For not talking much, Sasha sure has a lot to say! Right now, she only has a couple of articulated words that we can understand - kukla (that means doll in Russian) and Mama (the most important word she could know, naturally). Other than that, she does her talking with her hands and boy has she taken off with the sign language!
She already has 11 words: more, again, all done, food, drink, toilet, mama, papa, banana, cookie, and potty (which, humorously enough, is a bit of a dirty hand sign in Kaz so we try to only use that one in the apartment!). It's been amazing watching her figure out how to really use those words, like chaining signs together ("more food banana"). Ben has also really latched on to the signs and now tells us many of his needs with his hands. Hey, whatever works! At this point I think Sasha has basically exhausted our sign language vocabulary. Time to go home and get out the sign language book to learn some more!
We've gotten lots of questions along the lines of, "So, is it harder than you expected?" Those are never easy questions to answer... I guess it just depends what "it" is and what day and hour you're asking!
I think that the pre-adoption process what harder than we had anticipated. The paperwork was arduous, but about what we figured it would be. It was the waiting that truly was a difficult, stretching, learning, growing time. It was good and we have grown so much through the process, but it was hard.
But everything about Sasha has been so much easier than we thought it might be! In the face of so much unknown, Steve and I really tried to prepare as well as we could. Bonding issues, speech issues, FAS, motor delays, cognitive delays, sleep issues - an adoptive parent really has to be prepared for a lot! I am so grateful for the preparation that we did and we know that our adventures with Sasha are truly just beginning, but so far it has been so much easier than we had feared. She's a toddler, with all of the strong will and burgeoning independence that every healthy toddler has (and then a little more). Couple a kiddo on the verge of the "terrible twos" with one who is just getting to know and trust her Mommy and Daddy, and you have your hands full. But an amazing kid like Sasha makes you grateful to do it all (except, maybe, change dirty diapers).
We've also had questions like, "Does she miss the baby house?" And, honestly, we have to say that she doesn't seem to miss it at all. She doesn't pine away or cry for mysterious reasons or have trouble settling down at night or any of the things that I thought might happen. I think that Steve and I have really successfully moved in to take the place of her caregivers and her brothers definitely fill any void she has for noise and raucous activity!
And she definitely puts her baby house skills to good use. She's learned some amazing bob and weave techniques that she uses to thwart her brothers' attempts to retrieve toys from her vice grip paws. We attribute this to her having learned that she who runs away with her toys, lives to play another day. Or at least keeps them a few minutes longer. She really is amazingly adept at keeping whatever food or choking hazard or intricate Lego creation she's gotten her paws on that one of the four of us wants to have back!
We are just so thankful that our first days and weeks together - first as three and now as five - have been so overwhelmingly positive. We are one blessed family.