Our beautiful new Russian adoptee, Daria, went on her first date last night with...
One of our family's long-time practices is for Mr. Beaver and me to take our individual children out on a rotating basis. We call these "dates." Usually each of us takes out one child. The four of us ride together in the car on a Wednesday night or a Saturday morning, but then the two sets sit in different sections of the coffee shop or restaurant so we get one-on-one time.
Sometimes on these dates we simply converse if the child has something on their heart they want to discuss. But usually we chat while playing a game. We've discovered that laughing together is a great contributor to family strength. Having fun together is also an important bridge to ensuring we have an open relationship with each of our arrows (Ps. 127:4).
We started this practice when we had three children, but now as a large family the tradition has become even more important to us. When you're one of twelve, it's easy to get lost. We think these dates help prevent that. They also allow the two of us to know each of our children as individuals and to relish in how the Lord has made each unique.
For a variety of logistical reasons, both of us took Daria on her very first date as part of our family. If I've ever witnessed a delighted teenager, it was this precious 15-year-old former orphan last night. She talked and talked in her intertwined combination of mostly Russian with a bit of emerging English, what our family calls "Ringlish."
Daria asked us a number of questions about American culture. She also told us many of her observations about ways in which American and Russian cultures differ. She eventually concluded that some things are better in Russia and some things are better in America. We both heartily agreed.
This realistic assessment that both cultures have strengths and weaknesses is a very good place for a teen to be nine weeks into her adoption into a family in a distant country. Daria has had to give up so much to become part of our family--language, familiar music and smells, faith traditions, foods, holidays, and more.
Since adopting Daria in mid November, we have watched her go through brief but very understandable periods of grieving the loss of her Motherland, as the Russians lovingly call their country. However, last night's date revealed to us that she is developing a mindset we hope she'll never lose--a continuing love for the country where she was born and spent the first decade-and-a-half of her life, combined with a willingness to embrace life in the U.S.
We thank and praise God for the grace He is showering on the daughter we've known for such a short time and yet already love so deeply.