I started to get into this on my one week home post, but I detoured quite a bit.
Adoption is HARD. Both before your kids are home and after.
I felt I was pretty well educated about what to expect.
I have been through tons of training in classrooms and online.
I have followed many adoption stories.
Plus I have this amazing friend who has more adoption experience than most people.
I, like many other adoptive parents, had created a fantasy in my brain as to what my life would look like once I had my boys in my arms forever!
In my perfect fantasy world, my boys bonded right away, they had no institutional behaviors, and everyone was always happy. Oh and Adam's problems were all magically better and Matthias could hear. I mean afterall what good is a fantasy if you cannot make it what you want right?
Well it did not take reality to set in. Even something as simple as my gotcha days being changed. I felt it would be best to get Adam first since Matthias lived in a group home, I would not have to take either child back into an orphanage that way, but it just did not work out that way. We took Matthias out of his group home forever on Sunday afternoon, but on Monday morning we walked him through the front door of an orphanage. He was sooooo stressed out. I held him the entire time we were there because I did not want him to think we were leaving him there.... It was a very long hour!!
The drive back to Sofia was rough on Adam. He was not used to being upright for very long. Both boys were impatient. I was exhausted already and I had not even started the week in Country with my boys really.
We arrived at the passport office, and already the first person was staring at Adam in disgust. I wanted to hit them... HARD. I chose to remain calm and hold my son a little tighter reminding myself that at least now he had a family that loved him. After the impossible task of getting Matthias to take a picture for his passport was done, we left for the hotel.
I was beyond excited to be at the hotel. That lasted all of (literally) 1 minute before Matthias pulled the tv down. We had walked out to crab our luggage off the luggage cart and that was all the time he needed. It lay there in 3 pieces. FYI that did not happen in my fantasy world. Luckily my hubby is good at fixing things and was able to repair the TV.
Both boys were eating. Matthias was drinking, but Adam would not take any fluids. Nothing I did helped him drink, but he was making a few wet diapers so I figured we were ok until we got home. This is the main area I expected problem, but they did well.
Adam's head appeared bigger which scared me.... We go in a couple more weeks (we have been in once already) to confirm whether he needs a shunt revision or a new shunt. I anticipated this though.
Matthias did well for the first 2 days then it was like a switch flipped. I cannot explain what it felt like as my son began banging his head against the wall as hard as he could. My heart literally broke. I would lovingly remove him from the wall and provide toys. He would crawl back to the wall and start the banging again. Each time my heart ripped into smaller and smaller pieces. Nothing I could do would stop him or `comfort him. I did not expect this.... The head banging continued, rocking started, but the worst thing was when he would punch himself in the face. He did not even react to these things which made them harder to watch. It was as though he had no pain sensors at all.
We suspected he could not hear even though his director swore he could. This was confirmed at 2 weeks home. Trying to bond with a child who is deaf is very hard!!!! The easiest way to bond with a child (in my opinion) is hearing and visual. Well the visual thing was not working either since he was taught not to look at adults especially in the eyes. It took a while for bonding to take place with him.
Finally, I found a way to make it happen, but it wasn't until he would tolerate more touch. I laid him on my chest, hummed a song (so he could feel it) while I patted his back to the rhythm. I will say that those first 2 weeks I was TERRIFIED he had RAD.
Also, in my fantasy world, Matthias knew what no meant and would respond to redirection!
That is not that case. You can move him away from the same item seriously 50 times and he will go back to it. Nothing we did would cause him to stop doing negative behaviors. I had to spend seriously hundreds of dollars to block off certain things/areas of the house.... our TV, kitchen etc. He is too smart for his own good though and is already learning how to get past these blockades. I am ok with exploring, but he was flat out destructive.
Did I mention that he cannot hear?? This meant getting up each time to try to redirect him. I was tired!!!!
I thought this would never end.
Luckily, week 3 started to show improvement. He bangs his head less. He loves being snuggled. He even crawls up to me and whimpers so I will pick him up. He allows you to redirect him on occasion. It is still rough, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel now.
I am one of the lucky ones..... Some kids do not attach for months or even years!!
Adoption is an amazing blessing, but people need to be prepared for the first few months home!!!