Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Another Milestone

This week marks an odd adoption and parenting milestone for us, as Nicolas is now the same age (14 1/2 months) that Tommy was when he joined our family almost two and a half years ago. We are now in familiar parenting territory, sort of. It's a funny thing to meet your children at different ages, and an odder experience still when the second child that comes home is noticeably younger than the first. It absolutely felt backwards, and at first we just didn't know exactly what to do with Nic. He was a baby, and we only really knew how to do toddler.

It has been fascinating to see the difference in their development, some of which may be attributable to their personalities/genetics/inclinations, but most of which is likely due to the varying amounts of time they spent in institutional care. I have never been more convinced that institutions are not healthy places for children than I have been since seeing the difference that seven months made in the development of Tommy and Nicolas. At 14 1/2 months when Tommy joined our family, he couldn't stand up alone, much less walk. He didn't start walking without coaxing until he was almost 17 months. Nic (who was placed with us at 7 1/2 months) has been walking fairly well for over a month already, is now practically running, and he is also quite a climber. It astonishes me how fast that child can move. In the area of gross motor skills, Nicolas has developed along a "normal" curve, and I must say it is nice not to have to play catch up.

Nicolas may have delays in other areas that we aren't aware of, but I don't think he does. The truth is that since he hasn't been noticeably delayed in any one area or having any severe attachment issues, we haven't bothered to do the intense evaluations that we did with Tommy who quite clearly had delays. We will see how things stand when Nicolas goes in for his fifteen month check-up, but considering his current development I doubt the doctor would recommend or even give us a referral for evaluation. We'll see.

In terms of health the difference between the two boys has also been interesting. The way things stand with his current diagnosis of sickle cell disease, Nicolas' long term health will not be fantastic. However, I have been amazed (and so thankful) at how healthy he has been thus far. His measurements have been solidly average in weight (he is hovering at or above 50th percentile for his age) and he is slightly above average in height. While Nicolas did not receive the absolute best nutrition in his orphanage, we know that he was eating regularly and probably getting enough calories (even if they were mostly from starch). In contrast,Tommy came home in the 15th percentile of height and the 25th for weight, thanks to parasites/inadequate nutrition. He has done a great deal of catch up growth since then, and is now also average in height and weight for his age, but it has taken years for him to reach that mark. Aside from a small bout of salmonella while we were in Congo, Nicolas has not had any stomach issues. We battled Tommy's intestinal issues for months and months, and ended up having to put him on a restrictive diet before they eventually healed. I can't believe how much easier it is when your child doesn't have constant explosive diarrhea and doesn't have to eat special separate meals. Remember, I had no reference point when Tommy came home, so I had no idea how much extra work I was doing cleaning, sanitizing, laundering, and cooking, or how much energy I expended preparing for and dealing with the messes that inevitably occurred whenever we went out.

As Nicolas continues to settle into our family, and as Tommy grows into his role as a big brother, things have quieted down (a bit). We still deal with some sibling rivalry, and I suspect this will always be the case, but they can now play together and I can comfortably leave them alone together for very short intervals. It has been such a joy to watch them learn to enjoy each other.

And now, as illustration, a series of photos we like to call "Two Boys in a Box:"

1 comment:

Laura Gifford said...

:-) They are so cute.