Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tues Feb 21st: Gotcha Day and Train ride

Gotcha day was a snowing, sleeting mess of a day, but I woke up hours before my alarm went off. I was just so nervous and excited that I couldn’t sleep. My friend Jennifer and her daughter arrived on the overnight train from Kiev bright and early (about 6am) and would be sharing the apartment with me for about 12 hours while they rushed around doing their own paper-job for her sweet Joshua. Having a new good friend in region was such a blessing to us. She was a sight for sore eyes after I had been alone for about a week. We had about 2 seconds to catch up and then I was heading out to finish up the last of the official business before Gotcha could happen. Every orphan is giving a government bank account with a small monthly stipend. I had to clear out the account before I could get Jacob. It is customary to donate this money back to the orphanage and this what I did.

The lady filling out our paperwork at the bank kept looking at me and finally asked Sasha to ask me why I was adopting Jacob and would he ever walk and talk. She wanted to know a lot about how I would get him therapy in the States. She was very kind and seemed touched and genuinely interested in my answers. Before I left, she approached me again and asked Sasha to tell me that her friend had a child with CP and did I know if there was any way for her to get treatment in the U.S. It was heartbreaking honestly. No wonder she was so curious about Jacob. I told her that sometimes there are hosting programs in the U.S., and that I would try to find something out for her. I really don’t know what is possible, but how could I say that I wouldn’t try. If anyone reading this has any ideas, please leave a comment for me. This mother kept her handicapped child against all odds and against huge pressure to abandon her in and institution. The least I can do is try to help her if I can.

Once I had finished the paperwork, the bank official said that she hoped God would bless me and handed me an enormous stack of money...about $1,300. The director of Jacob’s institution (a huge teddy bear of a man) and one of the ladies who has an official position as well, but I can’t remember what, met me at the bank. He wanted me to go with him to buy supplies for the institution so that I would know that the money wasn’t wasted. I really appreciated his integrity with this, but kindly refused and handed him the money. I didn’t want to waste any time when I could be going to get Jacob. He gave me a big bear hug and wished me well. He really was such a kind and fatherly man to me during my time in the institution.

We picked up Anna, the area social worker who had to be present for Gotcha day and headed to the village. I wish I could speak the language...Anna seems like a riot of a lady. She was one of our biggest supporters in court in favor of the adoption and I just really like her. She had never done an adoption before but was willing to learn how. She saw our adoption of Jacob as his only chance for a normal life. I will always love her for this.

We bumped and slide all down the road to the institution one last time. I was thankful that Viktor is such a good driver on those snowy roads. It was really a terrible day weather wise.

Once we arrived, I handed Natasha, the assistant director the gifts that I brought for the other kids, the nannies and the director and handed the main nanny the bag of clothes that I brought for Jacob. It really is like a re-birth for Jacob. He leaves naked, with not a single possession of his own. It is up to us from that point on to cloth him and feed him.

I signed a few more documents that transferred custody from the institution to me and then before I knew it, Jacob was there. He was so sleepy and seemed to be just waking up. How handsome he looked in his new little overalls and sweater. I felt like I was glowing from the inside out. He was finally ours.
We posed for a few pictures and then I opened the doors and walked out with Jacob in my arms. Welcome to our world sweet baby boy.

coming soon...The train ride (It deserves its own post)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day ???: Who am I kidding, I am too jet-lagged to remember what day of the week it is!

The back story...the part where I try to remember and piece together the story of how I arrived in America with one little fast moving, food loving, louder than I thought possible for a mostly non-verbal little Ukrainian boy.

Part 1: The Great "Paper-job"
Monday Feb 20th: Paper-job Day
One of the drivers in Kiev who works for many of the adopting families always says paper-job instead of paperwork, so we have all affectionately began to use this term. My paper-job day began at 8:30am and was not over until almost 7pm. It was long and exhausting which I found strange since most of the day I just hung out in the back seat of the car trying to keep my feet warm and reading a book on my iPod. 

Sasha, our facilitator ran her butt off today and I was so proud of her. She went above and beyond the call of duty to get everything done for us in a day. It started with the court making a mistake in our court decree (they put Jan 7th instead of Feb 7th as our court date.) I knew something was up when Sasha ran in and didn’t come out for what seemed like hours. Thankfully they corrected it on the spot and got us new documents. From there we seemed to drive all over the the village to get documents at the institution, to the passport office to the place where they give birth certificates...everywhere! Every once in awhile, Sasha would dash and out yell, “Sarah come here!” and I would jump out, slosh through the snow, usually run up several flights of stairs and plop myself obediently in a chair outside of an office. My job this day was to do what I was told...sit where I should sit, stay where I should stay and sign whatever document they put in front of me. It was fast paced and crazy, but it brought me one step closer to getting Jacob, so I was willing to do just about anything.

