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Friday, December 21, 2007
Haven't been writing mainly because when we're not having fun with Andrei or learning how to be parents (obviously going to be a long process btw) we're trying to take it easy as we get over these wicked colds we got.

So how about a weekly update.

Each day brings some fun, some new learning (for both him and us) and some issues. The issues mainly are around those darn naps or even going to bed at night. Although miraculously he continues to sleep a solid 12 hours at night. He may rouse once during the night but gets himself back to sleep extremely quickly. Our approach to naps is just to maintain at least some "quiet time" even if he does not sleep. And that does seem to make him pretty good in terms of crankiness for the afternoons.

It's really cool to see him learn new things each day and his ability to grasp things (of course I bias) is really amazing sometimes. For example, today we stopped at Chili's for lunch and he got one of his fav's macaroni and cheese and a glass of milk. The milk came in a little plastic cup with a straw. Well, he's never seen a straw before and never worked one. He could tell it went into his mouth but at first didn't suck enough to get the milk going (we could see it move up the straw but not all the way to his mouth). It clearly wasn't like his sippy cups he has been using.

So we're telling him "suck more" which was funny enough because of course he doesn't understand a lot of English yet. But he had this look like he sort of understood the concept of the straw so he kept sucking a bit more and all of the sudden some milk hit his lips and that was enough. The kid lapped up milk through that straw like he was born with one in his mouth.

The other cool thing he's picking up on is (to a lesser degree) spoken English and baby sign language. We're only using a few key sign language words ("more" for more food or drink, "done" again for eating, etc.). And he's mastered those two words which he really loves. He has a major sense of accomplishment by using the sign for "more" and seeing that he can communicate effectively with us. His spoken vocabulary is still very limited with most of it in Andrei language rather than the English language. But he's vocalizing well and we're working on simple words daily and know it's just a matter of time.

A past story

It's funny how many people think of Russian orphanages from some mental picture of those videos we all saw of Eastern European orphanages during the 1980's and 1990's. Well of course things are quite a bit different in Russia and continuing to improve as their economy is improving. The one thing I will say is that if you are currently in the adoption process when you get a tour of the orphanage you will most likely be pretty amazed at how well stocked the institutions are. Although they could always use additional donations, the breadth and quality of toys, both physical and educational ones, learning tools, rehabilitation tools, etc. are pretty good.

In the baby home Andrei grew up in there was a Montessori room, separate rooms for sensory therapy, music room, gymnasium, etc. This baby home housed about 120 kids (up to 3 years of age) including some more severely special needs children. All the cribs were new and clean, the rooms and areas about the baby home were all very clean and extremely well cared for.

If you're just starting out on your adoption journey you should know that this baby home is not an exception but the norm.
posted by Steveg @ 8:48 PM  
  • At 9:57 PM, Blogger Lake said…

    I love your stories about Andrei, of course I would!! You are right once a week is better, it was different when you were waiting, now he is here and there is SO much to do. I and everyone else is glad the homes are so nice those previous pictures were so sad. See you soon!!

  • At 5:51 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    We've got a Baby Sign book and are working to learn a few of the symbols. Liam seems to understand much of what's said to him (in Russian, of course) but only speaks a little bit of babbly baby talk, so this is probably an ideal time to start with signing.

    What is it about mac & cheese, anyway? This stuff is pure pixie dust magic. I've yet to hear of a child who didn't think it was like manna from heaven.

  • At 4:54 AM, Blogger MMrussianadoption said…

    if you dont already have them, you should get him the straw sippy cups and the battery toothbrushes. they help with sensory and build muscles in the mouth for oral/speech development. learned that through EI. I get the straw sippy cups that playtex makes and the small round head toothbrushes with sesame characters on it (BRU).

  • At 11:17 AM, Blogger adoptedthree said…

    My daughter is a whiz at the signing now sometimes I have no idea what she is signing. The best one is the POTTY sign! That was a life saver!

    My first son's orphanage sadly was like the orphanage of old...it was a very sad and quiet place, so unfortunately some of the regions (at least in Ukraine) are still pretty miserable

  • At 6:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While most of the baby homes are nothing like the old eastern european stories, the home that you visited was not the norm. We were there this week and this orphanage has far better trained staff and far more resources (food, clothing, toys, etc.) than the orphanage we adopted from 2 years ago. We've heard this is one of the best in the country.

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I'm Steve and this is my wife Stefanie. This is our story, mostly seen through my eyes, of the journey to create our family by adopting a child from Russia.

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