Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Not all sunshine & rainbows

I have thought long and hard about this post, should I do it? How honest do people want me to be? No one else writes these things, am I breaking some sort of rule? After thinking long and hard, and talking with fellow adoptive families, I've decided that I need to write this. The words need to be out there for future adoptive parents to see. You may ask why? The general consensus, this part of adoption is not talked about. Not by anyone, not your social worker, your agency, people you talk to while waiting to go get your child. Nope, the only place you'll hear this mentioned (whispered in shame) is in a private support group, and even then you'll be shaking as you hit "post", praying that it wasn't a mistake. So what is the big mystery? I am not madly, head over heals, in love with my daughter. This innocent child that I longed for.  The girl who's picture I fell in love with nearly a year ago. This child who I flew across the world for, because I wanted to give her the chance that no one else was willing to give her. No child should live in an orphanage, no child should go their entire life never being told "I love you".  Yet here I am, not in love. Sure there are things she does that I think are absolutely adorable, and she makes me smile and laugh. But truth be told, she makes me cry too.  Not necessarily her either, it's not like she's a bad kid.  She's the exact opposite! Adjusting well, the boys all like her, she has bonded well with both Sage and I, the dogs can even sit near her!  I have spent many hours in tears doubting our decision to adopt.  At times even thinking I'd made a huge mistake and completely disrupted my wonderful family.  This is where I'm wrong.  Yes, I've disrupted my family, but not in a bad way.  We are all growing from this life change, we are changing Haylie's life and she is changing ours.  

So this is where I have had to stop and really reflect on myself and my feelings.  If this is such a positive thing, then why do I feel so sad and unsure?  Well first, I had 3 wonderfully "sleep-trained" children.  If you are a parent you understand what a blessing this is.  I've now brought this new child home who has completely disrupted my sleep routine.  The new lack of sleep has made it difficult for me to remain focused!  I'm also used to kids who want to come sit with me, who constantly come and give me hugs and kisses, who when they get hurt they want their mom to comfort them.  Seriously, being a mom is the greatest gift in the world!  Haylie is only now learning that if she is hurt someone will comfort her. And as for hugging, we had to teach her how to, yet she doesn't understand the reason for it.  So in all of the training we received I was 100% aware that she wouldn't want to hug me, I just never thought that I wouldn't want to hug her.  I wasn't prepared to not feel an instant connection to her.  These are the parts of adoption that people don't talk about.  I think that this is a huge disservice to adopting parents! I thought I was alone on this, that I was a horrible person, and that I don't deserve this child.  Thanks to some other lovely ladies I'm realizing that it's not just me.  And guess what, we all thought it must "just be me". Because of this I think it's important to speak these words, put it out there for everyone to see.  Just because these feelings aren't immediate doesn't mean they won't come.  She and I have only known each other for a few weeks and right now we're really just co-exhisting.  But it will come....and in the meantime, I know that I'm not alone in this.  I have an amazingly supportive husband, family who has my back through the good times and bad, new friends that are right by my side through this.  

So for people just getting home with their new child, people who have been home a month, people who are considering adoption....know that these feelings are normal.  Reach out to your support group and allow people to help you.  You don't need to go through this alone, there is a large group of people who can help you through the "irrational" moments, and the same group of people will be there to help you celebrate that first hug, and first I love you....adoption is tough, no doubt.  This may be one of the hardest things I'll do in life.  But it's a challenge that I won't regret, she's a blessing to our family.  So friends, while the going is tough...just keep reminding yourself that you can do this, if it's been a bad day remember that tomorrow is a new day.  Eventually your feelings will change and these days will all be just a memory - at least that's what I'm told ;-)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

surgery plans

I left people hanging this weekend because I was hoping to have our surgery date before I posted, but I have time now so I'll blog now! 

