I think some people are getting frustrated that there isn't more reality in blogging about special needs adoption, and that too many people paint a rosy picture, and lead others to unreasonable expectations. Well, no one's ever accused me of not being real enough. In fact, my husband likes to say, "you don't have to tell people everything." Especially if it involves him. Speaking of-- after one particularly trying episode with our new little son, when I swooped in after working for three nights, and then took over the childcare (which you'd think he'd be grateful for) and changed all the routine he had established, he said, "Try being with them 24 hours a day!" I almost died, it was so funny. Let's see... how many years was I a stay-at-home mom, who lived rurally, on a very modest income, homeschooling, with 6 kids...
Okay, even though he doesn't like it when I tell stories on him, (and now you know why) I will say that he has been amazing, and has embraced my dream as his own, and it is now our dream. He does look a little ragged around the edges, from being on "24 hours a day" but he's getting the kids established in figuring out their new home, and what it means to be in a family, and I'm trying not to sabotage his efforts by babying them too much. He's a strong believer in order, routine, and self-discipline. Well, it worked pretty good on our first crowd. The next crowd is showing signs of getting in the groove, too. He always complained that I babied the first crowd too much, also, so I think we're doing fine.
So, reality is that our new son doesn't like his new life. He may have orphanage behavior with rocking, and staring at the ceiling to avoid eye contact, and being reluctant to explore his new surroundings, but if he has a chance at being a normal kid (and of course, I say that meaning normal childhood curiosity, activity and delight) then we are going to give him that chance. He will have boundaries, he will not be the strongest person in his universe (which is actually terrifying for a kid) and he will know that we are there to keep him safe. He will also grow to care what his parents think, he will want to please us, and he will be happy when we are proud of his accomplishments. He will also know that we care, because we will hold him accountable for his behavior. If he is not capable of all this, we will know it soon enough, and we will adjust, but for now, if it is just a very strong-willed boy trying to figure out his place in the universe, then we are up for the challenge.
We know he is capable of learning, because even though he appears to be such a baby, someone has obviously taught him about the potty. The other day, he had a dry diaper, so I sat him on the potty chair, and he immediately peed. Since then, I have been regularly getting him onto the potty. Strange, since he seems so young, but he obviously prefers to be dry. Someone has also taught him to hold his own cup. At this point, he is very capricious about eating and drinking. It all depends on whether he likes what is being served, and that changes from day to day. One day he loves oatmeal, and wants seconds, and then another day he hates oatmeal. Same thing with juices, gatorade, soy milk (I've tried everything!) It just depends on whether he's in the mood to cooperate that day. Every time he drinks from a cup, I heave a big sigh of relief. Finally! We're over that hump, all will be easy sailing from here on out! Wrong. Next day it's like the first day all over again.
The other reality is that except for the teeth-grinding, our Littlest Girl is the child everyone hopes to get when they go to adopt one of these orphans. She is pure sunshine, and loves to love. She is very outgoing, and loves when anyone smiles at her. She giggles as if you just said the funniest things. She cries with a broken heart if she gets scolded even the least little bit. She loves to snuggle when she's tired. Will she ever have any behavior issues? Who knows? For now, she's loving her new life, and her new family, and loves learning new things, and exploring every corner of her new home.
More reality is that it is very rewarding watching our Big Girl blossom. She has had much less attention in the past, and she was ready for some! She has not been aggressive at all toward the younger children, as the orphanage personnel feared, and we've even seen a huge reduction in her aggressive tendencies toward adults. She also grinds her teeth, but she's doing less of that already. She's been like our boy, and been reluctant to move from one spot, but today, she followed me all over the house, while I did housework, sometimes just holding on to my pants leg to keep up, and keep track of me. She wants to kiss me, but with her tongue hanging out, more like just stick it on my face. Big Sis and I are trying to teach her how to make a kissing motion, because I guess no one's ever shown her how. I got on her for something today, and she looked at me, and made a kissing smack into the air at me. Sassy! I can see that there will probably come a day when she gets jealous of the other two kids, and we're watching for that, but for now, the kids are not much interested in each other.
I hope this gives other people a glimpse of the reality of adopting special needs kids, although you can not really have a concept until you're in the middle of it, and asking yourself, "What have I just done?" Reality is, probably everyone asks themselves that question. I just kept saying, through our long, drawn out process, "This is too huge for us to accomplish ourselves. It has to be God's doing." And that's how I know we're right where we're supposed to be, and these kids are right where they're supposed to be. And I know he is faithful, and will carry us through. Will we have rough times in the future? My guess is, yes. The reality is that right now, some of it is fun, and some of it is not fun. Kind of like life in general, but on a bigger scale.
The many faces of The Boy Who Would Be King. Notice that he doesn't grace us with a lot of facial expressions. Actually, we have discovered that when he's interested in something, his eyes get very wide, and his mouth opens even wider. Smiles are in short supply lately, even when playing with balls, or rough-housing.
This is the child who looks like she came from an Easter egg...
Big Girl is getting to have a real childhood, complete with a family and a mama and daddy, and she's savoring every minute (so far!)