Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Peeling the Onion

We are over a year home, so to the outside world, nothing is new anymore. But Etienne is like an onion to me, his little core seems to be hollow without love and until we get him peeled, all of the peeing, uncontrollable crying, lying, RAD behaviors aren't really gonna get a whole lot better. I realize that the best thing for Ryan and I to do is just keep pulling him closer when he resists us and loving him harder. The last few weeks, we've started saying "Dear God, please help E know mama and daddy and GOD always love him." He repeats that over and over when he can't be consoled. I just feel like that simple prayer is all he really needs to overcome the RAD behaviors that we are seeing more and more of. Jeremiah 31:13 talks about God turning sorrow to joy. I really feel like that is where we are now; when E cries, I cry. I hurt deeply for him. Honestly, 3 months ago, I didn't. I felt frustrated. Sad. Sad like "he was an orphan" sad. Now I physically hurt and grief with him the way I always have with Molly or Blake and even Zeke. I consider that grief and sorrow to also be a joy because Etienne is my son and what hurts him, hurts me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Attachment Stuff

If many adoptive parents out there are like me, they read every book written during their waiting for their referral. I became very knowledgable about all subjects relating to the psychology of adoption. Even last fall, in the midst of screaming and chaos, I read a few books on attachment and bonding. Apparently, I didn't retain a lot of what I read. This last week, when we had our 1 year post adoption study, the social worker reviewed with us that a lot of our battles are related to attachment/bonding. Here are a few common signs of attachment disorder: -resist parental affection on parents -hypervigilant/hypersensitive -obvious lies -lack of impulse control -poor peer relationships -manipulative-very charming and engaging -incessant chatter -very concerned about tiny hurts but extremely high pain tolerance -fasinated with punching/kicking/play fighting -indiscriminately affectionate with strangers -inappropriately clingy These are a few commonly seen signs of attachment disorder. Ryan and I totally don't believe in classifying or labeling kids. We are shocked at how almost every item on the list fits Etienne; but we also find it reassuring that this is the major battle we need to overcome with him. It is so frustrating that Etienne melts when a fly lands on him but gets his fingers stuck in the van door and doesn't shed a tear. My instinct lately has been to pull Etienne closer when his behavior begins to escalate, and apparently this is the better way to respond. He continues to show more signs of affection toward me (YIPPEE!!) and we are making baby steps with the falling asleep at night. I guess my ability to be transparent is mostly a good thing-kind of a "don't do what I did" guide to adoption. Today's point: there might not be a lot of value to reading all those books so early if you can't retain the information when you need it! It's a wonder I made it through grad school with my brain's lack of retention...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Week of Reflecting (and more diapers)

Another Etienne moment: Last Friday when I went to work, E cried. Really hard. This is a "first" for us because until that day, it didn't matter if I stayed or went. I was, of course, was saying prayers of thanksgiving that all my efforts had worked. Another sign of bonding. He even had to call me at work to talk to me. We woke up Saturday morning, after the tears on Friday, to find E covered in his own poo-all over his hair, arms and bedding. Since than, he's gone back to wearing diapers and is having so many more issues with discipline, sleeping, etc. It doesn't take an adoption expert to notice the corelation between him and I bonding and regression of behaviors. Ggggrrrr....
Initially, Ryan and I were on the fence about how to respond to this. He knows pooping his pants, and especially playing with it, is very wrong. It is important for him to learn to cope with things that upset him and this is not coping or tolerable. He'd been potty trained for a long time too! However, all these facts considered, we came to the agreement that this all seems to be a result of him becoming bonded with his mama. And our big, almost 4 year old never had a mommy before me. Because of that, I have got to give him some grace with this. Our solution right now is to try to ignore it because disciplining, in his eyes, is just another way to get attention. SO....we are putting Etienne in a diaper as disgusting and frustrating as it is for me. It may not be the "right" solution according to the experts, but this is the plan for now.
We've stetched out out Gotcha Day to many days with many loved ones of sorts. For our Missional Community (small group) I made Rwandan Chicken and White Beans. With our Omaha family, we had ice cream and cookies another night. The boys also hung the Rwandan flag on the door for the week. As they get older, I hope we can look at our pictures together but right now its too soon, too fresh.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In a Year...

What a difference a year has made.
Our referral pic of Etienne, in July, 2009.
Ezekiel (Daniel at the time) in July, 2009 at HOH
It's been a year since we met our boys. Sept 9, 2009 is our Gotcha Day. Here's a few changes that we've had in our family since that sweeet day:
-Etienne now wears shoes willingly
-Zeke smiles, laughs and loves
-Blake has transfomed into a thoughtful, helpful, caring BIG(by age, not size!) brother
-No one is afraid of shadows
-Molly has a heart for orphans
-Etienne is learning what trust means
-Giardia is finally (knock on wood, please) gone
- Let go of the clean house
- Both boys love snuggling, hugs and kisses
- Both boys (as of last Friday!) show preference for Mom and Dad over strangers
- Ryan and I went from sharing our room with 2 boys, to 1 to none. Whew! Good to have that grown up space back again. :)
- Etienne has grown 8 inches and gained 2 lbs; Zeke has grown 5 inches, 2 lbs and 22 teeth
- I have learned that some of my best friends aren't neccessarily close at hand, but in heart. I've learned that those I thought we friends weren't. I've learned that my husband is more than amazing and I'd totally marry him all over again...
- We've been transformed, all 6 of us, by what grace truly means.
We have much more reflecting to do as this special week unfolds. I wish I could serve you all an ice cream as a thank you for helping me survive this first year.