Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hopeful

So it has only been a week since I last wrote but thought I'd give another update because..... dare i say it?.... might we have turned a corner???

Let me back up and give you some details of the past week. Spring break ended with AR getting the flu... so the week began as chaotic as the one before had ended. Thankfully it was mild and no one else caught it. While my mom was at the dr. with AR getting her diagnosis.... we were at the international adoption clinic (IAC) at Children's for 3.5 hours with Mei Sims.... sound long? It was quite torturous although I am extremely thankful that we have such a great resource here in AL.

For those of you not familiar, we met with a social worker/ family therapist. She is awesome and was adopted herself as a baby from South Korea.... so she offers great perspective not only from her training but from her life experiences. She asked a million questions from details on how she did on gotcha day to how she reacts to strangers to sleeping & eating habits. She also explained to me how the initial bond formed with MS was a trauma bond.... she bonded to me not because she wanted to but because she had to in order to cope.... but that is even now beginning to change into real attachment. Based on the type of orphanage she was in, she felt MS was doing average as far as adopted children go.... not great but not terrible. We were still in the throws of major fits and anger when we met with Kelley. The number one tool for bonding is "bottling" so we will continue to give MS bottles for a while (even though she is well over the age when typical children stop) and I've been able in the past few days to get MS to finally relax and lay back in my arms when she takes the bottle... kind of forces her to make eye contact with me while eating.

Next MS was examined by the doctor who was also so sweet. MS went insane of course while being examined. The only concerning thing the doctor brought up was her head size not being in proportion to her length. When she is plotted on the growth chart, she is well below it but she has stayed on her own growth curve for height, weight & head circumferance until this visit.... they saw her length jump up and her head and weight fall behind.... however, I contend that they measured wrong :) It has always seem so haphazard to me when they lay babies on the white paper and draw 2 lines and then measure. They had her 2.5 inches longer than the doctors in china... so someone is wrong here. They also drew the line on her right leg which is in fact longer than the left due to the hip being popped out. So, while I wanted to freak out a bit, I calmed myself by deciding they were wrong.

Due to her concern, we got to do some fabulous head xrays. Remember the loudness on the plane?? She took it to an even higher level.... she continues to amaze me at how loud, long and hard she can scream! It was truly terrible. First they did photos of her hips while a nurse and myself were pinning her down. I felt so terrible that there was no one else there to hold her down because she just kept screaming and staring at me like i was hurting her so bad (emotionally that is). Then the head.... oh my! I had to lay across her body and the nurse had these massive rubber oven mitt glove looking things that she used to pin her head just so. I scooped her up when it was over there and ran out as fast as I could.... forgot to even ask if the hip still looked out in my rush to leave.

The next stop was the lab... and oh, that scream again hit a new level. You may think I am exaggerating but just find the 300 lb. man who was the nurse. His comment even was "I've never quite seen a fighter like this!" He must have said 5 times "Man, she is strong!!!" to which I agreed. She was stuck 3 times to get those 7 vials of blood because she mastered the art of not only jerking her arm and fighting but rolling her arm just so to make the needle move from the vein. All the while, I am once again holding her down with the help of another nurse.... by the time it ended, she looked as if she had been dunked in a bathtub.... sopping wet hair! We walked to the car, I turned on the engine and she immediately fell asleep.... she stayed that way for 4 hours. Poor thing was so worn out!

I was also sent home with an interesting homework assignment... collecting poop! 9 tubes to be exact. I've said over and over adoption is messy.... it just got a little messier! Each tube has some liquid into which I must put enough poop to reach the red line... top back on and my favorite "shake vigorously." As I go about my work, I am having to literally sing out loud a little song that goes "it's play dough, it's play dough, it's playdough.... do da do da." If I'm not singing, I'm dry heaving. This is to check for parasites..... please, let there be none or else I will have to collect again!! We have a followup appointment in 3 weeks, where we will hear results of the extensive bloodwork.... praying there are no surprises. In 2 weeks, we go with to the Dr. Conklin, the orthopedic doctor to get a game plan. We also have a hearing check and and eye exam coming up.... doctors, doctors and more doctors.

The one moment that stood out to me most about the IAC visit was when the therapist asked me to put a percentage on how attached I am to MS (and added that 100% is how I feel toward my biological kids so I have an easy point of reference)..... at which point I said "I'm about to cry" and then began to do so.... don't know why i always feel the need to give a warning to people that the tears are about to start flowing. My basic answer through my blubbering was I love her, I do, but I know I want to love her more.... and I feel guilty about that. I'll add that derek was at 100% (he is so smitten). This same conversation came up 2 days later at our first post placement visit with our lifeline social worker. I've heard some people in the adoption world say "I can't remember a day without her! It is like she has always been here and fits in so perfectly with our family... yada yada yada." Cant' remember a day with out her? The honest answer is that yes, I can. I remember that life seemed much simpler and easier.... now it is complicated and harder. Before MS, I felt like I could get through the day on my own strength, post Mei Sims, I realize I need God every minute (which is, of course, a good realization.) There have been moments where I felt like I was babysitting someone else's child.... or the worst yet, when she is asleep and the other 3 are awake and life feels "normal" for a brief moment.... as these thoughts swirl around in my mind guilt upon guilt for even having them is heaped upon me by myself.

With all that said, the conversation that followed with my social worker was so refreshing and encouraging.... many adoptive mom's go through these emotions but many don't talk about it... maybe it is a little taboo or they feel guilty like I do.... but I was so thankful to know this is NORMAL. My lifeline social worker, Jackie, even pointed out that for many moms, it can take a full year for the lines between adoptive and biological to blur.... while I hope and pray it doesn't take that long, it frees me up in a way to feel emotions I feel and bring them before the Lord... without guilt or condemnation... asking Him to continue to move. Let me reiterate that I DO love her dearly and I have FULL confidence that the Lord created her for our family... I also wonder if God gave me so many crazy confirmations that she is ours because He knew.... He knew my heart would struggle....He knew I'm more of a thinker than a feeler... and He knew my heart would need time to catch up with my mind.... So He gave me truth to stand on.... the truth that He made me to be her mama and her to be my child.

