Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Trip to Visit Daddy and Grandparents Visit

Whew!  We have had a busy 3 weeks.

On July 31, we went to the Panda's first cleft team appointment since his surgery.  Everyone was very happy except the developmental psychologist.  He thought that "a 3 year old should be off the bottle right now!".  I just got the report from the team in the mail, and he said that "mom was resistant to my suggestions".  I told him that I thought maybe the attachment people would disagree with him, and that I placed more value on secure attachment than age-appropriate milestones.  Guess my opinion didn't convince him....  I would have expected someone in his field to have a little flexibility for someone that spent 27 months in an orphanage and 9 months in a family.

Speaking of attachment, I am amazed at how much progress we've made.  After 6 months home, I would have said that it was going great.  Now that we've been home 9 months, I think it actually is going great.  The Panda has started letting us hug and kiss him without wedging the little "stiff arm" between himself and us.  When I say "I love you", he smiles or gives a happy little sigh, and he's started doing the sign language "I love you" to us.  I am sure that he knows what I mean when I say it.  We went to a kid play area at a mall for the first time, and he went off happily, but came back to check in every minute or so.  He has also started to   hum along when I sing!  How cute is that?  He really wants to sign, and works hard to move his little fingers into the right shapes.  During our trip to Tampa Bay, he fell asleep in my arms for the first time, like it was a natural, normal thing.  Aaaaah.

We are also, finally, having some progress at feeding.  In the last week, the Panda has licked a zoo cookie that I was holding for him until it crumbled a little into his mouth.  He must have licked it 50 times, which is 50 times more than he'd ever licked a cookie before.  He did pick every piece of crumb he could get out of his mouth, though.  He's been letting me "pour" an empty soup spoon into his mouth, and I'm hoping that this "game" will help us pour some actual soup in soon.  Yesterday, his feeding therapist actually managed to get a few bites of pudding past his lips, and although he wasn't opening his mouth happily, he didn't have any crying or fighting either.  When he was done, he signed "all done" instead of crying.  Whew!  When the therapist left, the Panda showed interest in grandad's "adult beverage", so the Penguin got him to drink a little  water from a tiny plastic cup, which was a huge first.

So, we had a big trip to Tampa to visit Matt during his IA.  We left the day after the cleft team appointment and drove 13 hours including stops and stayed at a hotel the first night.  This stop was a blessing straight from God.  We stopped at Kings Bay, GA, and the hotel I had on my GPS was closed.  I just went to a nearby hotel, a Residence Inn (Marriott).  It was a lower price than I ever expected, they gave me a perfect room, first door from the lobby, so I didn't even have to carry stuff very far or do stairs.  Breakfast provided in the morning.  The kind of comforters that get washed and don't gross me out.  <3   Everyone watched a little Phineas and Ferb and went to sleep nicely.

We got to Tampa just before Matt finished work the next day, and started our lovely visit.  We met his friends, went to the Bay, the beach, the water park, the pool, and just hung out together.  We got to go to his church, which was nice.  I'm not totally sure if the visit will help the Puppy's acting out and missing dad, but it was sure worth a try.  We celebrated the Panda's 3rd birthday in Tampa, and I'm so glad that Matt didn't have to miss that birthday!  The Panda clearly remembered daddy, and was so happy to see him, and he said, "Daddy" for the first time after a couple days.  Everyone who knows the Bunny needs to ask her about her waterslide experience.  On the way home, we got to visit our super-special friends.  Last summer, they sat with me, looking at pictures of a little baby on a computer screen and worrying if he'd be ok, and this summer, they got to rejoice with us over how amazing he is.  The big kids enjoyed their wonderful friends, even though it was far too short.  We made our way home from Jacksonville- 13 hours.  For the entire trip, the Panda cried in his carseat for 3 hours total, but it was the last 3 on the way home.  When we pulled into the garage, he stopped and said "HOME" for the first time.  He ran happily and visited all his toys before I put him to bed.

The Bunny and I had nursery duty the next morning and then we came home from church and Matt's parents came for a quick visit.   The Bunny started babysitting camp the next morning.  I left the Panda with grandma for youth group and my meeting last night.  He really loves her!  She got me a birthday cake!!!  It is a great year when I don't have to make my birthday cake.  The dear administrators of my homeschool co-op also got a cake, so this was one special birthday!  I am feeling very loved.

I really plan to keep the world small for the Panda for a week or two after so much excitement.  He handled it so well, but I can see signs of stress.  He's glad to be home.  He's had a couple of nights of a little crying at bedtime, which isn't normal for him.  He gets a little hyper when his siblings get hyper and show-offy for grandma and grandpa.  Overall, though, he handled new environments like the beach and the waterpark very well.  I think that a big trip with several overnights in different places, and then coming home was stressful, but it seems to help him build trust, since his attachment is decent and growing at this point.  A trip like this would have been much harder even 2 months ago.  It also helps that he's getting better at walking.  We still use a stroller a good bit, but he did a fair bit of walking at the waterpark and in the mall, which would not have been possible 2 months ago.

Here are some pictures:


  1. Panda is beautiful! I met a lady today, Penney, who gave me your story and blog info. My grandson was born 2 days ago with a severe cleft lip and pallet. Very sad but I think your blog will help my daughter. Thank you so much! Much luck to you, your family and Little Panda. Robin Greer.

    1. Robin,

      I can't imagine the learning curve of having a baby with a cleft. We had months to learn and prepare. I am glad to talk to your daughter anytime! Her baby will have surgeries on time, and good care, and that will help so much! Many states have laws that help kids with clefts very much with medical care.

      The Panda's cleft is such a tiny part of his life. Praying for you all, with your adjustment to a new baby and the extra challenge of feeding and surgery.

      There are several yahoo chat groups that are very helpful with information for new moms- they are easy to search out.


  2. How lovely! You sound like such a good, patient, mom who is well informed in adoption and attachment. Your family looks like lots of fun.

  3. Cute pics of what looks like was a fun time! The comments about the "resistant mom" made me laugh! Sometimes you just have to "put your foot down" when you know what is best for your children!

  4. Maria~
    Yay all over this post!! (Except your developmental psychologist needs a class in attachment with adopted kids - ugh...) Yay for progress attaching! Yay for traveling and recovering quickly! Big YAY for feeding progress, and for progress with talking! Yay for how comfortable he is with his Mama (love the sleeping pic :-) and yay for knowing who his Daddy is after being away from him!

    Happy belated birthday!
    Chris in Colorado