Tuesday, September 22, 2009

End of A-Day

So, 5 phone calls to f-mom today and she has fallen asleep peacefully, no tears, tonight.  I am so tired.  I'm at that point in the China travel where your body clock still hasn't adjusted so you're waking after only a few hours sleep and your hungry at wacky parts of the day/night.  I'm also getting punchy...at the taxi driver's, the organized chaos on the roads, the language and translations errors, the food...   After surviving so long on hand gesturing with Eliza as a vehicle for communication, I'm amazed that so many universal signs are just not understood here (even with Meiying).   We took a walk, just Meiying and I, to find the People's Park and I took a wrong turn.   I walked along the congested sidewalk holding her hand, all the stares from the locals and I just started talking out loud to myself.  I knew Meiying couldn't understand me, but I felt so alone.  The conversation that I was having with myself was pretty funny.
We did go to the pool and Meiying seemed to enjoy it.  The Oregon dad was so great to play in the water with her and his boys.  Keep checking Shutterfly for all the pics.  Blogger loads to slowly.
A few things that I wanted to mention in recalling the day.  During the "emphatic no" conversations w/ Meiying at the Adoption processing today, the official said that she noticed Meiying yesterday during Metcha and that she seemed so happy to be with me.  She said that one day Meiying will be grateful to us for adopting her.  She was a wonderful woman.  I remember at Eliza's appointment, the official spoke no english and it all seemed like such a silly meeting that they just needed to check off.  This was different today.  This official did speak english, quite well, and we had a conversation about Meiying's life here in China and what her future would've held.  It was very poignant. 
The other thing is that Meiying (I can't bring myself to calling her Ava yet, tho she definitely looks like an Ava to me...I just feel that I need to honor her name because she is so deserving of respect from me, I just can't get over it.) ...I digressed...Meiying is something.  She is genteel, she is strong, but so scared too; she definitely is a child who doesn't like change and knows what she wants.  Her face shows her heart and soul; when she's happy, the world knows it.  When she is sad, the expression on her face and the heaviness of her heart feels like you can see the weight of the world in her.  She is all girl.  She told me today, "only skirts and dresses".  Though she loved running and jumping in her new sneakers.  She has enjoyed dressing her stuffed bear and putting her sunglasses and watch on the bear.  That's been fun to see.  I've caught her a few times singing so sweetly.  She really wanted this big electronic keyboard today in the store.  I had to keep reminding her thru the guide that we can't take things like that back on the plane.  She is definitely looking at me and watching me.  She is smart and remarkable.  She seems so mature to me, but also so very childlike at other times.  When she does something by herself that I showed her how to do, she yells "Mama" then does a thumbs up and signals for me to take a picture.
Also, I don't remember feeling like Eliza was an "orphan", but rather my baby right away.  With Meiying, I keep looking at her hands, her toenails that seem to have this dirt that doesn't even come off in the wash, her thin body that appears almost gaunt when she is sad and the word "orphan" cuts through my heart.  I don't know if I explained that right?  I mean, I do remember visiting Eliza's orphanage and walking away shaking, so thankful that was in my arms now.  Maybe it's just the age of Meiying vs Eliza at adoption...the obvious.  I can't really explain what I mean.  The "firsts" seem so much more relevant with Meiying; not necessarily exciting and a wow moment, but more like she's just taking it in and processing it.  She's very tentative in trying anything new.  And how she takes care of her things is amazing.  She has been wiping her sunglasses clean and then she will wrap them up so gently and place them in the holder.  She puts all her things away, folding just right and with such an elegance about her.  But when she has pushed me away, it has been so purposeful, so abrupt, so unlike these other characteristics.  It's astonishing to observe all these personalities in this young lady.  She doesn't let me hug her and my touches she will only tolerate for so long before waving her hand at me to say "no more".  She looks right into my eyes though when she is telling me.  It's wild.  I nod and say okay.  It's hard for me not to just smother her with love, but again, because she is making that eye contact, she is asking me for the respect she deserves.
I have a feeling that Meiying's going to be a complex girl, but I also have a feeling that she is brilliant and has an accomplished life ahead of her.  What other 7 year old do you know that can go thru this and stand up straight,smile, cry, all while looking the adults around her right in the eyes?
I can't believe it's only been 1.5 days together.  I'm whooped.  Tomorrow is a free day; no guide.  I'm kinda happy about that, no interference so to speak.  I'm kinda nervous too though.  Well, I'm hoping to sleep thru the night tonight and get my luggage tomorrow.  I think one thing that keeps resonating is that I don't feel like I love her in that mother way yet, like I did right away with Eliza.  I love her for what she's going thru, but I respect her more than anything.  Does that make sense?  That is weighing on my heart.  Maybe it's also because I feel like she's not ready to accept my love and so I'm keeping my love at bay.  I don't know?  Very complex...


Reena said...

Hi Sarah,

Respect, is a big part of love in my book. I think you are right, Meiying probably isn't ready to accept your love yet. What a great gift of love you are giving her by respecting her space and time she needs to process what is happening to her and her life.

I am totally stalking your blog! I have to go away for work for three days and I am going to go bonkers!


Anonymous said...

