Zoya has done so much in a month's time. Sometimes I feel like I'm too hard on her and expecting too much of her, but when I see the changes that are brought about by holding her to a higher standard, I remember why I expect so much of her...because she is capable. For almost the first 2 years of her life, she had nobody that expected her to do anything. Nobody held her to any standards. Nobody thought she'd be anything other than another mouth to feed. Nobody cared enough to teach her right from wrong. Nobody cared enough to put her in time out (yes she is learning all about time out here lately). Nobody cared enough or loved enough to ever teach her anything. Zoya had to fight every day of her life for an ounce of attention, and so she learned unacceptable ways to get attention...and that worked for her there. She learned that she could take toys from other kids and be rough with them because nobody was watching anyways and she had never seen any other example of how to be gentle or kind. She learned that when she isn't getting enough stimulation she can throw herself back and smack her head off the floor (which has mostly stopped thank goodness). She learned that to grind her teeth when she is feeling anxious. She learned to obsess over food because there were not enough caregivers to feed all the children at the same time so she learned to obsess and beg at every sighting of food, fearing her turn would not come. She learned so many things that no almost-two-year-old should ever have to learn.
So has it been easy this past month? NO! In a lot of ways it isn't as hard as I thought it would be, but in many ways it is way harder. Zoya doesn't have nearly as many orphanage behaviors as some older children who've been adopted, so we know it could be much worse. But, there are still many frustrating moments. Do I lose my cool sometimes? Yup....I guess just like any parent. I think part of the reason it has been harder than I thought is because of how I've been feeling since we returned from Ukraine. I didn't expect to feel so sad for what we left behind. It is exhausting and draining, which is probably why I try not to think about it, but the thoughts are always floating around. The dreams still wake me up. I didn't expect the experience to haunt me like it has. I thought I could leave it all there. I can't.
The hard part is that I feel like since we chose this path (and all the difficulties that we know would come along with it) it gives me less of a right, that any normal parent would have, to vent or complain or stress about any problems or stresses we are having with Zoya. Because overall, it's great, but of course on top of typical child behavior, we are also have problems of a child whose lived the life of an orphan and issues related to her Down Syndrome....just as we planned for. Did we know all this and choose all this? Yes, but that never meant we thought it would be easy. So you see, since we chose this and knew that it would be the hardest thing we've ever done, I feel like I don't have the right to vent because I don't want others to get the wrong idea and think I regret our decision. Really, in the big picture, the things that I'd even be venting about are so small, but they are real and "in the moment" type stresses that every other parent has the right to vent about. So I will try to allow myself that same right and not feel guilty about it.
Zoya is the best thing that has ever happened to us. At the end of each day I ask God if he really thinks we are worthy enough to be Zoya's parents. I just can't believe it. I still look at her at least once a day and think how lucky I am to get such an up close look into such a beautiful little world of innocence and happiness, despite all she has gone through. Just as we are teaching Zoya a new way to see the world, she is teaching us the very same thing.
The girl who has taught me more in one month than I've learned my entire life....