Thursday, March 21, 2013

A little over a year later....

Amazing to think that she has been home a little over a year! Our family seems as though it has never been without her. As with each of our kids, our family has taken on a new normal, and has been forever changed by her presence.

So, where are we a little over a year later? We are in some ways right at the very beginning: playing the attachment dance, still some cocooning and "over" protection, being baffled at certain responses that just don't seem quiet "normal" toddler behavior. In many ways, we are light years away from those first few weeks and months.

Physically Ribka is doing great - she is growing.
She eats like a toddler - picky. She insist on using a fork because that is what everyone else is doing.
She also insist on having water in a normal cup, and then she gets a rag to clean up the water that she spills on the floor!
She plays like a toddler, sometimes too rough, too demanding. She is very affectionate with other kids - a little too much sometimes, but she spends all day long being hugged, kissed, and carried around by her siblings so that is just normal play for her, she doesn't know how to NOT hug other kids.
She says a million new words a day, "reads" books (she says the words to each page that she remembers).
She sings, she dances all the time. She knows how to turn on the big keyboard and where the volume button is so she jams is out multiple times a day.
She loves to wash her hands and put lotion and hand sanitizer on them.
She has learned to climb and is on top of something several times a day.
She counts to 3 (having a big brother who needs me to count to 3 A LOT has taught her a few things). She knows tons of animals and their sounds.
She LOVES to read books, watch Elmo, and listen to music.
I am pretty sure that cheerios breed in my house as no matter how many I pick up or she eats off the floor they are everywhere.
She has learned how to jump and stomp and when I have the kids doing jumping jacks or burpies or push ups, she is right there with them joining along.
She loves to color and has left her mark on many walls (thankful for magic erasers).
She loves to pretend play and brings me plastic food to eat often.
There is tons of joy in watching her grow and change daily.

Emotionally - that is a harder one. If you are in the adoption world at all, the buzz word is "attachment". How is she attaching? Is she attached? Children who come from broken places (even as infants coming home from the hospital) have experienced a BIG loss. Huge - and sometimes their ability to attach to people is hindered. They don't trust that those people won't leave them too. So they don't get too attached - just in case. Or they attach to everyone quickly so they have a back-up plan in case one person leaves.

Most days I would say she is doing great. She adores me, she adores Matthew. She seems to prefer our presence and our arms to any others, but there are times...and let me tell you those "times", even if they are a brief fleeting moment, break my heart.

Those moments when someone talks to her and scares her and she basically tries to get so close to me that she is trying to climb inside me - that is trauma response. I am not talking about the shy little girl that turns her head away and puts her head on your shoulder. I am talking about "climbing inside me". Making herself as small as she can and every inch of her glued to me as she shakes and closes her eyes. I literally have had to turn my back and ask some people to please stop touching her because she is so terrified. I know the difference. I know when she is just being a little shy and cautious and I can hold her close and see if she will give a high five so she knows it is OK. People will make comments about "oh she is really attached isn't she" or "wow she really loves her Momma". Both of which are probably true, but her response isn't because of either of those things. Her response is because she isn't quiet sure I won't hand her over. After all, when she screamed in my arms at the orphanage, her "special" mothers left her with me. There is a part of her that thinks I will do the same.

What is probably worse, and has only happened a few times (and if you read this and you are one of the people this happened to - I am not judging you at all - I want her to like people!), is when she will go to someone's arms and not want to come back. When she has asked someone to pick her up and I let it happen for a few minutes and then reach to take her back and she puts her head on their shoulder or turns her back to me. Ouch. With my bio kids, this probably would have made me laugh and say oh good, I get my arms free a little longer. Not so with Ribka. Is she making a back-up Mommy just in case she needs one? Or the time that she walked past me to go to someone else. Is she rejecting me before I can reject her to save herself the pain? It all makes you cringe a little and wonder what am I doing wrong, or what else can I do? Or am I just over-reacting?

Then there are the times that she rejects one of us for the other parent. I went away for a much needed and very refreshing retreat for the weekend. When I got back on Sunday she was a little hesitant but mostly OK. But, Monday morning, when Daddy had to leave for work, she clung to him, would not look at me, and screamed and screamed when he pried her off to give her to me. She rejects us. She does it to him, she does it to me. My bio kids would go through phases of preferring one or the other of us, but never like that. Sometimes we go through this daily when Daddy gets home from work. She won't meet his eyes or look his way, or go to his arms. We have to all get re-acclimated.

But oh the sweet little moments. Coming to me to kiss her hurts away. Learning to give me words instead of screams. Going to hug and pat her sibling when they have gotten hurt. Snuggling into me at night as we rock. Asking me to sing her a song. Practicing her "gentle" hand on my cheek. Saying "wuv-ooo mama" when I put put her to bed. Melt me.

So it is a step forward and a step back. Adoption is hard in that way. Parenting is hard in that way. I feel like you can question yourself to death, and as with all of my kids, I just have to trust every day. Give each of them over to more capable hands than my own, and say Please Lord. Please. Heal them. Please Lord give me tools to teach them. Give me a heart to love them. Please Lord just a little more energy when I am bone tired and ALL DONE (oh my word I didn't think 4 would be that different than 3 but it so is!). Give my mouth kind, patient words and make my hands gentle.

I am at war for my kid's hearts, be they born of my body or born of my heart. I am fighting for their hearts - to turn to God, to see beauty in a world that is racked with pain, to see good in God's most amazing creating of people, to see the beauty and good in themselves, while recognizing their need for a Savior.

It is exhausting, hard work. There are many times that I want to give up, but just as many times that I look at their amazing little faces (this happens the most often when they are asleep :-)) and I praise my Father that I have been entrusted with these little creations.

I really need a nap :-)

1 comment:

  1. Hi friend! I love this update! And hopefully this will encourage you as it does me (it's from a Michael & Amy Monroe breakout session I recently attended)...

    I'm not striving for perfection; I'm striving to be more faithful. [in the "attachment dance"]

    Praying alongside you...