My wife sent me the link to your blog. We have a 3yo from China and we will be going soon to get her 2 yo sister (special needs) You write very well and I am honored to be able to read about your experience. SOmetimes the best choices hurt the most.

The part about your daughter saying 'no' to the officials really struck me. For future reference for you - a book called "No" by Jim Camp about negotiating at work and home. Keep inviting your daughter to tell you 'no' and honor it whenever you possibly can. No better way to keep it real.


Wim Chase
Coventry RI

Catching Butterflies 3 said...

We adopted our son Thomas when he was almost 7. He had the dirt under the nails, and was also skin and bones. He was very excited about the stuff...but we also could not touch him. He came from an orphanage with 300 kids. He was never sad to leave. I think you are better off because she is attached to her foster family. What brave girls you both are...you and she! It took a long time for me to feel like Thomas was more then just a kid I was taking care of. In fact we are still working on that (it's been 4 years). For us I think it's the ADHD that also makes things hard. But you are pretty good at figuring stuff out. I hope you sleep well...that makes everything better!

Jean said...

I bet you are exhausted- hope you get a good night sleep!

Sarah would not let me touch her either- katie could but not me. Try a piggy back ride or swim with her a touch her in the pool. You could also fix her hair. Or she may sit on your lap? you could sit close while watching a movie- sarah never sat still long enough for a movie!

I didn't feel the mother love for awhile. I felt deep admiration and great responsibility for her. The love came later as the closeness grew.

Have a good day tomorrow!

Jean said...

I was looking at your pics- her hair is beautiful, long and curls!!! Wow!!

When we were in China I would not let anyone touch Sarah except our daughter Kate and myself. She does not understand family. I would set up the ground rules right away so she doesn't start going to others for comfort, food, money. We found that Sarah was very resourceful and if I didn't give her what she wanted she would go to other families- I had to ask them to not hold her hand, not to give her money or small gifts. Everything had to come from me. She has no idea what a mom is- you need to show her you are her protector, her comforter and and her provider -that all things come from you ( And hubby too). I tried to fun and light in China - the rules started once home EXCEPT for the safety rules- they started right away! I also had our guide explain seat belts in america. I figured Sarah was strong willed enough to refuse them once we were home.

She is so sweet but you need to let her know you are the boss and she is safe with you!

Sarah looked chubby in her china clothes- once we got the 4 layers off she was skin and bones- yes gaunt would describe her. She had gained 10 lbs and 2 inches in 9 months!!

We are so excited for you!! Bless you!!

Truly Blessed said...

Oh Sarah. Reading your blog is like taking a Masters level class in attachment. Things you have written since you met Meiying have run through my mind countless times since first reading them, and they haunt me.

I found myself recounting your adoption day experience with my son Kegan (who is much older than his 16 1/2 years). Most 16 year olds wouldn't really care, but he did, and we had a great talk (on the way home from his college Mandarin class) about Meiying and what she's going through, but also what you, as Meiying's new mom are going through.

And I have nothing but respect for you in the way you are handling this situation, being sensitive to the needs of your daughter, while still being the "in control" mom that you need to be. What a fine line that is to tread, but you're doing it with such grace and finesse. I'm sure there are moments you want to throw your hands up in despair, but that doesn't come across at all in your passionate writing.

As for not feeling a similar "love" to her as you did to Eliza, please don't concern yourself with that at all. I had a similar feeling with Ella - like I didn't really "know" her at all (but I felt the exact opposite with Katie -- when they handed her to me I felt an instantaneous "at last you're here!". With Ella, it was more of a "okay, now that you're here, let's get to know each other" and I felt a little bit of Mommy guilt for it, but dismissed it quickly. Each child is different and you know that you will love her as much as you love Eliza with time. Please remember that you're dealing with a child with much more life experience than Eliza had when you met her.

Keep up the fabulous posts. I'm sure that they are therapeutic for you and I know that I am treasuring every single word. Many APs people have asked me for your blog addy - is it okay to share?

I'm praying for you continually, for Meiying as well. She is worth every single tear, heartache, stress and worry that you've had...you are her Mom and she is your Daughter. God bless you both (and Derek and Eliza at home as well!)

Cheryl said...

What a fabulous, heartfelt post! Bravo!!!

Love you!

gratefulfor8 said...

remember she probably feels really out of control about everything, even more since she was not allowed to object to the adoption. SO now basically her way of counteracting that is to try and be in control of everything as a way of feeling safe and in control. it is artificial and doesn't really work. Hence her meticulousness about her belongings is a way of cooping. We saw that too with our others. If she can realize you are in control and taking charge she will feel calmer.
yes your feelings are perfectly normal, it is ok to show your love even if it can't be full blown.. it is wakward to want to love them as your own as though you have ahd her all your life, but it is still possible to ease into it.
hope what I am saying you find helpful..
remember we are rooting for you, feel very connected and wnat to see her tansition go well for all.

carmen fitzpatrick said...

Hi Sarita! I totally totally understand what you are feeling when you say you don't love her yet with a Mother's love - that happened exactly to me with Nati...I wonder if it's because they are the second kids or maybe we feel guilty that we can't love anyone but our first kids?? very complex indeed...but you will love her with that ferocious Mother love that only we Moms have ;)
Loving yr blog and crying nonstop! Carmen