That's how long he's been in our arms. 365 good night kisses. 365 good morning snuggles. 365 days of smiles and laughter.
365 days seems like a long time to have a child in your life, until you calculate how many days there were before you: 1,020 (or somewhere close to that). 1,020 days divided between his birth family, the hospital, and his orphanage.
And all the sudden, those 1,020 days we didn't get to hug or kiss or snuggle or watch him grow seem like a long time. We mourn for the 1,020 days he experienced loss of his first family and culture. We know that no matter how long he is with us, it will never completely erase the trauma and brokenness he went through. But we are grateful that for one year he's been ours. We still have time to make up, but each day with him is precious. This year has flown by at lightning speed and yet it seems like we can't remember life before this little ray of sunshine entered our lives. We have 365 days and ways to be thankful we didn't miss out on this precious blessing in our lives.
How has Titus grown these last 365 days?
He's gained 5 pounds and grown FOUR whole inches tall! He speaks in full sentences and knows how to communicate just about everything he wants. His gross and fine motor skills are definitely developmentally appropriate now, as he's able to scale just about anything (especially furniture!) and loves coloring pictures. He loves all things dog, Paw Patrol, ball, airplane, train, and water related! He's very attached to his real life "gou gou" (dog) and stuffed animal "gou gou." He loves to keep us laughing with his goofy personality and has an infectious little giggle. He loves snuggles and wants to be held tight each night when we put him to bed. His favorite activities are swimming, going to the park, and playing just about anything with his big sister!
What challenges do you still have one year later?
Titus transitioned beautifully into our family. We truly believe that because he was at a caring orphanage before us, he attached quickly and understands that he's apart of our forever family. That being said, he is all three year old boy, mischievous and energetic. (See picture at bottom for evidence!) Our two biggest struggles still are speech and food. While his vocabulary is expanding by the second it feels like, we've noticed he struggles to pronounce certain sounds and we (the parents) still have trouble understanding him. Thankfully, the Lord in His gracious foreknowledge gave us his own personal translator and we are still daily saying, "Tell Jie Jie" ("big sister" in Chinese). Usually she has no problem relaying his message on to us, but there are times when she doesn't know what he's saying and that is hard for all of us. We're so sad when he gets a defeated and frustrated look on his face. He is starting speech therapy soon and we are excited to see him continue to learn and grow!
Our other struggle with him is food, like so many other children coming from institutionalized settings. He ate very well for us in China, however it's been a battle since we've been home. Some days he eats well and other days, two hours sitting at the table later, he's only eaten a few bites. Some times he'd just rather play than eat, other days it's a defined battle for control. We're so grateful that despite his low appetite some days, we've found a few high-caloric foods he likes and try to find ways to encourage him to eat in creative ways.
Looking back at our one-year ago crazy nervous selves, preparing to go to bed in the Chinese hotel room the night before meeting Titus, I just wish we could see a snapshot of our lives now and tell ourselves, "It's going to be OK."
"Your family will come out of this a year later not just surviving, but thriving."
"You are going to be so thankful a year ago today that you made this giant leap of faith with God's help."
"This will be one of your very best 'yes's'."
"You will be so glad you didn't miss this sweet blessing."
"He is the perfect fit for your family."
"And, believe it or not, you're going to want to do this all over again. Because it is worth it!"
So, 365 days later, we reflect on God's goodness and have more than 365 ways to say "thank you" to our loving Heavenly Father for bringing the most precious little "Mann" into our lives! Thank you to everyone who prayed, gave, and supported us to help bring him into our forever family!