"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12



“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats





Monday, July 2, 2007

Learning Together

This journey has definitely been a learning experience. Anna Grace is slowly, let me reiterate VERY SLOWLY, coming out of her shell with me. With everyone else, she is not only out of the shell, but off and running!!

I will start off with our weekend. Friday night, for some crazy notion I had, we decided that we would go out to eat. The jetlag was still kicking my butt. I was tired and did not want to cook. Oh, how I wish I would have cooked. We walked into Bob Evans and asked for THREE highchairs. After getting "the look" from the hostess, she accomodated us at a table towards the back of the restaurant. Maybe she had a premonition of things to come.

I ordered our food and the kids quietly played with their crayons, toys, etc. until the food came. Up until that time, Amanda had been playing with and keeping Anna Grace entertained. Well, mealtime came, and because I am pretty by-the-book with attachment issues, I want to make sure that I am her only caretaker when it comes to baths, feeding, sleeping etc. So, I turned her highchair around to face me. That immediately brought up the red flags to her that she had to deal with me. The "initial frown" (as we call it now before the meltdown) appeared. I scooped up a small spoonful of mashed potatoes and brough it to her lips. She quickly pressed her lips together and shook her head. So, we began.

I started with, "Anna Grace, open your mouth , please." The head shook. Again, "Anna Grace, please open your mouth. Mommy has to feed you." Again, head shaking but this time, eyes searching out for assistance from Baba and Amanda. Finally, I opened her mouth by squeezing her cheeks together, which is what I usually have to end up doing. She normally takes the first bite reluctantly and then wipes out the entire plate and is a happy camper. It's definitely a control issue.

So, the first scoop of mashed potatoes went in. She looked at the chocolate milk on the table. I told her she could have some when she swallowed. A couple of times, I asked her to "open" and she did, but the mashed potatoes were still sitting there. I then gave in and gave her a small sip of the chocolate milk, which she loved. A minute later, again, I asked her to "open", she did, this time, it was mashed potatoes and milk. She refused to swallow the potatoes, and I refused to have her spit it out into a napkin, which was becoming the routine thing lately. So, there she sat, potatoes and milk in mouth. All of a sudden, I see her doing a gagging motion, as if she is going to throw up. But, before I could move away, darting my way comes this projectile vomit of mashed potatoes blended with chocolate milk. It happened so quickly that as I tried to move back in my chair, I lost my balance. The chair tipped over and I landed feet up on the restaurant floor with a huge puddle of chocolate milk next to me. In my fall, I had apparently squeezed the styrofoam cup I was holding (full of her milk) and the cup cracked into two pieces.

I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or scream. So, I pick myself up as shocked onlookers, including the boys, Scott and Amanda watched with bewildered looks on their faces. I sat back in the chair, with now pants covered in chocolate milk and vomit and look at her. Her eyes were like saucers. Not one tear. Before I could say a word, she looked at me, and opened her mouth wide and said, "Aaaahhhh" and waited for me to feed her. UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She ate the entire meal without a hitch. Needless to say, I went home, bathed them, showered and put everyone, including myself to bed.

Saturday, she pretty much cried everytime she had any interaction with me, that included playing, eating, sleeping, etc. We did have a very lengthy "holding time" during nap time where she, for the first time, released a lot of the grieving and anger that she had been holding back for a couple of weeks. For the first time, after that nap, she awoke not crying.

Her brother, Adam, came over in the afternoon and she took turns going from his arms to Amanda's and playing with the barrage of toys that have taken over our home. In the evening, I gave her a quick bath with the shower sprayer and didn't wash her hair. She was not happy, but did not cry. A big step forward. I then put her to bed. I held her as she cried, this time it was a quiet whimper. Shortly afterwards, she fell asleep.

Sunday morning, for the first time, she awoke and saw me laying next to her. The "initial frown" appeared, which I expected, but this time, no tears or meltdown followed. I gently rubbed her arm and kissed her softly as I told her I loved her. She layed there. No response. Another step forward. She did not pull away or turn over. Then Daddy came, she smiled and we dressed for church.

Church went well. She was very happy to be reunited with Po-Po and got to meet Gong-Gong (my Mother's husband), who loved her immediately. She initially sat on my lap, but did not like the idea of being shushed by me, so she decided she would scream out until her Daddy took her. She sat with him for the remainder of the mass. She, of course, was oooohed and aaaahed over by friends and parishioners who knew she was our latest addition.

