Sunday, April 28, 2013
In just a year, two little African boys have grown like weeds! Starting around 20 pounds or less each, they both weigh 30-32 pounds. They are 34 and 37 inches tall. The oldest one started school in the fall, and my baby, the youngest, just started school this month. They both wear glasses to correct their poor vision. The oldest one will be getting his very own wheelchair on Tuesday, while the youngest one is still borrowing his wheels. They have both endured surgeries to correct health issues or injuries. They have been the test subject of mommy learning to cut tight curly hair, and they have been lotioned from head to toe nearly every day for an entire year. They have been tested and tube fed, and measured and weighed. They have met family, friends, and those inbetween! They have learned to enjoy campfires, with s'mores, and loud birthday parties with a lot of off-key singing. They have slept in cribs and moved into big boy beds now. They have had colds and an ear infection, but no pneumonia or hospital stays due to illness. They know who most people are who walk through our front door, and they have had the fun of holding baby chicks and kittens. They love their baths and bedtimes, and both boys seem especially fond of music in any form. One cries when it's too crazy around here, which always makes the other one laugh. They have a tenderness with each other, and love to be held and cuddled before falling asleep. One has no interest in the tv, while the other one will fuss until certain shows are found. The oldest one is the smAllest, while the youngest is the opposite, and is actually quite tall. They came home wearing 12 to 18 month clothes, but are into 3&4 toddler clothes now. The oldest wears the shorter shirts and the baby wears the longest. They both have leg splints now, and we are quite sure the oldest will walk unassisted this year, while we know for sure the baby never will. They both celebrated birthdays since coming home, but one is five and one half, and the other will be turning three in May. What have the rest of us learned this year? How to speak in baby sign language, and read eye expressions to know how two little boys are feeling. How to comfort a child who can not tell you how or why he is crying, and how to tickle and laugh with a child who is equally non-verbal. We have learned to slow down the pace when we can to accommodate differently abled children, while also keeping up a pace that includes the schedules of 9 other children who are busy all the time. We have learned that most people are understanding when the children's needs must come first, and others who can not make exceptions are not really much a part of our lives anymore. We have come to accept the parts of our children whom will never reach the potential that other kids will, while all the time realising their lives are still so new there is simply no telling how far either of them will go. We are used to friends not really knowing which boy goes by what name, and the others who can even tell you more than one special part about each boy so you know they really have cared. We know we have to be flexible with our plans, but more rigid with their schedules. Each day is "who goes where for what" and as long as appointments are written in the master planner, we tend to make 98% of everything scheduled. We have learned one doctor appointment usually results in at least two specialist appointments in the coming weeks, but nothing is more satisfying than hearing, "you are doing a good job with their special needs." We have learned paperwork is not done after the children come home from an international adoption, and getting any assistance for medical needs is like submitting another dossier. We have learned many people have no problem expressing their opinions of your children/your parenting/your decisions/your housework or home life. We have learned some people think of us as heroes, while others think we are crazy/rich/child hoarders. We have learned you must be awfully thick skinned when you adopt children from other another race, but we also learned many people love to hear how our family found each other and they start to think maybe they.could.do.this.too. We are finished with our first year home. No more adoption post placement reports, no more prying eyes. We are just responsible to send a report to their home country once a year until they are 18. We were told we could never handle two disabled children at one time, and now the home study agent wondered when we would plan adopt again because we are, I quote, "a wonderful family, very loving and capable of taking on another child if you wish to." This past year has been one of learning for us all. Feeding tubes, wheelchairs, brain injury and hearing losses, special needs school program's, and busses for the disabled. It's a different world. And we wouldn't change it for anything! We love you Gborlee and Isaiah. So very glad you came to stay!
I was honoured to attend a welcome-home-adoption party in the last several weeks, and there are so many parts of it drifting through my mind that I had to write it out. The guest of honor wore a pink dress, a big bow in her hair and lacy dress socks. She flitted around the room, with a special sparkle in her eyes. Each table was dressed with thoughtfulness, representing different children's stories with every detail woven perfectly to fit the story. It was a colourful, fun event where even the food treats matched the stories each table told. Simply lovely on a grand scale,yet simply set out for the reigning princess! Just so perfectly right! The sweetheart of the day was smiling, practically dancing, simply loving her spotlight moment. She had made a gramma happy with her entrance into their family, and young parents out of her childless mom and dad. She was given a bunch of books and games, clothes and even a bike, on this, her very special day. She rounded the room, smiling bigger than any eight year old I have ever seen, personally thanking each guest with a timid hug and delicate words. It was fun for us to make her feel so special, and especially rewarding for those of us who knew her past. I tend to put a warm spin on most of my writing, at least a friend accuses me of that, but this story ended much sweeter than it started. You see, this princess has had a rough bunch of years. She was adopted internationally round four years old, probably seeing more in her first few years than most of us care to admit. She may have been a street kid, and she may have suffered abuse at the hands of friends and family. She came from a depressed country, either orphaned or abandoned, and no doubt, suffered through her early years. Her home may not have been a haven, or given her what she needed to feel loved and safe. She may have scavenged for her very existence, all the while building up her own perceptions of a cruel world. Fast forward to her adoption. Kids in other counties who wait for a family have time to dream about new parents. Maybe they hear what an American house will be like, or maybe they are terrified of what is ahead for them in a strange new place. Either way, they come to America full of fear and dreams, expectations and wonder, struggling to express emotions they can not begin to understand, in many places hearing languages they have never heard before. They are forced to eat strange food, sleep in beds where they may have only slept on a dirt floor in their own country. They hear new sounds, see new sights, and begin to form opinions of what their new life has become. Could you, as an adult, imagine the terror? Have you ever travelled from your home land to a different place, and felt relief to know when your trip was over you would finally be coming back home to all the things you know and love. For the orphan, even if their first years were traumatic, that is all they knew. And once they are adopted, there is no "going home" again. I know that when this little princess came to America, for what ever reasons, her first adoptive family couldn't ever bond. She had "issues", or they had "issues" and the adoption, after four hard years, was disrupted. The family who re-adopted her now have the years of her homeland, and all the experiences there, and the former four years where she has been in America, but never felt wanted, loved, appreciated or secure. I am not writing to blame the family. God knows, this child, whatever the reasons, needed a new family. My friends boldly stepped forward, saying "could that be our child?", and have taken her on, lock, stock and barrel. They said, YES! And are beginning their life as a beautiful new family that seems to now, finally, be a perfect fit for all. Will it be perfect? No. No ones life is ever perfect. But this angel has a family, a room, a dresser and extended family who are thrilled beyond all their dreams. She is sleeping at peace, knowing when she wakes up she will be fed and welcomed, and asked if she slept well. She has someone who cares if her homework is done, and someone to help her deal with her traumatic past and initial placement. She will have a bright future, and a family to help her reach her potential. Adoption can sometimes be ugly. Re-adoption can be painful but needed, and the child can be lost in the network or be redeemed into a new family. This particular princess has a new start. At eight years old, she is being born again, with all the hopes and dreams of any new family bound together by love. When I first saw her picture, I saw potential of a young girl ready to bloom. Now she is grounded where her heart can soar and her past can become a faded memory. She is loved, and oh so willing to flourish. Thank you to my sweet friends who saw her potential, and planted her firmly into their lives. Princess, you can reach for the sun!! Bloom, little flower, and grow!