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.