Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nine weeks

We've been home nine weeks now and this adopting an older child, out of birth order has felt like exactly that these last few weeks. When you have a biological child attachment usually takes place well before your child can speak. But in adoption and specifically older child adoption, the bonding process is set to take place with a child experiencing culture shock, exhibiting coping and self-protective behaviors and testing boundaries. Not exactly the cooing, innocent infant that steals your heart. Never did I think bonding or attachment would be an issue. How naive I was even after all the reading. Adoption is not natural. It is a willful choosing to give time and love and energy. To be honest, it would be a terrifying undertaking without a really good Model and Ever-Present Helper.  I think the rubber met the road around the 2nd or 3rd week. Food was hard, "no" was hard, sleeping, and having a younger sibling--hard! Culture shock was in full force on both sides. We share this because too often people only get warm fuzzies about the beauty that is adoption without the truth that beauty is not all glitz and glamour.


I've thought a lot about Caleb and Joshua from the Old Testament lately. Their parents had wandered for so long and finally they were entering the promised land. Surely the lights would shine from heaven and milk and honey would be oozing from every crevice. But instead of cows and bees, giants greeted them. It was going to be anything but a smooth transition entering this promise. So has been the case seeing our flesh and blood girl of promise. This transition has been the hardest thing we've experienced in our nine years of marriage. What is amazing us, though, is how we seem to be rapidly progressing through the stages of development with Reshma and already seeing tremendous improvements in behavior and attachment. As Jason pointed out, it seems we are starting to step out of the toddler behavior stage into one where words are used a little more than behavior. Currently we're in the questioning stage wanting to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of every situation. 

After a really rough patch for both kids, Reshma is starting to respond to correction and even engaging playfully in making agreements ahead of time over things we foresee becoming battles. That beats the hours of stonewalling, arms folded, don't touch me behavior we saw prior. Unfamiliar, non-Indian food, though still hard, doesn't get the gagging sound and reaction it once did every time. And her tender, quick-to-forgive nature toward her tag-along little brother is slowly giving way to Levi accepting and even some days really liking this new big sister.  

The day before Valentine's she signed her name Reshma Tegen all on her own right underneath a big I Love You. Daily her English improves and already in our language lessons she's reading short, simple sentences. Her favorite read so far is The Cat in the Hat of which she can read the first thirteen pages! Additionally, we've made great strides in Math too! Thankfully in this new homeschooling journey we've had a veteran to walk alongside who's tutoring her twice a week and keeping me on my toes about meeting her needs and targeting her difficulties. Our lives are so richly blessed by Mrs. Donna!

Last week we made the big trip to the doctor and dentist. It was very belated due to the major adjustment phase and a big insurance switch. Really, the last thing we wanted was to welcome her home to lots of needles and foreign-looking doctors doing examinations. Though we weren't supposed to wait so long, we were thankful for the time to let her settle before the tests and doctor's appointments began. The five shots she got at her first appointment were just as traumatizing as we expected them to be. 

Just last week after sharing the difficulties of the past few weeks with some friends, it has been as if a wave of reprieve has swept through our house. I overheard Levi saying, "You're the best sister in the whole woh-ld" and all on her own initiative Reshma shared the details of what happened back in India. We are so thankful to be connecting and to already have earned enough of her trust to hear these deep details of her past. 

During the last month with all of the adjusting we also made our way down to see Mimi and Papa which included a promised trip to climb the local lighthouse. We're the little specks you see. Some of the time in Georgia also included a little getaway for Mom and Dad to celebrate nine years of marriage while the kids enjoyed fun times with the grandparents!

There is progress and connection coming after a little season of really hard days. We know there will continue to be an ebb and flow, but today at nine weeks in, we are more than relieved to see so much good progress forward.


Lucy said...

Thanks for sharing and for your honesty!

Kindel said...

We go to the same dentist! He's awesome! I love that Reshma is adjusting and settling in to being a Tegen! She's a blessed girl and you are a blessed family! I laughed out loud at the gagging part...many of us might do that to her native food! We're all different but very much the same! Love you guys!!!

Heidi De Love said...

hang in there, we are now one year later, the difference is enormous but even today we still have our moments. It does get better though. Love, patience and faith...

Peter and Nancy said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this -- you are pouring out sacrificial, agape love, and God is surely filled with joy. What an incredible investment, and a tough couple of months for all of you. She has so much courage -- and so do you. I am really grateful that you're seeing some signs of trust, and I had the mental picture of a tightly-furled bud beginning to bloom.

No Greater Love said...

Love your honesty, and just the love of Jesus that always exudes from you. :) I know I am like a broken record, but your blog is such a blessing to me. :)