It’s hard to believe that one year ago we arrived back in Siloam Springs with a new son. Roman is now 11 years old and in 5th grade. With Feb. 17 being the official one year anniversary of his coming to live with us, I thought an update would be in order.
In most ways Roman is adjusting much better than we could have ever hoped or imagined. He is totally fluent speaking in English and has been for a while now. He got almost straight A’s in school the first semester and was on the Principal’s Honor Roll. He no longer attends special ESL classes at all. He picks up vocabulary and word usage pretty quickly.
Orally Roman doesn’t always get what is being said around him, especially if there are a lot of other distractions. His writing is getting better but still has a long way to go. Not surprisingly it has been hard to get him excited about reading, but the right book makes a lot of difference. His teacher gave him a book called Holy Enchilada! by Henry Winkler (yep, Fonzie) and Roman loves it. The Fonz to the rescue again.
Socially Roman has made a ton of friends and is very outgoing. He likes to be the center of attention, which gets him into trouble at school sometimes. Roman has a girlfriend named Anna, who is also very fun loving and outgoing. She got him a little stuffed dog for Valentine’s Day. Roman didn’t quite get the whole Valentine’s Day thing anyway. It didn’t make sense to him why he had to give every kid in his class a valentine card, even the other boys.
Roman played soccer in the spring and again last fall. He enjoyed being on a team and competing against other boys his age. It was obvious that he had some ball handling skills, but was taught to play much more selfishly than the US style of play. Learning how to pass the ball to an open teammate was a challenge.
He is on a 5th/6th grade basketball team this winter. He has a good coach who emphasizes basics and defense. They finished the season with only one loss. Roman plays power forward mostly, but has played point guard and hit a couple of big 3-point shots.
At church, Roman has adjusted to our American ways. He was used to standing all through worship and having an Orthodox priest do all the talking and singing. It took him a few months to stop telling us we were doing it wrong. He enjoys Sunday school and attends a Wednesday night children’s ministry at a different church in town with some friends.
As a family the adjustments continue. Cameron has become more comfortable with being a big brother and Alexa & Caley have taken to the big sister role as well. Becky and I still wrestle with how to encourage and discipline Roman and when to chalk things up to his background and relative newness. On the one hand he’s been with us for a whole year, but on the other hand he’s been in a different culture for 10 ½ years. How long should it take for him to acclimate? I think we will be asking ourselves this for quite a while.
Christmas was a special time for Roman. We had a family celebration at home before we went to Indiana to be with family there. Roman’s excitement about being with a family and having lots of parties and presents was pretty high. He enjoyed every moment. It was pretty fun to watch. To top it all off, Alexa provided about the biggest thing ever for Roman when she brought home an 8-10 week old pup she found in a city park the Saturday after Christmas. Against our better judgment we told the kids that if they took care of her that we could keep her. Well, they kept up their side of the bargain and now Hunter is part of our family as well.
All things considered we have been really blessed. There are a lot of stories about families who have adopted older kids and have very bad situations with emotional, educational, or behavioral problems. We have had not of those issues with Roman. His personality fits our family very well. A shy and introverted child would have been overwhelmed by the rest of us. God knew what He was doing when He put us together.