Saturday, March 1, 2014

Continuing the Journey

Thanks for sticking with me here. It's hard to find time to write anymore, which is a bummer, but fortunately by this point in our journey with our little Ukainian princess the steps tend to take place over longer time periods. So I'm not really as behind as it may feel. At least to me.
That said, we have come far along the path down which God is leading us. It is...a hilly path. Lots of ups and downs. Galyna continues to improve academically, and we have (finally!) had our first parent-teacher conference where we were not told she needed to work on her propensity to chatter with her neighbor! Her grades are solidly at the level of her classmates. This is no small feat, and we're proud of how far she's come since being put into an American school speaking no American English. She is looking forward to middle school next year, and while nervous about the change in expectations - it's hard going from the "top class" to the "bottom class" in a school - Galyna is excited to be picking her electives. So far it looks like she wants lots of art classes, which also seems up her alley. She's also continuing to take dance class. This year she's stretching a bit, taking hip-hop instead of ballet. I think she wants to go back to ballet, but it's good to see her step outside her comfort zone and try something new. That's not been a forte, so small steps are good. Beyond dance and school, Galyna is involved in the E.D.G.E. group at church. She loves her teachers (we have the best "evah" at our church) and playing the games. Not sure how much she's absorbing about the lessons as getting her to tell us what she learned is usually an exercise in confusion, but she is starting to come up with some awesome questions. As long as she keeps that curiosity I'm a happy papa.
Beyond the day-to-day, we had another adventure this summer, taking a trip out to the west end of the country in the form of a two-week family roadtrip. We spent a few days in Yellowstone and a few days with my brother & his girlfriend in Seattle, surrounded by a lot of long, yet fun, days in the car. Galyna handled it with aplomb, and even was happy to participate in our family activity. I created a daily game book for the girls which included research (they had to study 10 facts about whatever activity or location we had planned for that day, and got points for uniqueness) and creativity (each day had a picture or poem or photo story they had to create related to that day's activity, with points granted for creativity). The prizes were first, second and third pick from a list of daddy/daughter dates (so I had something in it for me too!) She had fun with that, although the research got her stuck enough that she got the 3rd pick. That was fine as our day at the zoo was good quality time. She also enjoyed our little drive with Dude the Buffalo, seeing the geysers, hanging with Uncle Chris and Aunt Kristin, and all the other site-seeing activities. It was good times all around.
Looking back, we've come a long way. But the journey is not over. We're past some of the worst of the RAD issues, but it will be awhile before we get through the rest. Our therapist says Galya is the 2nd most traumatized adoptee she's ever worked with, which says a lot. The latest is dealing with a lack of trust she has in very many things, from our motivation in adopting her to the permanence of the relationship, as well as a still undeveloped understanding of what a healthy relationship is. Then again, she has taken strides with her sisters so we trust we'll get there with the other things. We're finding that much of what we have to deal with is not unique - which is encouraging in a way. It is comforting to know that there is an end to the tunnel that others have found, and you're not alone. So thanks for your prayers and encouragement; they do mean a lot. As we continue to work through the challenges which remain, we are grateful for the growth we've seen. Looking back is always a gratifying experience as we can see the many ways in which God has used this little girl to grow us as much as we grow her. Your part in that can't be overstated. Thank you! God bless, Ron

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