Monday, September 28, 2009

Reunion Recap...

From Haiti With Love:
Chances for Children's First Family Reunion

I designed the t-shirts!

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Friday afternoon. The kids were ready to hop right into the pool where a few other children from the creche were already swimming.

All the children who had come home from the Crèche Enfant de l’Jèsus seemed excited to see one another & play together, and the children who had never met before hit it off right away, as well! They all played on the beach playground and swung each other in the hammocks - it was really neat to see friendships renewed and new bonds created. We were able to spend time with some great friends that I had met on trips to Haiti, and some that we've only met via the internet.

This is our Ally (17) with a very smiley Asa.

Saturday morning included breakfast for the group with a touching video of the children before and after coming home. There were planned activities for the children throughout most of the afternoon: Haitian crafts, language lessons, music and games.

Chloe (8) and Asa loved playing games with the other children.

The event ended on Saturday evening with a lovely outdoor dinner.

We headed back home Sunday morning after thoroughly enjoying the memorable weekend. We're so grateful to C4C for organizing and hosting such and important event and we look forward to staying connected through future reunions!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

C4C Family Reunion!!!

One totally amazing event that we're getting ready to attend is the first ever Chances for Children family reunion!! Many families who adopted through C4C, along with their children from Asa's orphanage (and some of the staff from Haiti) will be in Ft. Lauderdale this weekend. We're so excited that Asa will get to see old friends, and we're thrilled to spend time with other families we've gotten to know over the past two years. It's taking place at a lovely resort on the beach so we'll return with lots of great pictures.

We've been talking about it with Asa - preparing him to see friends and former caretakers. I'm curious to see how he'll react. This truly is a great opportunity for him to stay connected with other children who share a similar past, and I really hope we can keep them in touch with one another as the years pass...

Monday, September 21, 2009

6+ Months and a Long Update...

Asa has been home for more than half of a year. We continue to be amazed by his language acquisition, his empathy for others, his resilience, and just how well he's adjusted to life with our family here in America. Asa is a typical preschooler in many ways. He is very curious and loves learning new things. He's cuddly and affectionate. He can sometimes be mischievous and, occasionally, even naughty. ;o)

Most of all, he's happy, healthy and very loved by all of us. We do have some challenges, though. Many of the initial issues we faced (sleep disturbances, indiscriminate affection toward strangers, etc...) have mostly resolved themselves and aren't quite as monumental as they felt four or five months ago.

There are a few areas in which Asa still needs a little extra guidance. So much of what he experiences in a family is different than anything he encountered at the orphanage. One thing he's learning is that he has his very own possessions; his clothes, shoes, toothbrush and some special toys are just for Asa - and he doesn't have to share them! That also means that his big sister's make-up and his daddy's laptop do not belong to him. We've had some issues with Asa getting into things and, since he really didn't have much experience with how certain items work or are meant to be used, he just didn't know not to use Ally's make-up for paint. This concept is taking a while for him to grasp but we do our best to patiently correct and teach him respect for property.

Asa doesn't have the severe food hoarding issues that some children coming from institutional settings might have. But we've found that, even after he's eaten and is clearly satisfied, he tends to fixate on the leftovers that others have on their plates. We try to clear the table off quickly because he will repeatedly ask everyone for whatever they haven't eaten. We're trying to establish healthy eating habits for him; nutritious snacks are offered (and happily accepted) between meals so Asa knows that he'll always have his needs met.

I've found that Asa's behavior spirals downward quickly if he is corrected for misbehaving. It's very cyclical in nature. He tends to hold onto resentment after being disciplined and you can see in his face that he's stewing over it and will act out later because of it. I'm not sure if this is just his personality (although it's very different from anything I've seen in the many three year olds with whom I've spent time) or if it's a remnant of something deeper... before his life with our family. It breaks my heart to see such a small child with these complex emotions - it often feels like he's much older than he really is. I know there are many facets to his personality that have been impacted by the separation from his birth mother at 17 months old, and the nearly two years he spent in an orphanage. I mourn the time he was without a family and am so angry at the horrible system which kept him from our family for an unreasonable amount of time. It hurts me to know that I might never know what my child experienced before he was in my home and what lingering difficulties he might have. We're just continuing to trust that God's grace is sufficient to heal Asa's heart and we pray for wisdom and patience so we can help in that process.

I have to say that we are so blessed by Asa's capacity for love. He tells everyone in the family that he loves us multiple times throughout the day (even Henry the Dog). And I really believe he feels it and means it. Equally important is the fact that he accepts and delights in the love he receives from us. At the six month mark, I really think this is a solid foundation upon which everything else will be built. He knows we are his family and he knows he is loved!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Asa: Singer/Songwriter

He LOVES playing on the piano!