The last few weeks have been full of surprises, laughter and a few tears. Every day Dasha seems to make huge strides. She understands almost everything we tell her in English. She is speaking in English and initiating conversation. She is now even speaking some Russian to us. Although, it’s very limited, Dasha does not want us to think that Russian is her primary language. When I ask her to how to say something in Russia (I ask in both Russian and English), she gets this grin on her face and says, “I don’t know Daddy.” I believe her anxiety of being returned to the orphanage has diminished greatly. However, I believe she still has a small voice in the back of her head telling her not to let us know that she doesn’t speak English fluently. I can’t imagine what must go through her head. She is now affectionate towards me, when I come home or am leaving for work, she calls out “Daddy.” And runs over to give me a hug. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s a huge step.
As we are learning to be a family we have all faced challenges. As a father, I find I can’t set limits the same way I do with Jacob, Amber and Mitchell. I’m finding I have to teach Dasha what a father does and what he doesn’t do. I often wonder what her interpretation of what a Papa is supposed to be. I wonder, what has been her experience? Then I think, it’s best I don’t know sometimes. All I can do is pray for guidance. I think every father prays for guidance, but this is new territory for me. I have to separate myself from the situation and remember that Dasha does not have the same experiences as Amber, Mitchell and Jacob.
Right now, Jacob is having the most challenges. As with any new child coming into the home, he is giving up some attention. He and Dasha have a sibling rivalry that is almost comical, if it wasn’t so frustrating. In general, it focuses around Kim. If Jacob and is doing something with Kim, Dasha tries to work her way in. If Dasha is doing something, Jacob has to get in on the action as well. I think it’s a bit exhausting for Kim. She refers to it as “The Night at the Roxbury” as both kids are bouncing her on each side. The interesting thing is that both kids really like each other. Jacob told my mom, “When I was in Kazakhstan, I wanted to bring home a new baby brother. But when I saw Dasha, I decided I wanted to bring Dasha home instead.” He continues to tell me how much he loves her. When the two are playing together, they seem to have so much fun. I’m guessing the rivalry will go away eventually. For now, we’re just trying to show each kid how much we love them, and show Dasha that Mommy has enough love for all of her children.
Last weekend, we decided to take Dasha to the movies. We have put this off, as she get’s scared when we turn the lights off. So, we went to see, Happy Feet. A strange animated penguin movie. As a side note, this movie was a little weird, it seemed to me the whole premises was these penguins were trying to get some action? Or should I say find a mate? Dasha did great, and really enjoy the movie. Now we have to teach her about the cost of going to the movies. She told us the next day that she wanted to go to see the penguin feet…
The next big hurdle was letting Dasha watch some of the videos from the orphanage. We’ve gone back and forth on this topic. Kim finally showed her the video of her show where she’s dancing. She loved watching it and even swayed and sang along with the TV. I asked her what the names of the kids were on the TV, she responded with a grin, “I don’t know.” Heck, I knew their names, but wanted to see how she’d respond. Still not over the fear yet.
Christmas is this weekend. Dasha has now learned about Christmas thanks to Claymation movies such as Rudolf, Frosty and Santa Claus is coming to town. Kim reads her and Jacob the story of Jesus at night. So, she knows about Jesus, at least the baby Jesus. She knows about Santa Claus (I wish I could write how she pronounces it, it’s like the Count from Sesame Street might say his name) and even knows who Rudolf is. She understands, that there will be presents. I don’t think she’s convinced Santa will bring her presents, though we keep telling her he will, she told me two weeks ago in her own way, that he hasn’t come to her before, so why now? Anyone have an answer for that? Bueller? Anyway, I told her I had spoken with Santa, and he assured me he would bring her gifts and that he’s been looking for her and now that he knows where she is, with her family, he’ll be coming. I have no idea if she understood, but she said okay. Christmas morning should be fun.
Dasha is not shy around the house. She now dances around, plays and on occasion beats up her brothers (both of them). Orphanage kids are pretty tough. She now speaks as often as any of our children. In public, when speaking with strangers, she is quiet and shy still. I’m actually okay with that. I don’t want her talking to strangers. It must be confusing figuring out who everyone is. She knows her grandparents by sight. She knows her cousins, uncles and aunts. For now, that’s good enough..
In closing, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope God has been as good to you as he has to us.