Well, the children have been home for a full week now, and we have signed placement paperwork, so are officially on "adoption probation" (finalization cannot occur provincially until at least six months post-placement...which is often more like one year). Everyone has been tucked in for another night, and I am settling in to my too-short couple of hours of down time.
Altogether, things have been going very well, and there really isn't much to complain about. Displays of homesickness from the eldest have actually decreased substantially compared with time spent at hotels and the cottage in their home area. Baby girl has had 4 reasonable nights of sleep here (two of them excellent - sleeping right through the night for 12 hours). The boys have slept soundly, as has been their pattern.
Little brother has been experimenting repetitively with "Mom/Mommy" and "Dad/Daddy". The eldest will use "Silly/Funny Mommy" & "Silly/Funny Daddy" when we're joking around, but is otherwise mostly sticking to our first names for now. Baby girl clearly prefers me. She is happy with Geoff when I'm not in sight, but fusses & reaches for me if I come into view. She very predictably prefers to be held and carried approaching sleep/meal-times in late morning and late afternoon. She turned her face toward my shoulder and tucked her arms in when our social worker reached out for her to see what she would do. She will smile and wave to others during visits, but sticks pretty close to me, and isn't quite as chatty "publicly" as she is when it's just our little family around. I would guess her "attachment" to me at this point may still be a bit insecure, but overall we're happy with what we're seeing. Little brother likes to snuggle a bit and be held (cue Baby girl becoming jealous), and enjoys playing "baby", having me put him in the crib for a rest (during which he closes his eyes and curls up tight). He has asked for a bottle, so we will likely try that for some role-play. The eldest is very physical in his play (rough, too - I've had a couple of wrenched neck incidents and a few bruises), so not as sentimental and overtly cuddly, but requests lots of play-based touch and makes great eye contact when doing so.
We have had some short-ish visits with grandparents, my sister & her girls, and inadvertently with a friend we ran into in the community. The eldest has picked one adult during each visit to which he clings (literally and figuratively), leaning on them/hugging them, asking for them to help him with things (even feeding), and generally being quite demonstrative and dramatic. So, we will definitely have to be very careful about physical boundaries with non-parents and continue lying low for a bit, as well as doing some teaching regarding social boundaries. This is an interesting and tricky situation to analyze. Certainly he is in the early stages of developing his attachment with Geoff and I, and has much further to go. He also appears to be a very extroverted boy - the type of child who might tend to be very excited about new people, and who likes to be the centre of attention (which fits with all the descriptions we have of him). As well, he has spent his entire life in a large, loving family, with multiple teens/young adults around, who all help with caregiving, and with lots of friends and extended family visiting regularly - so he is quite used to meeting people, and having special attention from visitors.
At home, all three are playful and seek out lots of interaction. The boys love new activities and a varied schedule. Baby girl is generally happy to putter around (preferably while carrying around things like glass measuring cups, remote controls, and other non-baby-friendly items). Both Geoff and I are quite tired of "Why???" questions already, and repeated requests/demands for information about meal-times, daily agendas, activities, etc. Much is likely typical older toddler/pre-school stuff, some appears to be temperament & personality, and of course, some could be attributed to learning new routines and rules, establishing who is in charge, etc. It is quite interesting being planted directly into developmental stages where constant explaining, cueing, re-directing, mediating, tantrum-managing, supervising, etc., are required. Baby girl climbs EVERYTHING, so needs to be in sight (and almost at arms length) at all times. The boys are not quite playing for any length of time with any one toy or activity, or doing so independently, at this point. They seem to enjoy each other, but do have quite a few scuffles throughout the day - sharing, negotiating, and thinking of anyone else are definitely not their most finely honed skills and attributes yet.
I am not experiencing panic or a "flight" response as I half-expected, so am very thankful. At the same time, when others talk about how "exciting" this is, I can't say that's the primary feeling I'm experiencing. Sure, it is wonderful in the grand scheme...but I have most certainly not entirely come to terms with a forever farewell to the simple couple-only life we have just left in the dust! The hardest time of day is morning - can hardly fathom how I might ever reach the stage where I welcome those smiling (noisy) faces greeting me far before I am ready to interact with the world. The kids actually sleep to a reasonable time, but even then, I despise all sound and interaction until I am fully alert, showered, dressed, fed, and finished whatever quiet activty (usually internet-based) I have used to tune in to the day. So...when Geoff heads back to work next week, I am dreading the early mornings that will face me if I am to get up & shower while he's home to supervise any early risers, and then the immediate barrage of activity *shudder* when I emerge from my cocoon. So far, I've taken every possible opportunity to have Geoff get up with the kids while I catch a few more winks (until Baby girl started sleeping better, I had good excuses, like less than 6 hours' sleep), shower, and prepare myself to meet the day. Alas, unless someone wants to assist by funding a morning nanny, I don't see any way around this issue.
Anyway, as my precious evening time is passing quickly, I will finish for now. I have been thinking of how to refer to the children on this blog, and have decided to go with their new second names, given by Geoff and I.
Older brother will be Luton (Geoff's grandfather's middle name).
Little brother will be Kitch (for Joy's grandfather, Kitchener).
Baby girl will be an as-yet-undecided diminutive of Catherine (Joy's first name).
Hoping I will be somewhat reliable in documenting our adventures over the next little while. I don't journal (despite trying off and on at various points in my life), so this serves as at least some way of keeping a record for my own future reference), and I have always found it interesting and helpful to continue reading others' adoption experiences after placement. We shall see how it goes!