Thursday, October 7, 2021

Three years home


Today, October 7th 2021, marks 3 years of Nikolai and Viktor being home.  They have changed in so many ways since we first met them in the summer of 2018.

They both had pretty much the same diagnosis when we adopted them - cerebral palsy (Spastic quadriplegia, meaning it effects all 4 limbs).  They both use wheelchairs, are non-verbal, and use diapers. Nikolai has vision issues and probable autism. Viktor eats via a g-tube (a feeding tube that goes directly into his stomach).  They are both absolutely amazingly wonderful ;)

  They were a teeny 11 and almost 10 year old when they joined our family - and now, Nikolai recently turned 14, and Viktor will be his twin again at the end of November.  The first picture shows them just after we walked through the door with them three years ago, reunited with big brother Newt, who had met them on our first trip earlier that summer. The second picture was taken on Nikolai's birthday last month.

The past 3 years have been full of life and living.  There was a bit of a hiccup for about 16 months, when we barely left the house because of the COVID threat, but we've been making up for lost time since we've all been fully vaccinated at the beginning of the summer.

We did try them in school in the fall of 2019, and while it was a great program with wonderful staff, it just wasn't right for them, so we have been homeschooling since November 2019.  My husband is retired, and I quit my job when they came home, so we are both home with them full time, which is great !!

Homeschooling looks different here every day.  Some days, we stick to the academics, other days we get out and about, sometimes we play, or cook, or just hang out.  Pretty much anything and everything is educational when you've missed out on the first 11 years of life, so I don't put pressure on them - or me - to spend a certain amount of time on math, reading etc etc.  

Viktor is more involved when we do school - Nikolai hangs out on the sidelines, and hopefully he learns by listening.  When it comes to hands on stuff, like cutting, gluing, writing, I do the work while Viktor watches - if something needs coloring, he does it.  I do a lot of reading out loud, and explaining, and hope they're soaking it up !  Thankfully Viktor enjoys watching others do stuff :) 

Viktor is our smiley, happy boy - even in the institution, when we first met him, he was an absolute joy, despite being half starved, wearing urine soaked clothing, and spending his days doing nothing.  He is a total TV addict, and I truly believe he has learned SO much from TV that we couldn't have taught him - he likes to watch a wide variety of shows, from off-color sitcoms to documentaries.  His next favorite thing to do is help daddy in the kitchen, and is able to use a switch attached to a handy gadget - a Powerlink - to make the mixer work !  He's also quite the artist !!  He loves to color and paint, and has even sold some of his art.  He also won $100 in a local art contest, and has his piece of art "wrapped" on a public electrical box in downtown Sioux Falls !!

Nikolai is our noisy loner !  Although we haven't had him tested for autism, we assume he is autistic - one of these days we might get round to evaluating him. He like to do his own thing most of the time - his favorite things are toys/objects that he can flap, and those that play music and/or vibrate or make noise.  He isn't a people person, though he HAS recently started coming over to me and letting me know he wants to sit on my lap and snuggle for a while !  When he first came home, he was prone to meltdowns, where he screamed, scratched, pinched, bit etc - but I honestly cant remember the last time he had one !  He gets upset occasionally, but is able to let us know he's sad by crying rather than having a meltdown, and he'll allow me to comfort him, which is wonderful :)

When at home, he spends his time playing on the floor, where he gets himself around by kind of army crawling.  He also has a stander that he enjoys.  He was also lucky enough to get an adapted bike donated to him earlier this year, through the "Great Bike Giveaway" - an anonymous donor donated the full amount for his trike, which was amazing !!!  

Nikolai and Viktor have both been amazingly healthy since coming home.  Viktor has had a couple of surgeries, one for a feeding tube, and the second was double hip surgery.  Nikolai hasn't needed any surgeries, but has had Botox a few times in his legs, to loosen up the muscles.  They will both probably need spinal surgery for scoliosis in the future, but we'll cross that hurdle when we come to it !

As the weather is changing, from the hot summer to the cold cold winter, we've been trying to get out and about more.  I usually take them out individually, so they get some one on one time with each parent.  As the boys have grown and gained weight, it was getting harder to get them out and about - we live in the basement of a walk out ranch style house, so any time we wanted to go out, we had to carry them - and then their wheelchairs - up the stairs.  However, earlier this year we had an amazing lift installed, which carries them up the stairs IN their wheelchairs!  Its been truly life changing - and as we also have a lift in our Transit, life is SO much easier these days ! 

