Sunday, July 29, 2012
Not Too Bad Today
I let the girls sleep too long, by accident, but they seem tired enough to sleep well tonight anyway. We didn't make it to church, but we went up to the Oakland Temple Visitor's Center and I had the Chinese sister-missionaries give Sissy the very basics of an introduction to God and Jesus. They said that Sissy doesn't understand very much at all and even the little they tried to teach her, they were surprised at how little she could comprehend.
I will know eventually if Sissy has some kind of learning disability or it's just a product of her upbringing.
Sissy did have a rough night last night so I didn't expect much from her today and at dinner she did become defiant and sullen, but here at home, it's easy to walk away from her and give her some space. After a little while, I came back and told her that if she didn't eat her soup for dinner, she'd have it for breakfast. I again gave her some space and in a few moments, she'd eaten. It wasn't about the soup at all, but something else. She's actually turned out to be a much less picky eater than I expected her to be.
So, here I am, third day home, and I have to say that despite everything, I still encourage older child adoption. Take what I've written for what it is, one family's story, and know that it can be much easier and even a bit more difficult. My motto is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
What about loving a sullen teen? Honestly, I do love her, but I know I'll love her more and more, just like my love for Jie Jie grew. Do I like her? Not all the time. But any parent can say that. This is when a mother must "fake it 'til you make it."
You can clearly read that Sissy and I didn't have an instant connection like Jie Jie and I had. What Jie Jie and I had was very, very rare. It was as perfect as an adoption could ever be. The connection Sissy and I have is growing with every passing day. I didn't get angry for her episode tonight because it's par for the course. I've also learned that I don't need to react with anger; she's old enough to know what she's doing. She will, on her own, as I've learned, come around, and she did tonight. As I tucked her into bed, she apologized. She always sounds sincere when the apologizes, too. What she knows, after our time together so far, is that I mean exactly what I say. If I say, "Eat it for dinner or you'll have it for breakfast," she knows I'll follow through.
I spent part of today looking back on my time in China, wondering if there was anything I could have done differently to have made a smoother transition. The answer is a definite NO. The thing she wanted and still wants most is to communicate with her beloved Teacher Yang, and I won't allow it for at least one month. That tie is so strong, in order for her to begin to attach to me, I had to cut it completely. I know that if I'd have allowed any contact, other than the orphanage visit, she would not have come home with me. The pain of having to say good-bye is too strong and painful. She has been sheltered from pain and hardship all her life. Her entire life has been orchestrated to get numerous children through life with the greatest of ease on the children and on the adults caring for them. I'm a childcare provider, I really understand that concept. You don't give too many choices, you don't let in too many distractions and you don't upset the routine. The result of this as a life, is that one doesn't develop emotionally. If there isn't disappointment, one doesn't learn to cope with it. If one doesn't have fears to face, once doesn't learn how to be strong and brave.
Many, even I, have said, "These kids who have to give their permission for adoption are the bravest people I know." I really am going to rescind that on my part, at least for Sissy. She's brave by the need to survive, not by choice. If she'd have truly understood what adoption meant, she most certainly would never have agreed. She did tell me that she was reluctant to come and she did say, the two days before we left, the night after the big problem at the consulate, that she wanted to leave me and return to the orphanage.
The reality is that she is already becoming enthralled with America. She's smart enough to recognize and comment on how beautiful it is here. She is already getting a glimpse of how large the world really is and how small a world she came from. She can't help herself; she's already starting to like it here.