Zoya has also changed greatly in the area of behaviors. When I read about other families bringing their children home, I remember how many orphanage behaviors Zoya had when she came home. She no longer demonstrates any of those behaviors! She used to grind her teeth a lot. She did it when she was anxious or when she was eating (likely because eating was such an awful experience as it seemed to be a race to see how fast they could shove HUGE spoonfuls of mush into her mouth). This behavior was particularly difficult more me because hearing her teeth grind made my skin crawl. She also used to throw herself back and hit her head off the floor for stimulation (any floor....carpeted or tiled). This was heartbreaking to see but it was mostly gone after a month home. It resurfaced briefly a month later, but has since been gone forever. Zoya also used to just cry for no reason for what seemed like long periods of time. She doesn't cry now unless she's in time out or VERY tired. She used to pull her own hair and hit herself on the head repeatedly, neither of which she does now. She used to make strange clicking sounds with her tongue and constantly move her tongue from one side of her mouth to the other. She used to flap her arms for stimulation. My baby no longer does these things because she has replaced these behaviors with love and appropriate stimulation from her environment.
Zoya could hardly sit up on her own and could only army crawl when we brought her home. Six short months later, she is WALKING! Six months ago, she could only drink from a bottle with a huge hole cut in the nipple. Now she is drinking from a straw cup and learning to drink from an open cup! Six months ago, she could only be fed mushed up and softened foods on a spoon, Now she eats everything you can imagine from pretzels to snap peas to burgers and on and on. She can feed herself with a fork and is working on scooping with a spoon. She has a pincer grasp to pick small items up instead of palming everything like she used to. Six months ago she had NO IDEA what to do with toys other than throw them across the room. Six months ago she was small enough (even if it was only for a week) to fit into an infant carrier car seat! Six months ago she didn't understand any English, now she follows most directions and understands a whole lot! She had no way to communicate with us six months ago, now she is using 40 different signs and starting to talk a little at a time. The best part is that she is trying to communicate with us and effectively doing so most of the time!
In six months time, I'm still trying to figure out....who has changed more....her or me? One day soon I will write about the many ways I have completely changed since experiencing Zoya's love. My changes are not physical (although I might have gained a few pounds eating her left overs?)....they are not measurable like many of her changes, they are not easily observed by others.....instead, all my changes involve my heart, my soul, and everything I ever thought I knew about life. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be Zoya's momma. She has changed my world and clearly showed me what true, unconditional love means.
The changes from then to now are amazing, yet haunting to see that empty look she had before knowing love.