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Monday, November 13, 2017

Progress Report: Ru 6 months home


Ru has been home for 6+ months now. 
***Prepare for cliche.***

In some ways it feels like he's always been here. And in other it feels like he just got here yesterday.
He fits in our family like a glove. Yet there are some he just can't seem to get along with.

But really, it's true. 
On growing... 
Ru has gained 2 lbs since coming home, bringing this gorgeous boy up to a whopping 44 pounds. Although he's probably going to be petite by American standards, it looks like eventually he's going to be the tallest of our Asian sweeties. (Sorry, Jude.) Kinda odd but not really he's also lost a couple pounds in the first few months after he joined our family. We think this is because he's likely moving his body and doing a lot more than he did in the orphanage, like learning to ride a bike, playing some-soccer-type-game with his brother and sisters, swimming, playing in the woods at the cabin... So after we thought about it a bit, maybe it's no so surprising that he's lost weight since he's been here. I think his body will figure out how much he needs to eat to accommodate this more active lifestyle with a bit more time. And yes, his physique is pretty beanpole-esque at the moment. He's currently taller than his not-twin, Mimi, but not quite up to Tess and Jude, which Jude is very relieved about. 

On being in a family...
Most time we think he gets it, the part where he knows he's staying forever, the part where your mama and papa are here to stay and never leaving you. That family sticks together and help each other out. That competition is okay but doesn't need to need to define who we are within the family. But sometimes little things don't click. Like yesterday when I found a backpack of things he had gathering to bring back for his Chinese friends when he returns. We're still learning more and more about him, like that he did have a foster family in China for about a year or so when he was around 4 years old. He was very happy there and I believe he was well cared for there. Ru beams when he seems the few pictures we have of his foster family. He doesn't understand why he couldn't stay with them, why he had to leave them. He asked me why. Those are hard questions to navigate, and I know it's things like this, that he's probably unknowingly wrestling with when it comes to staying here forever. His brothers and sisters are learning how to have a new brother too. Despite all we tried to prepare them for, it's not like they thought it would be, all fun and games. It's hard for them all. But with time and lots of work, we're seeing more play time between them with less misunderstandings and disagreements. Ru is definitely attached to Papa and me, along with Livy and Mimi. Strangely, after all the issues we had between Mimi and Ru in China, they seem to be the best sibling friends between the 4 younger kiddos. 

On China... 
Ru misses China. I know he loves his new life here, but he grew up in China for the first 7 years of his life so of course he misses it. It might be more accurate to say he misses Chinese food and the predictability of his life there, but the way things were going for him in China... well I don't think that's not something he necessarily misses. When Ru first came home Papa and I made a very purposeful effort to expose Ru to Chinese people and thusly native Cantonese (and Mandarin since he was bilingual) speakers. Ru made it very clear by either burying his face in my side or looking elsewhere, silently, like a deer in the headlights till the person would give up trying to talk to him, that he wanted nothing to do with interacting with the Chinese language. And as sad as that is, it's okay too. So Papa and I stopped trying to get him to speak or interact in Chinese. We've since learned about some really tough stuff that sweet Ru was going through in China. Some of these hard things are because China is China and it's far different than our American culture. And some of the hard stuff is due to the fact that an orphanage is really not a great place to grow up in. Now don't get me wrong, despite the tough stuff he wants to return to China soon, like tomorrow or next month at a minimum, (and we absolutely will take him there although not on his timeline) but he knows it's only for a visit to see his home and friends again. And that is a very good sign that we are on our way to a being a firmly attached as a family. 

