Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birthday Girl-- Irina

Can you believe it is her birthday today?!  Yes, my first baby turned 20 years old.  Truly, I am not old enough to have a 20 yo daughter.  Just keep that in mind.  Irina came to us at 6.5yo.  She and Max have been home the longest.  She was our first adopted little girl.  6.5yo and weighing 25 lbs.  Grew 12" the first year we had her.  Amazing.  She is now entering young adulthood which is unreal to me.  Really, you always see them as so fragile, so innocent and so dependent.  Not any more.  A lot has changed over the years.

This was Irina's referral picture.  I don't really have any other photos as they'd have to be scanned in.  Blogs really weren't around back then.  LOL.  This was taken in Ireland where she was being hosted.  We brought her home at 6.5.  She wore a size 2T.  Tiny little thing.  Was so...far....behind.  Incredibly behind.  So much so that the head of special ed of Johnston County looked me in the face and said "she'll never pass a second grade level."  I will never forget that b/c that was the day I would swear to prove them wrong that there was something inside her.  Determination, motivation, and joy.  Stuff that you couldn't measure of how far life could take you.  No, no measure for it and the special education system needs to be very aware of that fact.  We would become her advocate and push her.  Show her she'd be able to do more than she ever imagined.  But, she'd need help with that.

Irina grew up in the orphanage as a big sister it seemed and fell into the role naturally.  See, at age 5 & 6 in the orphanage, she was responsible for the 2yo group.  Can you imagine?!  We brought her and Max home together.  Had to de-program her mother role.  Then, we brought Yana and Alex home.  She became the big sister all over again & did just fine helping keep them in line. 

Shortly after, we brought Bojan home.  At first, her and Bojan didn't quite hit it off.  LOL.  She still had a tad bit of that Russian mentality and their thinking on physical disabilities.  She quickly over came that.  Irina loved exploring new places with us.  

Irina was very comfortable with her big sister role and played it well.  She was a second mother to them and took care of them.  She still does to this day.  Though now her brothers are teens and she can easily tell them off.  It wasn't too long after Bojan came home, that we were off to Russia again for 2 more siblings for Irina and the rest of the bunch.  Irina was always the one helping me look at pictures of new kids and bios.  Oh, why can't we bring 2 home?  Or 3?  She always had such a tender heart and wanted to help as many orphans as possible.  She was always the one wanting to organize our fundraisers to help bring her siblings home.

For years, Irina was content being the big sister to all 6 of her brothers and sisters.

A redneck snow man.  Irina would find ways to make things work no matter what.  She wanted something bad enough, she'd find a way to make it happen.  Even a snowman in the dusting.

Though sometimes she'd ask for help.  She's signing help here at Tweetsie Railroad at the mock jail.  Irina picked up sign very quickly once Nik came home.  So much so, that this coming semester, she is the assistant at the homeschool academy ASL class.  Beginning class but this was the daughter that we were told would never learn and now she's teaching others sign!  

Irina always embraced any new children that were brought home.  She was accepting of the changes.  Even when  we added Alyona and Nik who in the beginning had a lot of challenges facing them till we figured it all out.  But Irina was right there beside us willing to help.

Irina has always been athletic when she was younger.  Loved the water no matter what.  Flipped in the pool and could out swim many.  She also loved gymnastics that we had her in when she was younger.  Another outdoor kiddo we have here.

Irina running her heart out at the Special Olympics.  That determination again.

She took first t hat day and we were SO proud of her.  Was wonderful to experience together.  

And when we wanted to add yet another 3 kids?  Do you think Irina would say NO WAY!  Nope.  She welcomed them w/ open arms.  This was like the second week home at Meadow Lights last year.  I think Irina was taking well to them.  And Summer was soaking up big sis' love.

So now, Irina is big sister to 9 brothers and sisters.  Would she be someone they look up to?  Would she be able to help them out despite the FAS and other dx's?  Would she be able to be a leader of the bunch?

Yes, she would.  No, they don't always get along this well, we're not kidding ourselves.  They are in fact brothers and sisters and they will indeed fight.  It's not all roses.  But, Irina remains strong in her role as leader of the bunch.  Though sometimes she can be just as childish as they are.  They do have fun together.  Not all the time, but definitely a lot of the time.

Irina has a few friends.  Unfortunately, some have moved away over the years and she misses them dearly.  This is a friend though that has been around for quite a few years.  We call her our "11th child."  She's been our "6th" child, 8th child and now 11th over the years.  LOL. 

This is a picture of Irina just the other day.  She is now 20 years old.  Nervous about being an adult but at a good place in her life.  She has so much potential and I'm sure will do fine in life.  She does very well as the big sister.  Can clean a house like nobody's business.  Can bake goodies for everyone and really enjoys doing it.  Takes care of the younger kids with me.  Is learning many important life skills.  Is currently looking for a job.  She had one last year and did love to work.  This is all coming from the child that we were given very little hope for.  And look at her now!  A young adult today.  Have a very Happy Birthday Irina Taylor!  We love you.  

If anyone sees her or feels like calling today, please feel free.  We're going out for Chinese today per her request.  She loves Chinese food.   Irina is also our animal lover.  Still can't convince her to get rid of that guinea pig.  Adores the dogs and was heartbroken to let go of our Aspen, Bear and King Kota.  Irina has a very good heart and I'm positive will do well in life.  Happy Birthday Irina.


  1. She is a very special girl, so glad she is a part of your family!
    Loves to bake? Perhaps she could find a job as a baker or cook trainee in a restaurant. Shoot if I had one I would hire her immediately!

  2. Happy Happy Happy birthday Irina! You are beautiful and so loved!

  3. Happy Birthday, Sweet Irina! You are a beautiful young woman and you have SO many gifts and talents. Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something. You have a fight and determination that most people will never have. I love reading about you and ALL of the things you do for your family. That last picture of you is so pretty! Blessings, Sweetie as you begin this new year in your life! Love, Jo

  4. Beautiful story. Irina sounds like a wonderful young woman. Couldn't help but smile.