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Four Months Home

2 January 2019

Four years old and four months home.

Sometimes I still can’t believe we’re already here. Sometimes I watch him sleep and I’m astounded. Did we really do that? Are we really one of those families? But I guess new identities take time to settle in.

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Not only are we one of those families, we have been for four months now. A friend recently posted one of those cute pics of her new baby with the monthly marker for how old the baby is. And I remembered doing chalkboards for my meatball. And I was bummed for my chubby dumpling at first, but then I thought, “Naw.”

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‘Cause I think his development and progress in healing and learning a new language and adapting to life on the other side of the world is just as impressive than a newborn growing into his environment.

GROWTH: SUCCESSFULLY FATTENED-UP

Husband and I look back at pictures and videos from China, and we cannot believe that we didn’t once notice or remark about how tiny and skinny he was. I mean, all of China is kind of a blur and most Chinese toddlers are smaller and Husband was very sick for at least a week and we were probably as close to “survival mode” as we ever have been. But still …

China:

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Now:

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Look at that belly profile. I love it.

We have fattened him up and I’m super proud of that. Especially because we don’t eat much fast food or sweets, so he is 98% healthy chubby. He was wearing 2T clothes when we got home, and he is now growing into 4T. That’s serious catch-up. 

I joke with the big one about how I’m allowed to pinch his cute butt because I made it, and now I use the same logic on the new one. I didn’t physically grow that butt, but I definitely made it cute and pinch-able.

We don’t get to witness all the usual growing milestones—rolling, crawling, walking, etc.—but there is one we’re watching: jumping. His big brother wants to jump off of every piece of furniture, ledge, etc, he sees, so Jude copies. He tries to copy. And we all have a good laugh, ’cause this dude cannot jump.

My favorite was the time recently we were going downstairs to do laundry. I went down a few steps and he grunted at me. I turned around and saw him poised on the top step to leap into my arms. I counted (he loves the “1, 2, 3!”) and he hopped about one inch off the ground, landed exactly where he started, and then just tipped forward into my arms. I died.

MEDICAL: AWARENESS IS THE FIRST STEP

On paper, his medical condition is almost worse than it was four months ago. Really, we just didn’t know the whole story, but that’s part of the deal with international adoption.

The condition we did know about (and which we are not discussing online) turned out to be a little bit worse than we knew. Nothing terrible, but his surgery will take a little more than we thought.

Then we found out that his molars are in bad shape. I believe the dentist’s exact words were, “All of his molars are deteriorated.” She started talking about root canals. We’re going to get a second opinion and discuss options in the new year when dental insurance kicks in. (Thank you, Jesus, for good employers who are constantly expanding benefits!)

We also found out that previous exposure to TB (even though two x-rays revealed he does not have TB) requires nine months of “just in case” treatment here in the states. So he’s on daily meds and monthly visits so we can prove to the government that not only does he not have TB, neither will he develop it in the future.

And then there was our ER visit on Christmas Day, which we are in the process of solving, but which gets treated by the same specialist who is helping with the first thing.

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But at least we know all the things (*knocks on wood*) and have plans in place. Surgery is scheduled for March.

COMMUNICATION: 100% CUTE

Any time he says anything, we all (big brother included) look at each other and gush. Sometimes he copies what we say. Sometimes he busts out a new vocab word he’s been mulling over. Parroting aside, words he uses include (and I’ll surely forget some):

  • Mama/Mom
  • Ba/Dad/Daddy
  • Nana
  • Bubbles
  • Book
  • Pee
  • Poop
  • Bye
  • Night night
  • Ai ni/I love you (which sounds like, “Eye’ll ewwww”)
  • Dog
  • Two
  • Me
  • You
  • Sleep
  • Uh-oh
  • Yay
  • Amen
  • Wen wen (he recognized his foster sister on the Christmas card they sent)
  • How are you?
  • Stop
  • No! No!

His little voice is so sweet.

He still understands much more than he speaks. Although we’ve also realized that he trusts us, so if we ask a question with a smile and a slight nod, he’ll nod back if he doesn’t understand.

The boys were recently making cookies at Nana’s. Husband got his attention and asked,

“Jude! Are you making cookies with Nana?!”

*nods*

I clarified, in the same positive tone and expectant nod, “With the blood of your enemies?!”

*nod*

TRAUMA: HEALING TAKES TIME

I can’t say it enough: These kids are so brave. Every last one of them. Ours is doing really well.

He never had really severe food insecurity, but he was extra protective about his food. He’s let go of most of that now. He’ll gladly share food off his plate (and not just the stuff he doesn’t like); he’ll even offer grapes or bites of crackers to someone sitting next to him.

He’s also deciding there are some things he doesn’t like, and he won’t eat (carrots). On the one hand, of course, it’s annoying. But I also remind myself that it also means he’s internalizing the truth that he doesn’t need to eat everything he sees, because he will always have enough. And that’s huge.

The bad dreams still haunt him. It’s not every day/night, but it never was. All we can do for now is be there and hold him and pray. Healing takes time.

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Yes, I take a lot of pictures of him (and his brother) sleeping. Come at me.

BROTHERING: TWO STEPS FORWARD …

“How’s he adjusting?” is a difficult question.

He’s definitely settling in and getting comfortable with us, and that’s awesome. He’s learning that our love and acceptance is not based on performance.

Good things.

Which means he’s also starting to express his own desires and preferences as best he can. Also good, developmentally.

Practically, though, that means that he doesn’t let his big brother have his way 100% of the time anymore. Before, if the big brother wanted a toy, he gave it. If he wanted something that big brother had, and big brother said no, he left it alone. If big brother got in his way, he submitted.

Now … not so much.

In addition to adjusting to a roommate with an opinion, said big brother has experienced Jude coming out of his shell with a vengeance. He has been punched, poked in the eye, and scratched up more in the past few months than ever. But he has also been immensely patient. He yells and screams and cries sometimes (and I don’t blame him), but he doesn’t strike back. And when we talk about it, he gets it.

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OTHER FOUR-MONTH NOTES

It’s so fun to watch him accelerate.

  • He’s hilarious. And I don’t think it’s just to make us “happy.” He has a really sharp sense of humor and it’s hilarious.
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  • He’s musical. They told us this before we even got to China, but it’s true. He sings in the car. He walks around the house with the little ukulele, singing. If big brother plays the ukulele, he sings along. He’s also got some sick dance moves.
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  • He likes water. He’s always down for a bath. Or a shower. Or both. In sequence or at the same time.
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  • He’s an epic helper. Heaven forbid I try to go downstairs to switch the laundry by myself. He yells at me. He’s a great sous chef. If I’m cleaning, he’s cleaning. Shoot, if you say that you need to use the restroom, he will run ahead of you and point out the toilet when you catch up. When he hears a flush, he’ll stick his head in, point at the sink, and rub his hands together so you remember to wash up.

He’s amazing. And I’m constantly humbled and amazed that we get to be part of his story. Yes, international adoption is difficult and expensive, but man … when I look at him I hardly remember the stress and anxiety of it. When I look at him, I don’t mind the expense at all; in fact, I’m kind of in favor of it (but that’s another post). I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kassandra permalink
    2 January 2019 12:42 PM

    So beautiful to read how big of a blessing Jude has been and how big of blessing you guys are to him. Praying for your family! Miss you all.

    Kass

    • Lex permalink*
      2 January 2019 9:09 PM

      We miss you! Thank you so much for your prayers! ❤

  2. raynnamyers permalink
    2 January 2019 2:55 PM

    Fantastic update. Loved every word. Thanks for sharing!

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