Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Big Girls' Adjustment

My girls have been keeping up with me through the craziness of house-hunting, packing, travelling to their birth country, getting a baby sister and moving. Each has done very well, but regressed a bit, each in a different way, which was totally normal and expected.

Jie Jie's English is horrible. She's copying the older sisters instead of setting a good example for her sisters to follow. She has stopped progressing with her English and regressed - a lot. For example, we found a dog in our backyard the other day. He'd made himself quite at home, but his owner was found and he did get picked up, but Jie Jie asked, "Howdhee?" I had no clue what she was asking. I asked her to give me hints, she couldn't. I asked my assistant if she knew. Then, Jie Jie said that Blossom would know. Well, it turned out she was asking, "How old is he?" One year ago, this was easy for her to say and understand. Jie Jie also doesn't understand the importance of obeying me. This is also a hold-over from her orphange rearing and partly about being 9.5 yrs. old, too.

Sissy's regression is more complicated. She has held up the best, I think, because she was able to understand what was going on better. While she's been super with the new baby, I can also see the longing in her eyes to be the baby. I have figured out a way to handle this that seems to meet her needs, but I still see how big the hole in her heart is for the mother who didn't keep her, and wonder if she'll every feel her need for love fulfilled. She feels her early abandonment acutely right now. She did suffer some attachment issues. Grandfathers are great, they play, they joke, but Sissy hasn't learned to love more than one adult, so she tried to put me aside and treat me like a servant while fawning over grandpa. Luckily, she has made a choice to be my daughter and is committed to it, so, with my help, she came back around once I pointed out to her what she was doing and the consequences and the fact that we can love a lot of people. It's so true what all the books say about attaching and bonding and how fragile it is in adopted kids, especially older kids.

Blossom regressed and acted out first. The day I started packing and putting things into storage I could clearly see her thoughts in her face. If she could have spoken honestly, she'd have said, "Wait! What are you doing? I finally feel safe and loved here and how it's disappearing before my very eyes. Are you going to disappear, too?" She also had a painfully obvious fear of being left in China. She was pretty pesky the entire trip, talking non-stop, and other little pesky things that added up, but were easy to manage as long as I kept her at my side where she could feel the safety of my reigning her in. The moment we got home, she turned into her sweet self again. She got up in the morning, said, "Mommy, I had a good sleep. Can I kiss you?" Blossom has started to balance on her bike. I took the pedals off so it's like a scut bike, and she's finally figuring it out. I think she'll be riding in the next month or two. Blossom also had her first experience beginning to process her abandonment. Feelings came up that she couldn't understand, but it was clear what triggered them and what was going on and once I explained what I thought was happening, she was able to make sense of it and begin to sort it out. She tends to avoid the real meaning behind her feelings, choosing to make up a plausible story instead, but she vents her feelings hugely when needed, not gracefully either. She's thunder and lightening and then a rainbow.

The girls are continuing to progress. We'll all be glad when the house is fully settled. I finally have a good team of contractors, tree removers, painters, plumbers, etc... The work has progressed well in the last two weeks, after two weeks of stutters and stops. School will begin soon. I'll continue to homeschool, but I have some nice options here that I'll be exploring that will socialize the girls a bit more - separately, so that they'll make friends with kids of the same age and have individual experiences. They are learning to swim. Jie Jie is almost dog-paddling, Blossom paddles well as long as she has a swim ring. Sissy is trying hard, but moves slowly in her swim ring, just not athletically inclined.

I am hanging in there like a good trouper. Last week was my low. I was just fed up with workers standing me up, not returning calls, being on hold forever getting no where, and I was more tired as we drove three hours each way to several medical appointments. Apple's care is currently divided between three cities, two of which are three hours away by car. I'm hoping she is accepted at Shriner's, which will be another three-hour away hospital, but worth it if I get the surgeon I want for her hands. I have it easy in a lot of ways. My girls do their chores without complaint. They are all excellent eaters. They eat whatever I give them, happily and with gusto. They sleep well - 12 hours a night - even the baby. I really am grateful for good eaters and sleepers 4 times over!


Wendy in OH said...

Dear Anonymous, do not hide behind your anonymity, if you have something to say, identify yourself or shut up.

Kim, you are doing a fabulous job, I admire your strength and wish I had half your patience and knowledge when dealing with my two adopted girls. I've learned much from you, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Time to enable comment moderation!

Anonymous said...

I am also anonymous but only because I don't know how to change it. I just want to say that I think you are doing a fabulous job and that I am so proud of all that you are accomplishing. Your family is amazing and that is because of you. Pay no attention to people who criticize and make cruel remarks. You have a beautiful family and as lucky as you are to have your girls, they also are so fortunate to have a mom who loves and protects them! LCN

Mama Jama said...

Hey, Anonymous #1, you are either a child, or a terribly uneducated adult; not sure we all care about what you are saying. Sure sounds like YOUR English has regressed....

Thanks for your post Kimmie. Lots of changes and expected regressions. Take care of yourself and your girls. Sounds like soon you'll have a great place to put down strong roots but also let your oldest ones explore other meaningful relationships. Good job!

Amy said...

Wow!! You seem to know what your girls need and with confidence. How the heck do you do it? :)

I can't imagine having a new house to work on and a new baby and 3 big kids. You are one tough mamma.

Good job and good luck

P.S. We are in the process of adopting a 9.5 year old and I would love any book recommendations you have. Clearly you have educated yourself well in older child adoption.

goodiego said...

Congratulations on a beautiful family and knowing what each girl needs to make her feel loved.

"She's thunder and lightening and then a rainbow." I love this, it describes my DH perfectly. I will say she is much more rainbow today then a few years ago. Hang in there, the rewards are great. Hardly any thunder or lightening anymore, and usually only after a "perfect storm"!

Good luck in your new home too!
Thank you for sharing.

Just the 6 of us! said...

Wow. I am impressed (as always!) at your SUPER MAMA skills!! Your girls are lucky to be your daughters! My daughter (who is the same- rainbows one minute and fire the next!) would do well with your structure, patience, and understanding of the deeper issues. I struggle to help her when she screams and kicks. I am impressed you look for the root issue. I need to work on that more. I always appreciate your honesty in your posts. You are making amazing progress as a family unit every day! Thanks for sharing a glimpse of your journey with us. We are rooting for you!! Much love to your family!!

Almond Tea said...

Thank you for your honesty, K. Blossom has made such wonderful strides with you.

We are all so blessed. You are an answered prayer.