We’ve been getting a lot of, ‘So, how are you doing?’ lately and the only way I know to honestly answer that is to say we’re inching towards something that looks closer to normal. I seriously doubt any family can add a new member and instantly find their new groove so I’m pretty sure what we’re going through now is normal. Grace and Leeza are still working out the pecking order around here, while Josiah keeps patiently teaching Leeza how to play with their toys without breaking them. Kasia doesn’t seem to notice much difference except that someone keep trying to ‘help’ by taking away her bottle. I’m perfecting the dance required to cook with both Kasia and Leeza underfoot in the kitchen and Philip gets to be SuperDad each evening as he wrestles with all the kids and gives me a few minutes to take a breath. Life is a little chaotic right now, but we knew it would be.

Life is also full of plenty of firsts….first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, first game of hide and seek, first time she didn’t try to eat all of her dinner before we finished praying, first time she slept through the night without waking up crying, first pillow fight, first English phrase (All done!) and first time her baby sister got a fist-full of her hair and tried to keep it. I’ve continued to practice getting out of the house with all 4 by myself and have done a pretty good job, if I can say so myself. We tried our first trip into a real store today and I thought we were doing so well until I realized that to get all of them in the door I had to put Leeza in the stroller, which meant that we couldn’t use a shopping cart IN the store. We ended up in the Dollar Store with Leeza in a stroller, Kasia in my arms and Josiah and Grace loose. Leeza was fascinated with everything (and kept trying to climb out of the stroller) and Grace has always been kept contained in the cart when I shop so she was thrilled with her new freedom. Thankfully we didn’t need too much and I learned not to do that too often! :)

We know quite a few people reading this are in the process of adopting and some things that don’t often seem to come up before you adopt are the general timelines for bonding. For those not in the ‘adoption crowd’ right now, bonding is a big deal because our kids have been cared for by a large number of people for a long time and they have a hard time learning what parents are. Many adopted kids, Leeza included, tend to be overly friendly to strangers or acquaintances because they haven’t learned what a family is (or how it works) and that there’s a difference between Mom and Dad and anyone else. We certainly are NOT experts on this and are learning as we go, but a few guidelines we’ve found from different sources say to expect to have to sleep in your childs’ room with them for about 2 weeks after they get home. Leeza has needed this as she wakes up scared at night, although it is getting better. Even at nap time while she’s playing in her room I have to remain in eye contact or she gets panicked. This even happens when I go into the pantry and she momentarily can’t see me…she’s been in the pantry and knows there’s only one door to it, but she still gets panicked. I don’t know how long this part will last, but I’m hoping it will ease in a month or so. We’ve been told to not even think of leaving her with anyone else (even in a Sunday school room) for at least 6 months. All of her care for that period should be coming only from Philip and me so she can learn to bond with us (and us with her). We’ve also heard not to think of leaving her anywhere overnight for at least a year. We try to limit our time out of the house to 2-3 hours and we’ve only ventured out to a few places so far. We normally keep a pretty strict schedule with our kids, but it’s even more necessary right now as she learns how to function in our family. All of this means that she is with us 24 hours a day and, quite frankly, it can be exhausting. I’ll be the first to admit that psychology stuff frequently leaves a bad taste in my mouth because much of it sounds so silly, but in this case it appears to be necessary for Leeza to feel secure in our house and with us. Our prayer is that as we stick to it she’ll slowly come to understand what family is and that she’s part of one.

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