Here are a few pics of our recent forays out into the world - I'm still being pretty cautious, because of COVID, but we're trying to be a little more adventurous :)

Mailing one of his paintings to his cousin in England

Refusing to push the cart ;)

Zoo time !

At the science center

Getting splashed

Feeding the goat

He loved the reflection of the water

It started to rain !

Eating at the mall food court

The only thing in the whole park he can kind of use

He met a firefighter and a police officer on 9/11

He loves the feel and sound of wooden walkways

No, I won't smile for any more pics !

Yikes !

Listening to the ducks

Showing off his cool leggings

More cool leggings !

Viktor tries SO hard to help !

I could share SO MANY more pics and videos - if you want to see more, please join our Facebook group - "Sealey's Legacy" - I share pretty much our whole lives there ! :)

All in all, we've had a fantastic 3 years, and I cannot wait to see what the next three years, and beyond, have in store for us !!  If you have ANY questions about adopting from Ukraine, or adopting children with cerebral palsy, or adopting as an older parents - please ask !!

Here are a couple more photos, as a reminder of how far they've come in the past 3 years.

Children belong in families.

Go to to see the many waiting children, and maybe donate to the adoption grant of a waiting child, or help an adoptive family bring their child home !!

Monday, October 7, 2019

One Year !!

Just over two years ago, my husband uttered the words "why don't WE adopt him?".  

A few days later, we contacted the necessary agencies, and committed to adopt Sealey.  

18 months ago, we found out that Sealey had died. 

 A few days later, we chose "Vijay" as our new son - and not long after that, we also chose "Athens".  They were both 10 years old at the time.

In July 2018, we flew over to meet both boys, and officially committed to adopting them, after spending about an hour with them.

A month later, we flew back to Ukraine for court, and were able to visit them a few times again...

...and a month after that, we flew back again for the pick up trip. 

We broke them out of the institution on September 26th 2018 !!

- and after a few days of medicals and Embassy appointments, we flew home with them on October 6th 2018 

The flights home went fairly smoothly, all things considered.  I only had to change one poopy diaper on one plane on one screaming child, which was all kinds of fun ;)  I managed to get their meals prepared on various planes and at airports, and there were only a couple of meltdowns.  Viktor absolutely hated the airports, and screamed whenever we had to wait to go through security.  At EVERY checkpoint, we were told the boys had to come out of their strollers - and at every check point, we successfully got the point across that they would NOT come out of their strollers.  I think we were only in danger of being arrested at one point, when Randall was yelling back at a German security man LOL
All in all, though, the flights/airports were OK - we survived, and they weren't as bad as I had expected !

We actually spent the first night on US soil in a hotel, as the boys hadn't slept in over 30 hours, and neither had we, it was late evening, and we really didn't want to drive home yet !  As soon as we got to the hotel, Randall had to leave to find a store to buy food for the boys, so I got them ready for bed while he was gone.  At this point, we were all just exhausted - and Nikolai had had enough.  He had his first major meltdown - I truly thought that the hotel staff - or the police - would be knocking at the door any second LOL  Thankfully, he eventually calmed down, and we all managed to get a decent night of sleep.
The next morning, we packed up, and headed home  :)

The drive home was uneventful, and, at last, we were all home, and the boys were reunited with their big brother, Newt.

Today, October 7th 2019, marks one year home for Nikolai and Viktor.

They have each celebrated a birthday, they enjoyed their first Thanksgiving and Christmas, they have traveled to soccer tournaments - been to zoos - and met their Gran who flew in from England.  They've traveled to multiple states, and attended this past summer's Reece's Rainbow reunion !  

They have been to doctors, received therapies, and started school !!

ALL in all, they have spent the last year LIVING !!!!
They no longer spend their days laying in a crib, in the same diaper all day long, being fed slop.

They are ALIVE.  Thanks to Sealey, the brother they will never meet, they have made our lives so so much better - I truly cannot remember life without them !

Here are a few pictures of them from the past year - in no particular order - enjoy !!

I have so so many more pictures, but I'll stop for now !

Needless to say - adding Nik and Vik to our family has been amazing - this year has had it's ups and downs, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Please - if you have ever even considered adoption for a second - think about it again.  These kids are so worth every single penny, every single sleepless night, every single frustration with paperwork, every single stomach churning second.

I am 56 years old - my husband turns 64 next month. 

If WE can do it - ANYONE can !! 

If you'd like to see more of the boys, please join our Facebook group - 
"Sealey's Legacy"