Family Leave Report

Our family leave (8 weeks plus 2 weeks of vacation) ended Sunday, and Monday was our first day back to work, so we thought it might be a good time to write an update on how things are going with our bonding and adjustment.

It’s been a little while since we’ve posted an update. For previous updates, see: Fluid Situation, The Joy and Grief of Growing a Family, Fluid Situation 2.0, and Fluid Situation 3.0. Also, we recently posted a page (with a link at the top) for Sarah’s Adoption, to go along with Ethan’s Adoption, which are central places to share their stories.

We’ve often described 2008 as a “whirlwind” (the adoption of our first child, two graduations, a move and two new ministry appointments). While 2009, in itself, wasn’t as much of a whirlwind, it sorta continued the whirlwind of the last two years. Two years ago, it was just Joleen and me; now there are four of us!

We are grateful for the last couple of months that we’ve had to focus on bonding with Sarah, but we’re clearly just getting started on this process!

Overall, Sarah’s adjustment has gone well. She’s still not too crazy about the car seat but seems to be doing better (or maybe it’s just been a while since we’ve driven very far away). She sleeps well overnight and getting her to sleep is improving, although there are still occasional challenges (mainly related to placing her in the crib at night).

Our first family leave (with Ethan) was mentally intense (due to completing doctoral dissertations during our leaves) but our second family leave (with Sarah) was more emotionally intense.

As we’ve shared before, the biggest challenge in our bonding process with Sarah has been with Ethan. Thankfully, though, while this challenge is still ongoing, there are signs that Ethan is turning the corner. Ethan has mostly been okay with Sarah, I think; his issue seems to be mainly about sharing us with Sarah. In fact, in the first Fluid Situation update, I mentioned that Ethan refused to be in a photo with both Sarah and me (although he would be in a photo with Sarah alone). While this has improved, we still have our moments.

We think, though, that Ethan has helped Sarah transition as well as she has. Sarah constantly watches Ethan. And the two of them are playing together more and more. The thing that was fun to watch on Christmas morning was the two of them alternating between their own gifts and each others (which they were mostly okay with).

Finally, I’m not sure we’ve written about it, but Sarah was a little developmentally delayed physically when we brought her home (which we’re told is not uncommon for Korean babies as they are held a lot; I also think the small apartments and hardwood floors may have something to do with it). However, in the two months Sarah has been with us, she has made great strides.

Two months ago, Sarah was hardly able to sit up with much stability. Now, she often pulls herself up onto furniture. A week ago, she crawled to the stairs and (as I spotted her), she climbed to the top of the stairs with very little help. I just checked the date of our photos and Sarah is pretty close to Ethan’s age when he first climbed the stairs (and Ethan was much further along when we got him). Of course, chasing after Ethan and going after his toys is, no doubt, speeding up her development!

Anyway, as we go back to work, we do so knowing that this is all still very much in process. But we are grateful for the great start we’ve gotten in the last couple of months. Thank you for your prayers and support and for sharing this part of our journey!

2 thoughts on “Family Leave Report”

  1. Great report! In your most recent photos, I quickly noticed the increased interaction between Ethan and Sarah. Reading your stories, I see more similarities than differences in the bonding processes of bio vs adopted children. Clearly, for you, there is a bit of guesswork about the first months of each baby. Child #2 for us was always the quick adapter and adventurer. She always said she wanted another sibling, but had to be satisfied with more pets. (Though she does not have her own children yet, she is a Daisy Scout leader.) Child #1, who had the luxury of having parents to herself, felt that one younger sibling was enough, thank you! #1 lives close to us, #2 farther away and has a job that requires constant travel. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

  2. I haven’t checked in for a while …. it looks like Sarah is settling in and that you are all doing well! Ethan and Sarah are fortunate to have you both. I just returned from TX and a visit with Rebekah, Jordan, and the boys. We had a great visit, but now it’s time to get back to the real world!


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