Happy New Year! I felt it was time to bring all the news to one main blog. It has been good to separate the journeys of each of the girls, but I feel it is now time to bring us together as a family.
Things are continuing to go very well as we adjust and bond here. Haddie is a true delight! I cannot believe where my heart and head have been over these last 3 weeks. I think back just 3 and a half weeks ago when she was birthed into our arms and I am amazed at what has happened. We have only been home a week and it feels like she has been home so much longer. Coming home was a marker moment for she and I. We both needed to come home to really begin our bonding process. I know I was not myself in China and it seems that she was not either.
Let's talk straight. I hope that this is all understood when it is read. I feel that it needs to be said. I know that our blog is read by others who will journey or have journeyed similar adoption roads. With that being the case I feel that we learn from one another. SO...I am going to tell you what has been happening in my mama heart. The good, the bad and the ugly...
Let's go back 3 and a half weeks...
As I walked up the stairs to the Civil Affairs Office in China I could barely fight the emotion welling up in my heart. I was overcome as I walked through the doors and saw my little girl for the first time, in the flesh! What a beautiful girl with a radiant smile. It was very clear that she was excited to meet her family. As I held her it did not feel like I expected it to. I thought it would be more comfortable. She did not relax in my arms. She wiggled around on my lap and seemed that she could not sit still. She was not filthy, but she was not clean either. As she played I could tell that she was "wirey". I found that I was struggling to connect with her. Little girl things I pulled out of her backpack seemed foreign to her. Lip gloss didn't even get a second look. I was okay with that. I have raised 3 boys, if she was interested in throwing the ball I can do that. We moved toward the activity of throwing the ball and there were moments where she was aggressive and it made my stomach turn. I kept reminding myself that the first 24 hours are not the best. I knew that my daughter was just trying to cope with all that was happening around her. THEN...the moment came. she hit me. Oh my! What to do with that. Just before she hit me I had taken her to the restroom and she had lept into my arms with a hug and a kiss. What changed? I did not know at that time that she would not freely extend affection toward me again until we arrived home.
Over the next few days she would reject my hand and call for her "baba". She made it clear that she adored him and tolerated me. It crushed me. I was struggling with my feelings. My heart was not feeling what it had felt when I would look at those pictures of her before we arrived in China. I would lay next to her at night and she would turn away from me. I would cry myself to sleep. My prayer became, Lord, help me to like her. Can you believe this? I couldn't! I couldn't understand why my heart was struggling. The reality is that it was and it felt awful. I was overwhelmed with guilt because of it. I had read enough that I knew in my head this struggle existed for others, but you cannot know it fully in your heart. One night I spent an hour over the toilet, physically ill over all of it.
Due to great wisdom while in China Brad and I became intentional with our efforts for bonding and attachment. Brad pretty much stepped into the shadows. We knew that it was good for Haddie to form a strong attachment with me first and then Brad. I took care of all "needs". I dressed her, wiped her, filled her plates, gave her drinks. Now, there are many of those things that Haddie could do for herself, but we felt it was vital that she become dependant on me to meet those needs. Almost taking her back to infancy in any way that we could. She embraced it. It became what she expected. She would not go into the bathroom without taking me along. She looked to me when she was thirsty, tired or hungry. She seemed okay with most of it when we were in the hotel room, but when we went out she wanted her baba. Brad began to direct her to me. Within a day she knew to take my hand and not Brad's. When she would freely offer hugs and kisses to Brad he would say thank you and tell her to give mama some sugar. In China she new the "routine", but I knew she would still rather be with baba.
So what now? There has been a complete 180! I give great praise to God for what He has done. I know that what Haddie and I are experiencing now is not the "norm". It can take months and years to form attachment and warm feelings of love with adopted children. It seems this process is even more difficult the older the child is. So, I am not taking anything for granted! I am amazed and I know this is the work of a Mighty God!!
She and I are having quite a time together. The last 2 days we have connected on new levels that have drawn our hearts together. I don't feel like I am "forcing" things without the feelings to back it up. That is a very wonderful feeling! She does sit still! :) We have played play dough, colored, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders...everything we have done is full of smiles. She knows how to enjoy the moment! Yesterday she had a great play date with 3 little friends. She continues to pull their picture out and point to each of them wanting me to say their names. She is very smart. She knows her letters and how to write her name. She can use scissors very well. I am just amazed at each new thing I see her do. She likes when I teach her something new. I feel that her language will come quickly. She does have a LONG road ahead of her with her speech. We will begin to tackle all of that stuff in another week: getting appointments set up and all of that fun stuff.
She really is such a precious little girl. She is a hard worker. She and I took a trip to Sam's last night and she thought that was a blast! She enjoyed being with mama. She loved hauling the bulk items into the cart and when we got home she was carrying things bigger than herself up the stairs. She LOVES to help! She is so aware of what I am doing at all times and if she can help me she will. It makes me laugh out loud sometimes how considerate she is. What a delight she is!
I will take a moment once again and say thank you to each of you who have supported us with prayer and encouragement. We are so blessed by you! May this New Year find us all ready to answer His call and watchful for His return!!