We witness a miracle each time a child enters a life. But those who must make their journey home across time and miles, growing in the hearts of those waiting to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny. And placed among us by God's own hands.

Monday, January 25, 2010

One Month Home

We have been home now for over a month and Leo has been in our custody for over 6 weeks. We have definitely experienced ups and downs as we transition into our new routine. I am not going to sugar coat it because honestly adopting a toddler boy is no easy task. I am so grateful that this is our second adoption experience. There have been many struggles that I was prepared for but there have also been some things that have thrown me for a loop. There are some adoption books out there that try to give names to the different phases that you will go through as you adjust, the honeymoon phase, the transition phase, the testing phase, etc. I am not so sure that it happens that smoothly, it is a whole lot more like a spiral where you make some progress in one area only to fall back a little in another but then to spiral back up again. The hope of course is that you keep moving up and I think we are. So here is the low down on the big subjects that keep coming up when people ask me questions about how we are doing:

Communication: While in Rwanda our son said very little and when he would talk he would whisper. I would right away ask someone what he said in Kinyarwanda and often they would say that what he said did not make sense. I did not think much of it then. Since being home he talks all the time. I am usually able to make out what he wants through his gestures and facial expressions. His brother and sister are not as in tuned to reading his clues and so he tends to do more yelling at them which can be frustrating for everyone. We were a little worried when we had a appointment at the Denver Children's Hospital and the interpreter there said that he just was not making much sense. However he is now learning new English words every day and is spontaneously using about 10-12 English words on a regular basis. My theory is that the kids at the orphanage had a partially made up language.

Medical/Physical: The biggest concern has been loose stools ever since he has been with us, not a single normal one. I will spare the details of what that means. We have treated him with meds three times now for two different parasites and have him on a vitamin with iron. The meds made it worse but even after there has been no improvement. He also tested positive for a actual human growth hormone deficiency. The IAC only picked up on it because when I reported what I thought was his "real" age to the IAC and gave them his growth record from the orphanage they charted it and noticed that he has not been making steady growth in height. He is only at or below the 5th percentile. He was also at the 5th percentile in weight at his last measurement at the orphanage but has already gained a whopping 6 pounds in the last 2 months so he is up to the 25th percentile in weight. We will be following up with a endocrinologist but hope that with improved nutrition he will start producing growth hormone again. We will have to do another stool sample (our 4th!) to see if the nasty parasites are finally gone and we are waiting on his Hep C test result because despite it being negative in Rwanda it came back inconclusive in the US. We are filling him with probiotics and have him on a limited diet in the hopes that his intestinal lining just needs repair. Most likely we will probably be seeing a gastro doc to further investigate the stomach problem. I am worried that untill his digestive problems are taken care of his growth will not improve.

Attachment/Bonding: While in Rwanda he went through a phase of rejecting mom and wanting only dad to hold him. He also did not want to be carried in the Ergo towards the end of our trip however now that we are home he is showing a mild preference to mom since I am home with him and he rides in the Ergo no problem when needed. He still seems to be a little insecure as he will go through phases of wanting to be held all the time and being very demanding. At home he continues to want to be right at my side and will follow me from room to room when I am doing chores. We have not really noticed anything of concern or out of the ordinary for what would be expected the first few months home.

Sleep: This is the biggest challenge at this point. He will lay down easily beside me for a nap but at bedtime he becomes very hypervigilent. He will not stay in his own bed which I expected. In one attempt we put the side back on the crib (currently set up like a toddler bed) and he immediately completed a expert swing out of the crib! In Rwanda, Ethiopia and the first few weeks home he slept in bed with us all night. I then started moving him into his own bed in his sister's room after falling asleep but he started having night terrors and waking up. So now his bed in in our room and I roll him over after he falls asleep. The hope is that he will get more and more used to his bed and develop enough trust that he can eventually fall asleep in his own bed and move him to the other room.

Behaviors: He is definitely a toddler and is demanding in that if he wants something he will yell right away or have a tantrum. He also is fairly active and gets into everything in the house, I mean EVERYTHING. He has put my make-up on, tried washing towels down the toilet, dumped the food out of the fridge, crawls in the dryer and tries to shut himself in. Thankfully we found a special lock for the dryer but it seems that no amount of safety proofing would be enough as he has figured out how to open the cabinet locks. The doorknob covers have helped the most in simply keeping him out of certain rooms. That said he is also very playful and has a good sense of humor. He prefers to play with others and does not like being by himself (a good sign actually). When he does have a trantrum he gets over it quickly and will want to be picked up and comforted.
Similarities between adoption experiences:
  • Both went through a phase in country, the first few days in our custody where there was little eye contact, not a lot of activity, very reserved and very few attempts at communication. I suppose we could call this the "afraid because they just gave me to these crazy strangers phase"!
  • Both went through a honeymoon phase the first few weeks home, sleeping all night (probably because they were so tired) and overall few behavior problems. Then moved into testing the limits and being afraid to fall asleep on own or to sleep in own bed the first few months home.
  • Both began repeating and then spontaneously using English words a few weeks simply from being exposed fully to a new language and without any direct teaching.
So there it is, if you are adopting a toddler and want to know what to expect, both of our experiences have been pretty similar except our son is much more active and gets into things a whole lot more requiring a lot of intervention. Our daughter did not have the stomach problems but was also treated for parasites. She was also tiny, looked to be the age that they said (2/3) but with a dental and developmental exam we confirmed that she was at least 2 years older (just lost her 7/8 year front teeth at her now corrected age of 6). So makes me wonder if she also had a growth hormone deficiency but the docs never tested her for it. Yes, you live and learn as a adoptive parent!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kari,

    I'm the moderator for CongoAdopt and blogging mom for Amazing Grace and a Safe Haven. Welcome aboard. You have a beautiful family. Hope these clear up with the parasites. Our son had salmanella that he passed on to all of us the first few weeks he was home! No fun!