The most common words of encouragement I heard from experienced adoptive parents in the first two months after coming home with S and H was, “Hang in there; it does gets better.” I only half-believed them. Certainly it had gotten better for them, but would it really be the same for us? And how long would it take? Unless they’d adopted a baby, I rarely heard people say there was much improvement for at least six months — and often longer. And so I was as prepared as I could be to dangle bare-knuckled from the ledge for quite a bit longer.
But here we are, three months home — technically, 14 weeks and 3 days — and we’ve come so far already. I noticed huge changes between weeks eight and ten; in the past month, I can honestly say that every day there are differences in behavior, attachment, coping, language, eating habits, and any area I can think of.
We could barely communicate three months ago, and now the girls are exclusively speaking English — even to each other. Their vocabulary expands every day, and they’re putting phrases and sentences together. Tantrums are few and far between now; they do happen, but it’s not every hour on the hour. And while we still see regressive behaviors, they’re briefer, less frequent, and not as intense. Attachment is going well — helped by the attachment parenting techniques we’re using and their incredibly receptive and affectionate natures.
I wrote about the progress in the food department a few weeks ago, and it continues to improve. Getting fruit and veggies into the girls is still a challenge, and sometimes they refuse the very thing they loved three days prior, but here are some things they’ve eaten recently: beans on toast, steel-cut oatmeal griddlecakes with a chili pepper dipping sauce, prosciutto and sliced tomato on bread, slow-cooked collard greens with ham hock, peanut butter on whole grain crackers, chicken noodle soup, and green banana shakes with avocado (sometimes). I also took the girls to a favorite vegan restaurant last week for lunch. Poor things: They don’t stand a chance with me as their mom.
While I keep fighting virus after virus, and B and I are tired most of the time, S and H are doing great — better than we expected at this point. We’re in awe of how they’re thriving.
So, yes, it really does get better. Every family and child is different, and you never know how things will go; it’s usually two steps forward, one step back. But if the adoptive parents I spoke to over the weekend at our Ethiopian Christmas celebration are right, there will be even more strides in the next three months. Can’t wait!
Image: Zoe Saint-Paul