Well, that was a long break, wasn’t it? I actually hadn’t realized how long I had abandoned this poor old blog for until people started to ask where I was. Thank you to those who noticed my absence and reached out! In fact, we are all fine, life is just full and busy, and if I am honest, I have very little motivation once the kids are in bed for the night to do… well, anything!
But it is all good busy! Lewis continues to be a joy to us and everyone who meets him. During our second week in China he continued to amaze us with his sense of humor and easy-going charm. He still does!
The week was mostly filled with various appointments and paperwork, but we did get to one of the two beautiful parks near our hotel more days than not. Another highlight was a trip to the Guangzhou zoo. Lewis was fascinated by all the animals and I got my first ever glimpse of real-live pandas!
We also had the privilege of visiting Lewis’s orphanage and meeting his caregivers. He proudly showed us his chair and his schoolwork. His teacher, through tears, told our guide how very smart and able he is. The only thing he can’t do very well, she told us, is talk. (We have found this to be very true of our boy, that as his receptive English and signing ability grow exponentially, his acquisition of spoken words lags behind. We are currently using an online speech therapy program called Gemiini for both him and Delia, but I also feel he will respond very well to traditional speech therapy once he has a bit more English, and he is very keen to learn and so very determined.) It was obvious from the reactions of all who knew Lewis, even the office staff, that he was very well-loved, and for that we are very thankful.
Our flight home was long, but the kids did amazingly well. Our adjustment at home has been seamless. We had intended to take a semester’s break (at least) from our home school co-op, but Lewis was so happy and enthusiastic about every opportunity life placed before him that we just jumped right back into that as well as our other activities. Lewis has not only not made our lives harder, but he has added even more laughter and fun to our days. We are incredibly blessed to be this little boy’s family!
A reader asked how we decided which child to take to China with us, and another asked in general about taking younger children on adoption trips. I apologize that I am just now answering these questions, weeks and weeks later! We have always taken at least one child with us on our pick-up trips. Pippa and Romilly went with Trevor to bring Niko home, Bea came with us to get Delia, and working our way down in age order, it was Junie’s turn, so she got to go to China. That worked out nicely, because as we suspected, Junie was the perfect kid for the job. She was patient and cheerful through all of the not-so-fun parts of the trip, but also a perfect little buddy for Lewis so that he didn’t have to be all alone with two potentially scary foreigners. This is why I really feel taking a sibling along on an adoption trip is a fabulous idea. If you have a child that is close enough in age (or developmental age) to be a fun playmate to your newly adopted child and that you know will be resilient enough to handle the travel and boring stuff, they really can be such a blessing.
I don’t think I can possibly update on all that’s gone on here since the beginning of the year, but I do want to share what’s been going on with Delia’s NeuroDevelomental therapy. She went for her reevaluation in early February, and although she had not made the gains in speech that we were hoping for, she is definitely making progress in other areas. Her eye contact has improved somewhat, and her ability to look at an object, book, or picture has improved dramatically. This, in turn has improved her fine motor skills so that she can now unzip her coat, put on her PJ bottoms, and color deliberately in the center of a piece of paper without assistance. These may seem like small gains for the amount of work we’ve put in, but they are building blocks that are crucial to her further learning. Now that she will look at things we can begin engaging her in more meaningful flashcard and similar activities. We really believe the whole world is beginning to open up to her.
But that scares her. And it seems as soon as we begin to see progress, we watch her retreat from it in fear of the unknown. She has developed two new “habits” over the past couple months. One is frequent squinting, as if to close the world out, although her practitioner believes this may just be a new form of self-stimulation now that she is rocking so much less. The other, which speaks volumes to me about her internal struggle with all this learning we’re trying to get her to do, is an almost obsessive answering of “no.” Anything we ask her or tell her to do is met with a shake of the head and even a verbal “no”, even when sometimes her little hand begins to sign “yes” at the same time! We can usually break through this wall by saying and signing “yes” back to her, and for the most part, she is fairly compliant, but it just seems like every fiber of her being is saying “no” to all of this progress.
Her new program includes a couple of elements I am particularly excited about. First, we are playing a “Simon Says” type game with her that requires her to respond to an auditory command without any nonverbal cues. We are amazed at some of the things she is able to do: “Touch the TV”, “get the baby’s PJs – they have polka dots”, “Find me a purple lego”, “give Lewis a hug”. We even use this “game” to trick her into saying words she is more stubborn about saying when we do her other activities. We are also excited that her program includes crawling this time around. Crawling, as we understood it, was the bones of the NeuroDevelopmental Approach, so we were a little disheartened that her first program didn’t include any, but also relieved we didn’t have to get her to do it! This time she has to crawl for two sets of three minutes, which isn’t much, but she does it! And that is exciting stuff.
The last month has brought a steady stream of birthdays, which I can only apologize for not having given their due fanfare.
Romilly turned ten on February 9th, officially commencing the Young Birthday Gauntlet. We celebrated with a trip to IHOP for the whole gang. Happy birthday, Ro!
Junie was up next, turning seven on the 25th. She was celebrated on her special day by Aunt Paige and Grandmom while Bea and I went to visit my dad in the hospital (he had a brief and mysterious case of amnesia! But he is doing fine now), and later with cake and ice cream in the evening. Happy birthday, Junebug!
Five days later instead of the usual four (thanks to Leap Day), we celebrated Trevor and Niko on March 1st. Niko turned ten! We had treats and a playdate for Niko on the day, and Trevor finally got his birthday Thai take-out dinner tonight a couple days late. Happy birthday, boys!
Lewis will also be included in the boy birthday season, as he will turn nine on Tuesday next week, the 8th. Since I don’t have birthday photos of him yet, I will sign off with a picture of him from our Chinese New Year celebration with some dear friends (both old and new) who have also adopted from China. This boy sure does enjoy life!