3 months. A QUARTER of a year! It is unbelievable that we have been a family of six for this long already…..and yet in many ways, it seems like Leo’s been here forever too.
The number one question we get asked these days is, “How’s it going so far?”
Short answer: Amazing.
Our Leo ‘Zusi’ is a witty, smart, silly, funny boy who makes us all laugh. He is a good eater, good sleeper, and good traveler. He is resilient in every sense of the word. He “goes with the flow” and is typically happy to do so. He has embraced being a little brother, and his siblings adore him. (Except for the occasional times when he pesters them–or vice versa– and it ends in tears or blood…..but, hey, they are true SIBLINGS…..this is a normal thing!)
He enjoys playing inside, outside, at church, at people’s houses, and everywhere in between. He has bonded with us faster and easier than I could have ever hoped, and I attribute that to answered prayers and the love of his foster mom. She helped prepare his heart in ways we will never truly understand.
To watch him gasp at his first glimpse of a dandelion, or to blow bubbles for the first time, or chase ducks around the yard while giggling uncontrollably—these are moments I am in awe. To watch him buddy up with the “2-year-old-boy” gang at church has been precious. To see his excitement catching his first frog or realizing for the first time that he can PUSH the beep-beep car instead of ride it is priceless.
I often tell Andy I think Leo is a genius. I often hesitate to share how well he is doing in fear of hurting many other friends who have adopted, and have struggled in some of these areas, but he has really “settled” into this family with ease, minimal grief, and general happiness. He has taken to his new schedule with delight, and knows what to expect each day. His use of English has surpassed my ability to keep track. I usually say after he has heard a word, a name, or seen a place twice–it sticks. It’s part of his vocabulary. It is INCREDIBLE! We are still trying to retain and daily use the approximate 75 Bulgarian words he came to us knowing (which drives our families CRAZY because they don’t know what he is saying to us). But, we feel like it is an important part of who he is. Granted, knowing Bulgarian words like “I want; bunny; water; socks; bath; hold me, ect.” aren’t ever going to help him carry on a Bulgarian conversation, but it is something we hold dear and cherish as his first words. He not only knows and uses these hundreds of words each day, but has quite the sense of humor using them too. Yesterday I had just put his socks on, and he sneakily took them off and started laughing at me. I told him he was a little goose, and like clockwork, he pinched his nose and said “Honk, honk!”
Of course, if I’m being honest, it’s not all been easy. There are some hard things we have had to deal with. We’ve had more doctor’s appointments in the last three months than I have had with any of my other kids’ whole lives. One of those included blood work for about 14 tests……..2 full syringes from my tiny little one’s arm. Another appointment included an MRI, which he had to be sedated for…..also another scary, sad time for him (and us). (Thankfully all these tests have come back normal…..HUGE praise!) We still have a few more appointments, a little more blood work, some more shots, and a minor surgery later this year. But, we are grateful and believe that he will be a healthy boy after that!
Also, despite his loving foster mom, we still see lingering effects of his time in the orphanage as a baby. It is normal for a baby or toddler to reach for you from their crib when they have awaken from a nap or sleeping. They are ready to get out and the natural response is to reach for you to do this for them. Not so with our sweet Leo. No matter how much we encourage him, he still somberly lays on his back in his bed and waits for us to reach in and get him….never willing to hold his hands out. It is a daily reminder that for many precious months of his life, he laid in a crib with no one to pick him up, and he was conditioned to stop trying to reach for loving arms.
Also, so many people continue to comment on how wonderful it is that Leo is so “social.” Upon a first meeting with him, he is happy to hold your hand, let you touch him, even want to sit in your lap. People mistaken this for an “outgoing” personality. They see nothing strange about a 2 year old walking up to a complete stranger and wanting their attention. But, you see, this is a constant concern of ours. It is NOT normal for a 2-year-old to want to be held by strangers. This is not simply a “social” behavior. This is the response from a kiddo who hasn’t had the normal attachment to family for the first two years of his life…..who at times, knew only strangers until this grew into believing that no one was a stranger. In the adoption world, this is called “indiscriminate friendliness”–meaning their insecurity and lack of stability from their past has caused them to seek out affection or attention from anyone who will show it to them. We want to be SURE that he is attached to us–his parents–that he notices (and cares) if we are gone, and that he comes ONLY to us to meet his needs. We fully believe that this is something that will work itself out with time, but if you are with us and this happens, this is why we cringe.
No matter what “hard” comes each day, no matter how many doctor appointments or diagnosis, no matter how mental I feel at the close of each day, I know how blessed we are. That God hand-picked this darling child for us is a gift not quickly overlooked. To be allowed such a beautiful time with him and Addy, Abe and Cora in this short life is the best gift of all. Life is hard–it sometimes makes me tired, makes me cry, makes me yell, but life is so so so good…..3 sweet months together with so many more memories to make.