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Two years with two Chinese boys

A reflection on becoming a mom of 4 two years later.

Our family standing together in a light January snow.

Two years. It's a second, and it's a lifetime when you have kids. Two years with my boys means that one of them has now been with us longer than he lived in China. Two years of being regular siblings, having regular fights, and having regular tickle fights in the house.

Two years ago, I couldn't picture today. And, if I had tried, it wouldn't have looked like it does. My kids are 7 (Hayden), 6 (Constance), 5 (Lucca), and 3 (Kai). Hayden is so smart. I didn't know that when we adopted him he would come so far so quickly. Kai is so silly. He mimes songs and dances for us on a daily basis.

We laugh about how Kai looks annoyed in every photo. We cry when Hayden asks us about what will happen to his friends who are still "lost" in China. We wonder if their birth parents want to know who we are.

"Two years ago, I couldn't picture today... and if I had tried, it wouldn't have looked like it does".

Photo of 4 kids dressed in Chinese outfits

We built a gingerbread house today (a month after Christmas), and laughed and laughed that Kai can't stop eating the frosting off of the top before he puts candy on. He was supposed to put a sheep in the front of the gingerbread house (it's actually a barn), and he accidentally ate it instead. I kind of feel his pain, I'm on day 6 of a no carb diet, and I am nearly ready to eat the whole gingerbread barn.

Our Struggles

We never expected that two years later Kai wouldn't be speaking. He makes his needs known, but we cannot understand him. He is nearly 4, but he seems like a baby still, to us and to people who meet him for the first time. It's hard to be patient, when you have him around babies that were born after we got home with him, and they are already speaking intelligible sentences. It's a struggle for us to make sure he doesn't feel frustrated.

The moment I first held Kai. He's looking at the camera with a surprised face.
Kai two years home, wearing a backwards cap and a tie.

But we have noticed that he is a master of mimicry. He can do any routine we've ever done at the theatre. He has memorized all of our songs (we don't understand the words he's singing, but he's got all the rhythms correct), and he makes us laugh all day long. When he's good he's oh so good, and when he's bad, he's rotten. lol.

A photo of when we first met Hayden in China next to a photo of him standing next to me two years later. He has gotten taller by a few inches.

Hayden has been easier. He's still having a hard time understanding "why" questions. He doesn't always listen to his teacher at school, but when he does, he excels. He takes braille and O&M (how to use his cane), and he can orally spell anything we ask him to in his grade level.

Hayden smiles as Lucca kisses his cheek.

He still attaches to his father more than to me. And that is hard for me, because I feel rejected. Still, he sometimes comes to me and says he needs cuddles from Mommy, and it makes me forget for a little while. But he had to fend for himself for 5 years. It's not his fault. He has lived through more than I ever have. He has a lovely singing voice, and a knack for understanding jokes that are meant as asides when we read Harry Potter.

Our Triumphs And What Lies Ahead

Both boys have grown a lot in the past two years. Developmentally and physically. Both are still smaller than I expected them to be. Both are less troublemaking than I thought they'd be. They love family story time. Hayden loves to swim. Kai loves to eat rice.

So far, we don't need any surgeries. We haven't had any bad news from doctors (although the initial shock of that Hayden will lose all of his light perception one day was hard for us). In fact, our kids all go to normal classrooms with average peers. Hayden has a few SpEd teachers come in, and Hayden and Lucca are both in speech therapy, which is quite normal for kids that age.

Are we done adopting? For the foreseeable future, yes. But we have learned not to say a hard yes or no on matters of the heart. If we had the opportunity to help another child not be "lost", as Hayden phrases it, I'm sure we would do it again. But, for now, the chaos in our house is just enough to keep our heads above water and to keep laughing. We know we are lucky. We do not take it for granted one bit. We hurt when we see our friends struggle. We hurt when we see their children struggle.

We don't know what this family will look like in 2 more years. I cannot imagine my kids being 9, 8, 7, and 5. I cannot imagine the lessons I will have learned by then. I sure hope Kai is talking by then, but I know some children just never do, and I'm okay with that, because I love him, and it will be fine. If I could bless my kids with one thing each in the next two years, it would be this:

Hayden- Be bold in the truth. Know what you want and bravely ask for it.

Constance- Be gentle with your words. Being kind is as important as being smart.

Lucca- Retain your loving heart. I have never met a child who feels more deeply.

Kai- Use your stubbornness for good. Stand up for what you believe in, don't let someone tell you that you aren't good enough.

Being a mom is hard. Four kids isn't harder than one, it's just different. Adopted kids aren't different than biological kids, they just start out with baggage that you didn't give them. And things are still good. And I haven't eaten the gingerbread barn just yet.

The kids laughing on a bench

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