeat phrases that we know he has picked up from us, (or from a video). Lately, he has been saying when he gets a little frustrated “Great, just great!” and when he embarks on something like taking off on his bike or jumping in the pool, he says “Start your engines,” from the Cars DVD. Overall, we are all understanding each other better and better. A strong bond of love is developing. Ruslan loves to hug, kiss, and blow kisses. Today, we went to a children’s theme park, Happy Hollow where Ruslan was caught blowing me kisses from one of the rides by another mother. She was quite impressed. I told her that he is like that all the time. It is amazing how much has changed in the last couple of months. I am wondering what I will be posting in a years time. Just like Mary, I’m keeping all these things in my heart (Lk 2:51)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Memorial Weekend

We had a busy weekend having fun as a family. Friday night we went to the Giant's baseball game with Katie, Noah and big Ruslan (a friend originally from Russia, who just happens to have the same name as our son), and 'Hello Kitty,' who is Ruslan's kindergarten class's teddy-bear mascot. The kids draw names to see who gets to take Hello Kitty home for the weekend. Ruslan was so excited that he got picked. We had to do some fun stuff with Hello Kitty so that he could take pictures and add it to the Hello Kitty scrap book at school. Everyone enjoyed the game, including Hello Kitty. There was a amazing fireworks display after the game in honor of Memorial Day. What a great night! Our other events this weekend included bike-riding around Foster City on Saturday and a visit to the miniature steam trains in Tilden park in Berkeley on Sunday. We have included some pictures of our great weekend for your viewing pleasure.

Ruslan went to his first kid's birthday party this afternoon. We weren't sure about taking him till just recently. He has been struggling to interact with the kids in his class other than his one Russian-speaking friend, Anton. Anton was sick for a couple days this week and it forced Ruslan to branch out a little more. He actually had a couple of play dates this week with some of the other kids while Anton was out. One of them was the cutest little girl named Padina. They walked to the playground hand-in-hand. They were so darling. The birthday party he went to today was for a little girl named Sara, with a princess theme. Ruslan was a little dismayed when he walked in and saw all the girls in their princess costumes, but just in the nick of time a few boys showed up which helped him feel a little more comfortable. The parents of the birthday girl assured me everything would be alright, so I nervously wrote my cell number down for them and left him there. It was nice to have a couple hours break, even though I was thinking of him the whole time. I notice that whenever I am not with him, I worry and think about him. I guess it is a new mom kinda thing. Anyway, no one ever called me and by the time I came back to pick him up he was running around with the other boys having a great time. When we said our evening prayers tonight, he was able to pray for many of his classmates by name.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Playing after School

Here we are playing in Gull Park after school. This picture was taken by Iya, the mother of Ruslan's friend, Anton. We usually play in this park for a while after school everyday so that the boys have some time to release some of their energy. We are so blessed to live in beautiful Foster City. My sister, Rose was just here visiting. She came to visit Ruslan and to help me catch my breath a little. It was a wonderful treat to have her here. I even got to get a massage yesterday. Rose said she enjoyed being in Foster City because she felt like she was staying at a vacation resort. Sometimes it helps to look at your situation from someone else's eyes. It certainly made me appreciate everything I have. Especially, this beautiful little boy.

Since I volunteer in his class a couple days a week, I was able to observe today some of the drawings he has been creating in class. It really struck me, all of them were of me! Today he drew another one of me and him on a bicycle built for two. It was so cute. The teacher had him share it with the class, because she thought it was so cute, too.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Learning to Love

This unique parenting situation we are in is giving us lots of opportunity to learn about love. When we brought this special little person into our home, we loved him as you could love a stranger. The type of love you have for all the children of the world; very different from the type of love you have for a familiar face. There was much to learn about each other, much to experience. Some of the experiences we have had over the past month have been very hard, hurtful and challenging. As I take a moment to ponder, I am thinking now that probably the worst is over (the worst for this stage of the journey, anyway). Now we are entering a whole new phase.

I was at the gym the other morning when Ruslan was at school. One of the other patrons there, a virtual stranger to me asked me if I had recently fallen in love, she said I had a glow about me. I was a little taken back by the comment, but responded after a moment to reflect that “Yes, in fact I am falling in love.” I was just very surprised that it showed. There is a tenderness growing between Mother and son that comes from the growing confidence that we will be there for each other. I am doing my best to respond to his needs, he is feeling more confident about that. Ruslan also tries to take care of his Mama. He opens the car door for her, helps with whatever he can (bringing in groceries, etc.), but mostly gives her kisses and hugs and great big smiles. He is also getting used to the routine we have established and knows more what to expect. That is helping him to feel more stable.

At this time, the weariness from the upheaval in my life is also fading away. I am getting a little time to myself while Ruslan is at school and it is helping me to feel much more refreshed. I am finding a little quiet time for prayer and exercise, some things definitely needed to keep up the pace. I also put in my resignation at work this week. I am feeling a relief from that decision. I have waited far too long for this little guy to mess up now. I don’t want to have any regrets; I want to enjoy my motherhood fully. My work situation was causing me too much stress. I read the signs that the Lord was putting before me and will move on. I am sure that as doors close, others will open. I have confidence that the Lord will provide as he always does. This is definitely an exciting time for us; a time for learning more about His love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

School Days

Ruslan loves school. Here is a couple of photos from his kindergarten class. Ruslan is the good-looking boy in the orange/yellow sweater.

I volunteered in Ruslan's class last week and he was so proud to have me there. I have decided to volunteer a couple days a week. It helps me to see how he is doing and what we need to do to help him catch up. All the kids are really cute and sweet. Although, they are having a hard time understanding why I don't speak Russian like Anton's mom does.

I have also included a picture of him and his best-friend, Anton on one of their play dates after school.