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Elijah Update // Mostly his New Cray-Smile

Most important, here’s the new face he makes.  Accent on the nose scrunch, head to the side, mix of humor and joy.

Sometimes, if the moment is just right, add a fake opening-closing mouth laugh.

Icing on the cake.

Just yes

He has been home for 8 months now, and most days I can’t believe how far he has come.  There were many times while working with him, parenting him, each new milestone, each new accomplishment I’d think, “We’ve made it!  He’s all better!!”

With pediasure dripping down my cleavage, hot tears in my hair, but look!  He had fallen asleep on my chest, “Look, he’s an attached baby!”  And that joy would course through us, well, until the next time when he would accomplish something new, “Oh, wow, now he’s made it!  He’s turning into a real boy!as he shrugged off his ‘orphan’ gaze, fear, mannerisms, and slowly became a real life boy!

Pretty fun–no amazing.  No, I wish everyone had this joy.  It’s different than the ‘joy’ they sell on commercials, this is the stuff that permeates your bones, mixing in your spirit, awakening your senses to what you know is true, but too often live differently; people matter.  The joy of your darn hard work, paying off in the accomplishment of a little life being able to actually live, and more importantly, to do one of these:

Wait for it…
And go
Joy filled boy–crazy smile #1

AAAnd again.  This time, squeeze your whole body to get that expression on your face across…
Where did my silent, withdrawn grumpy pants go?

***

He’s getting three therapies a week…his gals are my new best friends.  Well, but seriously, I see them a lot, they come to my house each week, care about my kids, they stay after and we chat about our lives, so rad.  I think I’ll need to adopt a few more kids who will need OT, infant ed, etc when he ages out…  😉

This OT thing is a miracle.  I dragged my feet on signing up for it, “Um, occupational therapy, he doesn’t even have an occupation yet, he’s jobless…”

The most amazing lady comes over and works with Elijah in the exact areas he needs most, things he lacks only because he was in an orphanage for a while; chewing, his early lack of touch making his senses off.  Sometimes we feel like the worst parents when she asks us questions, “I see he has trouble chewing,”

“YES!  He didn’t learn in the orphanage, they shoveled gruel in his mouth,” I shared.

“So now, does he chew vertically or more like a rotary?”

“Oh…um…well…um…I have no idea…” I said laughing, I guess I was too preoccupied of what went in his mouth and how much.

She laughed, “Oh that’s ok, I’ll give him a cracker and watch!  Ok, do you see how his jaw is moving…”

“Well, no I hadn’t, but I’m so glad someone else does.”

“Does he always walk with his hips swinging out?” as she swings him around on a wheel board or has him cut paper with scissors.

“Well, sometimes to be silly, or I guess maybe always…”

“He may be doing that to seek sensory from being deprived for so long, here, this is a weighted vest to help organize his sensory system.”

Stacking blocks with the boys

finger paint

AAAAAAAAnd within DAYS he was sitting for longer, calmer, more content, so balanced.  #OTforthewin  When we told his OT she said he is reorganizing his sensory system and once it’s back he’ll be fine.

“Oh, well thanks!”

His OT asked if Andrew was an educator because, “Normally husbands are not interested in OT and think it’s weird, you know, like the weighted vest, but your husband seems so supportive, and excited about it, which is rare!”

“Oh no, he’s not an educator, he’s just awesome.”  #furreal

***
The other day someone asked me if the boys were twins and I said,

“No but, THANKS!”

(To be considered twins with Finley who’s huge is a big deal, little e, you’re rocking it)

Last year I did BSF, and the story of Haggar saved my life in those first weeks with Elijah, funny right?  I even stood up at the end and shared about it in front of hundreds of people, perhaps I’ll share here one day.
Haggar, of all people… #hotmess

My two joy boys

Elijah is the most popular sibling, everyone wants to play with him most.  He’s funny, he’ll take help, and loves to play anything, genuinely joyful to play blocks or dolls, drawing or running, he just loves to love.

Oh so popular

Here’s ‘Lijah, I’ll help you with dis…”
He’s content to hold hands with siblings, and to be lead around to see new sights, proud smile on his face.

Buying a pear tree with daddy in the truck, so proud of himself

There is a crappy thing when filling out paperwork for him as a mom about his birth and early months,  “How long was he hospitalized at birth, what treatments did he get, what ______” and you have to write “I don’t know” for most of it.

But, when his very first word is naming you, the person he wants most in his life, his very own, “Mama,” well, that my friends, makes up for any unknowns.  A name I gladly, humbly accept as he names me his own.