It was really nice that I got along so well with Sasha and her husband Victor who was our driver. We stopped at a small cafeteria and had a Ukrainian lunch. I told Sasha to just order me whatever she was having and I would try it. It was a breaded cutlet with cheese and mushrooms on top and a side of mashed potatoes. REALLY good. We gulped it down and headed back out to the car for more running around.

Sasha had an agreement with the passport official that he would come in on his day off and issue me a one day passport for an additional fee. I was more than happy to pay it. Everywhere I went people wanted to know the same thing...why did I want to adopt this boy. No one could understand at all why I would want a child with special needs. I wanted to say that it was because his life is no less worthy than anyone else's; because I would be honored to play one small part in redeeming a child’s life; because he is so stinkin’ cute that I can’t stop kissing him even when it annoys him! I usually just said that it was because I could give him a better life in America where there are more services for special needs kids.

By the end of the day non of us could see straight. We stopped one last time to pick up some parting gifts for the director, nannies and the kids at the institution. I was so tired that I could not even count money. I finally just handed it to Sasha to count for me.

Once I was back at my apartment I just crashed. I couldn’t even eat dinner. I ate a few bites of yogurt and made a cup of tea. I just couldn’t believe that I was going to get Jacob the very next day. I had waited and planned and dreamed about it for so long. It was overwhelming. I didn’t even know how to pack. I finally forced myself to throw everything in my suitcase and then went to bed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 34: Good News!

I was so much better at blogging when this journey began, but then again, the 10 day waiting period is largely the same thing over and over again. Wake up, eat breakfast, read my Bible, drive to the institution, visit with Jacob for an hour and a half, drive home, eat lunch, run errands/wash clothes/make dinner/pack for tomorrow/shower, go to bed and repeat the process all again the next day.

Yesterday Jacob was sick again and the director called to say that I couldn't visit. I was reassured that it is just a bad head cold and that they will call me if I need to get him medicine. It is still difficult to be away from him. It is hardest that I have no idea what Jacob understands. I don't know if he is worried I'm not coming back, whether or not he understands what a Mama and Daddy is, if he even has a concept of time or the world outside of the institution.

Tonight brought relief from the monotony in the form of very good news. I just got a call from our facilitator telling me that she will be able to get us an expedited passport for Jacob. Originally we thought it would take a week to get this, but now it is only going to take one day! Praise the Lord!

On Monday I will hit the ground running. I will go to get Jacob's birth certificate and identification card so that I can apply for his passport. On Tuesday I will pick up his passport and close out his bank account (all orphans are given a small stipend by the government) which I will donate back to the institution to help them with various needs for the remaining children there. On Wednesday I will shop for a stroller and a few last minute items that I need to travel and no Wednesday evening I hope to take Jacob out of the institution for the last time. Then I will get on an overnight train with him to Kiev. Once in Kiev I will have embassy appointments for 2 days and hopefully fly home on Saturday.

I can hardly believe that this is happening. It is like I thought I was having braxton hicks and suddenly realized that I am in labor and about to deliver! It is a wild ride for sure!

I am praying that Jacob will feel comforted and safe with me while he goes through so much transition.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Day 32: Taking boredom to whole new heights

Today I had an unexpected free day...the director of Jacob's institution called to say that I was not able to visit today because he is sick. It seems odd to me that his mother can't visit him when he is sick, but we are not playing by my rules yet.

I found myself all dressed up with no where to go. I got the call in the stairwell of my apartment building, heading down to meet my driver. I trudged back up the stair to drop off Jacob's backpack of toys that I bring everyday and sat down to make a plan. There really is not much you can do here except eat or have coffee. I had just finished breakfast, which included a cup of coffee, so I was at a loss for how to keep myself occupied. So, I decided to brave the bus system by myself. (I had taken it before with Brad when he was here but never alone.) It was a lot easier that I expected it to be. I got off in the city center right by my old apartment. There is a long walking street that is full of shopping and is just a nice place for a stroll, even if it is still very snowy and slushy out.

I stopped in a store called Gloria Jeans (not to be confused with the coffee shop in the States) and bought a few pairs of fleece pants and some long sleeve t-shirts for Jacob. I can't believe that he is 5 years old and is wear a 2T in pants and 3T in shirts!

