Wednesday, October 21, 2009
A year ago today...
We were in Kazakhstan, half way through our bonding period and basically clueless about the fight we would have to adopt Aniyar and Madiyar, let alone the struggles we would face during the first few months our boys were home. We thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into. After all, we had adopted twice before from Kazakhstan and we knew these boys; we were braced for some adjustment difficulties since we were adopting older kids, age 11 and 13. Experience has taught us that generally, the bigger the kids you adopt are, the greater the emotional baggage they come with. Little did we know that our new sons were arriving with steamer trunks of issues! (It's probably just as well that we didn't know how hard it would be...ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes.) We've all been through a lot of changes in the past year but we've survived and have finally returned to what passes as "normal" family life with our 5 kids. Here are a few examples of how far we've come:
Aniyar now sits in his seat and does his work at school, something that was impossible for him last spring. Last year, he often tried to run away from school and was very aggressive when he was frustrated, often being sent to the crisis room where he would rage and try to throw furniture. This year, he hasn't been to the crisis room at all; he hasn't hit, kicked or bitten anyone either. He even has homework...which he does as soon as he arrives home from school without complaint. Is he on grade level with his work? Not even close...but at least now we can focus on academics since his behavior has improved so dramatically.
Madiyar was our pouty, sometimes defiant bad boy when he first arrived. He especially liked to test me about anything related to school...he would refuse to get out of bed in the morning, refuse to get dressed, refuse to wear clothes that met the school's dress code, or try to hide when it was time to go to school. Once at school, he would refuse to get out of the car; once he was in school, he would be disruptive, disrespectful, or withdrawn. There were days when he would crawl under a table and sleep or refuse to work at all. This year, Madiyar gets up in the morning, dresses appropriately for school, jokes with his sisters in the car, and enters the school with a smile on his face. He does his work and is proud of his academic progress; while he still has some catching up to do, he's rapidly closing his educational gaps. He's also socially appropriate and follows school rules...and he loves being on the soccer team. At home, he is polite, helpful, and kind...and he doesn't pout nearly as often these days. He's a good kid who has decided to trust us, allowing himself to be a part of our family in the real sense.
When they first arrived home, the two boys were wild and broke just about every rule we have for our kids...life was chaotic and our other 3 kids were pretty ticked off that their new brothers were so rude and undisciplined. Mom and Dad felt like our family was coming apart at the seams...and the strain took its toll, exhausting us all and raising old demons with our kids who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Ironically, Aniyar's crisis and hospitalization played a big part in breaking the negative cycle, giving us all some respite as well as addressing Aniyar's needs. Every cloud has a silver lining...and we had a whole lot of clouds...but we weathered the storm. We now have 5 kids who bicker, tease, and pick on each other in normal sibling fashion...but they also stick up for each other, play together, and laugh together. While it still appears that our newest sons were raised by wolves at times, they've learned to be polite and kind and to follow the house rules. There's a lot more laughter in our house these days...also singing, dancing, and dreaming. Life is pretty much what we were hoping for a year ago today...not perfect or even easy but well worth every tear shed, every mile traveled, every battle fought. When I look around the dinner table each evening these days, I see the family we were meant to have...and I'm so grateful.