Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flashes of Personality

We've touched on it in our previous blog posts, but adopting a toddler brings on challenges that are so unique that only others who have adopted toddlers can know, understand, and appreciate what all is going on in the mind of the adoptive families. Until bonding takes place, there are many, many challenges. Many of those challenges have waxed and waned in our home, and admittedly, Jenn is bearing the brunt of these challenges because I'm away at work for most of the day. Weekends and my off days are pretty good, because we can run a 2 on 3 defense. When one of us has to run 1 on 3, it gets tough. No, no, no, it's not the work that's tough, it's the emotionally draining aspect of helping the adopted child to develop security while also devoting the necessary time to the other kids in the home. Again, nobody ever blogs on this subject, and I can assure you that this is a sanitized overview. For you adoptive families reading this post, you know what I'm talking about.
Sunday was a cool day, as it was our first Sunday for all of us to go to church together. Henry was a bit overwhelmed at first but the three kids did well for worship, then Lydia went to class for the sermon, Henry and Jenn went to the kids area in the atrium, and Lincoln sat with me. All in all, it was a good training day for the Gates kids.

Today brought on two very neat developments. It wasn't that Henry napped for a grand total of 45 minutes. That is, most definitely, not the good news to document.

First, at dinner time tonight (a great meal from Bob Evans brought to us by the Keller family!), I fed Henry a bite of strawberry pie, looked at him and said, "Mmm Mmmm!" He then responded with his own, "Mmm Mmmm!" And it was clear that he understood that this was his first real verbal response and interaction with us. He smiled as we've never seen him smile (and we've seen some big smiles out of him), clapped his hands, and we could visibly see that he was very pleased with himself. And we were very pleased to see this little shred of personality start to show through.

Secondly, I set up the sprinkler for the kids in the front yard this evening, and Henry played alongside Lincoln and Lydia, even to the point of getting his hair and face wet and continuing to play. This is a HUGE development. Again, it's little shreds of sunlight like this that help to make the draining, parasite-like stages a bit more bearable.
A client of mine who brought a little boy home from Russia just 3 weeks before we left to get Henry was in today with her dog, and we talked for quite a while about her experience with her son. Every word that proceeded from her mouth was consistent with thoughts and feelings and emotions that Jenn has been having. Just like Jenn's interaction with the doctor from Oak Adoptive Health and our social worker, Julie, my time with this particular client was like a window into the future and a breath of fresh air. The days that are passing right now are laying the foundation for what is to come in our relationship with Henry.

On two occasions in the past three days Henry has not cried when we've put him in his car seat. This, too, is a major development.
Sucking his fingers is not the cleanest habit, but it has been made very clear that this behavior is the only thing that he has that is his. A family was telling us about how after adopting their daughter at several years of age they took her to get some new shoes, as the shoes she brought from the orphanage were too small for her feet. She had a meltdown in the store because she thought she'd have to exchange her shoes for the new ones, and her shoes were the only thing that she had to hold onto. Sucking his fingers is Henry's self-soothing behavior, and in his mind, it's the only thing he has that belongs to him.

Henry likes to take the "Trouble" game pieces and put them on his fingers... and note the belly.
Much of the blogging has related to Henry's addition to our family, but Lincoln and Lydia have been doing well. Lydia is crazy, climbing everything, obsessing about Big Rock Candy Mountain, living in her own little world, finding a mess to make in even the cleanest of circumstances.

Lincoln couldn't be a better brother for Henry at this stage. We're dealing with many of the things that come with being a four-year-old, but we're working on the right way to help him come along, and he's responding pretty well. I started reading one of Frank Peretti's old Cooper Kids books to him. Yes, it's a little ambitious, a chapter book with no pictures, and after I got to the end of the first paragraph I didn't think he'd comprehend any of it. But I pressed on a bit, and he started asking questions about what I'd just read! It was pretty cool. As I finished the first chapter, he wanted to read on, but we're going to take it a chapter at a time.

I called up a YouTube video for the kids, and this is the trance-like state they go into when the tube is on.

Henry loves to wear Lincoln's safety glasses.

1 comment:

The Penner Family said...

Hi Jenn and Ryan!! I totally look forward to reading your blog. I feel like we are on the exact same track!! I get it....all of it! No one explains to a person what happens post adoption, or really prepares you for the challenges that may come up, but it does and has been much much better for us. It sounds like you are doing well too. I feel like I can breath again. We are getting into a routine and Lucy does actions that show me she is attaching to me. Her latest thing is running to me and giving my leg a hug. Maybe she saw my other kids do that and is just mimicking their actions, but she is at least is initiating it. Hang in there! Looks like, from Henry's smiles he is happy in the Gates home. : ) Take care! Think of you guys often and miss you. ~Laura