I'm going to be really vulnerable and reveal one of the uglier sides of adoption. I have had a hard time fully attaching to Daniel since the beginning. The first week at home, Maya, Isaac, and Daniel all slept in our room so they could be near us. Maya and Isaac slept head to foot on a twin mattress and Daniel slept two feet away from me in his crib. Every morning that first week, Kyle and I were wakened by a horrid, toxic stench coming from Daniel's diaper. But not just in his diaper, it was on him, on his pajamas, on the crib sheets. Kyle and I both were nauseous until about noon each day. I lost quite a bit of weight the first few weeks.
After a week of cleaning up those raunchy messes, Kyle took Daniel to the doctor. We were then informed that we were overfeeding him. We weren't actually overfeeding him; but for his little malnourished body, a standard American diet was too much food for him. It was painful to have to tell him no when we knew he wanted more food.
Daniel has been affectionate almost since the beginning, so he isn't hard to love. I loved holding him, hugging him, and rocking him in my lap. But I created a mental block when it came to changing his diapers. All sympathy escaped me when he wet (or worse) his diapers. I got very frustrated with myself at my lack of compassion. I prayed about it, talked to Kyle about it, read scriptures about it, but I kept coming back to the same thought: when he's potty trained, everything's going to change.
A few months ago, I read this book:I spent all day one Saturday alone with Daniel. I had every kids' potty book the library had in stock, a bunch of juice boxes, salty peanuts (to make him thirsty) and a teddy bear for him to potty train. He donned a pair of training pants and we went cold turkey. The day went very well. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Over the next couple days, Daniel had several accidents, all of which seemed to totally take him by surprise. I put him back in diapers.
A few days ago, my sister suggested I potty train Daniel with diapers. My response: "Gee, that sounds like a thrill a minute." Then, another friend of mine mentioned on her blog that she's potty training her youngest and gives all the kids a chocolate chip if she goes to the potty. I thought the idea was genius - using peer pressure to your advantage. So on Monday morning, I started potty training Daniel. Isaac always joined us (as the only other boy). When Daniel went in the potty, I gave him and Isaac a skittle. By noon that day, Isaac was taking Daniel to the bathroom on his own. I immediately saw the wisdom in that approach. I was thrilled with the progress and ran to the store to buy two big bags of skittles. (I now realize I'll be able to reward all Daniel's pees and poops for all of 2008.) Daniel stayed dry all day the first day. And the second day. And today - the third day. Today, I rewarded Daniel with pull-ups. (I was tired of putting diapers on a child who's standing up!)
I'm embarrassed to say that I didn't mature much in this area. I learned a lot, but I don't think I conquered it. I learned that depending on myself to produce a trait that only comes from the Lord (compassion and sympathy) is fruitless and frustrating. But our relationship really did make a 180 degree turn when he started potty training. Everything really has changed. And I did learn something - I have no sympathy on my own. Sympathy is a fruit of the Spirit and I can only show sympathy if I'm depending on the Lord to love others through me.