Thursday, July 24, 2014

Benjamin Turns Eleven~Update

It's hard to believe our son has been home a year, let alone just turned eleven!

It's been kinda of a roller coaster of a week (low lows and exhilarating highs!).  Today was a bit of both.  It brought news that was discouraging, but I know we asked for clarity and I believe God is giving us just that.  It also brought another high...our Ben.

Ben has come a long way from this little guy..

To this one....

From living in a hot shed during the days to learning what it was like to live in a family.  For the next month Ben has a twin.  Though there is a little size difference, these brothers love each other!

Our two eleven year olds, Max and Ben.

I thought today would be a good time to update on our Benjamin.

Ben is our son and we LOVE and CHERISH him (Smile).  He is precious....but (to be expected) he is not always easy.  After all the neglect, drugging, and the like that Ben experienced, our son is like a puzzle that we are gradually putting together.  There are many broken pieces...some broken on purpose and some because the overwhelming number of orphans and lack of being able to get training.

He's perfectly imperfect!

Though Ben loves us, most people think his attachment is complete and celebrate his hugs and climbing up them as adjustment.  Truthfully, except with family, we usually try to head that off.  It's not a good thing.  He spent so long without family, that he is still learning so being that attention from everybody is not what we seek.  Another is that WE are his safe place, and people mistake his confidence and affection as security in his family.  It's not.

He learned in the institution that nothing is permanent and to just "go along with it".

Think of it this way.  When he was little he was in the hospital for months, then one day just moved to a baby room in an orphanage.  After a few years he was moved again to another group where he may not have known anyone and was just left in a crib.  One day around seven he was moved to an adult mental institution which was a very scary place for him....unfamiliar...grown men.  He doesn't 100% trust he's not going to be moved again.  That happened over ten years and he has been home only one.

Many, if not most children, having gone through what he has (for that long) will hold back a part of themselves, not wanting to trust.  If they do, they will just be hurt when they are passed to the next person.

We are in this for the long haul, not a short term fix.  He spent almost ten years in the institution and it may take that long to get attachment where we want (and hope/pray) for it to be (it may take longer).  Our reality is that it is all worth it and attachment is NOT automatic, but work.

Ben has made progress though!  When he arrived home he was cognitively around a two to three year old level.  He now averages somewhere between a three and four year level.  One year equaling one year of progress? Awesome!  His coordination has improved drastically.  The longer he was off drugs, the better he has done.  He also signs several words and tries to mimic a few words vocally.  His fine motor skills?  They have increased by a 100% easily!

Our biggest struggles? Behavioral.  For ten years he was taught that the only way to get attention was negative attention were the other boys.  The teeth mark scars on his body testified to that.  He still doesn't play with toys for more than 3-5 minutes, so he then (if not being worked with) will negative attention seek.  If he discovers you don't like something he will increase it.  We have learned the trick of the "blank face".  If you say "no" with a blank face behaviors don't seem to increase.  If you show any negative emotion he will smile and laugh about half the time (this has decreased).  The hard part is we NEED to show him proper emotion.  He's a puzzle within a maze.

Don't judge him for this.  It's learned behavior in an adult mental institution.  We ARE seeing improvement in appropriate emotion.  Ben has a sweet soul, but when the only thing that was written on his "blank slate" was laughter at injury and such...we have to rewrite his experiences and erase them at the same time.  It's not easy, but BEAUTIFUL and full of redemption.  Oh, no where near God's, but an echo.

He's also a little of a puzzle medically.  It doesn't seem to be anything serious, but...

I guess you could say he keeps us on our toes!

It may have been a year, but Ben has had us growing in ways we didn't know was possible.  He's challenged our parental thinking, taught us compassion, and generally made us think even more outside the box.

He IS a blessing!  We are thankful for this eleven year old boy of ours.  Happy Birthday Little Dude!  We thank God we were allowed to be your family!


  1. Happy birthday Benjamin, you are a treasure!

    Kat, I know full well what you are going through, I have scars from being in those trenches, so I feel you and I love you... If you ever need anyone to talk to, I am here!

  2. How easily I can relate to your words. Reading the blank stare & the way you have to maneuver others during those 'charm attacks' that occur when Mom isn't giving the desired answer, aka lets see what you say about it. Tough days when they choose a caregiver & tune Mom out as just another option:/ I applaud you Kat & I congratulate you on a year with your Son & the joyous celebration of His first year Home!:)

  3. Happy Birthday to Benjamim!!
    I loved reading the update, and my family understands exactly what you are going through with him....times three! :). The three foster children we've had since February, were just described perfectly in your Ben! -The laughing in your face when they are in trouble, and the negative attention seeking, are there, but most of all, the enormous amount of love for them. :)
    -Only we have to worry about having to give them up sometime...
    God bless your dear family! I LOVE the pictures of Ben!

  4. Not judging. What behaviors would I have, having spent a year in a mental institution, how trusting would I be? Poor kid. I'm so glad he has some stablity and parents that understand that this kind of thing takes a while.

  5. He's incredible isn't he! A survivor through and through! And now you have given him wings to FLY! Ben you are my hero! You CAN do this! To be allowed to save a life deemed unworthy is a precious thing! Praise God!! The Giver of ALL GOOD GIFTS!!! (((((((((((BIG HUGS))))))))))))))


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