So what's been going on with Ning after almost a year? Well, I'd have to say he's still settling in. For the most part, he's comfortable and relaxed with us and most places we go. He occasionally has bouts of moodiness and stubbornness when he doesn't feel he needs to follow all the rules. Don't most teens?? But when reminded that it is a very simple thing to adhere to certain expectations of behavior or lose his beloved iPod, he settles back down. Overall, he is a really good kid who is taking a bit longer to adjust to his new life. We still try to find things he will enjoy with us as a family, but he was so used to NOT doing things "together", and being solitary when not with his friends; those are hard habits to break when they are so ingrained.
We went on our first family vacation and we just didn't know how it would go; we didn't know if we'd have issues with limiting the electronics or not; we wanted to have fun with Ning and not lay down a bunch of rules. So we just let what would happen.....happen. And you know what? He did great! We went to Gatlinburg, TN, and met up with Jazmin's adoption group; a group of the most outstanding people we've ever been privileged to call friends. More than friends; they are truly our extended family, and they enfolded NingNing just as they did Judi.
Ning proceeded to have a great time, surprising us all! He played pool, swam in a lake (discovered he needs swimming lessons!), went river-tubing, messed around with the other teens, swam in a pool, ate everything, and (gasp!) met a GIRL! I won't go into details, but it was the sweetest thing, as Ning wasn't quite sure how to handle her attentions; he still doesn't believe he is handsome and cute.
Once we got home, he did withdraw from us a little again, but i think after vacation, our house must have seemed boring!
Regarding school and English.......he graduated from 8th grade just fine, and ended up with all A's the classes he got grades in. He's now all signed up for 9th grade, which makes me nervous as more will be expected of him.
The problem is he STILL wasn't speaking English. We finally found a Mandarin professor who wanted to help tutor him and began some sessions with her, but then she decided on a last-minute six week trip to China! I wasn't sure what more we could do to help Ning's English, and then we heard about a Communications Disorders clinic at our local college. We sent in paperwork, got him accepted, and he's now gone 4 times for 2 hours each time. It is called "language camp". He spends one hour conversing with other kids and learning social norms of communication and the next hour is one-on-one with a therapist who works on vocab, phonics, light reading. She is amazing and he's already shown great progress with this program; I am so happy we found it...it is just what he needed......and I feel better knowing we're doing our best to find ways to help him adjust and communicate.
I will say one thing....it's not always easy to have a kid who's not used to giving or receiving affection or feeling much for other people. He is doing much, much better accepting affection, but ONLY mine. The girls are next in line; affection from anyone else is slightly "rebuffed", but in a good way. Something in me needs to be loved, needed, wanted; I'm fulfilled by the love of my children, so understanding and accepting his reluctance to show that emotion has been a huge growth area for me. A child this age cannot be forced to love, nor can they be expected to just fall in love with people like a little one would. It's like moving in with a roommate you don't know and never met; if you want it to work out, you have to work at it, and accept each other as is, but each side also has to change a little. That means the teen also has to accept his/her family as is. People in the adoption community talk about adoptive parents adjusting their expectations of their new child but what if the new family doesn't meet the child's expectations and the child themselves can't adjust? What then? What if the child comes with hopes and fantasies of the way life will be or someone has filled their heads with delusions of grandeur? Getting along and living together is a two-way street, and while I'm sure Ning doesn't REALLY care to live on 22 "buggy" acres, and doesn't always like our "noisiness", he does seem to be accepting us more and more, just as we continue to learn to accept and love him the way he is, while opening his mind to new and different things.
Now for some pictures!.....................
|Jessica's graduation May 2013...our firstborn baby girl!|
|Jessica and Grandpa|
|NingNing being recognized for his hard work; he was NOT comfortable being up in front of everyone|
|NingNing and his English teacher - I love this picture. A rare, genuine smile from NingNing captured on film.|
|Tried to swim in the lake; he thought he didn't need a life vest. He relaxed in the boat the rest of the day :). We had rented a pontoon boat and spent the day swimming and flying kites.|
|Jazmin, Judi, and one of our friends|
|Working on his "tan", lol|
|The "crew"...everyone had such a great time on vacation!|
|NingNing and a "friend"|
|All the children in our 2013 Holt Guangxi Adoption Group Reunion vacation|
|Judi - enjoying our nature walk|