We came home and I layed her down for a nap. This time, there was no holding. She layed there crying for probably 3 minutes before she fell asleep. Meal times have improved drastically since she now sees there is a method to my madness. Everyone eats and we sit at the table. Only once did she shake her head "No" at the beginning of breakfast yesterday. I then pushed away her highchair from the table. She instantly began to cry. I walked over to her and said, "Would you like to eat with us?" and I wheeled her back. She promptly opened her mouth and again, happily ate her entire meal. Each step is a learning process for both of us.

The remainder of the day was pretty uneventful. She played with the boys, with her big brother, with Amanda and then was treated to a visit from her Ayi and Shu-Shu, whom immediately she fell in love with and the love was reciprocated. I layed next to her at bedtime and stroked her hair. Again, another milestone, for the first time she fell asleep with no crying or tears. It may have been due to pure exhaustion, but it did my heart good to see her not cry herself to sleep.

She is beautiful and has a contagious laugh. She is filled with charisma and charm. I think this has gotten her pretty much everything she has wanted in her short little life. Although we were told she was introverted, she seems to be showing us little peeks at her real personality. I see no signs of her being introverted.

I've learned that it's not that she doesn't want to, but that she truly doesn't know how to "play nice". When she wants your attention, she will come up to you and hit you. We are consistently working on that. Since Friday nights' fiasco, I have not had to squeeze the cheeks for that first bite, and 95% of the time today she has woken up without tears. Baby steps, but none the less, progress. I see a very long road ahead of us, but I also see a little girl yearning to be loved by a family and I can't wait to meet the real Anna Grace Fengqin. I know she is a diamond in the rough and will shine to the likes of diamonds that only royalty are worthy of wearing. She is our treasure and I am very quickly starting to fall in love.

PS. I did want to add for those of you that have not adopted, or are not familiar with attachment issues that these techniques of "holding time", making her eat, forcing her sit on Mama's lap, consistently asking for hugs and kisses from her, etc. are not because I am being mean, but because these children are not and cannot be raised the same as biological children when they first enter your home. Through abandonment, their attachment process has been interrupted and it is crucial that it is built up again, sometimes even having to regress them to a younger stage than they are in order to "reinact" those stages that were missed in their lives not allowing them to now fully trust.

Although I am no expert, through several years of reading almost every material on attachment issues I can lay my hands on, and through my own personal experience in the past year with my own child, it has been proven to me that it works, not to mention the fact that I am slowly seeing daily progress with Anna Grace through these techniques. I know everyone's experience is different and you must do what works for your own family.

Here are some pictures of coming home and this weekend. I will post more later. Anna Grace has her first doctor's appointment this afternoon.


The sweet "Welcome Home Sign" that Amanda met us at the airport with.
A yummy cake waiting for us at home!
Snuggling with Po-Po!
A very proud Shu-Shu!

All smiles with her Ayi

(who by the way, spoiled AJ ROTTEN while we were gone!)

7 comments :

Tammy said...

Ohilda,

One day you will look back on the resturant ordeal and laugh. ;) You are doing a great job with Anna Grace. It is emotionally hard to go through , but will pay off very very soon.


((((HUGS))))
Tammy

Becky said...

O -
ohmygoodness - I don't think I will ever forget that story of all of you in the restaurant!
You are ever amazing!
love to all -
B

Shari said...

Ohilda,
Boy does this bring back memories from the fall! I feel your pain! Hang in there, she will come around and then you will almost forget you ever went through this part. Emma regresses once in a while but mostly nowadays she is glued to me and you would never know what a fiesty little thing she was when she got home!

Mom of 5 said...

It all takes time. So many things remind me of Mia. Patience, prayer and love.

Doug and Terrye said...

It is such a blessing to see how your family is growing, not always by leaps and bounds, but consistently. I have even referred a friend that is in the process to your blog, as a teaching tool for her to learn from your wisdom.

Terrye in FL

geminirn said...

OMG!!!!THe restaurant adventure....well sorry but it did have me laughing(some day you will look back and laugh also).

The photos are great....love that beautiful smile of hers.

It has been a true blessing to be able to follow your journey,you have a beautiful family.

Lisa L said...

Ohilda, I could have written this post myself. It sounds EXACTLY like what I am going through with Brady. You are in my prayers. I know that it is SO very tough, but SO very worth it.

Love you, Lisa L

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