Thursday, January 31, 2013

Update on my Lil' Colombiano

I have a few posts half drafted and others swirling around my head, but being so sick last week left me pretty behind in all areas of life. In the meantime, I realized I haven't given many updates on how Jhon is doing lately.  Here's a a quick mish-mash update! 

Well. Jhon is doing really well.

[He has his own sense of style]

I know, that means nothing. But it's true. For the most part, he's slipped into our family very seamlessly. He just so obviously ... belongs (?) with us. I suppose I can't say it better than that. He's a busy boy and off and running most of the time. He's not really one to sit on your lap and snuggle. He'd much prefer jumping off of bunk beds and wrestling and battling with light sabers and who knows what else.

That brings me to another point. As much as he has so easily slipped into our family, we have definitely noticed changes! Another boy in the mix really makes a difference.  The overall amount of NOISE and rough housing has gone up a notch. It's not just Abi and Jhon either. The other night we finally had to nix playtime early and send them to bed with books after Ally came down with a bloody lip and Jhon 5 minutes later crying and holding his head. I have no idea what they were doing, but they apparently couldn't tone it down! Not to worry - everyone is fine. It's just an adjustment!

I think we are getting Jhon's health squared away. The first few months are always full of check ups and appointments, updated vaccines, and tests. Even before leaving Colombia, we knew he had perforated ear drums.  We were able to get him into an ENT recently who thinks he needs surgery.  :( It's fairly extensive for the little guy, so we are doing some research and getting a second opinion to be sure. Although his ears can be a bit "leaky" they don't seem to hurt him much, so we're thankful for that. The boy sure hates shots though. Ugh. 

And the question that I get ALL THE TIME - How's his English coming?  Well ... I admit I'm surprised he's not speaking more by now, although he clearly understands quite a bit. I think he's being a bit stubborn about it.  But it seems to be sneaking in slowly, whether he likes it or not. And he still has his adorable Colombian accent, so it's very cute when he does try out his English. 

Despite his almost-entirely Spanish vocabulary, he started school in early January and seems to like it. We have conferences coming up, so I hope to get a better picture. He has the same kindergarten teacher that Abi and Al had, and we love her. I told her that my desire for him this year was to just get comfortable in school and get more exposure to English. I had no academic expectations.  I think she was relieved. :)

So, yup, he's doing great!

[J and Al eating a bag of salad like popcorn?]

No, things aren't always perfect. He's definitely done more hitting and physically acting out the last few weeks, often the result of a misunderstanding/language issue. Like many children in his situation, transitions are stressful for him and he's recently started acting out physically. Not necessarily in an extreme way and sometimes very minor. But we are noticing it more now that we are paying attention. I expect this will fade in time and I think he often doesn't realize he is doing it (or it's a knee-jerk reaction). He's very obsessed with playing Mario on the Wii to a point we have to keep it limited because it's a bit unhealthy. And he's a bit of a tattler. And if he feels wronged, he will go on and on in Spanish and neither Mark or I can quite understand, but it's clear he is being very disrespectful to us. At the core, most of this is language stuff and him feeling misunderstood. And I'm sure the aspects of grief and fear play in as well. I haven't seen many outward signs of grief yet, but I believe he's just too busy and in survival mode at this point. It may take him years until he is ready or comfortable enough to truly grieve.

All that being said, he's a truly wonderful boy. Attachment seems to be going quite well, on all sides. I couldn't imagine life without him.

[Tired out after a long day...]


  1. I'm glad he is adjusting so well. The language piece will come - school will help a ton with that. A lot of the roughhousing sounds like pretty typical little-boy stuff, too. Big ((hugs)) all around - you're doing great!

  2. I enjoyed reading this update on your family/your new little Jhon. You are pretty much a veteran now on older child adoption... so I'm sure you are not surprised by anything. My question is, did it get easier with each adoption? Meaning, were you/are you more prepared and able to handle the transition easier now that you've adopted the "older child" this many times? We are getting licensed for foster care... looking back at B's transition I *feel* like I'm more prepared, like I'll have more wisdom... but will I? LOL.

    1. Hmmm... yes and no. :) I think our expectations got more realistic and I think we have more in our parenting arsenal to work with, but overall I think the factors that may have made J's assimilation "easier" have little to do with us. For example, the fact he was in a foster home vs an orphanage was pretty huge. The fact I can speak Spanish (and not Amharic) is huge. The fact that our other kids are older and more self sufficient is also pretty big. And yet, I think we are a bit more calm and laid back than before, so that definitely helps too. :) Very excited to hear more about your foster care journey!