Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Of lines & lions (6 months home)

(this is long so I tried to break it up with photos and video)

Old Lines Gone

Every adoption story is different as every child is different.... but for me, six months in and it is pure joy... I'm not saying there aren't tears or screams daily (from kiddos or me).... but seriously amazingly different than even a month ago.  We continue to see MS blossom and flourish.  She is crazy, goofy, quirky, loud, spunky, silly...... just like my other 3 kiddos.  There is a wild gleam in her eye.... we think she going to love roller coasters... she is a perfect fit for our family (although I would be lying if I didn't say I was hoping for one quiet introverted child in the bunch!)  For me, 6 months was all it took for not only the lines between bio and adopted to be blurred but for them to be totally obliterated.... and it is a great place to be.  I don't know that it is possible to fully express how rewarding it is to have fought for 6 months.... fought to love and to be loved... and to now be here in a place of such sweetness.... And i truly believe it is all the sweeter for all the struggle to get here.  Some days my heart feels like it could burst because I love her so much.  She is amazing and she is mine.... it is mind boggling to me that God would give me such a gift.

First day of "school"-- she went for 30 minutes and did great! Only screamed 1 minute when I left her.

So a few observations of life 6 months out:
*  She finally stayed in nursery during the sunday school hour and church !!!  She cried the first 10 minutes but then calmed and even babbled some for them.  She even pointed at crayons to let them know she wanted to color.
* She finally loves our regular babysitter and stayed with her for an hour yesterday!
*  She is now friendly, outgoing and silly to so many people-- others are finally getting a glimpse of what our immediate family has seen for a while.  She waves at everyone we pass by.
*  She has dropped taking melatonin to get her to sleep at naptime.
* She can identify her nose, ears, eyes and mouth
* She can understand and follow every thing I say.
*  AR finally treated MS like a sister and screamed at her for bothering her (and MS I found out is very sensitive when her siblings get mad at her)
* She screams YO with the cutest expression when she wants some yogurt
* She now has a nickname for AR and calls her Nane when she wants her.
* She came to us with a nail fungus in 4 nails & I have now gotten rid of it in 1 nail (we celebrate the small victories!)
* Putting her to bed has turned into a 10 minutes process where it used to be 1-2 hours on bad nights.
* I realized there is NO way to keep her still in the harness... she is on top of chairs, up and down stairs, and so on.... so I have given up trying.  Instead I just pray for God to keep her hip in place.

(A quick snippet of life in this video.... MS was still in the cast.... love this moment derek caught of the 2 of them.)

Aside from the harness, during waking hours she is like a typical child her age. We are rarely having issues that are a result of adoption.  Instead, nighttime has become her battleground.  As I said, we can get her to sleep but keeping her asleep is another issue.  I've mentioned before her waking in the night and my various methods for getting her back to sleep.  A couple of weeks ago though (after the harness) her waking up moments changed.... more of a primal scream... thrashing of legs and arms as if she is fighting something off.... sometimes with her eyes closed and sometimes opened but even when open she couldn't "see" me.   We entered into the world of night terrors.

Night terrors are different than nightmares...From what I understand, they occur in a different stage in the sleep cycle, where they have no memory of it but when a child has a nightmare, they can recall it the next morning.   I.e. AR woke up in the night screaming and all the next day told me about a skeleton dog with someone saying "your dog is alive" and it freaked her out.... consequently we pray for nightmares every night.  She recently asked that I also pray for her daymares... which I explained if you are awake, you can control it so there isn't really such a thing.... but now thinking about it, maybe our flight back from china was a daymare rather than a nightmare because we were awake as well..... hmmmmmm.  And on that note, can I please tell you that just last week I had an "aha" moment where I remembered that we forgot to give MS benadryl on that flight?!?  The moment I realized that it was like I sat there wishing I could go back, relive it and give her the benadryl.  I had it in my bag and totally forgot.... guess God wanted me to have a fun story to tell.....

Just as I forgot what I knew about benadryl.... I forgot what I had read about what to do with night terrors.... and in fact, I did just the opposite for about a week.  The result? disasterous.  She was waking up every hour.  Nothing was working.  I tried so hard to wake her up to see me and calm her down but she got more terrified.... I got crazy.... no one slept.  A few days ago, I decided to re-read info. on night terrors and realized my error.  Number one rule:  Do not wake them up!  So that night, I stood beside her as she fought it out.... never saying a word.... she wrestled through it and it was over... then she only made 2 small peeps the rest of the night.  It was like a magic pill.... to simply do nothing.... which is hard because it is disturbing to watch & it can last for a while.  Now, we have had some great sleep and she has been much more rested and even happier the past few days.  (Hoping by going into detail on that issue, I can save another adoptive mom from making my same mistake.  And hear me again, take benadryl for the flight back!!!  I really really still think about it and wish for a do-over!)

My great job at keeping her still-- up and down stone steps & found her on the chair, playing the leap pad!

Drawing New Lines

The story of the past 6 months of our life has been a crazy one full of up, downs, twists and turns.  For over a year, we read, prayed and prepared for having MS in our home but as is the case with most things.... it is very different to read about something and then live it in real life.  MS is a changed person which is obvious to anyone who has seen her..... but God has changed me along the way as well.... I understand parts of His heart that I never did before... and I understand my neediness for a savior even more.... again, it is a great place to be.  I feel as though I have been living in one of the greatest love stories God has ever written.... a story of me learning to love my child, my child learning to love and trust me..... a story of redemption and hope.  And this hasn't been just about me.... He is writing a story in the hearts of my children and my husband as well as we have lived each day of the past 6 months learning, growing and adjusting.

