Anyhow, the medicals on Logan were downright frightening. And I am not saying that lightly. It was totally a leap of faith to go and visit. We were very, very nervous on the drive over there and wondering what awaited us. I mean the last photo we had of him looked horrible. Looked like a shaved head and just not him. Not the extremely handsome kid he truly is. Well, got there and I didn't even bring up his medical b/c clearly this was a different child than described. No, not bait & switch but meaning it was different than what was described in the medical report. we had the BEST time at that orphanage, with the staff there (they truly, truly take care of these kids!), and the whole time spent w/ our kids. We got to know Logan for who he was those few days.
So, when we came back a few weeks ago, we were expecting the same type of kid. However, we knew it could be different b/c he was an older child and from an older kids' home. And boy, was it different while we were in Bulgaria. Were the medical reports true by chance? He was in our custody. He was ours. Now, do keep in mind, we have some pretty extensive experience w/ disorders of all sorts. FAS, RAD, OCD, PTSD, ODD, ADHD, etc. just to name a few. And not just one kid either. So we can handle pretty much anything you throw our way. Well, it was all thrown our way. I will explain all this as to why I believe it all happened and what we did once home to help him. Now, here is my disclaimer: I am not a doctor, expert, or professional of any kind. These are just my opinions based on my experience w/ my kids over the years and things I've seen. Disclaimer over.
When older kids leave an orphanage, they will have many pent up feelings. These feelings must get out. Feelings of fear, anger, uncertainty, worry, sadness, etc. It's all there. A cocktail for disaster at best. Yes, orphanages prepare them to leave. Especially, this one. Trust me on that. Yet, you can't suppress these feelings. In addition, these older kids may test you to see if you will "keep" them no matter what. Are you in it for the long haul. We were. We knew it was a test. Did not make it any easier whatsoever. I have not listed all the things he did on here and won't list them all. Just know he was meaner than mean in all areas. Making fun of people w/ disabilities. Trying to kick a cane out from an elderly gentleman. Hurting his sister. Laughing at things he shouldn't. Running away. It was a state of hypervigilence for us just to be in the same room w/ him. It was obvious what he was doing. At that point, it was just surviving till we could get him home. See, we have a feeling he was the "bully" or head of his group at the orphanage. Now, this is just a guess. Assuming a good guess considering he wanted to arm wrestle Max and told me Alex couldn't play soccer, etc. Yeh, he talked a good talk. I may not speak Bulgarian but there is enough German and Russian thrown in that I can understand a good chunk of it.
See, at this point, Logan thought he had the upper hand. In a way, he did. We couldn't speak his language fluently. We were out of our element, our comfort zone. However, I knew once I removed him from what was familiar to what was unfamiliar, he'd HAVE to rely on us. To trust us. To form a bond. I kept telling him all week once we land in Germany, the Bulgarian is gone. No one will speak it. You'll have to learn English. He kept refusing while his sister was soaking that up and sign. He'd laugh at me every time I'd sign while Summer and Reni were repeating every motion. I knew once we hit American soil, he would either go hog wild even more than he already was or he'd go the opposite and fall apart. Why? Because his insults to people would have no more meaning. Even in the immigration line, I separated him and Reni so that he could not talk to Reni. He was trying to get her to do bad things. At one point, I do believe she told him off. Warren and I knew that his was such an extreme case behavior wise that we'd have to get serious as soon as we landed. Hence, trying to separate Reni and Logan. Hard to do when traveling altogether. But, we did it. Remember, he was in the police department in Bulgaria telling Summer to smack passersby on the butt w/ her doll!
real Logan. Logan had to witness for himself that it was okay not to be a bully. It was okay not to be mean. It was okay to want a hug. It was okay to feel loved. It was okay to be a sibling to everyone. Basically, he needed to know that life was changing and it would be okay as everyone would help him through it. He had to know that mean things were not going to get him sent away, just get him in trouble. It would be a learning process. Still is in some areas. He wants praise for sure. He started asking after he'd go somewhere or do something if he was dobre(good). We'd say yes and he'd smile really big. Ahh, the angle. He wants to be good. He wants to do good. Shoot, tonight he told us Alex and him were cleaning the room and Nik was not helping. He knows what he's supposed to do. He knows right from wrong. This is huge as it meant it was nothing like FAS or RAD that we were dealing with. It was simply a young boy trying to act big as a "survival" skill he learned at the orphanage. It happens. Often.
The transformation. I don't know how b/c honestly, my prediction was 6 to 8 months before we could even live normally. He disproved me, thank goodness! Logan is night and day a different child. In many, many areas. He used to laugh at people w/ disabilities, used to laugh when his own sister fell down the stairs b/c she couldn't see. Now, he's always sharing everything w/ Nik, his deaf brother. Yep, disabilities don't seem to get a second thought now. Though he won't run to help someone yet, he's not laughing at them much when they fall now. It was like a switch went off in this kid. I don't know how. We took all technology away from him. The sites he was on in Bulgaria in the apartment were too adult in our opinion. Our eyes, an 11yo should not have access to billiards and things of that nature. Much cussing in all songs he'd listen to. That went away quickly. Most of it went away in the apartment. When we got home, we knew we had to put in his mind that that life was in the past. As soon as we got home, I opened up the suitcases and hid all their things from Bulgaria in my room. Now, please let me explain this one b/c we learned this from when Yana came home. They need to start a new life. Not hang onto the old one. By putting away their keepsakes, they have nothing to fall back on. See, w/ Yana, if she'd get upset when first home, she'd go to her room and look through all her pictures. We took all that away. Even her religious icons. She was Russian Orthodox. I grew up in a family that was Methodist and Russian Orthodox so know a little about the faith. This was a crushing blow to Yana but exactly what helped her too. We gave her back the items months later when we knew they would be precious memories versus her wanting to live in the past. See, when they first come home, the past is all they ever knew. The orphanage life was IT. There was no such thing as family. They had to learn how to live in a family. to do this, connections to the past must be severed. I'm not saying forgotten at all b/c we give everything back months later once we know the kids are secure in the family and we can look at things together.
