Before we left for China, Ryan and I made the decision to "cocoon" until Thanksgiving at the very least. Cocooning for us meant staying together as a close knit family for an extended period of time. I have been home full time with Liam and Tucker everyday, and we occasionally have ran errands to the grocery store and went to the 2 year old library program a couple times. Other than that, we have really just stayed inside our home together to work on being a family. This entailed focusing on our regular routines and expectations for eating meals, playing together (sharing, taking turns, etc.), taking naps, cleaning the house, and so on. This very intentional time at home has really helped Tucker understand how our family functions and the rules we have at home. When Noah and Ryan are home with us, we continue to focus on our normal family life together. For example, when Noah gets home from school, Tucker knows to sit in his high chair, and Liam and Noah will sit at the island to do homework. While Noah completes his work, the little guys will usually play with Playdoh or color. When Ryan gets home, we have dinner, and then we play, watch a cartoon, and take showers. Each activity and interaction we had together was another opportunity to learn something and to practice what he's learned. We were as consistent as we could be, and Tucker has really just acclimated to our life here at home so well!
|Right after reading a book in Noah's bed|
|It doesn't get cuter than this!|
(Be still my heart)
Remember how he used to be super disoriented in the morning and how he would almost not recognize us or where he was? This is no longer the case either the majority of the time! He will quickly repeat, "All done, Mommy," and say, "Good morning!" to us. He even likes to sing our "Good Morning" song. It's really cute! At night, he now understands what I mean when I say, "See you in the morning" and seems to make the connection that I will be here in the morning. His understanding of English has really helped!
|Noah pulling Tucker around on his blanket|
|He was cracking up!|
|Movie night with popcorn!|
|Lisa's tacos was one of his favorites!|
The best part for me has been the changes in my own heart. I shared that I was sad that my connection to Tucker was not as deep or strong as the one I had with Noah and Liam. I had a lot of guilt about that, too, because I truly loved Tucker. I wanted to feel the same way for him as I did for the other boys. I wanted him to feel like my son...not my adopted son. I never want Tucker to feel less loved or less a part of this family. I prayed a lot for God to fill my heart with love and to help our new life feel natural and normal and true.
Praise God for answered prayers! I am not sure when it happened, and it's probably because everything happened so gradually, but my heart is bursting with real and true and deep love for this baby! He is calling me "Mommy" now, and when he says it, my heart melts into a giant puddle. I love telling him, "I love you" (and really feeling it deep down in my heart) and hearing him say back, "I la loo." (Be still my heart). Saturday morning, I was busy getting food ready for our Thanksgiving meal with my family when Tucker woke up, so Ryan got him out of bed. They came downstairs together, and Ryan said, "Amy, did you hear what he said in the monitor?" I told him I hadn't and asked, "What?" He said, "When I picked Tucker up he said, I need Mommy!"
(Tears, and again, be still my heart)
Tucker is talking about me. I'm Mommy...and he needs me. And you know what, I need him. This little boy has changed my life and rocked my world. I still look at him and cannot believe he is here. But he is...he is home with our family forever.
|On our way to celebrate with Ryan's family|
- Physical contact - avoid holding hands or hugs/kisses, picking up, or holding Tucker
- Giving Tucker gifts or food/drinks - please direct him to "Mommy or Daddy"
- Please don't try to meet any of his needs - please direct him to us
- Please don't correct or discipline him - just let us know if he needs to stop doing something
How to help us:
- Give items to us to give to him (drinks or food)
- Wave goodbye or high five when we leave instead of hugs (at least on these first outings)
- If Tucker seems to be engaging too much with you (meaning more than you would be comfortable allowing him to engage with a stranger) direct him back to mom and dad. At this point you are strangers to him and he needs to learn that there is a difference interacting with strangers than interacting with mom and dad.
|Thanksgiving with Ryan's family (minus Kelli who was taking the picture)|
|These car seats are the worst for sleeping but great for sitting 3 deep|
|First Thanksgiving Together - Natalie, Noah, Tucker, and Liam|
Seven weeks later, and I can honestly say we have all come so much further than I thought we'd be at this point. Our family of five feels SO natural and so normal. My heart is filled with joy and love like never before. Yes, of course there is stress and fighting and disobedience, but there is so much more laughter and silliness and playfulness and affection. The past 5 weeks, we have spent so much time and effort building the foundation for our family of five. The days and hours were not always easy. There were times I thought, "What did we get ourselves into?" Our family is proof that those feelings are temporary, just like they were when we added Noah to our family and then added Liam to our family. There is an adjustment period. It's a lot of work, but it's all so very worth it. I'll go to bed tonight thanking God for the deep roots he has created in our hearts and for the way He connected us all together. We are a family, and it really truly feels like it today. I almost want to go lay down in their beds, snuggle with them, and whisper to them how much I love them. Some nights, I am so thankful they are asleep so that I can get a break and recharge. Tonight, I will go to sleep so excited for morning to come when I can see all of them again!