In the meantime, I thought an update on Jadon would be well-deserved. I appreciate all those who have been praying for his adjustment. We have now been home from Ethiopia for almost 8 weeks. It is amazing how much a person can change in such a short period of time!
Of course, language is a huge part of the early adjustment period for any internationally adopted preschooler or older child. Let's just say that language is a HUGE part of Jadon's life in general. This boy can talk and talk and talk and talk! Fortunately, we now understand most of what he says, as he has picked up an incredible amount of English in these last few weeks. One of the funniest things about his language acquisition is his tendency to add syllables. For instance, "grass" comes out sounding more like "ga-rass," "bike" more like "ba-yeek," and "Grampsie" more like "Ga-ram-pa-see." Quite a mouthful, really!
With Mr. Chatterbox always trying to monopolize the conversations around here, we've tried to be very purposeful in encouraging listening as well. We often have to say, "Ssshhh. It's Ethan's/Abby's/Daddy's/Mama's turn to talk." Of course, Jadon doesn't mind copying this technique himself!
"Ssssshhhh! Jadon's turn!"
When Jadon first came home, we were calling him by his Ethiopian name, Desalegn. However, as this pronunciation is difficult for most North Americans, we soon switched over to Jadon. In the last couple weeks, he himself has switched to calling himself Jadon exclusively. One of the games that we played a lot in the first few weeks home was a naming game. I would point to him and say, "Who's this?" He would respond, "Desalegn." I would point to myself and say, "Who's this?" He would say, "Mama." We would repeat this a number of times and then include others around us: Papa, Ethan, Abby, Granny, etc. This was a great help, especially in situations when we wanted to differentiate between mere acquaintances and closer relationships. If Jadon seemed keen on giving an inordinate amount of affection to a stranger, we would scoop him up, start the name game (restricting the naming to our own family), and move on. Also, I think this game helped when introducing him to new family or friends with whom we really did want him to feel confortable. At any rate, while we don't play the game as much now...he has switched over to calling himself "Jadon."
Many have been asking about Jadon's sleeping patterns. I am happy to report that he has adjusted amazingly well. After a bit of a rough start during which pretty severe expressions of anxiety would be manifested at bedtime, it seems that Jadon has grown comfortable with our schedule, his bedroom environment, and the idea that Mom or Dad WILL return or ARE available if he needs us. He has bonded nicely with his blankie, associating it with both comfort and his bedtime ritual. Although, given the choice, he would prefer to skip naptime, this Mom continues to insist on an afternoon rest. He generally settles quite quickly during this time as well.
For each of our children, we have developed a little tag phrase that we use daily (especially at bedtimes, but also at other times during the day) to encourage them to identify themselves as a uniquely designed child of God. Abby is our "beautiful treasure made for God." Ethan is our "Prince of the Kingdom." When Mike and I were discussing potential tag phrases for Jadon....well, there really wasn't much discussion! It seemed so obvious. He is our "Joy of the Father's heart!"
Raising young children provides a wonderful opportunity to see the world through a fresh set of eyes. I think this blessing is amplified when you are raising an adopted toddler. New things are not just new, they are revolutionary and incredibly fascinating. For the first time in two months, I drummed up the courage to bring out paints for the kids. It was certainly NOT mess-free. The kids enjoyed the chance to release their creativity. It was worth the mess.
Oh, one last thing:
I love to watch a child learning to pray. This is a typical Jadon prayer -- (in a kind of quiet, secret-like voice...which NEVER happens otherwise!) -- "Thank you God for Nanny. Thank you God for Grampsie. Thank you God for Grammy. Thank you God for Mama. Thank you God for Papa. Thank you God for Abby. Thank you God for Ethan. Thank you God for Abu. Thank you God for trucks. Thank you God for monkeys. (shouting now) AMEN! POTTYTIME!!"
"Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God's people; Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil. So, God's people, shout praise to God; Give thanks to our Holy God." Psalm 97:11-12