So, back to the story. With Logan, we knew any connection would have to go away. He'd have to form new friendships, new life, etc. Don't worry, we plan on keeping in touch very much w/ their orphanage. Later, a few months from now, we will also allow him to write friends, etc. However, for now, we need to have him focus on this life and his new family. I do hope that all made sense w/out sounding like we're taking it all away from him. We have found in the past doing it this way allows them to emotionally heal faster. It works for us. May not work for others but works for us. We have kept in touch over the years w/ many people from various orphanages. We intend to do the same for these three children.
In addition to starting fresh, we also try to go nowhere the first few weeks home. I said try for those who've seen us out and about. LOL. Plus, I judge it on the kids themselves. If they're ready. And, with older kids, they are some times "survivors" in their orphanage. They go into survival mode to make it. That does include stealing and lying at times. In Bulgaria, our son tried it. Rest of the trip he knew he was to hold one of our hands no matter where we went. So, as you can imagine, a trip to Walmart may be scary for all of us involved. No worries. He even told us he'd be good. Okay, so still had some one monitor him the whole time but no attempts whatsoever and he was just looking around. I think part of it w/ him is he mimics. So, if our kids that have been home are behaving, etc., then he will do the same. He's learning. Now, we can take him in stores, not hold his hand and allow him to have the same privileges as our other kids.
We have taken him to church for clubs, Walmart, out to eat, to the doctors, etc. with no issues whatsoever. Like I said, totally different child. I can't say what all contributed to the turn around. I just know we really, really have enjoyed the new Logan here. He listens (okay, about as much as my other kids), he does what you ask him. He doesn't melt down any more. The other day there was a misunderstanding between him and Alyona. He fell off the bike. Alyona tried to lift the bike up and it fell back down. He thought she slammed it down so continued to throw rocks at Alyona. I took the bike away and made him apologize to Alyona. He did. He stood there mad but did not kick or throw or back talk. 2 weeks ago, there would have been an all out rage at that incident. Progress. There is much progress with him.
There is also a compassionate side to him. He wants to lift up and love Summer. He shares everything w/ Nik. He is helping Reni more instead of hurting her. He wants to teach Alex things in soccer and vice versa. There IS a sweet side. No doubt about it. We have no worries about Logan. His future is very bright. He just had to get over his "testing us" phase I think. I think he knows we are in it for the long haul. We are not going anywhere. We are extremely proud of how far he's come. Truly, I wished I had videotaped some of the things he'd done. Not to be mean but to show you this child has come so, so far. He has such a full life in front of him. He really does. Logan is well loved in this family. He's an awesome soccer player and now is soaking up English and trying to learn new words every day. He wants to do school work. Reni's been doing it but b/c of all his doc appointments, haven't really done anything w/ him yet. Now, that that is behind us, we're going tomorrow to get him some workbooks.
Logan medically is in awesome shape. Healthy. All blood work normal. TB test was positive but chest x-ray was negative so he has been cleared. He is allergic to some antibiotics and that is noted now on his medical records here. The results of his MRI and EEG will be given Jan. 10th. This is to tell us whether or not he has epilepsy for sure. If he does, it was VERY well managed in Bulgaria and we'd keep him on the same meds. If not, he will be weaned off the meds as our neuro sees fit. Right now, just wait and see. For someone who had one of the worst medicals out there, this young man is extremely healthy. Both physically and mentally. Emotionally too. He has grieved. Separate post coming on adoption grief in orphanage kids.
All in all, Logan is doing wonderfully. We didn't think this possible a few short weeks ago when we were in Bulgaria and all kinds of stunts were being pulled. yet, we knew he was our son, we had to stay strong, had to stick to our guns, had to have a plan in place and had to think of the future. Hard when you know the best place for him is home but you are stuck there in an apartment. So, if you are reading this and there may be doom and gloom times w/ your new child, know that most likely, it is temporary. You have to be strong for the both of you. It IS worth it in the end. Logan is great to have as a son. He's a good brother and son. He knows right from wrong and is consistently choosing right over wrong. He knows the rules. He knows how to play nice. I know in a few years when we tell him how he was when he first came home, he won't believe us. Just as Irina doesn't. Irina hated and I mean hated us the first few weeks home. She was so angry. Very angry. Each child handles a new family in a different way. I think that's the point I'm trying to make here.
All I know is that Logan definitely belongs in this family. He will be going far in life for sure. I can see it in his drive and motivation. He is very close to Nik and Alex versus Bojan and Max. But, I expected that as Bojan and Max have a tight bond. Alex and him play soccer almost daily. And, Nik and Logan ride bikes almost daily. It's great. It really is. Biggest issue I have right now w/ Logan is him wanting to ride in the middle of the road. Compared to a few weeks ago, I'll take that issue and work on it.
Thanks for letting me share openly (to a point) about Logan. I want people to see even though some of these children can behave erratically when first home, they can settle down and find their place in the family. Logan definitely has his place in this home and will be here for years to come.