Saturday, April 27, 2013

Eastern European Thoughts, Thursday, and Benjamin

Staying in an apartment down from this country's "White House".....

Our facilitator found this for us...$60 for one night.  We're spoiled.

 I've been thinking the things I've seen.....

*Tiny little trash cans....the amount of trash produced is so much less.
*Florescent lighting in a little café in the little town, yet they don't supply toilet paper.  If anyone supplies rolls, it's small and limited.
*Most buy diapers only several individual diapers at a time.
*Cell phones are put aside in favor of individual interaction.  Meals may take hours, and no one picks up a phone. They are often not even in the same room.  I've never seen anyone text yet.
*Not everyone has Internet OR even a computer.
*What the outside of the building looks like may not reflect what the inside looks like at all (as you've witnessed).
*Many people here dress just as they do in the United States.  Black is usually some part of the outfit's here, but as it warms up we are seeing more jeans and t-shirts.  Even here I look around and see color.  There are many short short skirts and high heals, but also women wearing flats and walking around in comfort.  Not all are super models, though there are many beautiful women.
*With most jobs, time is taken.   There doesn't seem to be much rush, even at the checkout of the grocery store.  While a notary may take 10 minutes in the States, it may take an hour here....and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Things may take longer, but patience (in general) seems to be more.  A restaurant may take 40 minutes to get you your food....because they are cooking it from scratch.
*The history is amazing.  I wish I could share more.
*Farm land and greenery is everywhere once you exit the city.
*Alcohol is equally everywhere.  The grocery store didn't have a Starbucks, but did have a bar.
*The people seem to be more somber, but they are equally friendly and kind.  We've had many laughs.
*Middle aged and older people, that lived in communism, are more wary and less trusting...understandably.
*It is a "gifting" culture.  Gifts from the heart, no matter what the gift, are truly appreciated.
*It is equally a "gift to get things moving" culture.  A "gift" to get your paper on the top of a stack? Yup.  A "gift" to get an appointment quicker? Absolutely! It's not something that we see, but that has been shared with us.
*Naked bodies...on television, sides of trucks, calendars in shops, and paintings on walls.
*The prostitutes make me the saddest.  How many came from these same orphanages we are adopting from?  How many felt they had no choice but to sell their bodies.  I want to hug them, tell them they are loved and prayed for, and help...oh, how badly I want to help.

What we don't see?
Facial hair...almost none...
Anyone with special needs...ANYONE

It was expressed to us that when a child is born with special needs, they automatically give them up.  There are no schools, no services...very little medical for those with special needs.  To earn enough money, often both parents work.  Many feel there only hope is an orphanage, though we know that love, even with no services, is a better option.  Culturally special needs (in general) are not widely accepted.  I imagine there are many mothers and fathers out there hurting for their children they gave up, but are trying to do what is best.

That's what happened to our Benjamin.  He was given up at the hospital.  He has been waiting almost TEN YEARS. 

Ten years in a crib without anyone letting him know how special he is....left alone in his own world.  

As I mentioned before, at two months from ten years old, he is an inch and a half taller than Rachel (our tallest three year old).  He's sturdy and heavy as a rock :).  On his cheek looks like a scar from a bite mark, along with others.

This little bear is one he brought out with him.  Whether he's ever seen it before or not, we don't know. We just know so little.  We'll share more about that later.

 Institutional Autism? Yes, we believe so.  If he gets overwhelmed he smacks, spits, kicks.   Did he used to do this to himself? Hit? Self harm? Probably.  His tongue has grooves where he bit it.

He wants to be picked up a lot and LOVES daddy lifting him into the air!  He throws his hands up to let daddy know.  He's non verbal, but good at letting us know what he wants.  We are trying to show him the signs for mommy and daddy already.  (Thank you Melanie for helping us to think along those lines.)

We already recognize the signs of overstimulation and are finding ways to bypass it.  Rubbing his hand calms him to an extent.  He's not violent so much as overwhelmed.  He went from almost NO sensory input, to people looking him in the eyes, touching him, kissing him, and playing with him.  He will need to learn to love, to be social, to be tender.  We already see him trying to resist hitting when we say "no" in his native language and then "nice, nice" holding his hand and tenderly redoing the action with it gently. Yes, we been through some of this before.

He's so smart.  He can catch a ball.  As one of us holds him (and usually rubs his back or some such) another takes the ball...holding it by our eyes until he meets them...and then tossing it.

He wants to touch everything.  Sensory seeking after deprivation is SO normal.  A tree, a brick wall, a bush...all of it is a new toy...a new experience.  The trick is finding the balance and recognizing his cues to overstimulation.  We see a lot of stimming behavior ( once he feels "overloaded".

Most of his teeth are black, many ground down to the nubs.  His breath is not good, due to the rotting.  His sweet mouth is precious though.  Potty training still needs to be done.  He is capable we believe.  He's learning so quickly...after just three days of visiting.

We share so that there is no sugar others don't go into to this and think that there is no damage from a life of neglect.  He does physically look much better than we expected, yet there is a long road ahead.  A road we celebrate...a road we rejoice that we are on.  We just don't expect it to be an easy one though.

Thursday Benjamin already remembered us.  He saw us and his face lit up.  He stomped toward us and threw himself into our arms. 

We did not bring normal toys, everything gets thrown.  We bought the soft little stuffed ball here.  He doesn't know how to play with toys.  He's never learned. 

He WILL look us in the eye briefly (smile).  This is such a good sign.  He will let us snuggle him face to face, but soon it becomes overwhelming and he will smack or pull hair.  We expected this.  We face him out, while increasing his endurance of face to face love.  We already recognize the look when a smack is coming, BUT he has stopped himself several times now.  This is HUGE! 

On Thursday we were still so tired (possibly I was getting sick), but in between our visits, we found a store that sold us the only Internet connection possibility in the town.  The following pics are for Thomas' coworkers.  Shout out to those who are helping us communicate with our kids!!!

After we visited the store that helped us get connected to the Internet, we visited a small restaurant.  It was the only in town that our facilitator said was good.  As long as we didn't look up from our booth, we were "interesting" painting sat behind us (smile).

The town is small and I feel drawn to it.  I look forward to exploring.  We were surrounded by kindness, though we were told to stay home at night due to the many who start drinking when they get off work.

When we returned to the institution to visit with Benjamin, it was clear something was going on in his mind.  He started acting overwhelmed immediately.  We now believe it is one of his nap times.  The below photo is one of the reasons.

For the first time in his life Benjamin fell asleep in his mother's arms.


I started this blog post in one country and am now finishing it in another. 

We are in Vienna (in a hotel for our 20 hour layover...I'm sick and needed a bed) and I truly hope to share more later.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Benjamin and for our family.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh.
    So many emotions from this post!
    But much, much joy at seeing Benjamin with his momma and daddy--finally.
    Praying for him as he misses you and for you for healing and safe journey home.


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