Friday, June 18, 2010

Progress Report (6 weeks home)

6 Weeks Home
We have been home from Ethiopia for 6 weeks today. In many ways it feels like forever ago that Sweet M* joined our family, and yet at times it still feels like we are strangers to each other.
We have begun the long process of attachment and bonding and we are learning each others moods and emotions. I want to explain to people that may be in the process what has gone on these past 6 weeks because as I awaited the day our family would be complete I scoured blogs and read books trying to foresee my future and prepare myself for the experience. Now I feel it is my turn to share.
My feelings on the adoption process are that it is HARD. It is hard to make the decision to adopt, hard to explain to people your choice and why, hard to do the research, hard to get all the documents completed (correctly), hard to wait on a waiting list, hard to prepare to travel, hard to travel to a third world country and hard to get through the first days, weeks and I imagine months. And, through all of the HARD that we are feeling as adoptive parents there is a child that is feeling LOSS... big huge traumatizing LOSS and HURT. Loss of a birth family, culture, language, foods, smells, friends and the list could go on. But, hopefully through all of the HARD work and the LOSS and HURT we can come together and HEAL.I can say that after 6 weeks of testing, boundary setting, loving and learning we are beginning to HEAL. We are starting to bond, trust and attach to each other and it feels GOOD. I think that all of the attachment parenting we have been working so hard to do is finally paying off. Sweet M* is down to one or two 10-15 minute tantrums per day. The trying to bite, hit and throw things has reduced dramatically. I am learning how to calm him down when I see a tantrum brewing. We are still working on the screaming but that too has been a lot less.He is eating very well (and all of the time). He is allowed to feed himself and is doing very well- he is such a clean eater. He will try almost anything but he definitely has favorites. He loves yogurt, hard boiled eggs, cheerios, pasta (with and without sauce), salad with dressing and bread. He does not like raw carrots or watermelon. I do make sure that I have plenty of snacks whenever we go out and I have to watch and keep track of his eating because like any toddler hunger can lead to a tantrum. But, the fact that I can say no to certain foods or say that he has had enough is HUGE. I am really proud of him.I am so thankful to report that he is finally on a good sleep schedule-- better than my other toddler in fact. He sleeps at night from 8pm-6am with a 1 1/2-2 hour nap in the afternoon. I have a very steady routine for sleep. I lay him down at the same time, I turn on the same song on repeat on my iphone, and I either put him in the carrier and kind of bounce and rock him or I lay with him and rub his back. I have not transitioned him out of our room, so he sleeps on a toddler mattress on the floor. He wakes up only to go to the bathroom, and he falls right back asleep after. One thing that we did that really helped was hang blankets behind our blinds to block the sun. I need to go buy shades and hang them as the blankets are super tacky. But, that has added about an hour and a half of sleep for me in the morning because Sweet M* would wake up around 4:30am when the sun was coming up before.As far as personality goes Sweet M* is very affectionate and he is also very funny. I think we will be in for some good jokes when his language fully develops. He LOVES water. He loves to swim, play, splash, run through and drink water. He also loves to point out water whenever we see it (i.e. garden fountains, waterfalls, sprinklers, on the tv etc... He also enjoys bubbles, bikes (he just learned to peddle yesterday) and balls. He is very athletic, has a ton of energy and he is determined. He taught himself how to peddle on the bike and he has learned how to freestyle swim without much effort on my part at all. He just will try and try and try until he gets it. He amazes me.I have posted about his language but I am still so impressed at how much he comprehends and how many words he can say. I guess they aren't kidding when they say toddlers are like sponges.

The past two weeks we have made huge progress. Snuggling with Sweet M* each night, tending to his needs and watching him experience new things every day has made me fall in love with him. I know that everyone develops love for their adopted children on their own time line but I can say that for me it was fairly quick. I love M* and there is no doubt. I am not mad when he tantrums... I am sad. I am exhausted, but wouldn't trade our life for any other. I am learning so much through parenting Sweet M* and every day gets better.
I read a lot about toddler adoption prior to bringing Sweet M* home and I have posted about the tantrums, exhaustion and hardships. But, there is also something VERY VERY special about bringing home a toddler or older child and that is "firsts". I can't even explain in words how thrilling it was to watch Sweet M*'s eyes light up when he saw the pool, Mickey Mouse and the ocean. Or the glow in his smile as he enjoyed sliding down his first water slide, played with our dog, or rode his first bike. It is one thing to experience firsts with a newborn... but they can't appreciate any of it. To see a child experience such joy is a gift. And, it is a gift to have the privilege to parent Sweet M*.
alas... here are some of my favorite firsts with M*:(seeing the backyard)
(down a slide)
(lego tower- all by himself)
(feeding the ducks)
(seeing a character)
(ride at a theme park)
(face painting)
(firework show)
(cotton candy)
(viewing marine animals)
(water slide)
(and ocean)


Ashley said...

Thank you for posting. We are on week 4 of bringing home twin 6 year old boys and I soooo agree with what you've said. It's HARD...but in the end, SO WORTH IT! :0) Thanks for the honesty, it makes me feel better to know I'm not alone.

Ashley said...

ps - I quoted you today on my blog (, I hope you don't mind...but if you do, just let me know and I'll delete the post!


Amber said...

Hey Ashley
Thanks you for quoting me on your blog. I am glad that my thoughts are helpful to you. And, I added you to my blog roll so I can start following your experiences ;)

Zoe said...

Thanks, Amber! You are paving the way for many of us... Love all the pics, and Shea seems to be zipping along in his development and attachment.

Chrissy said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! I'm glad things are going well. Shea looks so happy. I love his smile!

Cindy said...

Great Post! Your son is just beautiful!

Calmil2 said...

Such a beautiful post!!! Love you guys!!

SS said...

Harmony took the words right out of my mouth. Just beautiful! I'm sure you have inspired many with your heartfelt expression of motherhood to Shea - one very lucky boy.

Jennifer said...

This is amazing. It just makes me more and more excited about the fact I am not getting newborns. I made the decision to adopt older based on my age, but I am starting to feel like there may be advantages. :-) yeah!!! I can't wait to experience all of these firsts.

adventures north said...

Very honest, brave, and beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you emailed me (will def add you to my previous blog that is going private and please keep up with me on my new public blog) and shared your blog with me. It is really incredible and I've only touched on the last few posts you have done. This post however, brought tears to my eyes. From one toddler adoptive mom to another, yes yes yes...those firsts are such a gift. And it certainly balances out the hard times too. So glad you and Shea are continuing to progress. It's been 7 1/2 months home for us and wow, what a difference. Orange's personality shines brighter each month. You have a lot to look forward to. :)