Saturday, November 26, 2011

So the last year...

I'd say it's hard to believe it's been nigh on a year since my last post here, but I know me too well.

Galyna's tale hasn't ended, though, so I'd best be about the business of providing some updates.

This is as good a starting point as any. Galyna's second round of tissue expansion went exceedingly well. Her discomfort with the procedure was lower than it had been the first time through. She enjoyed being spoiled by the good folks at Shriner's once again. (I think she daydreams about further surgery so she can have ice cream for breakfast, do sand art projects with the nurses, and watch whatever tv shows she wants). Her hair coverage in the back is now about 70% or so, depending on what you consider as the baseline. Per the surgeon, there may be one more round to address a couple of spots on the front of her head, but we may be at the end of what we can do with the back; her skin can only stretch so much. That said, the difference between when we brought her home and today is amazing. With more hair, too, comes more confidence - which was a primary goal. We'll see what the surgeon says at our next appointment, sometime in the next week.

(For those of you who are of the praying ilk, this is also a potential challenge. We're not sure what this would mean for us, and wherever God leads is obviously fine by us; He has already blessed us more than we in particular deserve considering how many others need a lot more than we do. But our parents' heart is that if we can remove any barriers to her happiness, even if not yet encountered as hardships, we want to do what we can.)

Ah, la escuela. She continues to make progress, and while still slightly behind grade level she is still closing the gap. There have been a few hiccups as she's started pushing boundaries a little bit - while also dealing with some fallout from her background. Galyna has a tendency to "study for the test" in most subjects, learning enough to get through the test, and then forgetting the information, or (in reading) getting through the pronunciation without paying attention to vocabulary or comprehension. These things will come as we instill within her the value of education, although this is proving to be a mildly unexpected difficulty. Those struggles aside, she makes friends easily and follows her teachers.

This has been an interesting year in terms of our family. Galyna has begun bonding a little more with Tierney, but sibling issues remain. She sees her sisters as competition quite often - quite understandable, considering, but for her sisters it's not something they're fully prepared to handle yet. One of the very few concerns we had when adopting Galyna was that the process would be difficult for her sisters, who were (and are!) very close best friends. It's been difficult for Galya to break through, either annoying Amissa by (as Amissa sees it) "stalking" her due to Galyna's dislike of being alone, or by pushing Tierney's buttons. But I may be making it sound worse than it is. All three girls have grown this past year, and do get along better. Tierney & Amissa have even learned through this a bit more about how to be open with us about what's going on, and about showing grace to someone still learning what it means to be in a family. For her part, Galyna is learning what it means to have sisters instead of other orphans competing for parents.

As far as our relationship with Galyna is concerned, the therapy helped move that along a little bit. She still shows signs of not having full moved through the preschool phase of development, so the play therapy needs to continue. Her progress, though, is noticeable. We don't want to diminish that progress. However, some frustration still exists. She hasn't fully moved past her RAD, and it is especially noticeable with Shannon. She doesn't show affection to Shannon except when asked to, and her trust that she is in a permanent situation isn't there yet. It is...hard, especially since she is showing some signs of softening with me. I ache for Shannon, who still wants Galyna to just hug her, or climb into her lap to snuggle.

Adding to this is the fact that in public Galyna shows few signs of this beyond occasionally being (still) overly affectionate with others (which, also, is difficult for Shannon and me to see; we want to encourage healthy relationships outside the family, of course, but it's not easy seeing the hugs you want being given to others more freely). This "public face" of things is different from our in-home experience, making it hard for some of our friends to understand some of our challenges.

That said - again, she has still been making progress. She had a difficult life, and is still adjusting to a huge life change. We are adjusting to a life change nearly as large. Things are progressing, and there are many more silver linings than clouds. We are really blessed as many things could be oh so much harder or more painful. She's still a sweetheart, still trying - and still growing.

This is getting long - and there's more, but I'll save that for next time.

Thanks for listening:)

God bless,

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