Growing Pains

Months ago, when Ethan’s default answer to every question was “no,” we’d ask him various questions. One time, for fun, we asked him if he wanted a little sister. As expected, he said, “no.”

Since then, we’ve tried to keep him in the loop without overwhelming him with news of his new/future sister. When we received the referral of baby girl from Korea nearly a month ago, Ethan was the first to see her photos.

One day recently, I showed the photo of Baby Girl Willis to Ethan. He started playing with the frame (which has a train engine followed by the letters B-A-B-Y). I tested Ethan to see if he knew the girl in the photo. He didn’t answer, but continued playing with the frame. A few seconds later, he turned the frame face down on the table (not sure if he was simply playing with the the frame or making a statement).

Another day, we visited grandparents and saw a lot of people in Williamsburg. And, of course, we pulled out the album with photos of Baby Girl Willis (over and over again).

Last week, Ethan became uncharacteristically defiant. Because it was so out of the ordinary we tried to figure out what was happening. At first, we thought perhaps the “terrible twos” (a term we don’t use, by the way; we prefer the “terrific twos”) were finally setting in (he’s almost 27 months old).

However, over the weekend, it finally struck us that Ethan may simply be trying to process the upcoming changes to our family. We wondered, how does a toddler possibly process this information? Who is this baby in the photo? Is she going to replace me (literally)?

So, we’ve tried to be more intentional about spending quality time with Ethan (a good thing to do anyway!). Interestingly, Ethan’s defiance has greatly diminished.

A couple nights ago, Joleen had a pretty normal prayer time with Ethan before his bedtime (except that we’re both usually, but not always, there). After praying for a few family members/friends, Joleen started praying for Baby Girl Willis. Joleen noticed an immediate reaction. Ethan squirmed, turned toward Mommy, and wanted to be cuddled for a while.

Yeah, we know Ethan will adjust. He’s very adaptable and resilient. But I also think it’s different for adoptive families. Fact is, even after 19 months, we’re still bonding. It’s all part of the growing pains!

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