Haylie did pretty amazing at her cleft doctor appointment. We were there for 3hrs and we spent that entire time seeing physicians, nurses etc. We saw dental, audiology, ENT, nutritionist, speech, OT, social worker and the cleft surgeon.  Haylie failed her hearing test in both ears (we were prepared for that) but the ENT and audiology are hopeful that with placement of tubes she'll gain full hearing.  As of now her hearing is functional so that's a good thing! Dentist said her teeth looked ok and she didn't see any cavities, yay!  Nutritionist was pleased that she eats everything we give her. Even though Haylie doesn't correctly say any words, in Chinese or English, speech was still pleased that she attempts sounds and also was happy with how quickly she is picking up basic sign language. We'll continue teaching her signs, and then will get in touch with our school system to have her started in speech therapy. I was impressed to hear that most kids are 100% caught up on the english language within 9-12 mos of being adopted! 

(She loves wearing shoes, thank you to everyone who donated clothes!!!! She's a little diva!)

We are using Dr Jiang at Childrens Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. We really enjoyed meeting him! I'd love to tell you that Haylie liked him, but I won't tell a lie! She was ok with him though, up until he needed to see inside her mouth. In her defense though, I had to turn her facing me then lay her backwards with her head towards him so that he could get a good look at her palate. As soon as he said "flip her over" we knew it would be ugly! Nothing that goldfish couldn't fix though!

So her surgery plan.....he is going to fix her lip and her hard palate (her gumline) first, and they will place tubes at the same time. This will take place in about 6-8 weeks. After her tubes are placed then we'll retest her hearing. Then about 6mos from then they will fix her soft palate (the roof of her mouth). I was a little confused as to why not do it all at once, or soft palate first to help her with speech.  Some hospitals do things differently, and Dr Jiang comes highly recommended so we'll go with his plan! 

Some of Haylie's likes & dislikes:
She likes snacks, animal crackers & goldfish are a huge hit! She's not a fan of mac n' cheese, but loves her veggies and chowed down on lasagna and pizza rolls!!!! She loves getting dressed, loves shirts with glitter and bows, and still likes to accessorize. She will walk around in her jammies with shoes, hat & a scarf. She doesn't carry her doll around anymore, I think she started to associate the baby doll with bedtime so the doll quickly lost it's importance! Bedtime is still a subject that gives me anxiety.  She tolerates the dogs, but still would prefer if they didn't look at her. She loves her brothers and gives them pretty good hugs!  She cannot stand being told "no" or being forced to do something that she doesn't want to...for instance if she throws something and we make her pick it up and put it where it belongs...woah, hello tantrum! Luckily they seem to not be lasting as long, though they still come frequently. It's just typical "terrible 2" behavior though.  

(Already enjoying being picked on by her little brother!)

This week we will be thrown back into reality. The kids will all be back in school and Sage will go back to work. I'll work a partial shift this Friday and then next week will return to my normal schedule.  While it will be bittersweet having us all go our own ways again, some routine is definitely needed.  Oh, this Friday we have Haylie's appointment with the International Adoption clinic at Childrens Mercy, this will be where they actually assess her overall health and draw labs etc.  I imagine it won't be as tear-free as her cleft appt! 

On a side note, to all of you parents that have two toddlers at once, or even better, guys are pretty amazing. Let me ask you this, how do you keep your house clean?! I mean seriously, it's as if a tornado went through our main floor and left nothing untouched! And seriously, 2 babies can find so much more trouble than 1 ever could on his own! :-)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One week in

As promised, I plan to keep everyone updated! We've been home for a week now, and some how it seems like a month already. Right off the bat here is the long awaited picture you've all been waiting for! 

Haylie has been doing really well, we have seriously gotten very lucky! She is warming up to the boys nicely. Hunter has probably had the hardest time adjusting, it's hard sharing your toys when you never had to before, but then having to share your mom's lap is even harder! He is coming around though, I think they only shoved each other off my lap once today! 

Riley is so in love with his baby sister! I was so worried that he had built her up so much in his mind that when he realized she can't talk and wouldn't know how to play with him, that he wouldn't like her. Man was I ever wrong! He plays with her and she loves giving him hugs, it's awesome to watch! 

