Two Weeks Home

There are times when I glance in my rear view mirror and see his almond shaped eyes that I’m completely overcome with emotion at the fact that he is really is home. Then there are times that it feels like he has been with us forever. To say that we have come far in the past two weeks would be an understatement. We have come FAR!  Looking back on those first few days in Seoul I can see now what a sad boy we had…even in pictures he doesn’t look like the bubbly, sweet Maddox that runs up and down the hallways here now. It’s amazing to see his progression and we are so happy to know that he is starting to feel like this is home.

We had a small setback this week when David was hospitalized on Monday for colitis. Apparently, the one meal we have eaten out since we have been home contained some bad sushi…that only David ate (Praise God). So, for 4 days we had a very sick daddy. I’m so thankful for friends and family that pitched in to help this crazy mama. The big kids had VBS and a sleepover with my parents while Maddox and I did a lot of camping out at the hospital. It wasn’t ideal but we made it work and thankfully he was discharged on Thursday afternoon.

Other than that, we have been doing really well. In honor of being home two weeks I wanted to share a few things about our new little guy!

~ He LOVES bath time….like water splashing everywhere, crying when it’s time to get out kind of love!

~ He eats everything. The only food he hasn’t gobbled right up is grapes and diced pears. He holds food in his cheeks like a squirrel…control issues much? ; )

~ He is sleeping like a champ. Normally he will go down around 8 pm and wake up around 7 am. Actually getting him to get to sleep can sometimes be a challenge but hey it’s only been two weeks, right?

~When we say “bye bye” he waves.

~ We play this game where we point to his nose and say “Jeong-hwan’s nose” and then point to my nose and say “umma’s nose”. Finally this week he will play back and point to his own nose when we say it. So fun to watch him soak up language and learn things.

~ Maddox and Dawson are the cutest little pair and watching them grow into brothers has been joy to my heart. Today I walked into the hall just in time to watch Maddox reach out to Dawson and give him an unsolicited hug. I may have shed a tear.

Life is good and we praise God for His goodness!

On Friday we spent the afternoon at my parents house to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was Maddox’s first time out there and he had a blast hanging out by the pool. While we were in Korea my dad had been working on some swimming skills with the big kids and they were very eager to show off their new moves. We had a fun afternoon! Here are a few pictures:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One Week Home

This very moment one week ago we were walking off an airplane into our hometown with our sweet blessing. We were exhausted and hungry but seeing the flashes going off through the airport windows gave us one last burst of energy. We were greeted with cheers  by our closest friends, family, and neighbors and 1 minute later I wrapped my arms around my two big kids and squeezed them so hard I took their breath away. At that moment we became a family of 5. As I sit her one week later I couldn’t be filled with more joy. The boys are splashing in a bubble bath and my sweet girl is curled up beside me. Life is so good!

At some point late in the week things started to fall into place. Maddox was sleeping through the night. David and I felt like we were alive again. We were seeing so many more laughs and giggles than tears. The big kids fell into a comfortable spot in their roles and everyone was getting along. I know it’s a honeymoon phase and if I had a sponge I would soak it up and bottle it because it is PRICELESS!

Last night Maddox slept in his bed from 8pm to 8:30 am and when I opened his door this morning he gave me the biggest smile. He was finally expecting to see me instead of someone else. It was a big moment.

Every day we see more and more of his sweet personality. Here are a few pictures from our evening in the backyard:

.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How long DO you plan to stay cooped up at home?

I’d say this is the number one question we are asked right after “How is he doing?”.  And it’s a great question that I wondered myself of other adoptive families when we first began this process. That being said when asked I never respond in a way that really gives the reasoning behind why we are keeping to ourselves for a bit. So, in the hopes that I can do a better job explaining to everyone I decided to write it all down. Oh, and if you’ve asked this question please don’t think I’m singling you out..we get asked this multiple times day and it’s a very valid question. I hope you hang in to the end and that it helps you understand why we have chosen this path.

We know that each of you reading this has likely, in  some way, supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know your care  for Maddox and our family, we want to share with you some information that  we hope will best equip everyone around him to assist us in laying the  strongest and healthiest foundation – emotionally, physically and  spiritually.
In many ways, Maddox is like the children who entered  our family through birth; we will parent like other Christian families  as we bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the  Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences. For over a year now, we  have researched bonding and attachment in newly adopted children.
We are confident of this: God’s design is PERFECT! His  plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of  His love for us. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time  when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need.  The primary caretaker  meets the need and soothes the  child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create  trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in  distress, mom nurses & calms the baby – which teaches him that this  person is safe and can be trusted. By God’s very design, an emotional  foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their  learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security  provided by parents will, ultimately, give children a trust for and  empathy towards others.
Children who come home through adoption have experienced  interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a  biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little  hearts.Not only has Maddox lost his first/birth mother he has also lost not one but two sets of foster parents. The last of which cared for him for over 15 months of his 22 month life. The good news is that we can now, as Maddox’s parents and forever  family, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional  wounds. He is overwhelmed. Everything around  him is new and he will need to learn not just about his new  environment, but also about love and family.  The best way for us  to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle,  instruct, soothe and feed him. As this repeats between us, he will be  able to learn that parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are,  essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Maddox starts  to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to  other, healthy relationships.
Maddox has, what may seem like, a lot of structure,  boundaries and close proximity to us. Please know that these decisions  are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on immense amounts  of research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We are  doing what we believe is best to help him heal from those interruptions  in attachment as effectively as possible. Why are we telling you all of  this? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in  helping our Maddox settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future.  There are a few areas in which you can help us:
~ The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us  immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical  contact with Maddox. This will (for a while) include things like holding,  excessive hugging and kissing.  Waving, blowing kisses or  high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Maddox should know that  the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends.
~ Another area is redirecting Maddox’s desire to have his  physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to  having us meet them. A child  struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with  people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if  they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the  child. To share this is difficult for us because we have snuggled, cared  for, fed and loved so many of your children. Please understand that we  want nothing more than to have Maddox hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL  of you (he’s totally irresistible and huggable). But until he has a firm  understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so  grateful if you direct him to us if you see that he is seeking out food,  affection or comfort.

