One Month Home

 July 13, 2010

For almost 4 years we heard "worth the wait" but the more apt statement might be "worth the work".

Today marks one month since we have been home with Macy. I can't honestly say we are doing great, we are still a long way from feeling "normal" and we often feel exhausted and depleted before lunch. Not that there is any particular crisis, just that we are ALL struggling with the change. I know people might think "hey you already have four kids so what's one more?" Maybe I even thought that once too, but adding another three year old to our family has come with many new challenges. Yes I have 4 kids and yes I have adopted before but there are so many things I have not experienced until now...

Twins!: Oh good God please bless all mothers of multiples. And by the way twins doesn't quite cut it, make that...twins who can RUN FAST in opposite directions, can strip naked in a matter of seconds, who construct climbing devices from ANYTHING, who use red lipstick and blue eyeshadow three times daily, who can escape from any car seat, stroller or airplane restraint, who must visit the potty in the middle of every the same least twice and who generally conspire to do all sorts of evil deeds. I am not sure of the math but two is infinitely more than double the trouble!

Sibling Rivalry: Sure we a had some of it but until now the kids were 4, 5 and 7 years apart in age. Explaining to a 9 year old that his 2 year old sister needs some extra attention is possible. Explaining this concept to two competing 3 years olds is the very definition of IMPOSSIBLE. Nina has been the baby of the the family since her arrival. More than that she has been the family play thing, our princess, our long awaited darling daughter and sister. To say we dote on her is a massive understatement. Then along comes Macy the shiny new penny. She too is darling but she is also even tempered, full of giggles and most of all NEW. The boys have showered her with attention and none of it has been overlooked by Nina. It is like she has some sort of internal ledger where she accounts for every second of attention bestowed on Macy which she then multiplies by two and demands for herself. Again with the new math!

Attachment times TWO: Nina was home less than 18 months when we adopted Macy. She has spent more of her short life bouncing between a neglectful home and an orphanage in Kazakhstan than with her forever family. Although she has come a VERY long way I am not naive enough to think she is "done" with her own bonding/attachment process. In many ways Macy arrived in our home with better coping skills than Nina has today. You can't help but notice the difference that loving foster parents have made in her. Macy is confident and self assured and emotionally stable. Not so for Nina. So we have two children that require massive amounts of our time and effort focused on creating and strengthening the bonds of love. Their needs are essentially the same-they need to develop a deep trust and sense of permanence in our love for them. However each has different insecurities and fears and personalities and our approach must be tailored to fit them as individuals. At times it feels I have to choose one over the other-my own personal Sophie's Choice played out in a thousand small ways. I need a second lap and two more arms and that ever elusive 25th hour. Often I end the day feeling deficient. I wish I could give them more.

Older Child Adoption: This has nothing, NOTHING, to do with Macy. It is about me, my motherly instincts and my need to be needed. I am not sure this will make sense and I wont be surprised if I get blasted for this but here it goes...It is easier to fall in love with a baby than a 4 year old. Don't get me wrong, I do love Macy, I will always love Macy. That love though is one that has grown and continues to grow over time. It deepens with each experience we have together, each morning we cuddle together , each good night kiss and boo boo knee. While that is not so different than what happens with any child. the vulnerability and needs of a newborn more naturally evoke the motherly instinct in me. As a near 4 year old Macy very appropriately pushed me away when I (a relative stranger) first held her. While intellectually I understood her actions emotionally it was more difficult to accept. Thankfully we seem to have bridged this gap. It took almost 6 weeks but Macy now leans into me when I hold her, she seeks me out for comfort, she nuzzles her face in my shoulder when she is sleepy and for the first time this week she said "wo ai ni Mommy", (I love you Mommy) . Wo ai ni Macy Bel!!!!! When you think about it that is a lot in just 6 weeks! Over time I am sure to look back and find it hard to imagine any sense of distance between me and my daughter but I don't want to pretend (for the sake of others who may also be going though this) that falling in love is not a process, one that is deepened with time and shared experience. (I will add one more a lesser extent I felt this way after each of the boys were born. Looking back, though I said I loved them immediately that love was immature. The love I feel for them today has deepened to a point that those first days, weeks and months pale in comparison.)

Language Barrier: Macy is learning English quickly...almost as fast as Nina is learning Chinese. The twin troublemakers are speaking Chinglish! This will not end well. Add to that Macy's favorite word, gleaned from her darling sister, is "why". Are you kidding me? Turns out answering a non English speaking 3 year old's question of "why" gets you the same response as the the English speaking kid...another "why"!

Special Needs: worry, worry and more worry. Doctors appointments and more doctor appointments. Just because you didn't have enough on your newly adoptive parent plate! We still don't have a final diagnosis on the thalessemia. Macy has a cough that hasn't stopped since Guangzhou that causes her to hack so hard she ends up vomiting a couple times a week. We have appointments this month with: IA, pediatrics, hematology, cleft team, dentist, dept of eduction, speech pathology. We will get though it all.

So as I blog it out I guess it makes sense that we don't feel like we have returned to normal yet. A month in the grand scheme is not much time at all and certainly there have been lots of positive happenings for and with Macy during this first month home. The "good stuff", the stuff that tips the scales in no uncertain way to wonderful and worthy is ever present. It is the stuff that keeps us going with the promise that one day we will feel "normal" again.

I leave you now with a list of my dear Macy's 1st month highlights;

  • got her ears pierced

  • went to a 4th of July parade

  • got a new bike
  • flew to Milwaukee for Kazapalooza
  • went boating 

  • jumped into the pool and goes under water
  • uses 3 and 4 word English sentences
  • attended a drum and bugle corps show
  • built a build a bear

  • started Montessori camp
  • learned to do somersault
  • count to ten in English and sings the ABC song
  • saw three movies in the theater

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