I've mentioned a time or two that we completed, roughly, 18million hours of training before our trip to China. There wasn't a week that went by in the last 12 months that we weren't sitting in front of a computer or reading some book about what this process would look like. We also talked a lot with other adoptive families and read blogs.
We hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. I knew that our boy would probably not know how to receive affection, wouldn't want to be rocked to sleep, and probably wouldn't even know how to play with toys.
But even knowing all those things, it hasn't exactly made the last five days easy.
Benjamin laughs often, smiles quite a bit, and loves to show off in a crowd. But he also enjoys hitting, grunting, shying away from most forms of affection, and being a stinker in general.
He loves his Daddy, and hates for him to be out of his sight. And he sometimes likes his Mommy just okay enough.
For the first two and a half years of his life, our boy only knew women to be strict and harsh. While we don't know exactly how the nannies in the orphanage treated him, we can hypothesize that they most likely did not rock him to sleep, cuddle him, or praise him very often. Evidence of this is shown by the way he self soothes when tired, rejecting any form of nurturing. Based on the fact that he only weighs 19lbs, we can also assume that he was not fed like a two year old should be.
It takes time to undo the trauma that has been inflicted, whether intentionally or unintentionally, on our boy.
It will take time for him not to hoard food in his mouth for hours after a meal time, because he's afraid he might not feel full again.
It will take time for him to recognize that a woman is not just for reprimanding, but is good for snuggling, rocking him to sleep, playing and even kissing his boo-boo's.
It will take time for him to accept the soft, reassuring touch while he is trying to close his eyes to sleep.
It will take time for his little body to recognize its deep need for liquids and to take drinks often.
And it will take time for us to win his unwavering trust and love.