The rest of my day was just filled with facebook, tv shows on my computer, washing laundry, doing the dishes, wandering around my apartment, taking a long bath. Then I wandered around my apartment some more, looked at facebook again, cooked pancakes for dinner (really pretty to look at but not great tasting because I had to make then with baking soda instead of baking powder) and then washed more dishes. Then more tv shows on my other words, boredom. Lots and lots of boredom.

I am praying that Jacob is well tomorrow and that I can visit with him. I will not be able to visit with him over the weekend since I am not allowed on the weekends, and then I have a ton of appointments on Monday to get necessary paperwork completed, so no visit on that day either. Hoping to get one more visit in so that I don't have to go so long without seeing him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 31: Don't forget the hanky

Today was my most unusual visit to date. Not in a bad way, just in a "I have no idea what is going on" kind of way.

I made my way to the visitation room and Jacob's nanny brought him too me. This nanny is a wonderfully plump grandmother type with not very many teeth, but the teeth she has managed to hang onto are capped with gold. I like to try to make her smile. She holds Jacob's hands and slowly walks him to me...I think she wants me to see what he can do.

No sooner had I closed the door and settled in with Jacob then the door popped open and one of the more official looking nannies (maybe a doctor or nurse, who knows) pantomimed that I should use the cute little hanky they sent with Jacob to wipe his nose. He is really stuffy and congested so I had a supply of tissues anyway.

She must have had serious doubts about my ability to stay on top of this very important job, because not 5 minutes later, she rushed in, grabbed the hanky, wiped his nose and then left again. I thought to myself, "well that was odd" and then went on to get Jacbo's snack out.

Jacob and I hung out, had his snack, rolled around on the floor, played with his car, played with his spinning penguin top...the normal stuff. What was not normal was that someone stuck their head in the door to check on us every 5 minutes. One time I was in the process of wiping his nose and they were very approving of that!

It was a very good visit in spite of the odd behavior of the nannies. He was very cuddly and was brave enough to look me in the eye for about 10 seconds. I was in heaven!

About 30 minutes early, the nanny who speak about 2 words of English came in and said my time was up. I was a little confused and so was Jacob, but I kissed him and told him I would see him tomorrow. I think they just got tired of checking on me or maybe I wasn't wiping his nose correctly. Who knows. I am just glad I got to hang out with him.

After I left the institution I went to a grocery I didn't even know existed here. It was like a super Walmart except not as many clothes. It was so big I was overwhelmed and couldn't think what I had come in for! My driver took me there because it was closer to my new apartment than the store I am used to and I also needed to change more money. I needed to buy eggs and bread also. The eggs are sold in a giant bin where you just pick them out and carefully place them in a plastic bag. I wasn't certain if I had to weigh them before I got to the check out counter, so I followed some poor lady all over the store to see what she did with her eggs. Apparently you don't have to weigh them first. :) All other produce has to be weighed first at a little weighing station near the produce section. This is odd for most Americans but very common everywhere we have lived overseas.

Hopefully Jacob will be better tomorrow and we can get back to our normal visiting routine. I bought him an apple for snack tomorrow as a treat.

(Almost got him to look at the camera, but not quite!) ;)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day 30: My Snowy Valentine

Today is Valentine's Day. I LOVE Valentine's Day! As if that wasn't's snowing! I LOVE snow! Big fluffy snowflakes and about 6 inches on the ground.

Brad left me a box of Valentine's chocolates since I wouldn't be home to celebrate with him and the kids. I put it on the kitchen table last night to "surprise" myself when I woke up. Sappy and sentimental, I know.

Jacob was happy to provide my workout today so that I can eat my chocolate guilt free. My poor baby has a cold. He sniffled and snorted through his banana snack. His little nose is so congested. He got a lot of extra love and attention today. He was understandably a little out of sorts. We rocked and danced and jumped and twirled and tossed in the air and swung around and FINALLY settled down long enough to listen to some classical music. It was very difficult to give him back to the nanny today when I really want to take him home and put him in a steamy shower and make him hot lemonade and give him all the attention a sick little boy needs.

