Sunday, February 15, 2015

One month in our arms.....

..... Plus a few extra days thanks to a stomach bug in our house! I've been meaning to update but life is busy as you can imagine.

 One month ago, Colley was placed in my arms and fought me with all that she had in her... It was traumatic and to some degree I felt as if I was kidnapping a child.... yes, I knew God created her to be a Waltchack but she knew nothing of that plan.... she knew who her family was and it was not us. I don't know what I expected would happen in the month to follow, but I know that where we are now is so far beyond my wildest expectations for this adoption... I have seen God take her broken heart in His hands and begin to heal it in ways that only He can.

Colley is brave. Colley is beautiful inside and out. Colley is goofy, silly and has a sense of humor unlike any 2-year-old I have met. Colley exudes joy and life. Colley loves to be loved and loves to love others. She is quite simply amazing. In the words of Henry "Do we really get to keep her forever mommy?" I almost need to pinch myself to see if this is really really real.

Let's back up a bit to get to where we are now. The flight home? Derek and the big kids left me a few days early as most of you know. Rather than stay on my regular Delta flight, I decided to switch to an American flight with friends so that I wouldn't be alone. It wasn't until a few days later that I found out the original delta flight had to have an unexpected 24 hour layover in Japan!!!! Ya'll! God was all over getting me to switch! I would have been an emotional basket case to be stuck in Japan with Colley!! On the flight she did a better than I could have asked.... I never even had to slip her some benadryl or melatonin. She slept a 7-8 hour stretch and only had one REALLY loud grieving episode... like REALLY loud and lasted 35 minutes but was finally extinguished by a dumdum courtesy of one of my travel buddies.

My stellar travel buddy!

 The airport felt magical.... to see all of kiddos together in one place.... to see all of my family....and to see my sweet friends cheering... just to be home. Home! Ahhhh, I love being home!!!!

Reunited and it feels so good....

Not gonna lie.... the first time I saw this, I thought "Where the heck did all those kiddos come from?!"

 Driving back, we wondered what Colley would think when we walked in the house... would she be clingy and scared, would she explore, would the kids totally overwhelm her.... I could have never predicted what actually took place. We walked in and she SQUEALED, took off running into the kitchen, looked around....squealed some more and then laid down on her back and began doing the motions like she was making a snow angel right there on the kitchen floor while giggling uncontrollably. She would then pop up, laugh at all the kids, run in a circle, and lay down again squealing as she made another "snow angel".... this happened over and over. Derek and I kind of looked at each other like "What the heck?" She was so excited, so confident, so brave and bubbling over with joy.

Snow angels... blurry because she was moving so fast!

I don't remember much of the next week. I remember trying my best to make it until 7:30 to go to bed. I remember feeling crazy and emotional and then saying to Derek "Don't let me discuss anything about how I'm feeling until jet lag wears off!" .... I didn't want to responsible for anything I said, thought or did while under the evil spell of jet lag.... 5 kids felt like a lot.... like every corner I turned, there was another kid in our house. I had moments of feeling overwhelmed that God would entrust us with so many lives.... moments of thinking that God had lost His mind. BUT, jet lag went away like I knew it would and I became more emotionally sane now amid the chaos.... I no longer think God is crazy but think He has pretty spectacular plan for our family.

So, the question I get asked most is how are the little kiddos adjusting?? And it is better than I could have hoped for. Mei Sims was made to be a big sister.... she adores Colley and mothers her in many ways.... from picking out her clothes or pjs to getting a tissue to wipe her nose.

A sisterly talk over pretzels

 Henry makes me laugh as he asks me questions like "Am I doing such a good job at being a big brother?" I want to remind him that he already was a big brother. ha! I quickly realized that he has always felt like he and Mei Sims were the same age and for the first time he is finding his groove as a caring/ smothering big brother.

He wants to be close to her day and night.  This night they fell asleep snuggling.

Of course there are bumps in the road.... a few more tears here... a few more fits there.. but thankfully they think Colley is the greatest, cutest, funniest baby ever.  Colley loves all of her siblings but it is obvious that she is very attached to Rollins.... she lights up when he gets home from school.  (Which he of course delights in but the others start screaming and sobbing "Why does he love Rollins more than me?!")  It has been a sweet thing to see God use that relationship to bring out a side of Rollins we never saw before.... I always tell people that he has such a tender heart but it is often buried under many many layers.... Colley has brought out an even sweeter and nurturing side to his personality and it does my heart good to see this....

It's not all fun and games all the time, I promise.... remember, Colley is 2!

She can pitch a fit like the best of them.  So far, fits only seem to be triggered when I say NO, when Henry hugs her one too many times, or when she wants to be outside (she would live out there if I would let her!). Our only other issue has been food.... the girl loves Chinese food. Only Chinese food.

Exhibit A

The first several meals, I would put a plate in front of her and she would turn her head and refuse to make eye contact with me. I wasn't about to cause attachment issues for the sake of nutrition so right now take out or noodles it is.... lunch and dinner every single day. She is slowly trying a few things here and there but when she wants to eat and says "fan fan" by golly, she means that fan fan better be noodles or else. I've had a good laugh though because put any brownie, cookies or cake in her path and she will devour it. I'm thinking she knows what she is doing! In fact, a brownie prompted her first sentence "I unt mo!"

