I can hardly believe that it has been 6 months since we came home with Toby from Taiwan. We have had our fair share of ups and downs, but I am happy to share that especially over the last few weeks we have had a lot more ups and positive moments. Toby is beginning to really bond with us and understand the meaning of family. He knows more and more that we are mom and dad and that other people we are close to may be friends, but that they are not family. I am glad to see that he is beginning to see the difference.
His language skills are growing both in sign and English. We are using both forms of communication at home and in the community. The sign class we took as a family was helpful in teaching us at least a few hundred words, the most basic ones, but we have many more to learn. I am registered to take classes at the local college to learn more sign. I believe it will help both at home and to teach others how to best communicate with Toby. As for his speech, he was able to get speech therapy at our local school and we are working at home on a system called Visual Phonics that helps him to know how to shape his mouth to make the correct sound.
Most recently all the boys attended a Vacation Bible School at a local church where we participate in a deaf ministry. Toby was able to be a part of a special group with a sign language interpreter, giving him and the 2 other boys one on one help throughout the week. He was ok with me dropping him off there for the 3 hrs, with much reassuring that I would return and that indeed we would eat lunch when we got home. His major concerns were where I would be and when was the next meal.
Food continues to be a major priority to Toby as he progresses throughout the day. For instance at breakfast we talk about what I might fix at the other 2 meals later in the day. Reassuring him that more food is coming seems to be very comforting. We have found there is no food he will not eat, he likes it all. He will often say “mmmmmm, that one good Mommy!” and gives me a thumbs up and a silly grin.
It is a wild and crazy boy frenzy around here. The house is filled with the sound of cars vrooming, trucks crashing, guns firing and bad guys fleeing the authorities. Playing with cars and pretending good guys and bad guys remains a favorite pastime. When he first came home we would often find him playing by himself, but more and more I see him with at least one of his brothers, usually on the floor and usually being quite creative. Even his Sunday school teachers have noticed just how creative he can be.
As for his future plans, he has decided that he wants to work with helicopters, JUST LIKE DADDY! It was a proud moment for both of us, a moment that told us he is really integrating into the family.
Last week Toby had evaluations done with our local school so that they can put together a current IEP (Individual Evaluation Plan) for him for the 2013-2014 school year. By the end of this month the school board should have a plan to propose to us for him. It will be up to us to advocate for him and to decide ultimately what is best for him. We are thankful for this partnership with the school and the help they may be able to give.
One more blessing has come this summer and that is a bigger house! In two weeks we will be moving across town to a larger home. Our current place will be rented by Chris’s parents. They are looking forward to having a more active role in the children’s lives that being far away before did not allow. We are thankful for the support, help and joy of sharing time with them too! Needless to say all of the boys are excited about having grandparents in town.
The love and support we have been shown both from our church and family has been overwhelming. Toby has been accepted and loved as if we had just had another baby. Without this support and the prayers of many this could have been a very difficult transition, but we have been able to share our growing pains and our joys alike.
I hope this letter has been helpful in sharing a glimpse of our life right now and a window into the making of a newly blending family.