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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Turning a Corner

I've heard many people talk about how clearing the three month mark meant a huge change in they way their adopted children related to them. I didn't think it was going to happen for us but I am happy to say that something has broken in Jonas' resistance to attaching to us. It happened about 2 days before the social worker came for our 3 month post placement visit. Ever since that time we've had really "good" days.

Jonas' "bad days" would be marked by his waking in the morning crying hysterically. I would go and get him out of his crib and bring him into my warm bed to snuggle and hold for a while. Usually he wouldn't stop crying until I sat him down for breakfast. From there the typical bad day would consist of his crying, fussing, and generally being restless off and on throughout the day with much difficulty being comforted.

I realized things were getting better when it occurred to me that he hadn't scratched my arms or hit my back while holding him for at least a couple of days. He became more calm and better able to settle into my embrace. I wasn't having to work so hard for eye contact. Most of all I realized that we were enjoying each other's company.

The other day at the park my friend Kim was amazed to see the difference in Jonas. Once again having her take notice of things helped me to connect the dots.

In the last three days or so I've noticed Jonas looking over at me and smiling. When I sit near him he'll come over and put his head into my chest or play a game with me. He's more apt to give out hugs to me and his daddy. When I hold him at bedtime he'll curl an arm over my shoulder and bury his face into the crook between my neck and shoulder. I hear sighs of comfort while he pats my back or plays with my hair. It's a totally different experience! He's now got favorite games he likes to play with us. (as I type he's belly laughing at his sister Aurora who is roaring like a lion for him..... and now he just roared back. So cute!) Jonas' days are much less restless and I suspect he's settling into his role as the star of the family, enjoying play time with his siblings.

I think Jonas had much grief/shock surrounding his home-coming and during the time he worked to process everything he needed to have a stable place to vent those emotions. It's not that he was resistant to attachment overall but that he couldn't or wouldn't attach while doing his grieving work. I know grieving is a lifelong process for adoptees and new losses come up for them through the years but I think, for Jonas, a large chunk of his grieving happened in those first three months. I believe our persistence and unrelenting affection helped him decide that we were worthy of attaching to once some of that grief was cleared out of his heart.

Jonas, decidedly, still prefers his daddy. Because our relationship is being freshly forged Dustin and I have made the decision that he will be the one to discipline Jonas for quite some time. Whenever possible I will get to be the "good guy". hahahah That's a role I don't usually play in this house.

It's such a blessing to be able to write this kind of post. I wasn't sure we'd be in this place for a very long time. I will say attachment work is not for the faint of heart. It is REAL, soul stretching work. Dishing out heaping helpings of unconditional love on an empty stomach requires much prayer and grace. I definitely made mistakes but I am so thankful the Lord had mercy on us and proved ONCE AGAIN just how faithful He is. It scares me how difficult these last three months have been for me. I think of parents who fight (and fight and fight) for years to break down the barriers with their children only to suffer rejection time and again. I have a new perspective from which I can pray for those parents. If you are reading this I would ask you to take a moment to pray for those families as well. Because, having walked just a block in those shoes I can say definitively that it's NOT easy. And while it's the most difficult and painful kind of work one can do I also believe it's one of the most rewarding experiences a parent can have.

Matthew 25: 31-40
The Sheep and the Goats
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he
will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from
the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed
by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the
creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I
was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited
me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after
me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37 "Then the righteous
will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and
give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and
go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for


Steve and Anna said...

This is wonderful news! I am thankful for God's answers to prayer!!! We are so glad Jonas has you both as his mom and dad - parents who will keep on loving and loving and who seek the Lord! It is great to hear that his heart is moving from grief to receiving love. What a joy it must be!

In different ways, we are also seeing the 3 month mark bearing changes for David. So interesting!

...this journey of parenting does require our complete dependence on the Lord and His love. Thanks for sharing your story so we can be encouraged to keep loving and leaning on Him when it is hard.
with love and prayers,

Dietrich & Amy Lusse said...

Wow! That's cool!
Also, I loved the pics! Jonas is so cute playing in the sand!!!

Stacey said...

This is so refreshing and such an answer to prayer! I'm thrilled to hear that your sweet boy is making such big strides in the attachment process!

ethiHOPEia said...

Amen! What a joyful post...we are now starting out our process of attachment so I am grateful to hear how things are with you!

Hilary Forrest

Theresa said...

Hi Jen,
Since I started working in Sept. my free time is so limited. I hardly ever get a chance to read blogs. I miss you!

A few months ago a single woman in her late 40's adopted a little guy from Vietnam. Ryan only came on Mondays and Fridays. I never knew a child could cry for six straight hours. My heart was breaking. Then one day I realized that he probably thought that daycare was an American orphanage. I started praying for her each day and after six days he adjusted. It was wait, it was GOD. Now Ryan is a happy addition to our classroom. What a sweetheart!

You are so encouraging to me. I am glad Jonas has turned that corner.

Thinking of you often. Love Theresa

Apryl said...

What a wonderful post to read! I'm so behind in reading, writing, or anything nice (that said I should be asleep and not catching up since I have sick kids and who knows what the night will hold...) I've prayed for you often knowing that Jonas was having such a hard time adjusting. You are a good mommy (sometimes we just need to hear that) and it shows in your posts as you struggle to figure out this attachment thing.

many hugs,