Six months and a welcomed first

Six months ago we stepped off of a plane in {our town}, weary and jetlagged. I held the hand of a child who had mentally and emotionally shut down long before he ever set eyes on me. During the entire 18 hours of air time home, he only occasionally made a single sound…a low growling grunt. He never once looked at me. He sobbed constantly during the few hours he managed to sleep on the plane. It was not the cry of a child, but a low, sad whine that is impossible to attribute to anything less than a cry of pure trauma. I secretly feared the weeks ahead. I wondered who exactly would it be that crawled out that shell. Would he be gentle and sweet? Would he be a raging mess? Would he even come out at all? Would he reject me and his new family? Who was hiding inside? I was scared of all the unknowns.

As the weeks passed, I realized that Big Brother’s transition home was going to be a long one. He had trouble understanding what had just happened to him. He had trouble understanding rules and boundaries and he had trouble understanding how to function outside of an institution. He was scared. He was stressed out. He would get up in the mornings and pace the house for hours, looking for a way out, acting as if we didn’t even exist. He cried and whined over every tiny thing. Screaming was his only form of communication. He gorged himself on food and water until he made himself sick. He hid food to eat later. He drank anything that was remotely in liqud form. Slowly he began learning English. Slowly he began to learn rules and consequences. Slowly he began to learn that he was in a family and that this was different than before. Slowly, a sweet, eager-to-learn, affectionate child emerged complete with his own little personality. In a way, it feels as if we have just met since the “real” Big Brother has just recently made an appearance.

The real Big Brother has no problem making eye contact with his family. The real Big Brother has become clingy and affectionate at home. The real Big Brother knows that food will always be available. The real Big Brother plays with his brother on occasion, but always follows his lead. The real Big Brother can express his needs in words. The real Big Brother stays by my side and never wants to be out of my site now. The real Big Brother feels safe and loved. The real Big Brother feels happy. The real Big Brother has a long road ahead of him, but we are not scared or anxious.

He has made more progress in the last six months than I thought he would make in two years. If you have been around us in real life, I think you can see this clearly. I could not ask for more.

But tonight, for the first time, I got more.

I have been tutoring in the evenings after hubby gets home from work. Tonight when I returned home, I was telling Little Man hello. Big Brother heard my voice, came running to where I was, smiled, ran up to me for a hug and said “mommy home.” He leapt into my arms and it was one of the greatest feelings in the world.

My heart exploded.

I cried.

I secretly sighed a huge sigh of relief.

I grinned from ear to ear, then reminded myself that while it’s nice to celebrate, there is still more work to be done.

I’m still giddy. It might have taken six months, but it was so WORTH it. All the hard work, all the sacrifice, all of it. Totally worth it. Being Big Brother’s mommy is hard and exhausting, beyond the limits of parenting a typical child. But in many ways it is so rewarding. He has a heart of gold and it gives me strength to keep on going.

Happy six months to special little boy who has taught me that there is nothing life can throw at you to ever take away the joy that lives inside your soul. My goofy, singing boy who always keeps me on my toes…I truly love you more than you could ever know. In one more day, you will officially become one of us and I couldn’t be more excited.

10 thoughts on “Six months and a welcomed first

  1. Elizabeth Burnette

    So happy for you guys, Lauren! I love reading about your family and the reality of where you all are…we are deciding about how to add future children to our family, and I really appreciate having a glimpse into your family’s situation!

  2. Katherine

    Incredible!!! His progress- and yours as his parents- is astounding. Best of luck for a smooth date tomorrow- it has to go well because it’s my birthday! :)

  3. Pingback: Dear Me « Our [little] Adventures

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