It has been one glorious month since we walked out of a baby home in Arkhangelsk, Russia with our miracle. Daniel is learning things so quickly that it makes my head spin. And we have had to figure some things out fast, too. Like if you miss that precious window of opportunity between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm to lay him down for a nap, we'd best just buckle up for a long and bumpy afternoon, evening and night. We have figured out our little man is a slow waker-upper, but if you just let him wallow around for a few minutes, he will sit up on his knees, put his little hands on his little legs, give you a sleepy grin and say, "Hi!". That "Hi" is not just a precious greeting, it is permission for us to pounce on him and shower him with the hugs and kisses that we've had to hold in for the ten hours while he slept. (Although, sometimes, we get to sneak in a few very tender and quiet ones when we check on him at night) We've learned that all three of sleep so much better if every man, woman and child is in his or her respective sleeping postition. Mommy and Daddy in their bed and Daniel in his! We've learned that Daniel does not like to be told no, but if you give him a minute, he bounces back to his usually playful and pleasant personality. We have learned that if Brock comes home from work and quietly stands in the familly room until Daniel notices him, we get a delightful cheer and a two-year old charge! But more than anything, we have learned even more fully that every good and perfect gift really is from God. My very first Daniel hug came five months ago, and at that moment my only thought was, "This little boy is going to heal my heart." I had no idea. The patter of little feet-or should I say pounding of little feet (for 23 pounds, he is one heavy walker!) the music of his little laugh, and the supreme joy of discovering a whole new day has added such depth and richness to our lives. Our gift is indeed perfect.
We have also learned some new Russian words. Now, I'm not completely sure if it's true Russian or if it's Daniel's Russian, but what is communication except the ability to understand one another? No one else in the world may get our fabulous mix of Russ-lish, but our family is making it work! When Daniel first came home, he loved men. He wanted the opportunity to be held by every man he saw, and he called most of them, "Daddy". But we noticed that he would either point or go to Brock and say, "Dom Daddy." At first we had to ask each other if our son just called his father "Dumb Daddy". But then when we would tell him "Die" (I'll explain in a minute) for his monkey, he would throw his Obesyana (monkey-that one is certifiably Russian) over his shoulder and say "Dom!" So, using our deductive reasoning skills, we quickly figured out that "Dom" must mean something like "Mine!" So, every man was Daddy, but Brock was "My Daddy". In other equally confusing Russian to English terms, if you ever see us out and about and we tell our son, "Die", we do not need child protective services called on us. In Russian-again, this one is confirmed-"Die" means "Give". So we are not suddenly unhappy and wishing that we never adopted-nothing could be further from the truth-we are simply telling Daniel to hand over that which could hurt him, injure us or require unnecessary headache if he spilled his juice cup on it. Also, saying good-bye takes a little longer these days as Daniel likes to show that he is a bilingual boy. "Bye-Bye" in Russian is "Paca Paca". Our Daniel likes to say "Paca, Paca, Bye, Bye Bye" as if we were raising a Backstreet Boy. We have also figured out the word for a bird. So, please, please, please, if you ever see our son point to the sky and yell "TeeTee's" at the top of his lungs, know that he is simply a fan of fowl. We have not taught him to point out something he will undoubtedly figure out on his own when he is a teenager, I promise! In other animal terms, Daniel likes to point out our back door and yell, "BACA!" "Sebaca" is dog, so we've figured out that our son likes to yell "OG!" a lot. If we ever leave and he wants to tell the "bacas" bye, he says, "Paca Paca, Baca Baca!" Terribly adorable!
In addition to us learning a few Daniel words, he has learned some English, too. He knows and can say with perfect clarity, purple and blue. The other colors he's not so interested in right now. If I count (and I'm counting a lot these days-one, two, three stairs....one, two, three peas...one, two, three toys-you get the idea) I can get to, "One, two..." and I'm usually rewarded with an exuberant "EEEE!" "Please" is "Pesssss" and "Help" is the very quietly whispered word, "Elm". I have no idea where that comes from. He can "Huh, Huh, Huh", "Ull, Ull, Ull" and "Puh, Puh, Puh" all day long, but put those sounds together and out comes, "Elm". I guess if it's a serious emergency, he might yell out, "Birch!" or something.
His favorite game right now is to take the brightly colored afghan I made during the waiting season (Brock affectionately calls it the 747 coozie as it turned out a little bigger than what I wanted, but I digress!) He pulls it off the loveseat, covers his head, (and usually sticks his hand out to curl his fingers in a "come here") and starts singing "Coo-Coo". All those toys we have and he's happy with yarn and boxes. We made a tent with the coozie the other day and you would have thought Christmas came early! My favorite game is to tell Daniel, "Whew! That was close!" because I'm rewarded with his little hand wiping across his face while he says, "Phwaa!" I don't think I'll ever get tired of that one!
A close second is something that has been in our house for years. Every so often, when Brock is getting ready, he will look in the mirror and with his cheesiest voice say, "You good lookin' guy, don't you ever die. You know that right!" Charming, right? So, last week we were doing our after breakfast routine. Vitamins (nasty, liquid foul smelling stuff-really Daniel? You'll eat that, but you won't touch hot dogs?!) then we brush our teeth. Then Daniel puts both hands behind his back while I wash his face, at which point he then offers each of his hands one at a time to be washed, too. So, I got a wild idea and stood him up on the counter, turned him to the mirror, and showed him how to point his index fingers. Then, the "You good lookin' guy, don't you ever die. You know that's right!" He thought it was hilarious, but now I've created a monster. Every single time we get done brushing his teeth and washing his face and hands, he pops up, faces the mirror and points his fingers. I then get the look like "Wellll, what are we waiting for?!"
Yesterday the most amazing thing happened. We were helping Daddy at his office and it was almost time for us to go home for nap and lunch (we dare not miss the nap!) Daddy told Daniel that he loved him so much and Daniel responded with the sweetest, most perfect, "I wumv Daddeee". What a perfect moment! I did get my "I wumv Mommmeeeee" only a few moments later. It was a moment that will be etched into our memory for the rest of our lives. What a perfect gift! God is so good to us! Daniel has exceeded our every dream! My mom asked, tongue in cheek, if Daniel has already been worth the wait and everything we went through to get to this point. "Oh absolutely!" "So, everything else is just gravy!" You know how moms say that when the doctor puts their child in their arms they forget all about the hardships of pregnancy and the pain of the labor? That's precisely how I feel! And another miracle is that there is not even a small part of me that feels cheated out of the first two and a half years of Daniel's life. There's only gratitude that we get to be there for the rest of it! Every single moment was worth it. Every uncomfortable ride to Russia. Every heartbreak, every setback. Our prayer is still that Roman will find a forever family and we love that we had the chance to meet him and make a difference for him, but there is not a doubt in our minds that Daniel was the one who was meant to come home first. Who knows what the future holds for our family or how God will add to it? God alone does and for this moment, I won't try to figure it out, I'll just enjoy the gifts He has lavished on us for this season! I'm am exceedinly grateful for the spirit of perseverance that was given to us so that we didn't quit too soon and miss out on too much! To borrow a song quote from Chris Rice, "My souls wells up with hallelujahs!"