For parents with bio babies there are some things that happen "naturally" that may be taken for granted. As adoptive parents we realize that these "natural" behaviors are indeed learned behaviors. We have been very lucky with Little E and she is attaching nicely, but even after almost three months home I am still sometimes uncomfortable with her ease in going to people she doesn't know, and her rush to say "bye bye" to try to leave and go with whatever guest is leaving our house after a short visit.
We are learning so much about parenting an adopted child and are learning more and more each day. I will post these happy challenges as they arise to hopefully help PAPs when they finally get their little one(s) home.
Here are a few things that you may not expect when coming home with your child:
Babies start to chew food between 6-8 months. By two years of age they have little issues with most solid foods. Little E never had "solid" food in the orphanage. The children ate fast, there was no time to chew. Also, the children in the room were probably between 10 months and 2 years and sometimes, when busy, younger children were brought in. These children all had different abilities regarding eating. I am sure that foods like oatmeal and mushy potato soup were the easiest and safest food for them to give the children. Once I saw her with a small piece of wheat bread but she sucked on it until it was soft and just swallowed it. Some OPs often tell PAPs to bring goldfish crackers and cheerios for the children. Sometimes they give them to the children without the knowledge of the caretakers. All I can say is THANK GOODNESS we didn't try this. Once we got home we realized that she can't eat solid food. Her mouth hasn't been stimulated with solid foods and she doesn't know texture in her mouth. Because of this we take her to occupational therapy once a week. She has since learned to eat things like graham crackers that are in small pieces, bananas, and spaghetti...but she still hasn't grasped chewing. She knows what chewing means but we are trying to teach her to put the food on top of her teeth. We work on this with daily food training.
THE SHOUT OUT
Most toddlers wake up and call for mama and papa. A child like E who has been in an orphanage does not do this. Why would she? For two years she woke up and waited who knows how long for someone to get her. Calling out for someone would do no good. She would stay in bed awake forever if we didn't go in her room. I recently started telling her to call mama or papa when her nap is over. Finally, a few days ago she yelled out "PAPA!" at the end of her nap. I thought I would cry. She has since tried this a few times more (but alas it has been way before the nap is over so I have to tell her to go back to sleep).
Lately we have started teaching her about "checking in." Checking In is when you are in a room with other people and your child is playing across the room and they periodically make eye contact with mama and or papa just to make sure they are there and they are safe. Bio children do this naturally. Not having a parent or sole caregiver keeps this from happening. First they have to become attached to someone, then they have to learn to "check in." I recently started going over to E when she is playing and giving her a squeeze and saying "mama is just checking in to make sure you are okay." Or when I am in the kitchen and she is in the dining room I will call her name and say "mama is just checking in." I also said that she can "check in with mama too." We just started this exercise so we'll see how it goes.