People keep asking me for updates and wondering how we are doing, so I thought I'd post an update about each of us and how we are adjusting to our new life together. I've been working on trying to get this together for several weeks...it is hard to find time to blog these days!!
Our first family pic as a family of 5!Caleb
We've discovered that in many ways, parenting a newly adopted toddler is completely opposite of the way we parented our big kids who had been with us from conception. (Of course, the big over-arching themes and goals are the same, but some of the specifics are very different, especially in these early days.) We have been so very grateful for all the training we were required to do throughout the adoption process and we feel like we were very well prepared and equipped for the shift in parenting style.
First time swimming...Memorial Day weekend
Ready for some pool fun!
We did allow my mom to form a special bond with him as I needed to return to work about a month after we were home and I was not about to let anyone outside the family watch him just yet. What a blessing to us that my mom had retired this past winter! She comes to our home and watches him for the 20 hours a week that I work and he has gotten very attached to his "Dee-Dee!"
We've also just in the last few weeks, begun leaving him in the church nursery for an hour. At first, Steve and I took turns walking around with him during the sermon and then lately I'd gone into the nursery and stayed with him a few times to observe how he would do in that environment. Our post-adoption counselor advised us of signs to look for to know he was ready to be in that type situation for a short time and we felt comfortable giving it a go, so we did. He cries and clings to me when I drop him off (a very good sign) but quickly calms for them and then is SO happy to see me when I pick him up. So far so good on that, but we will continue to take it slowly with him and it will still be awhile before we check him in for both the worship and the Sunday school hour. (Thankfully, we go to a large church with a pretty large population of adoptive families and the nursery volunteers have been terrifically understanding!)
First trip to the Rockies
Another thing that is super different about parenting Caleb is that we were thrilled when he started to reject certain foods! Most toddlers reject foods and it can be (and at times past has been!) such a huge frustration...but with Caleb it means he is trusting us and knowing that he will be fed! When we met him he would eat ANYTHING and everything and want to constantly hold food in his hands, etc. This is common in kids who've lived in institutions and who've been traumatized as they may not have always had their hunger satisfied and this can be an attempt to have some sense of control over their world when they are fearful from so much change. He still eats fantastically, but he doesn't always clean his plate and he will show dislike for a few things now from time to time.
Love these three.
We recently went on our first vacation as a family of five! We drove to Colorado for a family reunion in the rocky mountains in honor of my precious grandma's 90th birthday! Caleb did fantastic. He was nervous and unsure at times and definitely had moments of fear and frustration, but I was greatly pleased overall. He kept asking everyday that we were gone, "home? home?" We've worked really hard on helping him learn that this house is our home and that we are his family. When we got home, he was giddy with excitement and kept yelling "home!! home!!"
Hiking in the Rockies!
My mountain climber at 12, 000 feet!
My precious and nurturing nine year old thrives in the role of big sis! She loves Caleb...to the point that I tell her multiple times a day to "give him some space!" I am not at all surprised and as a big sister to two younger brothers myself, I see a lot of me in her....which can be good and bad! She has been sympathetic and caring toward Joshua and his struggles as well. She's bossy...always has been. But she has a beautiful loving heart and to tuck her in at night and hear her pray sincerely for orphans ....there are no words. This girl may just grow up and change the world.
Estes Park selfieSteve
My husband was made for fatherhood. Seriously. Could not be better at it. He loves his kids and his role as daddy more than life itself. I am so very glad my kids have him for their dad. He loves easily and nurtures well. He is a strong example and boy oh boy is he fun!! The biggest change for him has been that just a few weeks after we were home, he started a new job! Still with the same company but in a different role and with a much better schedule. We've loved having him home for dinner every night and spending weekends and holidays as a family! He is my rock and my safe place for all the emotions I'm experiencing all the time as I process becoming a mother of three.
Letting Caleb touch the freezing mountain waterMe
I am still processing everything we saw in China. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about the kids we left behind. I see their faces in my mind, both at Hope Healing Place Foster Home and at the orphanage. My heart is wrecked for these kids...for these families torn apart.
I knew that adoption always starts with something broken, but I didn't know how much that would affect my heart until I did it. The miracle of this child being grafted into our family tree is so beautiful it brings me to tears almost daily. Yet there is grief. When I had a baby born to me, it was accompanied by the purest joy I've ever experienced. Although there is great joy in having Caleb there is also the terrible sadness that comes from the reality of where he came from. This beautiful, sweet, innocent baby boy loves me and calls me mommy ...and he was born of someone else. There is a quotation attributed to Jody Landers that says "A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me." That pretty much sums up what's been going on in my head for the last three months!! I believe that I will continue to process this for years to come and I'm thankful that I serve a God who specializes in making beauty from the ashes!!
First Independence day as a US citizen!!!
A few of my favorite things Caleb currently does:
Yells "Home!!" when we pull into our garage. He started this on his own and the first time he did it brought tears to my eyes. Yes, sweet boy, you are home!
Wrestling. This boy loves to rough house and he is fun to rough house with!! We joke that his love language is sumo wrestling (yes we know that is Japenese, not Chinese, but still.)
He'll run up and grab your hand and pull you and say "'mon"....meaning "come on." If you aren't close enough to grab a hand he will gesture at you to come.
Charades. This kid can act things out like you would not believe. I fear he will never really talk because he can ask for things so well by acting them out. For example if he wants a tissue, instead of asking with words, he will walk up to you and get your attention and pretend he's blowing his nose. He does this with all kinds of things.
PEEPAH!!! that's his word for pizza. He says it with joy and enthusiasm and he eats it in the same fashion!
He holds his feet up and makes kisses with his lips every night after bath....his way of asking me to kiss his feet. I do it. Every. Time.