We have been home a little over 2 1/2 months. Beach Ball is amazing. For all the difficulties we had in the first month, we have worked through a lot of them and now, she is the funniest, snuggliest, squishiest baby ever! From ripping my nose off and not letting me go anywhere near her, we are now in the "melt into a squishy ball in to mommy's arms" mode. She just loves cuddling, she loves to be held. She's amazing.
But, it's not all puppies and rainbows. It still isn't. She is a very angry child. So good natured 80% of the time, but do something wrong and she will turn into The Hulk. The amount of anger is totally disproportionate to whatever the situation is. She doesn't express physical pain. Knocks her head hard enough to stun herself but won't make a peep. There are only two situations where she cries: in the middle of the night, when she is asleep and therefore totally not in control, and when she is mad/angry. But the mad/angry cries are more like screams and frustration, the middle of the night cries are pure baby sobs, tears, absolute and total sadness.
I think the reason Jen's post struck such a chord with me is because she was able to give examples (the hot oatmeal) that made me think about my own daughters. Karen of the Naked Ovary once wrote that she found a scar on her daughter that she couldn't explain, and that this physical scar came to represent all the emotional scars she would never know about.
Some things about Beach Ball I can make educated guesses about:
- She never bends her knees or elbows. I saw the kids in the orphanage, they had on so many layers, they weren't able to bend them, so they never learned. When she gets up from the ground, she does it 100% without bending her knees.
- She absolutely cannot stand being in a wet diaper. Well, she has never been in a wet diaper, she used to be in split pants. As a matter of fact, she has some scars from the frost-bite caused by urine freezing on her (my supposition and the educated guess of 2 doctors)
- her "rejection" of me: all the orphanage pictures for the last 18 months show the same 2 nannies. Even if I suppose that before that there were different people, it would still mean that she pretty much had the same 2 caretakers for 18 of the 20 months she was there. So she "rejected" me because she actually had a family. Not a family by our definition of the word, but she lived with 2 caretakers and about a dozen siblings. That was her family.
- She spent 20 months of her life in one room. Sure, they probably played outside a little everyday, but they ate, slept, played, all in one room. And then we took her clear across the world to a house on 4 floors, with seperate rooms for all activities and 2 different rooms for playing. Try not freaking out if you were her.
This has also caused me to rethink some things about Dumpling. For the last 3 years, every single meal has been a struggle. She won't eat. Simply won't eat. We cajole, we negotiate, we encourage, we tried ignoring for a while, it's all the same. One thing that recently struck me is how she will only eat once everything is cold. Room Temperature. She always tells me everything is too hot, even if I didn't warm it more than a few seconds. Somehow, I always assumed she trying to take control. (control is a big thing with her). But after Jen's post, I literally re-examined everything and realised, maybe she NEEDS for the food to be room temperature because either a) that's how they used to give it to her or b) she got burned by hot congee and is reacting to that to this day. How did this not occur to me in 3 years? How did it not occur to the therapist? We always assumed it was a control issue, maybe it's just based on her history.
And this is why I 100% agree with Jen's statement that every adoption is a special needs adoption. The loss of one's birth family is a loss that will impact ANY individual. It doesn't matter if that baby finds a home at 2 days of life (like in a domestic adoption) or at 20 months, that primal loss makes a mark on the slate of who they are. And the more time passes before adoption, the more history is created. Unfortunately for us, there is no documentation of that history. So we must navigate blindly, with educated guesses.
Both my daughters are precious and special, each in their own way. But I must think every day that there are things about them I will never understand and I have to find ways to parent them to the best of my abilities and help them realize their full potential, while being aware of the hidden scars,