Settling In and Finding Out

We are settling into a family of four.  We have daily schedules and rhythms working surprisingly well.  The daily ins and outs, ups and downs of “normal” life.  It is nice.  It is comfortable.  It is wonderful to look back on four months with the newest member of our family and see how we have all grown and changed in the uncomfortable-abnormal time.  It’s hard having a new member enter your family, whether they are 1, or 2.5, or 20, or older.  Everybody has to make room, make space, adjust themselves and their relationships to each other.  It’s also wonderful, delightful, and joyful!

We are still growing, but it feels…. more… (sing it with me) “all together now”.

We are still getting to know our new son.  He is a crack-up, show-off, little punk.  He is endearing and adorable.  He is crying and whining less, consoling himself more, and showing so much growth.  He loves hugs and gives kisses, he lets his big sister touch him all. the. time.  He doesn’t mind me brushing his teeth (we got a smaller toothbrush) and only whines a little when we comb his hair or other unlikable daily events.  He shares toys or hoards them and has a hard time taking turns (how surprising for a two-year-old! =D).  He still HATES being redirected, but we have learned to allow him time to say good bye to whatever he was doing before he moves on and that helps tremendously.  He is as much a boy as Sunita is a girl.

Sunita is learning about sharing attention.  She is realizing how it isn’t all fun, all the time.  She is also starting to see the fun of being a big sister.  “Come here, Titus” she calls, not that he listens.  “Do this”, she tells him, not that he does.

Husband has a son who adores him.  As Sunita has always been a mommy’s girl, Daddy always played second fiddle.  Not anymore.  I think Titus would jump.out.of.his.skin if he could when Daddy gets home.

Me, my heart has grown.  He feels more like my child, rather than a child I love but who belongs to another.  He  has given me new and different challenges and new and different blessings than my eldest.  He sleeps (thank Heavens!!) and he sleeps well!  He is much more active and physical.  As I’ve grown to know him more, I see although he isn’t cautious (physically), he isn’t risky either.  He is less obedient than the girl, but he isn’t headstrong or disobedient.  I try to touch him often and look into his eyes many, many times a day.  My kids, they have gorgeous eyes.  I’m finding my way into his heart too.  He lights up when he sees me and wants to hug me and kiss me in the morning, which I adore.  He tells me when we go outside (which is his favorite place) “Mama, Titus Whee happy”.  And I so love that he calls himself Titus Whee.

Finding our way to a family of four has been a journey in every sense of the word.  A wonderful, crazy, amazing, God-gifted journey.  And for that, I’m thankful.

Melatonin, Muscles, and Moving Forward

Last night we tried melatonin again with Titus.  We used it with him when we came home, but had quit because he didn’t seem to need it any longer.  We were wrong, we still need it, even if he doesn’t.  He fell asleep and stayed asleep much of the night.  He woke up and 4:30 and came out of his room and started to play with the toys that make noise right outside our bedroom door.  I had him come to bed with us and he slept the rest of the night.  Hallelujah!  Thank you all for your prayers.

Also, we finally have all of Titus’ first doctor appointments finished.  It appears he does have torticollis, which is a shortened muscle in his neck.  So we will be doing physical therapy with him for about 6 months and see how it goes.  Surgery is an option if the physical therapy doesn’t work.

Hopefully now we can start to return to more normal sleeping patterns and take a break from scary doctor visits.  They are really hard on the poor boy and it will be nice to have a little respite.

thanks

#71 for a husband who brings me water

#72 melatonin

#73 friends who drop by with coffee

#74 hugs from a brother to a sister

#75 a clean house, with clean sheets

#76 for friday pizza night

#77 for popcorn

#78 a long snuggle from titus after nap

#79 a friend who dropped by dressed up as paper bag princess

#80 sleeping kids!

 

I’m Not Enough

It turns out I am not enough to fix my kids.  I don’t have enough love or enough tools to heal their inside hurts. I can only sit humbly and thankfully at the feet of Jesus  knowing His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my brokenness.

Titus has started sleeping poorly.  I had a melt down, verge of crazy-town, ugly cry during the night.  (That’s normal, right?)  I CANNOT do this again.  I can’t have a poor sleeper again.  My body CANNOT take it.  I tried to tell God.  I tried to bargain and plead and literally cry out.  I’m at the end of my no-sleep rope.  I do not know where to go from here.  He has been with us for 5 weeks.  Often after adopted kids are home and settled then the grief begins to show.  I think he is showing his grief and I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT.  I don’t know how to help my poor teary kids who don’t sleep.  We have routines.  We don’t watch TV or play rowdy games before bed.  We do bath and books and bed like clockwork.  We don’t have lights on.  We have sound blockers.  We have tried OTC drugs, herbal supplements, and even surgery (tonsillectomy for Sunita).  Still my babies cry out in the night for comfort and sometimes more than once an hour.  I don’t know how I’m going to do this nightly routine again with another child unless through the grace of God.  I honestly can’t see a path before me, but I trust in the One who can heal my kids, even while I fall shockingly short.

