She is a very happy girl, and looks like she’s securely attached to us. We’ve been very lucky (knock on wood) as most of the time we didn’t have the older adopted kids’ issues with her, so we feel very blessed. Rachel is currently repeating 4th grade, and she is thriving at school. She has absolutely awesome teachers – when other parents have to struggle to have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in place, I don’t have to do anything – they know what do to with her without IEP. Her classroom teacher somehow finds time to do one-on-one work with her, and to give her assignments based on her abilities. Her ESL teacher spends a lot of time with her working not only on English skills, but helping out with Social Studies, Science, etc. Academic work is not easy for Rachel, and she doesn’t like to read or study, but the fact that she says “I love going to school” very often, speaks for itself – they are doing something right there! She’s currently reading at the mid 1st grade level, which is a huge milestone for her, because a year ago she was reading at a 6-year old level in Russian when she was 10. She mastered multiplication tables, learned long division, and started to do some word problems. But the main thing is – she finally SPEAKS ENGLIGH!!! It took a long time, and I was very worried about it. Then all of a sudden, a month ago I was driving Rachel and her friends, and all of a sudden I heard her speaking with them! It was like a light bulb moment - something clicked, and she started to speak. It’s not correct English yet, but she’s speaking, and that’s what’s important.
What else? Rachel is doing chorus and PE Intramurals at school, and takes hip-hop and cheerleading lessons outside of school. In December we celebrated her 11th birthday (first in America!), so I took her and a couple of friends to the girls’ salon to have their up-dos, manicure and a make-up. They had a blast!
Both girls grew 2.5 inches this year, Rachel gained 12 lbs, and Victoria 5 lbs. They are the best of friends and love each other to pieces. At first I was worried that Rachel plays on the same level as Victoria, with the same toys, coloring books, etc., but then I understood that she needs to experiment everything she missed while being in the orphanage, so going through all childhood stages is a good thing. I think she adjusted very well because we set a routine as soon as we came home a year ago, and she thrives on the discipline and the routine. She’s the only one in her 4th grade class, whose bedtime is 8:00 pm :)
Victoria turned 6 in December. She is in kindergarten this year, and she just loves it. During the holiday break she was counting days until she can go to school again! She reads at the beginning 2nd grade level, can add and subtract over the tens, and her classroom teacher is doing a great job working with her individually and keeping up her reading and math skills. She started piano lessons this year, and now she and I play in 4 hands!
So overall we had a pretty good year with a lot of firsts for Rachel, I can’t complain! Of course, it’s not easy. Even though the girls love each other, they still bicker a lot, and want my attention all the time. It’s like having two 6-year olds instead of 6-year and 11-year olds :) But at the same time it’s a pleasure being their parents, and a lot of fun watching them grow into smart and beautiful young ladies.
Here are a couple of pictures:
In soccer uniform in July:
Watching fall folliage
Picking apples at the farm: