People often refer to progress with having an adopted child home as being a three step forward, two steps back sort of dance; and we have surely seen that in all of our adoptions. There are so many things that have to be learned and relearned and relearned.
Everything was literally flipped upside down for our little Chapel only weeks back. Only four weeks and two days ago I met her for the very first time, yet it seems like she has forever been with us. It actually feels pretty nuts that I have only been home from China for two weeks! So weird!
The progress we are seeing in Chapel is nothing short of astounding. Her file showed us that she weighed 19 pounds, but when I weighed her myself, after thinking that she seemed much tinier than that, I saw that she weighed 16 pounds. I weighed myself on that same scale and feel that was a pretty accurate weight. She will be weighed again on Monday and we will officially see, but I think she weighs at least four or 5 pounds more already.
Chapel is actually fitting in her clothes now and she’s getting chubby cheeks and thighs! This feels like a victory to me. She is pretty much a bottomless pit at every meal and she has made a complete turnaround from her initial terror of spoons all the way to helping me feed herself by holding the spoon with me.
I will never again complain about a child putting things in their mouth. There is an opposite effect when a child is not given things other than bottles. They are terrified for anything to go inside their mouth other than milk. They also do not learn the pincer grasp or how to pick up small things to feed themselves. While Chapel will pick up a toy or grab an object from your hand-food is another story. She refuses and is actually scared to pick up food and put it in her mouth. I began coaching her through helping me hold the spoon, which she was also very scared of doing at first. She would gladly take food from me on the spoon… (After a lot of work)… But now she is grabbing the spoon with me. This is huge.
When I met Chapel even her head and neck strength were very minimal. She seemed more like a six-month or eight-month-old baby. She has gained so much strength in just four weeks!
Another interesting thing is she’s actually opening her mouth to make sounds now. This is still the minority but it is a beginning. For about the first two weeks she made all of her sounds with her mouth tightly shut with sort of a humming noise. She has quickly figured out that her screams and squeals and cries are louder to others when she opens up her mouth. Pretty hilarious! We were walking through the store the other day, I had her in the carrier and she was opening her mouth as widely as she could and letting out the loudest, fakest laugh. It was the funniest thing!
She likes to giggle and anytime she hears music she starts to move and dance. In the first days of meeting her we were certainly wondering if she could hear anything at all. And of course, we will not know the extent of her hearing ability until after more testing is done. But we are seeing that a whole lot of her lack of response to vocal attention or sounds at all is probably more related to her lack of interaction with others. If no one ever interacted directly with you, how would you know to respond when they were actually talking to you? You wouldn’t. Sounds and voices would all mesh into background noise that seemed to have nothing to do with you. It appears that there must have been very little of that sort of interaction going on.
I don’t say any of those things to complain about a system (despite how good) because no institution could ever replace the healing, growth, and comfort found in a family. In many of these institutions they are truly doing the best they can with their workers and financial resources.
We were told of one orphanage by our guide that could not afford to have a night nanny in the baby room. Because of that 30 to 40 babies are left by themselves all night in their cribs. Who knows if any of them have needs during the night? Who cares?
We have seen all of these physical and emotional growth spurts in our adopted kids after they have come home. Chapel did not really cry much about anything for the first few days of having her in my care. But pretty quickly she learned that crying was how her mama knew to help her. We have seen this in all of our children. Each of our adopted kids have physically and emotionally grown crazy amounts in their first year home. Our Camila grew physically right at 6 inches in six months. She was the size of an 18-month-old at three years old.
So what we are seeing right now in Chapel is astounding physical and emotional growth. She is sleeping well at night now, but we are still trying to work out the kinks of napping. She kind of wants to fall asleep at 5pm for a nap which doesn’t work out so well for the night hours.
We go on Monday and Tuesday to bring her to two different specialists in hopes of beginning the work of finding answers and getting care for her that will help her thrive. Thank you so much for praying for our family and for our sweet girl.