Tonight, we are looking toward two weeks at home tomorrow, and I think it’s safe to say that the roller coaster of adoption doesn’t get less exciting or have less “up’s” and “down’s” once they’re home. All in all in the scheme of the “adoption world”, we are doing great. Titus is bonding really well with both Colby and me and has started to give the kids a bit of his attention on his terms and when he feels up to it! He’s still eating like a horse, like for real, I cannot even believe this was one of our concerns before taking custody! Literally the only thing he’s straight up rejected more than once was mac n cheese. Beef, chicken, sausage, fish, brussels sprouts (??), green beans, salad, parsnips, carrots, peas, all types of fruit, yogurt, started drinking milk….but still nothing holds a candle to his beloved ramen haha! Oh! And the boy that would not/could not feed himself? On Christmas day, you know the day after we got home, started eating finger foods on his own! And then this past Sunday, he voluntarily picked up his spoon and fed himself a bite of…what else, noodles! Still working on mastering the spoon, but he’s trying. He can say “Momma” “Daddy” “Judah” “Eden” and “Marme” very clearly. We know for sure that he knows what Momma and Daddy mean and has called us that each once or twice without being prompted. Still working on the other family names by pointing to each person as we say the name. He’s mastered the sign for “more” during feeding times and is beginning to say “more, please” when signing. We are working on the sign for “drink” so he can tell us when he wants water, rather than just looking at his cup and hoping we can read his mind He’s going to sleep a lot easier now, with no crying for Umma and waking up less frequently in the night and sometimes not at all. We are trying to teach the little stinker how to take mid morning/early afternoon naps because he just gets so weary by the end of the day without one and is melting down, ready for bed by 6:00 pm. So far, naps have not been a total failure, but not 100% success rate either haha!
He seems amazed by so many things that we take for granted. On the night that we landed, it was really warm in Austin…like mid 70’s with a balmy breeze. Our back yard faces due west, so we always have the most beautiful sunsets, and as we arrived home close to dusk, we took him out into the back yard and it was a beautiful sight. He looked up at the pink and orange clouds swirling around the blue sky with so much wonder. Truly amazed. And we realized that he’d never seen anything like the Big Texas sky in Seoul. It’s so industrial that an unobstructed skyline can mostly be seen only from the mountainous part of the city. He walked ever so carefully on his bare feet in the soft, cool grass and laughed. I’ve treasured that beautiful memory in my heart, and will bring it to my mind on these hard days. He loves to look at birds flying in the sky and is quick to look up for an airplane when he can hear it passing by. He seems to know the routine of getting in and out of the car and waits nicely at the garage door along with the “big kids”.
Speaking of the big kids, they are such great siblings to him and love him so much. Judah wants to just hug and hug him and has a bit of a hard time understanding why he pushes him away most of the time (but it’s getting better with Judah Boy’s persistence!), but just this afternoon Titus was having trouble navigating going from grass to sidewalk, so Judah took his hand and led the way…OH! be still my heart! Eden looooves to baby him and sneak feeds him food the “baby” way by not making him pick it up on his own when we are not looking because she just loves the idea of being little mama. That being said, it’s a big transition for them as neither can remember a new sibling joining the crew (remember that time I had a baby when my first baby was only 11 months?! yeah…), and it’s been really an adjustment. There’s been LOTS of talking and neeeeeeeeeding me to listen to both of them RIGHT NOW. Judah has been worried about Titus when he cried and said he was nervous that he’d always cry like that. Eden has had a hard time listening and has been crying a lot at bed time and waking up frequently in the night, poor baby. Colby and I are super grateful that all of their behavior challenges have been towards us rather than Titus and they seem genuinely bonded to him, even though his arrival has stirred up their routine a bit (okaaaaay, a LOT!).
Miracle upon miracles, I made it to church with myself and all three kids fed, bathed, and dressed all cutesy all.by.myself (since Colby was already there early for work)!!!!! I kept Titus strapped to my back for worship and he absolutely loved the music and danced around and “sang” very loudly the whole time. He was very social with everyone we met and enjoyed a bit of downtime when he and I listened to the sermon from the live feed in the “family room”. This is huge for adopted kids, as most kids that have grown up in an institutionalized setting get really stressed in unfamiliar places, surrounded by unfamiliar people.
So, like I said, all in all, we are doing GREAT! But can I tell you a secret? It’s so,so, so hard. Today was defeating and deflating by the end of the day. We are so proud of how quickly he’s made great strides towards major improvements, but in the midst of the day to day, it’s hard not to get tunnel vision at how much work there is to be done. From looking through some developmental checklists, he seems to fit more around the 18 month range in a lot of areas, and it’s hard for a Momma heart. Knowing that I’ve been fighting for Judah’s development since day one of his life, it hurts my heart to know I couldn’t be there to do the same for Titus when those first signs of falling behind popped up. At times, I’m at peace with it knowing it is what it is, but there are times I struggle to not get angry that someone else didn’t fight hard enough for him…they didn’t fight as hard as I would have. Me and little Buddy went to his first American check up today at our pediatrician’s office, and it was good, but hard. He, too, was concerned about Titus’ developmental delays, even for an adopted child in a less-than-stimulating environment. We are moving forward with getting this boy what he needs to catch up and reach whatever highest potential he can, and have our first appointment next week with the school system to begin the evaluation process for receiving services for therapies (Speech, OT, PT, etc.). I’m so grateful he is bonding so well and such a social little guy, or I would not feel at all confident about scheduling this evaluation so soon. We have also been referred to a pediatric neurologist to get a better, more specific evaluation of his developmental delays, but this will probably take 2-3 months to get an appointment.
And it’s on days like today that I try and put my “nurse face” on and be all clinical, get er done kinda mom mode and be strong. I took it all in stride at the office with enthusiastic “Ok, sounds good.” and “Mmmhmm’s.” but at the end of the day, I’m in tears and I’m afraid I don’t have the strength to do it all, to be everything everyone in my family needs. (Oh, and then Judah calls me in his room to rub his back and sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to him and I’m.just.undone!!!!)
Before we left to pick up Titus, one of my dear friends told me in passing that I made her want to be more brave. Whether she really meant that or not, it made me feel crazy inside knowing how unbrave I really am. Almost daily these days, I turn on one of my current favorite worship songs and sing it out loud as a prayer to the Lord to give my heart strength when I’m scared. May I share a few of the lines that speak volumes to me?
As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us
You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in
I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
I’m absolutely nothing in this whole journey without the love and grace of God sustaining me and the prayers of His people, the Church, lifting up my head to the Giver of Life. Tonight, I’m sitting here on my couch writing with dirty floors in the kitchen, piles of laundry in front of the washer (both dirty and clean that need to be folded), toys all over the playroom and the exhausting guilt that I lost my temper with Eden tonight at bedtime when she was being a little toot…and I’m almost deflated. Thank GOD for friends who love me enough to cook for me during this time or the whole family would be eating ramen…and not nearly as enthusiastically as Titus, I might add haha! And thank God for a husband like Colby Wallace Brewer that comes home and bathes the big kids and washes all the dishes and helps straighten up the house after he’s already been working all day. Truly, truly from His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace (John 1:16). Tonight, in this state that I’m in, I leave you with these words from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 and it is my prayer that it finds you where you are tonight and gives you hope as much as it gives me hope in Christ, our Lord.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.