Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Journey with Eli at 9 months home

We have now been home with Eli 9 months…and quickly approaching a year. The time has passed quickly as I knew it would. Shortly after coming home, as I walked around the neighborhood just starting to get to know this sweet, quiet, painfully shy little boy…I sensed that the Holy Spirit was telling me that Eli’s “transition” -- his “adjustment” would be slow, take a long time yet be uneventful. That is exactly how the last 9 months have panned out. He has made slow, very steady progress in all areas. He has had no notable attachment problems or sleep issues. Just slow and steady progress.

He is talking a lot at home, still not so much out in public and definitely not to strangers. He uses new phrases and words weekly. The past couple of days he’s been “concerned” about a blown light bulb in my bathroom. “The light is broken” he’d tell me several times a day. “Yes, Eli”, I’d say back, “And daddy will fix that when he gets back from his work trip.” Tonight he noticed the motion detector light go off outside. He quietly walked over and flipped the switch until the light came back on. He then ran into the kitchen and yelled, “Mommy! I fixed it! I fixed the light!”. Billy says boys just innately wanna fix things. He has picked up on all our little phrases and inside family jokes well…and uses them at appropriate times -- totally delighted to be “fitting in” around here!

He’s animated at home and LOVES when we are all together. He’s quite funny actually. Last night he sat through a 1 ½ hour long symphony concert. Nearing the end, during a very quiet transition he says in a LOUD EXASPERATED voice, “OH. MY. GOSH.“ throwing his head back as if he couldn’t stand one more song! When Billy laughed and leaned close to him to say, “Shhhhhhhhh” -- Eli leaned back and said, “Y O U SHHHHHHHH!”

He enjoys going places and doing things…especially as a family. He told his grandmother recently that he was “hiking with his family.” He does not, however, enjoy people outside our family talking to him still…he makes NO eye contact with strangers and turns his head when they attempt to communicate with him. I’ve grown tired of trying to “explain” his behavior…so I just don’t. J

I’ve only now begun to “leave” him places on a rare occasion…preparing both him and myself for Fall Preschool. This past week, I took him to the YMCA where I dropped him in his “class” for an hour. Upon picking him up, I asked, “Eli, did you do good?” He said, “No.” I said, “What did you do?” He said, “Cry.” He’ll get the hang of it -- so people tell me.

He still out eats his 10 year old brother…but hasn’t gained a pound. Seriously. He was 29.7 when we got here…and 30.1 pounds today! Instead he has grown 3+ inches in the last 9 months! He’s certainly doing better in the “potty training” arena -- although we still have a ways to go. He seems a little more relaxed and settled lately and therefore certainly open to discovering and enjoying all kinds of new things!

When we were in China, we were baffled that he didn’t seem interested in all the “new” things around. Surely, he’d never seen such before. Now we know that he didn’t have any sight there…so no…he hadn’t seen those things before. 9 months later…his “settled”ness and new found communication skills and ability to use his glasses have meant he is opening up to all kinds of things and interested in so much. It really is fun.

Having been institutionalized for soooooo long meant that little Eli truly came to us at the age of 2 ½ with NO family skills. He couldn’t communicate, eat with a fork, go to the potty, put on his shoes, smile, play, etc., etc, etc. At present, he has 9 months of “Family Skills” under his belt. And as we all know, “9 months” is a much more delightful stage than “newborn”…if you understand what I mean! He still seems so little and young to us.

I told a friend the other day that I see how “one year home” will be good -- but that “three years home” will be even better. She reminded me not to wish the time away…which is not how I really meant it anyhow. I do look forward to the day where Eli has been in my home for longer than he’s been in that orphanage…to a day when he’s had a mommy longer than a nanny. Whereas I am one to enjoy the here and now (when the here and now is enjoyable), I look forward to a day when we have even more memories of Eli being with us.

On another note, all the rest of us are doing well too. It’s been a roller coaster for me with happy moments, fears that we were under too much stress or that we’d never find a new normal, crazed moments where I just knew I have more kids than any one else on the planet and there is no way I can take care of them all, and deeply satisfied moments too. God has been faithful to our family and we are truly all learning and growing. Just like those that have BTDT have told me…we all DO INDEED seem to be finding a new normal. A blessed, satisfied new normal.


  1. thanks for bringing all of the rest of us along on your journey!! I have enjoyed your sharing this with us and can't wait to see the wonderful things God has to come for this precious, special little boy!

  2. It is hard to believe 9 months have passed already(actually it is 10 since I am commenting a month late)! Eli looks so happy and like he is thriving in your family! I know what you mean about not wishing time away. I am anxious to get to "one year home" but also want to enjoy every moment of Mia exactly where she is at. It is amazing too look back on these last 10 months and see how far these kids have come!