Eli Came home in October of 2012. He had a few words in Lithuanian but not many and was not potty trained. He is closing in on three years home and oh has made such amazing progress. He speaks in sentences and is VERY good about asking for what he wants and needs. He has grown much taller and loves to play with his siblings. Unfortunately, he struggles still with attachment and making good choices. When children don't form an early bond to a parent, it can damage their brains and make it hard for them to connect in the future. We are working on this with him every day, and pray that one day he can just accept our love without trying to push us away with behaviors. We made the decision to home school him last year and continued with that this year. He is not ready to be away from us for hours everyday. We feel it is important for him to be more firmly attached to us first. He is doing very well academically at home, learning his letters, numbers, sight words and many other exciting things!!!!
Jocelyn came home in February of 2014. She weighed 25 pounds and was 36 inches tall. She was scared of everything. She would not sit facing an adult and would fight to put her back on our chests and hold our hands down on her lap. We can only surmise she was afraid we would hurt her, and this way she could ensure she knew where our hands were at all times. She still does not like anyone to walk or be behind her and will turn until she can see what you are doing. She would scoot on her bottom but was unable to bear any weight on her legs. She bit often, when she was feeling overwhelmed or scared. She spent most of her day rocking herself or banging her head on the floor. She would pat her hands on things when she was bored. These are unfortunately all really common behaviors in kiddos who have been left in cribs and have no stimulation. She would silent cry when something was upsetting her, with tears falling and her mouth open but no sound. It was (and still is) the saddest sight to me. How in the world was she taught not to cry out loud? It breaks my heart to even think of it. She also struggled greatly with feeding, she would take a bite and then whip her head to the side and bring her hands up defensively. In short, she was a tiny, scared little girl who had no reason to believe we wouldn't hurt her.
We have spent the last 18 months teaching Jocelyn that we will always be gentle with her. We do not force her to eat, and if she turns her head we vocalize, "okay Jo, you tell me when you are ready". Trying to let her know that she can control what and how she eats. Some days feeding took a REALLY long time, and that was okay. She needed to know that we would never force her or hurt her. She is bearing weight on her legs beautifully and using a walker at school and church to get around. However, she sees no point in using one at home when she can scoot on her bottom and chase her siblings just fine thank you very much ;) We are working on it. She was recently fitted for a wheelchair. Although she is making GREAT progress, the truth is that she was stuck in a crib for 7 years and is closing in on 9 years old and still not an independent walker. A wheelchair will give her a measure of independence for longer distances in the future, instead of having to have someone push her around she is learning how to control the wheelchair herself. She says "mama" often, and each and every time she does my heart just melts. She loves being loved. She will wind her hands around my face and just stare at me so intently before she smiles and hugs me. Knowing love and giving love were new experiences for her but she has grabbed hold and never looked back. She gained 9 pounds and 5 inches in 18 months, a very respectable gain! Jojo goes to a special school for children who have disabilities, and her staff is so loving and great with her. She takes walks down the hallway to visit friends and they are teaching her to use an electronic talker to communicate her wants and needs. In short, she is amazing. We are so grateful everyday we "added" her to our adoption of Lanie. I can't imagine our lives without her, and i shudder to think of her still stuck behind those crib bars.
Lanie was 3 when we brought her home at the same time as Jo. She had major heart surgery in Bulgaria around age one. She would also bang her head on the wall all day long for stimulation. She, unlike Jojo, was EAGER to eat and be fed!!! She has gained 10 pounds and only one inch in 18 months, and is being followed by an endocrinologist for this and several other issues. She was unable to bear any weight on her legs and also was not crawling or scooting around at all. When she came home we could place her on the floor and walk away and she would always be in the same exact spot when we came back. She would shake her hand in front of her face for hours, lost in her own world and perfectly content to stay there. She has been more like the turtle in this race, slowly moving forward at her own little pace. She is starting to bear weight on her legs and is being introduced to using a walker. She can stand if you prop her on the wall although she prefers not to. She has recently learned how to scoot on her butt and i NEVER find her in the same place anymore! She prefers to scoot into the big girls room and steal things off the floor to shake. Hey, it's a start anyway. She still bangs her head if she wakes up in the middle of the night, but not so much during the day. She had open heart surgery again in May of this year, and came out of it very well and has made a lot of progress since then. Attachment has been really slow with her, and i had resigned myself to the fact that we might be at a standstill with her. After surgery i think she realized that hey this mom person was here the whole time, and she started to show more signs of attachment. She will eagerly reach for Jared and i now, and LOVES to be smooched right on her chubby little cheek. She will grab my hair and bring me close for silly games!!! So excited to see her turn this new and exciting little corner towards enjoying having a family. She was recently diagnosed with Autism, as well as her Down Syndrome. This was not a surprise to us, as soon as i picked her up in Bulgaria i thought she might be autistic (i used to work at a behavior clinic for children who had Autism so very familiar with it). We love our little "squishy" fishy and the children fight over who gets to hold and play with her! She is firmly in the "baby" position of the family!
Family is more than blood. It's our motto around here.