Thursday, August 26, 2010

School, the new frontier.

Baba and Brodie at the Golden Flake Tour

We met with the principal, vice-principal and counselor today at McAdory Elementary. It was a great meeting and we both felt great relief at the answers they gave us. Tomorrow we are going to take him to his new classroom after school so he can get acclimated to the classroom and the teacher. Mrs. Logan will be his teacher and she is super nice. We met with her today and spoke with her about our concerns and his special needs. We are planning on starting school with him Monday morning. Lorrie will set with him for the first few days. He will only go from 8:05-10:05 for the first few weeks until he gets more comfortable. We have some anxieties about this, but our trust is in the Lord. He has brought us this far and he will continue to calm the heart of our son. Every week we stretch him a little bit more with his comfort level and so far he has done well. We know school will be no exception. Our visit to the family therapist has given us so much confidence in what he can accomplish. We both feel that his best chance to learn, grow and develop is in a classroom setting with other children his age. He is getting bored staying at home every day, plus Lorrie is going back to work in two weeks.
We continue to work on our bonding, adjustment and trust each day. One thing the therapist said that was helpful to us was how much orphan children want to be held when they first get home with their new family. These little children have gone their whole life without being held lovingly by anyone. Now that they have a family, they can't get enough time in our arms. Some people have said to us "Why do you guys hold him all the time, you are going to spoil him." We asked the therapist about this and her response was, "you need to hold him as much as he wants. It is part of the bonding and he wanting you to hold him is one of the main ways that bonding occurs. He will press his face against yours and that is a great thing. So hold him as much as you can initially, it is vital to his adjustment." So if you see us holding him, it is not a kid being spoiled, it is a little boy enjoying his forever family. BTW, what is so wrong with spoiling him with attention and love anyway. He was abandoned by his parents and has been without a family for most of his life, we think he deserves a little spoiling and attention. Continue to pray for him as adjusts to his new school and his new American friends.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Very Successful Day

We had a lot of anxiety about our visit to the International Adoption Clinic today. After the dentist appointment we just didn't know what to expect. Our appointment was at 10AM and we were there for 3 1/2 hours. We first sat down with a social worker/family therapist who specializes in internationally adopted children. She asked us several questions and just observed Brodie's interaction with us. The feedback we got back from her was outstanding. She stated that Brodie was in the top 1% of all the children she sees in relation to his adjustment and bonding with his new family. She never recommends that newly adopted children enter school the first semester. However, Brodie is doing so well that she feels he will do fine in Kindergarten. She was simply amazed at how well we were all doing. It is all an answer to prayer, it is such a God thing. We then saw Dr. Chambers and she also asked us many questions. She did a general exam and was pleased at what she saw. We then went for an ultrasound to look at his kidneys and then it was off to the lab for six vials of blood. We had a few rough moments, but for the most part he did great. It all must be so overwhelming for his little mind. The Doctor agreed that he is most likely just about to turn six. We go back in three weeks to get the results from his blood work and ultrasound. We felt so affirmed as a result of this visit. We felt as though things were going well, but to have a professional put us in the top 1% of well adjusted and bonded families was a real confirmation. As I said, this is not due to us it is all because of Jesus Christ.
What a great afternoon we had together. We played football together, did homework, ate cookies and finished our night catching fireflies. Brodie was fascinated by these little bugs whose bottoms light up in the dusk of evening. Every day we learn to love him more and each day we learn more about our son. He is an amazing little guy. He is not an orphan, not a strange kid from another country, not an adopted boy, his is simply a 6 year old normal boy. He likes to play, run, catch, throw, play with bugs, and kiss and hug his new family. He is constantly loving on us and we are loving that. We are more optimistic about our future than ever before.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dentist Appointment

Brodie watched his sisters get their teeth cleaned first.
It was then his turn, and it didn't go well.

Dr. Shannon's office took a set back yesterday afternoon when the cry heard around the world took place. We were not sure how his first dentist appointment was going to go, but we found out quickly that it would not go well. We thought that if he could just watch his sisters get their teeth cleaned first and see them get prizes, he would be willing to do the same. It came his time and we had to forcibly lay him down on the table while Dr. Shannon bravely put his fingers in Brodie's mouth. It took 4 people to hold him down and Dr. Shannon had to pry his mouth open. He almost lost a finger at one point. The exam lasted about 3 minutes, but it seemed like 3 hours to us. The results were not good. He has two teeth that are beyond repair, another one that will need a crown and another one that will need a filling. We will schedule surgery for the dental work, but not for a few months. As we suspected, Dr. Shannon doubts that Brodie is really 6 1/2. He has no 6 year molars yet and has not lost a single baby tooth. He feels Brodie is more likely 5 1/2 to 6 years. After Brodie got up from the table he did get a few prizes. A spongebob toothbrush, toothpaste and a bouncy ball will not be enough to convince him to get back on that table. He was ringing with sweat, red faced and completely exhausted from those 3 minutes. It was likely the most horrific event of his short life. We have an appointment at the International Adoption Clinic on Monday and now we are thinking, it is not going to go well. Amazing isn't it? He gets an exam and shots in China and doesn't flinch, but freaks out when someone looks in his mouth. On the bright side, he continues to improve with his English speaking. He is singing his ABC's and can count to 20. We are planning to speak with the principal of the Elementary school next week about his educational options. We are just hoping that the first day of school will be better than the first dentist appointment.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We are pictured with Lily. She is a guide from China who assists
parents with their Chinese adoptions. We attended the Chinese
adoption reunion put together by Lifeline.

