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Monday, November 7, 2011

Squirt Meets the Fishes

Squirt made a great impression this weekend when the Fish Family came to visit this past weekend.  She started babbling a brand-new sound, bringing her repertoire up to 10 vocalized versions of brilliance.  I'm not sure how welcome the Fish Five felt, however, since her latest sound involved screaming "die! die!" at the top of her lungs.

(You really can't plan these things.)

OneFish tossing Squirt

The girls so enjoyed meeting Squirt, and the Tongginator loved showing her off.  TwoFish, in fifth grade, gave this momma a much needed break, entertaining Squirt for hours at a stretch, whereas the younger gals disappeared into the newly recarpeted basement, playing all manner of things as long as it involved feather boas and too-small tutus.

We also headed to the local playground to expend some excess energy.

TwoFish and RedFish on the tire swing

The parents spent quite a bit of time talking about Squirt's developmental progress and attachment.  Mrs. Fish and OneFish both earn their livings as physical therapists, so they graciously shared some tips with me about Squirt's gross motor skills.  They marveled at the progress she's made in acquiring receptive language and commented several times on her strong level of attachment.  It felt good to hear their opinions, and to be reminded that we've been home just over four months.  In the grand scheme of things, that's just a blip in time.

We also spent a significant amount of time, once the kids were in bed, comparing notes about academic challenges RedFish and the Tongginator face.  Although vastly different in intellectual strengths, both girls struggle with inference and cause-and-effect, and we wonder if these "gaps" came about because of the challenges the faced during their first years of life.  Both girls also truly struggle with fight-or-flight responses in a variety of situations.  For example, neither can ride a two-wheel bike yet, and it's primarily because they both freeze in fear at the thought.  (The Tongginator even obsesses about driving a car, terrified at the thought, even though I've told her repeatedly that she will want to learn to drive a car long before she's legally allowed to do so.)

What do y'all think about that?  What challenges do your older children face, if any at all?

On Sunday, the Tongginator broke down several times after the Fish Five left.  Her only comfort was a thought I shared with her: "you know, Tongginator, you were always left alone before - all by yourself - when the Fish Five left to go home.  But now?  Now you have your sister, and she will always be with you."

What a difference it made.


Aus said...

Great stuff on the 'sister's here' comment there TM - quick on your feet!

As for challanges our olders face - yeah - having kids both from foster care and the instutution - and at a range of ages 6 months at adoption to 2 years at adoption - I see a number of challanges from an education / intellect perspective. Aside from their native ability - the older they are at adoption I find equals - 1)ours are easily distractable, 2) the most 'relevent' distraction is another child sounding like they are in distress (I find that interesting - you would have thought that they would have become conditioned to ignore that - obviously it 'triggers' a "I was in need and ignored and won't ignore this kid" kind of response) 3) while being raised in 'english only' households - foreign languages seem to fascinate them 4) they are incredibly "goal oriented" to the point of sometimes forgetting the "ends don't necessarily justify the means".

I could go on - but you get the idea. Still - at least for us - we've been able to 'love' most all of this out of them!

hugs - great update - aus and co.

lmgnyc said...

Has it only been four months that Squirt has been home? It feels like she's been here forever! She surely has made some amazing progress.

Love the fact that the Togginator has her sister now. :-)

a Tonggu Momma said...

Passing along a comment from someone who wanted to remain anonymous (because my blog doesn't allow for anonymous commenters anymore):

I'm the parent of a 14-year-old adopted from China who had no health or developmental problems at the time of her adoption. My daughter had not lived in an orphanage but had been with a foster family. Her only real problem to date has been that she CANNOT spell! I'm serious; this child who is a deep inferencer, aces Math and Science without really trying, and loves literature and the classics, still cannot spell "does" and forgets each time she is reminded. I'm pretty sure this phonemic awareness problem results from having switched her language environment at 12 months. We have talked about it quite a bit, both with her teachers and between the two of us and it's just something she is always going to have to be careful about. It was my main reason for not attempting French immersion.

She was also slow to read but I partially attribute that to two really bad years in a bad school, before we moved. Today she is a skilled reader, spends her allowance on books, likes to read slowly and take her time. Inferencing and cause and effect have never been problems, but she still doesn't have oral fluency, stumbles over her words, etc.

Anyway, I do attribute these issues to being an int'l adoptee.

Cedar said...

