Hanging out in the park with friends

It is almost 2 months since we brought Matan home from Lugansk, Ukraine. Looking back, this has been a really wonderful time for all four of us as we become a complete family.

I look at Matan, who lived his first 1.5 years in a single room where he and 11 other children slept, ate and played. His routine was as unchanging as his caretakers were changed. It appears to me that caretaker turnover is considered important by the Ukrainian baby homes so that a child doesn’t become “too” attached to one person. According to my research, the children would be MUCH better off if they were allowed to bond with caretakers. Most of the women who work in the baby homes do care about the children, but it’s a job, and they want to feed, clean and “care for” the children and then go home for the day.

So this little boy, who has never been exposed to sun, rain, wind, or any other outdoor phenomena is suddenly ripped from his safe room, and forced into a strange new world where he suddenly finds himself living with 3 crazy people who are always yelling gibberish at each other. His daily routine is gone, the only food he has ever known is gone, and he wishes he could understand why “they” let him touch some stuff, but not other stuff. Why is he permitted to put some things in his mouth (teething ring), but when he puts other, brightly colored and interesting objects into his mouth, ‘ma gets nutty and tries to pull it out.

Adding Matan to our family has felt really “easy” compared to our first adoption. This is partly because we are more experienced, but mostly a function of the differences in character between Karen and Matan. They each have something special in them that makes me melt. Karen is smart, headstrong, and very sensitive, loving and affectionate to those closest to her. Matan is cute and sweet and as even tempered as an almost 2 year old can be. I still have so much to learn about him. It has been pure joy to watch him go from a confused child who had no idea what wind on his face felt like to a little boy who seems to have grown comfortable with his surroundings and his place in our family.

The greatest thing to come out of this whole adventure is to see Karen chasing Matan around the apartment with both of them screeching in joy. I can’t believe that they actually seem to get along well most of the time. Looking back, it is clear that Matan was our Karma, or Mazal. We expected a girl, but found him and fell in love. It was unexpected, and the seemingly very randomness of how we were matched with both of our children reminds me every day how very lucky we are.