Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Cut!

...or "Dreaming of Blue Water"

AJ has always wanted a pedicure. I've taken her to get her nails painted but felt she was too young for the feet in the water pedi. After having a good report from her Dr. about her foot fracture, we went to get pedicures.

She had the little guy that is quiet and gentle. I'll bet he spent 30 minutes just massaging her feet. Me? I got the girl that is speedy. She got into my almost ingrown toenail and went to town. I tried to let her know it was painful but leaning up, groaning, and even screaming. She never even flinched. She looked at me and smiled (all the while digging in my big toe with a razor sharp knife) and said, "I cut!"

Yes, you did. Then she got some sharp tools and dug around. I was clenched in a tight ball by the time she started on my cuticles. Meanwhile, princess is being massaged.

It was a fun day. It was also something she has dreamed of for years. I'm glad we got to do it, even if I got the short end of the stick.

Friday, August 7, 2009

In The End...

To pull all the corners together of the last two posts, I would say that we have smoothed out pretty much most of our initial fear of each other, AJ and I.

My fear of the unknown was the worst. I didn't know what made her laugh. Who knew that she had a sick and depraved sense of humor like Dale and myself? I don't even know if it would be considered emotionally healthy to laugh at some of the things we do, but I certainly know it isn't proper.

I was afraid she would never love me. I guess that is the bottom line. I didn't 'know' her. Yes, I had known her on the surface for two years or more. But I didn't know her as a person. She had a habit of telling people what they wanted to hear for a while. It really was hard to get inside her head and find out what she really was thinking. Sometimes I'm not sure I've made it there. I do know that she loves me. That wasn't an overnight thing though.

In promoting attachment I found them to work both ways. I found myself becoming protective of her even if I still was confused and exhausted. Once the new wore off, we started learning about each other. I had a lot of lost time to make up for. Some of the things...she hated. For instance, I made a mix CD for her with songs that had special meanings. She hated it and would not listen to it. The pink baby blanket with her name on it? She loves to this day.

I can hardly remember life without her. She doesn't like to address adoption and wishes we never discussed it. I don't like to dwell on it but can't help but honor how our family is built. The adoption process has rewired the way I think and react to situations. It is a presence in our life that is neither good nor bad. It just is.

I think that all things have worked out in the end. The people who had strong faith never wavered. I'm glad I have them to hold onto.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Unplanned, Part 2

Yes, I was terrified of my daughter on day one. She was so sweet. She hugged everyone and had fabulous social skills. Since I had spent the past nine months or so immersed in the study of older child adoption, those were all red flags. Yes, the more adjusted she appeared the worse she probably was. She had not been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) but I knew that we were going to hit attachment issues even in the best of situations.

We spent the first few weeks with me spending every waking second with her. I teach school so even though I wasn't beside her, she knew I was there. I woke her up, chose her clothes, dressed her as you would a baby, I prepared her breakfast and then did her hair. After school we did things together and then when it was around 6:00 I had her get a shower. We then watched a little TV until 7:00 and then I got into bed with her. We read a book or watched TV or talked.

I have to be honest that the attachment worked both ways. I had to fall in love with her. At first it was so difficult. Her heart was as hard as a rock. Yes, she smiled and giggled and had decent manners. But it wasn't real. I realized that when I heard her really laugh for the first time. It broke my heart that I had her fake laugh for weeks as real.

We did laugh, and we still do. She used to say, "Make me laugh, Momma." And I try. Sometimes I have to say something shocking but she still laughs. We have attached. I even laugh at her sometimes.

This picture was taken during her first few weeks at home. We did a lot of sidewalk chalk and she danced on a regular basis. She's outgrown the chalk but still dances.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unplanned Children

My daughter was a surprise to us. We met her a year before we began the process of adopting her. When the idea of adopting a child presented itself to us, we were pretty much looking at life as people who were almost to the finish line of child raising. We had about 3 years to go and we were free.

Then my husband uttered his famous last words. "I guess all of this will work unless a little girl falls in our laps."

The next day she stopped by my classroom on the way to the library and announced that was going to be making a video, airing for the purpose of finding a family for her. I knew at that very moment that a little girl had just landed in my lap. If only it had been that easy.

We actually had more of a thought process about that just random "Oh we will grab the first child we see". We prayed. We talked. We wondered how we could do something we thought was never going to be a possibility. Then we decided to at least try and see what the powers that be said to us.

They said no. Then they said yes. Then No. Then Sure. Then maybe. Then Never. Then finally, Yes. But only if. It was a process like no other. Our marriage was tested beyond any limits it had been stretched before. It peeled away layers of our soul that the other had never seen. Sounds corny but spend months reliving your childhood, all previous losses, and everything else you've ever done: Write about it 3 times and then be interviewed twice. You will learn a thing or twelve.

As insane as the fight to her was, the actual 'getting' her was a shock to my system. We were driving home with her. She fell asleep. I looked at her and wondered...What in the name of all that is Holy have I done? I had a vague remembrance of the whole mountain o'crap that we had been through to get her. It was wiped clean pretty much. I was now blown away by the fact that WE were responsible for this child. This innocent child who had probably been through more in her short life that all of us put together. How on earth could we parent her? What had we done?

While I was terrified and throwing up all the time, Dale was as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine. He was confident that once she ever was handed over to us, she was ours. It was as if she had always been ours to him. I'm thrilled that he had such faith.

Me, I was still scared. Right now I can't really elaborate as this small child is over my shoulder, wanting some one on one time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We're not in Texas anymore....

Yesterday we made the short drive to Arkansas to visit my mother. Right before we adopted we had a plan to start building down there and eventually move. The adoption changed our course though. AJ really does want to live there, even though you look out the back door and see this.

We thought we had life planned and had a surprise. Our baby girl. I don't know if our path in life changed or if she helped us stay on the one meant for us. Either way, we are going in the right direction now.