We’ve been home for a month now. The good news is that we’re over the jet lag and everyone is healthy. August has made huge progress in overcoming the sleep issues we had when we were first home. I worked with him for about a week to get a nap time routine which helped him to feel safe in his crib in our room. He now naps at least an hour and sometimes closer to two every day. He doesn’t cry at all when he goes to sleep either at nap time or bedtime. He does still wake up once most nights. Often he goes back to sleep himself or sometimes he needs a little patting and soothing. The hunger strikes from China are also a thing of the past. He has a very good appetite and is not a picky eater.
I think August is proving that the adage about your second child being the opposite of the first is true in case of adoption as well. Leo had no problems sleeping but we spent many weeks working on improving his fine and gross motor skills. Teaching him to self feed was a long slow process. It was months before he felt comfortable around the dogs. August has no delays that I have found in his fine or gross motor skills. He picked up self feeding almost immediately. He can open door knobs, thread beads, climb up on furniture and jump off. He thinks the dogs are great fun. He is very curious about everything. At one point he realized that a shaker egg (a percussion instrument) didn’t bounce when he dropped it on the floor. He went around to different rooms dropping it on the floor to see if he could find a surface where the egg would bounce when he dropped it.
Where August struggles is social skills, I guess you could say. He has a very low frustration index. If he can’t do something perfectly the first time he will throw a tantrum. He will also throw a tantrum if you don’t give him what he wants. He tends to scream if he wants something. This is probably his personality to a certain extent and being 3 is also a factor. Part of this will improve as he becomes better at communicating in English. While he repeats phrases all day long, he still isn’t using English very much independently. We try to be diligent about making sure he asks for a drink, snack, or help. We aren’t picky–he can use English, Chinese, or an ASL sign. Anything but screaming! Hopefully he will get the message at some point.
However, it’s undeniable that a good deal of what is behind all the tantrums is that he was used to getting what he wanted when he wanted. Having a nice round head, fine and gross motor skills right on target, all this means that August got a lot of attention which is wonderful. His orphanage has a reputation for playing favorites and I think that August’s big smile melted a lot of hearts. He is definitely not used to being told no. Yes, I understand that he has gone through enormous changes and we are being loving and patient with him (usually). I’m just saying, when he’s throwing an epic tantrum on the floor but decides to stop and scoot over closer to you before beginning again because he doesn’t think you’re paying enough attention to him, it makes it pretty obvious that someone was just a wee bit spoiled. In the grand scheme of things, this is a much easier problem to overcome than neglect, which is a more common scenario for a child who spent 3 years in an orphanage.
August has experienced loving care in his life and he is bonding very well with us. He has bonded most closely with me since I am his primary caregiver. He is starting to give me hugs and kisses. He hasn’t rejected Matt the way Leo rejected me, he just hasn’t formed quite as much as a bond with him because he spends more time away from home. Similarly among the children he is closest to Leo, Vincent, and Gregory who are the children at home most often. He likes Mary Evelyn and Max, but they spend more time away from home at school or activities. He loves playing with his brothers. I think he’s going to have a lot of fun when the weather warms up and we can begin taking walks to the playground or spending time in the yard and driveway. We’ve already discovered that he isn’t phased by walking on grass at all.
Although he’s only been home with us a month, it already feels like he’s been a part of the family forever.