The first hours of parenthood
Oh my gosh! She's a handful! Well we left the orphanage without much incident. She told the orphanage staff that she wanted to leave in the car. But, she refused to let me or Bill hold her hand or touch her other than put her snowsuit and boots on. The orphanage director walked her out and then Vika, our interpretor took her from there. She would only sit on Vika's lap the whole way to the hotel. Just as we pulled up to the hotel, she threw up all over herself and Vika. Vika was so surprised that she actually pushed Elizabeth out of her lap! Nothing personal I'm sure, just a reflex. So, we cleaned off Elizabeth and Vika outside the hotel. Bill went ahead upstairs to put away the groceries and other things we had bought earlier. Then Vika tells me that we need to go to Aeroflot's office to present them with the Adoption paperwork and Elizabeth's ticket. Apparently, Aeroflot needed documented proof that we are Elizabeth's parents. Aeroflot is about 3 blocks from the hotel. Galina needed Bill to stay and sign paperwork for the Elizabeth's passport. So, Vika, Elizabeth and I walked to the Aeroflot office in 6 inches of snow and puke stained coats (go figure). At this point, Elizabeth still would not let me touch her, even hold her hand. She even wanted Vika to walk between me and her! She's very temperamental! But, she wasn't much happier with Vika at this point either. Vika kept talking to her about the snow and other things we saw, Elizabeth would just turn her head and ignore Vika. So, it made me feel a little bit better that she didn't like Vika much either.
We finally got back to the hotel where Bill was waiting on the front steps for us. We finalized some details in the lobby and because Elizabeth was still being so temperamental, we asked Vika if she would walk up to our room with us in order to hopefully save us from a scene in the hotel lobby with a screaming child. She agreed and walked to our room. I had laid out all new toys, coloring books, play-do, her own bowl and fork/spoon on a chair and floor (kinda like Christmas) so that was the first thing she saw. We opened the door and she ran to see her new stuff. She never noticed that Vika did not enter the room. Vika closed the door behind us and stayed outside for a couple of minutes to make sure she would be okay. Within five minutes Elizabeth was talking to us about her toys and exploring the hotel room (what there is to it).
Within a few hours (actually within less an hour) she had tired of her new toys. She wanted other things, like to turn the TV on and off, on and off. Finally we had to unplug the TV. We've discovered that she has a very big vocabulary, much bigger than we originally thought. Unfortunately, we're not sure what she's saying most of the time because it's all in Russian. That will be our next big hurdle I think. I can already see that it's going to be hard to deal with her while she is still speaking Russian. Although she did help us communicate with the housekeeper. The housekeeper came in to change the linens on our bed. Elizabeth stood there watching her. The housekeeper asked me what her name was and I didn't understand. Finally, Elizabeth said "my name is Mosha." I then realized what the housekeeper was trying to say to me. Right now, we're still calling her Mosha. We certainly hope to change it to Elizabeth, but, one thing at a time.
She is also quite the fashion diva. She found her suitcase and pulled out more clothes and demanded that we change her out of her current outfit and into a new one. We did. Then later she came back to it and wanted another shirt and pants to be put over the top of her first pair. By the time we were done, she had a t-shirt, sweater, sweater vest, and long sleeve blouse on top, a pair of tights, a pair of cotton pants and two pairs of socks on the bottom. Then she found a pair of Bill's socks in the dirty clothes bag, pulled those out and put them on top! She is so funny! Another time, she gathered all her toys in a bag, put on her coat, hat and boots and headed to the door carrying the bag of toys. She was turning the doorknob wanting out of the room. She kept saying something, but of course we could not understand. I told Bill I knew she was saying "I'm outta here Suckers!" I could just tell from her tone. Finally Bill was able to understand a little of what she was saying and she was saying "See you later!" I can tell that she's really going to test us. She already is. I've had to scold her multiple times today for hitting and throwing things. Of course, this is a very confusing time for her and I'm hoping that part of this behavior is because of the drastic changes she has endured today. But I also know that a lot of it is just being 2 years old. That is their main purpose in life at two to drive their parents to the brink of insanity.
So, while I was writing this, Bill was entertaining her by walking her up and down the hall. Suddenly I hear her screaming and crying. We don't know what happened, but I took her and carried her back to the room. We sat down and I rocked her to sleep. She missed her nap (although we tried very hard to get her to sleep) so I think that was the problem. I finally laid her down in her baby bed. I hope she is still asleep when I get back. I'm not counting on it though. The bad thing is that it's only 7:00 here. I'm afraid she won't sleep through the night. We'll see how that goes.
