Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy face, Sad face

THRILLED does not begin to describe my emotions as we left our first appointment with our new agency. Is that weird? I don't care because I finally feel like we are getting somewhere; I didn't have defend or explain myself and the people we are working with have lots of experience. The therapist met with us and talked with Etienne alone too. In the end, she summed up: "He definitely has some RAD going on but it's nothing he won't overcome. He's bright, sweet and beautiful." As she said this, I teared up. Blake heard the change in my voice, entered the room and put his arm around my shoulder, saying "You okay, Mama, can I make you happy?" Within seconds, E followed Blake's lead, kissing my cheek. The therapist (we'll call her T), instructed me to tell Etienne what I was feeling and not to mask it. She also pointed out what great teachers Etienne's siblings were.
It was cool to witness someone who understands children who have been hurt. She knew just how to word questions and in doing so, I learned so much about more about my son. He clearly doesn't understand his emotions ("When Mama goes to work, I am angry so I want to eat a banana.") and his memory is HUGE ("Mama and Daddy got me from my friends, then we went to a hotel with play-dough.")
Our homework (note the pics) is to exaggerate our emotions and verbalize them as well. Etienne was supposed to draw a happy, sad and angry face; so we all did it together. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the hearts of all four of my kids and I am again reassured that 4 isn't too crowded because they all want to help E be happy. There is no jealousy, anger or resentment. Only love. How awesome is that?!?!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scubbing toilets and such

I am aware that I have some vastly different readers: those from BA (before adopting) and AA (after). I know that many of my readers are old friends, ones who fund raised, encouraged and prayed for us as we waited for our boys to come home; then there are the new friends, other families wondering through adoption like us. I am also aware that we are blessed. Our home is hysterical with nudity, laughter and one-liners. That’s what my FB status is for!
I too that I have committed to being honest and real and here’s the bottom line: Children who are not loved well suffer. Proving love to an orphan is messy, ongoing and grace-filled. BUT GOD ALWAYS WINS.
Last week, I met with a professional family counselor regarding services for Etienne. At first, I was hopeful because she too was an adoptive parent. Then my heart sank to my stomach as she said “You need to accept that your child will always have RAD (reactive attachment disorder)….this will always be a battle.” Ugh. We know that this is a long road. We also know that Ezekiel cried, screamed, his first 6 weeks home. Affection hurt him, eye contact frightened him, touching was painful. BUT GOD ALWAYS WINS. We know the rest of Zeke’s happy ending. Hope.
I too am learning how to parent Etienne. For awhile, we tried the time outs, spankings, etc. That didn’t work ( I know, I know, the experts are saying “I told you so!”). Every 10 days or so, my creative discipline doesn’t work any more and we have to go back to square one. Etienne just doesn't care. This week, lying leads to toilet scrubbing. I love it because chores=time together=bonding!, my boy learns a life skill AND I get a clean bathroom. Here’s to hoping this consequence works.

Many days, trying to take the nurturing approach to Etienne’s lying, hitting, punching, name calling, gets the best of me. Stinkin’ attachment issues. It would be easier to send him to a corner or to his room. But despite my frustration, Etienne calls “Mama, I listened!” from the Sunday school door and needs me to kiss his invisible boo-boos. Etienne wakes in the morning, praying “Jesus, thank you to help me not hurt others today.” He used to hoard his food, his water, his shoes; now he is officially “best sharer” of the house. GOD ALWAYS WINS. Little by little, He etches away at my little boy’s heart. My hope.