Being Sheep

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep."John 10:14-15

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Candles! Cake! Candlescake!!!

N was quite excited about his birthday cake this afternoon and I managed to get it on video. Enjoy! :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthdays

Next week we will celebrate little N's second birthday. Such a milestone! I can't help but feeling bittersweet about it. We honestly don't really know at all when his actual birthday is. Our best guess is that he's about three or four months older, but we don't know. He could be as much as six months older; he's the same size as most 3 year olds we know. But maybe he's just tall for his age and his birthday is actually correct. At this point, only God knows.

But as his mom, it is hard to not know. I wonder how much of his life we really missed? How old was he really when he went into the orphanage? How many months did his birth mom struggle to feed him?

There are a lot of factors that lead us to believe N is a bit older: He was much more physically advanced than the other babies in his room who were the same age. He could crawl and pull himself up already, where most of the other babies were only just sitting up or maybe crawling a bit and he was super active!

He also had 8 teeth when we got him; at supposedly 8 months old. When I brought him to the dentist about 6 months after we brought him home, the dentist was extremely surprised at how many teeth N already had at that point!

So these things along with a few others make us believe his official birthday is not his actual birthday.

A few interesting points: In Ethiopia, birthdays are not considered nearly as important as they are here in the U.S. Many adults there don't know their exact birthday. Also, people living in abject poverty (which N's birth family certainly was) are not usually going to be as concerned with dates and such as others might be. It is hard to keep track of days and time when you are daily struggling just to survive.

Another big factor is that Ethiopia uses a different calendar than we do, making it more difficult to nail down exact dates.

Many other adoptive families have also experienced this with their children; especially older children may be one, two, or more years older than originally thought. In the grand scheme of things, a few months doesn't make much difference at all. But it's one more thing N will have to process as he gets older. One more thing he won't know about his past.

So next week we will celebrate N's birthday. We will have cake, candles, ice cream, balloons and presents. N is quite obsessed with candles and cake lately, so I know he'll be super excited! :) But in the back of my mind I can't help but wonder, "When did you really turn two?"

Monday, September 5, 2011

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

This attachment and healing process is definitely a two steps forward, one step back deal. Sometimes it's one step forward, three steps back, two more steps forward, one more back.... etc. We have a lot of good days, we have a lot of bad days. There are still days of almost non-stop temper tantrums and other days of happiness, laughter, and playing.

This past Sunday at church, N out of the blue was very anxious, clinging to both me and his daddy. He was going back and forth between us and just couldn't calm down. It wasn't just normal toddler busy-ness, it was definitely an anxiety response--we could see it in his face and his body language.

So we held him close, we whispered to him that he was safe, he was okay, Mommy and Daddy were right here with him. He calmed down and played happily in the nursery when we brought him. I was prepared to go right back in and stay with him if he didn't settle down, but wanted to try since he's been doing so well there lately.

That night he had a very difficult time getting to sleep, which is not normal for him anymore. Usually after his bedtime routine, he falls asleep within a few minutes of being put in his bed. But that night he screamed, he cried, he would not settle down. His daddy went in and hugged him and laid him back down, but still he cried. I went in and rocked and sang to him. Now usually he will not let me rock him unless I'm giving him his bottle--and as soon as that bottle is done he begs for his bed! But that night we rocked and sang, and when I put him back to bed he cried,

"Rock Mommy! Rock Mommy!"

Healing is happening. He actually wanted me to rock him, wanted me to comfort him. Eventually I did leave him in his bed to fall asleep, since he will not fall asleep in our arms and it was well past his bedtime. He did settle down and go to sleep, and slept well through the night.

This morning was a completely different day. I brought him grocery shopping with me, and he was absolutely delightful! He smiled, we talked together, he was happy almost the entire time. He had people grinning and waving at him, and one woman even asked if she could give him a piece of candy. ;) (Which I had to say no to, because he is not very good at chewing yet--side effect of being fed only very watered-down food until he was about a year old, along with being given enormous mouthfuls at a time to speed up the feeding progress. But I digress...)

Then this evening, he let me read him a story. I mean the entire story. I held the book, he helped turn the pages. And we read an entire story together. Doesn't sound like big news? Trust me, it is! Never before has he been willing to let us hold the book for an entire story, or turn the pages only one at a time, or sit through the whole thing. But he sat in my lap. We read the short story, we pointed at the pictures. And then... he chose another book. And got back in my lap. And we read the whole thing. And he was mad it was bedtime because he wanted to read yet another.

PROGRESS!!!

When I told his brothers about it they were so excited and already making plans to read him a story the next day. "But probably not a chapter book, Mom," my seven year old said. :) Will N listen to a story again tomorrow? Who knows, but now we know he can do it! We may be due for another day of screaming, or he might play happily most of the day. Who knows?

But when I compare now to a year ago, or even six months ago, I see enormous healing in this little guy's life. It's such a privilege to watch him transform. It hasn't been an easy road, and we're not at the end of it yet, but it's worth it. So very worth it.