Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I love you TOO!!!

There has been a lot of change in our family lately. 
You might say, Well, of course there has! But, I mean, more than the obvious changes of adopting another child.  

As we are getting to know each child better, and beginning to understand what their strengths are and where they have special needs, we have made some pretty monumental parenting decisions in recent weeks.
 I can only imagine that we will continue these periodic assessments as the months unfold.

The first and perhaps biggest of these choices  was the decision to place Colin into Middle School.  Public Middle School. You see, since we returned home with him in September, he has been learning at home with Tom and myself. 

Our youngest son, Tommy, has been home-schooled since he was 4.  When we first brought Colin home, we felt strongly that he needed to stay home to encourage his development of attachments with his new family, to better assess his academic strengths and challenges, and to protect his very impressionable personality from the exposure to things that he wouldn't understand. 

When you adopt an older child from another culture, they are, in so many ways, like a very young child. Even if they are mature for their age in their home culture, when you endure the kind of massive upheaval that these children have, they are often timid and scared. They can be easily overwhelmed and easily swayed by others. 
Moreover, they have often not had the kind of training and upbringing that children with parents get.  So many things are taken for granted with our American kids that may not prove true with older, foreign adoptees.

While we expected that it would take many months for Colin to adjust to life in America, he has blossomed and continues to thrive.  He has gained 9 pounds since coming home in September and grown one full inch!

Here he is on his first day of public school.
To me, he is a completely different child than this one we saw back in the spring.

After his first day, he jumped into the car and said, "Mama! America no have blue shoes?"  I laughed so hard. Apparently, the shoes he wore home from the orphanage, the shoes that barely fit him anymore, were a big hit at school! LOL  He said that girls and boys alike were complementing him on his shoes and he thought that perhaps we didn't have BLUE shoes in America! Oh how I wish I had a hidden camera in the car that day!

After bringing Cameron home, we learned that he is indeed much younger than his paperwork indicated. This is not unheard of in the world of international adoption.

 We have had a bone age scan completed and will conduct another one in about six months to verify our results before taking steps to legally change his age. Early results indicate that his bone age is consistent with that of a 10 year old male. We expect some variation on the second test based on increased nutrition and other growth factors, but still feel confident that our sweet boy is no where near 14.

It will take several more weeks I think before he begins to truly relax and be himself, but he is kind and respectful and has even gotten close to us from time to time.
He is blissfully obedient during this "honeymoon" phase and I must admit that I am enjoying that. It is nice because I do not have to worry too much about adding the discipline factor to an already overwhelmed little boy.  As we gain his trust, I am sure he will relax enough to test more boundaries. And, we will be ready for that, but for now our days are filled with laughing, learning and establishing routines.

As for his schooling, we are teaching him at home with his younger brother and he is doing well. They are both on the 3-4th grade level so Math is easy to teach together.

Additionally, we are working on the basics of phonics and conversational English. Unlike his big brother, Cameron loves his Rosetta Stone lessons. He even asks to do them when he doesn't have to.

In fact, he is on the computer now and wanted to start over at lesson 1 and do them all over again for practice. 

So, you might be wondering why I would title this post, 
"I love you too!"?
Well, if you are from the South and not familiar with adopted children, it might seem perfectly natural to you that you'd respond to an "I love you" in this fashion. However, for children who have not had the love of a family, and who (understandably) have developed serious issues of trust, this is not only unnatural, but a little scary.

Knowing this, we never pressured either of our boys to respond at all, but we knew how badly they needed to hear "I love you", so we have been saying this to each of them often and especially as we said Good night.

Well, last night, for the very first time, Colin approached me on the sofa to say good night and when I said "I love you, sweetie", he said 
"I love you too".  
Yes, it was quiet, and yes, it was said quickly, but 
IT. WAS. SAID!!!  
Of course, I was overjoyed for myself. Who wouldn't be?  But, I am mostly excited for Colin. What a big step for him to be able to express himself like this when he spent 14 years of his life keeping his emotions bottled up, both because of his circumstances as well as his culture.

So, while I know fully that each child is different and their growth will be unique, I am so encouraged that our sweet son is becoming more comfortable with us and beginning to trust our love for him.

I pray that this is only the beginning. Perhaps he will soon be open to the love of his Heavenly Father who orchestrated this path for him since before he was born.

Lastly, I want to let you all know that I have been feeling a call from the Lord to pursue employment/ministry opportunities in the adoption world. I would appreciate your prayers that the Lord would open exactly the right doors for me and that His call would be clear.

Blessings, Angie


Paula Griffin said...

Angie, I just want to say, May God bless your willingness to follow His leading in this. I don't often write comments but be sure that I have been following your adventure from the beginning. I miss our impromtu dinners and evenings just talking, but God had work for us both in other places. Know that I love you and cherish your friendship.

jenni hester said...

And I LOVE watching God move in your lives!!!

Justine said...

In tears again. Have I told you that yours has become my favorite blog to read. And the fact that Cameron is closer to tragic that he would have aged out anyway...

The Rylands Family said...

Paula- I wanted you to know how much it made me smile to read your post. I miss having you nearby. I think back on my time in BV and think that the Lord brought you and Billy there just to minister to me in a tough time. (OK, I am sure that there might have been one or two other people blessed by your time there, but....) Thanks for thinking of us and following along. Please give my love to Billy and the kids.

Justine- thanks!!!! I try not to think about what Cameron's future would have looked like if the Lord hadn't called us to him. I am beyond grateful that He did!

Annie said...

Oh Angie, beautiful post! I so remember the first time Lizzie said "I love you" to me for the first time! I happen to get it on video too:) It just makes your heart soar and as much as you want to jump up and down and laugh and scream and cry for joy, you also don't want to scare the life out of them so they never say it again! Hehe! You know I am praying dear friend!

Lisa said...

Wow, Angie. Such an honest post; I think you're right on with questioning his age. How difficult it is for us as adoptive parents to not know the true day/hour/minute of our child's birth, but I cannot imagine not even knowing the year. I know God will guide you on this path! And keep us posted on the possibility of employment in the adoption realm! Love it!!