I tried to get a picture of the two of us, but all of them were blurry. It's difficult to get a good picture with just me alone with Jacob. He likes to dive head first off the sofa so unless he is very still and very occupied, I can't have my hands full with the camera. Here's the best of what I got today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Day 29: Moving Day

Today I woke up bright and early and packed my last few things to move to a new apartment. I got a call last night that I would have to move today. I don't understand all of the reasons that I had to move, but know that this is Ukraine, and things just work different here. I just roll with things as they come here. I am only a few miles away from my first apartment and it is actually a lot more homey and comfortable than the first apartment. The area is mainly families and so it is quieter and safer feeling. I never felt unsafe at the other apartment, this one has families and neighbors nearby if anything goes wrong. I looked like a bag lady while I move in since I packed in one large suitcase and six grocery bags. :)

I dropped my things off and got settled for just a minute and then left for my visit with Jacob. Our facilitator, Sasha went with me today and it was nice to have someone to chat with. Jacob knows Sasha from the babyhouse (where he was before he was transferred to the institution) and he seemed relaxed and happy that she was there. He was very calm today and liked to play quietly with his toys on the floor. It feels like he is getting more and more comfortable with me and is responding more to English. I try to repeat the same short English phrases each visit so that he can begin to learn. He is also signing "more" without prompting now when I don't move fast enough with the next bite of his snack.

Each day the visits feel shorter and shorter but I know soon that he will be all mine so I try to be patient.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Day 26: We're serious about our food!

Our whole family loves to eat. You would never guess that by looking at us, but we even plan our vacations around what cool new food or dessert we get to try.

Apparently Jacob will fit right in. I brought him a banana today and at first had a difficult time convincing him to let me peel it. he wanted to just take a big bite, peel and all. I wonder if he had just never seen an unpeeled banana before because he began to cry and pitch a fit when I threw away the peel and wouldn't let him eat it. This is the first time we have heard him cry at all! I was afraid I would have an entire troop of nannies descend on the room to find out what I did to him, so I distracted him by swinging him really high in my arms. This worked for a few minutes and then I was exhausted and Jacob remembered that he was still hungry.

Thankfully, I have been carrying around a granola bar in my purse for weeks. I hesitated to give it to him because it is sticky and has peanuts. A few more high pitched screams from Jacob were enough to make me forget all my fears and whip out that granola bar. Everything here has hazel nuts in it so surely he's not allergic to peanuts, right?

He was in heaven. The boy LOVES to eat! He started to get full and slow down as we got to the end of the granola bar and Jacob and I both sighed in relief.

After that, he climbed down like a little gentleman and we played "wet-wipes-out-of- the-bag/wet-wipes-back-in-the-bag" for the rest of the visit.

I can't wait to have him home where I can just relax and enjoy him!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 25: Letting their hair down

Before Brad left for the States, we wondered if I would be treated differently by the institution staff once it was just me. Most of the workers are women and they tended to be very formal around Brad. We would be ushered into our tiny visitation room and the door would be closed. We were never allowed to see any of the other kids.

Today, everyone just let their hair down. No one escorted me to the room, and the door was left open. There were groups of teenage-ish boys who would stop by the doorway and day hi to me. There were lots of little boys being wheeled to different rooms in wheel chairs. Just lots of hustle and bustle and activity that we are normally not allowed to see. While I was visiting with Jacob several new nannies popped in. I think they just wanted to see me. :) When I was leaving a completely new nanny that I had never seen before came to get him for lunch. She actually looked like she was the lunch lady.

I was worried that Jacob might not like having just Mama visiting him with out Daddy since Daddy is so much for animated and fun. I have loved seeing Brad be the first man in Jacob's life. There have been other women who have cared for him, but Brad is most likely the first man. He loves to be tossed around and given rides on Brad's shoulders. Today was different for sure without Daddy...we both missed him. It was a very sweet visit though. After eating his snack, Jacob and I just played and sat calmly together. He got a little anxious in the middle of the visit and I scooped him up and pretended to drop him. He loved this game!! He would just belly laugh. I would have done it all day, but he is one heavy little guy to toss around.

He is getting more and more comfortable with me as each day goes by. Usually he plays and we try to encourage him to play with us and not just near us. Today was a lot more of a victory with this. We did a repeat of the wipes in the ziplock game, but we also played cars for a minute and he let me hold him in my lap and "read" to him from a Ukrainian story book. He sat and looked at books for a long time today. It is obvious that someone in the baby house used to read to him. He turns each page and looks at it before moving on.

I am wanting to start the countdown to when I can get him out of the institution but right now I am not sure how they count the days for the waiting period. Do they start with the court day? Are weekends included? What about the time it takes to get his passport? Lots of unknowns right now. I am just hoping that it flies by and that we are both home before we know it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 24: New Beginning

Today's visit with Jacob was the first time we saw him after becoming his Mama and Daddy. It felt different...even Jacob seemed to sense the difference. There was a relief and a letting down of out guard. We could just enjoy him without worrying that something would go wrong and the judge would rule against us.

