Quite recently we have found ourselves entering a new chapter of life with one of our sweet boys from Haiti. To protect his privacy I won't share every detail but I do feel it is important to add yet another "postscript" to our Haitian adoption story. I do so because it appears that this blog continues to be a resource for families on a similar journey. In 2 Corinthians 1:4-5, we are told that God "comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." I hope that by adding a few new chapters to our story we can do just that - encourage or comfort others who may experience similar situations now or in the future.
I should preface this by saying that we know of adoptive families very near and dear to us who are going through struggles so much greater than ours with their precious children. Our hearts ache along with theirs, and it is not my intention to overstate our situation (which sometimes seems quite minor in comparison.) Yet it is through walking beside them that we have been encouraged to pursue any and all resources, testings, evaluations, etc. while our child is still young and while we have the opportunities being stateside. It is our hope that in so doing we will give him the best springboard for his future in every way possible.
To make a long story (somewhat) short, we have become concerned about two issues primarily. The first is what we have called "cognitive connections" (or lack thereof) and which I would describe as moments when we are talking directly to our son in simple terms and receive a blank look of confusion or a response which is completely out of context to the conversation. Along with that I might add some linguistic concerns, which at this point we do not know whether they are related directly to cognition or language. For instance - learning colors, which his brother at almost the same age knows perfectly, whereas this child calls every color "red." However, if we point to an object which is "yellow" he can then point to another object of the same color and say, "like that (car) is yellow." But if we ask him five minutes later, he will say the same object once again is "red."
The second and more pressing concern we have is regarding our son's struggle with impulse control and cause/effect thinking. While we have certainly seen improvement in this over the past two years (for instance, he usually now will not take candy or food without asking whereas one or two years ago he might consistently try to take a handful when we are not looking) there are times when all thought of consequence seems to fly out the window. Often this happens in a context where he is with peers. Two examples just in the past week would be: (1) Our current home sits on the parking lot of a church and the little boys know they are not allowed outside without an older sibling or adult. However, when a same-age cousin came to play, our son immediately acted upon her suggestion to take the wagon out into the parking lot without supervision and without thought of danger. (2) This example is on the lighter side, but still exemplifies the dilemma. Both little boys were taking a bath, and I had instructed this son not to play with the bar of soap and to put it away in the dish. I watched while he obeyed, then left the room but remained within earshot. I heard this son tell his brother not to play with the soap because Mommy had said so (but apparently his brother did so anyway.) Rather than act on what he knew was right regardless of his brother's choice, when I re-entered the room the son in question guiltily tried to submerge and hide the soap he had back in his own hands.
As I mentioned earlier, dear ones in our lives are struggling with extremely difficult adoption situations, and some are due to the ramifications of older child/ren reaping the tragic consequences of impulse control issues. We hope and pray that early intervention may allow us to protect our son in this area, but at the same time we know that early biological factors (drug and alcohol exposure, nutritional deprivation) victimize children even as early as the womb.
Truthfully, I did not know where to begin with seeking the help we might need. So I reached out to another adoptive mom whose blog was often a resource to me and received from her the recommendation to start with a "neuropsychological evaluation" of our child. Of course, I had to do some "googling" to find out what that even meant! It was helpful to me to realize we were not talking about psychological testing as much as evaluating cognitive/learning processes. However, I wanted to be able to work with someone who specifically had knowledge regarding adoption issues and graciously God allowed me to stumble upon a nearby hospital which actually has an international adoption department. I wrote for information and in return received a phone call from a wonderful lady who listened, recorded, and recommended the next steps to take.
Last week, my husband and I met with the director of a center dedicated specifically to developmental adoption issues. In future appointments she will provide testing for our son and she will coordinate directly with the hospital as well. She encouraged us that there are many different pieces to the "puzzle" and we need to try to find them in an organized fashion. Her recommendation was to begin with a hearing evaluation followed by a speech evaluation. She explained that with international adoption some of the language/cognition issues could be as simple as a hearing problem (wouldn't that be nice!) We will find out soon enough as we received a call yesterday alerting us to a cancellation on Monday which allows us to have him tested in these two areas immediately.
I am so grateful to God for opening the right doors for us. Though there are overwhelming moments when I feel that the next few months stretch out as a blur of doctor's appointments for us (a couple of our other children also need some specialized medical care prior to returning to Chile), I am reminded of His perfect provision and timing and that just as all the hard work prior to adoption was "worth it" - these issues pertaining to our son's health and well-being will be even more so.