In the last week we have had some ups and downs but all in all I have to say the ups are becoming more frequent and the downs, more scarce. When I think back to 3 weeks ago when we were on planes headed home from Ethiopia right about this time I had a 7 year old son who didn't speak one word of English (except "no" which sounded like "nohw"), who was excited, scared, tired and probably so overwhelmed all at once...and so was his mama!
Today I have a 7 year old son who is still learning and has a ways to go but can speak enough English and knows how to communicate with me if I can't figure out what he is saying to pretty much get through the day and night. I have a 7 year old who is speaking more in general and louder, whether it is English or Amharic or maybe even Sidamo for all I know but it is louder than I ever heard this child speak in Ethiopia or here. I have a 7 year old who loves to be active and play and has been making friends and playing with other kids his age like he has known them for years. And the biggest event of all to me is that I have a 7 year old who is starting to show emotions and fit into his role as our child.
In the beginning there was a lot of silence for so many reasons. Mostly of course because he didn't speak our language or anything like it so how could he be loud when he knew we wouldn't understand, can you imagine moving to a country as a 7 year old where you can't understand anything anyone is saying or communicate your needs? There was also silence because when he was upset, scared, angry, etc he would shut down for hours without a peep or eye contact even, just fully withdrawn. Even his body language and contact with us was "silent". There were no hugs, no initiated contact, loose hand holds, and small words said under his breath while looking away. Now we still have some times (especially mornings) where he is quiet but not silent and he is trying harder and harder to say what he needs in English and you can see it in his eyes now that he genuinely wants to learn the English words and will say "mommy what it's name" as he points to an object. This is so huge to me because in my mind this tells me he is realizing there is a permanence here and going from seemingly disinterested in learning our language to really wanting to it makes me feel like he knows he is going to need this language because he is here to stay!
I know we have only been home 3 weeks tomorrow and I know we have a ways to go, we are no experts in this by any means...there will be more downs and we will work through them and learn from them. I have said this before but it is my goal to help other families considering adopting older, in the process of and those who are in the same boat as me, just home and trying to figure it all out. I know what a huge relief it is to hear stories that I can relate to and I want to be completely up front with our stories to be an avenue to help others as well.