Also, lately, Sunita has been asking to go live with her Indian mom, or at least her Indian caretaker.  I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been irritated and annoyed by this (and even, although it horrifies me to admit it, thinking how she should count herself lucky to have a family).  It bothers me in a way I never expected it would.  That is, it did bother me, until I remembered that in a perfect world she would be with her biological family.  And although I believe God blessed us by choosing us to be her family, it isn’t part of a perfect world, but a fallen one.  Sunita’s heart doesn’t love me less because she thinks about and hopes for what God’s original plan would have given her.  And I know she wouldn’t trade me for anyone else, only that she is curious and wants to know the person who gave her life.  I am thankful God is big enough to handle this too, because Heaven knows I’ve fallen short (again! sheesh! get it together girl!).  I am so sure of His great love to my children that I know He will give me all I need to be a broken, yet beautiful mother to them.

It is amazing to be so broken, so fallen, so “not enough” and to know the Lord of the Earth is enough, and for all of us.

Laugh Lie

We are starting to see a trait in Titus that is interesting and difficult.  We’ve noticed he laughs when he feels uncomfortable.  On the surface this may seem like a good thing (better then crying, right?), but it makes it difficult to judge his comfort.  Is he laughing because he is happy and having a good time, or is he laughing because he this is his coping strategy for a stressful situation?

We’ve also noticed he wants to hide when he feels uncomfortable.  Often his hiding takes the form of peek-a-boo or hide and seek.  Although it looks like he is having fun, it’s become pretty apparent it is one of the ways he deals with emotions that are TOO BIG.

He is a true joy and his laugh is infectious.  He is silly, and funny, and weird and I love him to pieces.  I want to protect him.  I want to make him feel safe.  It’s hard because I don’t always know how.

Once he starts crying he doesn’t stop.  He so wants to please me, he tries so hard, but he cannot figure out how to turn off the sad.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal – it could be water in his eyes or a bump on the chin, or his sister touching him.  He doesn’t cry often, but when he does it’s like a river of grief.  I want to comfort him and only about a day ago did I feel like I had any success.

We are learning together how to be together.  I desire wisdom.  I long to know and understand this new blessing in my life.  What a strange problem to have, a child that laughs too much, a child that laughs a lie.  I know you are praying for me and for us and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Builiding Bonds

Hello family and friends,

As we begin the journey with Titus Hui (our new son!)  we want to remind and encourage you to remember that up until now he has had no real permanent attachments.  We want to let him know we are his for as long as we are living.  We want you to partner with us in this journey.  We really think Sunita’s bond with us is so strong because of the way you helped us encourage her to seek us as her parents first.  Titus Hui is older and has more to work through.  We plan to have no one else care for him (needs being met by anyone else) for about a year, as the first four months will be crucial for attachment.  We also ask that you:

Don’t solicit attention or initiate games.  If he initiates play (like peek-a-boo) its okay to play back.  It’s especially important that if he is playing with or paying attention to either mom or dad that you do everything to promote that play rather than vie for his attention

He seems to get over stimulated (much like Sunita) so try to play low key games with him.  Now, he is a rambunctious and playful boy, but try to watch for the intensity change in him.  If you see a spastic, hitting, overmuch reaction (even though he may still be smiling and laughing) – he probably is not really having fun anymore, but instead coping the only way he knows how.

He has a sensory issue of NOT liking to be touched in many ways.  So if he touches you that is wonderful but please don’t force him to be touched in anyway.  Not a pat on the arm, head, or leg.  He is adjusting to mom and dad touches but unless he is in a super good mood, he generally doesn’t like it.

Finally, and most importantly, we ask that nobody else meet any of his needs – no feeding, giving drinks, responding to crying/fussing IN ANY WAY.  The BEST thing you can do for him is redirecting his attention/needs, etc to us as his parents during these crucial months of bonding.  Please do not meet his needs, but do everything you can to help us do so.

We understand that this may feel strange or odd to many of you. Others of you may feel like we are going way too far and that we are being ridiculous. We know that. We also are doing what we feel (and what a lot of research has shown us) will give Titus Hui the best shot at the wonderful and full life God intended for him. Please forgive us, ahead of time, if we seem short and/or if we correct you when you automatically/instinctively go to help Hui. We understand that the natural inclination of adults with new kids in their lives is to engage and comfort and we understand that sometimes you might not intend to bust the boundaries we’ve asked of you and that you’ve just done what’s natural. We’re all in this together and lots of grace is going to be required on all sides.

This is a blog post from a friend of ours and her thoughts from the other side (she is also an extremely smart, talented, psychologist).

We thank you so much for journeying with us.  We feel blessed we have you in our lives.

Catch Up: The Zoo

Most of our riding around was done in a tour bus.  We were with a group of ten other adoptive families, so the bus needed to be big.

Most of the time we were going anywhere this is what Titus Hui looked like.  Heaven forbid he miss a bus or motorcycle.

This is the entrance to the zoo.  I never would have guessed a zoo was there, right in the middle of the city.  It was a typical zoo, from what we saw.  The two pandas were a big hit.

This panda was pretty active and played in the water and climbed around quite a bit.

So were the baby monkeys.

