Saturday, September 26, 2009

Feeling like her mother and baby steps

Saturday 6:37 p.m. Guangzhou
Dear friends and family, my gosh, I can't tell you how many, so many, thoughtful, encouraging, prayerful e-mails I have gotten and from some of you that learned of Meiying and I through someone else.  The China adoption community is amazing.  I am so appreciative of your sharing your own experiences in older child adoptions, your wisdom, your attachment advice and most of all that you simply reached out to me.  I wish I could meet each and every one of you and give you the biggest hug and thanks.  My friends and family, you are amazing.  I love you all so much for your tenderness and your support.  Marisa, thank you for skyping w/ me and letting me cry.  Thank you to Kelly and Cheryl and Adriana for also offering to skype with me.  You're all so wonderful.
The moment that Meiying woke today, she was still sad and angry.  Didn't want to Skype with "Daddy" and immediately started signaling for the phone again.  I got us dressed to go eat and then she wouldn't budge and started crying again.  I literally picked her up and carried her to the bed to try and jump on the bed together (Adrianna).  She was like a rag doll and wanted nothing to do with it.  I somehow managed to get her to stop crying and we went to eat.  She was still making eye contact w/ me, but was very distant and clearly detached from me other than the eye contact.
We returned to the room and it started all over again.  I thought, nope, we've got to get out of this room so at 8:00 a.m., we left for the White Swan and Shamian Island.  I hooked up with another mom from our group, also traveling alone, and the 2 of us decided we just needed to band together and keep ourselves busy and away from the hotel rooms for as long as we possibly could.  She adopted an 11 yo girl who is deaf and spent 9 years with her foster family in a very remote northern village rarely leaving the village home they lived in; dirt floor, no schooling.  She is hesitant walking on different surfaces and up/down stairs.  Her name is Amei (pronounced ahmay) and she spent the last 3 weeks at the orphanage in shock and grief before Metcha Day.  She then slept for 20 hours over the first few days with her new mom.  What these children endure is, well, I can't even find the right word for it.  It's just heartbreaking.  Hard to wrap my brain around this country too.   Apparently there is a big wave of opinions happening in China regarding American's adopting; it's negative.  I won't get into here, but when you see these children who have no future and that they are being adopted into loving and devoted families, it is hurtful to hear the locals sentiments about adoption.  Anyway,  Amei turned the corner on day 3 with her new mom and she is doing really, really well.  She is such a sweet, "little" girl; 11 years old and only 46 lbs.  Oh my.  She loved watching me talk w/ my hands going and my facial expressions.  She just kept watching me and laughing.  Her little nose crinkled with her smile.   Her smile is contagious.  And because she is deaf, she is non-verbal, but watches everything and smiles constantly as she is taking in her new world.  She had a good day today with us.  Meiying was hot and cold today.  There were moments of playing and interracting well w/ me; calling me Mommy again and coming to me, holding my hand again like earlier in our week and really holding, not jump limp-fish.  And then after those moments of intimacy, she would withdraw and signal for phone call.  I took it all in stride today.  I feel much stronger.  I would just somewhat detach, but stay smiling, happy eyes and connected by trying to redirect her attention.
We did a lot of walking around Shamian Island; ate at a good restaurant, had some Starbucks, went to a Park (more like the Duke Gardens) and just visited with the Oregon family that finally arrived on Shamian and many other Americans that were wandering the Island as well.  It was good to have Amei's mom, Leiba, to spend the day with too.  She is a good energy person.  We stayed focused on our mission together today.  Strong women banning our energies and convictions to become even stronger!
The moment Meiying and I arrived back at the hotel, Meiying began crying before we even got on the elevator.  I walked the hall as stoic and calm as I had been all day.  She has continued crying in the room and dialing probably 50 times attempting to make an outside call (still blocked) and wailing in between her unsuccessful efforts.  She did allow me to sit calmly next to her and gently rub her back acknowledging her pain.  So, that was good; she didn't shrug away from me.  She is one smart, strong, scared, sad little girl right now.  My heart hurts so much for her.  I actually started (finally) feeling that motherly love towards her today; probably because I had my own emotions in check.  It's 7:00 and she's already gone into the bedroom; no dinner, refusing to eat.  That's okay.
From all of your emails, I feel that we're going to get thru this.  Baby steps and much time and much help from an Attachment Therapist.   I can't remember if I mentioned in my last post that she was processing a lot yesterday; showing me the picture of her foster brother and showing me the picture of her bed at her foster home.  Both of these pictures were her way of processing the pictures of her new sister and her new bedroom that we spent a lot of time talking about earlier yesterday with the translator.  She definitely is making the connection to her what her new life will be and processing the grief and detachment from all that she knew.   I think it's so good that she is processing everything, crying, detaching, slowly reaching out to me; even if she pushes me away again.  It's all so important to the healing.  She's a tough cookie.  I told Derek that she's going to give us heck.  She's super smart, super independent, very athletic, knows how to play with everything and everyone so normal-like.  She's stubborn.  Of course, opposite of everything that I thought she'd be...LOL
I got a few pictures today and will upload them soon.  Beautiful orchid garden, Judy.  Unbelievable.  I sort of felt like I was a little outside of myself today though, going through motions, but that's okay.  One more day checked off.  Oh and we met another family who has one of those translation (calculator things).  We tried it out, but Meiying didn't seem to be able to read the I'm not sure that would help.  Trust me, she's going to learn english really quick.  We were playing mini-basketball in the White Swan hotel playroom and I was counting, 1-2-3 go and she was repeating it right along with me and all the way up to 10... in english.  I was singing Doe a Deer and later I heard her singing it using the right english.  She's going to be fine once she let's go a little more.  Thanks again everyone.  I will try to answer the e-mails as time permits.  Xie xie everyone!!!


