Monday, December 31, 2007

9 Months Home

I can hardly believe that it has been 9 months since Yosef and Mihret came home to our family from Ethiopia. We just celebrated our first Christmas together. It's also been exactly 1 year since I first met them when I visited them in the orphanage last Christmas. What a year!

I can truthfully say that things are very good now. We struggled quite a bit at first, especially with Yosef. But things are getting better and better all the time. There are still a few days here and there when he's quite difficult. But overall, we're on a steady uphill climb with him, which is good. God has been most faithful to show us how to handle each thing as it comes our way.

People ask me all the time if our four kids fight. Of course they do! I think we'd be quite abnormal if they didn't! And when they're not fighting, they're the best of friends. What more could a mother ask for? :)

Yosef: Yosef is in grade 4 and is 10 (maybe?!?!) years old. He's struggled quite a bit with school. Part of that is due to language and adjustment. But part of it is because he doesn't like to study. We haven't pressured him too much about his grades because we do know that it will take lots of time academically. But, once we go back to school after our Christmas break, we will start making him spend time just studying his work. He is smart and capable, but he will have to work very hard.

We're going to change him to a different 4th grade class as well. One thing that has been difficult about school is that we're in a very low income school. Honestly, I believe it to be the best in our area as far as the quality of instruction that takes place. That is why I applied for a job there. But there's such a spirit of poverty over this place and along with that also comes a very devalued emphasis on education. There is a very disrespectful attitude amongst most of the students at the school that is simply carried over from their home lives. When I see the interactions between students and their families it is no wonder to me that they act the way they do at school. My Yosef has begun to adopt just such an attitude as well. He didn't make very wise choices for friends. His classmates were totally intrigued with him and his accent. The most problematic students chose him as their friend and being new, he went along. He never actually gets in trouble at school and is one of the best behaved in his class. But I see a rebellious spirit taking root in his little heart that is going to spell big trouble in a few years if we don't get it under control now. When we talked with him about the influence his friends were having over him, it was actually his idea to change classes so that he could choose good friends. Please pray for him in this transition.

We have been extremely consistent in not allowing him to treat us disrespectfully. Our consistency is definitely paying off. When he is disrespectful, he is much easier to correct and much faster to respond to our correction than at first. This morning he shot me an ugly look where he furrowed up his eyebrows at me like I was an idiot for telling him no. Avery took him upstairs, told him he couldn't come down until he apologized nicely to me. It only took him about 10 minutes before he humbly came to me and whispered an apology in my ear and gave me a sincere hug. He really is a good kid. He has just had no discipline in his tumultuous little life. We only have these little episodes just a few times a week now.

Since I've never had a 10 year old boy before, I think that maybe these issues aren't entirely adoption related. My friends with kids this age keep telling me that they have the same issues. Who knows? I'm figuring this mother thing out one day at a time!

Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn is 7 and in 2nd grade. She gets totally fed up with having a sister and says mean things to her. Then 10 minutes later, she's so in love with her little sister that nothing could separate them. I think that's normal???? She's making all A's at school and is well- liked. I worried about her at first, as she is one of just a few white kids at the school. But I honestly don't think she's really noticed this. She knows that most everybody is black and Hispanic. But she's still at an innocent age where the kids all play together. She has black and hispanic friends. The innocence of these children is priceless. I pray that she doesn't lose this over the next couple of years. I've noticed that Yosef's 4th grade class is very much divided along the lines of race. But in 2nd grade, they're still so uncorrupted.

Having been our oldest before the adoption, Kaitlyn is now 2nd in line following Yosef. For some kids, losing their place as oldest is a huge problem. But this has not really been a problem for Kaitlyn. Perhaps it will be later. But not so far. I've talked with her about this issue a few times and she honestly seems okay.

Mihret: Mihret is at the absolute top of her 1st grade class. She turns 7 in a few weeks (or maybe 8????). The funny thing about international adoption is that it's hard to really be sure of an age sometimes. That's the case with our kids. Mihret is making all A's and is so proud of herself. She is very much attached to our family, and has been from the start. She's very good and very easy to correct. She's just very good and very sweet. She positively lights up a room with her eyes and her giggle. I've gotten quite good at braiding her hair too. All I can tell mothers is to practice. The only way to get good is to just do it, even if it takes a long time at first. Once you get it, it's so worth it.

