Oh people, if you are an adoptive family waiting to bring home children, prepare yourself for plenty of poo handling. Ok, maybe it’s just that I adopted three kids at once, but the amount of stool sample I’m having to retrieve is, well, challenging.
I thought I’d take a moment to share some details of the newly-home for those of you considering international adoption or getting close to bringing home kids.
Medical: We had our general medical evaluation for all three kids only three days after we got home. It’s recommended to see a doctor within the first week. Our wonderful family medical practitioner did a physical overview of all three kids and found little to be alarmed about. Our middle son has Moluscum, which is quite common in the orphanage and (I just learned) is also something regularly seen among kids here in the States and elsewhere. Unfortunately Melkam has it on his beautiful face. Generally you let these bumps on the skin run their course, but it can take a year or more to clear up. Melkam also had chunky black stuff deep in his ears. The doctor pulled out one nugget with an instrument, and then looked at the other ear and said it was worse. We tried flushing them with a warm water solution. Nothing happened except a VERY traumatized child. That was before we learned that Melkam has very looooong screaming fits when things get rough.
I am now putting oil drops in his ears to see if we can take the slow route to melting that stuff. I do it while he is sleeping. He’s a heavy sleeper so this is working really well so far.
Eliana had an ear infection, bad enough to warrant an immediate prescription for antibiotics, a 10-day course which she has now completed. I attribute some of her blossoming personality to the fact that maybe she feels good for the first time in a long time?
We did blood draws on all the kids for a whole battery of tests, including titers for their vaccines. The doctor found their vaccination records to be a little shady, so taking titers allows us to see what level of antibodies the children have to various infectious diseases without just giving them more vaccine.
Our kids turned out to be low on a number of required vaccines for public school, so today was shot day. DPT for all three, Hep B for the baby, MMR for the boys and chicken pox for all three. They also ran another PPD, which is a test for TB antibodies.
In order to determine these titers as well as run another test for HIV and a battery of other things, they had to take a fairly significant amount of blood from the boys last week. Not fun. They were not successful on Eliana and we will try with another doctor on Thursday.
In addition, we got stool sample kits for collecting a fresh specimen to test for Giardia (the baby’s is already confirmed positive for this parasite), as well as three samples on different days for who knows what else, for all three kids. In case you weren’t counting that’s four samples from each kid, so a total of 12 poop-handling experiences for Mom. That would be me. I’ve got five down and seven to go…wish me luck.
Phsychological: Well, without enough language to have it make sense, we don’t have the kids in any kind of counseling, but it’s lined up for when it might be needed. The most interesting thing is their wailing. Right at this moment I’m listening to our oldest son, who will be seven in September, wail uncontrollably. My poor husband is trying to console him. Earlier today, following shots, our little four-year-old boy screamed for an hour. During which time he willingly wandered with us through the Healing Garden at the hospital, taking minor interest in the toads in pond and riding on a toy (screaming the whole time, big fat tears running down his cheeks). The whole ride home in the car, and halfway into lunch, the screaming continued. And then, it just stopped. Now, as a parent, while your sweet child is wailing with big fat tears rolling down his cheeks, you want to hold them. No can do. The children will have none of it. Twice I have wrapped my arms around him and held him in a basket hold anyway. It was not clear whether this helped or hindered the situation.
So tonight with Alex, he was having trouble recovering from the shame of falling off his bike. He’s recently learned to ride, and really loves it. You’ve never seen such a lit-up smile, it’s awesome! We went on a family ride/walk after dinner with both boys on bikes. We visited a friend, and on the ride home the kids were tired. Alex in his fatigue got sloppy and fell. He didn’t hurt himself, but he REALLY hurt his ego. I’m sure he also just didn’t feel well and was sore from the shots. He cried a few quiet tears on the way home, but complied with teeth brushing and getting ready for bed. He shrugged off any attempt to encourage or touch him. When it was time to go to sleep, he seemed to be having a battle between how much he wanted his Daddy to hold him, and how much he didn’t WANT to want his Daddy to hold him. He rejected all offers, but started to wail when Daddy left the room. And wailed as loud as he could for 20 minutes. Like a haunting chant or something. I think they get themselves into a trance and can’t stop. It’s disconcerting to say the least. But I’m here to report that they do eventually stop, usually most effectively when they are given their space.
For us as parents this is one of our greatest ongoing dilemmas: When to invade their space with love and affection and when to respect their need to suffer independently. Sometimes one seems more effective than the other. They are starting to open up to more affection (hugging or permitting themselves to be hugged, allowing us to rub or pat their backs, leaning against us casually while waiting in line or watching something together).
What I find most helpful is to pray for them. I can’t tell you how challenging it is to sit with a child who is clearly in turmoil and to not be able to comfort them. But I can pray all kinds of beautiful soul-healing things over that child without offending him with my touch. The way they wail, I imagine Alex thinking of his birth Dad (who I think he knew, and who passed away), thinking of being left at the first orphanage by his birth Mom, being moved to another one, becoming aware that he wanted a family and might have an opportunity to find one, waiting and hoping, etc. And now, being the independent little guy that he is, having had lots of responsibility for his little brother, now being asked to yield the parenting role to these two new people who he is not sure he can trust, etc. It’s a lot. I really admire their general spirit, which is incredibly open for what they’ve been through.
Lord help us all to knit together into a family where we can support each other and give the kids the loving foundation they need to be and become all that they were created to be. Despite all the poo and the screaming and the frustration, we still feel blessed and we are grateful for this amazing adventure!