Sunday, July 22, 2012

Finally Had a Breakthrough!

My daughter's are going to bed content tonight. Both of them! Sissy barely behaved all day, but tonight I was finally able to gain some much needed insight into her world. It's taken two nights and we're still not finished going through Chloe's letter. Sissy doesn't understand every other sentence, but she got enough tonight to finally bring some stuff up and get it out so that I could help her. It was the thread of hope I needed to see that we will get through this hard beginning.

First, it should tell you something that it's taken two nights to get through Chloe's letter and we're still not done. Sissy doesn't understand much of what she's reading. Last night I couldn't get her past the first sentence. She typed in the translator, "Why I read this? I don't know this person." Tonight she finally understood it's to children like her - orphans. The word orphan is what opened up a little more understanding.

Sissy didn't understand any names. She didn't understand the concept of another orphanage. She didn't understand any of the second paragraph about the American mom and Chloe's description of her.

What I now understand is that Sissy was reluctant to leave her SWI, specifically her teacher, who was her main caregiver and what I'd call a dorm mother. She didn't have any idea that this teacher would now be out of her daily life. She doesn't understand that I'm now her mother forever. She doesn't understand that adoption is the process that makes this so. There are tiny glimmers of a good girl inside this hurting, confused, angry child. She has gone to bed understanding, for the moment, that it's okay to love and miss her teacher and not to love me yet. She knows she's "performing badly" and doesn't want me to tell her teacher. I hope I've conveyed to her that teacher is now out of it as far as daily care goes and that I will not report to teacher. That instead of worrying what teacher will think, she should think about what mama thinks. She is feeling so terribly alone.

Each day, I've told her that I understand her love for her teacher, but I think tonight she finally got it. I'll see if tomorrow, she held onto the knowledge.

A lot of good care has gone into Sissy, but she's led a more sheltered life than I'd have ever imagined, given the location and resources of her SWI. Yesterday she saw a black-skinned man up close. She looked possitively mentally impaired as she stared at him in her open-mouthed, neck sticking out way, reaching out to touch him. When she did, she looked at her hand to see if his blackness had come off, like wet paint. She couldn't be dragged away, and as the man finally left, she still had her hand outstretched, trying to touch him. She followed a couple into their hotel room, they spoke enough English to tell me that she wanted to know if they were sleeping in the hotel, too. Sounds okay, but when she saw them walking into their room, she squealed with surprise, even though we've gone into our friend's room several times here at the same hotel.

I won't lie to you. I will be honest as say that as I went through the day today, I was very concerned as to how I'd handle my new life with Sissy. I saw the next four years as something to be struggled through with a kick out the door on her 18th birthday. If you know me, you know how far from my normal mothering feelings this is. After tonight, however, I see a bright future for all of us. It is, however, going to take a lot more of everything than I'd hoped. I admit it openly... Jie Jie spoiled me. She is as near a perfect child as a child can be. Despite being in her stroller a lot with braces on her legs, she has charmed every single Chinese person to lay eyes on her. I do remember getting through a day about two months after being home with Jie Jie and realizing we'd found our new normal. All through this process with Sissy, I have been able to step back and remember that it takes a lot of time to get through the initial adjustment period and through the first couple of months.

Some of our minor things: I drag Sissy through the day. Physically drag her. In the morning, after breakfast, we walked through the garden of the hotel, around the fish pond, over the little bridges and on the walkways. I wanted to take a picture of both girls together. Sissy refused and started getting huffy. Instead of insisting, I said, "Fine!" and motioned for her to get out of the picture area. She refused to move. She refused to have a picture. I finally moved Jie Jie, then Sissy suddenly wanted a picture. I said, "No." I finally physically dragged her out of the way, then proceeded with Jie Jie's photo. Minutes later, as she sees Jie Jie getting more pictures taken, she suddenly agrees to cooperate. I let her back into the pictures and all seems well for the moment. It's this physical contact that seems to reach Sissy, even when it's such negative contact. Then, in the metro station, while changing metro lines, I had to bump the stroller down about five stairs and had Jie Jie hop out and walk. When Jie Jie tried to hold Sissy's hand, Sissy refused. With the crush of people and no railing, this was a bit dangerous for Jie Jie. Sissy did apologize later, but in the minutes following, I entertained the notion of giving Sissy the boot out the door 18! I know that we as new mothers under duress can't be held responsible for our desperate thoughts. Please see them for what they are and realize that I do love Sissy and want the best for her and will do all I can to help her make this adjustment and reach her potential far into the future. After reaching our new understanding tonight, she gave me her first real hug!


Anonymous said...

So telling, isn't it? They have to sign that they want to be adopted but don't really know what it means to be adopted. She does sound like she will push every button you have for awhile. I am keeping you all in prayer.

Carolyn (in Las Vegas)

Mama Jama said...


I'll keep you all in my thoughts. Please know that it may be years before things find a new normal that is truly satisfactory, but progress will occur every month.

This will be the hardest thing you do - and the one you'll be most proud of.

Please know that you can and should reach out to this community when you need support!

Sherri said...

Yes, it takes these children a while to learn what a family really is. It sounds like you are seeing the big picture and doing a great job! Bless your day...or night or whatever it is there :)

MJ said...

Older child adoption is not easy. It could take years for Sissy to feel stable. She is testing your boundaries and will most likely continue to do so but stay strong. You are her Mom, you love her, and you aren't giving up on her. :)

Anonymous said...

It is so interesting to read how you describe Sissy's body language and postures. Our high functioning, special needs DD lived in an orphanage where 99% of the children there were severely handicapped. DD had some very interesting actions, motions and habits. When I saw the children in her orphanage it dawned on me how some of her physicality was based on what she saw daily from the handicapped children she was living with.

Once Sissy is surrounded by you and Jei Jei and your support at home she will physically change. I look back at pictures with DD now and she will point out her old postures and habits. She even had some facial expressions that no longer appear, that were mimics of some severely handicapped children. She wasn't doing it to make fun of them, that's all she knew, she was SO sheltered before leaving the orphanage.

Sissy will be learning so many new things, I pray for your girls and your strength to accept all that is new for your family.

Thank you for sharing!
Blessings to your whole family!

nancy said...

I continue to pray for you, Jie Jie and Sissy. You are a wonderful mom. You have so much strength, courage and faith, which I truly admire. I'm happy to hear that Sissy is starting to understand the process of adoption. In time she will realize what a beautiful family she is part of. Blessings.

Donna said...

Some days I feel like I am babysitting the "child" that never goes home. Frustrating and trying for sure. As they say, you will need to do some faking it before you make it :)

Eliza2006 said...

Oh, sounds rough! Hang in there. You are an inspiration!