That’s how long we’ve had our girls, though it feels longer. Again, it’s hard to know where to start. So much has happened! Warning: jumble of incoherent updates ahead. If you are prone to whiplash I suggest sitting out.
I suppose the main theme of the last several weeks is what a beautiful thing it is to watch them grow. Until now we haven’t really had the opportunity because all of our placements were two weeks long or less. But in the last nearly three months, we’ve seen our littles do all sorts of things we hadn’t seen them do before.
P can now crawl like it’s her J-O-B, and I just noticed yesterday she’s started to put some consonants in her babbling, which sound dangerously close to real syllables. Dubs is leaps and bounds past where she was with her language when she first arrived. Much of that lull may be due to regression as a result of the trauma of the situation, but after about a month we started hearing her bust out several new (to us, at least) words a day. Crazytown.** She can now communicate with us using her words more often than not, which is a blessing and a half. Nothing is more annoying and infuriating (for both me and her) than wild gesturing and “Uhh! Uhh!” until I magically happen upon what she wants. Yes, “more,” “help please” and “juice” are much better alternatives. Her meltdowns have become much smaller in scale and farther between, and we now primarily get the giggly, silly, kind girl we know she really is.
It’s fun to see them be able to 100 percent relax in their environment like they own the place. They seem to be assured they are safe here, and that we are safe people. They’re both sleeping infinitely better than when they first arrived, and we even had a babysitter (shoutout to E) successfully put them both to bed on Tuesday. A BABYSITTER. As in, not me. WHAT.
I took Dubs to her first gymnastics class today, and it was a joy to watch her jump around and explore, becoming braver with every step (though to be fair, she’s kind of fearless when it comes to climbing and jumping already). I think it’s safe to say we’ll be back.
P smiles and laughs all the time, and she sometimes just makes eye contact with me, crinkles her nose and smiles, even when I didn’t do anything, which is the best.
We discovered that if we hold P but set her gently in Dubs’ outstretched arms, they both burst into fits of giggles, and it is the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen.
It’s been extra sweet to watch them connect with each other, especially since Dubs was not interested in having to share anything with P for the first few weeks AT. ALL. Now she’ll voluntarily go get a toy and bring it to her or exclaim “hi!” to her in the morning. I think I’m even seeing her react to P crying when she wakes up in the morning and going to her door (Dubs is always awake first). EMPATHY FTW.
Dubs’ current favorite song is “Leave the Night On” by Sam Hunt, and she will dance to it even if I just sing it a capella. Her other jams are “Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” She really rocks those.
P and Macy are still BFF. She loves to jump in her little doorway-jumpy-thingy (technical term) and can pull up on a table (and her crib, which led to a mattress repositioning pronto). I think she would prefer to walk any day now, but we’re good on waiting.
Dubs thinks farting is hilarious. It is, but we didn’t teach her that. It’s ridiculous how kids just instinctively know farting is funny. Especially in the bathtub.
Dubs also loves bubbles, which is incidentally one of her favorite words. Whenever she sees bubbles, even on a TV show or a book, she exclaims with wonder, “buh-bules!!" They did bubbles at the end of gymnastics today for some reason and as soon as she heard the word uttered, she was beside herself and raced into the classroom before anyone else.
We had the opportunity to go to the Empowered to Connect conference a couple of weeks ago, which Craig talked about a little bit in his last post as a tribute to Dr. Karyn Purvis, who recently passed away. It was and is a devastating loss to this community, and she leaves behind a legacy of great magnitude, having changed the lives of countless kids and families who were at their wits’ end. She was a miracle worker and truly left a lasting affect on the world for Jesus. We are so thankful for her life.
ETC was once again so encouraging and practically helpful. I highly recommend the conference, Dr. Purvis’ book The Connected Child, or checking out the conference site for any adoptive or foster parents (or really anyone interested in helping kids who’ve experienced trauma, or simply interested in how brains work). It teaches about the affect trauma has on children and their brain (therefore survival behaviors and emotions), and how to approach parenting them to help them heal from it and therefore establish strong, attached relationships and as a result, improve even some of the most severe behaviors.
So, for those of you who are familiar with the TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) approach to parenting, we are knee-deep in re-dos, “let me see those pretty eyes”s, playful engagement, and “with respect”s, but Dubs has been really receptive and we feel like we are making a lot of progress with her in those moments of breakdown.
These girls are beautiful inside and out. They’re hilarious, frustrating, joy- and life-giving, fun, exhausting, silly, energetic, kind-hearted little humans and we couldn’t love them more.
** We learned at the ETC conference that when a brain is in “fight, flight or freeze” mode it actually loses access to parts of the brain that impact logic and language, so if she was in that mode of anxiety and uncertainty, which would make sense for a two year old in a totally strange and scary situation, it would make perfect sense that feeling safe and comfortable gradually unlocked all those words she knew before.