She is such a smart cookie... picking up words left and right. In one month, she has learned all of our names, more, please, bye, hello, Shake it off, let it go, phone.... you know, all of the important stuff. We were talking to someone at the grocery store this past weekend and when we walked off, she screamed "Bye! See ohhh ater!" I saw shocked. She just mimics everything we say and do. At bedtime a few nights ago, she surprised me and pointed at her eyes, ears, nose, hair and mouth while saying the word for each one. And she understands EVERYTHING we say. I'm astounding at how fast her language abilities have grown. I sometimes test it out to make sure I'm not making this up.... so I asked her to go and get her banana that she left in the den and bring it to me in the kitchen.... and she did just that.  I don't even know if my bio kids could have done any of this at 2  and english is their first language!

Truly Colley's only "adoption issue" we have seen is that she continues to grieve at times....but this is a good thing! And it has gotten much much less..... In those moments, I just hold her tight and kiss her tear stained face.... telling her that I know this is hard while praying for God to be the voice that comforts her.... for Him to speak truth into her sadness.... she is so young to be dealing with something so very heavy..... BUT, one month in and she seems to be truly at peace the majority of the day and night.... she has a sense of confidence about her place in this family. I know that so much of who she is is due to the love she received in her foster family.... it wasn't until looking through pictures once we got home that I realized she had been the youngest of 5 in her home! They told me she had 3 foster sisters which I assumed included the adoptive daughter, but in pictures I realized it did not.... God is in the details!! Only God could take an orphan in China and prepare her in such a specific way to be the youngest of 5 in a family across the ocean.

This is not a normal adoption at all! Bedtime with Colley reminds me daily just how "not normal" this has been... there is no form of self-soothing..... she simply puts her doll to bed, lays down beside her, pulls my hand to her cheek, then says lots of silly things in chinese (I don't know what they mean but her giggles let me know they are silly). Then I tell her its time to sleep and say "I love you" and she smiles at me and says "Ai ni" (love you in chinese.... boy am I gonna miss it when she quits saying this in chinese!!) Then she simply closes her eyes and goes to sleep.... so simple yet so very sweet.

This is not normal! Even the doctor and therapist at the International Clinic at one point, put their notebooks down and laughed and said "You know this is not normal, right?" She is a bright, loving well-adjusted child... We've really only had 2 rough days together since we got home..... Honestly, I'm so thankful that this part of her journey has been as pain free as an international adoption process can be... she will have a bit of a long road ahead of her with her leg... that part of her journey may be painful both physically and emotionally.... so I'm thankful she is simply enjoying life right now...

Anne Rainey was inside throwing up.... Colley has been easy although life has been insane with a nasty stomach bug and a fever virus!

I remember when we were waiting to be matched telling Derek that I just had this feeling it was going to be easy this time.... which kind of made him laugh... I don't know that I really thought EASY but I think I thought, we have been through this.... we have made it to the other side.... the one where God took brokenness and made something beautiful... so I knew we could do it again and it wouldn't be as scary. I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined where we find ourselves now..... God gave us something already beautiful and is simply allowing us to all enjoy this gift.... and it is so so sweet.

 I have to say one more time that this is not normal! Do you hear me?! I fear that someone following this adoption will be like "Oh, adoption sounds fun and easy, let's do it!" Adoption IS a beautiful thing. Don't get me wrong. But go back to March 2012 on this blog to get another perspective.... Adoption is hard, messy and painful for the most part. It's interesting to have experienced both ends of the spectrum as an adoptive mom. Many people have remarked about how God has blessed us for Colley to be doing so well and they have used the phrase that "God is so good" .... while I totally agree it is worth remembering that God was still blessing us 2 years ago when adoption felt like the hardest path I had ever walked..... God was still good when my baby was raging at me and I felt like I couldn't make it through the day.... God was just as faithful to Mei Sims when she was alone in an institution as He was to Colley when He placed her in a foster home..... the paths were different, the emotions for all involved were different but God was good because He IS good... not because He gave us an easier process this time....  I'm thankful for both paths we have walked and wouldn't change a thing.

So, one months in and Colley has added such a sweetness to our family.... it is remarkable. I was thanking God the other day for speaking to us over 2 years ago.... whispering in our ears that there was another.... Oh, how we would have missed out had we not followed where we knew He was leading.

Pretty sure that only God can take this:

And turn it into this!

"Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning."  Psalm 30:5

I'll leave you with a quote from my hubs:
"Adopted kids come to us hard, brittle and rough. But over time they soften up, inside and out. 
I was observing and holding Colley and noticed that most of the bumps and scratches that she came is with have disappeared. Her formerly coarse hair is bunny soft. And her rigid body has gone limp, trusting that we love her, we won't hurt her and she doesn't have to protect herself any longer.
The same pattern was true for mei sims. I remember when we first got her, the word that kept coming to my mind was she felt and smelled wild. She now is our most dainty, elegant and gentle child. 
Every discussion about adoption and the progression kids make seems to
point to the gospel and how we all started out wild, untrusting, rough. But once we start to trust Jesus, he turns us into softer, kinder, trusting children because of his gentle love and protection of us."

PS- Pretty sure that blogging will be next to impossible for right now.... too many kiddos, too little don't hold your breath for an update but holler if you need me!  

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