Friday, April 15

Will is learning to read!

What...what's this? A post about something other than an adoption or Eli's transition home? (Well, hey, I do have four children after all. FOUR. Holy cow!) See, there they are. Count them watching TV together. One, two, three, four. I still can't believe it. when I picked Will up from his ABA school, the teacher let me know that he had mastered all of the word to word matching he was doing....that he is really attending to the details/letters of the words, and next up is matching pictures to words! READING!! I can't tell you how excited and even emotional I am about this. I've known for a long time that he was going to be a reader, at least on some level. Most children with autism perseverate on things. Will chose to perseverate on letters very early on. If you ask me, if you are going to perseverate on something, letters are a very good thing to pick. Numbers would be high up on my list as well. ;)

But that wasn't always the case. When he was diagnosed at two weeks old, I had no way of knowing if this child would ever be able to walk or talk, let alone read. At the moment I was chased down by the pediatrician in the NICU, my hopes and dreams flew out the window, and I was devistated by what a chromosome deletion might mean.

Six years later, in kindergarten, my son is beginning to learn to read. And I couldn't be prouder.

Thursday, April 14

glasses and other things

First, let me show you the cutest boy in glasses ever!

Yep, that's right. He got his glasses yesterday. Is he not just adorable? Surprisingly, he's kept them on quite well. My guess is.....well, because he can SEE! He's asked to take them off a couple of times, and usually, it is because he's afraid of what might happen to them.

Aside from the glasses, everything is chugging along here at our house. Eli has made great progress since those first days in China. I was driving to Will's school this morning thinking about how far we've come in just 5 weeks home. He is talking in modified sentences already...amazing to me. He says things like, "This is Eli Tao's chips." or, "Eli Tao not hungry." (Yes, he calls himself by his English name and Chinese name. I think its cute.)

With improved communication and some very consistent consequences, the behavior issues are almost completely gone. What we're dealing with now is an issue between my Irish twins....Norah and Eli compete for attention almost constantly. This is not uncommon for kids their ages, and especially those who just gained a new sibling that is close to the same age. It just makes for some exhausting days right now. If one gets in trouble, the other points out that he/she isn't in trouble. If one does something we praise, the other is quick to imitate and look for praise. This too shall pass, but mom goes to bed tired at night. (Or leaves to escape to IKEA or some place similar.)

All in all, life is good here. It is hard to believe that this is the same child we met in China. But I'm guessing we're just beginning to see the real Eli, and let me tell you....the real Eli is a sweetie. We're glad he's ours!!

Saturday, March 26

eye appointment update

On Thursday, Eli and I visited the opthamologist to check out the situation with his eyes. As I suspected, he has infantile estropia...meaning he has had this issue since he was a baby. He has the features of this diagnosis....things like the fact that it isn't always the same eye that turns in. He uses one at a time to focus, which you can see when he is concentrating on something. His eyes also swing upwards (like in this picture). This is something surgery must address, as opposed to patching or glasses.

The doctor also dialated his eyes and checked to see how clearly he could see. Well, the kid also has severe astigmatisms in both eyes, so he also gets the pleasure of wearing glasses. :) No wonder he has trouble tripping over things and has difficulty with eye hand coordination. LOL

Surgery consult is scheduled for the end of May (which was the first available) and his glasses should be in next week. He is also scheduled for a renal ultrasound next week as well as an appointment with pediatric rehab who would be the department that will follow his PT, whether he needs orthotics and so on. They will coordinate these things for us.

Just as a side note...Eli found his hat that he wore the day we got him and has been putting it on to run around the house in. Don't these two make quite a pair? I'm sure that I'm in trouble when they start communicating better. Partners in crime....

Friday, March 25

a miraculous change

I'm not really sure how to even put this post into words. Today marks two weeks since we've been home with Eli. As I sit here today, I have a very different child than what I had in China, or even first coming home.

Maybe I should have known better. After all, Norah's personality changed dramatically when she finally began to trust us and settle into the new routine. I suspect Eli is doing the same. I think it is interesting to note that no matter how much I read, talked with other adoptive parents, took the required classes....I could have never been prepared for what we faced in China, and I doubt that I would have ever believed the change we'd see this week. Even though we all know that these kids have basically had everything they've ever known ripped from their world...they are stuck with parents who can not understand them, who can not calm them or console them in the way they are used to being calmed...shoved into new environments with new foods, new languages, and new rules. I still would not have been prepared. Sometimes, you just have to live it and muddle through.

Eli's flight or fight response to having a new family coupled with the fact that we knew he was allowed more freedom and less discipline than we are used to created some really tough times while we were over there.

Now two weeks at home, I see my son for the very first time. He's no longer hitting or kicking when he wants to get his way and is instead choosing to use his (many!) new English words with us. He is in big boy underwear full time and has been dry for two days! He is beginning to settle down and play with some toys as well as watch an occasional TV show with his siblings. (Much needed downtime for mom.) He is also blowing us kisses and telling us that he loves us, which is oh-so-sweet. He is eating the foods that the other kids eat and trying lots of new things, always thanking us so sincerely after we fill his bowl or his glass. He wraps his little arm around us at night when we lay down with him to fall asleep.

I am amazed at the change in this child and continue to pray that he feels safe and loved here in this family. What a journey this has been. Amazing.

