I can't say enough how much older child adoption rocks. These kids are incredible and we feel so honored to be able to share all these new milestones with them. I know what we have done isn't right for every family, but it has been great for us and for our children - all of them. And I also know that most families don't have as easy a transition as we have! My husband and I keep asking each other if this is still a honeymoon period or if this is really the way things are going to be forever. Either way, we are very thankful for the last three months and how well everyone has bonded.
An anonymous individual commented during our adoption process that we should have only adopted one child. Which of our boys would they have had us leave behind? We can't imagine being without any of them, and we also can't imagine what would have happened to them if we hadn't said "YES" to each of them. We are counting the days until Barton can join us here at home too. (Very soon!) I know most people don't adopt 4 older boys at once. That is okay! Yes, it has been all kinds of chaos. You should see what happens if I skip a single day's worth of laundry! But the kids are great, incredible, and loved so much. It has been an amazing journey and we all have so much ahead of us, together.
So, on to school!
This is the day Theo and Orion went to check out their new school. Their new teacher could hear us as soon as we came in the door, even though her room is a few halls away, because the boys were so excited and kept exclaiming about how big and beautiful the school is. I really like their teacher and she has been wonderful about understanding my concern over helping the boys transition into a school environment. The boys had a great time checking everything out and meeting the staff.
Here are Theo and Orion after their haircuts for school! Aren't they the handsomest boys ever? I had been putting off cutting their hair because one of them has a lot of scars on his head that are hidden when his hair is longer. We were able to cut it short enough that they were happy with it but long enough to make the scars less obvious. Phew! They were also both quite surprised that their haircuts didn't hurt. Little things like that pop up all the time, so unexpectedly. It stings my heart that something like a haircut not hurting would bring them so much joy. They really enjoyed having everyone fuss over how handsome they were afterward though, which we were all more than happy to do.
Here they are waiting for the bus! So much anticipation had been building for this. They started asking when school would begin as soon as they got to America. They were very disappointed to learn it was the middle of summer vacation. It is finally time to figure out what school is like and they can't wait.
Theo was a little nervous about the lift on the bus for the first few days, but now he has gotten used to it. The bus driver has been really good about showing him everything she is going to do before she does it so he knows what to expect. She takes great care of them!
Orion just about leapt into his seat once the bus stopped. I am glad they are excited for their bus ride, since it is pretty long. There are only about twenty other kids on their bus, but we are in a rural area so it takes some time to pick everyone up. The other kids have been very curious and excited about the boys going to their school, and also helpful about showing the boys how things work.
There is a lot of catching up to do in so many areas. We are still learning about the concept of buying things, and that Mama and Papa are the ones paying for your milk at school - not the teacher! They are missing a lot of the assumed background knowledge, even in very basic materials. We often don't discover those gaps in their knowledge until we all stumble into them together.
Their excitement for everything makes it easier. You know the videos of kids finding out they are headed on a vacation to Disney? That is how Theo and Orion sounded as the bus pulled into school for the first time. They are so thrilled to go to school each day and learn new things. I have had so many people from the school stop me to tell me how much the boys' excitement has affected them. Again, we are so in awe to be their parents. They are still adjusting to the expectations at school. Orion had been entering each classroom by shouting hello and shaking everyone's hands...all out of excitement and absolutely adorable, but not always appropriate! Now that we are a couple weeks into school, we are working on keeping their excitement a little quieter and a little more suited to the setting, but happily it is still there.
These photos are from one of his many trips to our Children's hospital. This was us going to do some sedated tests, which he did fine with although I was a nervous wreck the whole time waiting for him! We don't have much new information about his condition at this point. It isn't progressive, which we knew. His hearing is great, which we were pleased to find but expected. He has a little bit of vision, but it is hard to assess, which we also expected. None of these have changed what we are doing, but it is good information to have.
I can't explain how much we love Evan, and the rest of children as well of course. I think the bedridden kids, the crib kids, come across as very scary and hopeless. It is so hard to see a little blurb and a photo or two of a child and make a decision, even when the photos and description make a child sound "easy." (Haha, easy child? I know, I know, doesn't exist!) With the bedridden kids, and also transferred kids, the child is most likely drugged, in all but the most rare cases is neglected at a level the average person can't comprehend, with so many unknown diagnoses and an unknown future. What we have found after getting Evan out of his crib and into the real world, is that all of that scariness melts away. What seems frightening in a crib in a room full of other neglected children and adults seems so much easier in the light of day - in the living room of your home, in a carseat in your car, outside on a walk with your family. Even with Theo and Orion, who were in much better conditions than Evan, you could see something fall away once they left the orphanage and arrived in America with us. Adoption changes lives. It can be hard. It can be heartbreaking. It is worth it. We are so thankful for our children.