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!"