Tonight as I tucked Reagan into bed she looked at me and asked why Maddox cries so much at night. She said it hurt her ears and she wished he would stop. I told her to close her eyes and imagine that one day she woke up like any other day. That I dressed her and got her all ready and put her in a car and took her to her doctor’s office. Then these strange people came in. They immediately started holding her and trying to hug and kiss her. They didn’t look like her family. They didn’t smell like her family and she couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Then I hugged her and while I was crying I let the strange people put her in a car and drive away. The family kept trying to show her affection. They took her back to a strange room where they showed her all kind of new toys. They tried to feed her food she had not seen before like seaweed but all she really wanted was mac and cheese.    I asked her to imagine trying to tell them she was sad and wanted to go back to her mother but they couldn’t understand her. Then they packed a bag and took her onto an airplane for a very long time. They got off the plane and drove to a house and introduced her to two little kids who again didn’t look anything like her. They were bigger than her and she couldn’t understand what they were saying either. Days went by and no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t get the people to stop kissing her or to understand that she wanted to go back to get her mother. I asked her how that made her feel. And with tears streaming down her face she said she was so sad for Maddox.

Maybe I didn’t handle this the right way and I, of course, assured her this would never happen to her and we will always be her mommy and daddy but I do think it was important for her to see why Maddox responds to things the way he does. And I think maybe this explanation will give a better understanding to those of you who are sincerely curious why we are choosing to do things the way we are. We certainly don’t have all the answers but we are doing the best we know how for him.  He is processing…a lot. More than we can imagine and as we walk this road of grief with him we want him to know that we love him and that we are here forever. It will take time. How long? I honestly do not know the answer. But slowly he will learn to trust us and eventually love us in return.

We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones  around us. We couldn’t ask for a better extended family & circle of  friends for our precious Maddox. Thank you so much for your love and support  over the past year. If you have any questions please feel free to  ask at any time! I promise we will do the best we can to answer you. No question is a dumb one!

Making Our Way to a New Normal..

Today was day 2 of my return to work. You know the stay at home mom gig. : ) I do love my job but yesterday was…well tough. Just being honest. Maddox and I have yet to recover from jet lag. David really needed to get back in the office after being gone for two weeks so off he went and I’ll admit I was a little nervous. We survived and honestly we were all so exhausted by days end that we went to bed before 8.

Everyone got a good night’s sleep last night and I felt ready to conquer the day…and Target. I needed to get out. So we shopped a little. It went well. The key with my big kids is to set my expectations for them before we get out of the car. And yes, I do mean all the way down to who will sit in the shopping cart and where they will sit, who will stand beside the cart and not wander, what we will be purchasing and what we won’t. Sound militant? ; ) The big kids thrive on boundaries and Maddox well he has no clue what I’m saying so he just smiles! : )

I’ll be honest and say that I’m ready to be in a routine. After talking with a few other adoptive moms I realize that I have set my expectations too high but I can’t help it. We are home and I need a new normal. We are getting there and I need to cut myself some slack but those suitcases aren’t going to unpack themselves! : ) 🙂 What a post of random. Excuse it..I am still in need of some sleep.

Here are a few photos from the past two days…which is what you all come here to see anyway, right? ; )

We are Home!!

We left Seoul on Saturday at 11 am and arrived home on Saturday night at 7 pm! How’s that for a quick flight? ; ) Maddox is not a fan of airplanes but we made it. He hammed it up at the airport for our friends and family though! My camera took a fall from the countertop in Korea and my cell phone had a run in with a leaky juice cup so I’m short on pictures.

Maddox is crazy about his big brother (hyeong) and big sister (noona)! They adore him. Reagan is already playing the role of mama and just eats it up when he lets her hold him. Maddox follows Dawson around everywhere he goes and Dawson is loving every second of it. Sleep is a work in progress. He will eat just about anything we offer him but is picky about what he drinks. We are getting to see some glimpses of his personality. SUCH a sweet boy! His foster mother taught him to do the Korean sign for I love you when we say “I love you” in English and it’s super cute! I WILL get that on video soon and post it. He bows and has the cutest laugh..just wish you could bottle it up. He loves being outside and would stay out there all day if he could.

Here are just a few from the last few days:

.

Just a little party at 3 am!

.

New Kid in Town!

 .

Checking out his new highchair!