It's hard to believe that 3 months ago today, Cava arrived in the United States as our son. Today it doesn't seem like it's been that long (other days I might not feel that way). When I told Cava how today was 3 months to the day that he arrived in America, he responded in typical Cava fashion, "Really?"
Certainly there have been lots of ups and downs during this short period of time, but Cava appears to be hitting his stride now (with much love, patience, and prayer; along with the help of trained professionals and, most recently, ADHD medication).
For awhile, he would tell us that he was going back to Ukraine with his puzzles. More recently, however, he has been distancing himself from Ukraine. He tells us that he is "American, not Ukrainian."
When he speaks of Ukraine, it is negatively, usually with the term "Pogano" or "bad." Some of this, we believe, is out of fear that he will be sent back. This has been especially true since we sent our dog, Chloe, to stay with my Dad. We believe that Cava began to fear that, if we'd send Chloe away and she's been with us much longer, then he could be sent back too. To allay his fears, we constantly remind him that he's a Blackwell now and that we would all be very sad if he wasn't with us. Then we list off all the people in his life who would be sad if he were gone. He likes hearing this list. As we constantly remind him, with this adoption, there are:
A short time ago, Cava confided in me that other kids had beaten him up in the boarding school because he was smaller and an easier target. Now, he has a tendency to exaggerate how many (all of the kids, all of the adults, and even the bugs in Ukraine). We realize he is creating this ugly portrait of where he came from so that we wouldn't want to send him back since we have told him that we would never want anyone to hurt our Cava. Once more, the word "Pogano" gets used a lot. The people there, even the ones we knew were his friends, the teachers, the caregivers, and the food all get called this. This may also be part of his grieving process, in that, he does not want to think of any of the positives or good memories he has about his past.
When I ask Cava what he likes about America and his home, he responds with a list of all the things he likes here that they didn't have in the Ukraine that he knew: puzzles, chocolate ice cream, parks, Curious George, museums, the library, his own bedroom, DVDs (his favorites being The Lion King and Peter Pan), his favorite foods (spaghetti, mac & cheese, pizza, chips, hamburgers), his school (especially his teachers), Apple (what he calls my iPod), music (see his playlist for samples), and, somewhere down on the list, is Mommy, Papa, Benjamin, Chloe, Granddad Bob, Aunt Kristen, and Aunt Tiana. Quickly, he adds his newest "love" - Just Dance for Wii.
It amazes me to see how much he's changed in this short period, how much English he's already picked up, and how his interests have changed (his new fascination is with bugs and insects). It will be even more exciting to see how much he's changed when the year anniversary comes. Will he still be excited to see a plane? Or spotting a newly bloomed flower?
And what new experiences will he have had by then?
As difficult as some of the days that have made up these last three months have been, I cannot imagine our family without Cava now.