Today is exactly one year since we arrived back in the states with our completed family. It has been a whole year already!! It’s interesting that things are as uncertain and scary as they were one year ago but for completely different reasons. The world is different once again for us. Currently there’s an unstoppable virus that is surging throughout the globe and while we want to celebrate this wonderful milestone for our family, we are instead just holding each other close on our second week of a NY quarantine, answering questions like “why can’t we go out and play with our friends? and why don’t we go to school?” Even though we will not be having a celebration with family and friends we are going to take a little time today to enjoy the memories we have of this fun-filled, whirlwind wonderful yet challenging year. And what a year it has been. I will share the ups and downs, the good the bad, the lessons and the regrets. I will also share a few pictures of our first year together.
When we arrived last year we jumped straight into adjustment mode. We began getting them use to things like getting up early, daily routines, new toys, english language tv shows etc. While also jumping into setting up doctor appointments, school enrollments, insurance information and getting official paperwork to get all that started. That period of adjustment before they went to school was three weeks of extremely challenging work, for them and us. There was a lot of crying, yelling, anxiety and that was just from me. The kids were testing us, more than they had while we were living in Peru. At this point Chris went back to work and I dreaded the day alone with all three. I was scared of what the day might bring. I woke up with anxiety and pressure to get us past this period as fast as possible (now thinking back I laugh at how gullible I was). I had no idea what I was doing and that was the scariest thing. It was only when I realized that they are probably feeling the same way that I decided it wasn’t them against me but us against trying to force something that might take some time to be. Once I relaxed and trusted that time, love and consistency was going to get us through this, things became a little better. I became the mom I had been to my oldest and they began relaxing too and behaved as normal children would. They would fight and misbehave and lose privileges and were sent to their rooms. There was a lot of yelling and hitting furniture and walls then until they would come down. That was the part that would send me back into that anxiety, but I knew that I had to be consistent and let this play out. This went on for 2-3 months and I have to say the tantrums became less and less and the time in their room before they came out to apologize and talk about it was less and less as well. Before I knew it they learned that certain behavior was never going to be acceptable and I saw a complete change. Consistency, while difficult as heck, was what got us through this stage. Now we have to say things once or twice and count to 2 before they realize they better stop or up to their room they go. They are also happier enjoying all the many things we love to reward them with for behaving. Not to say they don’t misbehave, of course they do, they are kids after all, but the extremes that we saw when we first came home are long gone. We are the messy, loud, and chaotic family we were meant to be.
One advantage we had was that the food they were eating and the language they were hearing had not changed. We read that was one of the frustration among internationally adopted children. There were many things that would frustrate them, believe me, so I was glad there were two less. We did get them to see behavioral health in case there was anything they needed to work through with a professional and once their english gets better they will go more often. I highly recommend that. At first, a doctor visit was the scariest thing for them and seeing as they needed to get shots (lots of them) it was torture for me too. I hated being the bad mom taking them to get something that hurts. But I found out that scheduling them while they were in school and taking them one a time and spending lots of quality time with them cuddling them and making them feel better with an ice cream or treat with lunch before I take them back to school, made it better for them.
English is coming along but I am worried that me speaking to them in Spanish all the time has hindered progress perhaps. In school, they are getting extra help in language arts and math to get them within their grade level and they are still working with an ESL teacher but I feel like I dropped the ball and didn’t seek out extra english tutoring. That is one of my regrets. They love school and their teachers so that was a win, and at the beginning we were living for little wins like these. We really had to learn to take it one day at a time. I like to say we were all pieces of a puzzle that a blind person was trying to put together. Well the puzzle is complete, and although we may not be the prettiest puzzle, we are put together and all the pieces fit.
We have now had all birthdays and all holidays together in one year and we have loved celebrating all. Our favorite vacation destination is the beach and we have been there 5 times now since we have been together and we live our best life there. Same beach, same place! They are looking forward to our next time there.
A year has gone by and if you had asked me last year what I thought one year later would look like, I don’t think I would have thought of it as enjoyable as we have it today, so that, I say, is a perfect win for this girl and this little family.