Sweet Days are HERE: An Update and Some Thoughts
Daddy's face says it all!
What can I tell you about Maxim? He's deep yet light. I've been told before and seen myself that he doesn't just look at you, but into you. Here's a few little examples of the way Maxim thinks. When I was in Ukraine with him he saw my wedding ring and would gaze at it often. One day he asked the translator to ask me how I felt when Papa asked me to marry him. He said "Papa had to marry Mama. She has such beauty!" Okay well that earned him some extra points for sure! In Ukraine he would ask me often how his Papa in America was doing. His care for others must be his strength and we can already see that God will use him in this way.
He's thoughtful. He loves all of his family and has special things he enjoys to do with each of them.
We had a very special Christmas at home and celebrating his first Christmas was hard not to cry tears of joy. Christmas Eve we spent dancing to our favorite Jesus songs in the living room and watching a movie later on. Note: Dancing may appear as falling down in photos- HA!
Have you ever seen a happier face?
He loved the Christmas tree. He kept asking me in Ukraine if he would have a tree in his house. He couldn't wait to see it.
Look at all those presents! We were so blessed when the Northcutt's came and surprised us with lots of presents for Maxim and all the kids. Then we received lots of presents from afar since we didn't travel or see extended family this year. This made for a present packed tree but I assure you there was no diminishing of the praises to God for the most precious gift- Jesus! And we all were aware that the priceless present this year was our new son and brother, Maxim Joseph.
He's spent more time outside the last few weeks than he has in his life. He complains a bit about the sun but its getting better.
Yep, he can climb the playhouse!
Goes down the slide!
Loves to play fetch with Libby!
We've gotten into a regular schedule now and well, things have been so much "easier" than I anticipated. He wants to learn, constantly pointing to things for me to give him the English word for it. When he has a new phrase or word down pat, he wants to use it over and over. Here's some typical school days.
So what do you do with a 9.5 year old boy with special needs who has never been taught and lived the last 5 years in a mental institution? Well, we start from the beginning and we don't skip any steps so it all gets mastered. We aren't concerned about getting him started in grades or activities that other 9 year olds are doing. This is a time that we go back and address all that needs good foundation and the rest will come. He's already amazed me with his progress! For instance- having never done a puzzle before, we started with shapes that fit in the right shape hole. Then moved on to 4 piece, then 12, and he is now doing 25 piece puzzles. In two weeks time.. We went back to stacker toys, sorting colors, lacing beads, coloring and painting. We have just started playing games with the boys like Memory and Candyland. This is new but I expect in a few weeks he will have these down pat too.
Some of the pieces to teaching him is the basics about relationships. Because he had no example, he didn't know how to meet and greet someone. He would just go to anyone and kiss and hug them. So sweet but you can imagine some of the looks we got! LOL So we have used this time of going to parks, meeting the folks at Dad's office, friends coming to bring food as new opportunities for him to become confident in meeting people. He's done so well! He's still such a gentleman though, he usually kisses the hand of each person he greets! The most helpful thing for us has been those friends who actively join us in teaching him those things that we all just take for granted.
What about the effects of the institution? We do see some of these things. When he first came home he rocked a lot. We see less and less of this and he now does this mostly at night in bed. When we see him rocking, we just say, "Maxim's okay." He stops and says, Okay. Usually he just needed that check in to stop. He's also making discoveries he was never allowed to before. In some ways he's like our Rainan going around the house flicking all the lights and fans, flushing the toilet, turning off and on the faucet, and freezing us out when he turned the heat off at night! YIKES! LOL He is playing with Rainan's toddler toys and needs some help to know how to play with some things.
What does Grace think about him? Well most of you know that Grace is from Ukraine too. She was born affected by FAS. We have found that Grace likes having a brother that has some challenges and will go to therapy too. She points out his weaknesses to focus on what she can do. For instance, "Maxim isn't good at puzzle like me. I'm good at puzzle." We point out to her that everyone is good at something and everyone struggles with something too but God doesn't care about any of those things. He cares about our hearts. I suspect it has comforted her to know that Maxim will be attending therapy at the same place as she is.
If we can share one single thing that has made a difference it has been spending time as a family in worship and prayer. We see the change in him as we enter the presence of heavenly Father. There has been a grace over him and he truly radiates the joy of God. The joy of the Lord is our strength! This is evident in Maxim!
Those of you who gave to his adoption, you hold a piece of this treasure as your own in the eternal realm. You took part in freeing a captive. I have the pleasure of loving him daily, of experiencing the miracle of being his mom and for this, I cannot find the words of thanks but I pray each of you feel it in your heart as I pray for you. I truly thank God for you as I think of you. These are sweet days in our home. Days that we celebrate. Any of the challenges are mere blips because we have yearned for so long to see him join us at the dinner table, cuddled on the couch for family night, and to see his spot filled in the van.