Another funny thing about adopting a toddler, when you’re convinced he’s an infant; same size, same abilities, same needs, is after his few first words, his other “first words” out of his otherwise silent mouth are phrases.

Ex// From my quiet boy, “Mama, I won-DAT!”

Me: smiling, “Oh, you do?”

Elijah, “Yeahhhh”

or

Elijah, “I yuv-yoooou!”

God is  gracious–it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God.  God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.  
I said to myself, “Relax and rest.  God has showered you with blessings.”
//Psalm 116: 6-8//

***

Today we went to the doctors, and he’s on the charts for everything!  When he first came home he was under 1% for height, weight, head circumference, so sad.  
But now he’s big and healthy, thriving through life.

Don’t worry lady, I got this, I’m all the way up here.

***
 Sometimes, when he’s just having the best day, or best meal, or shoving his happy little chub face with so much good, healthy food, or he’s delighting in a small treasure, something just special to him because of where he came from…

My mind wanders to the ones who share a room, an old, crumbling cement building.  The ones who need OT, who need so much love, all the extras to catch up that Elijah is getting, and I wish. I can’t help but to see their little bodies too, thin and frail, wishing they had so many people working with them, and not left alone to rock.

Oh, my heart



I also wish for families to experience the same joy.  The joy of seeing a child blossom in their home, the gospel alive, learning the defining satisfaction and messiness of loving a child in need.  I wish we could all band together, take on their suffering, to raise up healthy, strong children together, and send them out more filled with love than loss.  Because then, we all win, right?

***
Elijah is a gift, and he was also our greatest challenge.  There were many times that out of pure desperation, we turned to prayer, to the bible to God because there was nothing else we could do–maybe that’s like the normal Christian response, but never before had it been so constant, in our lives, which caused God’s presence to also be constant. 
And what seemed like hard times, while we gritted our teeth at the beginning and chanted, “love the least of these, love the least of these…” while caring for a broken little child with all the ‘wrong reactions’ to love, something was happening in our own hearts that we didn’t realize.  We had to dip from another well, outside of ourselves to continue, and in the meantime, Elijah has been one of our greatest gifts, and most miraculous teachers.  
He provided a road map deeper into the heart of God and urged Andrew and I towards a life that before we would have ‘agreed with’ but now had to live–and that is a gift, because,

If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.  //Matthew 10:39//


***

We have found we don’t need to be loved back to love, we have found our worth isn’t in others reactions, we have found we don’t need fear or anxiety because God is present–even right now.
And we have found, it’s not in our strength, God’s got this #ThanksHaggar

And it’s true, we have found it with the help of our littlest guy.  Thank you sweet, Elijah, our hidden treasure, our kind and gentle boy, just waiting to be unveiled.

We love you sweet son, thank you for being you.
And teaching us so much about love.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.             Romans 12:9

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Belle-Mére August 29, 2013, 10:05 pm

    So stinkin’ precious!! Also, how cute is he in that hat?! LOVE.

  • amy jupin August 29, 2013, 10:55 pm

    again, the tears.
    they are a-flowin’.
    thank you for sharing your family, along with your heart.
    it means so much and inspires me so much.

  • A.C. August 29, 2013, 11:55 pm

    I can so relate. Thank you for sharing.

  • trippingdifferently.com August 30, 2013, 9:12 am

    SO wonderful to see him & all of you doing so well & enjoy being a family together!

  • votemom August 30, 2013, 3:01 pm

    it’s so true. people just don’t know what they are missing. if you know God isn’t calling you to adopt, then get involved in the lives of people who have and worm your way into their lives and give to them and invest. and then it will spill over onto you. they need you. and you need them.

  • Wendy Talley, Portsmouth, VA August 30, 2013, 3:39 pm

    Yay Elijah!! ♥

    Wendy

  • Talk-n-tidbits August 31, 2013, 5:43 am

    I love your post and the pictures of Elijah – he has grown so and just love those pokey little thighs. I can totally relate about the doctors office and answering questions, just the other day I was reminded again about my adoption when seeing a new doctor and asked about family history where I once again had to answer unknown. I too fill that out on forms for my daughter whom I adopted and it is hard – no knowledge or history. I have always joked that no news is good news so not knowing means there is nothing bad in my history. Deep inside – not funny. Thank you for loving your three children so much, for giving them a natural and healthy childhood. I love your blog and thoroughly love reading about your family. You are included in my daily prayers!

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