So as crazy and insane as our over six weeks home have been, we have also gotten a front row seat at what eight weeks of love, care and attention can do.
Since the first day our daughter was basically pushed towards us in a run down random building in Shanghai, here is the way we have seen our daughter grow and change.
-eye contact. When she was first delivered to us, she wouldn’t look any one in the eye. She would always look down. Now when someone of our family speaks to hear, she raises her eyes and makes eye contact.
-her cry. She didn’t cry much in China. She even got blood drawn with barely a whimper for our visa appointment. When we got home and started in on medical appointments stateside, was when we really saw the tears. Often she would silently cry, tears streaming, but not making a sound. When she had to endure lots of sticks she cried this awful hollow, haunting raspy wail. Not a normal cry. It was awful, so hopeless. Now she cries a lot more often, and her cry is almost always accompanied by reaching up for me, looking at me, or with my name.
-her walk/run. It was very evident she hadn’t gotten much exercise when we got her. She had little to no muscle tone. She tried so hard to keep up with her sister, but the best she could muster was a sort of waddle. While she still can’t manage a full out run, we are at least at a sort of jogging stage, and it’s less bow legged. We even had to get X-rays done, to make sure her hip hadn’t been dislocated or broken. Just lack of usage, which really is quite heartbreaking.
-her coloring. She was so pale when we got her. Not in a typical Asian way, but in a sickly almost yellowish way. Turns out she tans like a Brazilian goddess, and is rocking a summer tan.
-weight. She’s put on over two 1/2 pounds, and you can tell! She’s still tiny (and likely always will be) but her cheeks are rounding up, and when she eats her little tummy sticks out like Santa.
-speech. Obviously there wasn’t much communicating initially. At this point, I can confidently say that she understands just about everything we tell her. She knows when we tell her it’s time to go to bed, to put way her shoes, to eat, etc. She’s speaking more and more English, and I hear her regularly repeating words in the car, feeling them out in her mouth. Just this week she has mastered being able to tell us “I want __” which is huge. She can communicate wants and needs, which also leads to less grunting/yelling at us. All the praise hands!
-demeanor. In her file, she was described as a very shy quiet girl, who was very solemn, obedient and complacent. Hah! Within the first hours of having her, she was already giggling with her sister. Now, she loves to play and laugh. She has such a sense of humor! And just enough sass to fit right in. She loves to trick her siblings already, and loves to make silly faces. She loves when people laugh at what she’s doing and will continue to repeat the behavior that illicit the reaction. She’s definitely a little sassy, and obedience and complacency must have been forced, because those are not always happening now that she has more freedom. She is cautious around new people and new circumstances, not letting her guard down, but NOT shy! Incredibly happy and full of joy, considering the rough road she’s walked.
-tastes. Initially, she only wanted neutral colored food. Anything with color was a no go. Chips, pasta and fries were her favorite. While those are still her favorites, she’s also adding to that repertoire. We took fruits and veggies nice and slow. She will still often refuse most on first try, but if we tell her just one bite, she’ll try it (yay!!!). She LOVES okra?! She’ll eat green beans, and she still pounds her squeeze pouches packed with veggies. I found some veggie burgers she likes at Costco with kale in them, and that is her lunch on most days. She’ll eat a few bites of salad when we have it, Caesar being her favorite. Bananas are still her favorite fruit, but she also likes grapes. Berries, not so much. She’s doing great with meat too, finally figuring out how to chew it and not hold it in her mouth. She loves pizza. She’s getting more adventurous each day, just takes eating nice and slow. Jack’s appreciative to have someone left at the table with him.
-health. We are still having some not so fun digestive issues, and are another round of meds for it. Her hair isn’t falling out anymore (it was when we first got home), and other than getting her flu shot (and the whole fam, to help protect our heart baby), she is all caught up on vaccines and healthy! We have had all the things checked…ears, eyes, throat, blood, thyroid, urine, feces, hips, joints, heart, lungs, spell, liver, etc. So far everything has gotten the ok! We’ll go back to the cardiologist in about 6 weeks to redo the EKG and echo, and to see how her numbers are trending, but we are expecting more positive news from that visit too. And on the upside, we have hit our insurance deductible 🙂
-legality. One of the biggest misconceptions with adoption is that the paperwork ends once you submit dossier. Or once you get them home. NOPE. LIES. There are still more hoops we have to jump through. Long story short, we have to legally change her name to what we named her, not what China named her, for her SS card. And we have to re-adopt her. Don’t ask me what that means, I just know we have to do it. So more forms, lines, and money are coming up for us as soon as we get her Certificate of Citizenship, which our government is in no big hurry to deliver. We’ll probably have that done just in time for her 6 month post placement visit that is required by China (and several more). So while she is still legally ours, there are few more hoops to jump through to tie it all up in a nice and pretty, fully legal bow
I think that covers most of it. This has been one of the craziest, hardest thing we have ever done. But the gift of watching a child blossom and come to life right before your eyes? Totally worth it. I’m glad we didn’t believe everything her file said about her. Who they said she was, was NOT her. She was simply surviving, not thriving. Now we have a beautiful, tenacious, silly, confident, sweet girl in our home, and we couldn’t be happier (albeit still a little frazzled). Just to give you a few examples of what love can do:
There were taken the first few days of getting her. So pale, frail and serious. Smiles and laughter were not easily won. But now:
Now we are almost busting out of that 12-18 month swimsuit, are constantly goofing around, or smiling. We have one amazing girl, and we are so blessed to call her ours! So grateful that our crazy, scary, expensive and overwhelming YES led to so much joy and blessing! Totally worth it.