I realize that I've been AWOL here at the blog for a while. June has turned out to be busier than I expected it to be. Much of that has to do with what seems to be a new family tradition which involves embarking on long cross-country car rides with newly adopted children. So far, in less than a month, K has ridden in a car in 6 states. (TM still has him beat...by the time he had been home for four months he had been in 11 states.) Thankfully for all involved K has turned out to be a great traveller. We don't ever intend to drag our newest members on endless road trips...the timing of things just seems to happen that way. This time it was a visit to J's grandmother who turns 107 in August. (She's doing amazingly well, by the way, and if her eye sight was better, I'm pretty sure she could still beat us at cards.) Because of J's teaching schedule, last week was our one window of time where we could go. And it's the kind of visit that really shouldn't be put off. So, off we went, spending more time travelling than time at our destination. Books on tape are wonderful things.
But that's not all, 36 hours after returning from that trip, we turned our car in another direction and took A to camp. This trip was much shorter and we could return in the same day, but it still involved crossing state lines.
So, between the trips and necessary packing and unpacking they entailed, we are still moving into the newly redone portion of our house. This also involves a lot of unpacking. And then there were all of the doctor's appointments...and the homeschool conference I spent two days at...and the four birthdays and one anniversary (well, it's still to come [on Sunday], it will be our 17th)...and getting B ready for his first time at Boy Scout camp...and there are still painters and workmen around off and on...and my family is coming to visit in three weeks and at the moment they have nowhere to sleep as I haven't worked on those rooms at all...oh, and the minor little detail of integrating a new child into the family...well, you can see why blogging didn't even make the top 20 on my list of important things to do.
As you probably aren't really interested in my to do list, I'll move onto to how K's doing. The appointment with the surgeon went well and she confirmed what we thought. That is, K's palate is not cleft. The only clefting was his lip, which is repaired (she thought it was a very good repair), and his gum line. There is a small hole in his gum line that goes up through the nose and he's missing one tooth, but that's it. The best news is that he won't need surgery for another 4 to 6 years. At that time he will have a bone graft to repair the cleft gum. I am so thankful that his mouth is in such good shape. The other piece of good news we received today is that all the tests the pediatrician ordered have come back normal. We have also started to see some growth in his development. He says 'mama' and yesterday he said 'dada' (though these words aren't associated with anyone or anything yet). This is much more language than we heard in Vietnam. He also seems to be developing much more receptive language; he is beginning to understand what we are saying. We do have a speech therapist coming on Thursday through Early Intervention to do a screening. If K were a 1 year old, he would be right on target...my gut feeling is that there is nothing really wrong, he's just suffering from having lived in an impoverished environment for so long.
But all the medical stuff sometimes seems a distraction from what is really important: the question of how K is doing emotionally. I think I can honestly say he is doing very well, especially considering how short a time he has really known us. He really adores all of his brothers and sisters and B continues to be his absolute favorite. (I'm not looking forward to B being gone for a week. I can't exactly explain camp to K.) But there are still a few things that I'm keeping an eye on....behaviors that you don't normally see in a child who has never been moved. K still has a lot of trouble with eye contact, especially with me. It's getting better. I'm not giving him a bottle of chocolate syrup and half and half at night just to up his calorie intake. He loves it and is willing to meet my eyes more while he is drinking it. I'm also seeing more eye contact in everyday interactions. (That's as opposed to emotionally intense interaction where I am cradling him.) K is also slightly less avoidant with me in general these days. He came up to me a gave me a hug around the legs today. (It's these sweet little moments that keep me going.) He also still has a tendency to do the spacey orphanage stare when something is upsetting and to not show any reaction to getting hurt. We've tried to scoop him up and hold him close whenever either instance happens. On the whole these are truly minor things, though, and for the most part is a happy boy.
The experience of becoming TM's mother has proved to be very helpful with this adoption. In some respects the adoptions were like night and day...as difficult as one was, the other has been easy. But, even though they were different, I find myself dealing with some of the same stuff emotionally. I have now learned about myself that I do not fall in love instantly with an older child...I have to learn to love them. This terrified me with TM. I wasn't sure I would ever feel about him as I did my other children. But even if love isn't instanteous, it still happens and it's just as strong. Knowing this, I wasn't nearly as panicked when K felt like someone else's child for those first few weeks. Each day I act like I'm his mother and each day he feels a little less like someone else's child a little more like my own. I am constantly aware of how two-sided this whole attachment-thing is. But he is a charming little guy (and is really very cute now that his skin is rid of the scabies and the sores which resulted from them). I will say it is so much easier to learn to love someone who is not trying to do you bodily injury. (I love TM so fiercely now and he is such a great boy; looking back on those first few months is like remembering some other child.)
I'm looking forward to just staying home for the next couple of months and not have any major life events...no adoption to worry about...no remodelling...no big trips. Uneventful and calm sounds wonderful, though perhaps not the best blogging material. I'll do my best. I've had more than one person say we should write a book about our family. But really, I just can't believe it would be that interesting. Now, a book about taking seven children on a 'round-the-world-tour...that would be interesting. If we could only find an underwriter....