Saturday, September 12, 2009 Saturday, I will be heading to the airport.

On this Saturday, I'm heading to our favorite chinese restaurant with 2 letters in hand for translation: 1) a letter to Meiying to be read to her by the SWI representative at our first meeting (after I overzealously hug her tight, then gain composure and practice adoption-101 space control); and 2) a letter to her foster parents.

On this Saturday, I'm also packing the VERY important essentials to have on hand for a mom-and-7 yo bonding experience:

Check...ziplock bag of Eliza's PEC cards (picture exchange communication) of important words and tasks because when in doubt, "visual" communication (i.e. a picture of a car, toilet, person eating, etc.) will certainly be understood better than my little chinese.

Check...ziplock bag of assorted hair accessories fit for a head of long, black hair.

Check...self-sticking, press-on nail jewels.

Check...Aveeno lotion (for that sensitive asian skin)

Check...Some small craft projects, coloring books, new box of crayons (my favorite)

Check...Sampler size perfume just for her

Check...Photo album of pictures from home and pictures of Meiying and her friends

So, as if I don't have enough to think about, I'm also pondering a few statements from the book Strange Son I'm reading, pertaining to Eliza being affected by autism:

"Perhaps in autism, there is a peripheral neuropathy in infancy. Perhaps it disrupts development. It could be the Merkle cells, or maybe the Pacian cells" (pressure-sensing mechanoreceptors found in the skin)."

" in the field of brain plasticity--how the brain can change and learn in response to a new environment."

***Now, Megan, don't read this to Greg and say, "see how smart Sarah is, I'll never understand any of this." It took me a year to get here and this was still way over my head and required an encyclopedia at my side!...along with a glass of wine.***

Okay, normally I keep Eliza-topics on Eliza's blog, but I thought it was important to do a cross-over today. Those of us who have adopted from China are all too familiar with the severing of ties, in one swoop, never to go back again that our children experience just before Metcha (Gotcha) day under the Chinese adoption process. Sorry to sound so abrupt, but that's how it is. There's no slow transition like some other countries; no visiting the orphanage for an hour or two; and gradually transitioning these children.

Some children handle the disruption better than others; some react right away; some, show the effects after months or years. We tend to prepare for it in emotional terms...grief, attachment. What does it do to their brains though, the wiring, the development, the science of it...forming of sensory, language, behaviors, compulsions. Most families are told when they receive their baby in China, to expect delays and expect to go back to "0" with the child. Imagine that with a 7 yo who has attached to a foster family for 4 years.

As I work to understand and hopefully unlock the veil of autism that "protects" Eliza from our over-stimulated world when it's just too much for her, I'm reminded how our world may seem to Ava-Meiying as she leaves a quieter, simpler world that she's known. Am I anxious and feeling protective? Do I want to minimize the shock to her brain and it's further development? Am I even capable of doing that? Little late to be worrying about this now, eh?

Maybe I need to go back and re-visit my checklist above and just worry about packing a pair of shorts and shirt, my sneakers and have my hand ready to be extended?

Shucks, maybe I should just have faith and go with the original check list, but include lots of snacks, candy, toys, shopping excursions, all as bribery so that she doesn't mommy-shop for a chinese mama that looks like her or sneak out of the hotel room at night. After all, I was hoping that I'd finally be able to SLEEP SOUNDLY even on those hard-as-rock beds in China, while I enjoy having the bed all to myself, without my 4 yo and snoring husband pushing me to the edge of the bed?!


babyarnie said...

What a wonderful Honest post! I too have the same fears and feelings about transitions. Ukraine is so different than the US and we definately live in an overstimulated world! I will be doing my best to protect Laurel. We are praying for you!

The Montieth Family said...

How did you know what I was going to be thinking????? ;-)

I love your original list. Don't over-think and over-stress. Okay, easier for me to say right now since I am not leaving in a week to bring home a beautiful 7 year old daughter. :) I get the gut feeling that Meiying will deal with it all fairly well and that the two of you will have an incredible experience together. :) If she starts to Mommy Shop just hand her a candy bar or buy her a pair of shoes. :-)I am SO EXCITED for you and AVA!!!!
Love, Megan
(Your *special* friend)!

Truly Blessed said...

Sarah, I am so excited for you to meet your beautiful Ava. She looks like a healthy, well-adjusted child and also looks like she comes from strong stock. I know she'll grieve, but she's also old enough (unlike our little Yangdong girls) to understand a little more about what is in front of her. We will be praying that she is as prepared as she can be to meet her new Mama and face the future with expectation and enthusiasm.

Still, press on jewels for fingernails is a good start!