We started the week with a trip to the park. There is nothing quite like seeing the wonder of the world through a child’s eyes. For Kylah, everything is new. That makes everything either wonderful or terrifying. Thankfully the park fell into the wonderful category. The ducks and geese had her mesmerized. We’ve been reading books about ducks and geese and she was absolutely delighted to see them swimming in the lake.
Remember the girl who cried when she touched grass or trees? Now she is running around in the backyard with Hanissa. She is cautiously following me around as I prep the garden for spring, rake pine needles, and pick up pinecones. She will touch sticks or blades of grass if I hand it to her, but we are just happy that she enjoys being outside a bit more.
She has gone from blank stares during school to pointing out objects by name. Watching her trace lines and complete simple mazes makes me smile. She is beginning to prefer books over any other item in the house.
Two weeks ago, we couldn’t let her walk into another room alone. She’d get upset or destroy items because of her curiosity. Now, there isn’t panic when she leaves our side for a moment. And usually, when she disappears, she has taking herself to the bathroom. (Another huge accomplishment!)
This week we made a trip to the doctor. After I figured out that her appointment was listed under her Chinese name, we walked into a little room with the nurse. There’s something about a table and a stethoscope that seem to transcend language and cultural barriers. And this visit did not fall into the same category as the park. Yes, she was terrified. And, that poor nurse. I’m sure she is still nursing the bruises on her shins. Who knew that a blood pressure cuff could cause such agony. Though there were tears (and a few minutes of kicking and screaming), Kylah allowed me to comfort her. We spent much of the day snuggled up together looking at books and just being together.
When families bring young children into their homes via adoption, they are encouraged to carry their children close for long periods of time. Usually this is done with wraps and front packs. Until H got too heavy, this was one of the best tools in parenting toolbox to comfort or calm her when anxiety hit.
Kylah came home too big to carry for long periods. I still pick her up and hold her and carry her at times, but we’ve been trying to get to the point where being held by us is a comfort even when we are sitting. Its a work in progress.
Kids with an institutionalized background struggle with the need for a parent and don’t really understand the purpose of the people they call Mom and Dad. This is one of the reasons adoptive parents seem so overprotective of their kids those first few months and years home. It is hard to teach a 6 year old that two people are going to meet their needs. Two people are responsible to love, discipline, train, and help whenever it is needed when there have been so many who have carried out this role, often with no emotional connection at all. These kids have learned to fend for themselves via manipulation, crying, affection (withheld or freely offered), distancing themselves from feeling, from connecting, with anyone.
They can throw themselves into the arms of anyone, a stranger, a family friend, a sibling and be seem to have an instant bond with that person especially if it allows them to disconnect with their adoptive parents. It doesn’t make sense to us. But it is one of the most repeated scenarios in adoptive homes. They feel a strong need to be in control. And while being a part of a family fills a void, it also makes them feel vulnerable. They expect the adults in their life to abandon them, to neglect them, and maybe even to abuse them. By keeping themselves distant, they protect themselves from harm…or so they think.
The more frequently another person meets my daughter’s needs the more likely she is to not turn to me when she has a need. So yes, we are protective of her. It is hard when her sisters or our friends just want to help. Our priority is teaching K about family right now. And we rejoice over even the smallest amount of time she seeks comfort or help from us.
I am amazed at the lessons I learn daily from adoption. How many times have I rejected my Heavenly Father and thrown myself in the direction of other people (or projects) because they give me the illusion of control for a short time? How often has my Father let me experience something frightening or painful so that I can learn that He is the One who will meet my needs? How often has my fear been replaced with faith because I call out to Him, desperate, after trying to live life on my own terms? And all the while, He is there trying to teach me what it means to be loved by Him, to be His child, to know Him as Father. I am still learning to be held by God when everything around me is crashing in. I am learning to trust Him more.
As I look back over the last week, there were many learning moments that thrilled me. But, the trip to the doctor, may have been the biggest leap forward we’ve taken since arriving home. I am thankful for the moments my girl spent this week just being held. I look forward to moments when trust is stronger than her fear as she begins to understand what it means to be family.
A few pictures from this past week.