On school...
Our decision to bump Ru down a grade, essentially repeating 1st grade, looks like it was the right one for him. His current first grade teacher, Mrs. M, who was also Mimi's teacher, is amazing, so good to Ru and really loves him. Sometimes God puts just the right people in the right place at the right time, and I think this is the case with Mrs. M! Ru is doing pretty well in all subjects. He can get a little down when it comes to reading and English. It's tough when the other kids know stuff he just hasn't figured out yet, especially seeing as how he had never been introduced to the whole concept of phonetics until this August. And when it comes to numbers this kid is a whiz! It's where he shines! We were coincidentally lucky that there are 6 brand new English speakers in Ru's grade level alone, and the school district hired a teacher just for them. So Ru goes to "English class" with these children for 1 hour, 4 days a week, and he's rockin' the English class too! One more thing, Ru is a ridiculously amazing at memorizing, which if I think about it, isn't hard to believe since he was knee-deep into learning to read and write in Chinese when we got him, which is essentially all memorization. Sometimes this even hinders his progress, but most of the time it's a wonderful skill! At this point, 6 months in, we're pretty sure he's forgotten most of his Chinese language which is how it works for kiddos that are immersed entirely into a new language. That breaks my heart, but it is what it is. 
On his special needs... 
If you've been around here a while you may have noticed the scaring on Ru's arm, (and abdomen) the results of 6 surgeries he had in China, and don't get me started on my son having 6 surgeries without a mama sitting by his side 'cause I just don't have enough tissues to get through it right now. As suspected, the appointments confirmed that Ru has a life-long vascular disorder. The disorder is something that currently is not "active" and not presenting any problems. It has been like that for the last 2 1/2 years. But eventually, it will become "active" and need attention, and that's what we want to be ready for. Since coming home, Ru has had an MRI in August, and we have visited with a couple specialists. The disorder that Ru has is rare and complex enough that we get to have a whole team of doctors that we will meet with in December to get a more. After taking with the specialists we think the team will come up with a wait-and-see approach, continuing to monitor him until something flares up, and with his disorder we are told to expect something to come up even couple of years-ish for the rest of his life. Until that time, with the exception of curious children who notice his scars, Ru is just like every other little boy and takes no medications and has no limitations, which is exactly what we were hoping and praying for.  

On the hard stuff... 
Yeah there's hard stuff too. The awful temper tantrums that started in China, the ones that were like screaming and rolling around in public parking lot at the doctor's office causing folks to call the police to make sure we weren't torturing the poor child... and yeah that happened...  are pretty non existent now. Thank you, Lord! And in it's place Ru has found other ways to persuade others to give him his way. Like yelling. Or bursting into tears. Or ignoring you altogether. Or threatening other people with frying pans. And of course those things need to be dealt with too. The biggest challenge we face right now is Tess, Jude and Ru learning how to balance all this new-ness of each other and still come together as a family. Despite all we taught them ahead of time, it's not nearly as easy as Tess and Jude thought it would be. Yes they argue and squabble like sibling do, and that type of stuff is okay and very much a part of family. But above and beyond that there are some very real power struggles going on here, unfair fighting, (thankfully nothing too physical) and that's the type of stuff we work a lot on these days so that nobody comes out on the bottom. The good news is that good golly do they all want to be friends so badly and they are persistent at trying despite the challenges. Re this, I'm getting better. I'm not there yet, but that's still okay and . This plopping a 7 year old into a family is a big deal and takes time at the least. 

Would I change any of it? No. Not even 1 tiny little bit. Ru is an amazing! He's a brave and tough little boy. He has been blessed with a wonderful glass-half-full personality, and I think that's part of why he is so happy despite the tough stuff he's gone through in his short life. He hugs and kisses and takes on his new life with gusto. Ru has made our family fuller, brighter and better. He makes me reaccess what's really important in my privileged life. He makes me slow down and be more intentional and try to be the best mom I know how. 

And I pray every day, that at least for Ru's sake, I can.  

3 comments:

  1. The eyes, the smile & that part when you realize he's figured it out.....so precious. The backpack sent me looking for tissues!

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  2. He doing great it looks like. And, none of the kids we adopted young or older wanted to talk to Chinese people. They left me looking stupid bc I would say "they can speak Chinese" and then the kid would just stand there. The person is thinking... sure they can. Ha ha.

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  3. So glad you updated. I've been wondering how things were going. It sounds like you are all do really well for all the changes you've been through. It is so hard loving an older child with personality already formed. Who wants their way and really thinks it's survival to get it. It takes many years to unlearn. sigh......we are 5 years in and still working on some things. But we are headed back again.....When it's easier to say Yes to God than keep resisting......it's time to go again. You are awesome, so glad you blog and take photos!!!

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