Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A year of emotions

Finding words to sufficiently sum up the past year of our lives is nearly impossible. There has been every emotion known to man displayed. There were so many things I did not know, or think about a year ago. My heart and mind have grown right along with Lilly.

Initially there were big problems. The kind that are more than a little overwhelming. Luckily our Social Worker had warned us about these things, and we were as prepared as you possibly could be. I had read the books, but experiencing it yourself is a bit different. Lilly did not trust us....at all. She did not trust us to love her, feed her, cloth her, keep her safe, or any other thing that most 5 year old children take for granted. SO she controlled everything. She needed to be in control to keep herself safe, as she had done in China for 5 years of her life. No one really loved her there, so she made sure her needs were met herself. She had huge tantrums, not just kiddie tantrums, big ones, where she tried to hurt us and herself. Can you imagine being so scared at 5 years old that you feel you have to "fight" for yourself? I am sure in those moments if you would have asked her if she wanted to go back to China she may have very well said YES! How do you explain to this child that we love her more than anything and we WILL take care of her? You don't. Love is an action....we had to prove it. And slowly over time, she began to trust, and let her control go, and we saw a sweet beautiful daughter emerge from this frighted, terrified girl....and she started blooming, right before our eyes.

THAT is a beautiful thing.

As Lilly bloomed, and we came to understand more about her, attachment and bonding, things got much easier. Everyday she made progress. Everyday things became easier, everyday we worked hard and succeed. Little bitty baby steps. Was it hard? YES! Was it worth it? A million times YES! Would I do it again? In a second!

Our social worker did warn us about the risks, and the troubles we may have. BUT, there are many things our social worker did not tell us about. She did not tell us how every morning we would be so excited just to see her face, and know she is ours. She did not tell us that there will be days of abundant joy that make up for the bad days ten fold. She did not tell us that we would be on our knees thanking God for picking us to be her parents. She did not tell us that we would be the lucky ones.

I am glad she didn't because I would have never believed her.

The moment I laid eyes on Lilly I knew I could not love her anymore had she come to be mine through any different avenue. She was mine, just as my other two were. I love her no less or no more, and never will. She filled a hole in my heart, that I never really knew I had, and I think we filled one in her heart too. I know we were meant to be together, and that just about sums it up.

Forever Family.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

365 days

May 11th, 2009, 8,000 miles away from home, 3:00 am, I toss and turn. Today is the day. We are told to be ready to go at 9:30 am, but at 4, I give into my restlessness and arise. So many emotions swirl that I could not possibly sleep. The day we have waited for over 3 years is finally here, who could sleep? I am sure I paced the floor so many times before we left that I must have worn the carpet. I changed my clothes 3 times.

The ride to the Civil Affairs office was long. I stared out the window watching more people than you could ever imagine on a street in America, go about their daily business. I remember it like yesterday. I have NEVER been more nervous in my life, scared to death of a 5 year old girl. Will she like us? Will she cry? Will she try to run away? Will she recognize us? Every scenario good and bad I played out in my head a 100 times that day.

When we finally made it to the office, it was very hot and small. There were some babies already there, with caregivers, some sleeping some crying, all unrealizing their lives were about to change. There were some parents there too, most of them were Spanish speaking. One by one the babies started being ushered in and handed out, but our Lilly was no where to be seen.

I paced and paced and finally her orphanage director called and said they were running late. I tried to relax and focus on the new families being formed and the beautiful little children. It was a madhouse though, hardly what I had imagined it to be. Surreal.

When I least expected it, she walked in. Expressionless, she looked at us, and studied our features as we did hers. You could tell she was scared, but she did not cry. We were allowed to ask the director some questions about her. She told me that Lilly had thrown up on the way to the office that morning. Ah, she was just as scared as me. She told me how smart Lilly was and how she made her bed nicely everyday. Besides that she had little to say, and did not tell me anything too personal about my child. I can't help but think she did not know about her. in no time we were done. I wish I had some fairy tell story but I do not. That quickly in that loud chaotic room were handed our child. Strangers were now a family.

We left and on the ride back to the hotel there had to be a million things Lilly was thinking. One single tear ran down her cheek as we left all she had ever known behind. That one tear symbolized so much. In that moment I questioned what we were doing to this sweet child and if it was right. That tear broke my heart. She was so brave, she was going through more than any 5 year old ever should have to.

Later that night, and for many months after she cried and grieved for all that was familiar. There is pain in adoption. For us that day was all we had dreamed of, but for our sweet girl, it was a living nightmare. I can not imagine. She has told us since then that she was "very, very scary Momma and Baba, in China, but now I love you."

We celebrate this day as a mark in time, 365 days since we united together, but I feel guilty about it in a way. It was such a traumatic time for her that I hate remembering the pain she felt.

Thank you God for the past 365 days of blessings you have bestowed on us.

For those who have been around for a year now, here is a before and after shot. We put the "China clothes" on (that she REFUSED to change in China) for old times sake. This time 365 days later she was mad that I made her put them on. Sorry I couldn't find an oreo. : )

I will be back soon with my reflections from this year.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I thought to mark the one year anniversary of the day we left for China, I would let you in on some insider, one-of -a -kind things about Lilly we have learned in the past year.

1) She loves music...all kinds really, especially Taylor Swift.

2) She loves art, all art, and will use anything as paper, including the wall.

3) Her nickname is 'Little Little", don't ask me why, I do not know, blame it on Baba.

4) She likes to play games, and loves to win. Warning she has been known to cheat.

5) She wants to let her hair grow to her ankles.

6) She would eat at McDonalds everyday, if I would let her.

7) Lilly is the perfect amount of part stubborn, part sweet, mixed with humor.

8) She desperately wants a sister her age, or so she thinks.

9) She has a magnetism that is undeniable.

10) She is as close to perfect as they come, or at least we think so.