Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yana's transformation

Wow, this is one kiddo that I thought I'd never survive--LOL!  I'm just keeping things real.  I hate reading just cheery, rosy, adoption blogs.  Life naturally has ups & downs and if you are speaking of your life, you should tell of some of the downs as well.  So, this will be an honest post, as they all are.  Be prepared.  You have heard of RAD in the adoption world, I'm sure.  It is a diagnosis that every adoptive parent fears and dreads.  We ended up with not just one, but two "RADishes."  One was Alex, whom I've already written about and one was Yana. 

Yana came home at 8.5 years old.  Her life before here was not the best it could have been.  She was at a home for older children.  Once children hit this home, there is very little hope ever of them being adopted.  In fact, once children hit 4 years old, the chances of an older child being adopted is slim to none.  I thought I heard 5% chance but that was so long ago.  So, once they reach the orphanage there, their hope has faded of ever having a family.  Therefore, the orphanages have their own little culture, own set of rules.  They know when they age out, they will have no skills, no family, no money and nowhere to go.  The boys typically end up in the army or on the streets.  The girls end up on the streets doing the world's "oldest profession."  When we picked Yana up, we knew she had witnessed more in that short year than many of the adults combined reading this have.  Truly sad to have the days of baby dolls & barbies go by so fast & be forced to grow up due to those around you.  This little bit of orphanage history is to help you all understand what we were contending with in Yana when she first arrived home. 

When first home, there was nothing but anger in her.  She had left every bit of the life she had ever known.  Her friends, her language, her food, her culture, her life was ultimately gone with one plane ride home.  We battled much when first home.  We had to deal with her extreme grief she was experiencing.  Only her grief came out in the form of anger.  She had rages.  These are not temper tantrums but full fledge rages.  We had to literally sit on top of her so she would not harm herself or us.  What we didn't know at the time is just how deep our daughter's wounds were.  She has been diagnosed with RAD(reactive attachment disorder), FAE(fetal alcohol effects), PTSD, CAPD(central auditory processing disorder) and even ODD(oppositional defiance disorder).  Whew, quite a mouthful.  One day, I will give a quick lesson on what all these different dx's and disorders mean in the grand scheme of things.  Anyhow, when first home, she did not know how to fit in with a family.  A few months later we brought Bojan home, she wanted nothing whatsoever to do with him.  Took us awhile to figure that one out but in Russia they are essentially taught to hate those with disabilities.  Bojan was missing his leg and she thought that was gross.  It was interesting to say the least.  Tonight, they were talking back & forth at the dinner table to each other as if attached at the hip.  They are very close nowadays and are SO much alike it's not even funny. 

When first home, Yana was not the most easy going child to be around.  It has taken years of struggles for her to find her place.  But boy has she ever!   WithYana, we took a different approach in her healing and did it with NO meds whatsoever.  She could have gone on mood stabilizers, etc.  We chose not to.  We are not against meds as 2 of our boys are on antipyschotics & have been for years.  It was just we thought she could heal without them.  Gutsy move for sure.  It has been well over a year since Yana's last RAD rage.  We are at the point where those are gone.  She now has empathy for others and shows genuine concern.  Her total disdain for her brothers & sisters has now turned into love and adoration.   Yana's schooling has done a 180 and she made A/B honor roll this past grading period.  VERY proud of her accomplishments.  Yana is extremely motivated to learn.  Though not athletically inclined, she has found her talents elsewhere.  She is a gifted artist.  She loves drawing scenes of nature.  Yana has a loving personality.  Though she is testing us on limits during these teen years.  However, I'm hearing from neighbors this is very NORMAL behavior for a teenager and we are taking it as such. Though, she does get grounded when necessary.  I'll take caught on the phone late at night versus out on the streets anyday!  She likes listening to music and hanging out with friends.  Typical teenager for sure.  Clearly, she has some deep scars that will take years to heal.  However, she is doing just beautifully.  She has mutured into a wonderful young lady and did it all on her own.  Very proud of how far she has come & what an amazing transformation this has been for her. 




The above photo is the one we received of Yana right before we hosted her.  Again, that blank orphanage stare.  No hope, no future, no family.




This was recently shot this past week over Thanksgiving break.  Notice the sparkle in her eyes.  And no, it is not just because she received makeup--LOL.  She is truly thriving.  Yes, we still battle some.  Mostly though over her style of clothes or the way she wants to wear her hair.  It was hard work but definitely well worth seeing your daughter transform into a beautiful young lady full of hope, pride, self-worth and ambition.  I have no fear now that her life will be just fine and she will be successful in whatever she pursues.  Some of the more difficult children are some of the more rewarding ones to witness a transformation in. 

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