After my last blog post I received several emails saying that I do not show the true picture of older child special needs adoption on my blog posts. I am going to try my best, but to be honest for the most part Emma and Elias have transitioned like a dream.. We are well aware that things can change at a drop of a dime but so far all is good! I will start with Elias and work my way to Emma. Elias is still an amazing amazing boy. He came home signing Chinese Sign Language,CSL, and would only sign Chinese sign language the first 5 weeks home and just snuffed off American Sign Language, ASL, (makes perfect sense since all he ever knew was CSL.) Then suddenly and almost overnight Elias stopped signing in CSL and made the most amazing switch to ASL. It was kind of crazy to watch. It shows just how much he was taking in while we were signing at home and how much he was retaining even though he was not using one sign of ASL. I must tell you that while in China I did have the privilege of meeting a two amazing Deaf woman that knew both ASL and CSL and I had a chance to pick their brains and learn as much CSL as I could possibly hold while I was there, they also introduced us to a Deaf Chinese couple so we had a chance to meet them and also learn more CSL and about the Deaf Chinese culture. This was a HUGE help in bridging the communication gap that we had with Elias and I know the fact that I worked so hard to learn as much CSL as I could helped as Elias saw how hard I was working and that I was willing to make mistakes with CSL and wasnt perfect at it so it allowed Elias the ability trust me and helped Elias switch over. Once he started to switch over he would teach me CSL and I would show him ASL it was a beautiful transition from that point on. Elias has not signed one CSL sign in many months.... he signs beautiful natural ASL at home. The fact that his dad is Deaf, Mom is a sign language interpreter and he has 2 Deaf siblings and the all of his hearing siblings sign is not lost on us, we are well aware that we have a great household for a Deaf child to thrive in and thrive our babies are!!!! Elias is charming, sweet, caring, funny, smart as a whip, cute, silly, athletic, and cuddly and a HUGE momma's boy! He is a hard worker and wants to always do his best. He spends hours a day working on his school work and is always trying to do extra work. He is truly a joy and I adore spending time with him and watching him spend time with his siblings and watching him learn the ins and outs of a family.
We were not able to agree with our school district on placement for both Elias and Emma so after many months of fighting and struggling Tom and I made the decision to homeschool for the rest of the 2012-2013 school year. NOT our optimal decision and we have had many moments of not being happy with our decision to homeschool, but it is what we had to do. Don't get me wrong Elias and Emma both worked hard at home and are learning a great deal, BUT Elias was in a school for the Deaf in China and always around a ton of kids and then suddenly here he was home every single day with just him and Emma during school hours until his siblings came home. Believe it or not with having 6 kids Elias still gets lonely. He wants more than anything to go to school , he wants to learn and be successful and he wants friends so badly he can taste it! Kind of scary to think a child can be lonely with 5 other brothers and sisters in the house but Elias is ready to learn and have his friends along with a family. He is a smart boy with loads of great qualities and I know he will make friends for sure. Homeschooling in the beginning was so hard with the language barrier that my hubby and I almost quit. Here we are a Deaf man and an educational sign language interpreter and we struggled like crazy to get our two kids to understand and learn anything. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. They are on two totally different levels and Elias did learn a ton of stuff in China, but he learned it in Chinese and now here he was learning it over again in ASL...just that is tough and then throw in that he could not read any English and life got interesting. Then you add in Emma who had no language or education and it was a recipe for some hair pulling on our part. I cried, the kids cried, hubby busted some major sweat.. but we managed to work through the initial part and get things rolling semi smooth before momma's leave was over and I had to go back to work leaving hubby to tackle the homeschooling on his own. I will say one thing this was the HARDEST thing we ever did, but it was not without its rewards. It certainly makes me want to give all the Deaf ed teachers I know a huge gift of some sort. It also makes me wonder how the requirements for becoming a teacher of the deaf in many places only requires 2- 3 sign language classes, I have always thought that was absurd to be able to teach Deaf kiddos and not be fluent in ASL... but I now see clearly that you have to be more than fluent in ASL....... you have to know how to manipulate ASL and think of many ways to say the same thing over and over but with more clarity and more visuality each time and you have to be creative in how you present things in ASL. If we were not at the place where we are with our language (a native born Deaf ASL user and a fluent in ASL interpreter with 13 years of interpreting ASL under my belt) there is NO way we would have been able to do what we did. Even with all the language and experience we have it was back breaking and required so much thinking outside of the box that I am pretty sure we re-invented the box! We did manage to get things going pretty smoothly but Tom and I still do not think it was the healthiest of decisions for Emma and Elias. They both spent a lot of time crying they want to go to school to learn and that they wanted friends. They both developed little habits and traits during this time home that I feel would not have developed if they had gone to school and been with other Deaf peers as we had hoped would happen. Truly the hardest part of adopting our 3 Deaf kiddos has been the educational fight. It is beyond frustrating and makes you crazy when you fight your school district and they just dont seem to get at all what our kids need (or care about what our kids need to be honest). Sometimes I know they have a glimpse of what our kids need, but money always becomes a factor and they kids end up not getting what they need. One thing I didnt like about homeschooling is that Emma and Elias were missing out on all the social aspects of school that are so important in a child's development.... We are working on trying to find a solution for next school year. Right now we are still praying and researching and trying to see what our options are.