Friday, March 18

Still here...

my little girl growing up and attending a pre-preschool class

my little asian irish twins :)

I still plan to blog here and there, just not every day. Right now, though, its been a stretch to get to the computer when there isn't a child that needs cared for. At night, due to jet lag, I'm falling asleep with the kids. :)

Eli continues to make progress, but it has been a rough transition for all of us. There isn't enough time or enough words in a blog post to go through it all. At the moment, we are beginning to restrict visitors because he's showing some signs of "indiscriminate affection", or in other words...he's doing some mommy shopping. He seems attached to his daddy and doesn't do this with men. But we've noticed a pattern with women we're around, whether it is a neighbor, a friend, or even people we traveled with in China. He's wanting them (the other women) to hold him and meet his needs. He's saying, "mommy, up" when he wants to be picked up by them and gets upset if I pick him up instead. Unfortunately, it wasn't even that we had many people coming by to see him...more so that we had a few friends stopping by to bring a meal or even hang out with me for some coffee.

So...we're limiting visitors except for what's necessary. He has to learn that he has one mom and one dad who will be taking care of his needs and who love him, rather than allowing any woman to meet his needs. This isn't uncommon when a child has been cared for by several women at a time. He is allowing me to show affection and meet needs, but when someone else is around, he tries like heck to get the other woman's attention, even if it is all the wrong methods.

All of that aside, he's making great progress with his english. It is really quite amazing. We're hearing a combination of Chinese and English now....he's saying things like "boo potty" when I want him to try and use it (in Chinese boo=no). Actually, we hear a lot of "boo _______ (insert English word here)". LOL He repeats almost everything we say, and he knows all of the family members' names. He's learning how to communicate things even if we don't understand, and he has told me on several occasions that he needs to use the potty despite still being in pull ups. He's learning to play with a few toys, and he's having fun with his siblings. All in all, pretty good stuff.

Saturday, March 12

We're home!

I am SO glad to be here!! After the long 15 hour flight (and a second, 2 hour flight), we finally arrived here in Cincinnati. Because of some traffic, my kids and parents got to the airport a little late, so we were standing there talking with my inlaws when they arrived. Seeing Will's face was especially priceless as he took off running for us and jumped into Jim's arms. :)

Eli did pretty well on the flight, all things considered. He played well with the things we brought, slept REALLY well (this kid can fall asleep at the drop of a hat), and endured the long lines going through security and customs. He had 3 or 4 screaming, hitting, kicking fits which were extremely wearing on both of us, and for this reason, I am so glad to be home where people aren't looking at me in a sort of "those mean American parents are picking on that poor Chinese child" kind of way. On a plane, there isn't much you can do more than restraining his hands and legs to stop from being kicked and hit. We'd hold them and then allow him to calm down while we spoke calmly to him. When he started up again (and he usually did, until about 20-30 minutes into each one), we'd begin the process again.

By the end of the flight, I had had it. My perspective was totally skewed....not because I was tired from the flight or anything...and I continued to pray for God to give me the wisdom and strength as well as the heart for this child that obviously He has. At that moment, a flight attendant arrived. My tired brain thought here we go...someone who thinks we're abusing the child by restraining his hands and feet and is going to try and appease him. (I might add that I was chuckling to myself because anyone who tried up until that point got smacked. LOL)

She asked if we spoke Mandarin (um, no.) and began speaking to him. Now, I have no idea what was said, but he smiled. For all I know, she may have been telling him that his parents were nuts. It hit me at that moment that although he is not going to be allowed to hit or kick us, I also needed to remember that his life had just been turned upside down, and that he was scared, without parents who really understood what he said.

Interestingly, once my perspective was brought back to where it should have been, his demeanor changed too. The second short flight was much better and the past day and a half at home have been very pleasant. He's playing with our other three much better than we ever expected, and we've been the recipient of some hugs and kisses. He's also already learned to say sorry in English and has used it twice, once without prompting. He's been much more gentle with us and it has been an entire day without my glasses being ripped off of my face. ;)

What a difference a day makes.

Friday, March 11

Goodbye China.

I'm not sure how to even begin this post. I didn't really realize how many people have read the blog while we were gone until I started checking email and facebook. All I can say is that we appreciate it more than you know. This journey has been of the hardest we've encountered yet. (and that says a lot, considering some of our dark early days with Will's diagnosis.)

I could tell you about the train ride from Guangzhou to HK, where Eli and I played the grand old game of "Battle of the Wills". (For the record, I won.) I could tell you about how a 15 hour plane ride is enough to make me stop and ponder just how many more days I could stay in China. But I could also tell you about how I listen to him ask where daddy went when Jim leaves the room. Or, about how he falls asleep touching our faces.

He's a really sweet child who deserves a family just like anyone else. There have been many times that Jim or I have wondered what we've done, and what we've just subjected our family to. We prepared for this adoption, we know in our heads what it means for a child to be ripped from everything he's ever known, all in the name of a family, and even how they are supposed to react. When you are faced with it in reality, it is daunting. However, we felt strongly that we were supposed to do this, so we continue to pray and plug along.

So anyway, we wanted to say thanks. Thanks to our families, friends, neighbors who have prayed for us and read with us along this adoption trip. It has helped us tremendously.

The next time we post here, we should be in the US! Hooray!!