Friday, April 18, 2014

6 Months!!!

Ethan has been our son legally for over six months now. Sometimes it is hard to believe it's been that long, and others it feels like he has always been here. We are adjusting well as a family of seven, and Ethan has been receiving speech, occupational and physical therapies. He is making great progress in all areas and has gone from a 9-12 month old developmentally, to a solid 24 month old. He is almost 4 years old, so he is still delayed, but we see that having a family and just living life has made a huge difference in him.

Yesterday, we went to his preschool Easter Egg Hunt, which was a lot of fun, though he didn't quite understand the concept. Once he realized those plastic eggs had candy in them, he was pretty happy about it. As we are progressing through his treatment for his spasticity in his leg, he is having a hard time with maneuvering, but we know this is temporary and he will develop the strength necessary to run around again soon.

On an emotional level, it will be much longer before Ethan is capable of typical interaction with his peers. It may well be a long time before he interacts appropriately with us, his family as well. We have seen a lot of growth there, but he is resisting forming any attachments to his father. He has attached very well to me, and I take that as a positive sign, but it is definitely a process, not an event. Few people can comprehend the dramatic change between the face the child shows in public and the one he shows at home. I don't claim to fully understand it myself, but it takes a constant vigilance and an emotional control to avoid unintentionally reinforcing negative behaviors. How to deal with these things differs from child to child and family to family, but I will say it has been a real learning curve with lots of ups and downs for us....but mostly ups...he is my son. He makes me want to pull my hair out some days, but really, what kid isn't that way at times? He is a boy I choose to love, not because I carried him in my womb, but because he needed a mother and I said, "Yes."

If you know a mother who has adopted, be gentle with your words. Note that just because it may not be something you would do, it does not help her in the slightest to keep reminding her of that fact. If you know a "trauma Mama," rejoice with her over the little things. Those baby steps forward that likely don't seem very impressive to you....believe me, they are huge to her and she may need to celebrate every positive thing, no matter how small, just to get through her days. I know of so many Mamas who struggle daily with very hurt who don't make progress. They need to hear that they are doing good things. They need to know they are noticed, loved, valued, and most of all WANTED in their social circles and places of worship. Not because they are saints for "rescuing" these kids, but because they are still people who love their friends and their God.  It is incredibly common for parents of adopted children, particularly special needs children, to become isolated because they seem "different" than before, or because they don't agree with the choice. I admit to being "different." Adoption changed my views on the world and cemented in me a passion for aiding families and children. I have seen what happens to children who are forgotten behind iron gates. Yes, I am changed, but I am still me. Please know that none of us are secretly thinking, "I'm so much better off than you." None of us think that you should run out and adopt a kid like ours. It isn't a race. It isn't a competition.I think our culture is so hardwired toward the "Mommy Wars."  We made a choice because we felt it was right for us, not so we could have some altruistic deed to hang around our necks...or over your heads. Please, please know that. Know that while sometimes our adopted children cause chaos, drama, heartache, pain, confusion, etc....they also cause us to feel praise, awe, excitement and pure joy. Don't be afraid of us. We won't try to "convert" you to the idea of adoption. It's OUR life. We still love hearing about YOUR life. We love being viewed as "normal" no matter how our family is pieced together.