Saturday, November 17, 2012

3 week update

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks ago that I showed up at my agencies care center in Addis Ababa and picked up my son. Hard to believe it's only been 3 weeks. So much has happened. So much has changed. Life has changed completely for both of us.

I feel an obligation to be real and honest about our transition - especially as a single mom who has many other single ladies visiting my blog from time to time who are considering adopting as a single.

I knew it would be hard but until you're in the midst of it - you don't know in what ways it'll be hard. For some, hard looks like illness or sensory issues or problems attaching. While others, it's lack of sleep or any number of things. It looks different for everyone, and you don't really know how much your life is really, truly going to change until it does. And with any huge life change, it's hard to adjust - even when it's a good thing. We get set in our ways. We have our own selfish traditions or favorite tv shows or things we like to do. And then it's all different. And while it comes with it's own set of blessings and new traditions and moments, that doesn't mean you don't mourn the loss of what had become familiar. I think that's the best way to describe my first 2 weeks - mourning the loss of life as I knew it.

He's been doing better than I would have dreamed. He's had his moments for sure but overall, he's adjusting super well. But it has been harder for me than I thought it would be. I felt pretty defeated by that fact the first 2 weeks because I thought I'd be more joyful and love every moment. I felt honestly quite guilty for the way I was feeling. Thankfully I have amazing friends and other adoptive families to talk with who assured me this is very normal and it will get better. I know this is the hardest part and that makes me hopeful. And I do love this little man so very much so it's definitely worth it. But as a 36 year old single, independent woman, I have been faced with my own selfishness big time these past 3 weeks. I didn't even realize how much free time I had or how much I would miss things like being able to take a shower, watch my favorite tv shows and be able to sleep in my own bed (oh how I can't wait until I can do that again), or meet a friend for coffee or even just have a phone conversation lasting more than 30 seconds. In my hopes for this process, I guess I just didn't quite picture it without me having any space. Once he begins sleeping on his own, that'll definitely get better. And even now, I do manage to slip out during nap times and have some much needed down time. That 1-2 hours a day is a Godsend. It's amazing how much you can get done in 2 hours! Ha ha

I hope that those reading this are not thinking I'm complaining, I'm really not. I'm just trying to be real. I feel like I owe it to future single adoptive moms to be real. I want you to know that it's worth it and I wouldn't change it for the world but it's still hard. And it's still a huge life change. You won't know how you'll react to it or feel about it until it happens. I prepared as much as I could. But you just don't know until you're there.

This week has been a huge improvement for me. I think it's just all starting to feel more normal for me too. More familiar and we have some things established now. Lots of work to go for sure but there's a familiarity between us. I feel like I know this little person now and can anticipate meltdown times and try to cut them off before they happen. I feel like I have come up with ways that work for him to establish boundaries and am trying to be consistent, even when I'm tired. I've tried to be more playful and come up with creative fun ways to entertain him. He's learning more and more to venture out, play with toys, dance & sing, play with other kids. I'm learning to cram a whole lot into a short amount of free time and to reach out to people and ask them to get together. It is very lonely and isolating those first few weeks. It's been so great to have so many people to lean on and just even come over and sit with us and just have another adult present. Oh how I treasure that adult interaction.

For Mihretu and I, the biggest challenges and areas of prayer right now are as follows:
1) Because he has attached to me so well (which is a Godsend btw) it means that he freaks out when I leave the room. He has to start school in 2 weeks so my dear friend Merrill who went with me to get him in Ethiopia is coming over a few times between now and then to practice having mommy leave and come back so that he can hopefully begin to understand that I always come back. I'm so thankful for her willingness to help with this. She's the only other person besides me that he's comfy with right now so I thought that'd be a great place to start. Praying that goes well and that his transition to school would go good as well. He starts Dec 3 and I'm still technically on leave that week in case I need to pick him up early or anything. If he does really well (praying so), I'll go ahead and go into work but it'll be nice to have that flexibility if I need to go get him since I'll still have some vacation days left.
2) The dog - he's warming up - especially outside - I think it's because it's a wide open space. Sometimes even in the house he seems to be warmed up to her but then all of a sudden he's acting terrified again. It's pretty inconsistent and it definitely has added a level of difficulty for me trying to rangle the dog and care for her while also trying to keep her away from him in moments when he's scared. He's definitely making progress though so it's a huge praise.
3) Spitting, biting, pinching and hitting - we are making progress but this is still a big thing with him. Whenever he doesn't get his way or is frustrated, he will do one or more of these things. I've noticed he's doing it more and more when we are in public and it's harder to do a time out so I hope I can come up with a good time out option that works for public places. At home, this area has really improved and the time outs are working. He has to say sorry (yeekerta in amharic:) and the amount of time it takes for him to say it has become less and less. I've also noticed when I say no - about half of the time, he stops what he's doing and actually listens. This is huge progress. I'm sure all of the boundaries we are trying to set will become much easier over time as he understands more and more English. He's already understanding quite a bit and I've been amazed at how well we communicate with the little english he knows, the little amharic I know and lots of hand gestures and acting things out, pointing and head nodding. Truly amazing really.
4) Sleeping - I would LOVE for him to be sleeping in his own bed soon. Right now, we're on an air mattress in his room. One day we tried getting him to nap in his bed and he seriously melted down. I know it was too soon so we scrapped that plan. But it will be really nice once he finally does. In the meantime, I'm extremely thankful that he sleeps through the night and takes naps. He's been a lot more resistant to nap times this week - not sure why - but today he acted upset about me turning the light off so I left it on. That seemed to do the trick because he didn't fuss near as much and fell fast asleep. We can leave the light on. Mommy is learning to be flexible too:)
5) He's clumsy. He fell the other night and scared mommy half to death. He hit the back of his head super hard on the hardwood floor. Poor little guy. It was awful and he didn't want ice on it either - he wasn't happy with me about that. I ended taking him to the doctor to get checked out the next day because he had a meltdown mid-day and started holding his head like it hurt and then cried so hard he threw up. I didn't know if it was related or not and didn't want to take a chance. It wasn't, thank God. Doctor said he was fine. He was over-tired and didn't want a nap, had a total meltdown and cried so hard he made himself throw up. Nevertheless, glad for a doctors office who got us right in to ease a worried moms mind. Today, he bumped his head on the chair in my room while playing on the floor. He likes to climb on things and is all boy - it just makes me nervous. Especially after his hard fall the other night.

Thanks for praying for us. I can feel the prayers and I'm so thankful.

Gotta run - my little many just woke up:)

4 comments:

  1. As I was reading this blog, I got the sweetest thank you note in the mail. How in the world did you manage to write/mail thank you cards while settling in to life with a toddler? I'm amazed!

    Continuing to pray for you! I have not started my adoption journey yet, but I know that God is preparing me for it.

    I will continue to pray for you and Mihretu.

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  2. i, for one, appreciate all your updates. it's nice to hear a true account of becoming a single adoptive mother.

    as always, you're both in my prayers.

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  3. Cherish - I cheated. I wrote as many as I could before he got here. The rest on my list - well, I hope I find time to finish them someday:) So glad you got it. Thanks for helping bring my boy home!!!!

    Thank you both for praying!

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  4. Appreciate your honesty! I'm a single adoptive & foster mom. It's challenging - but in ways never imagined before you get into it.
    My two little ones really acted up in public when I first got them. Something I found to work was saying "Time Out" then not talking to them or making eye contact for a few minutes (and if they talked reminding them they're in time out). It was a good continuation of what I did at home and actually worked - especially if they were in a shopping cart.

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