The last two weeks of 2010 were very busy at our house. We celebrated Leo's 1st year home with us on December 20th. That is the day that we arrived to the Denver CO airport and were picked up by a very gracious and dear friend. Christmas last year was a huge blur. The first week home with a adopted toddler meant lots of fatigue, adjusting for everyone, and improvisation. Looking back on it the week of Christmas is not a ideal time to bring home your new child. As soon as the Christmas decorations went up this year I could sense the change in him. He started waking up again at night, became more clingy, more restless again, and fearful of being away from us. He also restarted his preference for being with one of us over the other, this time me. I don't think he has any clear understanding that he came home with us just before Christmas but I am positive that all those decoration triggered lots of insecure feelings. So I can't really say that the last few weeks have been easy. Thankfully both my husband and I get two weeks of for Christmas, the same as our kids' school schedule since we work in the schools. While working as a psychologist in a public school system is not very glamorous or prestigious it certainly does have it's benefits when raising a household full of kids. So anyways, we tend not to make a big deal out of our "gotcha" days so we just talked about it and had a small cake (Leo loves cake!). I guess since we have one biological child and two adopted, I kinda think that making a really big deal out of gotcha days just sets them apart.
Of course we also celebrated what I would consider our first "real" Christmas with the little guy because last year he had no clue what the heck was going on. This year he talked all about baby Jesus (and Santa thanks to television). I also celebrated my 36th birthday which turned out not to be such a great day because I had a nasty sinus headache turned migraine. We were able to go out to celebrate thanks to the paternal grandparents being in town to visit for Christmas. So in looking back on the year, I really can't believe how fast it has gone. In many ways, Leo has functioned so much better then I had expected. As a psychologist I knew all to well the risks of adopting a 3 year old child who had lived most of his life in a large orphanage. But really he is amazingly well adjusted. He is social, affectionate, intelligent, and full of energy. It is the full of energy part that has made it a exhausting year. He knows how to get attention and during all waking hours is successful at keeping us all running (flooded the bathroom tonight!) We also continue to struggle with bedtime at night as he is afraid to go to sleep on his own. Yes, this part is wearing on me. As a working mother I desperately need some alone time at night and often don't get it. Discipline has also been a challenge as we balance attachment parenting and teaching limits to a child who really does not care about loosing anything other then his family. So we don't give isolated time-outs and even if we did he would never stay in one place. My advice to any parent adopting a toddler would be to read as much as possible, find a support group of other adoptive parents, choose your battles wisely, and give LOTS of choices. I know that in the grand scheme of things our challenges with him are very minor. And so I am most of all thankful for being blessed with such a amazingly resilient child. And yeah, while I was not to happy about turning 36 this year (some how freaked me out because now I am well on my way to 40!) and it is all to easy for me to think about all the should haves (a bigger house would be nice) I really think I am right were I need to be. I may not always understand why things have happened the way they have in our life (repeated miscarriage, losses and health issues) but this year my resolution is to trust that there is a greater plan.
A Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!