Last week was rough. It started off with Anna rapidly spiking a temp of 105 (literally went from fine to very sick in an hour) and a trip to the ER. After, lots of testing and struggling to bring her fever below 103, they concluded that she had a lower respiratory virus (not pneumonia) that had to run its course. So we spent a few days fighting a very high fever in a very miserable child.
The fallout of this illness was an increase in behaviors which seemed to be declining. And that's what I'm going to discuss just a little. I'm not going to discuss Anna's medical diagnoses or labels or family history for a few reasons. First, I want to protect her. Second, both the International pediatrician and Anna's own pediatrician question the validity of these diagnoses, and third, she is not nor will she be defined by these labels given by an orphanage in another country.
Tantrums - All kids tantrum, right? Yes, that's true, but when a child with Anna's history goes into tantrum mode it is driven out of fear and self preservation. Anna might bite (herself and me), scratch, hit, or bang her head during a tantrum. Thankfully, hers are relatively short lived, but you absolutely cannot discipline a tantrum from an adopted child the same way you would one from a biological child. We typically, keep Anna close, and the main goal is her safety and ours. We might hold her or lay her where she can safely thrash around with us nearby and within sight. We always follow with comfort even when we feel like doing anything but being comforting.
Food - To be exact food obsession. Anna has known hunger in her life. She has known what it's like to go without enough food, and if anything terrifies her, this does. I'd say that over 75%, maybe closer to 90%, of her tantrums have to do with food. She can easily eat a grown man under the table, and she'll finish a huge meal and go back to the table 20 minutes later. One of the things we're working on is her understanding that there is always food available. Anna will not eat with her hands or out of my hands. She will touch her food and play with it, but will not eat it. Still that's more than many kids who have come out of an institution. But I do look forward to the day when she will snack on a bag of goldfish. She is learning to self feed, but this was discouraged in her orphanage so it's taking time. Most days she eats six times a day.
Stereotypical behaviors - rocking, sucking fingers, shaking head back and forth, etc. In orphanages, children are not soothed so they learn to self soothe. This is how they comfort themselves. Overall, the intensity of Anna's behaviors is much less than other children, and they seem to be decreasing. When she rocks, we sit her in our lap to comfort her. Sometimes she rocks and laughs and glances at us to see if we’re looking. I'm sure to some this is manipulative, but rather than get on her for it, we choose to use it as an opportunity to love on her a little more.
Hugs and kisses are hard to come by and must be earned from Anna. She is slowly but surely becoming more affectionate. It can be frustrating when others try to get her to show affection. We are working very hard to teach her the concept of family and appropriate affection, and when others push in, it only complicates things.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, I can promise you it's for neither sympathy nor applause. Please don't applaud me. I am not extraordinary, but I do serve an extraordinary God. I'm telling you this because I first, want to give you just a very brief glimpse of what Anna is dealing with, and more importantly, I'm calling on prayer warriors.
Now before anyone gets up in arms, we are doing everything necessary to help Anna. That includes therapies, doctor visits, and therapeutic parenting. But here's the deal. There are a lot of absolutes thrown around in the world of adoption, and one of them is that our children will never fully heal from the wounds of abandonment and neglect. However, I once again go back to God's Word and what it says, and that just doesn't line up. We are all damaged goods when it comes down to it, but we serve a God who heals our deepest wounds. So I'm asking you to join me in prayer for our Anna's complete redemption and healing. I'm asking you to stand with us in believing that God will reach those places that no amount of earthly intervention can reach. This is the hardest thing I've ever done, and many days my inadequacies loom larger than life. I've cried tears of heartbreak, tears of anger and frustration, and tears of joy, and over and over I'm forced to turn back to Him to give me strength and joy in this journey.
Psalm 107:20King James Version (KJV)
20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.