Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Details of Sissy's Adjustment
As I mentioned before, Sissy changed the moment we got home from a sullen, defiant teen, to a very sweet, loving girl. I asked her yesterday about her behavior in China and she said she just missed her caregiver so much. Looking back from right now, I truly understand her behavior and excuse it. This doesn't mean I wouldn't have done the same things, because some of the things she did, like not follow along in public and getting very far behind us, were dangerous, but it definitely makes me want to shout to all parents, "Don't disrupt in China! Bring your kids home!" I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Sissy did once say to me, in China, near the end of our trip, using the online translator, "I wish to leave your side and return." I handled it by telling her that we were now a family and that I loved her and that she signed the papers agreeing to be adopted." Then I showed her the picture of her signing. She nodded and said, "Yes."
What is important to convey, is that while we were in China, Sissy was very excited to come with me right away. Even in the midst of all we went through, each night she relished being kissed and tucked into bed. She loved being hugged. It wasn't all bad by any means.
Now that we are home, she still loves the physical affection. She clings to my arm every chance she gets, she still absolutely loves being tucked into bed and kissed and always grabs my arm and just clings to me. The smile on her face each night is huge. She hasn't grieved with crying for about a week. I asked her about it and she said she doesn't feel like crying any more. I have let her send a second email and pictures to her caregiver, but I've not allowed any email contact with friends yet.
She watches everything I do. I invite her to help. We made cinnamon fudge last night. She has enjoyed and eaten everything I've made for meals. She's had mac & cheese in China, which surprised me, and she really loves the green salad I make which has dried cranberries and feta cheese in it. She even loves the casseroles I've made.
She sleeps very well. She goes to bed with Jie Jie around 8:30pm - 9:30pm and I wake them up in the morning at 7:35am. This is our morning routine:
I get up first and use the bathroom and brush my teeth. Then I wake up the girls. The bathroom is between our two bedrooms, so it's like having one huge room really. Jie Jie gets the bathroom next. I help her do what she needs help with then she brushes her teeth, and I take a fast bath if I didn't take one the night before. Meanwhile, Sissy is making her bed and getting dressed. Then we switch. I get dressed and go downstairs to open daycare while Jie Jie makes her bed and gets dressed. Sissy is now having her turn in the bathroom. Sometimes, she gets a bath in the morning instead of me, but I try to do all bathing at night for all of us. I still wash Sissy's hair, but next time I'm going to introduce her to the shower (which she knows from China) and watch while she does it for herself. She's thorough, so she should be just fine once she understands to rinse her thick hair well.
I have daycare open at 8am and the girls come down right after that. They start their morning physical therapy/exercises while I get the daycare kids sorted and settled. Then I get our breakfast - just myself and the girls, not the daycare kids. We eat in the daycare kitchen, the girls together at the table, and me walking around doing my job with my plate or bowl in my hand.
After this, the day varies, but includes school work, art, field trips, backyard play, etc...
We live for weekends! I am such a better mom when I don't have to work, especially when that work involves what seems like a zillion other kids always needing me and interupting me. Today I could have been a better mom to my youngest, but it's time for her to make a leap in development with her school work and it's hard because it also meant finding some pretty big holes in her English. She hasn't gotten down things like first, second, last, before, and after. I thought she had finally gotten those, but I was wrong. Because her English has far out-paced whatever Chinese she knew, there isn't a language to explain in that she can really understand the explanations in. It's also time for her to write more. I didn't realize that she didn't develop evenly in the areas of speaking, reading and writing. This is all very normal when you consider that she started "kindergarten" last January, but I feel bad because I know I could do so much more and do it better if I didn't have to work for a living. I've been trying to contact the school district to learn what resources are available to us, but the process of trying to contact the right people has been as bad as dealing with Kaiser so far, and I'm about to give up and go along my own way as I've been doing and hope I cover all the bases.
It really is wonderful having both my girls. I don't miss my pre-Sissy life at all!!! I absolutely LOVE having two children!!! I am looking forward like crazy to having my third child. I'm savoring each moment with the two girls I have. I love watching my girls develop their own relationship with each other.
The best advice I've received so far has been from my agency's waiting child coordinator. On our second day home, I took my little family to my agency to introduce them to Sissy and this woman said to me, "You must protect her." She was very emphatic. I didn't QUITE understand what she meant, but I trust her, she's a mom, too, so I imprinted her words on the forefront of my brain. Now I know. Because Sissy is older, people have expectations of her that are unrealistic. The overall advice I get is to throw her into mainstream life and she'll adapt quickly. I've seen some kids go through this and their parents think these kids are fine. But I have to admit that my girls seem to have far fewer issues overall and no orphanage behavioral or attachment issues AT ALL. My girls eat and sleep like champs, they are secure and happy and behave exceptionally well. They are loving, kind and helpful. Socially, they are right where they should be for their past experiences, for example, Jie Jie has no problems jumping into a social situation with younger kids or adults but doesn't fit in with her same-age peers yet. This is because she's never had same-age peers, she's a head-and-a-half shorter than all her peers and she's still learning English and hasn't been to school from age 5-6 like they have. Sissy is still shy and a little scared in social situations. This is perfectly normal since she doesn't understand the language and culture yet, but as long as I guide her and stay nearby, she does very well.
I have to admit that I think our rough stuff in China was par for the older/teen child adoption course. The more blogs I read, the more I see that, while in China, the kids have some extreme behaviors that don't persist once home. Don't be afraid, if you are about to embark on adopting an older child. Just keep yourself together while it's occurring and see what happens once you get home. Disruption was never an option for me so it didn't cross my mind. You all know what did cross my mind, but it wasn't disruption. I am so glad I had faith in God that allowed me to be strong in China and have faith that I chose the right daughter, for the second time. I am so happy with my beautiful, sweet oldest daughter, who is such a precious treasure in my life. As the pictures show, she is blooming each and every day into a happy, confident, beautiful girl.