Logan has done awesome too, he was actually the first one (out of ALL of us) that Haylie gave a hug to! What a cool honor for him! 

Through this journey people have told me how much they love my honesty, so I intend to keep it that way. The good, the bad, the ugly.  Obviously for our family's privacy we won't include everything, but as someone phrased it to me today, I won't "fluff" it all up. 

We have had a lot of good times! Thankfully I can honestly say more good times than bad. The bad though, man they can be frustrating! We have to remind ourselves that she's been home for only a week! Sleeping is absolutely our biggest issue. She is terrified of sleeping in her room. We can't blame her though! She spent the first 3 years of her life sharing a room with 40 kids and now suddenly we expect her to be comfortable sleeping alone? Luckily for her, her daddy is amazing and has been sleeping on a twin mattress next to her bed.  It's comforting for her when she wakes up throughout the nighy to turn over and see that she isn't alone. Tonight was actually the first night that she has willingly gone to her room, climbed into her bed, and fallen asleep without crying. Praise the Lord! 

It's been awesome watching her eat, weird I know. In China she loved whatever we gave her, or at least she ATE whatever we gave her. Towards the end of our time there she was starting to leave her rice and noodles and just eat everything else. Now that we're home we have snacks available for her all of the time. During meals if she doesn't like something she just leaves it. It's nice to know that she feels enough trust in us that we'll keep the food coming and she doesn't need to eat everything simply because she doesn't know when the next meal will come. So even though we've made those big steps, if Hunter goes near her snack cup she gets really upset with him! Hopefully he'll learn quickly not to mess with her food! 

So here is the ugly, and every parent getting ready to adopt should read this! Through all of the classes, the books, the articles, no one ever mentioned how YOU the parent will feel. I was so focused on how Haylie would be and how the boys would adapt that I never stopped and thought about me. Let me tell you, this has been hard! Let me also say this, baby blues can come with adoption too! I have spent a lot of time crying and praying and wondering about the faith that pulled us onto this path. But as each day goes on, jetlag gets better, and sleep becomes a more regular thing, I can see clearly again and feel like this was definitely our calling and we did the right thing! I say this so that if anyone else is having concerns, know you are not alone! And when the fog lifts, you'll be able to reaffirm all of your choices! And look at this face, our lives have forever been changed for the better!

A lot of people have asked if Haylie is warming up to Sage any better? I'll let this next picture answer that question...

I think having Sage sleep upstairs with her was actually a blessing for not only me, but for their bond. Sage can now feed her, change her diaper, get her dressed, help her use the potty, pick her up....everything that I can do. Hallelujah! 

So we covered good and ugly, just the bad left. Baby girl is your typical 3yr old! Tell her no and she can throw a tantrum like a pro! Between all 3 boys we've never had a kid throw themself on the floor crying, she has mastered it quickly! We've opted to ignore the behavior and gradually the tantrums are lasting shorter amounta of time.  I'm sure the professionals wouldn't agree with us ignoring the tantrum, but it's working for us and she seems no worse off when they've stopped! 

Another big step that happened today, all 3 dogs were allowed to join the family again! She has been terrified of them so we gradually brought them out for short periods of time through out the day. Finally today we said enough is enough and just let them back in. She spent probably the entire morning on the couch just observing everything, but by afternoon she was back up playing. This evening I even caught her reaching out to pet one as they walked by. Big steps!!!! 

I know everyone is anxious to meet her but for now Sage and I will tag team it with the boys activities and just leave Haylie at home for awhile. We want to make sure that she is confident in who her parents are and that she is confident that we'll keep her safe. In time we'll slowly bring her out to events and give her a taste of what our lives are really like! Until then we'll shelter her at home and all learn what our new normal is! 

Here are just a few more pictures to leave you with. Also, this Friday is our first appointment with the cleft team. We are really excited to hear the plan of care for our little girl! 

She thought Twister was pretty funny!