Lucas: Lucas turns 6 years old today! My baby!!!! He's making all A's in Kindergarten, operating on a 1st grade level. He's so good at school and his teachers are completely in love with him. He's still the baby of the family. It's a good thing he has a big brother who takes such good care of him. Yosef really is so good to Lucas. It's very sweet to walk into a room and discover them playing with their arms around each other.

Lucas' burns are continuing to heal. I have to take him to a plastic surgeon in a few weeks for consultation on his shoulder. The scar is becoming quite thick and limiting his mobility in his shoulder. It will continue to heal for at least 6 more months, so seeing the plastic surgeon is merely so that he can monitor the progress and be familiar with the case while he heals. We are praying that God will heal the scar in such a way that no surgery will be required. Honestly, I am praying for the impossible. I am asking God to give Lucas new skin in place of his scar. I am completely convinced that this is how God wants me to pray. I'm not convinced yet that this is what God will do, but I am praying as I believe I ought to. I'm also fasting by drinking nothing but water. I feel that God has asked me to continue this fast until Lucas is healed, or until I sense God releasing me from this commitment. All I can do is obey what I feel God is requiring of me. Lucas has been so incredibly brave throughout this entire thing. He hasn't lost one bit of his charm either.

Me: Let's just say that the lack of posts on my blog is a direct result of being a working mother of four children. Teaching is so very difficult anyway. This is a school where there are very real inner-city problems. This entire area where we live is laden with the problems of gangs and drugs and race plays a main factor in all of this. I very much want God to move us to a new place. Mind you, I would be sad beyond words to leave some of the very dear friends He has given me. But I really want God to move us for the sake of our children. I do not pretend for even a moment to know what is best for our family in this situation. But this is my desire. Honestly, my desire is for God to move us to Africa on the mission field. But this is not something we're currently pursuing. Just praying. I think we're going to put our house on the market again in the spring to see if we can sell it. We tried with no success for over 2 years to sell it. If it sells, we'll see where God takes us after that. Until then, I am content to trust God's plan for us here.

I am basically very tired by the time the kids go to bed at night. I usually spend some time with Avery, then go to bed by 8:00PM. I feel like a little kid! I am up by 4:45 AM though and I am one of those people who absolutely needs adequate sleep to function well. The thing I like most about my job is that I get to be at the school with my kids. I am seriously so very thankful for this. Though I'm tired at the end of the day, I'm so glad that they're right there waiting for me with a hug and a kiss. I love them so very much. I love them more each day. God has blessed me beyond comprehension with this little family. I get so much joy from having the chance to mother them. God has been very good to me.

So, in a nutshell, things are good. 6 months ago, it was hard for me to believe that things would settle down the way they have. Especially with Yosef. But now, our family feels very normal....I think I might be the only person who knows us who would describe us as normal! :)

I'm currently on day 1 of a yucky sick, cold, congested, fever, weakness, muscle fatigue, diarrhea kind of illness. Perhaps I'll post pictures before I return to school following our winter break. I hope!


Jenny said...

Heather, good to hear from you. I think of your family from time to time and pray things are going well with transitions and Lucas' healing.

Julie said...

So good to get an update on your family. I will continue praying for you guys, specifically for Lucas' healing and for your house to sell.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update! Glad to know everything is going well. I'm single working Mom with three so I can empathize with feeling so tired. By the way, have you consided placing Yosef a year behind? This worked well for my ET kiddo adopted at 8 years of age.

Heather said...

We did think about putting Yosef in third grade. I think he's actually 11 years old, so he is a year behind. Honestly, I am hoping that changing his class will help. His new teacher has a background in ESL.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to update us. I faithfully check your blog (and Avery's) for that reason.

Laura :)

We are... said...

Hi Heather,
I found your blog through another and just stopped in for a peek. We brought our children home from Haiti 2 months ago (ages 10, 8, 5--girl-boy-girl). Our oldest has had the hardest adjustment, followed by our son and our youngest has been bonded to us from the start. I read this post and was encouraged by what you wrote about your eldest son's progress. God bless you,

D.K. said...

A couple of years ago my son burned the palm side of his hand (3rd degree with grafts). The miracle for us was massage to the scars several times per day. It made the scar softer and not so thick and limiting. He will still have subsequent surgeries when the fingers start to lengthen and the skin on them doesn't, but we've been told that the massage alone freed him of a couple of surgeries. Perhaps you already do this for Lucas, just thought I'd share our story.

Elizabeth F. said...

I've just gotten caught up on your novel, oh I mean blog. LOL! I was very happy to read all of the updates and wish that we got to see you guys more often. I cannot believe it has been a year already!