Anonymous said...

HI Sarah,
I am so happy to read that things are getting better! I was really worried for you over the past week. I would read your blog every morning at work and cry at my desk. I even found out that Judy had Derek, Allie, and Eliza for dinner one night. And I went over, perched on one of the stools while they were all eating dessert (George's raspberry ice cream) and I asked all sort of questions about you since I knew he could actually see you via skype. Just a few more days and you'll be back home! Keep strong! you are doing an excellent job!! Say some prayers or talk to God when you feel yourself faultering or need a boost. You are in my thoughts and prayers - Tarra

Truly Blessed said...

Whew, I'm breathing a sigh of relief along with you, it sounds like today was much more do-able for you. I can see that things are not going as smoothly as you wish, but we're talking baby steps and you're definitely making those! I'm just so proud of you, Sarah, for doing this alone. Thank God you have some great people on your side there -- people to talk with and share your frustrations with you, and to help you out with the language barrier. I would think that is the worst part of it all.

Hey, I'm going to find someone who adopted an older child (the mom's name is Starla) and give her a link to your blog. I know her daughter had some of the same issues while they were in China and I think she could offer you some practical suggestions. Hope that's okay.

Please know that you and Meiying are never far from our thoughts,and definitely in our prayers continuously.

Have a restful night - try to sleep deeply!


McKayGreenFamily said...

Oh Sarah! Sounds like a "perfect" day finding that other mom, she sounds perfect! You are very right in all you say in your post! You sound in a much better head/emotional space, so it is so much easier to "detach" from the behaviour and keep things/feelings in perspective. Meiying is processing and greiving and it will take time but you are on the road! It's a great sign she is starting to try and speak english!!! Whoohoo!!! (BIG HUGS from across the pond!)

Off to mandarin school with Hannah!

Anonymous said...

Hi this is my first time visiting your blog. Praying for you and your new daughter!

Elizabeth, David, Katie, &Chloe said...

It seems things are better today. It is quite amazing how strong the girls can be after all they have been put through. Chloe never cried until one day after months of being home we told her please cry it is okay. She told us no it is not okay to cry. She had never showed her emotions in China. Finally she had a melt down and since then she will cry when she needs to. Also I want to comment on the part of the locals. We did get good signs from some locals but others would look and if looks could kill we were in trouble. The most touching story was we visited a village in Nanning. There was a 96 year old man that stood up as we passed by. He had no teeth left and was very thin. He ask us to come up to him so we all did. He begin to look at all of us in the group and talk. Our guide told us that he wanted each of us to know that he appreciated what we have done for these girls. He said that he was so happy for them and loved us for taking them. That was so touching coming from him. I wish you the best and it will take lots of time for her to completely open up to you but it will happen.

