We have been blessed with two special daughters and two sons from Eastern Europe. We welcome you to follow our journey as a family of five, waiting to travel and pick up #6, with the ins and outs of family, education, farm life, and love!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mila's birthday

Mil'as birthday is quickly approaching.  She will be seven.  How did that happen?!?  Where does the time go?

I've spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about her--the idea I had in my head of what kind of kiddo she would when I had just a picture of her, the thoughts I had that first day we met her, the tragedies, the triumphs, the heartache, the frustrations, and the joys we've shared.  I've also thought a lot of what she would be like if she was still in her birth country.

When we committed to adopting Mila, we had a single picture of her.  A cute, red haired toddler.

 We knew she had Cerebral Palsy.  The pictures that followed were pictures of her sitting on a mat, holding herself up.  A picture of her standing in a stander.
I had a picture in my mind what she would be like.  We had adopted Hannah two years before.  She also had Cerebral Palsy.  I knew the drill (or so I thought).  Mila just hadn't had the exposure to crawling and walking.  She was just over three.  She needed time.

We traveled to Mila's birth country.  I remember vividly the day we met her.  We were told to sit in a small, storage sort of room, and waited for the orphanage staff to bring her in.  They brought her to us in a stroller.  An orphanage doctor, and orphanage caretaker, Mila's caseworker, and a translator all stood behind Mila's stroller; observing us meeting our new daughter for the first time...making sure the bond was strong and the match of a family was positive.  I remember interacting with Mila, with everyone watching.  Mila looked straight through me.  My heart sank.
Suddenly all these thoughts, ideas, and images I had in my head had vanished.  Just days before we left a friend was swinging with Hannah and commented "Just think, in a few weeks, your sister will be home to ride with you!"  His voice played over and over in my head as my heart broke.  How did I admit to all the people who followed our blog; who loved us and were anxious for us to bring Mila home, that Mila wasn't the kiddo I thought I was bringing home.  The thought of admitting that Mila may never ride that swing with her sister broke my heart.

We took Mila on that first day to have her passport picture taken.  The orphanage caretaker and the translator went with us by car to a photo shop.  We had her picture taken, then waited in the park across the street while her picture was processed.  I sat in this quiet park, Mila on my lap, Doug next to me, looking at my newest daughter.  I had seen the look she gave me before.  Her look was empty and hollow.  It was like she wasn't even there.  I remember commenting to Doug that we would love her to the best of our ability, no matter what.  At that moment I felt like we were headed down a very different path than what we had with Hannah.

Mila ate from a bottle with a hole in the nipple the size of a pencil.  She had no idea how to chew.  She didn't know how to interact with the toys we brought for her to play with.  We spent a good bit of our time of our visits with her simply loving her, talking to her, cuddling her, tickling her.  She was our daughter, no matter what.
The first day we had her out of the orphanage I wondered if she would ever cry.  We put her down to take a nap and she looked very sad, but never cried.  Finally, there were tears, but very little noise.  My poor little girl had learned that tears did her no good.
It broke my heart to see my little girl, with such a large scar.  I wondered if the doctor had taken his time on the surgery, or quickly rush.  She was an orphan--a disabled orphan.  She was nothing to no one.  But she was now my little girl.

We we arrived home in July of 2009, Mila could not hold herself up.  She sat in a baby bumbo seat.  She sat IN her toy box surrounded and supported by her toys.  We had to learn how to be creative.  Car seats outside on the back deck, homemade straps in the power wheels so she could ride with her sister.
 Papa made her a table that she could sit under.  She also used it as a support when she tried to sit on the potty seat.  (Two years later we now have an adaptive potty seat she uses.)
 To think back to how far she has come in four years, I am truly amazed.  The little girl I thought would never talk, never offer any kind of love, never truly giggle.....

She LOVES her Grandpa.  He is her favorite toy.  They lay together and have the greatest adventures--going to the beach, going camping, mountain climbing, all without leaving the house!   Mila has a great imagination and comes up with the greatest scenarios.
 She wants to be where everyone else is.  She wants to be doing what everyone else it doing.  She gets very frustrated that her body limits her.  I believe in her mind, she really thinks she can do everything and then when reality sinks in that her body isn't like everyone else's, she becomes extremely frustrated.

 We've been through one tendon release surgery.  What a long six weeks of sleepless nights and uncomfortable days.  She an Papa became great friends as they slept downstairs together because she was so awkward to carry up the stairs.

 Mila loves to bowl.  Though she loves to be liek everyone else, she is happy to be part of the action in her own way.  She was the only one that used a ramp when bowling with friends, but every time she pushed the ball down the ramp, she would yell "MOM.....Iiiiiiii...DID it!!!!!
 She practiced from April to October in a loaner power chair.  She spent countless hours outside wheeling around the yard, pretending to run a restaurant.  She would come over, take our orders, go away and prepare our food, then return to give us the food.  I loved giving her a hard time, yelling "Yuck....there are pickles on my ice cream (or something silly like that) and she would giggle with glee and take my order back to fix it.  In October, 2012, she got her very own power chair.  She is so proud of her chair.  She LOVES the independence it gives her
 My little girl is fiesty, ornery, determined, strong willed, stubborn, loud, obnoxious, loving, helpful, and absolutely perfect.  Yes, no doubt there are days she challenges us to our limits, but I absolutely adore her.  I imagine if I lived a day in her body, there is no doubt I would be all of those things too.  I understand her fight and her discouragement.  We always try to combat that with compliments and reassurance.

I am one lucky Mama to have been given such a sweet gift.  I could have never imagined that such a small, empty package would turn into such a great treasure.  I can't wait for the coming years--an assistance dog, sports, potty training.  I'll take each day--the good and the challenging.  God didn't ask for me to have great abilities to parent this little girl, he asked me to be available--to be willing.  And willing we are.

Mila Rose, we love you.....Stinky Pants....to the moon and back.  Happy 7th birthday.  I hope you get your entire wish list!  (A toy computer, a black car, a tiny ball, a birfday card....Oooooohhhhh.....and balloons!)

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