Maggie's first day of 7th grade.

Andie's first day of 5th Grade

Averie's first day of 2nd Grade

He used up the gutter bumpers.

Everybody Goes to Milos.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Every day...a learning experience

Most new adoptive parents are ill-prepared for life at home with their new child. While you are in country with your child you really don't get a good sense of what life will be like once you get home. These first few weeks are tough. He is getting to know us and we are getting to know him. Boundaries are set, language barriers are always tough, the new routine is an adjustment and adding to an established family is interesting. Adopting a 6 year old who has lived his whole life in an orphanage comes with many risks. The bonding that should take place naturally takes a little more time. I really believe that Brodie still has in his mind that this is not his permanent home. He is staying with us for a while, but eventually we will drop him in a new home. That is what orphans come to expect. Their whole life someone has taken care of them, maybe even showed them love and then they leave. They are not conditioned to bond with anyone because everyone who has ever loved them or shown them attention has eventually left them. I believe that Brodie wonders when that day will come with us. I cannot speak to him logically and help him understand the concept of a forever home. Adopted orphans also have a tough time understanding love. He has never known real love. His parent's abandoned him before he could understand the love of parents. His Nanny's at the orphanage cared for him, but they were paid to do that. The concept of someone loving him just because they choose to love him is totally unbelievable to him. We can tell him a thousand times a day that we love him and we can even show him that he is fully loved and fully accepted, but only time, persistence, and consistent compassion will teach him true love. Everyone says, "He is so friendly, he goes to everyone." But, that is not a good thing. It is critical that he bonds with us first and even has some fear of others. We don't want him to be unfriendly to others, but it is critical that he bonds with us first. He will still run to the first person that holds out a sucker, and that is not good. With all of this being said, things are going well, but it is a learning experience every day. Brodie has never been a part of a family. He has never known the dynamics of family life; being a brother, a son, a grandson. He doesn't understand the precious thing that we have given him. But, we are OK with that. In due time, he will understand, we will gel into a family and he will blossom as a Blackwell. Our church family continues to be so great to us. Tonight he got a left handed baseball glove, an English language learning CD and DVD series, a coloring book and some pictures. Valley Creek Baptist Church is truly an amazing place filled with amazing people. I cannot begin to tell you how blessed this family feels to call that church "home" and those people "family." Please pray that Brodie will come to understand the concept of love and that the bonding will continue and improve.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fun in the Sun

His first "Hot and Now" Krispy Kreme Donut!

Xtreme Kids Camp 2010 VCBC

Brodie is pretty good with a bat in his hand.

We are all still working on becoming a family together. Adding a little active boy has been an adjustment. Brodie never sits down unless he is sleeping. We figured he has learned around 30 English words and we continue to challenge him with new words. He can eat like a monster! He definitely has learned the word, "eat." He is getting more and more comfortable with the water when he swims and when he showers. This weekend was "Kids Camp" at Valley Creek. We had over 100 participants for the weekend, it was really great! Brodie and the girls had a great time. Bro. Steven rented some water slides and the kids went nuts on them. Lorrie and I got a much needed 3 hour break this afternoon, Mrs. Nancy took our children for a while and we got a work out in. We usually run 3 or 4 times a week, but since China we have only managed 2 runs. Brodie is sleeping well, adjusting well and seems to be very happy with his new home.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Life At Home

Brodie is doing great in McCalla. He loves his new home, his toys, the Wii, his new bike and especially his sisters. I am so proud of the girls, they have been tremendous. They have really enjoyed teaching him what it means to be a Blackwell. He loves them too. He is now sleeping with Maggie every night, he likes that best. We tried the bunk bed the first night and that didn't go so well. But with Maggie he seems right at home. We had a great weekend together. Friday night we ate at the San Antonio Grill with Grandma, Grandpa, and the Atchisons. The servers all sang to him and awarded him with a free fried ice cream, he even wore a sombrero. Yesterday we spent the day with meme, papa, and the Dummiers. We swam, cooked out, rode the golf cart around and even found some time to get on the bike for the first time. He doesn't quite understand the concept of steering and peddling at the same time. Today he made his debut at church and what a wonderful time that was. There were 430 people in worship today at Valley Creek and I believe everyone one of those people greeted him. Two weeks ago today he was in an orphanage in a small Chinese town, today he stood before hundreds of people to a standing ovation. What a difference God is already making in our son's life. What a tremendous church family we have. They took up a love offering for us and presented us with a check tonight. We feel so blessed to share our adoption journey with our church. They have been a part of it from the very beginning. I have been a pretty lousy father to my children today. I left the house this morning at 7:40 AM and got home at 10:30 PM. It was a great day, but so long. I hope to find some time to spend with all my children this week before school begins. The life of a pastor is so demanding especially when you have been out of town for two weeks. I am now trying to find that balance between my church family and my own family. The good news is that we are all adjusting to our new normal. Life is pretty amazing.