Friday, March 26, 2010

One Year: The Good, The Bad & The Funny...

This past year with our precious Asa has been filled with loads of joy and excitement, but also with some sadness and frustration. He's learned so much and has changed in many ways, but there are still reminders of the tiny little guy I met in Haiti two and a half years ago; he still has his super-kissable chubby cheeks and he still sucks on his lip when he's sleepy. We're so blessed that this sweet boy is part of our family. Here's a brief rundown of the past year...

The Good:

Asa is so smart. I am still amazed that he was born in a Third World country to a mother with no prenatal care, that he endured severe malnutrition and separation from his mama at 17 months, and that he lived in an orphanage for two years. It's a reasonable assumption that any combination of those factors would have caused some sort of developmental delay, but in terms of Asa's ability to retain information, comprehend concepts and express his thoughts, he just blows us away.

Asa is incredibly loving. He gives us unsolicited hugs, kisses and cuddles. He runs up to Jim and grabs his legs while saying, "You're the daddy! I love my daddy! You're BIG! Daddy is a good guy!" He has similar variations of that affirmation for everyone in the family (even Henry the Dog).

Asa went from the 5th percentile in height to the 50th in just nine months. That's seven inches!! Our pediatrician was amazed by his growth and his health.

He understands family relationships. He knows and explains who his parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts & uncles are - - even the ones who live across the ocean.

Asa seems to be attaching well. We were unapologetically rigid about the right kind of interaction with people outside of our family for quite some time. We were polite but firm about his need to be held, fed and comforted by us only and did our best to explain the reasons to people who were unfamiliar with adoption. We were still extremely social, so he was able to meet friends and family, but we tried to make sure he knew that they were not his parents. It was very clear from the beginning that Asa was "friendly" and could easily attach to anyone, so we know that this was the right decision; he's healing and growing because we are reinforcing the primary relationship he needs to have with us.

The Bad:

It's safe to say that Asa has had some serious control issues. He does not like to be corrected and will often do exactly what we tell him not to do. Some of this is willful, but some of his behaviors seem like compulsions over which he has little control. We are trying to decipher the two and respond accordingly. (Edit: I actually started writing this post on the anniversary of his homecoming a few weeks ago. Recently, though, he has been so incredibly cooperative most of the time - - maybe we've turned a corner?!?)

Asa does stuff at night when everyone else is asleep. "Stuff" is a loose term for: dumping fish food on the floor, painting with lotion, plunging the toilet, disassembling a remote, and making calls from my cell phone at 2:30 am. That's the short list. We're not sure if this is pent up curiosity or something more. (Another late edit: This is subsiding as well and his late-night escapades are now few and far between!)

Our (normally) sweet and laid back little guy goes bonkers in social settings. He just loses all self control when we are with groups of people - he starts yelling and doing cartwheels. He gets rough, loud, rude and does not respect boundaries. It can be very difficult and emotionally draining. Has anyone else experienced this? Please leave a comment if you have; I'd love to know how others deal with it.

**Please don't think that I'm implying that Asa is bad. What's bad is that my poor little boy has endured less than ideal situations that have injured his heart. These things are not good for him and I know that he probably feels more frustration than we do that his emotions/behaviors can seem out of his control. We want to give him the tools and help to learn self-control, respect and a healthy dependence on his mommy and daddy who love him.

The Funny:

Asa has more personality than any four year old I've ever met. His laugh is hysterical. He does crazy voices and has some wild dance moves. He break-dances to classical music. He taught himself how to do cartwheels (as mentioned above) so I think a tumbling class is in his future. When big sister, Ally, leaves the house, he reminds her to take her "I-Pawwwwd" (I-Pod). When Asa is getting hungry, he says "Mom, can you hear my tummy? It's time for lunch." We were walking through Ikea and some music came on. He said "You hear that? It sounds like the Jonas Brothers... but it's not. Because they don't live in Ikea." (We don't listen to Jonas Brothers music... he's maybe heard of them a handful of times on the Disney Channel.... he simply absorbs everything!!)