I thought I would try to give a quick update about what’s going on at the Parks’ house. We have been home a little over a month with Elliott. We have had many new “adventures” since Elliott joined our family. The first couple of weeks were extremely hard as we dealt with and worked on several different things: helping Elliott use sign language at mealtimes instead of screaming through them all, helping Elliott gain comfort with riding in cars, going outside, baths, diaper changes, putting on pjs, and putting on shoes ( instead of screaming through them all!), helping Ryan adjust to sharing a room, helping Ryan learn not to put anything (no matter how kind hearted the intent) in Elliott’s crib with him at night—no books, no wipes, no stuffed animals, etc…, helping Ryan adjust to his nap/rest time being in the bonus room in a special tent while Elliott napped in the boys’ room, and helping Anna adjust to having two younger brothers!
Dr. Karyn Purvis, an expert on adoption issues, bonding, and connecting, encourages new adoptive parents to spend much of the first two months just being with their newest family member as much as possible. She talks about how infants naturally get the time at home all day with their mommies, especially if nursing, and how children who are adopted can “catch up” on many of the things they missed out on as babies like rocking, being fed, being sung to, etc… We believe that our family needs a little more time of just being at home (and at the various dr. offices) while we continue to foster some bonding and continue to adjust. Elliott will be us for the rest of his life and will have lots of opportunities to make friends and get out and about, so we see absolutely no reason to rush these first precious times.
I have had several local and far away friends ask about how I am doing since I haven’t been around and have been pretty silent on email, Facebook, and on the phone. I am doing well!! I am very busy just meeting and trying to understand the needs of all three children while also maintaining our house (food, laundry, etc…). I will certainly be ready to return to the fellowship and study at church when we feel like Elliott is ready. Since a church nursery has many similarities for Elliott to his orphanage setting (lots of children, fewer workers, shared toys, etc…) we do not want to push him into the setting before we think he is ready. We also cannot predict what behaviors may come out once he is back in that setting again! Also, we want to strengthen the bond he has with us by us meeting all of his needs including diaper changes and feeding, before someone else meets those needs for him (even if just for an hour or so).
God has given me such wonderful friends. One friend knows how lonely Sunday mornings can be when everyone is having fellowship at church and you are not able to come Sunday after Sunday and she has come and visited with me and Elliott during one hour of church. What a blessing to me! Other friends have continued to email me prayers they have lifted for us during this transition. Just reading the words of their prayers has encouraged my heart and connected me with them in Christian fellowship. A few others have come and stayed while Elliott and I visit many of the various doctors all over Raleigh. So far he has just been to several screenings. We have seen our ped several times, an orthopedic specialist (we were released from him last week), we have a vision check with a ped ophthalmologist next week as well as a check with an ENT and a visit to the endocrinologist to check for a very low vitamin D level as well as to check a few other things. After that we will head to a cardiologist to check out the possible heart issue and then on to the neurologist to investigate the medical file stating that one stomach of the brain (a little background…we still have no idea what the Ukrainian drs meant when they were talking about stomachs of the brain, so it will be another new adventure…for the record-we are not at all concerned about Elliott’s health at this point!) was enlarged when Elliott was younger. I am praying that a month or so from now we will be done with the many dr. offices and will be able to be cleared to just routine visits.
We still covet your prayers for Elliott to bond with us as his mommy and daddy and sister and brother. Also for the wisdom of all of the doctors we will see over the coming months. Finally, I covet your prayers for Jon and I to continue to grow stronger in or marriage in the midst of the many transitions and challenges we face each day. My personal prayer is that each morning I will wake up and remember that I need God just as desperately as I did each day while we were in the Ukraine. I pray that my false sense of control or comfort will not overshadow my real need for a loving God and His grace and provision and wisdom on a daily basis. God is certainly at work in mighty ways in our family and I want to be sure that I do not miss out on His plans. While in the Ukraine, Jon and I both read much of the book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan in which he talks about how everyone’s life is really a drama in which God is the main character and we are each only the supporting actors in our own lives. I want to keep that perspective and make sure I do not miss God at work in my life during these long days and new adventures!