Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I continue to think things are going as well as can be expected. GG has now been in our care for just over two weeks; we've been home for five days. Until yesterday he cried each time he awoke (nap and night) and each time he went to bed at night. He'd also cry every time he saw photos of the foster family. Yesterday, in contrast, he awoke crying but stopped after Dh brought him to me and I could distract him with the busy-ness of breakfast. The foster family sent us new photos; I'd written and requested photos that were of a time other than the day that we visited. I think seeing the photos from that day had their own trauma, separate from just missing the family. Anyway, we received some yesterday in an email, and although he looked emotional while viewing them, he named all the people and seemed delighted to see new pictures. He didn't cry but seemed to take comfort in them. I think we'll probably be looking through photos daily to help his grief along.

Yesterday he went down for a nap with me without problem but then I awoke (I was zonked after not sleeping from 1am on) to find him staring at me, on the verge of crying. He did start crying then. But at bedtime he went to bed with me without issue. So overall, things are improving. (We do need to get some sort of sidecar for the bed, however. I cannot count the number of times I woke up last night with either a foot in my face--he sleeps perpendicular, much of the time--or a knee in my kidneys.)

We had several visitors. Karlene & Abby stopped with a delicious meal. He seemed to do fine while they were here but had a small meltdown just as they were leaving. That was the first meltdown I've seen in a few days. Within minutes he got mad at LilDude and it turned into a huge meltdown. I held him as he kicked, screaming bloody murder--Lizzi called it a "teapot scream." He screamed it all out and then I Ergoed him while I put food on the table.

Food/eating continues to be interesting to watch. About every two hours or so he goes into the kitchen and pulls out a Chinese spoon. (Highly recommended purchase for anyone adopting a preschooler!) He knows where they are kept and has made himself at home with opening drawers and pulling items out. So every little bit I get him a snack (he likes rice chex, spicy dill beans, bananas), or some congee. I also hand feed him the mini cracker balls we got in China. This is our bonding moment as I make it a game and get eye contact before popping each cracker into his mouth. With this system of regular eating, he is usually satisfied before mealtimes come along. This works well because he can then sample what we're eating for dinner without the pressure of actually having to fill up on anything. Last night, he asked for repeated helpings of homemade calzone and Caesar salad, downing a carrot stick on the side. He loved the whipped cream on the strawberry shortcake but spit out the strawberries. I've tried blueberries as well; it seems that berries are not on his short list at the moment. But calzone sure is. ;) I've been so grateful for the congee. Doris brought a huge pot of it on Saturday and he'll finish it today, having eaten the whole thing alone. I'll have to get brave and try my own batch today.

Yesterday Lisa stopped by with Thomas. He warmed up amazingly quickly to having another small child around. Thomas went out in the backyard to play with LilDude and GG wanted down to go play too. Within seconds the three boys were racing around the backyard like longtime pals. He definitely needs that kind of interaction.

Although I would like to be wearing him long hours in the Ergo (my goal was to even do half of the six hours/day that Nancy Thomas recommends), I've found it impossible in our situation. Here's why... GG was not in an orphanage. He was a fully functional, happy, independent 3-year-old, living normal life in a normally attached family in China. That's all he knows or remembers. When we yanked him out of there, his capacity for attachment remained very high, just disrupted. His desire/ability to be normal in his daily play, remains. To keep him from that play by wearing him does nothing to enhance our attachment; in fact, I would argue that it impedes it because it's like a punishment to be strapped down when he's used to playing. Now, had he been living a less-than-ideal attachment life, the priority would have to be helping him to learn what normal attachment looks like. But he already knows that; he's lived it for 3 years. He is quickly trying to find that again within our family cause he knows what it feels like.

I do wear him a lot, but I wear him when he wants to be worn for his own comfort/safety/security rather than wearing him because I'm trying to teach him emotional regulation. Several times a day, he'll happily raise his arms to be held when I put on the Ergo. Last night at dinner was definitely one of those times. He wasn't feeling good about life and he happily wanted in the Ergo to have "close time" and feel better. Ironically, if his attachment wasn't as good as it is, he'd likely be rejecting closeness when he feels bad. If at some point I see him struggling with attachment, we'll have to change plans. But for the moment, what he most needs is to be actively participating in regular family life, which for him includes learning a lot about our environment, all new to him.

Which brings me to another interesting point...

I cannot get anything done.

This child is everywhere, all the time.

Let me explain.

With a "normal" 3-year-old, they understand some basics...what's hot, what's electric, what's dangerous, what has a motor, what you can drown in, what you can fall off of... Obviously they don't understand all of this, but they have spent the bulk of their lives learning to know things like: what a stove is, what electrical outlets do (or at least how Mom/Dad react when they approach one), what happens when you walk in front of a swing, what happens when you walk off the edge of a play structure. The BASICS.

GG doesn't understand any of this. Everything about this environment is NEW.

But that's not all. We don't have language to communicate what is/isn't safe. And when I call him, he doesn't tend to respond or react because I'm literally not speaking his language. He has to be watched as you would watch a 9-12 month old who RUNS, FAST!

An example...

I want to get him ready for nap. I take him potty. After getting him off the potty, I stop to (heaven, forbid!) wash my hands. In that time, he streaks out the door and is gone. I don't know if he is:

1. Walking out the backdoor.

2. Holding the dog's muzzle, begging to be bitten. (This is an ongoing problem as he seems to have no concept that teasing the dog will lead to dyer consequences.)

3. Pulling a chair up to the kitchen counter and investigating what's "up there."

Now, you might just say, "Well, you dumb bunny, childproof your house!"

It's not that simple.

When you "childproof" a house for a 9-12 month old, you are childproofing against a 9-12 month old brain. You cannot childproof against a SMART 3-year-old brain in the same way. He can climb fences. He could feasibly remove light socket covers. He certainly can open doors, with or without locks. He can open doors and climb into bathtubs.


Any questions about how I'm spending my days???

P.S. Thanks for all those who are helping. Yesterday my mom played "guardian angel" (basically watched his every move) so I could print out some PECS cards that will hopefully help communication. The meals have been ever so helpful as I cannot watch him and cook at the same time. (Once I tried to wear him while cooking. I knew I was in trouble when he said, "TWO!" as Dh has taught him a game where he says "one, two, three" and throws himself backward. In that particularly moment, I was cutting a cantaloupe. With a knife.) And the calls from the grocery store "what can I pick up for you?" have been very helpful as I'd prefer to not yet enter the world of U.S. consumerism. Help us all, Hannah.

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