The kids and I had a great time standing on the platform feeding the giraffes.  Titus did not like when the giraffes licked him though.

I think his favorite animal was the elephant, but it went inside before we could get any pictures of it.

Here I am packing both kids.  Go me!!

Just so you don’t think Jared is a total slacker, he packed Hui quite a ways too (Sunita was having a bit of an attitude problem and got to live in the Ergo for the duration of the zoo trip).  Hui liked to try and fall asleep on his head though.

The zoo was enjoyable, but hot and humid … 99ºF and 80-90% humidity.  It was good to be there only about two hours.  I don’t think we saw much of the zoo; I saw lots of offshoots where we didn’t walk.  I’ve heard there were dogs (like pet dogs, not wild dogs) at this zoo, but we didn’t see them.  Maybe next time  =)

Catch Up: The Cruise

Early in the day (on the 27th) we took it pretty easy and just played around on the play area at the hotel while Sunita rested.  We were so hopeful she would take a nap, but she didn’t.  We were sure she would be in a terrible mood since it would be a late night night and we wavered back and forth whether someone should stay at the hotel with her so she could get to bed on time.  We decided we would all go and make the best of it.

That evening we enjoyed a cruise on the Pearl River.  It was beautiful and very fancy.

It wasn’t a dress-up event, but we all ended up looking pretty spiffy.

The bridges were beautiful.

Much of the waterfront had received a facelift for the Asian games that were held there recently.

During the night, as we were on the top deck they began playing some music.  It was then we learned Titus Hui loves to dance!  Sunita ended up having a ball (thank Heavens!).  It was one of those treats we wouldn’t often indulge in and it was wonderful.

Homeward Bound

Today begins our journey back to the states.  Hooray!!!  It’s been a great trip to China, but we’re all very ready to be back home.  This evening we’ll catch the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and then fly out early tomorrow morning.  Oddly enough, we leave Hong Kong at 8:25 am Saturday morning and arrive in Portland at 8:20 am on the same day … 15 hours of sunrise.

The last couple days have been a bit busy, hence the lack of new posts.  Once we’re back to home sweet home, we’ll plan to get a few more posts out.  See ya soon!

Guangzhou

We had less full days since we’ve been in Guangzhou.  We got Hui’s visa picture and did his medical exam on Saturday.

Here’s our bus.  It’s huge.

This is one of our guides.  I’m pretty sure she deserves a skin-tight suit and a cape, because she must be a superhero.

This is the outside of the clinic.  It isn’t a large place.

The street outside of the clinic.  The roads aren’t very big either.

Hui didn’t like this, none of it.  I can’t blame he.  Sunita cried every time we went to the doctor for awhile.  I expect he will be the same.

On the island where the medical center is (Shamian Island) there are many wedding photos being taken.  I wish we had more pictures of the different wedding dresses here.  They are very creative!

On Sunday, we did a little shopping.

We checked the TB test and did a little more shopping on Monday.

One of our purchases was this North Face backpack.  I’m pretty sure it was the real deal at 130 yuan (around 20 US dollars)…

Today is Tuesday and we have a mostly unstructured day.   We really have just hung out.  We fed the fish, walked around, and ate.  Hui is napping and we are hoping Sunita will very SOON.  She is hitting the end her accommodation of new things.  She has been having a hard time the last couple days.  She hasn’t been sleeping well, she is starting to envy her brother more, and she is all off schedule.  All that being said, she generally is still doing really well for as much as we are throwing at her.  You can pray for her.  She is ready for “normal” food and a normal schedule.

We are loving our time here in Guangzhou.  The food has been wonderful.  We’ve taken to eating at McDonald’s almost every day for Sunita to have something she is really comfortable with and we found out Hui LOVES french fries (with ketchup, of course).  We would rather eat elsewhere, but both kids eat well there.  Our hotel is excellent.  We’ve all enjoyed feeding the fish, the play structure, and the pool.  But it isn’t home.  We miss home and all of you and as much as we have enjoyed our time in China we will be glad to be heading your way soon!

From Grandma’s Perspective

We are staying in probably the nicest hotel I have ever been in.

But all this opulent luxury pales in comparison to the joy I feel in watching this Ocker family of three becoming four.

To see Titus Hui blossom under his mama’s patient, persistent teaching; to see him go to papa and raise his hands to be held, to see him play gently with his sister (who still loves her little brother) – to see him become an Ocker gives me delight beyond words I can express.  And the “little” things – he loves to dip his eggs in ketchup like Mama (Amy says this is a giant understatement, egg only begins the story), he likes to grab the knife (like Papa), and if he were allowed, he would saw through the tablecloth.  He is very neat and tidy – not liking anything left on his fingers or mouth and using a napkin to take off it.  He is learning to play so nicely with his sister – to color together and play ball together.  He even allows her to touch him now. 

He loves to crawl under things, to play peek-a-boo, and to run!  He is already picking up English words.  His giggle and smile are so precious.

We can feel the power of God in answers to the prayers you have prayed for us.  We are so grateful.  I thank Mark for making it possible for me to come, for Jared and Amy allowing me on this journey, and to God for His abundant blessings – in so many ways.