As we prepare to celebrate the day of Joshua's birth into our family, I wanted to share some details about his 1st year with us. I know that I shared some highlights here but there was so much more to his year.
We arrived home from China and he completely embraced with open arms his new brother and sisters. I was in awe of how well he acclimated instantly to life with 3 other kids. The day after we got home my friend Sara, the kids and I hit Target and he found it to be a fun adventure. He was such a ham and although I am sure he didn't understand a thing we were saying he did a great job of pretending that he did which has been a pattern throughout this year. I have discovered that he is masterful at deflecting attention away from his struggles with humor and masking. His struggles have been few but I know that despite how well he settled in, the loss of those women and the life he loved in China coupled with having to cope with all the newness here had to be painful yet he continued to deflect the pain with hilarious antics and his intense curiosity revealed itself in his trying to "help". He watched everyone (especially me) carefully wanting to absorb all that he could and then try to gain our acceptance through helping. He quickly picked up all the cleaning chores, how to operate every electronic and appliance, what I did to start the car, how to prepare food and tons of other things. Just think about all we do during the day, there are so many things that we don't even think about yet he was watching everything like a hawk committing it all to his memory so as to call it up when he thought he could assist. I cannot imagine the information overload that he experienced yet he managed it well. His high energy and constant need for intense supervision wore us all out. We could never relax for we never knew what he would explore next.
Language has been more of an issue with Joshua than it was for Emily. He seems to fully understand everything we say but has a hard time communicating. He tries really hard but we still only understand about 20% of what he says. He never appears to get frustrated and will exhibit his extreme resourcefulness and try to let us know what he is saying through gestures and actions. I am not sure if it is language or issues with speech due to his cleft lip but this piece seems to be a long time coming. Speaking of his cleft we have had many different medical issues come up with Joshua that have kept us hopping with visits to the doctor.
We knew from the moment we saw him that he was very small for his age and that was confirmed by his pediatrician as soon as we arrived home. There were many questions concerning this issue that have yet to be nailed down. According to the birth date we were given, Joshua was almost 4 years old when we got home. A bone age scan revealed shortly after that he had the bone age of a 2 1/2 year old but blood work revealed that his thyroid was non-functioning. All of these inconsistent medical findings left us with so much confusion regarding Joshua's age. Every document we received from China was consistent with the same birthday and according to his finding ad he was abandoned around 2 days so a 2 year mistake just didn't see possible so we have leaned toward the belief after vacillating back and forth for a year that the birth date we were given in China is accurate and that there are some underlying medical conditions that are effecting his growth. We are still exploring and searching and hopefully we will find some answers soon. Currently he takes thyroid medication which makes him absolutely manic and his growth has been extremely slow even with the medication so it looks like there will be more doctor's visits in the future to continue to put the pieces together. I addition to the growth issues he had 3 surgeries...the first was a cleft revision which was painful but he did beautifully. The second, was to repair two hernia's that didn't exist, yes, a doctor insisted that he had two hernias, he underwent another surgery with three incisions only to discover that there were no hernia's UGH!!!! Third surgery was to remove a huge ugly growth called a granuloma which appeared on the side of his nose and was the result of a dissolvable stitch that didn't dissolve from his cleft and nose revision. He has been such a trouper with every surgery and enters the operating room each time goofing off with the doctor's and nurses. I love it that they now let mommies and daddies go with their kids into the operating room and stay with them until they fall asleep. It is not easy for the parents but I know with Joshua it helped him know that everything was going to be ok. He is doing great now and we are not planning ANY surgeries for a while. His lip and nose will need some future work but I am not in a hurry to do anything. I want him to have an opportunity to settle into life without going to see some doctor every week.
We are making decisions as to what to do about school for next year which is not very easy considering his growth physically and developmentally but are thankful that we have the support of all of our physicians as well as the school and are hoping between all of us we can choose what will be best for Joshua.
In some ways it seems that Joshua has only been with us a short time and others like he's been with us forever. The year has been filled with exciting new discoveries, disappointments, frustrations and a stretching for everyone in our family. Adoption is beautiful yet full of sacrifice for an entire family and we have never experienced that more than through bringing Joshua home. Joshua has a strength about him that I admire. He is strong and courageous and never gives up. Due to my being stretched I haven't always had my own strength to give him what he needs but thankfully Joshua is so forgiving and I am so grateful that God chose Joshua as my son and me as Joshua's mommy. God continues to grow our relationship equipping us both with what we need to love each other more perfectly. My days are richer and certainly more lively because he his with me.
He loves bedtime and is so easy when it is time to go to sleep
Just an example of the high heel shoes
Trash can on the head...the fun never ends.
Hair drying....Joshua style with a vacuum. Still learning what all these tools are for