On the day that we celebrated two months with Caleb, we were at a reunion picnic with our adoption agency. It was such a great opportunity to meet adoptive families in the area and to connect with other families with babies that are Caleb’s age. One of the highlights of the event was being able to see Ms. Tang again, the director of the orphanage where Caleb spent his first year. She was teary eyed when she saw Caleb, and it was bittersweet putting Caleb in the arms of the woman who handed him to me just two short months ago.
It’s so strange to me that sometimes I forget that Caleb was adopted. In the car this morning, I turned up the radio to hear a For King and Country song, and I thought to myself, “Oh, Caleb might recognize this one. I listened to it a lot when I was preg-…wait. I was never PREGNANT with Caleb.” My brain that, just seven weeks ago, was transitioning to the reality of four kids and forgetting things like bottles and extra clothes has now somehow formed this notion that Caleb has always been a Phillips kid, even before he was born. The baby on my hip is just…mine.
And then there are times that I am reminded that we do not share DNA, that I only carried him in my heart for all those months. It’s so silly. It’s when I’m clipping his nails. You see, many times pre-Caleb, our family would compare our feet. “Ewww! Your toes are so weird! They’re just like Dad’s.” “No, yours are weird. Your second toe is longer than the first, just like Mom’s!” When I am holding his chubby little foot in my hand, I’m forced to see it. Although they are completely adorable and almost downright edible, they don’t look like ours. The shape of his nails is different. His skin tone is different. It reminds me that for a while he wasn’t a Phillips kid. And it makes me teary to think about a time when I wasn’t the one mothering him. I missed out on so many firsts: sitting up, rolling over, standing, cruising, babbling, his first six teeth. When we adopted him, he was probably saying some words in baby-Mandarin that I couldn’t recognize.
I am, however, so thankful that we will experience SO many firsts. We are still awaiting his first steps. He’s so close, yet he refuses take the risk of standing alone and taking a step. I know he can do it. He’s so steady, and he practically runs when he cruises around the furniture or up against walls. He has begun talking. I’m sure if you heard his jibberish, you wouldn’t think he was talking, but the five of us know how his voice changes and how he lights up when he says things like cat, dog, mama, dada, Day Day (Braden), La La (Annalise), night night, all done, dance, did it!, and hi. The most unmistakable is “eeeeaaaatttt,” shouted like a battle cry as he crawls toward the kitchen table slapping his hands on the tile floor. It’s very Braveheart.
Month two has revealed other amusing things about Caleb. He has a little sense of humor. He thinks it’s hilarious when one of us puts a random object on top of our heads. Hat on the head…normal. Stacking cup on the head…funniest person ever. He now not only anticipates me popping up from behind the couch during peek a boo, but he also initiates the game himself. He crawls around the corner and then quickly peeks back around, completely cracking himself up. Speaking of crawling, he found the stairs. They are so enticing, considering there is usually a cat perched at the top. I am thankful for the hardwood floors. At least I can hear him crawling before he actually gets to the staircase.
We cut his bottles from four per day down to just one at bedtime. He doesn’t need them anymore. He eats everything in sight! He very loudly protests if you happen to have something that looks more appetizing that what he’s eating. Don’t tell him, but I’m totally faking him out with breakfast. We are both eating oatmeal out of identical bowls. Every day, he shakes his head “no” at me when I offer him his. Then I pretend to get a scoop from my bowl, which is far superior in both taste and texture according to Caleb. I’m sure my lies and deception will come back to bite me one day when he reads this. Until then, I will fake-feed him my oatmeal until everyone is full and happy.
The oatmeal fake out is apparently working! (Or perhaps it’s the corn and smores!) We had a follow up appointment at the international adoption clinic earlier this week. When we got back home from China, he was 19 pounds, 3 ounces, which is 13th percentile. He is currently 20 pounds, 11 ounces, which is 25th percentile! This was just 5 1/2 weeks after his inital appointment there. While we were there, he also had an appointment with a developmental specialist and a psychologist that studies attachment and bonding. His receptive language (what he understands) and his expressive language (how he conveys a message) are both excellent for his age. He understands the word “no,” and he knows it’s not a desirable thing to hear. Unfortunately for him, climbing the fireplace mantle and hanging on to the woodwork is a justifiable “no.” He can point to what he wants and say, “That!” He will shake his head “no” if he’s finished eating or if he wants something different. He quickly figures out how most toys are used such as the ball popper, the shape sorter, and the train tracks, but all these eventually turn into musical instruments that he bangs together. His gross motor skills and fine motor skills are great. According to the psychologist, he has attached very well. (I wasn’t concerned. He wants Mommy!) He looks to me for approval before he does something, and he’s constantly looking up from playtime to check and see that I’m still in the room. Also, when he’s playing, he’ll crawl over to sit in my lap for a minute or so and then head back to his toys. We simply could not ask for better reports!
I think back so often to this post where I confessed my fears over Caleb’s referral file. This morning in church, our pastor referenced Matthew 14:29-32 “So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” I never realized the parallel of this verse to the fears that I had then. Accepting the unknown was terrifying. It was my version of stepping out of the boat. We had a handful of pictures and a few seconds of video to guide our decision. I was nearly paralyzed with fear, when I asked God to take save me from that fear. Ever since that day, I have felt nothing but peace about our decision. Right now, I believe all those worries were for absolutely nothing. We may be in for a surprise in the future, but that is the case for any of our children. For now, Caleb is an extraordinary 14 month old baby boy. Here’s one of my favorite things lately.
Every morning, we walk into preschool with Waverly. She wants to read the Question of the Day. As soon as we walk through the double doors to the hallway, Caleb points and starts loudly “reading” along with her. I die. They are so precious!
And now, I’ll leave you with the Month Two photo shoot. Just. Too. Cute.