I think about our journey thus far. He has been home with us 11 weeks, plus I spent 6 weeks with him in Kampala, so that is more than four months. Our daily life has calmed down a thousand fold. He won't go into the basement to play by himself, and he doesn't sleep the whole night in his bed, but there are such huge steps forward. He can go to the bathroom by himself again ( and so can I!). When I go to get the paper at the front door, he doesn't follow me, or even call after me in the "Marco, Polo" method he has employed. I can run into the house if I've forgotten something and he can wait in the car for me. He can watch a movie, or at least a good part of it. He can play independently, nearby to where I am, or near the kids or Steve when they are home. He can go into the garage to practice riding his bike while I am in the kitchen. And the big things. He has had 2 meltdowns this week. Neither one had any physical aggression towards me. I can reprimand him without it being the end of the world. I can use something he wants (2 stories) to get what I want (pajamas and brush teeth, please). When he hurts someone on accident or takes something of theirs, he has learned the power of sorry. He goes to preschool and adores it. He would like to go every day. He wants to take his lunch like the big kids do. He listens well to his teachers and is learning quickly about transitions, socializing with kids his age, and following directions. I feel so positive about him, the change he has already accomplished and the things he has learned. I am sure the other behaviour issues will resolve in time and that his life will be nothing like the one he might have endured forever in an institution.
Steve always says "hard is good" when we get frustrated with a project or some work. And I have come to also realize the hardest part is seeing any negative effects on the first 3 kids. This change is forcing the kids to grow up and be more independent, if only because there are more of them and less of me. This happens anytime a family gets a new sibling, but our experience is compressed because there are so many factors happening simultaneously. I see our biological son struggling and it kills me. It feels so unfair because adoption was our choice, and it just happened to him. But it also is forcing him to face issues that have been there his whole life - the intensity of his feelings and his difficulty in communicating them. Do I think he will ultimately benefit from all of this change, and from Fort becoming a part of our family? Unequivocally yes. But watching him in the throes of painful growth is painful to me, and it is exhausting constantly trying to buoy his self confidence and redefine his role in the family.
I think about what I envisioned adoption would be like. It seemed that people reacted to the idea of adoption in one of two ways- either with a mind that has always considered it, or one that cant conceive of why you would do it. And I didn't understand the naysayers. But now I do realize what a drastic step adoption is. It is not for the weak at heart! I firmly believe it takes two passionate parents to go through the challenges, the anticipated and the unanticipated. I can see how adoption can work its way into the tiny cracks in a relationship and push them open, stressing a marriage. I feel so lucky to have an equally dedicated partner, one who can support me as much as he supports the kids. Every time I feel completely drained, it is his friendship that brings me back to life. Adopting reminds me of having twins. You think you are prepared for it, but it is never quite what you think. It is surprising, exhausting, beautiful.