To begin with, Joshua is now past his 3 1/2 year mark and is steadily speeding toward his fourth birthday. We have celebrated nearly nine months home in our family. Two weeks ago, we also marked "Meetcha Day Part One", commemorating our first trip to Bulgaria to meet our son. That trip was utterly surreal, as we stood in a foreign country and met a little boy who would become our Joshua. The weather was brutally hot and we practically melted, even as Joshua was wrapped in at least three layers of clothing. He was a delight then, and he continues to delight us today.
Physically, Joshua can nearly run, can throw a ball (though has trouble catching one!) and is in good health. His height is still far below what we would like (5th percentile) and he has not put on much weight since his initial increase upon homecoming. The pediatricians are aware of this and are not concerned. He remains at 25th percentile in weight, wears a size 5 diaper, and 3T clothing (2T in pants!).
Emotionally, Joshua's friendliness remains as effervescent as always. He has a joyous smile, can appropriately greet people with a "hi!" and says "buh bye!" as well. He hugs many people he meets and is content to sit on a lap and get tickled. Though his emotions remain somewhat volatile and we note that he has trouble self-regulating, he is generally a happy child.
His eyes remain troublesome, but his visual acuity cannot be assessed at this time. He receives some vision support at his preschool and we will continue to monitor his needs. His eyes do tend to drift in a sort of "lazy-eye" way. We are grateful that he has an abundance of vision, but we definitely believe he has glasses in his future.
And yes, I said preschool! Joshua attends a developmental preschool four morning per week. From the look of things, he's enjoying himself.
(That's marker or paint on his face!)
We are monitoring him for any signs of anxiety or regression as he goes to school. He has been going for three weeks and thoroughly enjoys the bus ride. Each morning, we wait for the bus and Joshua stands patiently. When the bus appears, he will say, "Buh! Buh! Bee-Bee!" (Bye bye, Beep Beep) One of his speech concerns is his lack of ending consonants. He will smile and greet the bus driver and then say "Buh bye!" to me and blow kisses.
In his speech progress, he remains slow to acquire speech. Receptively, he can label things more accurately and makes so many attempts to "say" things. "Cah" (Cat) "Douh" (Dog) "No nooo!" (Oh no), "Uh oh" and of course, Mama and Dah-tee (Daddy). It is clear that he knows so much more than he can say. We are dedicated to ensuring that he receives proper therapy so he can begin to really speak. He does not have a formal diagnosis other than a significant speech delay.
But who needs words when you have these kinds of expressions?
Joshua became interested in putting on everyone else's shoes. These are my daughter's shoes, while we were on vacation during the 4th of July holiday.
Joshua celebrated his first fourth of July as a US citizen and in our family. It was a special day. During that holiday, we took a short vacation to the beach, where Joshua actually saw the ocean for the first time.
Daddys are good things to have!
Joshua continues to improve, to shine, to amaze. It is hard to imagine his little face anywhere but in our family. We often tell people that, if there is a Bulgarian Adoption Lottery, we hit the jackpot. We've never had attachment issues, sleeping issues, or other common adoption issues. Joshua made and continues to make a smooth transition into our lives. More than that, we see evidence every day that Joshua is emerging as the child he was designed to be. The damage of his upbringing, coupled with the challenge of his special needs, will make things like intelligible speech, potty training, and going to a mainstreamed "typical" school difficult. But these are not impossible things.
No, not every day is happy...
At the fireworks for July 4th - we left shortly after this! :)
But he is a beautiful child and we could not be more blessed to have him in our lives. And we hope that he is just as blessed as we are...as he walks into his new future.