Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catching Our Breath: One Month Home

This week marked one month of Jack being home.   In so many ways, it feels like he has always been here.  The kitchen table is finally full (and even noisier!).  The toys that were left sitting in boxes and baskets before have new life with a new set of hands.  

Penny has a built in playmate...

Trent has a little boy that watches his every move with awe…

Kate is able to dress and play with her new "living" doll…

The weeks we spent in China were priceless in our bonding to our new son.  Dustin had to go back to work just a few days after we returned, so his time with Jack was very special to both of them…

Jack wanted to be carried often and thankfully, it isn't hard to oblige because he is such a lightweight!

When we came home, my parents left food in our fridge (and seven layer dip which I devoured in about ten minutes!) and spent a few days here before they headed back to California…

And then real life kicked in to full gear.  Our first week home was the most difficult so far.  Jack had been with Dustin and I for two weeks in China but he still had familiar sounds, smells, foods, time zone, etc. to keep him feeling in control of his life in some small way.  All of that disappeared in an instant.  I could see a physical change in him at the airport in Detroit.  He looked distant.  His eyes showed confusion.  His mouth turned down and he began to become melancholy - just sad and desperate really.  The boy that had given us a hundred giggles a day for the past week suddenly cried any time he didn't get his way, or could not be understood or wanted something we didn't have.  The grieving is hard to share.  

People say to us often ,"Boy, these kids are so lucky/blessed to be in your family" and by all means, I totally understand the intent as complimentary.  But, honestly, there is nothing "lucky" about our son's grief.  He has been in the middle of grief and loneliness and confusion.  And in many ways, we brought him to this place.  It can be hard to do.  I do think I was a little more prepared for what to expect in his transition after going through it with Penny but each child is created uniquely by God and comes to us with a different set of circumstances and past experiences so there is no magic answer.  The best we have been able to do is offer consistency, grace, love and patience.  

But that isn't the end of the story by FAR! I mean, this kid is resilient with a capital "R"!  He has learned how to navigate our home, has started to warm up to the family dog, Lucy (sort of - still a work in progress), ride a tricycle, be held in a swimming pool (while smiling, which is no small task given the blood curdling screams we heard the first few attempts!), being hauled around in the family taxi to dance class, baseball practice, soccer practice, doctors' appointments.  

We have gone to birthday parties and family cook-outs.  He has a fantastic appetite and is sleeping 12 hours straight through the night in his own room.  Routine has been a great way for him to develop feeling safe.  We haven't had anyone to the house for the past month so that he can establish who is his immediate family and who is not.  We are still waiting another month or longer before leaving him with anyone but us - it is important to us that we establish ourselves as his parents because this concept is so new to him.  This is the hardest part for me as mama, just because it means I don't get "breaks" during the day but I know this will pass with time and all of those moments when he peaked around the corner calling "Mama!" and his eyes light up when he finds me, will be worth it.

This kid LOVES to laugh.  I don't know why I am amazed every time I look around the table at dinner or look back in the mirror of the van to see the four kids together.  But I AM amazed: that this boy from another continent is a PERFECT fit as a DeMaio… (I mean, it's almost like God had a plan for this!)  

I am still looking forward to the day when my body is mine again, when the little guys are able to play for more than five minutes without coming dangerously close to sticking their fingers in a light socket, and when I can finally turn off the baby monitor.  But it is SOO fun to have a toddler in the house again.  And even better to see Pen leading her minion around the house and hearing him mimic her every sound.  Jack is not interested in learning English - he has made it pretty clear that he expects us to learn Mandarin if we want to communicate with him… I'll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, "No ah-ah" means "no whining", "mah" is "more", "uh-eee" is "up, please" and mommy daily butchers the Mandarin language with my sad attempts at "Fei-ji" for  "plane".  It's a good thing we have a lifetime to get to know each other!

**And a HUUUGGE shout out to all of our friends who have brought meals and helped us during this transition - Asburys, Schleichers, Jones, Cobes, Reames, Runges, Dixons, Crulls, and a HuGe number of you who have called or texted or prayed for Jack and for us.  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment