Monday, June 13, 2016

One Month In...almost...

I've gotta be real here. This transition's been hard...hard from a past of institutional trauma, hard from frustration, hard from loss. I struggle with how much to share publicly, because I don't want anyone in any way to misconstrue my honest transparency as disappointment. Adoption is beautiful and it is a blessing, but it's also messy and reveals many blemishes in our human nature. The saving grace is our Lord and Savior who's gone before us and loves us unconditionally despite those blemishes. These children are braver than most of us, God bless them. We know that Lulu needed a family...but she doesn't necessarily know what that means for her life, especially given her age. I can't begin to imagine how scary it must be to just walk away from everything you've ever a different country, with a different language, and different people, eating different food, trusting that you'll be five-years-old, no less. I know how trying it's been for us, and we're not the ones who gave it all up.

Lulu's doing so well, on the whole! She is such a sweet, loving child, and you can clearly see it in her beautiful, cheerful photographs. If you've met her already, you can tell that her personality shines in person. Her highs are extremely high, but sadly, her lows have been painfully low, and each day is different. We have to remember that children from orphanages are usually about half their age emotionally, which makes her like a 3 to 4 year-old. Lulu's struggled with very long and intense  meltdowns, and sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint the "why," much like with a baby who can't communicate. We believe some most of it is frustration from language. I mean, wouldn't things be so much easier if we totally understood each other?!? Of course! Lulu's very hard on herself if she does something wrong, it seems, so we have been very intentional about minimizing those mistakes and reassuring her that it's okay, until she realizes that it truly is okay. We also have reason to believe many of her extreme rages in "fight" or "flight" mode (which seem to have declined a bit, praise the Lord) stem from fear--fear of getting in trouble, fear of being given back, fear of being out of control, fear of questioning what tomorrow brings. This process truly leaves everyone exhausted at times (thus my lack of blogging), and patience and grace are virtues we cry out for regularly, but at the end of the day, we have faith that we're one step closer to a happier and more well-balanced who will trust us with all her heart and understand our pure desire to help her and to love her. 

Although I know it's not right to compare because each child is SO different, I did want some sort of reference point to lean on, so I felt compelled to go seek out this blog post from when Joseph came home, because I'd forgotten (thanks to adoption amnesia), in many ways, how trying the transition into a family can be for these children. They both came home at the same age, but Lulu's transition has been even more emotional than Joseph's We can't wait to look back on these tough times as merely "ancient history," as we do with his. A friend said lightly to me one day, "Be careful what you wish for," and I realized how much that saying just doesn't belong here when it comes to children's lives. God wishes so much more for them, and for all of us, than we ever could, and He doesn't always call us to the easy. And He will get us through the hard.

So, let's talk about the awesome happenings around here, because this beautiful little lady--God made her very special. Don't tell her she has any limitations, because she'll show you otherwise. This kid is strong as an ox. And she is so proud of everything she learns! I do believe Lulu will be a wonderful student based on how observant and determined she is.

Lulu can dress up like a girl, and she can fight like a boy. She was with many boys in the orphanage, and it's obvious that rough-housing isn't new to her. (or maybe they watched a lot of television?) I think Joseph and Charlie are afraid of her sometimes, lol! She seems to be very social and loves being around kids. It's hard to see sometimes, though, in an unfamiliar environment that's not fully predictable to her yet, and she'll tend to be safely clingy.

We are thankful that our daughter, like Joseph, didn't skip a beat when it came to her bedtime routine. It is so shocking how a two week departure from our time zone affects us as adults, yet her little body made the change almost seamlessly. Right now, Lulu is co-sleeping with Jimmy and me as we try to figure out permanent sleeping arrangements here. Even though her mattress is on our bedroom floor, our bed is her choice for comfort, so we'll keep at it until it seems she's adjusted better, and then we can move forward with next steps.  She made it clear that her daily nap was a thing of the past from day one, and since she'll be six this month, we were in full agreement with her plan.

Lulu loves the bath. I think back to China and the tears of fear that came with getting in those first few tubs. She's come SO far. And she LOVES to really loves to swim and went from being terrified the first time in a pool to jumping in (with floaties) and getting her head wet. Daddy's been handling pool duty = true fun. Her smile...need I say more?

Four weeks ago, this child had never even seen a carseat before and needed full assistance. Now, Lulu jumps in by herself and fastens her seat belt with help. She can get out all by herself and will always make sure the van doors are shut because she's very responsible like that.

The language is coming...maybe more slowly than Joseph's, we're not sure. It seems to early to tell. But I can say that, initially, Lulu found comfort in solely viewing Chinese cartoons, and now we see her seeking out YouTube Kids videos of the alphabet and numbers. I also play a DVD in the background that's designed for teaching English to babies and toddlers, so it's the perfect speed for her!

Lulu LOVES to help around the house--from getting the mail to loading the dishwasher. Of course, the help comes easier if it's her idea. Ahem...she's just like the rest of us!

This child eats! She came to us very well-fed, and we haven't found much that she doesn't like to eat. I do believe that her good appetite has helped her body and brain in more ways than we truly realize. Nutrition is such a key factor in brain development, so we are thankful for her love of food.

And last but certainly not least...Lulu adores her siblings and all day, while they were at school, she would say, "Madi, Charlie, Joey" in hopes that it was time to collect them. They are so, so good with her, and surprisingly patient through the hard times. Madi has even been such a huge blessing in times of grief and tries to console her little sister. We pray that our children, as they witness Lulu's struggles, will be formed into better people having watched their sister overcome them and transform into a beautiful butterfly, because we know she will...she already is! I think summertime will be the best medicine for her heart and learning how to live her new life with a family.

Thank you all for continuing to pray our family through this phase. They say that adoption really begins when your children get home, and it is so true. Those two weeks in China seem unreal, and in many ways they are. So now, we have begun the real work, and we will continue to march forward with angels at our sides. We are so eternally grateful to be the lucky parents to these beautiful children. It is such a blessing and a privilege to answer the call from above, and we thank you for helping us get Lulu HOME!

1 comment:

Nikki Casey said...

I barely finished this because I had too many tears in my eyes! What a beautiful post, Lisa! Your honesty is so helpful in sharing your family's journey with all of us, the entirety of the adoption experience as well as a reminder how strong kids really are. I hope it's a beautiful, bonding, summer for all of you - I've recently seen a post of a summer bucket list for kid activities, most of them free! That might be fun for you all if you haven't already made one. I'll private message you the poster board a friend made. XOXOXOXO