Saturday was exactly 2 months since "gotcha," the time is going way faster now that when we were waiting... I can't believe its been 2 months! I feel like I am finally starting to come out of the "fog" that I didn't even realize I was living in. The novelty of having Alliot around is finally starting to wear off a little with the other kids. When we first got home they couldn't keep their hands off him, they were very "helpful," and I felt like I was constantly putting out fires with whose turn it was to do this or that for him. It made me very flustered because I felt like we had made some head way towards attachment in China, and this was putting us back a bit. Alliot was terrified of the kids, they were so overwhelming to him that he would cry a lot and want to be held constantly. He would see them coming and just scream because he was afraid they might pick him up (rag doll style) and transplant him to where ever they were playing.
Azalia was also struggling with giving up that youngest child seat. I carried her every where before we left, she still sat in the highchair, we rocked to sleep at night, she had one on one attention 3 days a week while the others were at school, and my lap always had her name on it. Even though we talked a lot about a new brother, I didn't prepare her as well as I could have. Her world turned upside down! It made me sad to see her crave how things were.
For the first couple weeks coming home our church arranged for meals to be brought to us which was a complete life saver! I felt most days like I was drowning and the thought of cooking dinner seemed like climbing the great wall carrying two children, and dragging two others. I am thankful to have John around to help cook some of the meals. With his help I have been able to ease back into my routine. Lately it isn't such an overwhelming task.
When I first proposed the idea of adoption to Dan he had his reservations and was worried how he would love a child not biologically his own. Me on the other hand, thought that would be the easiest part. I love kids, I have a heart for China... easy! In China it was easy, Alliot seem to attach to both of us equally, I felt affection towards him, it felt very natural. Coming home it was different, I didn't feel as attached to him, he overwhelmed me, he was exhausting me, he was taking away from my other kids, and I began to see some institutional behaviors that made me uncomfortable. For a couple weeks I felt very guilty for feeling the way I felt. We got home on a Friday and Dan was back to work on Monday so I was on my own, this was a big change for me AND Alliot. All of the transitions for him coming back home and sort of being thrown into my crazy schedule of school and preschool pick ups was enough to bring out some institutional behaviors. As I began noticing these behaviors I realized that I have 16 months of learned behavior that needs to be relearned. We weren't handed a peaceful infant with a blank slate at the hospital that we watched grow and move months before we saw their face. That we taught everything thing they knew, no... this was different! Im not saying I don't love him, I DO, he is a treasure, a blessing, a gift from God, with an incredible story. It just didn't come as instantly as it did with our bio kids for me, its been a gradual kinda of learned love as we both figure each other out.
Since Alliot physically can not say many words due to his cleft palate, I have begun teaching him some signs. He is very bright and catches on quickly although, we do have a painful day of teaching as he protests and I continue to be consistent. Dinner was a complete nightmare for the first couple weeks home. Alliot would scream at the sight of food, eat very quickly and scream for more. It was stressful. So I decided to teach him the sign for "more," he of course was not interested in learning that and rather scream. I continued to be consistent and it worked! Dinner is much much less stressful, and less noisy! When we met with the plastic surgeon who will repair the palate he suggested that we puree his foods to make it easier to eat and because after the surgery that will be his diet for several weeks. He suggested that it makes it less of a transition then if we do it before hand. So we have been pureeing his food and that seems to be working out well for both of us. Now we are working on "please" and "thank you."
Most institutionalized kids are not used to making eye contact. In the orphanages they are one of many kids the nannies care for, and I can only imagine that meal times, bath time, and play time are treated much less personally. We didn't notice the eye contact being an issue in China, but I definitely noticed it at home. It was grunting, screaming, and pointing to objects he wanted. So we had another painful day of repetitive encouraging for him to look at me to tell me what he wants. We have made great strides in this area, he is pretty consistently making eye contact and if he forgets it only takes a little reminder for him to look at me- most days.
One of the few words Alliot can say is "mama," It is more of a noise that he knows how to make and likes to make. He would point to anyone, or anything and say "mama." At first it didn't bother me, but recently I have been making more of a point for him to identify that word with me. Im not sure if hes making the connection just yet, but we are working on it.
We haven't been really strict about who touches him, or holds him, talks to him, etc. And I think we are doing ok. I have only been uncomfortable in public in regard to his attachment a few times. Im still trying to figure out how to best handle those situations. :) For instance today at the doctor, two different staff people offered their arms to Alliot for them to pick him up. The reason why he was walking was because it was a teaching moment .... I had to let it brush off my shoulders, though I was frustrated. So just a disclaimer if you see us in public being stubborn about something with him, most likely it is because we are being consistent with him to get him to choose the healthy behavior we want. It might appear that we are being very stubborn, but in reality we are doing our best to show him we are going to be consistent. We have 16 months of insecure attachment behavior we are trying to defuse- its exhausting! Im not gonna lie, in the moment of his refusal it would be much easier to give in, but that sends inconsistent messages. We are doing our best, its tricky, and its MUCH different than parenting our bio children.
In April we met with Dr. Mann the plastic surgeon who will repair Alliots palate. He is scheduling about 6 months out but said that we would be first on the cancellation list for speech related issues due to his age. Along with puree foods after the palate is repaired, there will also be no thumb sucking as well. We have been trying for nearly 3 weeks to break this HORRIBLE habit!! (Who am I to talk since I probably sucked my thumb till I was 10 :)) We have tried many things, but the best has been tube socks over his hands as mittens pinned on his onesie 24/7. Only a few times he got them off in the night! We are now at a point that he doesn't need to have them during the day, only for sleeping!! woohoo!!
Last week we met with the urologist for a circumcision, and today we met with the ENT for tubes. He has had 2 almost 3 ear infections since being home. We are going to combine both of those procedures into one surgery on May 29. These need to be done before the palate can be fixed because after the palate is fixed he can not be intubated again until its fully healed. Im glad to have a date for these procedures so that we can be ready whenever something pops open for the palate.
So I used to be the crazy adoptive mom that would run up and talk to anyone who had an asian child with them, now I find myself being the crazy cl/cp mom who talks to anyone whos kid has a cleft lip. I met a really fun couple friends over spring break who both have daughters with cleft lip, one with cleft palate too. Such a health of support! We all got together with our families for dinner one night and colored easter eggs, it was a lot of fun!! I hope Alliot will grow up being confident in the way his lip looks, we want him to have friends who "look like him."
A few fun facts about his strides since being home....
*On "gotcha" day he weighed 14lbs, 2 weeks later 17lbs, and today 20lbs!! 6lbs in 2 months is incredible to me.
*On "gotcha" day he wore 9 month clothes, today he wears his age 18 months! (Good thing I didn't buy to many small ones)
*On "gotcha" day he could only crawl, today he can walk by himself, and climb stairs!!
*On "gotcha" day he knew 1 word (mama), today he knows (mama, hi, bye bye, aviela, ma for more, and up) pretty impressive for an open palate.
|We took the kids overnight to hotel in shipshewana over spring break so the kids could see the amish. They loved the pool!|
|I already miss that sweet thumb sucking face|
|Ready to swim, its impossible to get all the kids to look AND smile|
|Mitten hands :)|
|Clefty friends, not sure why Alliots belly is showing :)|
|We needed some fresh air, notice the snow in the background. This was probably in March. Not sure Alliot can see|
|My sweet happy boy!|