So, what's it really like? How are we doing? What is HE like? The best way I can put it is that having him home is like having a 3-2-1 year-old baby.
Like other three year-olds, Titus has a zest for life! He has boundless energy that begs to go to the park at 6am (which I sometimes indulge) and the pool almost every afternoon. He is a sponge for immitating behavior. His memory is incredible - he remembered a week later that the bakery lady gave him a free cookie the first time and now he gestures for it each week! Now three weeks later he says "mmmmmm" (yum) when we pull in to the parking lot! He likes to be helpful and you'll often find him running the swiffer on the floor after dinner or helping place newly washed clothes in the dryer. He is independent in some ways I didn't expect, such as washing his own hair in the tub and rinsing his dishes in the bathroom sink after a meal. He enjoys displaying his ability to put his socks and shoes on by himself.
Like his two year-old brother, he is finding his voice and learning to express his opinions. He didn't have many options in the orphanage and now enjoys the freedom to accept, reject, and make requests. Giving heed to his reasonable wishes are a great way of buidling trust with him. He is learning the expectations and boundaries in our home. He has a heart to learn and do what is right. When he finds an activity he likes he desires endless repetition, whether it is walking up and down the stairs, climbing in and out of the pool or humming a new sound sequence. He's working on making new pathways in his brain and it is exciting to watch. He loves anything musical and hums his way through his days. He is not speaking much and his speech is not clear, but he is vocalizing more sounds than he did when we first received him. He understands and obeys simple commands in English now, such as "come here", "sit down", "lay down", "give me a hug/kiss/high five". Last night I asked him, "Do you want your (Chinese childrens') music?" and he answered, "My moo!"
Feeding him and taking care of his basic needs is more like having a one year-old. He is a little guy, wearing 18 month sized clothing and using the size 3 diapers Zane outgrew about a year ago (glad I hung on to them!). He was still formula-fed before coming to us, with the excecption of soft fruits, rice, noodles, and soft steamed buns, so most of what we feed him is soft and cut into small bites. His laugh is infectious and he loves simple games like peek-a-boo and simple toys like stacking cups and shape sorters. So many things are new to him that he walks around with the kind of curiosity and wonder of a younger child. It is enchanting to see him take in a new environment the first time we go somewhere new.
As for all of our children, we hope and pray that his development will allow him to excel in life and make the most of every opportunity. For now, though, in the newness of him coming to our family, I am so thrilled with the ways he is asking for and accepting the nurture of an infant. The bonding opportunities it provides are priceless and he is showing increased trust daily. His coos and hums are like a young baby and he has the cutest squeak that reminds me of my others' newborn days. We all missed quite a lot when he was tiny - during the years we didn't know he existed and the year we worked hard to bring him home. I'd give anything to get to snuggle "Tiny Titus" and have him never know years without a mother's love. Much of his first year was spent in an isolette, without the touch and nurture we take for granted with our biological children. Now that he is finally home we have a lot of lost time to make up for. On average, I spend 2-3 hours daily rocking, bouncing, swaying, and soothing. His head cradled against my chest, I sing the hymns and songs my other children have known from the womb. I pray healing over his body, spirit, and soul, and talk with God about my hopes and dreams for the kind of man this little heart will become. He spends another hour or so each day sweet and snug in the Ergo carrier while I homeschool, cook meals, or clean. This baby loves to be close to his Mama and often drags over the carrier or ball to let me know he needs it.
A phrase we've heard several times in our adoption training is "invest now, or pay later." We are giving all we have into the investment of attachment and bonding. Like most things that are truly worthwhile it is wearysome, but oh so good. Over the three weeks we've been home, he has progressed from scant eye contact to sustaining eye contact while we cuddle. In the last few days he has begun giving unprompted hugs and kisses! He has gone from rejecting Daddy to running into Daddy's arms.
So, in these "newborn" days and with also spending several hours each day in homeschooling and being sure to give Zane the much-craved one-on-one time we used to share, I rarely have a moment alone and I can't always tell you the last time I managed to shower. I'm in a foggy state of bliss and wouldn't have it any other way! Our family is smitten with him and as Kaira would say, "He is just the cutest thing ever!" Emmalia says, "I can't imagine if we didn't adopt him. I don't even want to think about it." The outpouring of love we have received from our community through meals, drop-by chocolate, phone calls, and encouraging messages have helped give us the energy it takes to keep up with our new 3-2-1 year-old baby and spend so much time focused on bonding and meeting our family's emotional needs in this transition. We are so grateful!