Sunday, February 27, 2011

And I did witness a miracle this time as well

As already said in my prior post, I feel more like a spectator or witness than a full participant. I see magic unfold in front of my eyes, and yet realize that I myself did very little to make it happen. I'm posting some very cute picures. Yet, I did not take them. I was not even there. The very first time I saw those wonderful smiles was at Costco Photo Center, when ordering prints and D.V.D.'s from the memory card.

At least I wish I could think of myself as an accomplished attorney who can master all those little legal tricks and win--but I cannot. My heart is at home--not in the courtroom. I don't even do real litigation. I've never done any of those dramatic cases that sound so vibrant and compelling on the screen. I'm definitely a mother rather than a lawyer--and yet, a mother who is always busy, always anxious,always on edge, always pressed for time.

During Stephen's first month at home I thought he really had a problem with anger. There were moments when it seemed impossible to reach out to him if something got him truly upset. That does not happen any longer. He is still temperamental and very much dislikes to get a no for an answer, but that anger from the first days is no longer there. On the contrary, he is an extremely playful little boy who greatly rejoices in having a family of his own. He keeps on repeating that "Grandma is my grandma," "Mom is my mom," "Catherine is my sister," "Gerard is my brother," "Warren is my brother," "Thomas is my brother," and "Nicholas is my brother," Now he includes Thomas and  Nicholas, and says he loves them. It took him a while to get used to the two of them because he was afraid of them at the beginning. On one hand, he mistakenly believed them to be 13. He remembered having been told by the psychologist and social workers at Lukovit that Gerard and Warren, my biological twin sons, were 13, but because by the time of his homecoming the twins had turned 14, Stephen had erronenously assumed that Thomas and Nicholas were the ones who were 13. I had never never stressed at all Thomas and Nicholas' age in fear that some ill-disposed social worker or bureaucrat somewhere might end up finding it to be a bad idea to have in the same family three boys who are not triplets and yet were all born in the same year.

Nicholas would not hurt a fly, but he's strong, and due to his c.p., not always has full control of his movements. One day long ago, when everything was still too new for Stephen, who he was upset and complaining on the floor, Nicholas approached by the back to stroke Stephen's head, in an attempt to comfort him. Stephen reacted as if he had to ward off an attack. Anyway, those times are long gone, and now they all love each other and enjoy each other's company. Earlier today I scolded Nicholas--and Stephen protected him!

The bonding with Thomas and Nicholas goes back to one day when Catherine was home with all three of them, took them all to her room, and turned that into a magic afternoon, ending with some backyard play. The pix are eloquent enough.

Despite his very strong personality and his eagerness to fight bad guys, Stephen soemtimes plays to be a baby, which is very common in newly adopted older children--and he asks for kisses and covers us with lots of them.

He is also very careful about not hurting anyone's feelings. For instance, that day when Stephen, Thomas, and Nicholas had been for the first timewith Catherine in her room and in the backyard (now that became a favorite passtime), when I came back (the twins were still at a religious / volunteer meeting), I tried to take a picture. Stephen started making faces, just trying to be funny. Catherine told me not to worry because she had taken lots of pix already. I got upset like a jealous teenager, and told Stephen that if he could not have one smile for a picture for me, I was angry with him--and I turned around to go back inside. He called me, "Mom, I love you," and smiled for a picture for me. Another time, when he was having a bad moment and trying to move away (and he advances really fast on his arms!), I was also on the floor attempting to hold him, and somehow by accident he bumped me a little, so very softly that I barely noticed it. Yet, he immediately asked me, "Are you O.K.?" And he spontaneously apologized.

Stephen has a very strong temper, but is not obstinate. When he does something wrong, he may delay a little to apologize, but always does it in the end. When he crumbles a napkin for no reason at the table, it may take a little time (and a few napkins) to have him unfold one properly and place it under his dish (so as not to have to wash the tablecloth every day)--but, even if after some initial refusal, he always ends up doing it as expected.

My impression of him during my first trip last August was that he'd like some more privacy, and that he'd enjoy having a room all by himself. I was totally mistaken. While I was in Bulgaria the second time to pick him up, Catherine, Gerard, and Warren had converted a huge upstairs playroom into a bedroom for him. Every night it'd be a problem to get him to go to sleep--until Catherine had the best idea in the history of humankind: to move Thomas and Nicholas into Stephen's room. . . and Warren would sleep there as well, just to make sure everything was all right. As Gerard was finishing something downstairs on his laptop, Stephen started calling him--and on his arms made it all the way down the stairs to get Gerard, who, BTW, couldn't have been happier to be wanted so very badly.