Today was also the last day that Brad will see Jacob in Ukraine. The next time Jacob will see his Daddy will be in The U.S. Brad left tonight and is traveling by overnight train to Kiev. He will fill out an embassy form tomorrow and will then fly out on Friday morning. It was hard for all of us to say goodbye. Jacob didn't understand and I hope he will adjust well to just me going to visit him each day.

Today was one of the best days we have had with Jacob to date. He pulled out all the stops today...I like to think that he wanted his Daddy to see all the things he can do before he left. He was much more engaging with us and kept hugging Brad really tight. He explored all around the room and even opened storage cabinets under the coffee table and climbed in. He normally does not notice much of the environment, partly because one of the side effects of the medication he is on is light sensitivity. (We understand now why he keeps his eyes closed a lot in the bright room.)

He pulled out the wet wipes I keep in a ziplock bag and pulled them all out and handed too me. I would refill it and give it back and he would pull them all out an hand them to me again. This was HUGE for Jacob to interact with me like that. He even recognized me as someone who could help him and handed me the bag when he couldn't get it unzipped. Up until this point he only relied on his own ability and then gave up if it was too difficult.

He was talking more today too. I thought he was done with his snack and put it on top of the coat cabinet and he pulled up on the cabinet next to me and yelled, "Mama!" Like "come on Mama, get with the program, why are you putting that away when I clearly wasn't done with it!" :)

The icing on the cake though was Jacob's first English word. "more"
We taught him to say it is sign language when we are feeding him his snack and today after Brad said, "say more," Jacob up and said it! Forgot this signing stuff...our boy is itching to talk. :)

By the end of the visit he was wiped out and laid down and rested until the nanny came and said it was time to go. He had worked hard today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Court Day

Jacob Aaron Wall officially became our son today.

We are too busy celebrating to write a proper post but I promise more details will follow. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 19: We've Come So Far, But Still Have So Far To Go

Today was one of those days that leave you amazed and yet still dissatisfied. Jacob has come so far. He is playing with toys in an appropriate way. He has learned to say 'More' in sign language and does this without prompting. He knows where all of the 'goodies' come from and is not shy about going looking for them. Today, he even interacted with me (Brad) by putting a hat on my head and taking it off again, and again, and again. He has come so far.

Then we see how far we have to go and how little interaction our little boy has had during his life. Jacob still struggles to make any eye contact with us. He still stims to soothe himself, not knowing how to receive love, care, and comfort from another human being. We noticed how often he turns away from us to play (our presence is too much for him), but today we saw just how badly our little boy wants to block out the world. We brought a winter hat for him to see if it would fit. It is WAY too big, and completely covers his face. He LOVED it, and would spend long periods of time pulling the hat over his eyes and soothing himself by rocking on his knees. Right now, he prefers darkness and loneliness to interaction with people.

We were encouraged by reading some information online from a Doctor who specializes in children adopted from institutions. He said it is the norm for children raised in institutions not to talk. They have never been interacted with, and do not learn to vocalize. It is normal for them to rock back and forth and seek any kind of stimulation they can find. These behaviors usually mean that the child is depressed and bored, and trying to cope with life in an institution. It was encouraging to read that these behaviors usually disappear quite rapidly after adoption. We have seen a dramatic decrease in Jacobs stimming over the last few days. We long for the day that he comes to us to soothe him when he is anxious.

And then, we are reminded that we need to love and enjoy Jacob just for who he is, and celebrate with him for where he is now. It is a difficult place to be. . . hoping for more for him, and yet accepting and enjoying where we are at this point.

"Jacob, we love you so much. We keep catching glimpses of the happy-go-lucky kid inside of you. We believe in you, and we love being able to watch you risk, and try, and learn to trust us. You are such a smart, and resilient boy! We can't wait to see what you choose to do with your life! We will be here for you, no matter what!"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 18: A little off

Today was just one of those days where everything is a little off...the kind where you just need a reset button. We woke up just a little grumpy and rushed to get out the door. We forgot almost everything we normally take to our visits with camera, no Ipod, no crackers, no diapers. We thankfully remembered his toys, a banana and his water. (No pictures today due to the forgotten camera.)