First hours of parent hood. Tara you have it right, she is going to see what she can get away with but, she is also probably scared inside and doesn't know how to deal with everything. Tell her she has a new Grandma back in TN anxious to see her! - Linda, 2007-12-10 08:23:29
Tara and Bill it sounds like your hands are very full. Also that you seem very prepared and no unrealistic expectations, which helps all of you. You are right as you tackle the language barrier handling her will become easier, but she is still a 2 year old and her main goal is to test her boundaries. Also I agree with you and Linda that having the additional frustration of not knowing how to verbalize all of her feelings because of her age I am sure puts her on edge. You are both going to be wonderful parents, and families are just like a good stew, they need time to blend together and get the right flavor. Your family has all of it's ingredients you just need plenty of time to simmer now. If you can't tell it is dinner time here and I am starving. Can't wait for your next entry. Lots of Love Stephanie - Stephanie, 2007-12-10 11:38:05
Ahhh....2 year olds. You either love them or you buy lots of duct tape. Seriously, it's like Linda said, she's out of place and out of sorts. She's probably thinking she's just visiting so she's not going to get very attached at first. You guys are doing a great job, believe it or not! #1, you love her. #2, you'll prove you aren't going anywhere. And, #3, you have lots of patience! (Think of all the red tape you have waded through already!). You definitely want to keep to your guns about enforcing your rules. It'll be tempting because you don't speak Russian or you just don't want her screaming, but don't cave unless you think it's a small battle that won't hurt in teh long run if she gets her way. Now you know why some teenagers walk around with purple hair. Don't sweat the small stuff and don't pet the sweaty stuff, as Rob says. Sorry about the puke stains. It makes you wonder what they told her before she left to make her so upset. - Auntie Em, 2007-12-10 11:38:30
Congratulations! Elizabeth is officially family now. That's so great! I hope the rest of your time in Russia is uneventful, except for the antics of your daughter, of course. It sounds like she has a sense of humor. Packing up to leave -- that's funny. - Terry, 2007-12-10 12:43:01
She no doubt has a very distinctive personality already. But it's o.k. I have no doubt that she'll have you two trained before long--even with the language barrier! She does sound like she's got a very cute sense of humor and i can't wait to get to know her! - sandy, 2007-12-10 13:05:23
Just out of curiosity... has she ridden in an car much?! I was wondering if the puke was motion sickness. If so, good luck with the plane ride. We're looking forward to seeing you all! Let us know if there is anything that you think you'll need before you get home and we can get it and drop it off so it's there when you guys get there! See you soon! - Leslie, 2007-12-10 15:33:13
As I recall, Psych 101 basically states that "a sense of humor" is one of the hallmarks of high intelligence! (But, you already KNEW Elizabeth's IQ was high--no surprise there! That, in itself, will be a test of your own creativity--to keep her brilliant little mind occupied!) - Mom & Nana, 2007-12-10 18:24:43
In response to Les, No she hasn't ridden in a car very much before. The only time she would have ridden in the car is if she had to be carried to the hospital. According to the medical records the orphanage provided, she has only be hosptialized once, when she was only a few months old. For pink eye! So, this was really her first car ride. Unfortunetely it was a rough one too. The roads are so bad (potholes everywhere and the traffic is crazy so there is a lot of swirving). The driving here makes ME want to throw up! That, coupled with being out of the orphanage the first time in her life that she remembers, it was no surprise she threw up. More later, when she lets me type. - Tara, 2007-12-11 02:16:56
I feel for you and your 2 year old. It must be so confusing to her with the language difference. I know my grandson, Shayden, had a hard time getting his point across at that age. He still gets upset when I don't understand him and he is 4 now. I know everything will work out because it always does. - Jeannie, 2007-12-11 02:57:03
Bill & Tara, Our son got car sick when they brought him to us from the orphanage. (It was a 5 hour drive on those lovely Russian roads!) We had left new clothes for him and they were no longer clean or fresh smelling when we saw them again! That was the only incident of motion sickness we encountered while we were in Russia. I also remember our first night as parents. I don't think I slept at all. I kept waking up and checking to make sure our son was still breathing and he had not rolled out of bed. It was much easier the second night. It just takes time for everybody to adjust to all these changes. Love to read about your adventure in Russia. Reminds me of our adoption adventure 8 months ago. Hang in there. It will get much better as time goes on. - Janet, 2007-12-11 04:20:18
Thanks, Janet. The only problem we're having with Elizabeth is getting her to go to bed without crying herself to sleep. She's happy all day long, she just doesn't want to go to sleep. We didn't sleep much last night, our first night with her, either, because we were worried about her climbing out of her crib, falling and landing on her head. We probably won't sleep much tonight, either. At least this time I moved her crib into the bedroom with us. If she climbs out and falls, chances are she'll just land on our bed. - Bill, 2007-12-11 06:59:42