Catching Butterflies 3 said...

You're great! You are doing great!!! Expect her to keep testing you when you get home. Keep doing what you need to do, you will win her. She is going to be your girl, but it may take months. Take good care of your self. Maybe go get a message or something nice. Get your nails done or hair done. Buy your self a special gift. You deserve something very good! You are a brave and courageous mom doing a very hard job. I know we don’t know each other, but I’m proud of you.

agatha said...

Hi Sar, I've been catching up on your blogs these last few days, reading whenever i get the chance. Especially on my iphone which is so small! I'm finally all caught up. I've been thinking of you so much over there. What an idiot I am! I forgot about your blog,I kept looking for emails! Listen, hang in there. You're alone and that makes it so much harder. As you said, she's a typical 7 year old. She's testing boundaries and you and she sounds ADORABLE and wicked smart. She's also one of the luckiest people in the world to have you as her mom. Your giving her so much and going to change her life to something she can't even begin to imagine right now. So no more guilt and feeling sorry for her past life and all she's endured. It's horrible but it's done. It's behind her. Her life changed for the better the minute she met you. She doesn't know it yet but you do. That's something to remember through the tough times.

Love you,Sar.

Anonymous said...

You are one tough cookie!! I'm Nicole mother of two soon three from China. I will have to say your blog is freaking me out a little. Zhi Kang will be five around the time he joins our family....a little fear. McKenna is five and Tommy almost four.

Hang tough things will be a lot differnet when you get back to the States.
You are both in my familes prayers!

Tami said...


I'm reading your posts on my cell phone and I'm crying for you and Meiying and praying for you, too.

You're going to come through these two weeks a stronger woman than when you started and I am praying that your faith and belief is stronger, too.

(((Hugs))) friend.

Love - Tami (and family)

Rachel said...

I'm so sorry you've been having a tough time with Meiying. You are so strong and are definitely doing the right thing with setting limits, acknowledging her grief, and moving at her speed. I've found that having a child with autism definitely helps with the initial adoption stages. I know your experience now is so different than adopting a toddler, but I still think its got to be helpful - after all kids with autism are somewhat attachment impaired.

While I haven't been commenting frequently I have been thinking of you and will continue to do so.

I hope things start looking up a bit!


Jean said...

So glad this was a better day. I am very excited for you and Ava Meiying to get home! Has the guide told her her English name yet? She will probably say know but at least she will know what it is and you can call her that later at home.

It's great that you hooked up with Leiba! I bet it feels so good to hook up with another adult! Especially someone that is positive!

Adopting this age is such a challenge but it is so cool! Honestly things will all fall into place and she (Ava) will be a delightful addition to your family!

I love following your blog!! I love your honesty and you sense of humor!!

I actually found it to be a personal challenge to conquer (so to speak) an adoptee at this age. I would say to myself "I will win... you will love me". I can definitely say I have won her heart! She is so my little girl and I am her Momma!! She adores me now and she didn't even remotely like me in China!

Looking forward to waking up to another post from you! God or bad keep sharing! You are getting me ready for my trip to China- I'll have two gieiving daughters that have come from a foster home- yikes!

k1 said...

Sarah, I am Karen, Kelly/Truly Blessed's sister. I've been reading your blog for the past week, and posted your situation on my blog's Prayer Request list, but haven't commented before.

You have my admiration. It sounds like you are going though the worst possible adoption scenario there is, and you are doing it alone. I went with Kelly and her family for both of their adoptions in case there were difficulties, but they both went relatively smoothly.

I have no children, so I have no first hand knowledge to impart on attachment, but God told us that nothing is greater than Love, so keep showing Meiying that you love her and that you are in it for the long haul.

In addition to true grieving for what she is loosing, I get the feeling that she is also testing you to see if you will give up and leave her too. I can tell from your posts that you are exhausted. Keep praying and know that people all over are praying for you both, too.