Just over 1 year ago, on Saturday May 10 2008, we left our hotel in Beijing with a new guide, Julie. We drove for about 45 minutes to a rural area outside Beijing, and there we found Shepherd's Field Children's Village, where Fu Xiao Tong lived with a group of boys and girls. Although we had sent a photo album and a special gift with a note telling him we were coming to meet him and be his new family, I don't think anything could have prepared him for what was about to happen.
After a tour of the facilities, we went back to the main building and had a seat. Soon we could hear Xiao Tong approaching. How cruel to be awakened from a nap and taken away from everything you know! He came into the room in Leah's arms, crying hysterically. She put him on my lap, and the crying turned to anguished screams, accompanied by kicking and flailing. Poor child! He had some idea of what was happening, since he'd seen other children leave in the past. And, his nanny had done her best to prepare him for our arrival. But it was still incredibly traumatic. After a long period of crying, we were encouraged to just simply get in the van and head back. Not interested in making it any more difficult for him, we did just that. And he cried. Broken-heartedly. Finally, there was no noise--just silent tears sliding down his face. After a while, when he learned that we intended to feed him, he settled down a bit. He spent much of the next many days fearful and teary, but we never had a return to the all-out anguish of the first difficult day.
Now, a year later, Logan still talks about "my China." Occasionally, when he's especially irritated with me, he says in his most careful words, "Mama, I ALL DONE here. I go back to my China now." But the same child sits on my lap, snuggled in, insisting that he cannot go back alone, that he needs to take Mama and Daddy and Ryan and the girls with him. He is fully and wholly a Kassebaum these days. For that we are grateful!
To say that it's been an easy year would be a half truth. Some things HAVE been easier. Ryan has a buddy to play with, to grow up with, and yes, to fight with. Those things are nice. But some of it's been incredibly difficult. We were prepared for a child with speech issues, with hearing issues, with orphanage delays, and likely with other "issues" as well. But Logan is nothing if not unique. He is excelling in speech therapy, yet because of his hearing loss he's not making the kind of progress we'd all hoped for. His hearing loss is far more significant and far more difficult to correct than even the craniofacial team anticipated. And, we've learned, it's likely genetic. We'll see what happens next week--we're headed to the hospital to finally get hearing aids! His developmental delays have lessened over time, to a degree. He didn't qualify for physical therapy when we got home. And though his gross motor skills are better, they're still delayed compared to others his age. Because of his low muscle tone, they may always be that way. His fine motor skills are slightly better but still lag quite a bit behind his peers. But again, not enough to qualify for therapy. His balance is off, and we don't know why. So he still trips and falls regularly, runs into walls, and falls off chairs. His vision? Well, it'sjust barely in the "low-normal" range. Not bad enough for glasses, not good enough to be great. Truly, typically Logan, we're finding. He is his own person! :)
I think the biggest disappointment this spring has been trying to find a preschool. He did not qualify for the "differently-abled" preschool at our local public school--his language needs are so great they felt he'd learn more faster in a program that was primarily typically developing 4 year olds. But he's too delayed for a class full of typically developing 4 year olds and wouldn't be able to keep up with them due to his lack of language skills. So this fall, he'll be learning at home with Ryan, and doing speech therapy, preschool at church, Sunday School, and maybe swimming lessons (if there's time). We're hoping and praying that the hearing aids next week will open doors and we'll finally have the key to unlock all that's in that bright mind of his!
The first 2 pictures here were taken in May 2008, one in China and one the day we got home. The next three were taken in the last week or so. From frightened nervous little boy, he has blossomed into an extroverted charmer and helper extraordinaire. There's nothing he loves more than to be alongside Mom or Dad, helping with whatever task is at hand. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, auto maintenance--makes no difference to Logan. "Just let me help!" is his attitude. It will be fun to see what the next year brings!