4 months...that is terrific! It must have been such a sweet time to have time with your friends and confirming advice from them. I am glad for you.

Mahmee said...

Nice to hear from you. So happy that squirt is moving forward with so many things!
We're about to embark on our own journey for child #2. Not from China this time. Should be an interesting ride.
Don't forget to take care of YOURSELF too!

Sharie said...

I would say to the anonymous (spell check corrected that for me) commenter (spell check) that I NEVER got 100% on a spelling test. I STRUGGLE will spelling constantly. My dad was the same way.
I'm from a family with 8 kids. 1/2 of us can spell the other half can't. I have always been a voracious reader, but it wasn't until I started writing a lot that my spelling to better - and still, spellcheck is my best friend.
It may not be adoption related - it could be hereditary.

As for the Tongginator not riding a bike - Amelia doesn't either...I know she can - she can ice skate and roller skate for goodness sake; but she is too scared to relax and let go. Let me know when you figure that one out:)

Tari said...

I LOVE the "you will always have a sister" thing. We tell our boys that, a lot. Now that they're older (8 and 11) we've explained to them that this one person will know you better than anyone in the world - in some ways maybe better than the woman you marry. This person is one of the greatest blessings you will ever receive, and try to treat them as such as much as you can without popping. Sometimes that even works...

Bike riding? Meh. My older son didn't get it until he was at least 7, and he didn't get tying his shoes until 9. He has sub-par motor skills, but he is slowly growing up to a point that it doesn't matter. Teachers can read his handwriting and he's decent at the 2 sports he likes. Beyond that, I don't much care. :)

The Byrd's Nest said...

I never realized the way Emma's brain worked until we began homeschooling last year. She can read the word "can" in a small reader five times and then on the last page, she will stare at the word like she's never seen it before and spend many minutes trying to sound it out. Her mind is intriguing to me. She still shuts down completely inside of herself, this is her escape mechanism and she does it well. We are getting her intensive therapy when we go home to Texas for 7 weeks with sensory and speech and having her tested for other things.

So Emma's fight or flight is always fleeing...always..inside her body somewhere. No matter what we have tried....this has not changed in five years. I don't believe that you can "love" that out of them. I think she needs extra help. I think they are both still grieving in many ways and if both of them do not learn to use their words when associated with feelings....we are in huge trouble in the teen years. Lottie always fights her way out of every situation, screaming and trying to control everything and everyone. We have tried using a psychologist for her but she will not cooperate...at all. She has anxiety over everything! So in January we are using a place called Inwardboundco.com and we will talk with her on the phone and hour a week to give us some advice on Lottie. I have a friend who has used them for almost two years and they have done amazing things with her daughter.

They have come so far in so many other ways. Emma has learned to trust us..not 100% but way more than she did 5 years ago. For me to hear her voluntarily tell me she loves me is huge...I know that is a big step for her and I have never forced her, she needed to come to this place on her own. I know Lottie is attached to us but yet I feel like she has anxious attachment where she doesn't believe that "we" need her and love her as much as she needs and loves us.

I'm so thankful they were able to put your mind at ease and yes...little Squirt has only been with you a short while! You are an amazing mom my friend....just amazing:)

Anonymous said...

My oldest (bio-- so there's no orphanage issue involved) talked herself out of trying things for fear of, well, lots of things, for a long time. As a tween, she seems to be outgrowing it now but I thought she'd have training wheels on her bike forever. We finally signed her up for a class through these folks:

They focus on kids with various disabilities that make riding a two wheeler difficult, but they also do workshops for kids who just haven't mastered the skill. A friend recommended them after they taught her son (adopted-- also late to the two-wheeler party). They were fabulous. Very supportive atmosphere, no falling, nothing to be scared of. One morning with Loose the Training Wheels and my daughter turned into an avid biker.

3cmum said...

Just wanted to say my bio daughter did not learn to ride a bike until this summer, after she turned 10. At 8 she was tested as the PE staff said they thought her lack of coordination was more than that...and yes it was. Huge vestibular and balance issues. But handwriting perfect and intellectually she is ahead of the game..so no one had ever caught this. Took 2 years of solid OT to get her on a bike. And she has a ways to go to get long rides under her belt. So don't stress yet....she reached the point of crying at the sight of it and it was only suddenly this summer that she took the baby bike out and started trying it out, then progressing to hers...all in an afternoon.