To start, David and Mackenzie have been little champions as a brother and sister. I mean, when you really think about the reality of moving in a 7 year old permanently and saying, "Hey kids! Meet your new brother!", your kids are bound to rebel. And ours haven't. They really truly haven't. They have never asked if he could go back or go away. I was prepared for that, but is some mysterious God ordained way, they have loved him and literally taken him in as their sibling.
I remember when Mackenzie was born, watching David interact with her and the bond they shared. I thought I would melt every day. Well, multiply that by a million. Because watching your children choose to love a complete stranger as their sibling is pretty humbling and amazing. Adoption isn't natural. It takes everyone time, but I have been blown away by the fact that our family unit is intact and stronger than ever. Z is easy to love because he is happy, loving, and easy going. Under the surface, he has scars.
Fight or Flight. That is what we have battled the past month and are having victory in. It is continual new fights and flights that surface, but we are trying to keep our heads above water with it.
Z has never really ever had an official "diagnosis" of any kind. The most accurate "label", since everyone likes to have have those apparently, would be a sheer "lack of exposure". I have said before Z is very much like an international adoption where he seriously has no clue as to what is going on.... from Easter to blow dryers to knowing what backwards means, he doesn't understand. Many people believe Z is Autistic, on the high functioning end. We do not. When we were first told that in September, there is just something in us that just knew he wasn't. Not truly.
And more importantly, we didn't care. Who cares if he is?
But, what if he isn't? What if he ISNT? And what if he was never given a shot in life because of that label?
Anyway, after getting past all the special needs hoopla and people bewilderingly wanting to know why we would adopt a child like that, we did what we always do. What we wanted to.
We made him a Willis :)
I can't even bring you into the incredible boy that we now call son. He has overcome. Overcome more than any child you or I know. Every day he becomes more and more "normal" (whatever that is anyway).
I love seeing his "tendencies" go away. His abnormal behaviors eradicated. When a child is never given a chance to grow, an environment to do it in, and an advocating set of parents... how is it fair to say and diagnose what a child has?
We still pray and are believing and are seeing God heal him. And if we sound ignorant for that, then I am okay with that.
Let me tell you. Change has not come easy. A price. A big one. A huge, taxing, exhausting price. But, one that is priceless.
Children that are in foster care, DFCS custody, or legal orphans are often lacking HUGE milestones. They missed out. They lived in fear and were not taught how to properly do anything really. But, most importantly, how to process stress, fear, and new situations. The reason being because most of them continually lived in fear. Because of that, these children respond in the Fight or Flight modes because they don't have the tools and deep rooted security to operate normally.
Sometime shortly after he moved in, his fear came out full force. In a very toddler like fashion, Tim and I were being hit, kicked, spit on, head butted, and he would completely lose control and fall into the floor. His behaviors were never violent, but just impulsive and again, at the strength of a toddler. We were consistent and rigid, but all at the same time trying to be loving and nuturing... and the fights stopped.
His fear went away. He has trusted us. He knows we are safe. We are now just dealing with little nitty gritty behaviors that are mostly annoying and socially inappropriate. So, that's where we are in our journey.
The flight mode comes in and it is harder and way more emotionally exhausting than the physical. When he is socially overwhelmed, he will retreat to himself. And this is where the word "Autism" can come to bat. You see, the heart of Autism is that people choose themselves over others. And over their environment. And that is honestly why we don't believe Z is. He wants desperately to engage with others, he just has no idea how. He loves people and is always asking to go somewhere.
And also, the fact he was in isolation for so long and then in an orphanage, he was never even taught to engage with others. So, he struggles with how to do it.
The only way I know how to speak to this is to say, we go into flight mode with him. He can go into flight mode if he wants, but he is going to have a co-pilot. And I sure can be annoying :) So can my 2 mini co-pilots.
Tim and I go meet him in that moment. We bring him back in. Over and over and over. We give him tools, people skills, and basic conversation. And then he does it.
He has overcome and is overcoming his fight and flight response. There are some days, a lot of days, I seriously wake up and say, "Well damn. This is going to be really hard to do it all again." Tim and I about lose our marbles and then we gently have to bring it back. That is my mantra right now, "Bring it back in."
It is raw.
Now that I am sure I have talked everyone into adopting an older child that is possibly Autistic out of the system, let me tell you how blessed, how incredibly blessed, God has been to us.
At our breaking point, He steps in. Every time. Tim and I will hit a wall. And there God is. He gives you the grace you need in the moment. He shows you ugly parts of your heart that need to go away.
There is a beautiful refining not only happening inside Z's inward and outward body, but within the 4 walls of this home.
I love this child. I love him.
I love him as he was, as he is, and who God is going to make him. That is a mothers heart to the core I think. You love your child. And you just dont give a rip about anything else. Mostly, I love him enough to fight for him, even against himself.
I am grateful to be tracking and pushing forward with him. I would be worried if we weren't seeing this. He is dealing with and grieving his life and his past and all at the same time bonding with us and accepting our love. We are in it, folks.
His words are more and more frequent, his behaviors are less and less, and our love grows more and more. I cannot wait to keep reading your story Z. God is seriously amazing. I know He is with us. He is here. He cares for the orphans in distress and he sets the lonely in families. And quite surely, He is my daily bread right now.
So, who wants to come over for dinner?!
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