Sunday, September 18, 2016

What's been going on????

Long overdue for an update, and for that I apologize!  We've been busy as per usual, and this blog goes neglected.  Here's been some highlights from the last couple months.  June was a rough one.  We had a lot of behavioral struggles.  More than likely it was an anniversary reaction being that it was one year from when Gianna came home.  Then after the really cruddy June, we crawled out of it steadily with every 4-5 days having an "off" day.  Now it's about every 5-10 days there will be a rough one.  You can tell within the first few hours which Gianna it was that got out of bed that morning.  I keep telling her I love her no matter what, no matter which Gianna greets me in the morning.  We all have tougher days, and each one of us needs more grace on some days than others, isn't it the truth.

I cannot tell a lie.  June was wild and wooly.

But here we are, on the other side, and the rest of the summer was a joy-filled experience of learning and growth.  In some cases, BIG growth.  My favorite area of growth is the fact that Gianna's new favorite word is "actually".  She will likely struggle for a long time with learning problem-solving, but I have had some major glimpses that some work is going on in that area.  I'll say "I wouldn't do that if I were you."  Or  "I wonder how that will go for you."  Many times, she says "Actually, I'm not going to", or etc.  And she makes a GOOD CHOICE!!!  Praises be!  Sometimes it's just my tone of voice that gives her a hint.  She loves to fiddle-fart.  She knows she has 30 minutes to do her cleaning up chore, and she loves to find anything to do instead of cleaning.  Some of this is developmental, some of it is control.  Depending on the day in some cases.  She'll come up to me with a procrastination technique "Can you give me a scissors so I can cut this out?" and I give a smile and a slow "Suuuuuure" and it turns into "Actually, I'm gonna clean up."  How cool is that?????

The good days are getting better and the bad days are getting less bad.

And I am freaking celebrating.

That doesn't mean things are still easy.  The fits continue, mostly on the "off days", but they are fewer and farther between.  She refuses to let me see her cry and yet after less time than it used to take, she will let me wipe her tears away and will relax into my hug.  On her best days she may even come to me and say "Can you wipe away my tears?"  Yes.  Yes child, yes.  That is my job and it's my privilege.  I repeat it over and over again so she can say it enough and start to internalize it, "I know you think you NEED a stuffed animal or doll to make you feel better, but that's what you WANT. What is it that you NEED?"... "A hug from mom," she'll reply, and the look in her eyes makes me think she's starting to want to believe it.

Pool partay!!!

Gianna had another developmental test.  It was more comprehensive, was specific to trauma and attachment, and gave an age equivalent to all the domains and behavior arenas.  They also do an assessment on her "maladaptive behaviors", which were all "elevated" (meaning she has developed some inappropriate responses to stress or big feelings. big surprise. not.).  In most of the domains and the behavior assessment my guesses were correct.  Gross motor, fine motor, academic, daily living skills, etc were all right about Kian's age.  So my hunches were confirmed that I can fairly expect her to perform the chores and skills that I can expect from Kian.  Generally speaking.  There are 3 areas that I was most concerned about: interpersonal relationships (how she responds to others), coping skills, and play.  I figured all these were at about a toddler level, and so I've instinctively adjusted certain expectations and discipline with that in mind.  I was more than right.  Suffice it to say, we have a long, long way to go in those significantly delayed domains.  The therapist said all the domains were likely even more delayed when we first brought her home, and it's obvious her anxiety is decreased.  So there is still lots to be thankful for.  We are starting to see some positive growth, we can say our love has made a difference (albeit small so far), and that now I better know the complex inner workings that we are dealing with.  It really opened my eyes to what's under the surface of her behaviors.

It finally happened.  Gianna grew one inch.  That one inch tipped the balance, and now she fits size 7 shirts.  I thought I was destined to buy size 6 for eternity, and it was with trepidation that I got the size 7 bag down.  Sure enough, most of the tops that were giant a year ago - actually fit!  The pants issue has yet to be resolved.  She's too tall for 6's (they're a big highwater), and she swims in the 7's even with adjustment.  The other day she came all stressed out about an "injury" on her hip.  She was shocked when I laughed and got excited.  It was a mark from her underwear.  The girl finally has enough meat to get a mark from her underwear.  I assured her it's normal and that mom's really jazzed about her cute round belly.  It's the little things, folks.

Gianna is one smart cookie.

Gianna is doing well in school.  She has an IEP, which we are hoping will continue to catch her up somewhat. She's in 2nd grade and has been enjoying her first month.  She's the kind of kid that does better in school than during the summer - the predictability and routine is refreshing to her.  Family still equals mumbo-jumbo in a lot of ways, so the school environment - even though it's challenging - actually regulates her.  She's continuing to learn and show us how adaptable she is even with her challenging beginning.  She has a lot to overcome, and she's showing us her indomitable resilience.  Oh that it would be harnessed and used for good - she could be quite a force to behold!!!!!

While we've enjoying the fruit of our labors, we're also preparing for another adoption.

An update on our India adoption!  Our home study has been completed, and we are ready to apply for immigration.  We are collecting papers for that and for a India-styled "dossier" of sorts.  Doctor's visits seem to be taking the longest just because of scheduling.  The immigration documents will approve us to adopt someone of "orphan" status.  Little by little, we plod through.  I've said it before, I'll say it again, even though it's about the same amount of work - it sure is easier when you've slogged through it before.  Just knowing the path is of great benefit.  We've run into our first few financial hurdles, and this time we've had less time and energy to devote to fundraising efforts.  We've made it work so far, but stay tuned - we're brewing a few ideas for those who would like to support our adoptions financially.  Of course, you're always welcome to donate via our PayPal button on this blog!  Anyway, that aside, please continue to pray for us.  We still have the India approval yet to go through.  We are trusting that whatever the outcome, we can be reminded of the joy of following God's call and we can trust him to complete the work that he started.  Even if it looks different than we imagine it to be, God is faithful and we rest in his assurance that we can trust him fully.

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