Joshua continues to make progress in all areas of his development, though in some ways it seems that progress has slowed a bit. In other ways, he continues to progress.
Health-wise, we have been blessed with little to worry about. Joshua caught up on his missed vaccinations. He is due for more blood work, but the last time we took him, his reaction was so terrible, we cannot bring ourselves to take him again :)
He continues to struggle with micronutrient deficiencies, which we address through multivitamins and extra vitamin D.
Developmentally, he continues to be the smiling boy we've known and love. His personality is certainly that of a child who is clever, funny, and happy.
He's been on another long airplane ride too! Earlier this month, I graduated from college with honors and we all traveled to my college so I could participate in my graduation. Joshua did not seem nervous on the plane. We had concerns that he might think we were returning him or that we were leaving him but he seemed secure and happy.
After graduation, we traveled to Disney World for the first time as a family! This was a bit more difficult for Joshua to understand, so we made many accommodations in order to keep him as happy and comfortable as he could be.
He has made the most strides in his ability to chew. I learned this when my finger was nearly bitten off in Florida at a Steak and Shake :) He is chewing much better now and is able to eat a small hamburger (with help) and other foods of similar consistency. This means we no longer have to create special "Joshua concoctions" for dinner, though we still do sometimes because his diet remains limited. He struggles to self-feed, though he is using a spoon a bit better.
In language, he is still incredibly delayed. His ability to produce sounds is improving and he IS spontaneously babbling. It is a joy to hear him in his room making sounds now! He has not learned many new signs, which is a bit disappointing. But he is mimicking the intonation of speech even better now. This sometimes causes frustration, as he comes to me as if he is "talking", but I cannot understand him. He will look at us and say, "Ah AH ah ha!" or something, and we will not understand what he means :( However, speech therapy is on the way, two times per week!
Physically, his improvements have been small. Physical therapy is on the way too! He hasn't seemed to gain much more weight since his initial rise when he came home. However, he is growing a bit taller. Joshua wears a size 3T shirt now and can wear 2T shorts, though they are a bit long on him. His waist is also teeny tiny and his little chicken legs simply refuse to put weight on.
Joshua was recently tested in on our early intervention system. As expected, he tested far below standards in every area, including in cognition. We have located a specialized classroom placement for Joshua where he can be with peers who are like him four mornings per week. He genuinely likes people and we think this will be a positive for him. However, we reserve the right to remove him and have therapy in our home if we find that the classroom environment is too challenging for him. So it looks like Joshua will go to school in the summer!
Some have asked me if he is potty trained, and the answer is a resounding NO! He doesn't seem to be aware when he's wet or dirty, though he learned the sign for "potty" and does like to imitate what we do in the bathroom. Self-help skills are also improving. Joshua will try to take his pants off and even pulls on his shirt. He is starting to learn to take his shoes off, much to the chagrin of his Mommy :) How often I hear the ripping sound of velcro and shout to the back seat, "Joshua! Leave your shoes on!" He also allows his teeth to be brushed and even tries to help.
Receptively, his language is improving. I recently said to him, "Joshua, come here," when he was not looking at me (thus, no visual prompt) and he came. He was playing with a toy and I asked him to turn it off, and he did. Progress! I'm fairly certain he has lost his ability to understand Bulgarian, as we play Bulgarian things for him on youtube and he doesn't really respond. He still understands the few Bulgarian words we speak to him (hello, goodbye, here, etc.) but it seems his English language ability is growing.
(A "Joshua meltdown" while in Disney World)
No, he's not always happy. He's not always easy. His progress has been hard-won and will continue to be so. Special needs adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those who demand certainty and have expectations that aren't reasonable.
Instead, special needs adoption is for those who are willing to work hard, prepared to fight for their child's needs, who know there will be late nights and even tears, but who also know that the most unique blessings come as we parent these little ones. We are empowering these children to become all they are capable of being. There is great joy in that.
Joshua was rescued from a place where he had no future. He was not even from a good orphanage. Instead, he risked a bleak future and even potentially death. The pale anemic boy with legs that bowed like new tree branches from rickets, who rocked against the fall and could not walk is no more.
If you helped us redeem him, thank you.