And while I know MS's story is far from over..... 6 months in, I know that it is time to step back a bit from sharing the nitty gritty in such a public forum.  I've said this from the beginning, but I knew that God was telling me to share our journey and to be brutally honest.... it has been hard sometimes because what I was feeling wasn't very pretty or even "normal".... it has been messy for sure and now it is all out there anyone to see.  At times, I have felt like I have been walking around town naked.... but isn't this the way that God intended us to live?  Don't worry, I'm not going to start walking around naked... but I do think we were made to live in community... being honest, sharing in our moments of joy and sharing in our times of need.  So much of our culture propels us to act as if everything is nice and neat in our lives & my life is anything but.... these 6 months have been the hardest in my life in many ways but I already look back on them as some of the richest months.

In the process of being open, I have experienced the beauty in the community of believers like never before..... so many of you have come alongside to encourage me through e-mails, texts, calls, meals, thoughtful gifts, having my kids come play..... the list goes on and on.  I'm sure at some point I have overlooked a thank you note to someone so let this be one big thank you to all who have ministered to us over the past 1.5 years.  I couldn't have made it alone.... and that is the beauty of the body of Christ.... He never intended for me to have to make it alone.

When we began the adoption process, I remember hoping that through openly sharing MS's journey perhaps another orphan would find a home & know the love of a family..... that her little life might have a ripple effect of impact.....amazingly enough I know of a few families who are in the adoption process as a direct result of Mei Sims' story.  I love it.  I am in awe.  I pray that one day when MS's reads all of this, she will see the beauty in her story being public for a period of time...

So, while I knew that God was giving me a story to share and wanted me to share while in the midst of it..... I recognize that this is not just "my" story to share.  This is a very personal story for MS and one day she may not think I'm the coolest mom in the world to have put so many details of her life out there for all to see.  I still want to document God's faithfulness but I want to respect MS's privacy.... so our struggles together may have to find their home in my journal for now.

I'm not really "breaking up" with you (whoever you are that is still reading at this point!!)....I'll check in from time to time.... if there is another cat in the soccer net type of moment here.... MS finally being contraption free and walking..... you know, the good stuff.... I'll come back and share the highlights.... just maybe not so much of the struggles that play out in her little life. And I'm always happy to talk to anyone anytime who has questions about anything I have shared on this blog.  My life is an open book so please contact me if you have questions at any point about anything I have written.
Anyone see something off here?  Who has the chopsticks and who has the fork?  This was unplanned and really made me laugh!

Playing with Henry (and wearing his PJ's)

(If you want to continue to keep up with periodic updates but don't want to have to always check and see if there is one, I FINALLY figured out how to add the thing on the side so you can "subscribe"  I'm not tech savvy as evidenced by the old photos on the side of my blog (over a year old in fact) and the same recipe banner even though I never cook anymore.  So sign up if you want to make it easier to stay connected)

And Finally, The Lion 

A pastor at church read this section in the voyage of the dawn treader sunday and it struck such a chord with me as I was already writing this post and reflecting back on 6 months.

A very brief background.... eustace is the cousin of Lucy, edmund, etc. in the chronicles of narnia.  He finds himself in a predicament where he has turned into a dragon.... he is lonely and miserable and the only one who can change him back into a boy is aslan.  He tried to peel the scales off of himself but they only came back.  After 3 attempts at trying to change himself this scene ensues:

“Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab off a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again...
“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me –“
“Dressed you. With his paws?”
“Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes - the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream.”
“No. It wasn't a dream,” said Edmund.
“Why not?”
“Well, there are the clothes, for one thing. And you have been - well, un-dragoned, for another.”
“What do you think it was, then?” asked Eustace.
“I think you've seen Aslan,” said Edmund.
(The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Chapter 7)

This is such a portrait of the past six months in MS's life (as viewed by my eyes)....not that she was a dragon but she certainly was trapped in a shell of herself when we met her in March.... she had the layers of protection built up by living in an institution, being in 'survival mode' and already dealing with hurt, loss and abandonment at such a young age.  God plucked her out of it by giving her to us.  And we have witnessed layer upon layer being peeled back for the past six months... deep layers that hurt in the process of being peeled back and left her exposed.  It was painful for all involved but especially for little ms.  And now she is like eustace..... turned back into who she was created to be.... a little girl enjoying & relishing in her new life... finding it "perfectly delicious."  It was a miracle... a transformation that only He could do... and I believe that she has seen "aslan".... in fact, we all have.  

See ya'll soon!
Cheers to a fun journey together.

1 comment:

Claire Lucas said...

I've never commented on your blog before but as you are drawing together loose ends I just want to add my voice as someone who has been praying for your family. Over the last year you've brought me tears and smiles and I just wanted to leave you with a picture (I've also never shared a picture with someone I've never met before) I had while praying, of a daffodil [do you have those in the US]? lifting it's head like a trumpet towards the sun. I was reminded of the host of instruments in 2 Chronicles 5 where those with voice join with the trumpeters to give praise and I felt like I should say that even without being able to speak the story of MS together with your voice and the din of all the things that have gone on for you have joined to point in praise towards God and that this blog has encouraged me lots!