Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Little Chefs

The boys drug EVERY SINGLE pot, lid, & strainer out of the cabinet a few days ago.  They were having so much fun "making soup."  How could I possibly say no to something so precious?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Little Picasso

Although milestones come painfully slow at times for Liam, when they do come, they are a BIG DEAL!!!  I love doing crafty things with Shep so I was really excited to see Liam [sort of] grasp the concept of painting. He was covered, the table was covered, the floor was covered, but we all had fun!  It's the small things in life, isn't it?!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Special Needs Parenting: What It Feels Like

Beautiful poem by Emily Perl Kingsley, "Welcome to Holland."
The best way to view it is to click on the video so it takes you to the actual Youtube video, then you can hit the Full Screen button - otherwise, the words will probably be too small to read.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Special Needs Parenting: One Year In

Preface: I'm not writing this to make people sad.  I am writing to let people know what is going on with us and as a way to express my thoughts and feelings about it.  This is such a huge part of our lives, I can't help but write about it, think about it, read about it, seek out others who are in the same boat.  

When we first heard about that baby boy in Ethiopia with special needs, I don't think we had any idea what we were getting into.  Maybe God kept us a little naive about it or else we wouldn't have had the courage we needed to do it.  

For a long time, we held onto the hope that "once he is getting the love and care he needs, he'll catch up."  So many adopted children do.  

But Liam hasn't.  And he might not.  And this is our new reality.  No more denial.  No more hope for a quick fix.  

It has become a way of life for us, this "special needs parenting."  The multiple specialist appointments, the therapists in our home throughout the week, the exercises and medications, the walker, the hearing aids, the medical bills, the explaining to people why our 2-year-old isn't walking or talking.  

So, in regards to Liam, I no longer think much about the fact that he is adopted.  Or the fact that we are an interracial family.  These are such minor issues compared to his medical issues and developmental delays.  

One note of clarification:  Do we regret adopting Liam?  No.  He is our son.  Plain and simple.  His special needs are part of who he is and we accept them just as we would if Shep had been born with special needs or even developed them now.  

And, you should know, there is MUCH joy in our lives.  There is laughter and play and cuddles and pride in parenting Liam.  There is always joy in suffering, as I was reminded at the IOH retreat recently. We are truly seeing this in our lives.  

So we are trusting in God's provision, whatever form it takes: the ability to parent Liam, special needs and all, or for Liam's ability to develop beyond his doctors' expectations.  Either way, we will be okay.

Monday, April 9, 2012

One Year Home

I am not sure what to write here because the fact that Liam is adopted has truly become a small part of who we are as a family.  In other words, things are REALLY good (which is not something I expected to be writing the way things were going a year ago!).

How is attachment?  Pretty darn good.  Liam attached instantly to Billy, a few weeks later to me.  It really was not a big deal for him.  I think part of that might be due to his special needs.  Cognitively, I don't know that he was capable of real attachment issues.  He just loves.  Openly.  Easily.  Expressively.  No holds barred.  And we love him for that.  It's one of his best qualities.

Billy took a little longer than Liam to attach and I took a LOT longer.  There were a lot of tears and guilt over not feeling like a good mom to him.  I went to counseling for a few months to work through it.  I think there was also some post-adoption depression (basically the same as post-partum depression) mixed in there for me.  I have done certain things recommended by professionals in the adoption community to foster bonding, such as extended bottle-feeding (we weaned him at his second birthday, but only because the speech therapist finally insisted).  And, slowly, eventually, the love came.

Is my relationship with Liam where I want it to be?  No, not yet.  But I have ups and downs with Shep, too, so maybe I'm just dreaming when I imagine that perfect mother-child bond.  All in all, I'm very happy with the attachment progress our whole family has made with Liam.

Otherwise, if I'm honest, I don't think much about the fact that Liam is adopted.  He is so much a part of our family, it's hard to remember what life was like before he came.  If I'm honest, what weighs more heavily than his adoption are his special needs.  But that's a whole other post, which I will get to later this week!