"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

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Belated 4th of July!

Here's a cute picture of my triple terrors all dressed up for the 4th of July. It rained here most of the day, and fortunately we were able to take in a great fireworks display on the 3rd at a nearby arena. Anna Grace did not seemed phased by them, but watched none the less.

I've had a few emails asking where I am. It's a lot tougher now to be on the computer with 3 little ones wreaking havoc through their confined space. A friend came over the other day and said, "Wow! You have gates everywhere. It's like an obstacle course." And yes, it is. One gate we had to switch out because AJ figured out that if you push on the bottom, you can make enough of an opening for a little body to sliver through to the other side. AND....sweet boy that he is, shared his secret with Kai and Anna Grace, so every once in a while, the 3 of them were screaming with joy that they had made it to the "forbidden land". The shrieks of joy though, were quickly halted when they saw Mama coming and it turned more into "Uh Oh!" Aaahhh, yes. Never a dull moment with these three!!

Anna Grace has improved somewhat. She definitely keeps me last on the totem pole, but has become a bit more playful with me during the day, as long as I don't pick her up or sit her on my lap. We are doing better with the hitting as she has now experienced quite a few "sitting on Mama's lap" for hitting and she really doesn't appreciate it. She will repeat just about anything you ask her to, except for the word Mama. I think that in her little mind saying the word out loud is almost accepting the fact that I am "Mama", and she's not ready for that yet.

We still have lots of grieving crying at bedtime at night, even without holding time. Last night, I figured after such a busy day and it was so late that I would just lay her down and let her go to sleep, but the crying ensued immediately. I felt so bad leaving her there. I first layed next to her, stroking her hair, but it didn't change anything. So, I carried her and tried to rock her. The deep, mournful cries (which is what they have turned into now) continued until she could barely keep her eyes open. I prayed over her and asked our Lord to heal her little heart and our Blessed Mother to make her feel secure and loved. I so wish there were a way that I could remove all this confusion, fear and anxiety from her. I wish there was a way that she could instantly feel secure, but I know there isn't, and as I said before, we have a long, tough road ahead of us.

Her eating is doing great and she puts down her food now like a champ. We haven't had any more instances of her shaking her head no (Thank God!!) so, that in itself is a big step forward.

It's hard to see her laughing and smiling during the day and then see her break down at night. I am hoping that one day soon she will call me "Mama" instead of tapping me when she wants something. She really hasn't said anything to anyone except for maybe calling out to AJ or Kai-Kai. She is still very much in love with her Daddy and he is too! I think we have a Daddy's girl for life. :)

My camera is truly on the blink, but I can't bring myself to send it to be fixed yet. It only allows me to take maybe 2-3 pictures at a time and then freezes. I will post later all of the pics of my sweethearts that we took over the 4th of July.

Amanda is gone until Sunday visiting her paternal grandmother in Miami, therefore, I am on my own with the 3 of them with no assistance. God help me! I miss Amanda so much already. She has been an immense help and a little Mommy, especially making Anna Grace feel comfortable. Anna Grace adores her!

My heart is filled with love for all of my children, and this little stubborn, manipulative, over-bearing, yet sweet as sugar and beyond adorable little girl in my life is creeping into my heart by leaps and bounds daily. I love to watch her sleep and think about what life will be like when she fully understands that she is our daughter and sister forever. Thank you Jesus for entrusting me with this precious angel and for allowing my heart to grow daily with love for her.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

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!)

Adoption is a gift from God!

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