Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This Post is for Heather

My good friend Heather has been playfully pushing me to write again since being home, so here it is!  I really hate when adoption blogs abruptly stop once the travel is over; (like Heather) I want to see what happens once the honeymoon is over.  So here is my first, bleary-eyed, jet-lagged attempt.

Things have been going really well.  Elijah is adjusting so well that sometimes I get suspicious and wonder how long this can possibly last.  I know that he is still on his best behavior and once he really starts to get how safe we really are, we might see some more challenging behaviors.  But so far, so good.

Our flight home was uneventful.  Once we landed and collected our baggage, we came through immigration and customs, and walked down the long runway to the place in which families, friends, and limo- drivers await arrivers.  Nicholas and I kept saying " Ohhh, soon we are going to see Daddy and Olivia and Peter and Ellie and Chrissy..." And I told Elijah he's going to meet his Baba and we were all full of anticipation when we walked out…."wait, do you see them?  I don't.  Where are they?"

No one was waiting for us!

Talk about an anticlimax.

If this were my first adoption, I would have been pretty disappointed after imagining a fairy tale welcome with balloons and Welcome Home signs and hugs.  But, I just kind of laughed and pulled out my phone and texted my husband " where r u?"  Life is messy and so far from picture-perfect with lots of little kids, so I think I have gotten better at laughing at the not-so-perfect moments. And perhaps even more to the point, I don't even have time or energy to draft big fantasies of how things should be any more.  

Anyway, two minutes later, a breathless John ran up the escalator with 4 kids and we had our moment by a newspaper stand.  Elijah was a little shy and overwhelmed.  Olivia immediately started rattling off in the Chinese she knows.  Peter and Ellie started grabbing him and talking to him in English.  I went for Christopher ( my baby!) who wouldn't look at me at first (I knew he would make me pay for leaving him) and clung to John.  And Nicholas just launched into questions about what Santa left him while he was away.  Home sweet home.

Once we got to our house, Elijah went right for Peter's box of superhero toys.  We had a small meal and showed Elijah the house.  I could tell he was overstimulated and excited as he ran from room to room and stopped listening to me.  Hey, he fits in really well in this household.

We decided to have Elijah sleep in the master bedroom with me (and Ellie, who still wakes up in the night with night terrors).  Eventually, we will move him to the boys room but we have found -- through trial and error -- that co-sleeping works really well for bonding and "felt-safety" (excuse my adoption lingo).  It has been great so far because Elijah really lets down his guard when the lights are out and it is just him and me.  We play silly games and tickle each other, and snuggle.  Last night he fell asleep in the crook of my arm, and it was so nice.  I just prayed "thank you" once again, and still cannot believe that my outlandish dream came true, and is sleeping right next to me.

Our days have been pretty laid-back.  Lots of staying in our PJ's.  We have played play-dough and done puzzles.

Elijah is really creative and has strong opinions about what works best.  Again, he is such a Niforatos.

He gets along especially well with Ellie and Peter.

We also have gone outside at least once each day, which is an accomplishment considering it has been unbelievably cold here.  Elijah LOVES the swing.  On the first day outside, he gestured toward the baby swing, asking for me to life him into it.  I told him that it was a baby swing; "for Dee Dee (little brother)," I said.  I pointed to the big swing and at first he shook his head, No.  But, just like with swimming, he got over his fear pretty quickly and tried it.  

And just like with swimming, he loved it.  Oh my goodness, what a treat it is that I get to witness all of these firsts and am able to see the delight on his face.

Ellie had fun too.  She is glad that she is not the only one who thinks swinging is awesome.

Yesterday, I attempted getting back into out school routine.  This has been something I have worried a bit about since we found out Elijah was coming home.  How will this work?  Well, I know this is not a permanent solution, but I just let Elijah to continue to play on the iPad with headphones.  My hope is that eventually he will move to some basic phonics and math games.  (The only way this will work is if I delete all the more 'fun' apps from the iPad!)

My biggest dilemma with Elijah right now is how to get him off of electronics.  Of course, a little is okay, but he wants an iPad, computer, or TV show all day long.  It is a coping mechanism right now, and maybe a habit from his previous home (?), so it has its place, but our other kids do not quite get why he gets to do it all day long and they don't.  We have a no- screen rule from 8-4 every school day.

My plan is to phase it out slowly, as he learns more English and feels more comfortable with us.

The other kids got a little bit of schoolwork done, but it was a challenge to keep everyone focused when Elijah was running around and being silly.  This is also our challenge at the dinner table.  We are trying to ask the other kids to set a good example so that Elijah will learn what is expected here.

I have read and been to lectures about bonding and parenting kids with traumatic pasts, and one thing that stuck in my mind is that you need to build up a foundation of "yesses" before introducing all the "no's"  It was explained that we do not say no to little babies, but consistently and lovingly meet their needs, and that builds our parent-child bond.  So I don't want to say "no" to Elijah all day long about the iPad and sitting at the table, etc.  I am trying to just put temptations out of sight (I put my laptop and iPads away a lot) and focus on having fun and meeting his needs, with food and hugs and comforting him when he gets hurt.

Elijah is a little less comfortable with John because John has been at work a lot, and, of course, I had a 2 week jump on getting to know him  But, they are on their way.  Here, John is trying to bond over a matching game on, yes, the iPad.

I really could not expect things to be any better than this.  I am taking every day as it comes and accepting that I don't even know what I don't know about all of this.  Continuing to just try my best and rely on guidance.

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