Tomorrow marks our 1 month anniversary of being with Elijah! We gained custody of him in Ethiopia on his 1st birthday (June 28, 2011). It is absolutely amazing to be finished with this part of our journey (now our life together journey has begun)! The past 30 days have flown by and so much has happened!
I have barely had a minute to document what life at home with Elijah looks like and have LOTS to share!
Elijah LOVES to snuggle his mommy and would be happy if I never put him down. He learned how to blow kisses a few days after coming home! He waves, claps his hands, gives high fives, blows kisses, pretends to say hello when he hears the phone ring (his word for hello is “Edat!”) He says “mmm…” after every bite of food he eats….even if he makes a terrible face it is always followed by the infamous “mmmm”! He is a great eater and will eat and enjoy pretty much everything! He is ticklish only if you nibble his sides just below his armpits! He loves to play peek-a-boo with my hand against his face. In less than 2 weeks time he has gone from the one-armed scootch to crawling and now pulling himself up on everything! He is also learning to hold onto furniture and do the side-step.
Elijah is a little shy when someone new comes through the door but it doesn’t take long for him to warm up and start playing with them :)
He is very observant and takes everything in! He imitates our hand motions and tries to imitate sounds too!
He LOVES music! Music calms him when he is fussy but he also loves to bang on his African drum and his little mini piano! We constantly have worship music on in our home and sometimes in the morning when I hold him in my arms he sings along.
When it comes to the bath, Elijah loves bubbles and is just fascinated when they are on his arms…he has tried to eat the bubbles but fortunately he hasn’t tried more than a few times :) He has bath time friends- a little boat, 2 duckies, a fish, a turtle and an octopus! He also is an avid splasher and usually gets his momma soaked in the process!
We are teaching him baby sign language and he is doing very well- he knows to say PLEASE and MORE when it comes to eating. He also has learned ALL DONE to let us know that he is finished. These signs have been helpful to all of us and I think he likes that he can communicate in a way that he is understood!
Elijah usually wakes up with happy coos and big smiles when he sees Gerrid or I. If he has had a goodnight sleep he is full of energy when he wakes and seems like a morning person! Sometimes (more often with naps) he will wake up crying and so we will rush in to his crib and snuggle him close.
Since coming home we have seen several different doctors for general checkups, a Pulmonologist for his lungs (he still has a deep bronchitis sounding cough) and a functional doctor for his GI issues…all in all his test results have been very positive! He is extremely healthy and shows no signs of malnourishment (which is a miracle given his past circumstances). The cough is just going to have to work itself out of his system but is not something we need to be concerned with. He is negative for TB- but he is going to take a medicine for 9 months in case anything could be dormant in his system.
Unfortunately it is going to take a little longer to uncover his GI issues. His stomach is really bloated with gas which often wakes him up in the night or from naps…we think that because he was on 3 different powerful antibiotics in Ethiopia, his little system has been overrun by the “bad guys” and needs to have lots of good stuff to repair his system! We did a stool test that will take 30 days before we get results- but I know it will be well worth the wait to uncover this stuff and get him the help that he needs!
There is definitely a HUGE learning curve that all 3 of us are going through and there are challenges that have come up that we were not expecting…we have cried, laughed a lot and prayed more than we ever have. We are learning how to function on little or sometimes no sleep! I am reading a TON on parenting and have just started in on an adoption parenting book (which has been immensely helpful!). We have made some mistakes and had to adjust to many new things.
Life is BUSY and CONSTANT! There is always something that needs to get done and I am learning how to do things with a little person attached to me! (we vacuum together, clean, and attempt some cooking!)
It is obvious that are son has learned many survival skills and is new to what you would call family skills…there are times when he is sad, angry, frustrated, etc. and he exhibits behaviors that indicate he is feeling a certain way. He also has some food anxieties that we are working through.
A lot has happened in his little life that has caused him to have to fend for himself…he lost his birth mother at 1 month old and was in 2 different orphanages and then a transition home for several months. He has lived most of his life being extremely malnourished and had virtually no love or individual care…he has had well over a dozen different caretakers (all female) and is new to being cuddled and kissed.
He is learning that when he cries, he is now heard…and that he has a mommy and daddy who LOVE him and are there for him. He is beginning to see that he doesn’t have to worry about being fed- he is being fed often and with lots of yummy foods! He is learning to trust us and prayerfully what it means to be a SON.
Elijah is not an orphan- he is our son. Elijah was born with a purpose and a destiny. Elijah is a gift from God and we are so blessed to be his parents!
There are probably things that I am forgetting to mention about him- but he is an amazing little guy and we fall more in love with him every day!
Our lives have been forever changed and I am so thankful that Gerrid and I have the privilege to live out one of the most incredible gifts we have ever been given- ADOPTION!
To God be the Glory for EVERY Piece of Our Story!
Gerrid, Jessica, & Elijah