As far as other issues with bringing home Emma and Elias I would say we have so far experienced nothing more than dealing with normal orphan behaviors, habits and rituals that we expect to deal with adopting two older children that spent many years of their lives in an orphanage. Yes, the behaviors sometimes ride on your nerves and make us nuts... of course we are human so the constant stalking of us times 3 kids gets annoying.. having 3 kids that have not one clue how to entertain themselves can get upsetting sometimes... having 3 kids that don't socially know how to behave in regular social settings can wear you out.. BUT we expected all of that and know it comes with adoption and especially adoption of older kiddos, then you make it older deaf kiddos ,2 of which had no language or education and one that had a different language and education but also had a very late start at that... we would be crazy to not expect some issues.
Now let me get to Emma. Little Miss Emma. She is a hoot!!! The girl cracks me up. She is sweet, funny, darling, silly and caring, She is a good friend and sister and a great daughter. Emma had pretty much no language or education when we met her. She was soaking up language like a sponge in the beginning (actually she seemed to understand more than Elias when we very first met them both, since Elias was dealing with a language that he did not recognize and Emma had no language so she just soaked it up.) then at one point about 5 or 6 weeks ago she seemed to stop learning and stop signing and everything you asked her you got a nod and that was it.... this was not the Emma we had seen for months, we thought oh my there is something so wrong with her. Then all of a sudden the last week to 2 weeks her language has made a HUGE jump, she is signing and understanding things that Tom and I just stare at each other in amazement when she signs sometimes. Like just yesterday she was signing to Tom and I and her ASL was so beautiful and her sentence structure was pretty complex that we just could not believe it was coming off of Emma's hands she should not at 5 months of language in her life be signing like she is.. ... truly mind blowing to see!!!
The last 5 months have been full of many firsts in our house for Emma and Elias. The obvious biggie is First time having a family of their own! First time to have Grandparents, Aunts Uncles, Cousins an actual family! First time having their own things, their own clothing, room (they both share a room with a sibling but the room is theirs), first time having their own toys, first time with many many many new foods, first time with a dog, first time eating ice cream, first time riding a bicycle and for Elias that meant with and without training wheels and he basically taught himself to ride and I helped a tiny bit and he was done with the training wheels in less than a matter of a few hours!, first time going on an outing (nope orphans do not get to go to wawa, go the mall, go anywhere for that matter.. so any time you get in the car is pure exciting for them.. even if it is to go to Home Depot with daddy.)first time for the tooth-fairy to come, to celebrate Holidays with your family, First time to learn that their is a God and that He loves you!, first time seeing a sign language interpreter, first time going to church, first time to go to VBS, first time going to a picnic, going in a sandbox, getting your nails painted, going to the dentist, first time swimming in a pool (a huge favorite now amongst the two of them or swimming in anything for that matter), first time to have someone tell you that you are smart ( for Elias this was after many years of being told "you are dumb and worth nothing"), first time to have someone tell you that you are cute, beautiful or handsome, first time to celebrate family birthdays, first time to see a sibling graduate from elementary school, first time to get to say "mommy and daddy", first time to have someone say "I love you", first time to actually understand and get what "I love you" means(this did not happen for awhile after we started saying I love you) AND just two days ago for Elias...a big one.. first time to understand that he is now an American Citizen, A "Worrell" and a member of this family and he is NOT in no way no how going to be sent back to China and that he is staying here in America that was a BIG FIRST and it received a HUGE hug and 2 massive thumbs up coupled with a few tears of relief that he is not getting sent back.. when he finally understood that two days ago!!! For Emma a BIG FIRST as well, it was the first time in her life to have language and education and therefore have the ability to communicate her needs, wants, desires and to be able to start to understand this amazing new world around her!!! there were many many more firsts and too many to list them all but so many have happened in the last 5 months.
|Emma's first time in the sandbox with her sister Paige|
|Playing dress up with their dolls|
|Me and Tommy at his 5th grade graduation|
|My 6 beautiful children at Tommys graduation|
|3 smiling gorgeous faces|
|Luke and Elias|
|Elias first time swimming!|
|Emma getting ready for her first time swimming|
|Yup 5 amazing months|
I am very happy with the last 5 months and how we are all bonding together and how things are working out with us going from a family of 6 to a family of 8! Emma and Elias are still doing amazing and things are going beautifully! Here is to another amazing 5 months, 5 years, a lifetime of memories together as a family!