We are having a precious little girl in January!
Sweet Ruth Amanda looked great on the ultrasound. Can't wait to meet her!
We are excited to have pink again. Her next biggest sister will turn 5 shortly after she is born so it is definitely time for another baby girl in the family :)
I'm a little late on Ben's 8 months home update.
Each month I am seeing more progress in different areas. Recently, I have noticed Ben showing a lot more independence and trying new things on his own. At home, he will now come find me to ask for a drink or to watch a specific movie. In the past, he would never leave the room or spot he was in without permission, even to use the bathroom, very much used to doing only what he was told and not wanting to try new things or anything that appeared hard.
We went to a park to play and he wanted to go down the fire man pole like his siblings were.
He was scared to do that initial step but with a little encouragement and helping him walk through how to do it once, he mastered this skill and repeatedly went down while we were there.
I look back to 'old' pictures when Ben first came home in January, and he looks so much younger in them, it amazes me the changes.
Hearing test came back just fine, no concerns.
We made it through a dentist appointment complete with his first cleaning and X-rays. Two more loose teeth working on coming out. Plus a couple of his pulled teeth are now coming in! He is having a hard time transitioning to eating with his molars vs his front teeth like he has been doing since he learned to chew.
We are in the process of making some changes with his therapy. I was hopeful that with time, he would get used to the routine, the people, the activities and that real progress would be seen. In reality, each week is getting worse and I'm seeing behavior and attachment issues every time we are there. He won't cooperate for them and we are realizing he just isn't ready for that situation right now. They admitted they had no experience with an older internationally adopted child with such speech delays in addition to having to learn a whole new language. They also did not seem to understand attachment and why this was such a big concern for us to keep a priority. I wasn't thrilled with our son being their guinea pig or for them trying to quickly label him with possible diagnosis from the few moments they spent with him.
Our plan is to change his therapy sessions to just once a month in order for them to assess his progress and give me ideas on what to work on with him next. I have NO problems with him cooperating for me at home and after observing what they were actually trying to do with him during OT and speech, there wasn't anything that I couldn't do on my own. There are tons of ideas online. They said his speech was at the level of an early 3yo, which does not surprise us. They have not given us a range of what his developmental or OT type skills are currently. We will reassess next year (after Ruth is born) whether he needs and is ready for weekly sessions again. I have checked into whether he qualifies for any at home services through the local school system but haven't heard back.
Right now I am working on building up his vocabulary and finding ESL resources to help him learn English. I found this program that is a really good fit for him for now because it uses songs to teach, which he enjoys and learns quickly. I like that it teaches lots of different things that he needs help with, including using verbs, answering simple questions with complete sentences, and a lot more. I found that headphones help him a lot to block out all the distractions in the room. http://busybeavers.com/ I also made up a play list on You Tube with learning songs...nursery rhymes, counting, phonics, etc. that I play during blanket time.
I found an app for the ipad that has over 1200 pictures of common objects that we can go through like flashcards to help him learn to identify. I am planning on asking his speech therapist for suggestions of more apps that might help. I already have him repeat after me when he doesn't complete words (the ending of them) or isn't enunciating completely and he is getting better.
Ben surprised me by completely buttoning up his shirt without any help on Sunday morning! After I had worked with him to learn buttons a few months ago, we'd taken a break and he'd been in t-shirts most of the time over the summer so there was little opportunity to practice. I was glad to see him take the initiative and that he remembered how.
I am building up a cupboard of activities for the little ones to do during school time. I'm adding in lots of preschool, OT and 'learning how to play' activities for Ben to work on. Ben still struggles with knowing how to play with toys. I will share more pictures of the activities once I get them put together.
I'm having him use the blocks to build 'something' with all of them on the base plate and then he has to take them all completely apart and put them together again. He tends to do things with only one hand and doesn't push the blocks down completely so I have to encourage him in both areas so we can build those muscles in both hands. He loves clean up time for obvious reasons, but I am hoping he will learn to enjoy the activities as well. :)
He is always happy!
Attachment is still a work in progress. Everyone we meet comments on how friendly he is but don't seem to get when I try to explain why that isn't a good thing. We are still working on establishing trust and attachment. Ben does very well with strict boundaries in place but when we go to new places (church, therapy, drs, etc) it is a challenge all over again. I am realizing how much I have to get out of my comfort zone to do what is best for my son and our family, rather than worry about what others think. There is a good 3-part series here that talks about boundaries, trust and attachment. Worth the read!
I feel so blessed and fortunate that Ben is so easy to parent. So many challenges that many adoptive families go through with their older children from 'hard places', we haven't had to deal with. It has taken time to get used to learning our new normal, and discovering what that looks like with his unique needs that were new to us, not having any prior experience. I am thankful for this journey and all the lessons God is teaching us through him. Patience isn't learned in the adoption process, that comes once your child is home!
Benjamin is a joy, he is loved and we are so glad to call him our son!