I mentioned in a previous post that the language barrier is hard, and it really is. But it won't be forever. People comment every day how well his English is progressing, it's truly amazing. Just this week, he has started to talk about his life in China. Quite a lot actually. He's talked about his "China Momma" (his term) and what she cooks and how she cooks it. She makes dumplings with sausage and egg and he even acted out the process of cooking them. She makes yellow rice with carrots (big slices, not little he says) and potatoes. My white or brown rice is not cutting it! He told us sometimes he got in trouble with her, but mostly he was a good boy. :) She took care of him for 5 years and we don't even know her name or what she looks like...so many missing pieces for him.
He told us how he was pushed in a wheelchair to "school" (a little preschool-like class at the orphanage), but some of his foster siblings left to go to public school. He has told us that he wasn't allowed to play in the snow. Lots of little tidbits of information starting to come out, and we love it. We missed over 8 years of his life so we hang onto every little bit we can get.
We've had a translator at quite a few of our appointments lately (for some reason now they're doing a great job of providing translators, whereas at first they were few and far between). We find out so much more when we're with a translator. I truly wish we had someone who could come to our house regularly to help us talk to him! Through the translator, we discovered just how much he's missing China. He's very homesick. He misses his foster parents and the food and his foster siblings. He's thinking of them, wants to know what they're doing and when he'll see them again. During this conversation, I realized just how confused he still is about everything that has gone on.
Via the translator, he asked when he's going back to China.
Yep. He thought he was going back.
He told her he thought he would eventually go back. He even asked how many more days until he goes back. When I had her explain that he's staying with us forever, that he's not going back, he asked "why?". The look on his face was true confusion.
We've told him this many times before of course, both in Chinese and English. But he still just doesn't understand the concept of forever family. It's a brand new idea for him, which is heartbreaking.
So once again I had her tell him that we love him very much, that he'll love with us forever and we'll always take care of him. He spoke to her in Chinese for a moment and she looked at me and said, "He says OK, he'll stay."
I don't know if he truly understands this time or not, but we won't stop reminding him that he's ours forever. The only way he'll really get it is for time to go by and for us to continue to be as consistent as possible. In the adoption world, some families celebrate their "Tipping Point" day, which is the day that they've been with you longer than they were in the orphanage. For Allie & Maggie, their Tipping Point day was shortly after they turned 2. For Joey, he'll be 16.5 years old before we reach that point. That is just a huge a-ha for me to realize that getting him to the point of feeling truly acclimated and at home will take a very long time.
Since that conversation when he realized he wasn't going back, he keeps checking in. He'll say things like, "Joey love Momma. Momma love Joey." Yes, buddy. Always. He also talks a lot about our house, naming all the people who live here, including himself. He also frequently asks, "All done China?" and I feel awful saying it, but I tell him, yes, he's all done with China. Once day we'll be able to explain that being Chinese will always be a part of who he is, of his past, of his heritage and maybe of his future if he chooses. But right now he needs to come to the realization that he's "all done China" and that this is now his home.
These conversations are a reminder of how fragile he still is. These are just tidbits that we happen to get from him. I don't know what else he's confused about or worrying about or wondering about... in many ways he's still so isolated from us. It must be a very lonely place to be, despite us being right here with him.
So we do what we can to help him feel comfortable and at home. He enjoyed his first Christmas, it was so special to have him here. This time last year we were barely started on the paperwork to bring him home!
Last week my parents and I took him to a Chinese buffet for lunch. He was in heaven! He's already plotting to go again and bring everyone this time. :)
He's also starting to go to school a couple hours longer. It's still a shorter day but he now eats lunch at school and gets to have specials and recess with his class. I think it's helping him make friends and feel more a part of his class. He's so proud of himself that he eats at school!
We just love our little guy. It's a long road we're on, but truly we are the blessed ones to walk it with him.
First concert for this percussionist!
His biggest fan!
He LOVES working with wood and building things.
Jeremy helped him drill holes in wood to make his name. He's so proud!
Candy store at Christmas time was magical,
especially when a band popped in to play us a Christmas song!
Cast is off!
He has a hard time holding still &
getting comfortable out in public.
He oftens ends up on the floor.
This very old, old guy still gets into trouble.
Here he is eating the doll head off a baby doll.
Horse-drawn carriage ride around our sweet little town.
Best part was it was warm and balmy out!
A lucky moment alone.
Joey's very first present, maybe ever.
He was so proud.
This guy is a major back-seat driver.
Decorating gingerbread houses!
Everyone got to help me make their own batch of cookies.
First time at the dentist!
She's an old pro at the dentist.
They love her and she loves them.
Someone is very excited about her cousin's birthday cake.
Bailey is in the middle of every. single. thing. we do.
Christmas at the Coleman's!
After getting new toys, the boys went out and built something with scrap wood and nails.
Roller Skating with these guys.
First snow for Joey! It was just a dusting,
but he and Ben still managed to build a tiny snowman.
A rare lunch out as a family.
Special late-night time with our first babies.
Joey's first visit to Grandma Toodie's house!
We are looking ragged and tired, but we got to go to a movie alone!!
She's SO serious and passionate about it!
Passing time on winter break
Building with marshmallows and toothpicks
Beauty parlor time.
Poor babe, every Friday I drag her to the grocery.
Lunch at a Chinese buffet!
This gorgeous girl now stays after school and walk to tumbling once a week.
She loves it!
Bailey is in the middle again.