I’m convinced jet lag is from the Devil. The mindset I have been in the last few days of coming home has been overly sensitive, overly fragile, overly tired, and overly everything. Finally last night I got a normal person’s amount of sleep. Although things are still transitioning and adjusting is the theme of each day, I feel like I can tolerate chaos with a bit more stability. Praise!
Processing has always been a weird practice for me. It takes me a while to unpack all my heart and mind have gone through and how my surroundings are now a new territory. The first few days, I will be honest, were dark and rough. I had terrible thoughts that we had possibly made a mistake. That somehow I had heard the Lord wrong and we had just jumped on the adoption bandwagon on a whim. I began to wonder if Meg would ever recover and if Eden would ever be simultaneously awake and not sporadically scream/crying. Those days were about 3-4 but they felt like an eternity. Meg and Eden both got fevers, Meg threw up, I wasn’t sleeping more than 1-2 hours a night. Completely irritable, thoroughly frustrated, and slightly hopeless.
Finally- I had to gain some perspective, so I started making a thankful progress board. Sometimes I find these practices cheesy but I have found out something about myself. When I need to cling to something, it has to be plastered all around me on a constant basis. So I made a huge scroll of thankfulness and hung it on our door. I wrote the good things that had happened so far. We had made way more progress than I thought. Then we had some great friends bring over dinner and hang out. I found myself bragging on Eden as if she was my own (because of course she is)! I began to verbally go through all that we had encountered and unraveling some of the truth and some of the lies wrestling around inside of me. My roller coaster suddenly seemed less scary, completely doable and possibly even a little fun.
And we haven’t even been home a week.
This isn’t to say I think that everything will go back to normal soon or peachy and perfect. We have another child which means we will be creating a new normal. We also have a child who has suffered abandonment and loss- this is completely new territory for all of us. Which can only be covered, conquered and cared for by lots and lots of time.
BUT…we have made progress. And we are starting to learn about Eden – her quirks, her personality, how she has been effected. I am certainly not an expert AT ALL and will never claim to be. But here are a few things I have learned/discovered about myself and about my newly beloved daughter. Kinda all over the place:
Where Eden came from: We learned in India that Eden was abandoned 3 days old, umbilical cord still attached, at a train station (march 2013). Spent all of april in a hospital fighting to live, then sent to the orphanage in may (2013). She had 3 back to back surgeries in which her legs were in casts off and on up until june of this year. The caretakers told us it had only been the last few months that she had really taken to some of them and bonded. Her orphanage was great in so many ways, but in it she learned that the squeaky wheel was the one that was heard, so she learned to be loud and demanding. Her diet consisted of boiled eggs, crackers, lentils/rice and bananas.
Where she has come since (in the last 12 days).
-Sweating profusely through her clothes and shuddering at our mere presence- now she hardly sweats even in front of strangers, reaches for both me and robby.
-Lethargic, non-responsive, jerky and nervous – now she is playful, active, crawling, grabbing, moving and can be calmed much easier.
-Stiff legged, screaming, silent crying terror at bath time – now sits in the tub with Meg, moaning slightly but no tears
-Having to hold her down in a crib for her to calm down and go to sleep – kissing her on the head and laying her in a crib, walking out of the room and she falls asleep in 2 minutes.
-Hating the carseat- still hates the carseat 🙂 Some things take time!
-Clinching her jaw when we brush her teeth- opening for increments of 2 seconds to let us brush a couple of strokes.
-not talking at all except through tears – saying momma and waving bye bye.
There is no doubt we have a long way to go. Lots of trust and bonding to be had. But I have to acknowledge the long way we have come! It took the caretakers over a year to bond with Eden and she has attached to us in a matter of days. She is expressive and happy much of the time. Her heart seems open to us, already starting to grasp that we are not going anywhere. She is slowly not throwing as many tantrums or having as many meltdowns. We are making strides toward a sweet new normal.
I have to admit, I have worried myself sick the last few days. It is hard to know the boundaries of loving on and growing with your adopted child. I was feeling like we were doing everything wrong. I know we need to bond, but we decided to put her in her crib the first night home in a room by herself instead of our room. I am actually also just laying her down and walking out of the room. She cries a minute and then goes to sleep. I know she needs to be assured of our love, but we also can’t let her get away with everything so we are already starting to discipline. These are really big NO NO’s I feel like in the adoption world. But through some great advice, I am learning to just go with my instinct, listen to Robby’s guidance and input and watch how Eden reacts. Like parenting biological children, I don’t think there is one perfect way. Each family is so different. We have also let others hold her and play with her, already had about a dozen people in and out of our house and let her crawl around with the dog. GOSH!- we sound like we are doing everything wrong. And if we find out we are, we will adjust accordingly. But right now we are just trying to live. Trying to make Eden feel like a Followell in every way- in our love, our boundaries, our community. Trusting that if we keep our eyes open, she will communicate what she needs.
This post was mostly for me. To assure myself that I am going to be ok. That I will attach deeper to my daughter with time. That she will do the same with us. To show myself that in such a short amount of time so much ground has been gained. That Meg was made for this role and will eventually thrive in it.
And maybe it was partially for you too- if you are adopting maybe it can give you some peace to know you don’t and can’t have it all figured out. That your child will be different and need you differently than you can anticipate before you actually get them. Or maybe you are just stuck in a place that feels overwhelming and heavy. Maybe you are in a place that time is the only way healing and progress will be made. And maybe that is a crippling thought to you. It was to me. But I couldn’t stay there and neither can you. At some point we have to make a thankfulness chart, or blare music and dance, go on a walk, make brownies, watch a Christmas movie, buy a new favorite sweatshirt, cuddle on the couch, invite people over into our messy, unkept house when we haven’t showered and don’t plan to.
We have to keep living, really fully living. And it isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes fight to do that. To really live. And right now that is the biggest lesson I’m learning from my Indian princess. She fought to live. And if she can do it, I can too.