When we arrived, they brought him too us before we even had a chance to take our coats off. I am hanging on to Jacob with one arm while trying to shake my coat off with the other hand. Jacob was agitated and didn't want to be held. He normally hugs us tight and just lays his chin on our shoulder when he first sees us. Not for long, but it is still his normal greeting. He pushed away and climbed all over the room. Up and down the sofa. Over the chairs and across the end table. In and out of the play pen. Content to play for just a moment and then shrieking and climbing some more. He wasn't mad exactly, but more disconnected from us and more difficult to soothe. Finally I had a light bulb mama instinct moment and realized that he might be hungry. When all else fails, try feeding them. This might not be the most psychologically correct parenting advice, but it has been my mantra for years. I scooped him up and gave him a banana which he devoured. I thought he would be satisfied, but then he proceeded to unpack the bag we always bring and turn it over and over in his hands. He would search every corner and then search again. Our poor baby was so hungry and we didn't have anything left to give him. We distracted him the best we could, but he practically leaped into his nannies arms when she arrived to take him to lunch.

We will never know exactly why Jacob was so hungry today, but we suspect that his nannies did not feed him prior to our visit in an effort to keep his diaper clean today. I have his bag packed and ready to go for tomorrow's visit and I am bringing enough food to thoroughly ruin his appetite for lunch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 16 and 17: Too busy cooking to blog

Most days I sit down and blog right when I get home from our visit with Jacob. Yesterday, I needed to feel like a real person with a real schedule so I skipped the blogging and set out to create a Mexican dinner. I learned from my time overseas in Indonesia that ANYTHING can be made from scratch if you are willing to put in the time and effort. One Christmas I made homemade marshmallows to go in chocolate fudge just to see if it could be done.

Last nights dinner was not on the scale of making homemade marshmallows, but it did take a little more prep than just our normal omelet dinner. We made flour tortillas with caramelized onion and garlic pulled chicken. We even found an avocado for guacamole. It turned out to be really delicious. You never know when you are trying new cooking experiments. Our friends who are also adopting stopped by and brought the most wonderful strawberry layer cake to complete our feast.

(Kneading the tortillas dough. I had to sit on the kitchen floor because the counter were too high for me to reach properly.)

Each day that we visit with Jacob is intense: intensely wonderful to see him and delight in the progress we see each day and intensely heart-wrenching to realize just how far behind developmentally he is because of his environment.

When they bring him to us he has the glazed over shell shocked look that we have started to think of as the institution look. After a few minutes and a very helpful bag of toys and snacks, he begins to relax and smile and play. Yesterday he ate almost an entire apple off the core and was so obviously thrilled that we let him have the apple and his water anytime he wanted. I was glad that he is well fed enough that we are not seeing hoarding behavior, but it is obvious that he has no control over his own life. Elijah and Anna can get a healthy snack any time they want it without having to ask. Jacob has never had that option and it makes me sad when I remember that even if emotionally and socially he is not yet 5 years old, that chronologically he IS 5 years old.

Today, we realized that giving Jacob almost the entire apple was maybe not the best idea. About 5 minutes after feeding him today he pooped. No big deal, we changed his diaper with the one I always bring with me for him. Not 10 minutes later, he pooped again. We called his nannies over and they took him and changed him. They told us through lots of pantomiming and a little broken English that they did not have any more diapers so he was just in regular clothes. I was a little concerned but though, well he has already pooped twice, surely he can't poop again!

I was wrong.

About 10 minutes later he pooped again and this time we had to tell him goodbye and that we would see him tomorrow since our visit was almost up and cleaning him up would take much longer this time.

I was encouraged that the nannies hold him gently and take him without complaint. He wasn't scolded that we could hear. I stood out in the hallway and listened just in case.

What we did see after his nannies changed him and brought him back was the effect of social and emotional neglect. We always thought that he was a little dazed and glassy eyed when they brought him to us in the morning because of the sedatives. But today, he had that same look when they brought him back after the diaper change and he was only gone for about 5 minutes. He took a few minutes to warm back up to us too. He lets his guard down with us (not all the way, but better each day) and just emotionally shuts down when he goes back to his room. Its heartbreaking to see.

Children simply can not thrive and develop without emotional connection and love. Jacob braces himself against the emotionally cold environment he is in, even though all his physical needs are met perfectly. He even smells good from his bath when we get him. His physical needs are met in a way that is very surprising for an institutional setting. He is regressed and almost infantile in some ways simply from a lack of love.

I wish that I could explain to him how much his little life is about to change. He will have love in spades. We will love him, his brother and sister will love him, he has grandparents and more cousins, aunts and uncles than he can count who will love him. Only a few more short weeks sweet Jacob!