I hear that question on a pretty regular basis. And it's a tough one to answer unless you really want to know. I mean, most people just want a one or two word answer, just like when they ask "how are you?" I realize that's just the way our culture is now, so I'm not offended or anything. I know people genuinely want to know, but don't have time for a lengthy (honest) explanation. But if you are truly interested, and have a few minutes, I'll try and give you a recap of the past two weeks. But I must warn you, I don't want to scare anyone off who is thinking about adopting, but I don't want to sugar coat things either. To be honest, I really don't know how to write this post, but here goes...
First, I'll tell you how it's going for me. I can't speak for Jason, but I know for me, this is way harder than I expected. I thought I was fairly well prepared. I have read books and blogs galore, and seen a whole variety of struggles and and successes. So I knew what could happen. But knowing what could happen hasn't really made it any easier. Knowing what I should do to foster trust and attachment and all those really important things, doesn't make it any easier to actually do them. I find myself wondering multiple times a day, 'is this right?' or 'if I do this, is this going to hurt us in the long run?' or, 'is he really happy or is this just a front, his defense mechanism?' and, 'does he really not understand me or is he just faking???' I ask myself that one the most! I feel a lot more overwhelmed than I expected. I thought I was prepared, after all! I'm trying to do everything "they say you should do," but I don't always get it right. I am often impatient and frustrated, and that frustrates me! Then add to that homeschool battles with Aedan, a whole bunch of sibling rivalry from both sides, Jason's chronic back pain (that has been gone since Saturday, praise the Lord!!), trying to figure out whether to renew our lease or try to possibly buy a house (and find out our credit got jacked up by some human error), a possible daunting diagnosis for Liana, and you have one stressed out Merissa! To say that it's not been an easy two weeks is an understatement. But when I consider my struggles, and then I think about families whose blogs I follow that have adopted multiple children with serious special needs, and I think, 'if they can do it, so can I!' I know they rely on the Lord, and he is faithful to them, just like he will be faithful to me. I know that it will get better, and I know so many people are faithfully praying for us daily. If you are one of those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Now enough about me. I know you really just want to know how James is doing. Again, a hard question to answer. Because he really doesn't have the language to express himself, and because he's very happy and easy going by nature, he really doesn't complain about much. If he wants something and doesn't get it, I hear about it. But for the most part he seems content. He is pretty clingy with me, but he does ok when I leave him with Jason and go to work. As I said, there's a good deal of jealousy between James and his siblings, mainly Liana. She's always been a little cuddle bug, and now they are both having a hard time accepting that mom can hug the other, too. He's sleeping well, but he wakes up SO early. I am not a morning person at all, so this is a challenge for me. Every few days he gets tired enough to sleep until 7:00, but most days he is up way before the sun. He is ALWAYS hungry. That's one sign he learned quickly! He loves to help me do things, like cooking or vacuuming or pulling laundry out of the basket and handing it to me to fold. I'm so much of a 'it's much faster if I just do it myself but I know it's better if I let you help' person, so I try to find things he can help me with. He is very stubborn, and I am pretty sure he knows most of the things he's not supposed to do/touch, but he will do them anyway, even right after I tell him not to. He is super dramatic too. Fits right in with the other two! It's pretty comical when he is on his time out mat and he's fake crying, pulling off his socks and looking to see if we are paying attention. He is still obsessed with the dog, and sometimes I wish Swiper would nip at him just once to give him some fear. Not to really hurt him, of course! But he doesn't get growling, so I don't know how else to get him to understand that the dog will only tolerate so much. And he tolerates a LOT!!
He still has the attention span of a gnat, unless there's something on tv he likes. He did draw something that looks like the first attempts at a person, with 8 legs! We did puzzles the other day, and he still has trouble getting some of the pieces properly into their spots, and I had to keep focusing him back to the puzzle. And I tried getting him to match pictures using a Memory game we have, but either he wasn't getting the idea, or he just wasn't interested, because he couldn't seem to understand what I wanted him to do, even though I showed him several times. We tried it again the next day, and he did do a little better. We are still working on using words instead of pointing. Today I got a whole sentence unprompted: I PLEASE HAVE MILK. I was very excited! He is copying me a lot more, but not using too many new signs on his own yet. He did sign MAN for the receipt checker guy at Sam's Club the other day. That was a first for that sign.
As for his physical issues - we saw our family doctor on Monday. He spent about an hour with us, asking questions, having James do things, listening to my long list of concerns. When all was said and done, we now have appointments with radiology for x-rays and ultrasounds, (x-rays on his neck and hips - his neck doesn't turn all the way like it should, and he probably has some hip displasia. He always W sits, and I literally have to straighten his legs out in front of him when I sit him on the time out mat. He keeps them straight for about half a second. Ultrasounds are for his kidneys and bladder.) the feeding clinic, the orthopaedic doctor, (again for hips and neck) audiology, opthamology, DART, and the child development unit. I imagine we will be adding a number of therapies to our schedule in the near future.
Tomorrow we have our first post placement visit. We have to have 3 of them before the Philippines will give us permission to finalize. I got James's permanent alien registration card today, so now we can get him a SS number and apply for Medicaid and all that good stuff.
Sorry this was kind of all over the place. I'm sure I forgot something I wanted to say! But eventually I'll remember and put it in the next post. I'd like to promise it won't be another two weeks before that happens, but there's a good possibility it will be! I'll try to keep you updated on all our various appointments as they happen, though.