Because the night before Thomas had gotten up in the middle of the night and had touched electronics and electric appliances, last night Stephen wanted to make sure that Thomas was still allowed to sleep in the "full-house" bedroom. He asked in perfect English, "Is Thomas sleeping in my room?" As he got an affirmative answer from Warren, he exclaimed, "Yay!!!" in a very happy way.

Stephen is extremely sociable, willing to start going to school, to meet new people, to make new friends. His presence had a very positive impact upon Thomas and Nicholas, who are now much more eager to learn than they were ever before.

Thomas seems to be having a hard time with the idea of the move. He gets up in the middle of the night, and starts opening random files from my computer, using the printer, plugging in the toaster, or starting the microwave. We're concerned to wake up at some point with the house on fire. Yet, he is so very cuddly and shows so much love that many announced punishments were never enforced. Despite all his academic challenges due to his c.p., he has an innate social command that very easily gains him people's good will. For instance, one night a couple of weeks ago, Thomas was rushing upstairs and had forgotten to give me a good-night kiss. I pointed that out to him, and he rushed back downstairs to kiss me. Just to play a little, I said, "No, I don't want a kiss now." He insisted, and, of course, I let him kiss me, and I kissed him back. Then he said, "See? You wanted it--and I wanted it." The "I wanted it" was a very polite way of telling me that he valued my kisses as much as I valued his--something that, even having written a book on etiquette, I had never taught him--something he had just figured out on his own.

Nicholas also is much cuddlier with me now than he was ever before. His bond to Catherine, Warren, and Gerard had been always much stronger than his bond to me. He behaves much better, does many more things, and displays many new skills.

Going back to Stephen, this morning he was too sleepy, and was not very nice to me. More just to talk than in a serious way, he arrived to tell me, "You're not my mom"--something he had never said before. Only a moment after, he was calling me, "Mom," though, asking me please not to give him a bath. Still he has a trauma with the horrbile burns he sustained with hot water back in Lukovit, and very much dislikes bath time. After the bath was over, he said he wanted a horse. I just held my breath, and told him everything I wanted to say: that you cannot have a horse in a house, that after the move and after Maximilian and Philip are home, we may talk about a dog, but that no dog, cat, or horse is going to love him as much as we all love him. That animals may be nice, but are animals, and not people who love him and spare no sacrfice to get him and have him, and who would risk their lives for him as all of us here would do. He remained silent for a moment, as if trying to fully understand my words--and then, in a very loving, wonderful, compelling, spontaneous way, he threw his arms around my neck in a big hug!

I need to take care of lots of backlogged paperwork, besides packing for the move. I'd love to keep on blogging indefinitely, but I'd rather get back to that awful paperwork.

Here there are some pix from the park, with Catherine and Warren, after Bulgarian school. (Gerard was at home, watching Thomas and  Nicholas, so that I could take care of other things. I even did something outside, and Gerard handled everything at home. My Mom was there also, as always, but although her mind is still better than mine, her mobility is now seriously compromised.)

It speaks very highly of Stephen that despite his spina bifida he still loves parks and playgrounds. I should be ashamed of myself because, even without any real disability, I always hated them--only because other children could do stunts I couldn't do. Another indicator that also speaks very well of Stephen is that at the beginning, when we needed to result to different people to interpret for him and for us, he never said anything negative about us. Those days he used to complain a little about Thomas and Nicholas, but he felt unsure about them then. He never said anything negative about my mom, Catherine, the twins, or me. Well, when it comes to them, that's understandable, as the four of them are, with no exaggeration or embellishment, living saints--but he never said anything negative about me either. Even one day by the end of the year, when he was still having a hard time, he said he missed the people in Bulgaria and wanted to go back. My point is that he did not say he was not happy here--he just said he missed it there.

Those were moments we needed to go through, and we made it through successfully as a family--and here there are some more pix of that second miracle I witnessed--when I went to Costco and inserted Catherine's memory card in the picture machine.

God bless everyone!


eliz said...

Oh! Lillian, your family is beautiful! I love reading your blog! (((HUGS)))

Blessedmom said...

Thank you so much for your words, Elizabeth. They do mean a lot. Love,

Monica said...

Ohhh, your kids seem to be so happy to have each other as siblings.


Difference2This1 said...

Beautiful kids, beautiful family. Thank you for sharing how life is going there :) God bless, Jennifer


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