With all that in mind, I came away with more of a "game plan" for attaching.... activities we can do together to promote attachment for both of us. (For example, placing stickers on my face and letting MS peel them off... interaction that makes her look at my eyes.) I also had an epiphany while loading the dishes the other day.... I was thinking back over the past year.... many days, I would decide it had been a "good" day if I had been able to accomplish all that I needed to.... i.e. if the kids would play sweetly together without me so that I could do dishes, laundry and cook. I always intend to be an intentional parent but many days that falls by the wayside in order to get daily life things done or it falls by the wayside because I can be selfish with my time & energy.... but with MS it is different.... I can't declare it a "good" day if she plays quietly by herself while I load the dishes....that is not a "good" day for her because that is all she has done her whole life... played on her own without a mama to interact with her. I HAVE to be intentional... I have to get on the floor with her and be in her face as much as possible.... the daily grind work will always be there but I have to make different choices right now because of MS..... choosing to fight for her in a way. And the more that I do that this first year, the greater benefit we will reap. I almost feel like we will have a deeper bond than I do with my other children.... it seems the harder I have to fight.... both for her to love me and for me to love her... the sweeter & deeper the connection will be. Does that make sense? Perhaps that is why God loves us so deeply.... because He has to fight harder for us... He has to relentlessly pursue us because we don't naturally want to love Him.... harder pursuit= deeper love?? Guess we will find out.

I love the lyrics to this song that say:
Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current
Of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to
Thy glorious rest above!

Mei Sims is worth pursuing and I'm humbled that God chose me for the job even when the responsibility scares me.

Random aside but Derek was talking about when she gets married one day and how protective he will be of her... we concluded our conversation with the decision that if she got married and her husband ever left her, then we would kill him! We would rather her have to deal with that than her being abandoned again in life! Ha! Then we laughed at ourselves... but really it does propel me to pray even now for the type of man she will one day fall in love with.

All that I just described was the first few days of this week. As the week went on, days began to get sweeter and sweeter... which is why I'm cautiously optimistic that a corner has ever so slightly been turned. She and I have just had sweet precious time together playing... she has even started playing in the bath water... which is HUGE because in china, baths made her scream at the top of her lungs! She's had a few moments of waking up happy in her bed! She has been nodding her head yes and no.... she has even begun feeding herself with a fork (and shakes her head no if I try and help).... she can give me high five... She doesn't fight me anymore when I try and rock her before bed.... We've had a few days without a major fit... plenty of screams throughout the day but not the bad ones... I feel my heart being drawn closer to her and I feel so hopeful. I'm not delusional to think it is now all good.... just the other night, I caught her banging her head again & she is still very jealous of my affection towards the other children.... it will take time to heal all wounds.... I know that... but I'm relishing these sweet days because they are a gift. The week ended with a play date with some of her chinese friends. My friend tiffany, who had not seen MS since we were in china together, made the comment that MS's whole countenance seemed to have change since she saw her last..... I loved that she saw in her what I've been seeing over the past few days.

We are starting to get out more and more. MS really loves being around people but she also reaches a limit... and if you meet her at that point, she will scream if you try and touch her or look at her. We even took her to the galleria for Rollins' birthday (trip to the lego store).... I kind of laugh now but we ate in the food court. There were all 4 of my kiddos eating lunch.... Rollins, AR and Hen all with their chick-fil-A and Mei Sims with a big ole plate of fried rice.... looking back that might have looked a bit funny to an outsider that I was making my asian child eat rice while the others ate their kids' meals.... but it must be genetic... she can down some rice!!

That's all for now. Enjoy some photos and check out my friend Robyn's blog on the right. She leave for china on thursday so yet another story will unfold.... so exciting!


I came in the room to find that Henry had tried some sticker therapy with Mei Sims:


First ride on 4-wheeler. don't worry, he went slow!
Letting Rollins practice walking with her:
My sweet redneck love lump:
With her bandages from giving blood:

MS looks scared here but she was having fun:

Hard to see but this is her sweaty head after pitching a fit!

The cat with 9 lives.... he survived the soccer net but will he survive henry?

Love this photo of emalyn wondering what is wrong with MS:
classic. Emalyn and Ayla looking sweet as can be and MS screaming!

5 comments:

Janet said...

Beautifully honest and exactly how I've felt at times. Every week gets better, with daily setbacks but weekly improvements. So glad she's improving. Looking forward to catching up with you.

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Hang in there sister... one day that corner will approach you faster then you know... yep, will take time but it too will happen... if you need a cry... you can get in touch and whine on my shoulders :) Hugs

Amy said...

I have been following the whole process and this post brought me to tears. These difficult, but sweet and eternal struggles put all of ours into perspective. Thank you for your transparency in sharing your fears and weaknesses. You and Derek are the kindest and best people I know. Your sharing is ministering to me during a tough time. Thank you so much for your honesty.

Praying for all of you.

Grace & peace.
Amy Valentine

Sandra said...

I'm sorry to hear of your struggles, but your posts and honesty make me feel like there is hope. Our nights have been awful, our outings a challenge. So many times I remember the "simpler" times BA (before adoption). I'll be praying for you in the days ahead and take hope for my own days.

JimandJackie said...

As always, thanks for keeping it real! I have felt the same way many days. I cannot tell you how many time the "measure on the paper" has been wrong! Parker shrank a few times! I can tell in her face that something has changed, you can see it in her eyes.