We have officially been home for a whole month! I wanted to update on Ruth’s and our progress at being an American family of four!
Ruth is doing wonderful- she sleeps well at night and during naps, she tries new foods and doesn’t have too many aversions, is potty training well and she is growing, I think! She has gotten her first round of vaccinations and as far as we can tell, no side effects. She is beginning physical therapy for her weak ankles. Due to malnutrition and a lack of physical stimulation for prolonged periods of time, she has little muscle tone in her legs, poor balance and ankles that turn in and completely flat feet. The pediatric therapist was confident that with some therapy and braces or inserts for a time, she will become more confident and get the strength that she needs to start developing more healthily. We are so thankful her physical needs seem to be easily correctable (even if a little expensive!).
Emotionally she seems to be doing very well. She does rely on Allen for interaction, or clings to me for comfort. However, at a family night at Chick-fil-A recently she went to her daddy when she was scared of the cow! I believe she’s bonding well with everyone, daddy included. She is just leaps and bounds above where we thought she would be at this point, and all the praise and glory goes to God: there’s no doubt in our mind that he has been preparing her for our family for a long while. He is so good.
We haven’t ventured out in public too much except for church: the flu and strep have been so prominent this year that this mommy’s main goal is keeping her family clear of those sickies! However, life isn’t meant to be lived in a bubble, so things are about to change a bit. Ruth has been doing so well in her classes at church that we have decided she’s ready for more social interaction.
Allen is unquestionably ready for a more challenging learning environment than what I’m currently providing, and he also misses getting to play with kids his age more often. We have kept him home since we got back from Africa, and he has asked a few too many times to got to MeMaw’s house. We get the hint, bud- you wanna get out and play! Starting next week they will be going to a pre-school/daycare/kindergarten prep school for two days a week. We hope this improves her language development and encourages her to expand her social interactions with kids other than her brother. I am confident this will be a great thing- for the kids and for me. Working from home with two three year olds is, well, impossible on a normal day. So this is definitely a win-win situation!
As far as the adjustment of everyone else in the house goes, I think it’s continually improving. Allen is growing as a little individual; learning the importance of sharing, consequences of certain behaviors etc.. It has been challenging for him, not being the only child. But we believe he is doing well!
For us, the parents, things are also looking up. But I will speak for only myself here (maybe it’s time for Shane to share his thoughts on being a daddy of two, now!). There are still days where I do not feel equipped to be Ruth’s mom, despite all the education during the adoption process and the resources I have access to. But slowly and surely I am feeling like Ruth is more than just another child in my care. It’s discouraging to have loved her so intensely before meeting her, and now it being a constant choice. But it makes sense when I think about the why: before meeting Ruth, there was no responsibility or sacrifice. Before meeting Ruth, all I knew was that she needed a family, probably even wanted one, and that we were going to fill that need. After getting Ruth, life was different. She wasn’t appreciative of her situation because she didn’t understand her situation, so she rejected us. She retreated into herself when all I wanted to do was show her she was safe and loved. And after a little while (and I mean little!), I was drained.
But there is hope. Attachment takes time. And it takes months, even years to build the trust in us that Ruth needs to have for a healthy parent-child relationship. It takes time for us, as her parents, to develop feelings of affection. I’m also coming to terms with the fact that my relationship with Ruth is going to be different from my relationship with Allen. But I know that it is going to be a deep and rich bond- we just have to give of ourselves and allow God to work through time.
We are so thankful that our “new normal” is beginning to surface. Life is not twice as hard with two kids, it’s four times as hard! But we’re also starting to experience the added joys that come with having multiple children. Thank you for praying- those prayers mean the world to our family. We are also thankful for the local support of our church family. Yesterday Ruth was thrown a “book shower,” where she was given so many books, toys and clothes all from the loving people at Southeast Baptist. We are so blessed, and we are not taking it for granted.